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Chapter 1: Arrival

Haruno Sakura sighed and tucked a fallen strand of pink hair back behind her ear as she gave one final look over the empty room. Unsettled dust drifted slowly in the morning's light that was slowly beginning to warm the house. It was strange seeing her room so bare. All that was left were a few old childhood items: a twin bed and a couple of furniture pieces that were too big to bring along with her. Graduating from high school about two months ago, she was ready to begin her life as a college student and, much to her mother's dismay, start her journey into living an independent life of her own. She was nervous about leaving this town she had grown to love, but excited about all the new possibilities of her future.

Most of her items were packed and already sent off to the student apartment she was going to be living at with her best friend Yamanaka Ino. They had quite a struggle with their friendship in middle and early high school over a boy they both had a crush on named Uchiha Sasuke. In the end, he never chose either of them, which was probably for the better. After finally letting him go, she tried her best to move on with her heart. It had been a few years since then, but she finally felt the longing ache from her chest lift slowly over time. If anything, she liked to think that Sasuke, and the few short lived relationships that she had in high school, were just learning experiences to what she would like to find in a future relationship.

Looking back on it now, she realized how silly it was to almost lose her friendship over a guy. At least college would be sort of like a fresh start for her and Ino's friendship in a way. She hoped to make the best of it.

"Sakura, the cab is here for you honey!" her mother yelled from the stairs below.

Sakura snapped out of her thoughts.

"Coming!" she called back.

She wasn't sure when she'd be back home again. Taking in one final look over her room, she made her way downstairs with a few bags in hand. At the end of the staircase her mother gave her a quick hug.

"I'm very proud of you," her mother said with a soft smile. She almost looked like she was about to cry.

"Don't get all weepy, mother. I'm going to be fine!" Sakura said with a frown.

"I know," she replied with a sigh. "For heaven's sake, call me when you get there. Are you sure you have everything? It's still raining a lot lately; you have your umbrella with you? Did you pack enough underwear and socks?"

"Mom!" Sakura's eyebrow began to twitch. "I've got everything, so don't worry. I'm eighteen now, you know. Don't worry so much!"

With another quick hug, she made her way outside the front door. After having her bags placed into the trunk of the cab, she turned to give a quick wave goodbye.

'Finally!' she thought to herself as she got into the car. After giving directions to the train station that was about thirty minutes away, she pulled out her cell phone. Using the touch screen to quickly find Ino's number, she sent a text saying she was on her way. It would be about a six hour trip in total. Hopefully she wouldn't go too crazy from boredom. She wasn't sure how she'd manage without her phone to entertain her.


A couple of train rides later she was finally in Tokyo. She had visited the city a few times growing up, usually to check out the shopping districts, but still felt overwhelmed with how many people there were. It really gave you a perspective of just how small you are in a big world.

Dragging her suitcases out from the cab, she paid the driver and made her way up the steps of her new apartment building. They really lucked out; their apartment was on the first floor, though hopefully their neighbors upstairs don't stomp around like elephants. It will be worth not having to climb stairs after a tiring day of walking across the large campus.

Unlocking the door, she pulled her baggage inside and placed them above the ledge before the genkan entryway. Discarding her shoes, she walked into the living room finding it dark and quiet. After turning on a lamp, she stretched her arms and took in a long inhale. It smelled like fresh paint. Sakura glanced around the room for a moment. It didn't look like Ino had arrived yet.

The apartment that they got was a pretty decent size. It was a bit expensive, but had all the necessities and privacy they needed. There were two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room with a small balcony that was accessible from it. Looking around the main room, it had already been furnished with a nice small couch, lamps, and a TV set. In the kitchen area there was a double burner stove, small sink, and a refrigerator. It was nice moving into a place that had basic furniture. Just was a small perk for leasing with the university apartments.

After a moment she went to check out both bedrooms; there wasn't much of a difference. Sakura randomly decided to take the one she was standing in now. After taking her bags into the room, she laid down on the single bed. Closing her eyes, she relaxed.

-knock knock knock-

Sakura's eyes shot open in surprise, forgetting for a moment where she was. Her eyelids felt heavy. Did she fall asleep? Noticing the orange light bathing the side of the wall as shadows of trees danced across her room, she realized the sun was setting.

"Sakuraaa… Wakey, wakey!"

Sakura sat up on her elbows to see Ino standing in the doorway.

"Eh-heh, I guess I fell asleep…" Sakura said sheepishly.

Ino smiled. "When I got here you didn't wake up from all the noise I made, so I let you sleep. You looked really tired. So I went ahead and got settled in. Hope you don't mind I didn't wake you until now. I just finished making some quick instant soups for us."

"Ah, thanks Ino, you didn't have to do that."

"It's no problem!"

Ino left her room making her way to the kitchen. Sakura suddenly remembered she didn't let her mother know she made it okay.

'I'm guessing she called 5 billion times already,' she thought to herself dully while sighing aloud.

Sliding off the bed, she opened her purse she left by her bags and took out her phone.

'8 Missed Calls.'

She didn't want to hear her mother's nagging if she called her back right now, so she sent a text saying that had fallen asleep and that she was alright. Turning off her phone, she left it at that.

Making her way to the kitchen, Ino handed her a bowl of ramen and a pair of chopsticks.

"Is it sad that every time I see ramen I think of Naruto?" Sakura sighed.

Ino chuckled. "Well, unfortunately it's cheap food for starving new college students like us. How's he been anyway? I haven't seen him since graduation."

Over the years, Sakura had become good friends with Uzumaki Naruto in high school. He'd always seemed to look out for her and was a decent guy all around, though sometimes a bit too loud and impulsive, but he always meant well. They went out on a few dates together, much to his persistence, but overall Sakura decided they were better off as friends.

"Well, he's coming to the same college as us actually."

Ino sputtered the ramen that was in her mouth.

"I didn't think he could even get IN college," she mumbled, remembering all too well how much he slacked off in classes and the pranks he did in middle school giving everyone grief. It wasn't until about sophomore year of high school did he actually start to put in some effort in actually paying attention in class and doing homework.

"Athletic scholarship," Sakura simply replied with a small smile.

"I wonder who all else came to Tokyo, too?" Ino asked as she slurped the rest of her noodles.

"Not sure, though I know a few people I was friends with went to school overseas. I'm a bit jealous of them…but I don't know how I'd fare being so far away. I feel so lost here as it is."

"It's so expensive going to school overseas, too," Ino added.

"Speaking of expensive, I really need to get a job ASAP," Sakura said worriedly.

"Whatever job you find, don't work too much. So many college men. So little time," Ino said with a devious smirk.

Sakura rolled her eyes. "That's really the farthest thing on my mind right now."

"Sakura, all work and no play will make you a very grumpy girl. College isn't just about studying!"

"Uh-huh."

"Don't worry, I'll help you."

"…"

"You can thank me later."

Sakura groaned. She hadn't even started classes yet and she was starting to get a bad feeling already.

After they finished eating, they decided to decorate the apartment for the rest of the evening. As she settled into her bed later that night when they finished, she stared at the ceiling above her noticing how different it was compared to her old room. She very much felt like a stranger here visiting. It was hard to wrap her mind around that this was her new life now.

'Classes will start week,' she thought.

Nervousness slightly bubbled in her stomach, but she also felt excited. What new things would await her next week?

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Meeting

Rain lightly tapped against Sakura's window. The morning's light tried to break through the dark clouds without much success. The faint patter sounds of rain always gave her a comforting feeling for some reason; though looking at the clouds it fell from, it looked rather sad and gloomy. Days like this she loved to curl up with a book and relax with some jasmine tea; however, today was the first day of college classes.

Brushing her hair quickly, she put on a pair of one of her favorite earrings, which were long, dangled ones that almost touched to the end of her neck. Star and moon shapes made of a white seashell hung along multiple delicate chains that draped throughout the earring. She always loved how it looked against her pink hair, and somehow she felt like they were lucky.

Glancing at the clock on her desk, she decided she'd be lucky to make it to her first class on time if the rain got any heavier. Today she wore some skinny dark jeans and a dark tank top, and over that she layered a simple knitted top, complimented by a red cotton hoodie. Applying just some quick makeup, she gathered from her desk a folder with a few sheets of paper inside, pens, pencils, and her day planner. She stuffed them inside a large dark green purse of hers and made her way to the front door.

After reaching the genkan, she began pulling on her colorful patterned rain boots. She was ready to head out. Grabbing her simple black umbrella that hung by the door, she did one last mental check that she had everything she needed. It was about a fifteen minute walk to reach campus. The university bus came by their apartment, but was routed to the other side of campus. She found out that her first class was near the front of campus and decided it would be faster to walk.

"Be back soon," she whispered softly towards Ino's door. Ino's class wasn't until 10:00 am, so she wasn't up just yet. Unfortunately, for Sakura, the class she had to take was only available at 8:00 am Mondays and Wednesdays.

Locking the door of her apartment, she made her way down the sidewalk as the patter of rain continued to pluck at her umbrella. There were a lot of people waiting out by the bus stop as she squeezed by them politely. Since there were quite a few other apartments in the area, there were a lot of students walking to school just as she was. She noticed the many different faces that passed by her. It was strange walking among people she had never seen before. Through her years in high school she had gotten to know so many people growing up and seeing them almost everyday. Now it was like starting over again. It would be difficult to ever really get to know anyone here in Tokyo like she could from her small town.

Thankfully the rain kept a steady light pace as she walked. Finally nearing the front gates of the university, which was on the other side of the street, she waited for the crosswalk light. She took a moment to bring out her schedule from her pocket to see the building number one more time. The school's tall buildings rose high above carefully placed trees which overwhelmed the landscape as far as the eye could see. It was not only just a huge campus, but one of the most prestigious schools offered in Japan.

As she made her way to the building her class was in, she couldn't believe how many people were walking along the brick laid paths in between the buildings. There were hundreds and hundreds of people of various ages. Walking by one of the campus's coffee shops, she wished she had time to grab a drink. She was still a bit sleepy and the rain wasn't making it any better.

Once she reached the building, she tried not to feel overwhelmed by just how mammoth the inside was. Columns stretched towards the ceiling, about three stories tall. It looked beautiful and elegant how the arches at the top of the ceiling crisscrossed each other.

"Let's see…215 B," she murmured to herself as her eyes scanned the halls.

She made her way to the second floor and found her class without much trouble. Her class was in a huge lecture hall which must have had about two hundred seats. Each row of chairs was spread out like steps that faced downwards. She assumed the person at the very bottom behind the podium, shuffling through notes was the professor of the class. By his side were a couple of people who were most likely his assistants.

Most of the seats from the middle and front were already taken. Sakura sighed and sat on the right side in the back section. She hoped she'd be able to hear the lecture from way back here. She realized for her next class she'd need to come much earlier to get a good seat. Sighing, she looked at her row which was starting to fill up with people. There was about five minutes left until class started.

People were softly talking to each other around her; some seemed to be friends and others were introducing themselves. The chairs next to her were empty until someone took the seat to the right of her. The person sat lazily in the chair and leaned back to get comfortable. Sakura's eyes trailed from a fingerless black glove up to long slender arms. Muscles were hugged snugly by a grey long sleeved shirt which was rolled up to the elbows. Finally, she looked up to mystery student's face and flinched.

There, sitting next to her, was Kakashi - her old homeroom sensei from middle school. There was no mistake about it. His eyes were closed as he leaned back against the chair with his trademark mask that never seemed to leave his face. His silver hair was messily styled as part of his bangs fell over his left eye. In school, he wasn't only a homeroom teacher, but a martial arts master. When he moved up to the high school's karate program, he helped them win a lot of championships as the head instructor. She remembered him being strict in her homeroom class, but he seemed to care about his students a lot. He never shared much about himself, but what she did know was that he was a genius. He had graduated from high school incredibly quickly in his early teens, which was almost unheard of. It was almost unbelievable such a person existed until she met him herself.

His eyes still remained closed as she stared dumbly at him.

"Ka…ka...shi…sensei?" Sakura slowly stuttered out.

"Mm..?" Looking like he had just woken up, he rubbed his eyes and looked at Sakura. "Ah… Haruno Sakura. What a small world, isn't it?" he said coolly and added, "I haven't seen you in…well, taught you in…hum…"

He seemed lost in thought for a moment as he brought a gloved hand to his chin to ponder. "Almost five years?"

She slowly nodded, somehow not finding any words to communicate for a brief moment.

"I'm um… Sort of confused why you're here…sensei?"

"You don't need to call me sensei... Makes me feel incredibly old…" He cleared his throat and continued, "Well, I quit my job teaching so that I could finish my master's degree, but for some reason they are telling me the program changed for my major and I have to take some freshman courses…which is utterly ridiculous," he said dryly.

"Ah…"

Sakura tried her best to smile. This was weird, very weird. He noticed how she was looking a little uncomfortable.

"If I bother you…I could move to a different row…" he said slowly.

Her eyes lit up wide. "Oh, no, no, no! Not at all. S-sorry, I guess I'm just surprised. You're the first person I've seen here on campus I even know, but it's a good thing though! So don't worry! It's just-"

The professor spoke out commencing the start of the class. Sakura quieted herself and smiled then turned her attention to the front, trying to fight back a faint blush of embarrassment.

'Weird. This is weird,' she kept thinking to herself, trying her best not to look at Kakashi.

'This is probably the last person on earth I'd ever think to run into… Not that it's a big deal... Just a little strange remembering him all those years ago as my sensei. That has to be weird, right?'

The professor of the class introduced himself as Ibaraki-sensei. This class was about the exciting world of philosophy, which the professor described as, "Our knowledge of the external world, and the meanings behind justice and truth." It was starting to sound confusing already to Sakura.

The assistants began to pass out the syllabus and seating charts for each row. Ibaraki explained that they took attendance by row looking for empty seats each class and that where you sat now would be your seat for the rest of the semester.

Kakashi filled out his name in the chart and passed it to her. After she wrote in her name and passed it to the next person, she was still trying to wrap her head around the fact that she'd be sitting next to him for the next five months.

Sakura pulled out her notebook and a pencil in case she needed to take any notes right away. She twirled her pencil around her fingers nervously. She really wasn't sure why she was getting nervous.

'Because…I'm sitting next to a genius... Who will probably laugh at my ignorance in this class…or any class..?'

She wondered, if this was the beginning of her day at college, exactly how much more unexpected could it get?

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Nyet

After Sakura's 8:00 am class, where she surprisingly met Kakashi-sensei, she had another class immediately after it at ten. Once that was over, she took the small hour break until her next class and wandered the campus a bit trying to familiarize herself with it. It wasn't long before she realized the amount of buildings to explore almost seemed endless. Figuring it would be best not to get completely lost, and be late for her final class of the day, she headed to her last building noted on her schedule. She explored the winding hallways that ran throughout the building before finally settling on a bench outside of her next class. Once the doors opened, she found a decent seat and brought out her notebook while she waited for the lecture to start.

Instead of a lecture or taking roll like her previous classes, it sounded like her professor was going to let everyone out early after explaining the syllabus, and just take the official roll next class meet.

-stomach grumble-

Sakura embarrassingly lowered herself into her seat. She had forgotten to eat breakfast today and it was a little after 2:00 pm.

'Of course I forget one of the most important meals of the day,' she thought regrettably.

As the clock ticked on near the front of the class, Sakura's thoughts kept going back to her first class today. Her mind kept retracing Kakashi's mysterious features. She'd never seen him dressed casually before now that she thought about it. At school there was a strict dress code for students and teachers. He seemed so different from the last time she saw him, but it's not like she had actually ever been so close to him before to really get a good look at him. In middle school there was a lot of talk about why he always wore his mask. Some figured he must have had some sort of disfiguring scar, but others just thought it was a trademark that stuck with him as he gained fame throughout martial arts and academic circles. He was actually quite famous. He was always a private person though. Maybe he wore it to keep his identity more of a secret? Or he trained so much that he got tired of ever removing it?

Suddenly she heard chairs around her squeak as people were swinging the arm tables back to the side of the chairs. People began to squeeze by her to leave. Quickly realizing class must have been dismissed while she was lost in thought, she grabbed her papers and stuffed them in her purse.

As she stepped into the hallway, she could see through the large water stained windows that were about as tall as the building itself. The clouds had grown much darker and the sound of rain was pummeling viciously against the roof of the building.

