But that was not possible for Sakura to do this year. At the last minute, she had been sent on a mission involving a desperately sick noble's son. She had managed to find out what was wrong with the boy and had successfully treated him, but the mission had made her miss out on the celebration held on December 31. Sakura sighed wistfully, the sound lost to the wind, but not to her companion, as they sped through the trees on the way home.
"Something wrong, Sakura?" asked Kakashi, who had been sent along as a bodyguard due to the noble's concerns that his son might have been poisoned.
Sakura shook her head. "No, Kakashi-sensei," she replied. "Just thinking, that's all."
Kakashi hummed. "Maa, it's getting late now. I think we should stop and make camp; we won't be able to reach Konoha tonight."
Sakura nodded as they both began searching for a suitable campsite. They found a small clearing in the dense forest that opened up to the sky. While Kakashi set up traps, Sakura carefully started a fire before setting up her sleeping bag. Once Kakashi was done, both settled by the fire and ate their ration bars in silence, both feeling too lazy to go hunting for more palatable food.
Sakura stared up at the sky as she thoughtfully chewed on the bar. "Ne, Kakashi-sensei?"
Kakashi peered at her from over the edge of his beloved Icha-Icha. "Yes, Sakura?"
"What do you normally do on New Year's Eve when you are in Konoha?"
Kakashi lowered his book and tapped his mask. "Well, I do a lot of things. None of which you would be interested in knowing. Unless you are secretly an Icha-Icha fan at heart."
Sakura spluttered. "Kakashi-sensei!"
He chuckled at her reaction. "Why are you interested in knowing, anyway?"
"Well... because it is New Year's Eve, I guess. Naruto-kun was going to accompany to the shrine after we got ramen. Sai-kun said that he would come as well in order to observe tradition. And, well, that got me wondering as to whether you follow that tradition as well, since I don't recall ever seeing you go to the shrine."
Instead of responding, Kakashi leaned back against the tree and stared up at the visible patch of clear sky. "I'm normally out of the village at this time of year." Because there are too many memories of Minato-sensei and Rin and Obito welcoming the New Year and I don't want to face those ghosts yet. "So I don't exactly keep tradition."
His adorable student frowned slightly. "None at all, sensei?"
"None at all," he confirmed, eye-smiling at her.
Sakura stared back at him before a glint of determination passed her eye. "Then we'll just have to give you some new traditions to keep!" she declared loudly.
He blinked in surprise, then amusement. "Oh? Like what?"
He didn't even see her move. One moment she was sitting directly opposite him, the fire between them. The next he was crushed in an embrace so tight that, for a second, he forgot how to breathe. He looked down, only to see Sakura's pink hair resting on his chest as her arms circled his waist. He could feel her cheek moving as she spoke.
"Like this, Kakashi-sensei," she said, her voice slightly muffled. "We can make this our own special tradition."
So you don't have to be alone. So you don't have to want to escape from the village all the time during this day.
Even though the words remained unsaid, the silver-haired man immediately understood. Even though Sakura could not see it, he gave a small, genuine smile as he reached down to ruffle her hair with his free hand. Sakura had always been able to pick up on hidden emotions, seeing that she herself relied on them.
"Thank you, Sakura."
Tradition. Well, he certainly would not mind this at all.