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The sun slowly peeked through the curtains of most of Konoha's bedrooms, sending bright beams of light into unsuspecting ninja and civilians everywhere. While the civilians mostly groaned and turned over in bed, the ninja had to grit their teeth and bear the early waking hours.

Jounin reported to the mission's office to turn in mission reports or to pick up a parcel of D-ranks for their genin teams. Chuunin reported to their four man squads, ready for a B-ranked mission out of the country or for border patrol.

Konoha was waking up.

XXX

"Wha-!" Sakura jerked awake, the kunai she kept under her pillow in her hand. Her weight leaned forward and with a thumb, she landed face first on the carpeted floor of her room.

"Ow." She muttered, sitting up and rubbing her head ruefully. Stupid alarm clock.

Taking a deep breath, Sakura rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and began to get ready for the day. By six she was showered, her hair was combed out (short as it was), and she was looking for something to wear.

Her hand ghosted over her usual outfit- a red dress emblazoned with the Haruno family circle. Her hands fingered the holes worn through the fabric, frowning at the frayed seams and stains she suspected were blood.

The dress was beyond repair and not even the most skilled of seamstresses could have the ability to repair the numerous abrasions, holes, and manage to get the rather large bloodstains out of the red fabric.

Even though it was only a dress, Sakura could feel a wave of sadness approaching. This was her Team Seven dress, the dress she had worn on the C-ranked mission to Wave and to the Finals of the Chuunin exams. And now, like her team, it had fallen apart.

Sakura sniffed, and viciously wiped her tears away. It did no good to cry over nothing- she had to report the mission office.

XXX

As an Academy teacher, Iruka was often struck with nostalgia when he saw a student he had taught walking around, laughing with their genin team or proudly sporting a chuunin vest. He would remember, rather vividly, what they had looked like at eleven and twelve and smile fondly and perhaps he would call out and give them a congratulatory wave.

He was proud to say he could remember almost every student he'd ever taught.

So when Sakura Haruno walked into the mission's office, wearing something that definitely wasn't her customary shinobi wear he almost fell out from behind his desk.

"S-sakura-chan?" Iruka sputtered, straightening himself and adjusting his headband which had slid askew.

"Oh, hey Iruka-sensei." Sakura said, smiling slightly, completely oblivious to Iruka's astonishment.

"Y-you… you look different." Iruka sputtered.

Sakura raised an eyebrow and looked down at her attire. Instead of her usual bright red dress she had opted to dig in the back of her closet for something new. In the back, half obscured by fallen clothes, she had found a crumpled black long sleeve shirt with three pink diamond patches sewn down her upper arm.

She smiled fondly as she stroked the comfortable fabric. The last time she'd worn a shirt of this style was in her early years of the Academy. If she remembered correctly, her grandmother had given this to her as a graduation present- she was now ashamed to say she thrown it into the depths of her closet because she figured her red dress was much more pleasing to Sasuke-kun.

"Yeah." Sakura grinned sheepishly, stepping farther into the room. Iruka's eyebrows shot skyward. Was she wearing regulation shinobi pants?

Iruka briefly checked the ceiling to make sure it wasn't falling.

"Well, what brings you here today?" Iruka said, settling back into his 'authority' voice.

Sakura's smile wavered and her eyes flickered. "I don't know, why don't you tell me?"

Iruka blinked and sat back. That was it, wasn't it? He took a good look at her face and saw what he had just realized reflected in her eyes.

Team Seven had defined her- without them you just didn't know where to place her. On her own, she was unremarkable-a below average kunoichi who would have probably quit the active shinobi lifestyle for administration or the academy after reaching Chuunin status. Instead, she had been assigned to the Copy-cat Nin's team along with the last Uchiha and the Jinchuuriki for the Kyuubi no Kitune.

She had been in the background so long that now, when her team was stripped from her she was barely a blip on the Konoha radar.

Iruka realized this and could now identify the aura radiating off of her as a mix between betrayal, anger, and soul crushing helplessness.

"Sakura-"

"Haruno-san!"

Both Iruka and Sakura looked to see Izumo leaning against the doorway, winded. "H-hokage-sama has sent for you. You have an appointment in ten minutes."

"Aa, Izumo-san." Iruka said, nodding. "You'd better get going Sakura-chan. Hokage-sama wouldn't like to be kept waiting."

"Yeah, I'd better go." Sakura assented, a melancholy expression taking over as she walked out of the room. "See you later, Iruka-sensei."

A silence stretched on as the sound of Sakura's sandals on the wooden floors slowly tapered off.

"Was that the Team Seven girl?" Izumo asked, his head tilted quizzically.

Iruka sighed heavily as he reorganized the missions set out on his desk. "Not anymore."