Now on the first floor, she crossed her arms and stared out the window. She really should wait until the storm passes, but she was so hungry and wanted to get home.

Almost on cue, her stomach seemed to agree with her. She knew there were some cafeterias spread out around the campus, but she had no idea which would be the closest one to her right now. She'd only be getting herself soaked wandering aimlessly in the hard rain right now. She sighed at her predicament.

'Wait! I'm stupid. Get a snack from the machine.'

She remembered seeing a machine tucked away near the stairs when she had explored earlier. She turned quickly on her heel and made her way, carefully trying to zigzag between people. The glossy floor of the building squeaked with people's wet shoes as she walked trying not to slip. The machine she found didn't have very many healthy options, but she could forgive herself eating a sugary snack for now. Quickly looking through her choices, she found a bag of chips that seemed to do.

Searching inside her purse, she suddenly realized she didn't bring her wallet today. It was still in her other purse.

'I. Am. An idiot.'

Defeated, she made her way back towards the window to watch the heavy rain splash against the glass. Crossing her arms again, she glared at the sky. Maybe if she glared at it long enough it would stop. She supposed if worse comes to worst she'll run in the rain home if it didn't let up soon. Thunder crackled in the distance making her jump.

'Okay, maybe I shouldn't run in the rain…'                                           

She sighed. What a great first day this was turning out.

"Sure is coming down, isn't it?" a familiar voice asked behind her.

She turned to look over her shoulder to see Kakashi. His hands casually rested in the pockets of his loose fitted jeans. He had a small eye crinkle above his mask as he looked at her, meaning a hidden smile was beneath. He stepped up beside her, looking out the window. His grey shirt was slightly sprinkled with water droplets. He must have just come from outside.

"Ah… Kakashi-sen - Kakashi," she corrected herself last minute. "Yes… I hope it lets up soon," she added with a sigh. She looked at his reflection in the glass for a moment before focusing back through the window at the rain falling in the distance.

"It's funny how the news today said it was only a thirty percent chance of rain passing through. I really don't think they can ever get it right," Kakashi mused.

Sakura laughed lightly at that. "So true."

-grumbleeeeeeeee-

Sakura blushed and crossed her arms even harder into her stomach.

'This is getting very embarrassing.'

"Stupid stomach," Sakura said quietly.

Kakashi seemed slightly amused. "I'm not sure how long it will be until the storm passes, but there's a cafeteria hall just two buildings over."

He pointed out the direction with a quick gesture.

"Well... Being the idiot that I am, I forgot my wallet…but… I'll just wait for the rain."

Sakura caught a glimpse of Kakashi in the window looking at her for a moment with a sideways glance. It looked like he was debating something. Suddenly she started to feel uneasy. She started to hope her stomach would start being obedient and be quiet.

-grrrrrrrrrummmmmbleeeeee-

'STOP IT!' she yelled mentally at herself.

Sakura's cheeks started to heat more. She felt like running away in embarrassment, except she knew she'd have to seem him again on Wednesday. So that was out of the question.

"Hum… Well I haven't eaten lunch yet. So how about we go get lunch together? I don't mind covering yours."

"Oh… No… Please don't trouble yourself with me. I don't mind running in the rain if I really have to if it doesn't stop soon," Sakura pleaded.

"I'm not sure how far you live, but you might catch a cold if you do that."

"I'll be fine! Really, that's just too much."

Lightning danced across the sky and thunder rumbled shortly after. Why did it seem like the universe was against her? Kakashi sighed and suddenly touched her shoulders lightly. He turned her to the left and gave her a small push in the direction he gestured earlier.

"Let's go."

"B-but…really…"

"I can't have a former student starve to death."

"…"

Sakura reluctantly started to walk. Suddenly the floor seemed very interesting to her and she continued to stare at it while making sure she didn't run into anyone. Kakashi walked slightly ahead of her, making their way across the long hall. Sakura began tugging at her earring in nervousness. Why was she getting nervous? If anything, she felt more embarrassed.

As they reach the doors to the outside, she suddenly remembered she still had her umbrella. She began opening it as they stepped through the door. Kakashi was a bit taller than her, but she tried her best to fit them both, causing her to touch shoulder to shoulder with him.

'This isn't awkward at all…' she thought.

"Let me get that," Kakashi said as he grabbed the umbrella for them both. They ran down the bricked path between the buildings while gusts of wind chased after them as the rain swirled. His back was getting slightly wet from trying to make sure she was covered well, but he didn't seem to mind.

After they passed the first building, he pointed out their destination. Sakura nodded as they both entered inside quickly. They both caught their breaths as Kakashi shook her umbrella to get out as much water as he could. After closing the umbrella, they made their way to the doors that entered into the cafeteria from the main hall.

Some students were exiting as they entered; a sweet aroma of food followed them, painfully reminding her how hungry she was. As they stepped inside, they were greeted by a cashier. Kakashi quickly paid for them both.

Sakura's eyes searched the room as they walked. There were dozens and dozens of tables spread out filled with people. It seemed like a lot of people knew each other, though there were several groups sitting together just to share the table space. Scattered about were a few seldom single tables of students studying and eating quietly by themselves. From the looks of it the food here seemed buffet style. It was pretty rare she'd ever go to any buffet places in Japan.

Kakashi pointed out the food vendor sections that lined mostly against the wall.

"There are different kinds to choose from. Some will cook to order the meat and vegetables you want. So, just look around and get whatever you like."

Sakura nodded.

"There are usually empty tables on the other side of the wall over there. So, let's meet there?"

She nodded again as she watched him grab a tray. Doing the same, she decided to have a look around at her options first. She saw a few dishes she already recognized such as yakiniku (grilled meat dishes), sushi, and kushikatsu (Japanese-style of deep-fried kebab). There were also a lot of different ethnic foods, ranging from Indian to Italian.

'Wait…How much did this cost anyway?'

Guilt seeped into her conscious as she should have paid attention to how much it was at the register. Maybe she could find out on the way out and pay Kakashi back. This all looked terribly expensive. She sighed and decided there really wasn't much she could do about it now.

'Might as well get whatever I want, else it would really be a waste.'

Sakura helped herself to some ice water with a few lemon slices. Then got herself a small salad with a few tomatoes, cucumbers, and croutons with a small drizzle of dressing on top. The cooked to order dishes looked pretty delicious, but since she wanted a salad she decided she should just get a small portion of something she could scoop herself. As she surveyed her choices, she decided the pasta with grilled chicken looked pretty good. Finally, she picked up a few pieces of fruit - such a strawberries and grapes - to be her dessert.

Making her way towards the direction Kakashi pointed out earlier, she looked around to see if he was still getting any food. Not seeing him, she figured he must have gotten a table already. On the other side of the room there were several rows of tables, which had a staircase leading up to another floor with even more seating.

Looking around a room, she saw a small gloved hand wave at her near the back. Kakashi was sitting at a small table near the wall. He was reading a book and seemed to be munching on something behind it.

'Oh yeah… I wonder if I'll get to peek behind his infamous mask?'

That idea seemed to brighten her mood somehow. She had never heard of anyone from her old class ever seeing his face before, so it was a pretty intriguing thought that she might get to. Sitting down across from Kakashi, she saw an empty bowl in front of him.

'Did he eat already?' she thought, slightly disappointed.

He turned a page and ate from a small dish. It looked like crispy chow mein noodles, which was usually a good topper for soups. He was dipped too low behind his book for her to see anything.

'How unfortunate…' she thought to herself.

"Did you have soup?" she asked, looking at his empty bowl.

"Miso. Pretty good here."

"Have it often?"

"Mm… when I was here a few years ago, but haven't recently until today."

Sakura began eating as she struggled to think of what else to talk about. She would love to get to know him better, but she had a feeling he probably wouldn't say much as he continued to flip another page of his book - which he seemed completely engrossed in. If that didn't say, 'Hey I don't want to talk.' she didn't know what else would. Sakura peered at the cover of the book.

'Icha Icha...?'

Sakura paled. She remembered hearing about the series in high school. All she knew was that it was an adult-themed type of series, which probably meant she shouldn't ask about it unless she wanted to completely embarrass herself.

She remembered briefly that he would usually have some sort of novel in hand when he wasn't lecturing in class in middle school.

The silence between them was filled with sounds of rain and thunder mixed in with the murmuring voices that echoed throughout the cafeteria. She finished most of her meal, uncomfortably staring at Kakashi's book.

"Is it good?"

She jumped at his sudden question.

"Oh, the food's really delicious. Thanks again by the way…I still feel bad being such a bother to you…but…I do appreciate it."

"It's nothing."

"Well… I hope you'll let me repay you."

"Nope."

Sakura shot a glare at him as he still hid behind his book. Sakura wished at that very moment her glare could burn a hole in that damn book of his and set it in flames. She imagined him running around going, 'Nooooooo my precious book!' and waving it around the cafeteria only fanning the flames more. Then tears. Tears would fall into that damn mask of his.

She almost chuckled out loud at her imagination, but caught herself.

"I insist," she finally said with a small smile. At that she began eating the small bowl of fruit she collected earlier with her chopsticks.

.

.

"Nope." He flipped another page.

'I don't remember him being so stubborn…Is he always like this?'

"Yes."

"Nope - So what's your major?"

'Is he trying to change the subject?'

"Yes - and I'm looking into getting into medical school, but just taking some basics this semester."

"No - and what field you thinking about?"

"Yes - and I haven't figured out the field yet. Hopefully I'll figure it out soon."

"Interesting… Interesting…and…Nyet."

'Did he just say no in Russian?... Why that…'

"Da."

Kakashi looked up at her curiously over his book.

Sakura felt glad that when she was in elementary school and got her first computer, one of the programs that came with it was this disc which sampled many languages in the world with neat little facts about the country. They all sampled words like yes, no, my name is…, and numbers. She was pretty fascinated by it and tried to learn some of the basic words from each country.

"Absolument pas," Kakashi said as his book was lowered now.

"Certes oui," Sakura replied back in French.

"Nein."

"Ja."

Kakashi folded his arms and thought while tapping his fingers against his book. Sakura wasn't sure where he was going with this strange language game of his, but she was determined to win.

"Nahi"

'Hindi.' Sakura narrowed her eyes.

"Haan."

Suddenly the lights dimmed above them as Kakashi and Sakura looked momentarily at the ceiling. Sakura's gaze then shifted towards the windows again. It was still raining pretty hard. The storm wasn't going to make the lights go out…was it?

"We should probably leave in case the electricity goes out. Then we'll be stuck here forever," Kakashi said as he collected his things. "And I'm not admitting defeat just yet," he added with a slight eye crinkle above his mask.

"We'll see," Sakura replied with a smile as she finished the last bit of her fruit and got up to leave.

A few other students had the same idea to leave, so they squeezed into the line that was forming at the exit. When they finally got out, they traveled down the hall to make way for the flow of people forming around them.

"Well… This is turning into the strangest first day I've ever had," Sakura said as they walked.

"Mm-hum," Kakashi said with a nod. She wasn't sure if he was simply agreeing or if he was really having a strange day, too.

They both stood in front of one the many windows from the hall and watched the rain. The lights dimmed a few more times, but thankfully never went completely out. As the minutes passed by, Sakura stole quick glances at Kakashi, noting how he really did look like he had a young face beneath that mop of hair and mask. He had a handsome profile anyway. She blushed at that thought. Did she find him attractive? She tried not to think anymore about it and focused back through the windows.

A few moments later the rain was finally beginning to thin out. She was sure Kakashi must have places to go and things to do besides babysitting her.

"I think it's safe to start walking back…So I… guess I'll see you Wednesday," Sakura said with a smile.

"Be careful," he replied simply.

"I will… and I WILL be paying you back," she said as she slipped past the door. Sadly, she still heard a 'No' muttered before the door fully closed.

'What a strange day,' she thought.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Fail

The sun had only just finally managed to peek through the grey clouds as night began to slowly drift in behind the sunset. Sakura was sitting in her room while going through her pile of syllabuses and looked over the readings she needed to get started on. Her eyes scanned all the chapters she was expected to read per day. She was hoping her professors were joking…

'That's like 600 pages per week, per class.'

She sighed. After finally finishing her first day, she wasn't looking forward to having more assigned class work from the ones she hadn't met for yet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tomorrow, she also needed to buy the rest of her books.

She yawned quietly and stretched in her chair. She was feeling hungry again after her lunch with Kakashi earlier that day. Getting up, she went to Ino's room and softly knocked on the door though it was already open.

"Are you feeling hungry yet?" Sakura asked.

"Yeah, definitely. I'm good with just making some sandwiches or something," Ino replied.

"Sounds good to me."

They both made their way to the small kitchen and separately began making their own sandwiches.

"I can't believe how much it rained today," Sakura said as she unrolled a loaf of bread.

"I know! It was so annoying. Stupid rain made my hair so frizzy. I looked and felt disgusting the whole day. How did yours go?"

"It was kind of a strange day… Do you remember Kakashi-sensei from middle school?"

"Mmm, our homeroom teacher. What about him?"

"He's in one of my classes."

Ino looked at her questioningly with an eyebrow slightly raised. "Eh?"

Sakura nodded. "I didn't believe it myself at first, but there he was… and we actually had lunch together, too."

Ino stared at Sakura blankly. "What, why…?"

Sakura told her, more or less, the series of events that happened. Ino kept a raised eyebrow throughout most of her story while taking a bite into her sandwich creation.

"Dat's kree-py," Ino finally said through muffled bites.

"Well, I thought it was strange at first, but he's just a normal person. Who cares if he used to be a teacher… who reads porn in public, but he's more or less normal… I think."

"I don't know what I'd do if my ex-teacher was taking a class with me. Just seems weird," Ino replied and continued, "Though I guess it's not that big of a deal. Teachers are just like anybody else at the end of the day, but I can't help but think they are uptight and old."

"Well… he seems nice."

"Do you like him…?" Ino stared slightly bewildered.

"Huh? No… I don't even know him. I'm just saying he seems nice."

"You have a thing for old dudes?"

Sakura flinched at that remark, getting slightly irritated. "Stop putting words in my mouth. I said I don't even know him that well. Besides, I really don't think he's that old. He's probably in his early thirties."

"I remember him having gray hair," Ino replied.

"Silver. And I have pink hair. It's naturally that color."

"Mmm…well…I guess."

Ino didn't look all that convinced. Sakura finally bit into her sandwich. She wasn't sure why she felt so irritated at Ino's accusation of her liking him that way, or that he was old. For one thing, it certainly would never happen even if she wanted to. Wait. She wanted to? Or was Ino's mere suggestion of her liking him making her start to think that way?

'…'

Images flashed in the back of her mind of how his shoulder felt against hers for a moment when they ran in the rain, and how he seemed to have a cute mysterious smile, and that his muscles looked…

'I am totally crushing on my ex-teacher.'

Sakura looked at Ino for a moment, unnoticed, while slumping down into the chair that was at their kitchen table. No way would she admit it out loud.

'It's just a silly infatuation or something,' Sakura concluded.

'Not like he'd ever go for someone like me anyway…'


It was Wednesday already before Sakura knew it. The weather was actually nice today as rays of light shimmered through the trees on her way walking to school. It did feel a bit humid though, so she decided to wear a chiffon laced tank top that flowed faintly in the wind as she walked. Her Tuesday classes weren't too bad since there were only two that day and she had plenty of time to pick up the rest of her books she needed for the semester.

She came into class with about eight minutes left to spare before it began. Taking the seat she had last time, it seemed that Kakashi wasn't there yet. Pulling out her notes and a pen, she sat staring blankly at nothing in particular, tapping the end of her pen against the desk. Chairs squeaked around her as people were taking their seats. She noticed a few minutes later that the teacher's assistants were gathering multicolored papers from a couple of large boxes. At eight o'clock sharp they began to go row by row, passing them down.

'Oh god, what's this?' she wondered.

Kakashi slid into the seat next to her, almost unnoticed by Sakura, and sighed looking at the papers that were slowly being passed up.

"Pop quiz already… I figured as much," Kakashi said with a yawn followed by a bored look on his face. He propped his head up with one arm on his desk. His face was partly covered by the open cuffs of his button down shirt.

"No way," Sakura said to herself as she leaned forward with her hands rubbing her temples. Sakura wasn't ready to have a quiz already. It was only the second day of class for Pete's sakes!

