Kakashi thinks of quests for power, and the one student he had never thought he'd lose to them.
By Mereo Flere
Title suggested by nuclear death frog, Idea suggested by GenocideHeart
Naruto had changed. Though it wasn't immediately obvious, all it would take was a little time to notice that this was true, and few (if any at all) were denying it.
But when others admired Naruto, welcoming him back to the fold, my eye was on Sakura...
When I first saw her, she was just an ordinary girl; as ordinary as any ninja could be, anyway. A little smarter than some of her classmates, sure, but still without the wisdom that came through age and experience. Her greatest strength, her chakra control, meant little in the world of ninjas without any technique, and at times her obliviousness could rival (and, indeed, surpass) Naruto's.
From the very beginning she always hung back, away from the fighting. While not a coward, she knew that she would be in the way. Everybody knew, and nobody could blame her.
It was the truth, plain and simple.
Still, as her sensei, I wanted her to grow stronger. I tried to help her, draw out the strength I knew that she had inside. However, I was never cut out to be her teacher, nor was she cut out to be my student. The only lessons I had were ones that people would have to discover themselves; everything she had ever learned was from lectures and scrolls, neither of which were my style.
By the time the Chuunin Exam rolled around, she still wasn't ready. I doubt anyone was prepared for the fiasco we all found ourselves in. But I believed, foolishly I realize now, that things would change.
They did, of course.
Fortunately for Sakura, she had changed for the better. Though I had not been there to see the seeds planted, against her battle within the Forest of Death, I saw them sprout for the first time within the arena, against the battle with her rival and friend.
She had fought to a draw, but won the battle against her own stagnation. That was her first real step, and while it seemed to take her nowhere, she had made it on her own.
When we met again, I had to send her off to chase after Gaara and Sasuke. This time she was nearly killed, but no longer did she hide behind her teammates. She had grown, if only a little. But, a little was a lot.
It was a beginning.
And now, I was seeing the end.
I knew when Sasuke had left, she had been devastated. More than anyone else in the village, he was her precious person. One could have even said she was desperate. We just didn't know how far.
I didn't see her for two and a half years. If I had acted as the teacher I should have been, I might have noticed when Tsunade and Shizune were too busy with the village affairs. Even as a jounin, my responsibilities were nothing compared to theirs; at the very least, I could have overseen Sakura's progress.
But I hadn't; I didn't want to face her, after being such a failure as a teacher to all of them. That's why I didn't see.
After the first time I fought against Naruto and Sakura, I immediately knew that her change was unnatural. That punch of hers, attemptable only by a few people in this world, was nothing something just anyone could do, even with chakra control as good as hers. From being as weak as her, to growing by such leaps and bounds in what wasn't even her specialty to begin with...it wasn't impossible, but only if you were a genius.
And Sakura, as smart as she sometimes was, was no such thing.
As Tsunade's pupil, Sakura had access to scrolls to some of the most dangerous jutsu out there, in case one ever needed to treat a patient inflicted by such techniques. It must have been in there that she must have discovered the seal, one that would allow both her body and mind to progress much faster than they should.
Such things always came with a cost. Though she hid the symptoms, her body was tearing itself apart at the cellular level. It became clear the kyuubi's chakra entered her body, reacting with the seal, giving it more power than anyone could handle.
Even as fast as she was rushed back to Konoha, it was too late. Most of her body had already been destroyed; many of her cells had simply ruptured when the seal initially came in contact with the chakra. If she ever awoke from the coma the ordeal left her in, she would be fortunate to just have her mind left to her.
We are all desperate, and she had been much more so. I can't exactly blame her for acting so rashly. Perhaps that was just the fate of all my students: Sacrificing their bodies, their lives for a moment of strength, for one strong punch.
I just hope, like countless times before, I would be wrong again.