• Anko was shocked at what she was hearing. “Anko-san, we understand you are a valuable member of this village, but that cursed mark on your neck is active again. We don’t know if we can trust you to keep it under control in the heat of a mission.” Tsunade said.
    “Can’t trust me?” Anko fumed. “What have I done that brought you to this conclusion?”
    “Passing out from the pain of the mark in the middle of a mission is only a step away from it activating into level one. We don’t want that to happen. It’s for the sake of the village and for your safety.”
    “If you can’t trust me to keep this mark under control, I’ll just leave Konoha. For good.” She said before storming out the door. Tsunade sighed, hoping Anko didn’t do anything rash or anything she would regret later.
    Outside the mansion, Anko had broken into a sprint for the main gate, tears beginning to form in her eyes. She couldn’t stay here. She shot past Kakashi, who turned around and ran after her, trying to get her attention. “Anko! Turn around! What’s wrong? Wait!! ANKO!!!” But she was gone. She had disappeared into the forest outside the village. Kakashi fell to his knees, tears streaming from his visible eye and a knot formed in his stomach. She was gone. He had to know why. He stood up and headed for the Hokage’s mansion.
    In the forest, Anko had slowed down to a walk. Her mind was racing. Why? Why can’t she trust me? I’ve lived in this village for over ten years, and now they say they can’t trust me. I thought, maybe for once, I could live a normal life. I thought I could put the mess I got into with Orochimaru behind me. I guess not. I guess I’ve finally overstayed my welcome in Konoha. Where do I go now? Will anyone even notice I’m gone? Does anyone even care? No, they wouldn’t know or care. Maybe my life is meaningless. Maybe I should just end this hell I call life. She thought as she pulled a kunai out of her tool pouch.
    Back in Konoha, Kakashi had burst into the office of the Hokage. “I just saw Mitarashi Anko run into the forest outside the village. What did you say to her that upset her so much? Tell me!” He demanded.
    “Calm down and have a seat. I’ll tell you what happened.” Tsunade said. She relayed the conversation her and Anko had a few moments earlier. Kakashi was shocked.
    “Best for the village? Can’t trust her? For her safety? Who are you kidding, Tsunade? The only one who doesn’t trust her is you!”
    “Kakashi, no one trusts her but you. That mark could put the whole village in jeopardy.”
    “What if we were talking about Sasuke? You wouldn’t say we don’t trust him. That’s only because he’s an Uchiha. He has meaning in this village. You think Anko has become useless? I don’t. I have to go find her, Tsunade. For all I know, she could have already ended her life. I have to make sure she’s okay. And you can’t stop me.” He said, standing up.
    “Kakashi? Why such a sudden interest in Anko? What drove the change of heart?”
    “Love, Tsunade. An emotion you wouldn’t know. An emotion I myself didn’t know until a few minutes ago. I have to make sure she’s alive. Good-bye, Tsunade. I’m assigning myself a mission. Anko must be found.” He opened the door and left. Tsunade sighed. Kakashi headed for the main gate, hoping he wasn’t too late.
    Anko held the kunai up to her chest, wondering if she should take her life. I could go try to live in another village. No, that wouldn’t work. As long as this mark is on my neck, I’ll be considered a threat to any village I go to. My mind’s made up. I’m ending this. But she stopped. A sound in the distance caught her attention.
    “Anko? Are you out here? Please come out. Ensure me that you’re alive. Please.”
    It was Kakashi. The last voice she had heard before leaving the village. She took off her headband and looked at it. Kakashi called for her again. He was closer this time. She jumped up into the branches of the tree she had been sitting under, dropping her headband in the process. Kakashi came to the spot she had been sitting and spotted her headband. He picked it up and held it up to his chest. “Anko, if you’re out there, please show me that you’re okay. Show me you’re alive.”
    “I’m alive. For now. What do you want, Kakashi? Were you sent out here to retrieve me? To bring me back to the village? I’m not coming back, Kakashi.” She said. He turned toward her and she saw the tears streaming from his eye. He walked over to her and hugged her tight. “Kakashi? What are you doing? Get off!” she said, pushing him away. He let go.
    “Anko. I thought I had lost you. Please. Come back with me. I need you.”
    “Did Tsunade put you up to this? You can tell her that I’m not coming back, no matter how many people she sends after me. I don’t care if she’s the Fifth Hokage. I’m not coming back.”
    “Anko, I assigned this mission to myself. I had to reassure myself that you were okay. Truth is, I think I may have fallen in love with you without even knowing it. I don’t care if you don’t feel the same way about me; I just needed to tell you.” Anko’s jaw dropped. He loves me? Someone actually cares? No, he’s faking it to get me to come back to the village. No one could love me. I’m a threat to all who are close to me. No one is close to me. I can’t ever let anyone get close to me again. Never again. Never again… Kakashi wrapped his arms around her. “Let me be your fortress, Anko. I won’t let anyone hurt you. I will be your Angel of Darkness. The one who hides, but keeps a close watch on you. Please. Believe me. I love you. If you don’t feel the same, I will leave you be. You can live your life how you want. I just want to let you know that I love you and no one can take you from me.” Tears were streaming from Anko’s eyes. He was serious. He did love her. He did want to protect her. He wanted what was best for her. She looked up at him. He was crying to.
    “Kakashi? I do believe you. I believe that you do love me. What I can’t believe is that you love me. I didn’t think anyone would care if I took my life here and now. I would have made a huge mistake.” She touched his chin, wondering what his face really looked like. She hooked her finger on the inside of his mask. He looked down at her.
    “Anko, you want to know what’s behind my mask, don’t you.” He said, taking her finger out of his mask. He grabbed the front of his mask with one hand and her chin with the other. In one swift motion, he pulled his mask down and brought his lips to hers. Anko didn’t know how to react. She had never been kissed before. She wished this moment would last forever. She felt loved. For the first time in her life, she was truly loved. He broke the kiss and smiled at her, his mask still off. Anko gasped. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen. “Surprised at what you see? You are the only other person who knows what my face looks like. Now, the matter at hand. Will you return to Konoha with me? As long as we’re still within village limits, we haven’t become rouge ninja. Will you return or shall we become rouge ninja?” He asked, pulling his mask back on.
    “You’re needed back in the village. You don’t have to sacrifice what you have to be with me. I’m not worthy of your love. I’m not worthy of anyone’s love…” She looked down at the ground.
    “Anko, don’t say that.” Kakashi said with a small smile. “You know it’s not true.” Anko fell to her knees. Everything was so new to her. He doesn’t care about the mark. He doesn’t care that I’m different. She smiled. Life was good. She knew that now. She was nearly fool enough to kill herself over something she didn’t know was true, but assumed.She couldn’t believe what was going on. Her head was spinning. She stood up.
    “Kakashi, tell me this is real. Tell me I’m not already dead. I’m still alive and awake, right? This isn’t a dream, is it?”
    “No, Anko. You’re awake. This is all real. You’re not dreaming.” He said with a smile. “The question still stands of are we going back to Konoha or not?”
    “Let’s go back. I need to speak to Lady Tsunade anyway. I created a big mess. I have to clean it up.”
    “Heh, it’s already cleaned up. I got pissed off at her, and she saw what she did. Now, shall we go? It’s nearly nightfall.” He said, offering her his hand. Anko nodded and took his hand. It was the start of a new life for the two of them. All was right with the world. For now.