"Don't worry too much about it. First quiz usually doesn't count, but try your best," Kakashi said simply to Sakura, noticing how tense she looked as he passed the pile of quiz papers to her.

She nodded at Kakashi avoiding his eyes and passed the papers along. Writing her name quickly on the sheet, she began to read through all the questions first to see how much she knew before she really panicked.

'1. "Plato distinguishes knowledge from mere belief or opinion by saying that knowledge must be a true belief for which one can give a justification, a rationale, or "logos." In terms of his image of the Divided Line, for Plato, knowledge is attained only when our sensible experience is:"'

'Okay… skip that one for now… Next question.'

'2. "When a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until, by pure intelligence, he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world… Dialectic, and dialectic alone..."'

Sakura wasn't even going to finish reading that one.

'Why are the questions so long...?'

She never felt so lost in her entire history of taking quizzes or tests in high school or middle school combined. She did read one of the chapters for this class yesterday thinking she'd have the whole weekend to finish… but holy crap none of this made any sense.

From the corner of her eye, she saw Kakashi had flipped his paper over signifying he was finished wondered to herself if these were really that easy. She would have assumed it was because he was very intelligent, but everyone else had begun to flip over their test papers around her. Sullenly, she stared at the rest of the questions until she felt she could make two good educated guesses out of the fifteen questions. She was so screwed. Suddenly, they were already starting to collect everyone's quizzes. She randomly chose answers for the ones she had left… which were a lot.

When she finished passing the papers from their row, she placed her head into her folded arms, defeated. She was going to get an F in her very first college class. Given she was Salutatorian of her graduating class… this was beyond mortifying.

Everyone in the classroom whispered briefly to each other about the quiz, then hushed their voices when the professor began the lecture. Kakashi pulled out his Icha Icha book and began reading; however, he felt a black hole forming beside him and stopped. He stole a glance at Sakura. The expression on her face looked like someone had just died as she was miserably writing notes from the lecture. The way she was digging into the paper, you'd think she was trying to slash it to death.

'Did she do that bad?' he thought to himself. He felt the quiz covered pretty general questions.

Looking back at his book, he tried to read a few paragraphs before stopping again. Her sad face next to him kept plaguing his mind for some reason. He wasn't sure if it was possible for anyone to look sadder than she was right now. Kakashi had planned on tormenting her more with their small word game from the other day for his own amusement, but guilt was beginning to seep in just looking at her.

He remembered briefly when she was in his homeroom class in middle school. The only time she ever looked remotely sad was when she couldn't sit next to Uchiha Sasuke. She was certainly one hundred times more upset right now compared to that.

Of course he wasn't sure why he was comparing her now to back then. It was so many years ago. She was honestly really annoying when he taught her, but when they talked last Monday she seemed like a complete stranger compared to what he thought he remembered about her. She was certainly intriguing.

Realizing he had been staring at the same line in his book, he sighed and closed it. He couldn't concentrate on reading now. He felt the need to cheer her up after class. Though, he was pretty sure he'd come off as even more creepy after buying her lunch, but it's not like there was much harm in him doing that - and she was in a bind. He's just an old ex-sensei from many years ago.

'Old.'

Yeah. He'll probably come off as even more creepy to her. He focused back on the lecture that seemed to drag on forever and adjusted himself more comfortably in the seat. He could already tell he was going to use those three 'sick' days for this class early. It was so boring…

Sakura's hand was starting to hurt as she kept writing notes feverishly. She felt she had to just write down everything if she had any glimmer of hope of passing now. She glanced at Kakashi who… looked like he was falling asleep.

Part of her felt angry. Was this class really a joke to him? How could he not pay attention at all?

A few moments later, class was dismissed. Sakura grabbed all her things quickly and placed them into her bag and waited for Kakashi to sit up before she could slip by. He sat up very slowly and stretched. She sighed inwardly at how much of a sloth he was. When he finally exited the aisle, her arm brushed past his feeling her heart jump in touching him. Making every effort to avert her eyes from his, she kept walking, feeling in no mood to talk to anyone right now. Kakashi quickly took a fingerless glove to her shoulder before she completely bolted out the door.

"…Sakura."

"Yes…? I need to go to my next class, but I'll see you next week, Kakashi."

"Don't get too upset over the quiz. Trust me, it's one of many."

"Many… huh."

Okay that wasn't helping.

"Eh, what I mean is don't beat yourself up over it. They do this to make sure you don't slack off on readings during the semester. I'm pretty sure this quiz won't even count."

"Well, even so… I don't know what I'll do next time. It's…really confusing," Sakura said with a sigh. "I need to go to my next class before I'm late, but thanks anyway…Kakashi," she added, still looking not very encouraged. She turned to leave.

"Eh… wait," Kakashi said slowly as he held her back again. "I could help you if you want. We could study…the chapters together. I guess… like a group study kind of thing."

Kakashi wasn't sure why in his right mind he wanted to suggest that, but was pretty sure she'd say no anyway.

"Oh…really!" Sakura's sullen spirits seemed to instantly switch in the blink of an eye.

"Oh, yeah… No problem. I-If you want," Kakashi sputtered back. He was slightly taken aback that she'd agree so quickly like that.

"That would help me so much. Thank you!" She gave him a brief bear hug.

Kakashi felt very aware of her breasts smashing up against his chest for that split moment. He was very thankful for his mask that was covering a stunned blush that had made its way to his cheeks.

"Ahh… Um, yeah. Well, I suppose we could get started after your last class today?"

Sakura smiled and nodded. "How about the library? Around five o'clock?"

He rubbed the back of his silver hair thinking what exactly he had gotten himself into. "Okay... See you then, Sakura."

She ran off quickly to her class with a beaming smile on her face. Kakashi left in the direction towards his next class while placing his hands in his pockets. He let out a sigh. He wasn't sure what to make of this sudden obligation, but had no choice to back out of it now.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Black Out

Kakashi leaned against one of the columns of the library while burying himself behind his book, trying to avoid glances from people as they walked past. Why he didn't set a certain floor for them to meet at, he'll never know. He hated being so open in public. Thankfully, because the library was so overwhelmingly massive in size, it had a great selection of study areas to usually keep private to himself between classes. The library was about ten stories tall which stretched across monumental sized columns. Each floor featured endless rows of windows facing the surrounding campus.

Unfortunately, he was recognized more often than he would like, which is why he'd rather not be anywhere so open if he could help it. If he ever found the idiot journalists who wrote articles about him throughout the past years growing up, he would shove their pens up their… Well, there's so many choices where. He liked to keep his privacy for a reason. He didn't want any fame or recognition for achieving his aspirations. It also didn't help that his family name was pretty well known in Japan.

Kakashi really didn't have anything to do until his little 'study group' meeting with Sakura. Earlier he picked up a small lunch and now he was bored out of his mind waiting around. He tried to remember, why did he offer to help her study again? He could be at home by now, reading in his town house while watching TV. He remembered that his downfall was Sakura's sullen face from earlier today. He vowed that next time he will not fall so easily for her trapping frowns.

His eyes drew away from the page he was reading, seeing a pink fluff of hair weaving through in the walkway of people. He was at least glad she was easy to spot. Closing his book, he placed it in his back pocket and he met up with her near the library doors.

"Yo."

"Hi, Kakashi!" Sakura said excitedly while smiling sweetly. "I really appreciate you helping me out. It means a lot… and now I owe you times two."

"Starting that already I see. No-"

"I don't want to hear it," Sakura cut in. She placed her finger up to her lips telling him to shush.

Kakashi sighed while they made their way inside the building. As they passed by the security detectors, Sakura admired how tall the ceilings were inside the lobby. Large portrait paintings, of what she assumed were some of the university's early leaders or contributors, hung along the wide marble walls. Past the information desk was a computer lab with rows of people tapping away at their keyboards.

"We'll just go to a quiet floor I know."

Sakura nodded and followed him as they went to the elevator area. There were about ten elevators chiming randomly as the doors opened and closed for people coming and going. The one they entered had a breathable amount of people that filed in with them. People seemed to dwindle out quickly once they stopped and passed the third and fourth floors. After a few more people exited, they were alone until they reached their destination: the ninth floor.

The floor was mostly quiet with only a few words of hushed talking being heard as they left the elevator area. Kakashi inhaled the scent of old musky pages as they passed by numerous rows of books. He had no idea why he loved the smell so much, but he guessed since he spent a lot of his time here in the past he'd grown accustomed to it. He did love the scent of a new book and the crisp pages even more though.

Finding an empty table over by the wall of windows, he motioned for them to sit. Sakura sat across from him and placed her stuff on the table. It was a pretty large table which could seat about six or more people. Sakura brought out the book from her bag that they were assigned to read in class.

"Where should we start? I can't say I've gotten too far in the hundreds of pages yet…"

He slid the book from her side to look at the first chapters.

"Best way to take in all this junk they dribble in this crappy, overpriced book, is to skim read actually," he stated matter-of-factly while flipping the pages. "Else you would be reading all night and lose your sanity. It's a good idea to outline the people and the ideas from each chapter and just make a summary to review later. For a class like this, you really just need the basic understanding," he added.

"If I just skim read it, couldn't I accidentally miss something?"

He shook his head no. "Most college textbooks, at least for basic classes like this, seriously just cram things in here to make it more expensive. Instead of just writing it in two paragraphs, they make it into several pages of the most worthless crap."

Kakashi knew irritatingly well after buying endless amount of worthless mandatory books for classes in the past. "So… we'll just outline some things first. Have some paper, pencil, and a highlighter?"

Sakura nodded and opened her folder from her bag, retrieving a few leaflets of paper. Searching inside her bag once more, she pulled out a couple pencils and a highlighter.

"I can show you what I mean… um, if you come over here for a sec."

Without much thought, Sakura got up and moved to the chair beside Kakashi, sitting on her knees to look over into the book. He noted the quick blush on her face from their closeness and she tried to hide it with a quick smile, making him feel a little awkward. The chairs around the table were already close together as it was, since they were big and bulky lined up next to each other. Kakashi tried to scoot a little without much success as Sakura continued to lean over the table touching his arm faintly with hers. Kakashi glanced at her sleeveless arm.

'I wonder how soft her skin must be... Great, I've just confirmed I really am a pervert,' Kakashi thought sarcastically wanting to mentally slap himself.

Trying not to feel like his personal space wasn't being far more invaded than he would have ever liked, he tried to push on to focus and get into teacher-mode. Clearing his throat uncomfortably, he said, "Uh, okay, well, looking at this one here... I'll show you what the important key points about it are. Then you do the same for next section. "

He took the highlighter and flipped to the end of the chapter working his way up through the pages. Making only a few marks on the first few pages he looked over, he made a couple small notes lightly with a pencil over some passages here and there.

Sakura squinted at his writing and said, "Your writing looks like chicken scratch."

"Humph," he replied. He shot her a look and sadly had to silently agree that the few words he wrote looked more like jumbled squiggly lines. He sighed and erased the words that wouldn't have been readable to anyone but himself. Sakura seemed pretty amused about it as she watched him rewrite.

"Introductory and concluding paragraphs usually are the most important to read since it sums it up basically. I tend to just read the conclusion first and main summary points of the chapter before anything else," Kakashi said as he worked through a page.

"Well, this is definitely more efficient than what I was doing in trying to read every word," Sakura commented as she watched. He pushed the book to her to do the next section.

"After you do the next one, we'll go through the main points and I'll just ask you some basic questions."

"Alrighty. Got it."

Kakashi, out of habit, wanted to read his Icha Icha, but was sure he'd feel even more uncomfortable if she happened to read some of it over his shoulder. He began to mess with his fingerless leather gloves, listening to the leather scrunch against the push and pull of his fingers as he waited. Running out of things to stare at, he watched Sakura work. He noticed how she was biting her bottom lip slightly as she was thinking of which sections to highlight. It made her lips shine more in the florescent light.

'Such cherry lips.'

He inwardly sighed at how he really just thought that. Mentally slapping himself again, he still couldn't seem to tear away from looking at her fair-skinned face. Her light green eyes moved quickly from word to word as she read. Suddenly, she looked up straight into his gaze. Uncomfortably, he tried to play off that he wasn't staring and looked down at her notes so far. Then he glanced anywhere else but in her direction.

When Sakura finished they talked about the summary of the chapters they did while making sure she understood.

"Okay, so," Kakashi started to say as he began to look at the chapter questions listed in the book. "...One of the tasks of philosophy is to test conceptual frameworks for depth and consistency. Philosophy thus emphasizes the need to… what?"

He read the multiple choice answers and waited for Sakura's answer.

"Um, C - Articulate what we mean by our beliefs and to justify our beliefs by arguments."

"Yep. See? It's pretty easy when you look at all the choices. They are mostly just trying to confuse you by throwing in a bunch of words."

"Well, I wish they wouldn't do that. It's annoying," Sakura said with a sigh and continued to flip through the book, still leaning against his arm. "If the quiz was this confusing to me today... I can't imagine what the tests will be like."

"I can tell you that in the tests, for most of this, a lot of the essay questions will be just whatever your opinion is. Otherwise, it's just going to be basic multiple choice and true or false."

"Ah, like what?" Sakura asked.

"I'm sure essay questions like 'If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?' will be there. It's an old reality versus perception argument. What do you think it means?"

Sakura began biting her lip again as she thought for a moment. "Well, I'd say yes, though it's only because I know in this world anyway, that's how the laws of physics go. I know that it does make a sound since I've seen it myself before, so even if I'm not around, it certainly will. Who's to say though on another planet where the laws could be different? I guess that's a reality answer?"

Kakashi nodded. "However, if no one is around to perceive the sound, then who's to say the sound was made? Sure, a tree falling creates a mechanical wave of pressure transmitted through a medium, but I think this question regards the perception of sound. The wave is no doubt created, but does it make a sound if no one is there to perceive it? If I do not perceive it, then how can I say that it exists?"

Sakura stared blankly for a moment.

"The way you say it makes my answer seem stupid," Sakura sighed.

"I can argue for the other side as well, but point is that there really isn't a right answer. Just depends on your point of view. Just list the valid points for your argument."

"Hum, I see."

Kakashi continued to go over questions for a little while, and then looked into summarizing a few more chapters. About an hour and a half later or so Sakura looked towards the windows with a surprised look.

"Oh, it's dark already. I didn't think it was that late."

Kakashi nodded with a yawn escaping his lips while he stretched back from the chair slightly and said, "We'll stop here for now."

He watched Sakura slowly sit up from her spot beside him to go gather her belongings while she smiled happily. She looked relieved. Was she really that worried about the class? Standing up now, Kakashi smoothed out his floppy strands of hair with one hand as he stretched more fully. Sakura glanced at him while he did this which made him feel… self-conscious for some reason. He straightened out his button down shirt as they walked together towards the elevators.

An elevator chimed at its arrival. No one else joined them as they entered. Kakashi pushed the button to go down to the first floor. They stood in an almost uncomfortable silence. Sakura awkwardly stared at the glossy floor which had a few scattered scuff marks, swinging her shoulders side to side while clutching her bag. While he leaned against the glossy black wall of the elevator, Kakashi watched her for a moment before looking away towards a random spot on the wall. The lights above them flickered followed by a slow whirring sound.

-EEEERRNKK-

The lights went out around them besides the dimly lit elevator buttons. The elevator had halted mid-floor.

"Uh…" Sakura uttered in a worried voice.

Kakashi pressed the emergency button with no response. Then he just randomly started pushing buttons which were yielding the same unresponsiveness. You could hear the groan of steel cables from the elevator shaft from the sudden halt.

"The elevator isn't going to fall… or something is it?" Sakura asked in the dark.

"..."

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: I Hate You

"And then steel cables in the distance slowly began to snap, one by one above the elevator. There was no time to think as the floor gave way under their feet. Free falling into their demise that would resemble crushed steel and shattered stone intertwined in their bodies... Kakashi and Sakura knew this would be their very last moments of life, but when their fall stopped on impact… on top of a mountain of Jell-O left by elevator gnomes... They were saved!"

Sakura's heart felt like it was beating in her throat as she held her bag tightly in her hands. She blinked trying to forget the images flashing before her of falling to her death… minus the random Jell-O part.

"That's… not funny," Sakura muttered.

"You shouldn't have asked if we we're going to fall," Kakashi replied back in the dark.

"I hate you."

Kakashi sighed. "Okay, it was a bad way of making a joke. Sorry. Honestly, it just looks like the power went out. It will probably be back soon. Don't worry."

"I hate you."

"..."

Silence fell between them for a moment. Kakashi wasn't sure if Sakura really did hate him right now for his little joke of them falling to their deaths, but they were saved by Jell-O! Okay, he supposed she had reason to. "But, I like you."

Sakura flinched in the dark at that response. She wasn't sure what he meant by that, but kept to her sudden resolve of hating him forever. Folding her arms beneath her chest, she huffed aloud. "I hate you."

"You can't really hate me, can you?"

"Yes."

"You don't know me well enough to hate."

"I hate you."

Kakashi sighed. "You didn't bring a parrot in here did you?"

"I hate you forever."

"A smart parrot."

Sakura semi-blindly made a motion in the dark to smack Kakashi from where he stood in front of the dimly lit elevator buttons. The outline of his silhouette was faint, but enough where she could guess in hitting his arm.

-smack-

"I never knew you were so violent, Sakura," Kakashi said as he rubbed his arm. She actually had a decent hit.

Sakura grumbled and replied, "Then don't scare me. Jerk."

Silence made its way back again as they both stood in the same spots when they had first entered. About ten minutes had passed before Sakura slowly sunk to the floor, placing her bag beside her, and sat while hugging her knees. Kakashi followed suit and slid his back against the elevator's wall. It was starting to feel a little warm since the cool air that would fill up inside when the doors opened was no longer circulating inside the elevator. Kakashi pressed his neck against the chilled marble and wondered how long they'd have to stay like this. He was beginning to think this was the universe's way of punishing him for everything he had ever done wrong in his life.

Sakura's heart had slowed down several minutes ago, finally not feeling as scared anymore as the elevator stood quietly. The warm air she breathed was making her all the more aware of how stifling it was getting. She opened her bag to see if by some miracle her phone would get service; naturally, it didn't. Placing it back in the bag, she stretched out her legs. She felt bad for calling Kakashi a jerk, but he was a jerk! Making her scared like that… Still, regret ached in her chest. She couldn't stay mad forever - even if she wanted to.

"How long do you think we'll be stuck like this?" she finally asked out loud.

"Mm, this whole building seems to be without electricity, so I'm sure they are working as fast as they can on it… Still hate me?"

"I suppose not…" Sakura said with a sigh.

"I'll make it up to you."

"Uh-huh."

"I promise."

"Fine. Better be good."

"What would you like?"

Sakura thought for a moment. What would she want? Wait. If he was going to be a jerk, so could she! A smiled formed on her lips. "77,419,961,631 yen."

Kakashi wondered why it was such a specific number. "Okay, what would you like that requires not robbing every bank in Japan?"

"Ponies – fifty-eight miniature ponies that can all sing while balancing manatees on the tips of their noses as they do the Macarena."

"I'm not sure how to respond to that." He really didn't.

"A trip to France."

"We're back to robbing banks again," he sighed.

"How about you just tell me about yourself?"

There was a moment of silence. "Okay. I like books."

"Something I don't already know."

"I have lots of hobbies."

"Like..?"

"Reading."

"..."

Sakura clenched her fists and made another swing where he had been last. All she managed to hit was just warm air.

"I moved a while ago. 'Cause I learned you're violent."

His voice now sounded like he had moved to the other side of the elevator. When and how did he manage that without her noticing?

"I hate you," she gritted through her teeth.

"I like you still anyway."

"Flattery isn't going to help you."

"Okay, okay. How about a game? Two truths and a lie. Played that before?"

"Mm, yes. You go first," Sakura replied slightly intrigued, yet still annoyed at how much he kept avoiding revealing anything about himself. Least this way she was bound to learn something about him.

"I hate books. I have hobbies. I have a strange sense of humor."

"Ughhhh," Sakura groaned in annoyance. She wanted to punch his face. She wished she could see anything more than just the pitch black darkness before her. Maybe she should just begin to punch in every direction in hopes of finding his face. "I hate you," she finally muttered again.

"Oh, back to that again… Well, which one do you think is a lie?" Kakashi tried to hold a laugh back as he asked, but a small snicker escaped from his throat.

"The first one, you bastard."

"So mean… Your turn," he said like he was slightly hurt by her words.

"I want to punch your face. I hate you. My favorite color is pink."

"Hopefully the first one?"

"Nope."

"Uh… second one?"

"No."

"But your hair is pink."

"Doesn't make it my favorite color."

"Which is?"

"Red."

"It's sort of close to pink."

"Shush. Your turn."

"Hum…" Kakashi thought for a moment. He supposed he could stop teasing her and actually share something about himself. "I own a motorcycle. I love lightning. My favorite color is blue."

"Second one?"

"Nope."

"First?"

"Nope."

"Oh really. Well aren't you Mr. Cool."

"I am."

Sakura rolled her eyes. "What's your favorite color?"

"All colors."

"Why, Kakashi… Why?" Sakura sighed while placing a hand to her head to rub her temple. Why was he so difficult? A bead of sweat rolled down the side of her face. If they didn't get out of here soon, she was either going to seriously injure him or suffocate in this heat.

"I'm not picky."

"Whatever. God, it's hot in here. How long has it been?"

"A little over thirty minutes probably."

"Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Sakura wasn't sure how much longer she could deal with the mugginess.

"I'm probably the last person you want to be stuck in an elevator with, huh?"

"No… Not exactly," Sakura replied hesitantly.

"Oh? But you hate me."

"It's a love, hate kind of thing."

"Love?"

Sakura desperately regretted her choice of words. Her heart quickened with uneasiness. "You know what I mean," she scoffed.

"I didn't think you were so bold, Sakura."

"Shut up."

"I'm just teasing, calm down."

"Hate you."

"Still?" Kakashi said with a small smile forming under his mask.

He wasn't sure why it was so fun toying with her. He held his folded button-down shirt in his hands now. He didn't want to start sweating through it after it was clear they weren't getting out anytime soon. Now he just wore what he usually trained in most of the time, which was a sleeveless black shirt with his attached mask. He would have taken that off, too, but it would be his luck he'd scare Sakura to death if the electricity suddenly were to switch on.

Right after he was thinking that, the lights flickered above them for a moment and then turned on. 'Aren't I lucky,' he thought.

Sakura blinked from the sudden light for a moment before looking left and right, not seeing Kakashi. Her faced looked puzzled wondering exactly where did he disappear to. "Eh?"

"Behind you."

She turned over her shoulder. Kakashi was seated against the wall, slumped over his lap with his legs positioned comfortably Indian style. Her eyes glanced over the smooth black, very form fitting sleeveless shirt he now wore. It outlined his perfectly sculpted muscles and really left nothing else to the imagination.

Kakashi looked at her curiously, wondering if she was going to say something at first, but she kept silent. "…Yes?" he asked.

Sakura snapped her eyes away from his shirt realizing she was blatantly staring at him, and blushed. "Um, what happened to your shirt?"

"It was hot. Took it off."

"Oh."

Turning back around, she stood up slowly. Her knees felt weak from sitting for so long on the floor and her butt felt a bit numb. Abruptly, the elevator jolted and began to move down. Sakura fell backwards and tried to make a grab for the railing only to feel her fingers slip by. She felt herself land against Kakashi's chest; his arms grabbed tightly around her waist. She could feel his heart beat fast against her back. He stood them both up and let her go slowly.

"Ah… sorry," she whispered, feeling a bit embarrassed while avoiding his eyes. She picked up her bag off the floor as the elevator opened at the main lobby level. They both exited as a few other people leaving different elevators joined them. Everyone was irritated and complaining to each other. As they passed by the information desk near the front doors of the library, all the employees could do was apologize and said that something caused the electric grid at the university to go out.

Outside the library's doors, the cool night welcomed them graciously. Sakura wiped her face with her arm and inhaled the refreshing air. "We're not dead," she said while exhaling.

"We're the lucky ones," he replied.

Sakura smiled and looked up at the moon that hid itself behind one of the tall buildings. It was usually difficult to find a completely clear sky in the city with all the lights, but there were a few stars that she could see tonight. Sakura looked over to Kakashi. He averted his gaze from her direction and swung his buttoned shirt over his shoulder.

"Where do you live?" he asked while stretching his arms slightly.

"Um, well it's about fifteen minutes or so from here walking."

"I'll drive you home."

"Huh, no… you don't need to do that. I feel like I've caused enough trouble for you. It's pretty much my fault for us getting stuck in the elevator."

"Not sure how you figure that. No one could have known that would happen, unless you secretly planned it… Are you a criminal mastermind?"

"No," Sakura replied as she shot him a glare. "It was my choice for us to meet at the library…" Sakura looked down at the ground and fiddled with the hem of her shirt.

"It's not your fault. Shit happens, but I'm not going to let you walk home so late at night. So let's go."

Sakura stood still for a moment as he waited for her to move.

"Come on, Sakura."

He grabbed her forearm lightly and tugged her alongside him. His touch felt so warm against her skin. She resisted at first at his pull, but finally walked side by side with him as they made their way through the streetlight lit campus. He slowly lost grip on her arm and let his hand fall into his pocket. Crickets chipped as they walked in silence. The campus looked nothing short of a ghost town with a select few shadowy figures walking in the distance. Sakura silently wished she could still feel his warm touch.

While they walked through the campus, she noticed she never been to this part of the campus yet. The buildings surrounding them seemed to deal with engineering and science. A short distance away she could see a row of lights highlighting a parking lot that was across the street. She guessed that's where his car… Then she remembered their game from earlier. He mentioned that he owned a motorcycle. She had never ridden one before and started to feel a little nervous. What if she fell off because of her lack of balance or stupidity?

They hurried across the street when it was clear from traffic. Kakashi took his button shirt he was carrying on his shoulder and tied it around his lean waist as they approached one of the only lone vehicles still left in the parking lot. Sakura didn't know anything about motorcycles, but it looked sleek. From what she could see by the amber street light above them, the sides were painted a deep crimson color; the main body looked like a charcoal black. Her eyes glanced at front and what she assumed was the gas tank, which was a glossy black that shined slightly beneath the street lamp. He unhooked a simple black helmet that rested on the end of a handlebar and held it out for her to take.

She hesitantly took it from his hands. "I've never ridden on a motorcycle before…"

"You don't need to worry. All you have to do is hang on. Where do you live at?"

"At um, 7th Street, at the Village Apartments at the end of the road."

Slowly, she lifted up the clear plastic face of the helmet and placed it over her head feeling a bit ridiculous. She couldn't see the straps very well as she fumbled with them under her chin. Kakashi stepped forward and adjusted the straps for her. An eye crinkle formed softly above his mask and he gave a small thumbs-up.

"You look cute," he mused.

Sakura shot her eyes down embarrassed. "I feel kind of silly."

"Don't be."

He stepped back and got on the bike with the sound of leather crunching beneath. The bike shifted under his weight as he sat. He turned and patted the tiny raised seat behind him. It was such a small area…

"Uh…"

"It's nothing to be scared of. Come on."

Sakura knew there probably wasn't a way out of this. Though she could make a run for it, but he'd surely run her down with his bike. She sighed and reluctantly swung her leg over the seat. She kept herself on her tippy toes against the ground in trying not to fall into his back.

"There's a place to put your feet on the sides."

"Eh…" She picked up a foot and began looking without much success.

"Here," Kakashi said as he bent slightly to pick up her foot and placed it on one of the foot pegs which was up a little high.

Having both her feet on the pegs now, she couldn't hold herself from pressing against his back. She felt embarrassed. Kakashi started the engine, then grabbed both of her hands and placed them around his waist. Sakura didn't think she could feel even more embarrassed than she already did, but certainly was now. He lifted the bike and, after checking various instruments, began to move forward. Sakura shut her eyes and held his waist tight as they moved.

Feeling the wind against her face, she slowly opened her eyes to see the parking lot blur past her. She wished that her heart would stop beating so fast. It felt like it could jump out her throat at any moment. Clutching Kakashi tight again as they entered into the street, she looked at all the city lights streaming past. There were people walking along the sidewalks, mostly in groups, as some went inside one of the many restaurants that were scattered beside the road. A few minutes slipped past before she realized she had been holding her breath still. Slowly she exhaled and tried her best not to look down at the glittering road beneath them.

Kakashi felt a little bad feeling her pounding heartbeat against him, but given it was her first time riding it was to be expected. He liked the feeling at his waist as she clung to him desperately. There was certainly something comforting about it. It was very much once in a blue moon did anyone ever ride with him on his bike.

It wasn't too long before he pulled onto 7th street and found the apartment building that she described. He slowed down to a stop in front of it and turned off his bike. Slowly, Sakura loosened her grip as her heart started to slow down. Dropping her foot to the ground, she shakily slid off the bike. She fought against all her might not to just melt like butter into the ground. She took in a breath and exhaled while standing towards Kakashi.

"Thanks for taking me home. Though it was a bit terrifying," Sakura said while glancing up at him.

"It takes some getting used to," Kakashi replied as he rubbed the back of his hair with a small smile. He stared at her for a moment. "You're not going to keep that, are you?" He asked while pointing to the helmet.

"Huh? Oh, sorry." She unbuckled the helmet and slid it off. Sliding a hand through her hair, she could only guess how much of a bird's nest it must have looked like right now. "How far do you live from here?" she asked.

"About an hour I guess."

"Oh, I didn't know it was so far away. Sorry, I keep troubling you."

Kakashi sighed as he grabbed the helmet from her. "I said don't worry. It's not trouble. I really don't mind."

"Now I owe you times… God, what is it now, five?"

He narrowed his eyes at her. "It's not a big deal. I'm going to head out. So, I guess I'll see you next week."

"Um," Sakura looked at her hands trying to think of how to say it.

"Yes?"

"Would you mind if…"

"If…?"

"Um…" Sakura bit her lip as she stared at the ground uncomfortably. "I just, would be worried if you got home okay… Could you, I don't know, message me or something when you got home?"

"Well… Um," Kakashi wondered if it would really be okay to do so. Was it even appropriate to exchange numbers with her? Though the line was so blurred on what was appropriate anymore, he really wasn't sure.

"It's just… It's just that early in high school," Sakura slowly stuttered out. "One of my good friends left with her boyfriend after we hung out one night, and I didn't find out until the next morning… Someone hit them when she was going home. They didn't make it. It would just really put my mind at ease if you could tell me when you got home." Sakura wondered if she would ever stop blushing as she looked nervously at up at him.

Kakashi remembered all too well several years ago when the school district found out they had lost two students. He never had them in his class in middle school, but remembered how hard it hit his friend and fellow co-worker, Umino Iruka, who was their teacher.

After a moment of silence, he replied, "I can. I'll just text you. Is that okay?"

"Yes, thank you. S-sorry… again," she replied.

"It's fine," Kakashi said as he pulled out his phone from his back pocket. He opened it to contacts and handed it to her to type in her number. She tried not to shake from the sudden nervousness she was feeling as she typed it in quickly and handed it back.

"Thanks… I really appreciate it, Kakashi."

"It's no problem, Sakura. Good night."

"Good night."

She slowly backed away and did a small wave before finally turning to walk up to her building. He watched her as she entered inside. He sighed. He was having such mixed feelings about Sakura. Kakashi couldn't deny she kept making his heart unexpectedly race against his will through most of the day. Not wanting to think about it anymore, he placed his helmet on. He took one final look at her apartment before riding off into the night.

Sakura peeled open her front door slowly to find most of the lights on inside. Ino poked her head from the living room.

"Sakura! Where the hell have you been? I've been texting you most of the night. I was really worried!" Ino folded her arms and tapped her fingers against her skin waiting for her answer.

"S-sorry, Ino. I got held up at the library. The electricity went out and I was stuck in the elevator for a while."

"Really? I wish you would have let me know ASAP when you got out at least."

"Yeah, sorry… Well, I got a ride home and I guess I didn't think to check my phone after I was finally able to get out."

"Oh? With who?"

"Kakashi," Sakura said while averting her eyes.

"Kakashi? Was he stuck… in there with you?"

"…Yes."

"Did anything happen…?"

"Like what?" Sakura glared.

Ino sighed. "I'm not your mother or anything. I'm just curious. Since you seem to like him or something."

"No, I don't."

"You're not a very good liar."

Sakura ignored Ino's last remark. "Nothing happened."

"Mm, well that's a wasted opportunity then… Since you like him."

Sakura sighed. "Maybe I'm starting to, but nothing could ever happen anyway. So let's just leave it at that." In trying to change the subject she added, "I'm hungry."

Ino's eyes followed Sakura as she left the entryway and went to the kitchen. Opening a few cabinets, she found some instant soup. "Want some?" Sakura asked while holding the can.

"Ate a bit earlier, but thanks anyway."

Ino made her way back to the living room and plopped down on the sofa. She wanted to press the subject further about Kakashi, but given her friend's quick temper she decided to leave it for another day.

They talked for a little bit about different subjects while Sakura ate. When Sakura finished eating she went to her room after saying goodnight to Ino. Now, she laid in bed after changing into her pajamas and stared at the moonlit ceiling. Every few minutes she'd look at her phone. Her eyes felt droopy, but she couldn't sleep until she heard from him. She was beginning to worry after it was starting to be over an hour now since he left. Her phone finally buzzed in her hand.

'I'm home. Get some sleep. Night'

She felt relieved and typed back with a hidden smile that found its way to her lips.

'Sleep well! Goodnight~'

Placing her phone by her nightstand, she lifted the sheet below her chin and got comfortable. Her mind replayed the events that happened today as she closed her eyes. She also thought depressingly about all the reading she still needed to finish this weekend. She was glad she didn't have a Friday class so she could have a three day weekend, which reminded her she still needed to do some job searching.

'Maybe I'll start tomorrow,' she thought. Slowly but surely, sleep found her.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Friends, Aren't We?

The morning's sunrise remained trapped behind dark, motionless clouds as last night's skyline had shifted into a pale misty grey. It was another rainy Monday morning. Sakura groggily turned off her alarm that buzzed on her nightstand. She groaned, really not wanting to get out of bed.

'It's too early. Too tired,' she thought while slowly stretching under her covers.

Listening to the rain fall outside her window, she could faintly hear the mix of light traffic already bustling outside the apartment in the damp streets. She felt so comfortable in her warm bed and wished she could sleep more. Over the rain-fallen weekend she was bored to tears reading and studying for her classes. Sakura managed to even read a few chapters ahead to get them out of the way. Ino almost convinced her to go out Saturday to check out some popular venues in Tokyo, but decided against it. It was too rainy anyway. It wasn't as bad as some of the flooded areas outside of Tokyo, but it was annoying getting wet like she had to on her job-hunting journey. Maybe they could go out this weekend if the rain finally lets up.

Sakura's legs felt a little sore from walking around most of Friday to some of the local shops near her apartment in trying to find a job. Not many were hiring, but she managed to submit a few applications. She wasn't going to hold her breath to get hired anytime soon, but she was hopeful she'd get lucky.

Kicking the sheets off with her feet, she slowly rolled to her side and sat upright on her bed. Trudging out slowly, she glanced at the clock on her desk as she went into the hallway to the bathroom. She had about forty minutes to get ready and be out the door. Shortly after she showered and dried herself, Sakura wasn't sure how much time she had left as she hurried back into her room. Snuggling the towel around her body, she began to pull out some of the drawers from her dresser to decide what to wear today. From the corner of her eye, she noticed her phone was lit up on her desk. She stopped what she was doing and picked up her phone. It was a text message.

'Class is canceled today. Check e-mail.'

It was from Kakashi. Confused, she logged into her university's e-mail account with her phone. Sure enough, there was an e-mail sent about an hour ago from their professor. It said the streets were too flooded in the small town he lived at and that class was canceled for today. She thought to herself how much it would have sucked walking to the class only to find out it was canceled. She smiled to herself, glad that Kakashi had guessed she wouldn't have checked her e-mail before she left. She text messaged back:

'Agh, I was close to leaving, too. Ty for letting me know! You must be psychic. Now I owe you times…6? -_- '

Sakura sighed and put on her comfy pajamas again. It was likely she would still have to go to her ten o'clock class, but decided to go back to bed for a bit. With her phone in hand, she fell back into her bed. Her phone buzzed with a new message.

'Why yes. I am psychic. Impressed?'

'Very impressed. What else can you foresee?' she replied. A few seconds later her phone buzzed again.

'Rain.'

Sakura rolled her eyes as she looked at the rainfall outside her window. Part of her felt a little sad she wouldn't see him today. Maybe he would be there later in the day for another class? She really didn't have a good excuse to meet with him though, and she supposed it was a little weird wanting to see him, but she felt like they were friends - more or less - now. He had helped her out so much in the past week. She also had to admit she really enjoyed his company. So… It's not weird wanting to see a friend, was it? After she thought for a moment she sent another text.

'Ha. Funny. Have class later today?'

A few seconds later he replied, 'Yep. Why?'

'Well… I have class at 10. I'll be bored waiting for my 2pm class. Let's have lunch or something?'

Sakura felt a little anxious for some reason after she sent her reply. Maybe he'd rather just have time to himself or maybe he was getting quickly tired of seeing her which was completely plausible. He really didn't have any reason or obligation to agree. She began to worry maybe she was making herself come off as annoying to him.

Her phone buzzed. 'I foresee us meeting at the student center. 1pm?'

She smiled and responded, 'Sounds good :)'

After setting an alarm on her phone, she placed it next to her on the bed. She figured she'd take a short nap and then get ready for her next class.


It was the first time Sakura and Ino had the chance to walk to school together, since Sakura always had to leave earlier than her. Walking side by side under a shared umbrella, they linked arms and talked a bit about their plans for today as they made their way to campus. It was a nice change to have company for once. Sakura mentioned she was having lunch again with Kakashi. Ino smirked and said something along the lines of how they were practically dating already. Sakura rolled her eyes at that.

"We're friends," Sakura replied.

"Sure you are." Ino winked.

"He wouldn't see me like that, Ino," Sakura said with a small frown.

"I think he must like you to even agree to meet with you. Don't you think?"

"As a friend."

Ino sighed. "He may be a bit older, but I think it's highly possible he does."

"No."

Ino nudged Sakura as they walked. "You don't know unless you try. You do like him, right? He's gone out of his way to help you a lot, too, from what you've said. That says something, doesn't it?"

"It just says that he's a kind person."

'My friend is hopeless,' Ino thought to herself. Once they entered inside the main campus they parted ways and wished each other a good day.

Sakura's 10:00 am class seemed a little less full than usual. Most likely a few people who had flooding problems in some of the smaller surrounding towns couldn't make it. Then it was most likely a few others who simply wanted to skip. Unless the professor said otherwise, students get three free unexcused absences for the whole semester per signed up class. Sakura didn't want to waste them unless she was sick. Figured it would be the smartest thing to do.

The sky highlighted into a lighter shade of grey as it entered past noon. The rain only lightly drizzled, occasionally falling harder for a few moments and then returned back into sprinkles. Sakura twirled her umbrella spraying tiny droplets of water as she walked to the student center to meet up with Kakashi. She didn't see him inside the building behind the glass doors and decided to wait near the front steps. She tugged at the long sleeves of her hoodie as she waited.

As she began to pace, she pondered a little bit about what Ino had said earlier. She did admit to herself that she liked Kakashi, but still the idea of them actually being more than friends... There was just no way could that ever be possible. He was so much older and mature than her. Why would he give her the time of day? Yet, he did agree with meeting her for lunch, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Did it? Now she was starting to feel nervous about seeing him. She wished her uneasiness would go away. As she mulled over her thoughts, the sound of rain around her seemed to pull her into a trance. She stared blankly into a small puddle at her feet that had formed in a sunken brick in the sidewalk.

"Yo."

Sakura jumped nearly dropping her umbrella. Kakashi stood beside her with a small warming smile behind his mask. "Well, you're really jumpy today."

"Erm, sorry. Lost in thought I guess," she replied slightly embarrassed.

"Something the matter?"

"Oh, no. Just thinking random things. Um, so any idea what you'd like to eat today?"

"Hum…" He thought for a moment as he tapped his partially gloved exposed fingers against the stem of his umbrella. "Rainy days make me want soup. There's a small café bistro near campus. Want to go there?"

"Ooh, do they have hot tea? That'd be nice too," Sakura asked.

"Yeah, and they have a lot of different boxed lunches, sandwiches, and soups to choose from."

"Sounds good to me."

"This way," he said while nodding toward the direction as Sakura followed beside him. Her nervousness started to creep on her again as they walked silently. She wasn't sure why now, but since they've first met she was starting to feel like her feelings were turning into something more than a mere infatuation. Somehow she felt it was Ino's fault for egging her on that she was going on a "date" with Kakashi. Mentally sighing, she tried to clear her thoughts. Else she would just be acting more awkward later when they got to the shop.

Kakashi noted as they walked how strange Sakura was acting. She was being quieter than usual, and even at the slightest hint of her looking his way she'd advert her eyes. Something was clearly on her mind.

"Sakura, you sure nothing's bothering you?"

"No, I just, um…" her words trailed off as she spoke.

"Hiding isn't better than sharing the truth."

Sakura wasn't sure how to answer that. 'I think I have a crush on you?' she thought to herself. Maybe if she said that out loud she'd feel better in the inside for a split moment, but in turn be embarrassed for the entire semester she had to sit next to him in class.

"We could take a rain check, if you want. For… a different rainy day?" Kakashi asked slowly as she still kept to herself in silence.

"No, no. I really enjoy your company," Sakura assured him.

"Hum, even though you hate me?"

"I only hate you sometimes," she teasingly said with a smile and added, "But, I hope I'm not forcing you to meet with me. You don't have to…"

"Is that what's bothering you?"

"More or less... You don't have better things to do?" she asked. It was partly true at least from her list of worries. There was no way she was going to admit to him that he was making her feel nervous.

"I come because I want to. Not really sure why you'd think otherwise." Kakashi looked around himself. "I don't see you forcing me to. Unless…" Suddenly, he stopped walking and looked serious for a moment. Sakura halted in mid-step and looked at him, wondering what he exactly he was doing.

He pointed an accusing finger at her and said, "You're a witch."

"…"

"You caught me," Sakura replied, trying to keep a straight face, but the corner of her lips kept tugging into a smile while she chuckled. "Okay, you've made yourself clear; I'm being silly."

"Good." Kakashi smiled as they continued walking again.

Over the weekend he had time to think about Sakura and their ever growing relationship. It wouldn't be much of a problem if he wasn't almost twelve - no… thirteen… fourteen-ish - years older than she was. Thinking about the exact numerical age difference made it sound worse. When they were together face to face, however, it was never apparent to him. Granted, a lot of women her age were immature idiots who seemed to care more about their nails than grades. Sakura was certainly different than he first prejudged, and was increasingly becoming entertaining to be around.

Kakashi had a fairly small circle of friends he would usually hang out with between work and weekends before he moved. His old acquaintances from Tokyo long graduated years ago when he received his bachelor degree. He decided in his fifth semester, having just started working on his masters, he'd take up the offer to teach at a school district. They hired him for his advanced knowledge in martial arts. Growing up, he became a well known title holder for world-ranked matches. Most people knew him though because of his family. He hated being recognized for his name rather than his skills. Kakashi mostly agreed to take on the job because he wanted to do something different for a while. He didn't care for the long commute between teaching and attending the university, so he decided to come back later to finish.

Age felt like an invisible barrier between him and Sakura which, at the very least, restricted them to being friends. He was more than okay with that, but why did other signs within him want to make it something more? Her smile and blush was becoming increasingly infectious. He realized the only thing stopping him was that invisible line. Thinking about it as if it wasn't there… It was clear to him how he really felt. The question was what to do about it. He knew the obvious answer: nothing. It was just how it had to be.

After about fifteen minutes weaving through the campus, they walked down along one of the main streets until they were at the café. It could be best described as a small hole in the wall of a shop, but was quaint looking. Inside it was a mix of dark colored woods and stone walls, covered with scattered posters and knickknacks. After being greeted, they sat at one of the small tables which were neatly aligned across the main floor. Sakura's eyes looked upwards at the various red and white paper lanterns that hung on the ceiling's beams. She thought to herself, briefly wishing she could steal one for her drab looking room.

After the server took their drink orders, they looked through the lunch menu. There were almost too many choices. Among the different kinds of sandwiches and small sushi boxes offered, Sakura decided to go with a simple smoked turkey sandwich. After placing their orders, Sakura blew on top of her steaming jasmine tea before taking a sip. Kakashi stirred some lemon juice in his tea. Sakura started to glance at him, anticipating when he might be taking a sip.

"You're very obvious," he commented as he finished stirring.

"Whatever do you mean?" Sakura tilted her head while placing her hands underneath her chin. She tried her best to look oblivious against her devious smile.

He narrowed his eyes at her as he picked up his cup. Slowly, he lifted it towards his lips. His left hand reached up to the edge of his mask near the top of his nose. As he placed the main body of the cup in front of his mouth, he peeled only a small section of his mask with one finger and began to drink, tilting the cup. Much to Sakura's disappointment, he managed to position the cup just right as he sat in front of her, not revealing anything. The cup was too oval to even see the bottom of his nose. Even his bottom lip was still partly covered with his mask. With a single finger, he tugged his mask back on while he raised the cup from his lips, placing it back down on the table.

"You're… impossible," Sakura finally said as she let out a depressed sigh.

"What? What's wrong?" Kakashi acted bewildered while he pretended to scratch the edge of his mask.

"Tease," Sakura muttered.

"Whatever do you mean?"

Kakashi's eyes crinkled from his hidden smile. She sighed once more while crossing her arms on the table. Smirking, she remembered what he said earlier to her and said, "Hiding isn't better than sharing the truth."

"Oh, well that statement turned on me rather fast," he replied, amused.

"What is it that you're hiding exactly?" she asked half seriously as she sipped her drink.

"I'm ashamed of my permanent set of 14 karat gold grillz I got when I was younger."

Sakura almost choked on her tea from laughter. "That is... a disturbing image."

"See? Now you know."

"Liar."

Kakashi shrugged as he smiled. "Well, then what do you think I'm hiding then?"

"I have two guesses."

"Which are?"

"Either you're hiding how handsome you are, or you're hiding how ridiculously handsome you are."

Kakashi felt his cheeks heat. Trying to ignore that invisible line being tugged at, he tried not to look embarrassed while keeping an indifferent face. "That's a very flattering guess."

"I'm sure one of those is true," she replied.

"Matter of opinion I suppose."

After a couple of minutes their lunch was served. Kakashi still managed to eat his soup carefully without revealing his face. Sakura was pretty sure it had to have been some kind of natural talent to do that. They made some idle small talk as they ate. Once Kakashi was finished with his soup, he leaned his head against his hand comfortably on the table. He regretted going to sleep so late last night, feeling his eyes becoming heavy.

Sakura held back a laugh as she saw Kakashi beginning to lunge forward as he was fighting against falling asleep. She couldn't resist having some fun out of his expense. She waved a hand in front of his face finding no response. She took a spoon and poked his arm, snapping him back awake.

"It was embarrassing confessing that to you, but you won't tell anyone right?" She tried to look serious at him as she twirled the spoon between her fingers. She hoped he would think she had been talking for awhile.

"Uh..." He was clearly confused and slightly disorientated.

"Promise, Kakashi?"

"Y-yes..?" he answered, rather unsure what exactly he was agreeing to.

"Did you ever have something happen like that with your girlfriend?" she asked trying to press him further. It was a sneaky way to satisfy her curiosity if he was actually seeing anyone.

"Um, I don't have a girlfriend, but… okay, honestly, I think I fell asleep and I didn't catch what you were talking about. Sorry…" Kakashi held his breath half expecting she might throw the spoon she was spinning like a dagger in her hands at him.

"I know," she smiled. "You only fell asleep for a few seconds."

He sighed, relieved. "That's cruel."

"But oh, so fun," she said with a smirk.

A few moments later, the waitress dropped off the check. Sakura and Kakashi both reached out for it. Slowly, she tugged the tray away from his hand and began to tap his fingers with her spoon to loosen his grip.

"I got it. My debt to you is already high enough," she said with a glare.

"Mm, I guess…" he said reluctantly, deciding not to argue with her as he let go.

"What are friends for, right?"

"Right…" Kakashi agreed while thinking back to why she asked him he had a girlfriend. He didn't want to think about what that could mean beyond a random curiosity. After she paid, they left to go back into the drizzly mist outside. Sakura looked at her phone for a moment.

"Sadly, I have class in fifteen minutes. Guess I'll see you Wednesday. Thanks for coming," she said while hugging him briefly.

"See ya," Kakashi said while awkwardly hugging her back.

They both glanced briefly at each other before turning to go their separate ways. Left with thoughts piling around them, they could each hear the other's steps fade into the distance, accented by the splashes in puddles left by the never ending rain.

When will the sun's light ever emerge from the rain?

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: The Beginning and End of Everything

Sakura gave an annoyed sigh as she flicked her pen across the table, spinning it into Kakashi's hands. On a piece of paper he drew out several dashes. He couldn't help but smirk while he was marking along the paper. When he was finished, he leaned back in his chair waiting for her to speak.

"I don't see how that could possibly be a word," she commented while scanning her eyes over the piece of paper Kakashi held under his palm.

"It is."

"Q?"

Kakashi shook his head no and drew a small circle on the paper.

"S?"

He nodded and filled in S's on a couple of dashed lines.

"A?"

With another nod, he filled in seemingly random A's on the paper.

"Let me look at that," Sakura said as she pulled the paper from him.

'S _s'

She sighed and slid it back to him. "You're bullshitting me. There's no way that's a word," she blurted aloud.

A couple of people glanced in their direction from where they were sitting in the library. Kakashi made a shush noise at her while trying to hold back a laugh. They were at their usual table today on a Wednesday taking a study break. A few weeks had passed since classes had begun and the month was already nearing the end of August. As he promised, he continued helping her with philosophy class though she really didn't need it. Their routine was making them more comfortable around each other, but there was always a lingering feeling between them that was left unsaid. Kakashi tried his best to ignore it and just detach his emotions from them being more than what they should be. He didn't want to distance himself any more than he had to, even though it probably would be for the best. He was finding being with her more and more addicting. Their silly conversations were always a highlight of his day.

They planned to stay a little longer today since their first test was this upcoming Monday. Sakura decided it would be fun to play hangman on their break, but quickly learned Kakashi could solve most of her words almost instantly after two guesses. Finally giving up trying to make him lose, she gave him the paper. What the hell kind of word was thirty four letters long? He had to have been messing with her. Bastard.

"Come on, guess," Kakashi said while twirling the pen with his two fingers.

"R?" There were two, which he marked out on the paper. He shifted his gaze to hers waiting for her next guess. "How about an I?"

He filled out quite a few I's in the spaces.

'S _s'

"You're such a liar," she muttered while looking intently at the paper.

Kakashi looked pained. "That hurts me Sakura." He patted on his chest right above his heart. "Right here."

She huffed. "Such an act."

"Stop whining and keep guessing," he replied with a deadpanned expression.

"Grr… P, F, Y, L, E."

Kakashi added a line to the little hangman person that was slowly being drawn off to the side of the dashes. "Just Y is wrong," he said as he filled in more blanks.

The first part looked like it could make the word super. "U?" she asked.

He nodded and filled it in.

' s'

'Super… super…?' she thought while biting her lower lip. What the hell kind of word was that long which started with super? Superjacifracilililalalalala? She narrowed her green eyes at him. He simply sat there with a smug look on his face. Clearly, he was enjoying her misery.

She sighed. "J?"

"Nope." He drew another line on the hanged figure.

"H?"

"Nope." Another line was added.

"Ugh, I give up. What is it?"

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

She slammed her hand on the table. "KAKASHI!"

He couldn't keep in his snickering any more from her sudden outburst. People's voices around them hushed while a few annoyed glances were cast their way. Sakura muttered a sorry and sunk in her chair.

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious isn't a word," she whispered.

"It's in some dictionaries, but it's debatable. Did you ever see the movie Mary Poppins?"

"No… but I've heard of it."

"Shame."

"I hate you."

"Awe, that's nice." He drew a smiley face on the partly hanged figured on the paper, then handed it to her. Sakura crumpled the paper angrily and threw it at him.

"You're rather competitive, huh?" Kakashi commented while smirking.

"You never play fair."

"I'm very fair."

"It's not a word."

"Let's agree to disagree."

Sakura huffed and pulled out her philosophy book, trying her best to ignore his gaze. Opening the book, she made herself look busy into studying. She wasn't actually mad, but she loved teasing him just to get any sort of reaction. Over the past few weeks, she had really enjoyed their time together, but wished they could do more than just casual lunches at school and studying. She wanted to get to know him better on a more personal level, but wasn't sure how to ask something like that. It was an embarrassing to admit at first, but she realized she wanted to be more than just friends. It just made sense.

Sakura always found her heart racing if she was too close to him or she couldn't help but blush sometimes. She debated awhile about their big age difference, but in the end she decided who the hell cares. She had heard of plenty of people who were together that were ten years apart. They were just a few years more than that. It was really just a social stigma. She was inexperienced in more ways than one, yes, but she was still an adult. She could choose who and what she wanted. Long as he felt the same… He had to have felt it too, didn't he?

She glanced at him for a moment above her book. He still was looking at her, perhaps trying to figure out if she really was mad or not. At Ino's suggestion, for the past week she tried to gauge how he felt about her. Obliviously touching her knee against his when she sat next to him in class. An innocent touch of her fingertips against his when she gave him something. No matter what tiny gestures she did, Kakashi was still quite the enigma. Nothing seemed to phase in him particular or return any similar gestures. She wasn't sure what much else to do at this point. Maybe she should just jokingly write out on a piece of paper with a question that said: Do you like me? Check yes or no. That'd probably disturb him even more since he used to her teacher.

His voice broke her thoughts. "Sakura…"

"Shh. I'm trying to study."

"Well, I think you've studied that page pretty well enough. You've been staring at it for like five minutes." At that comment, she flipped a page and continued to look at the book. "You're not really mad, are you?"

"…"

Kakashi sighed. He really had a hard time telling sometimes, but her silence was making him feel guilty. He decided women sure were talented at doing that. Bringing out his Icha Icha book from his back pocket, he began to read. At least pretend to read, as he still was trying to figure out Sakura's mood towards him. He suddenly felt something hit him between his eyes. It fell into the crease of his book. His eyes turned down to see it was a tiny piece of rolled scrap paper. Looking up towards Sakura she was still staring into her book without moving except to flip a page.

"I see how it is," he said to her with a small glare.

"See how what is?"

"You and your violent ways."

"Not sure what you mean."

Sakura slid more into the chair to hide behind her book, to avoid showing her suppressed smile. Deciding to end it at that, she began to actually review the chapter notes in the book. A moment later she felt something flying into her head. Stroking her hand through her hair, she felt the same wad of paper she threw earlier entangled in her strands. She picked it out and dropped it on the table while glaring at Kakashi who looked engrossed in his book.

"Cute."

"I am. Thanks," he replied, still looking at his book.

Sakura blushed and half jokingly said, "Do you think I'm cute?"

Her heart sped up the instant she said it. She stared intently into her book, afraid to look up. After a long moment of silence, which was getting more awkward by the minute, she was fully regretting saying it. She slowly lifted her eyes from the page in front of her to find him staring back at her. She felt like hiding from his gaze.

"Yes…"

Averting his eyes from hers now, he looked uncomfortable as he tried to lean into his chair. He shuffled through a few pages without much success of keeping his focus on it for very long. After a couple of minutes of feeling restless, he closed his book and placed it on the table while standing from his chair. Sakura looked up at him, worried for a moment.

"I'm… Um, going to get some coffee. Want some?"

"Ah, I'll pass this time. Thanks," Sakura replied.

He gave a small eye crinkle of a smile and said he'd be right back. Placing hands in pockets, he casually made his way towards the elevators. He gave out a long sigh once he made it into the main lobby. Massaging his forehead with one hand, he furrowed his brows as he kept asking himself what exactly he was doing. He was really hoping that Sakura was just being mistakenly suggestive this past week, that he was just making up things in his head. He had certainly noticed and was having a hard time stopping himself from responding. He really needed to stop whatever was happening. Maybe it was time for them to have an honest talk about the tension between them? State clearly to her they could be nothing more than friends. End it at that. It was the right thing to do… right?

Kakashi was finding it hard mentally arguing with himself against his heart. Anything to do with emotions, he could usually do a decent job in keeping up a guarded wall around himself. Even in past intimate relationships, no one had ever been able to break his wall. It's been something he has been building ever since he was a kid. Sakura kept bending it, little by little, almost unaware to him. She seemed to shed a small light in his life, helping him forget about things for awhile. Being able to laugh and just enjoy the moment. It usually was just better to ignore any feelings that tingled beneath his skin and just let them fester for awhile. Eventually, they'd settle off into some pit in his mind and he'd never think about them again.

He didn't like thinking about his feelings, or his past, for a reason. There was too much sadness. Too much hate. Too much heartbreak. Maybe he was afraid of finding happiness? Or that if he touched it, it would just fall apart at the seams. Just like so many times before. Thinking about it now, he really did enjoy teaching and help building the martial art teams from the ground up. It was really gratifying seeing the changes you could make in someone's mind for the better. He really didn't have to quit, but it was starting to lapse into becoming a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing. Finishing his degree was a convenient excuse to leave, though they were rather insistent for him to return right away when he finished.

Kakashi was still standing in the lobby. Moving his feet forward, he figured he better start walking else she'd think he went to Columbia to get coffee. Leaving through the library's doors, he made his way into one of the campus's coffee shops. It was only a few buildings away. His thoughts were finding their way back to Sakura no matter how many times he tried to push it aside. He really did like her a lot. How could he not? She was wise in her own way, mature when she wanted to be, funny, smart, cute… he sighed. Thinking that really wasn't helping his situation.

All he was doing by liking her was just adding some more misery in his life. She was something that he shouldn't have. He was already granting himself permission to be friends with her, which was something he shouldn't have either. Yet every time he'd look into her eyes he'd forget again for a moment of the reason not to.

As he walked back to the library after getting a small cup of black coffee, he wondered maybe he should just try and keep ignoring his feelings like he had been up until now. They could talk it out, but he was afraid it would completely change everything. There are plenty of people who liked each other but never acted on it for various reasons. He could keep doing that, too, couldn't he?

Sakura stared at her notes while biting the end of her pen. She was having a hard time trying to concentrate after Kakashi acted rather strange before he left. If her question affected him that much maybe he did like her, but just didn't want to admit it. Or maybe it was the exact opposite and was disgusted by the idea. It would explain why he hasn't reacted to anything before today. She still couldn't figure out what he felt about her though. There were too many mixed messages. Perhaps she could keep pushing till she heard the words straight from his mouth that he didn't see her like that. Or maybe she should just stop prolonging the inevitable and just ask right out what he thought about her. Maybe she should say it when he took her home after they were finished tonight - how she really felt. If he didn't feel the same… that was fine. They could stay friends, awkward friends, but friends nonetheless. She couldn't live with the 'what ifs' to just keep ignoring it.

Seeing Kakashi approach, she tried her best to act like nothing was any different than usual. Stacking some notes together she looked at his eyes as he sat back down. They were back to looking pretty indifferent.

"I think I got most of these down," she said as she slid the small pile over to him.

He picked them up and looked through them to see how many more chapters they still needed to cover. It was about two more. "Mm, alright. I'm going to look these over to refresh my memory while you finish up. Then I'll just bounce some questions with you."

"Okay."

Sakura was still feeling awkward from earlier, but she tried her best to act normal. Sighing, she looked over the last few chapters that were left in her notes. Kakashi removed the lid from his coffee to stir the settled sugar he placed in it earlier. The floor they were on was getting pretty empty. The sun dipped behind the horizon line quite awhile ago. The library usually closed around eleven at night, unless it was finals which didn't happen until the end of the semester. Stealing a glance at Sakura, he noted how she silently mouthed the words she was reading. She seemed to do that when she was trying to concentrate. In other words, something was bothering her. He mentally sighed at that thought. When she was done, they went over terms and basic principles of each chapter.

Sakura yawned as she hunched over on her book looking up at Kakashi as he finished testing her with some questions.

"I think you'll be fine, but just look over chapter eight a little bit more over the weekend. I think that's all you need to focus on," Kakashi said as he organized her notes back in order.

"I'll do that. Thanks for your help, as always," she said with a small smile.

He returned the smile and replied, "Glad to help."

Kakashi handed her notes back and watched her place them into her folder and started to gather her stuff from the table. She kept her eyes downcast somewhat afraid he would know exactly what she was thinking if he looked at them. In the back of Sakura's mind she was debating whether to go for it or not. Ask him what he really thought about them and if there was any chance he felt the same. Kakashi looked out the library's window while she packed up and admired the view of the city. The dotted lights of amber and white seemed to keep stretching forever in every direction. A sliver of the pale moon was hovered up high in the dark sky overlooking the city.

They were still silent by the time they entered into the cool night's air outside the library's doors.

"I'll take you home," Kakashi said, finally breaking the silence.

"Sure, thanks," she replied still looking at the ground. Her heart was beginning to quicken as they walked. 'To say something or not say something…' She was beginning to lose her resolve the farther they walked. 'Just say something,' she reiterated to herself.

"Um…" she started to say.

"What's up?"

"I'd, uh, like to talk to you about something."

Kakashi felt a little uneasiness. "Something the matter?"

"Not really, but something's been on my mind a lot."

"About…?" He was starting to worry exactly where this was headed.

"Well, can I tell you when I get home?"

"Alright…"

Now he was really worried. It could be nothing, but all signs seemed to point otherwise. Worst case scenario was she wanted to talk about what was going on between them. He would rather just keep avoiding it forever and really wasn't sure what he would say if that was the case. The time it took to reach his parked motorcycle felt like forever. Her heart was already pounding as she took her seat behind him. His heart began to sink. He didn't want to talk about this already. Taking his time traveling back to her apartment, he tried to think of what exactly he could say. Everything that was coming to mind just didn't seem to sit well with him. He was at a real loss. Maybe there was a small chance something else was bothering her, if he was lucky of course. Pulling in front of her apartment building, he parked and turned off his bike. Helping her slide off behind him, he got up as well and leaned against the seat on one side.

Sakura slipped off the helmet and gave it to him while looking down at the ground looking really nervous. "Thanks again… for taking me home," she said as she leaned in quickly to hug like usual when they parted ways. He had only expected them to hug for a few seconds as he leaned back to release his one arm around her, but she wasn't letting go.

"Sakura…"

This was the longest she had ever held him. She could smell the faint scent of his cologne where her head rested in the crook of his neck. It smelled so intoxicating. His leather jacket felt so cool to her touch. Kakashi slowly returned an arm around her, still a bit stunned. She felt so warm. He could feel her heart beat against his chest, which was just making his race as well. He wasn't sure what to do.

"Sakura, please…"

"Kakashi…" She said slowly against his ear, in an almost apologetic sounding way.

It sent a chill down his spine that rippled throughout his body. It was beginning to be too much. She reluctantly let go as she looked down at the dimly lit pavement beneath them. She was afraid to look him in the eye. After taking a breath she found her courage again.

"Look, the thing I wanted to talk about was us. I don't know how you feel, but I like you a lot. More than just friends…"

Kakashi wondered how to respond. It would be easier to just say that he didn't. Hiding isn't better than sharing the truth, but now he wasn't so sure anymore.

"I'm not sure what to tell you, Sakura"

"Just tell me how you feel. Good or bad."

"I don't know…"

Sakura looked up at him. "I know you're a bit older than me and I can understand if that would make you apprehensive. I've thought a lot about it and in the end it's something that doesn't bother me."

"Well, it bothers me."

"Kakashi…"

He turned his eyes away from hers. They were so hard to look at. There really wasn't a good way to say it.

"I can't."

Sakura immediately responded, "Do you like me or not?"

"…"

"Yes or no?"

"…"

He really didn't want to answer. Admitting yes would just make it more difficult between them. Saying no… just made him feel wrong. The air between them was feeling more uncomfortable by the second. He looked away from her and started to reposition himself on his bike getting ready to leave. Sakura didn't want to leave it at that.

"Yes or no?" she asked again.

Reluctantly, he looked at her. He didn't want to, but had to say what he should have said minutes ago. "No. I'm sorry, Sakura." His lips already felt stained with such a lie.

"Is that how you really feel…?"

He ignored her question as he started his bike. Putting his helmet on, he gave her one last look. "I'll see you next week."

Sakura wasn't sure what to say as she watched him leave. It certainly didn't sit well with her. Why wouldn't he answer her? Should she just let it go and drop it? Accept that was what he really wanted? Did she just screw up their short-lived friendship…?

Only time would tell.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Too Weak to Say…

Kakashi threw his keys on a mahogany end table that was supported against one of the bare white walls past the genkan entrance of his home. The jarring sound they made as they slammed against the table reflected how he was feeling right now. He felt so pissed off. Not at Sakura, but at himself. He basically just ran away from her. He lied to her - like a coward. It left an unsettling ache inside his chest. He knew, logically, it was for the best. It was the responsible thing to do. He just threw away her feelings like they meant nothing to him, but in fact made him feel happy for a split moment.

At least she was brave, unlike him, in being honest. Perhaps that's what upset him the most. It wasn't the truth. His body couldn't lie as blatantly as his words could. His heart had been racing just as fast as hers when their hug lingered for that small moment. He knew all the reasons not to, all the reasons why it wasn't right, all the reasons why he shouldn't give in to his feelings. In the end he was protecting her, right? Yet no matter all the piling reasons against it… Why couldn't he just let it go? He could easily unhinge his emotions from most things, but why not this? Why was it so hard trying to forget this illogical idea that they could be together? Maybe he was just trying to protect himself rather than her. He wasn't sure anymore.

Throwing his jacket on the couch in the living room, he made his way up the narrow wooded stairs leading to his bedroom. The hollow, echoing creaks of the steps all the more reminded him of how alone he was in this house, how he's always been alone growing up. Even being surrounded by all the friends he had made through the years, he was still alone. Putting up a façade was easy. Pretending that everything was fine, everything was normal, was what was expected in his estranged family. Just ignore the problem and keep it behind closed doors. Never publicly embarrass yourself and shame the Hatake name. That's where he began detaching his emotions, when he was old enough to understand what was going on around him. He was used to it and thought he was stronger for it. At least that's what he liked to keep telling himself.

Undoing his gloves, he shook them off on his desk on top of some scattered papers while placing his phone and book from his back pocket beside them. Now in his walk-in closet, he stripped down into his boxers before putting on some comfortable black pajama pants he usually slept in.

His bare fingers trailed the white smooth walls leading into the bathroom. As he let water slowly fill up the sink, he looked into the mirror. His reflection looked tired and drained. He needed a shave. Kakashi rubbed the fading mark on his cheek that his mask would leave from wearing it so long. After he washed his face with the cool water that lightly streamed down his arms from his cupped hands, he hung his head at the front base of the sink while letting the water drain. Feeling the cool porcelain against his forehead made him feel better for a moment.

The anger he felt in his chest began to slip away. Staring into the dark space in his arms, he wondered how Sakura was feeling right now. His gut further sank at that thought. Why did things have to be so complicated? Or was he just making them complicated?

Back in his bedroom, he unlocked his phone to set an alarm for tomorrow morning. An unread text message was waiting for him. It was sent about an hour ago.

'Please let me know if you got home okay…'

It was from Sakura. She still wanted to know if he made it home alright, after he ran away from her, after he told her he didn't like her in that way. She still cared to know that he was safe. Why? Why did she still care? She still wanted to reach out to him regardless. Somehow that thought ate more into his building guilt. He paused as he typed a reply. He wondered what he could possibly even say to her.

'I'm home… Sorry…'

His fingers added two more words before he sent it.

'For everything.'

What would he say to her when they were face to face next time? Could he look her in the eye and pretend everything was normal? To keep pretending the lie he made? Opening the balcony from his bedroom, he inhaled the mixed scent of maple trees and various plants that decorated the yard beneath him. The street on the other side of the house was empty as moths and other insects encircled the street lamps. Cars could be faintly heard traveling in the distant highway. A few lights illuminated the windows of neighboring houses. He sat into one of the wooden chairs on the deck and looked up into the black sky. Opaque clouds were slowly rolling over the moon as the wind carried them. The longer he stared into the few speckled stars, the more he felt like he was moving with them, like the earth was moving backwards. He felt that way sometimes. Things were either still or backwards. Never forward.

His phone lit up with a new message. His heart sunk a little as he figured it was probably from Sakura.

'You don't need to be sorry…'

Yes he did.

Why couldn't he allow himself to be happy for once? Holding her made him happy. Being close to her made him happy. Her smile made him happy. Her silly retorts made him happy. She made him happy. He wasn't used to that feeling. There was never anything more than just lust with past women he had been with. It was never anything meaningful. Maybe that's why he felt scared with Sakura. There was such a fine line between them of what made it okay. The tiniest smudge would just erase everything, wouldn't it?

What was love like? What was it liked to be loved? He didn't know the answer to that. It was just something that happened in a story. His friends described it as something you just know. He didn't know. He only knew what it wasn't. Being dragged out of your bed by your heel wasn't. Being slammed into broken glass wasn't. Being told you were worthless wasn't. His tongue pressed to the inside of his bottom lip. A lump that wasn't seen, but was felt, was there. That wasn't love either.

Kakashi stared at Sakura's text. 'You don't need to be sorry…' He had a lot to be sorry for. Why couldn't he just say the truth? His eyes searched up into the night's sky looking for a reason - any reason - to say it's okay. He sighed and looked back at the input box on his phone to make a reply. He began to type slowly with one finger…

'I…lied…to you.'

He stared at those four words. His thumb hovered over the send button for a moment. Pinching the bridge of his nose with his other hand, he wondered why it was so hard to let go of his reservations. Why couldn't he just send it? He lowered his phone to the arm of his chair. With a finger, he tapped the backspace. He just couldn't do it.


Sakura held her breath as she entered inside the apartment. Trying to close the door quietly, she slowly turned the lock as it clicked. She looked at the floor which was starting get to blurry. Her chest felt heavy as her feelings were slowly sinking in. It felt like someone had just slapped her. All she could feel was a stinging numbness inside. Ino yelled out to her from her room.

"Sakuraaaaaaaaa-channn welcome home! Come here a sec!"

She really didn't want to. Slowly, she dropped her bag near the door and went to Ino's room. She turned her gaze towards the side of the wall when she entered.

"Yes?"

"I was wondering…" Ino stopped what she was typing on her laptop and turned from her chair to see Sakura. She looked red in the face and looked like she was about to cry at a moment's notice.

"What's wrong?"

"Um, well…"

Ino looked stunned at her. It was really rare to see Sakura upset. She knew she was supposed to stay late today with Kakashi. "Something happen… with Kakashi?"

"Well, I finally told him how I felt and…"

Sakura sucked in a shaky breath as she tried to fight back the tears that were beginning to escape down her cheeks. "And… he didn't feel the same. I really don't know why I'm crying about it. I guess it just hurts. I don't know, I feel stupid. Now I probably just screwed up our friendship."

Ino frowned. She was so sure that Kakashi had to have liked her. Maybe he was too conservative to acknowledge it, or perhaps he really didn't feel that way. Regardless, Ino felt sad for her. She did advise her into seeing if there was something more between them. It was partly her fault then. "I'm sorry, Sakura…"

"It's fine. I'll be fine." Sakura took in a deep breath and wiped her face. She felt so childish for crying. Ino got up and tried to give the best reassuring hug she could muster.

"Well, you have a lot of guts for confessing to him. So props to you on that."

Sakura gave a small smile. She felt glad for a moment that Ino was here. She always knew what to say. "Thanks." Sakura quickly tried to dry her tears after she was released from Ino's hug. "Anyway, what did you need before I fell apart at your doorway?"

"Oh, it's nothing. I'll talk to you tomorrow about it, okay?"

"Okay, well I'm heading to bed then. Night."

"Night."

Sakura went to her room still pretty crestfallen. Sniffling back her last bit of tears, she was surprised at herself for crying. She always thought of herself as a strong person, but she supposed she was still a woman after all. She was well aware of the possibility he wouldn't feel the same. Yet it just hurt, beyond what any words could possibly describe. If you played out the scenario enough in your head of it being a happy ending, she guessed anyone would be feeling like she did now.

She fell backwards on her bed making a big plop sound. Why wouldn't he answer her right away if he liked her or not? That question kept sitting in the back of her mind. Like a faint hope that he was just holding back, but now that she thought about it, it was because he didn't want to tell her how he really felt before he blurted it out. He didn't like her in that way. He probably felt bad for her. She guessed that made sense, but now what? Try and pick up the pieces of whatever relationship was left between them? Would they ever be as carefree as they have been these past weeks? But she had to know how he felt. She had no regrets. She laid out her cards. Where they fell was just out of her hands. Now she had to deal with it. Now she just wanted more than anything to know that he would still be there for her, at least as a friend.

'Please let me know if you got home okay…'

She sent a text wondering if he'd answer or if it might make him feel more awkward, but she still wanted to know if he made it home okay. She was feeling a little better now, though a bit empty inside. She missed the feeling of embracing him. Would she ever get to hug him again? Would they ever get to joke around again? Staring into the florescent light that hung in ceiling, she wondered what would have happened if he'd said yes. What would they be doing now?

That thought was making her feel more depressed again. She turned on her side on the bed and sighed. Her mind was too jumbled to sleep, even if she wanted to. Getting up, she changed out of her clothes and into her pajamas. Maybe the best way to spend her time tonight was to watch a movie or something. She remembered she was playing a game her friend had sent her. It was a puzzler type of game where you unlocked the stages as you solved the clues. It would help take her mind off things. After she was playing it for awhile her phone buzzed.

'I'm home… Sorry… For everything.'

It was from Kakashi. He felt sorry? He didn't need to be. What was done was done. She sighed and replied back:

'You don't need to be sorry…'

Last thing she'd really want is for him to feel sorry for her. She closed her laptop and lay back against her bed. She closed her eyes for a moment. It seemed so quiet. The air was still inside and outside. The hum of her laptop was the last thing she heard before she drifted into sleep.


Sakura went through the motions of getting up after her alarm set off. It was early Monday morning again. Outside her window, the grey mist that had pushed its way into the landscape was slowly disappearing as the sun was rising higher into the sky. She had two things to look forward to, or rather not look forward to. Taking her first test and seeing Kakashi for the first time since they last spoke. She knew she wanted to say something to him, to at least know their relationship was still in tact. Her stomach felt uneasy about it.

After her class was over on Thursday last week she actually ran into Naruto. She wasn't the mood to talk much, but it was nice to see he was doing alright. He was energetic as ever as he talked her ear off for a few minutes. He talked about his athletic training and who he's seen running around campus since he started classes here. Sakura didn't mention Kakashi for various reasons, though he had been his homeroom teacher as well. Over the weekend Sakura reluctantly went out with Ino to some of the shopping districts in Tokyo in trying to take her mind off Kakashi. Yet it did the opposite. Every motorcycle that would drive by, every book shop they passed, every quaint looking restaurant, and every man that seemed to resemble him for a split second reminded her of him. She almost couldn't get through studying on Sunday. She just felt so anxious about Monday. What would he say? What would she say?

She felt herself getting more nervous the closer she was approaching school. Maybe she was worrying over nothing? Maybe it would seem like nothing had changed? Maybe he'd still smile at her like always when she saw him? There were a couple minutes still left to spare when she entered the classroom. As she sat at her desk, the mood in the room was pretty hushed while people were shuffling through their notes and flashcards one last time. She tapped her pencil nervously against the desk as she tried to look through her notes as well. Finding it hard to concentrate, she kept glancing at the door. When would he get here?

The assistants of the class started to organize all the test papers to pass out to each row so that there was a mix of test forms. At 8:00 am sharp they told everyone to put everything away and began to go row by row passing down the tests. Kakashi slipped in his desk just before their row received theirs. Sakura looked up at him as he rubbed his tired eyes. He still looked half asleep. He passed down the stack of forms to Sakura without looking at her. He had already begun filling out his test. After she passed the stack, she gave a sideways glace at him. He didn't make any notion to look at her at all. Her heart was beginning to sink slightly, but reasoned maybe he must have rushed to get here in time. Maybe he didn't want to say anything and just start the test right away. Probably…

Sakura began filling out the test and was happy to find that she wasn't finding any particularly difficult questions. They were pretty much a breeze. The essay portion wasn't that hard either. It was exactly like Kakashi had predicted. She felt happy that he helped her these past weeks. She was lucky that the first quiz she bombed would get dropped later, as long as it was her lowest quiz grade for the semester. Hopefully, if she kept up her studying she'd make an A in the class.

It was about half an hour into the test. She had about forty more questions to go. Kakashi then got up from his seat. He was finished already, which didn't surprise her much. He went to the bottom of the steps of the room to turn his in. Her eyes followed him as he walked back up and passed her towards the exit. He still never looked her way. Not even a glance… Why wouldn't he look at her? Now she feared the worst. She really did just screw up their friendship. She had to talk to him. Maybe he would be outside in the hall waiting. He did have a class after this. He had to be around somewhere. Sakura looked back at her test to try and finish the questions. She had to stop herself from rushing to make sure she didn't make any stupid mistakes. It was about twenty five minutes later that she was finished. A lot of people were finishing around the same time, so she had to wait in line to turn in her test. Pushing through people on the way back up, Sakura was out in the hallway now. She scanned her eyes around. He wasn't here.

Checking down other hallways as she walked through the building, she was beginning to feel more depressed each step. Was he avoiding her? She thought she wouldn't ever have any regrets confessing to him, but now she was. She walked back up the hallway and sat at one of the many lounging areas by one of the windows. Looking at her phone, she almost wanted to text him, but decided against it. If he didn't want to talk to her today… that was fine. She would force him Wednesday. It wouldn't be okay until she cleared the air between them. This was the last thing she wanted to happen. She leaned against the plush chair and stared at the high ceiling. Why did it have to be this way?


A hard rain was falling that Wednesday morning as she slowly walked to school. She was in a fog of questions as she was walking on autopilot to class. At least the sky could understand how she was feeling right now. She had sent him a text yesterday asking if he would talk to her today. He never replied. Why was he being like this? Did he feel that upset about how she felt? Didn't he know she valued their friendship more than anything? Why was he acting like this? She didn't know how long she could keep suffering under silence from him. Was he afraid to talk to her? She didn't know and she'll never know if he didn't say anything to her soon. The longer this sat between them, the more annoyed and depressed she was getting. She couldn't take much more of this. It hurt too much.

Kakashi came in late again after class started. He shrugged off his wet hooded jacket to let it hang off one of the arm rests to let it dry a little bit. While he leaned against the right side of his chair, he stared at the floor tile looking rather lost in thought. He still wouldn't look her way as she stared at him. It was pissing her off. Sakura folded her arms as she turned her gaze at the projected screen before them. She couldn't concentrate on what was being said anymore by the professor. It was just white noise against her thoughts. She'd be damned if she'd let him run away without them talking after class let out. She could care less if she missed her next class. This was more important. He was acting really childish. Class felt like it lasted the longest ever in her life.

Finally, they were dismissed, and as she figured, Kakashi still hadn't said a word as he went to leave. He was still clearly avoiding her. Throwing her stuff in her bag, she chased after him through the crowd before he could totally slip away in the hall. She grabbed his sleeve. He stood still, still looking away. His hand curled in her grasp without much resistance. People passed around them as they stood like that for moment.

"Kakashi, talk to me. This is ridiculous."

"I know…"

"Talk to me."

Kakashi finally looked at her over his shoulder. He looked tired. Upset. Weak. Sakura was taken aback a bit. Why was he so distressed? He looked away for a moment, like he was going to say something. Then he took her by the wrist with the arm she clung to. He pulled them away from the crowded hallway towards one of the side entrances that led to the outside. Sakura's fingers loosened from his sleeve as she they walked. Her heart was starting to beat fast while her chest was filling up with anxiety. He squeezed them both past the heavy glass doors. The roof above hanged over enough which shielded most of the rain. A few droplets would occasionally trickle towards them as it dripped from the edge of the metal shingles.

Sakura took in a breath. "Why are you acting like this? Look, I didn't want us to not be friends anymore. That was the last thing I could have ever wanted. Can't you just pretend I never said what I did?"

"No."

"…"

Sakura pulled her wrist away from his hand. He couldn't even let it go? Why did it matter that much? Naruto and she decided to be friends. He didn't freak out about it like Kakashi was. Why was it that hard to understand?

"You're being stupid," Sakura spat.

"I am."

"So you can admit that. Great."

The rain filled in the silence after she said that. Leaning against the stone wall of the building, she couldn't help but think why she'd ever have to say anything at all. She should have been happy with just how things were. Couldn't she just go back in time and redo it all over again?

"You're not a coward like I am," Kakashi finally said. He rubbed the back of his neck as he glanced away.

"What…?"

"I didn't tell you the truth."

"…"

"I've… been thinking this whole time it would just be better, for both us, if I just ignored what I really felt. Yet this whole time until now, I still can't just ignore it. I'm sorry for acting like a dick, but I really wasn't sure what to do anymore. What to say to you…"

"Why… do you have to ignore how you feel?"

"Not just because of my age. Not just because I used to be your teacher, which makes me look even creepier. I don't want to entangle you in my fucked up life, Sakura, I appreciate you too much to even want to do that…"

"I don't care about all that Kakashi. If I have a chance to be with you, I'd want to take it. Screw what anyone else says about it, and who doesn't have a fucked up life in some way or another?"

"Sakura…"

"I can deal with the good or bad, long as your there with me. Whatever happens, happens. Why fear the future of what could be? I don't see the point. Just take it day by day and you'll be alright."

Kakashi sighed as he looked towards the falling rain. She was right. For someone like him to be as smart as he was, he sure did feel stupid. Yet he's always been stupid when it came to relationships. He just didn't realize how badly until now.

"Kakashi, just tell me what you want. What you actually want. I'd be happy with either friends, something more or… if you want neither. I just want to know right now," Sakura added.

Kakashi's heart throbbed what felt like into his throat. He kept trying to tell himself to be honest. What did he want? Not what he thought was best, but what did he want? He was still feeling too apprehensive to admit it.

"If you can't say it, then show me."

"…"

Kakashi's heart sped up more at that thought. He returned his gaze to hers. Her green eyes had a kind of sadness in them, looking even more of a beautiful shade of green against the dusky teal blouse she wore. Those eyes looked like a kind of haunting pain he wasn't sure he'd ever forget. Why should he hide from her any longer? Why should he torment himself any longer? Unsure, he leaned in towards her, slowly pulling his arms around her. Her heartbeat was probably wanting to escape as much as his did from his chest. He held her tight against him. He loved the feeling. It felt so warm. All his reservations seemed to melt off of his shoulders drop by drop. The smell of Sakura's hair mixed with the rain under his chin was nothing short of comforting. Hesitantly, she began to reach up so she could feel him inside her arms as well, but he pulled her back slowly. He reached his fingers to her temples and traced the edge of her face with both hands on each side. She felt so soft. Looking into the swirling emotions in her eyes, he was sure he could get lost in them if he wanted to. He finally spoke up.

"I'm sorry…"

Sakura looked confused for a moment. What was he trying to say? That he didn't…?

She began to bite her bottom lip. She searched back and forth in his dark eyes for just any notion to say otherwise, any notion at all that he didn't mean he didn't want this. He didn't want her. Her heart was beginning to wring itself inside and out. If he didn't say anything soon, she wasn't going to be able to fight back the tears that were starting to fall away from her eyes. Darkness slowly crept at her heart which would surely never find the light again.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Letting Go

"I'm sorry…" Kakashi said as he took in a deep breath. He continued to slowly trace the sides of Sakura's face down to her chin. He lowered his thumb to the edge of her bottom lip, and grazed the tip of his finger across her lips softly, slightly tugging at them. Sakura's eyes had a mixed emotion of shock, worry, fear… He wasn't sure if it was the rain that was making it look like her eyes were becoming glossy, or if she was starting to cry.

Kakashi couldn't make up his mind exactly what to say or how to say it. There was an unnerving fear residing inside him. He could care less about himself and what floating opinions circled around him if they were together, but she was an entirely different matter. He didn't want her to get hurt. Yet he was hurting both of them right now trying to stop what he felt, to stop what he truly wanted. What was the use to keep running? He was tired of running, tired of never doing what he felt, and tired of being dictated of what he should or shouldn't do. Finally, he just decided to spit out whatever lingering thoughts came to the surface. It didn't matter if it came out ineloquent or stupid.

"I'm sorry for being a jerk. For lying to you, lying to myself, making you upset... I've been caught up trying to do what I thought was best for you, but I can't stop how I feel. What I really want is… I want to be with you, Sakura."

Hesitantly, Kakashi began to lean his body closer to hers. Sakura braced herself against the cool bricked wall, unsure of what he was about to do. She was absolutely stunned. The sadness that was creating turmoil inside her heart earlier was quickly replaced with shock. She almost wouldn't have believed he was talking to her if it wasn't for the way he had just said her name. He said it in such an intimate way. It seemed so foreign. She replayed what he said over and over again thinking she must have misheard something. Maybe the rain muffled his words and her mind simply inputted what she deeply wished to be true.

'I want to be with you.'

He really did say… that he wanted to be with her. This had to have been a dream. It's a dream, right? But his hands felt real. His body felt real. His eyes looked real. This was real. He touched his masked nose against hers now. Sakura gave a muffled gasp of surprise from their proximity. She had never been so close to him before. Ever. She was so terrified, yet happy at the same time. Kakashi's finger tips slid past her cheek to the nape of her neck, and with his other hand he slowly slipped down his mask. She could feel the soft fabric pull against her nose, lips, and chin.

She couldn't see his face, but could feel his lips coming down against hers. They were so warm and soft. Closing her eyes, she responded back to his kiss. She was so stunned. She had nearly forgotten to breathe before they broke apart. Her heart pounded fiercely as she slowly opened her eyes to look into his. Glancing down, a smile rose to her lips as she looked at his unmasked face. She blushed and turned her eyes away.

"I knew it."

"Knew what?" Kakashi asked while trying to study her shy gaze, his own pounding heart felt like it would never subside. Part of him couldn't believe he had just kissed her, but it felt so right. He couldn't help but grin at the blush she wore on her pale cheeks.

"That you were either handsome or ridiculously handsome."

"Ah, I see." Kakashi's grin spread into a devious smile and he added, "Which one was it?"

Sakura glanced back to him, still feeling incredibly shy as she studied his face. "The latter…"

She really did think he had to have been handsome under that mask, especially by the look of his tender eyes, but she had no idea how much so. His soft features blended into his prominent jaw line, which had the faint beginnings of a five o' clock shadow. His lips were slightly fuller on the bottom than the top, making them look all the more kissable. Kakashi's smile was just as she pictured it to be. It was really warming and even without the mask, still had a kind of mystery behind it. To say he was attractive felt like an understatement.

There was no way in hell she would have ever had the courage to talk to him if she had any idea. Certainly, he could have any beautiful woman he wanted, which Sakura felt she was a far cry from. He looked young, but had certain faintly etched features of maturity. She watched as his eyes kept an intense gaze on her. He noticed how she seemed a bit overwhelmed by the reddening look on her face. Perhaps it was because of their kiss or maybe it was from seeing him without a mask.

"You're really cute when you blush, you know," he suddenly commented.

"…"

Sakura began to sink lower against the wall trying to hide from his eyes. Her legs were having a hard time keeping steady as they were starting to feel more and more like spaghetti. She wasn't sure how he managed to make her feel so nervous just by looking at her, but he was doing it quite well. He held her waist to keep her from sinking lower and with one finger from his other hand, pulled her chin back towards him.

"You don't need to be shy," Kakashi said softly.

"You're making it really difficult not to," she replied. Sakura would have looked away again if he still didn't have her chin held in place with a finger. Instead, she looked down for a moment with just her eyes, watching his chest rise and fall with each breath he took. Even the simple touch of his finger was making it difficult for her heart to become steady.

"What am I doing?"

Sakura nervously glanced back into his eyes. "You're too handsome."

He frowned for a moment, but his eyes looked slightly amused at her reply.

"And if I did this?" He made a weird face by pushing air in his cheek to one side while squeezing an eye shut. Sakura made a short laugh at how silly he looked.

"Now you look like a dork."

"Does that help?"

"Sort of…" Sakura began to smile after she said that. He really was a dork.

He returned the smile, finally letting her chin go, and tucked a pink strand of her hair behind her ear. He still couldn't get over what he was doing right now. The question was still lingering in the back of his mind if this was the right decision, but in his heart, it felt right. This was what he wanted. For now, that was the only reason he needed.

"I'm not going to keep doing that every time I remove my mask," he said while trying to look serious, but was failing miserably at keeping a smile off his lips.

"Then I guess you can resort to something else…"

"This?"

Kakashi slowly pulled her close against his chest and leaned down to find her lips with his for the second time. Small kisses turned into longer ones. Sakura trailed her hands up underneath his jacket along the spine of his back as they held each other closely. Kakashi could taste the remains of a cherry flavored lip gloss as his tongue begged to explore more past her lips. She opened her mouth, more than willing to grant him access. She still was finding it hard to believe he was with her like this right now. If someone would have told her she would be making out with her ex-teacher from middle school years ago, she probably would have punched them in the face at such a ludicrous idea.

The sound of the door next to them opening snapped her back to reality as they parted their lips quickly. The stranger opened his umbrella and passed by them not seeming to notice much as they held each other still. Sakura had leaned her head against his chest embarrassingly trying to avoid anyone who might look their way. She could hear his strong heartbeat. Sakura had already long forgotten they were at the college still, and also that she was completely missing class right now. Not that she minded. At all.

They stood silent, listing to the faint sounds of the droplets that bounced off the shingles of the roof, trickled down the wall and into the streams that cut into the soggy, brick-tiled ground. Sakura took in a deep breath, inhaling the scent of his shirt. What she wouldn't give to stay like this forever. Pretty sure that the stranger had walked far enough away in the rain, she looked back up to Kakashi with a grin. He looked down at her with a questioning look.

"You know I hate you, right?"

"This… again," he sighed. "Why now? Well, wait, which reasons specifically? Since there's many…"

"I don't want to leave from this spot." She tightened her grip around his waist. She really didn't. Finally she had to chance to be close to him for the first time. For one thing, his embrace was quickly becoming very addicting and secondly, she was pretty sure once she let go she'd miss him instantly. Kakashi felt the same sentiments of not wanting to let go.

"Well, me neither. What should we do about it?"

"Maybe we could live like this?"

"We can try, but I'm giving it about ten more minutes until this rain starts making me want to go…"

"Just hold it."

"But the rain…"

"Shh."

Sakura could hear a short laugh rumble through his chest as she still held him ever tightly. They continued to hold each other like that for awhile in silence. There was still so much left to say between them, but words couldn't describe this feeling in her arms. It felt nice to just forget everything. She didn't know much about this man in her arms, but this was the first step to getting there. Kakashi kissed her forehead and gave her one final squeeze before slowly separating them.

"You're missing class right now, aren't you?" Kakashi said reluctantly while giving her a look of concern.

"So are you."

"But that's okay. I'm a delinquent."

"I guess I'm becoming one, too."

Kakashi sighed. He wanted more than anything to be with her, but couldn't help feeling a bit of guilt brewing. Maybe it was his inner teacher setting off.

"Go to class. There's still some time left. You'll just be counted tardy instead of absent."

"I'd rather be here with you."

"And I want to be with you, too, but it's making me feel guilty keeping you."

Sakura frowned. She didn't want to leave. Not after finally learning the truth. Not after finally being able to hug him like she had always wanted. Not after being able to kiss him, which she was missing desperately already. Kakashi swept his fingers above her ears into the falling strands of her hair.

"I promise I'll meet with you after it's over until your next one. We'll get lunch, okay? And um… talk about a few important things."

Sakura wasn't sure what the important things would entail, but she assumed it would be concerns about their new found relationship. Hopefully, it was nothing too bad. Sakura couldn't help but smile as she leaned up on her toes. "Hum, kiss me and I'll think about going."

"Just think? I'll kiss you only if you'll go."

"No."

"Take it or leave it."

Kakashi began to playfully distance himself while folding his arms awaiting her answer. She already was feeling empty from his lack of touch. Sakura huffed in defeat. She supposed she could go to class to make him happy.

"Fine…" she reluctantly said.

At that confirmation, Kakashi leaned down to give her one final kiss. His lips against hers felt so right. It made him feel incredibly happy. There was still so much he wanted to explore of her, but he suppressed himself as he broke his lips away. He was more than fine with skipping his, but guilt just ate at his conscious knowing it was his fault for her not going to hers.

"I'll meet you here, okay?"

"Okay," Sakura replied with another coy smile.

After she gave him a quick embrace, she forced her legs to retrace her steps back into the building towards her class. Kakashi gave her one last smile before pulling his mask up. He held up a hand to say goodbye until she disappeared inside the building's doors. He stood for a moment, somewhat not believing he was kissing her just a few moments ago.

The back of his mind, unfortunately, noted all the worries that he'd been brooding over the past few days, but he tried to keep reassuring himself this was what he wanted to do. Kakashi pulled his hoodie up over his head as he ran into the rain towards the building of his next class. He wasn't sure how things between them would unfold, but he felt glad for finally taking the chance. Each step he took felt like he was stepping into something greater. There was hope, but an illogical fear still crept at his heart that he could lose her just as quickly as he had found her.


Sakura slowly pushed the door open and slipped inside her class as quietly as she could. A few eyes lingered on her, and then quickly back to the lecture. She could see the stare of one of the assistants follow her until she reached her seat. She only had about five minutes left until she was considered absent. Though it wouldn't have been that much of a big deal to skip since she still had free unexcused absences to use, but she wanted to make Kakashi happy. Sakura couldn't hide the goofy grin that found its way on her face. She felt so elated, so relieved. She couldn't wait to meet him again though she just parted ways with him about seven minutes ago.

As Sakura halfway listened to the lecture, she replayed their last kiss in her mind and blushed. She'd had her fair share of kisses before, but Kakashi's was just so different. It was electrifying. Maybe experience played a factor. She was used to sort of misguided, sloppy kisses. She remembered her first kiss ever was with a boy named Tomoya from high school. When he first kissed her he had completely missed her lips and only touched the corner of her mouth. He stared at her rather confused before he turned away completely embarrassed. When she told that to Ino she had never seen anyone laugh so hard ever...

The sounds of papers shuffling broke into Sakura's thoughts. People were handing down papers within each row to the person at the end. She had forgotten she actually had an assignment due today, which she finished it the night before. If she wouldn't have turned it in today, she would have gotten a zero. Kakashi was right in forcing her to go to class. Not that she'd ever admit it to him. Sakura opened her folder from her purse and added it to the flow of papers that was being passed down. All she could do now was just stare at the clock which seemed to tick ever so slowly. She could have sworn the minute hand went backwards for one second before going forward again. It was agonizing waiting. By the time class was over, she had to stop herself from breaking out into a full run back to the spot where they last met. She still wasn't sure if she was dreaming or not. What if he changed his mind? What if he thought he had a short lapse of judgment, and that they shouldn't be together? Her walk slowed at that thought.

'No.'

She was scared, but refused to believe it. He wanted her. He said so from his own lips… his lips. Her walk sped up again as she dodged various people in the hallway that lead to the side door. Finally at the door, she held her hands at the metal press which would push it open. She wasn't sure why she was hesitating. A blush found its way to her cheeks again. She was getting inexplicably nervous at the thought of seeing him. She sighed and pushed the door forward. The rain was still pouring down, though not as heavy as earlier. Kakashi was already waiting for her with a smile that could be seen under his mask. Part of her felt relieved he was there, but still the nervousness in her stomach wouldn't go away.

"Yo."

"Hello…"

Sakura smiled as she slowly went closer to where he was standing. Realizing she'd never greeted him as a person who was more than friends now, she hesitated what she should do. Hug him? Kiss him...? Glancing around now, they weren't as alone like last time. Various people were walking down the path which passed by the entrance they stood at. Suddenly everything that happened between them barely two hours ago was becoming overly complicated in her mind. Kakashi stood with his hands in his pockets admiring how frazzled she looked.

He cleared his throat to speak as Sakura awkwardly looked at him. "What did you want to have for lunch?"

"We could just have something simple. There's a soup vending machine in this building. Let's just have that and um, talk somewhere quiet?" she asked.

"Alright."

Kakashi followed behind her with one hand softly guiding her back as they entered through the heavy doors. It was a bit busy since people were either still leaving class or heading to their next one. Sakura was still feeling herself blush as they walked side by side. She was really wishing she could find wherever the heck she left her courage. Kakashi was looking as coolheaded as usual as he walked while stealing glances at Sakura's blushing face.

'It's matching her pink hair nicely,' Kakashi thought rather amused.

He couldn't decide if he should have some fun at her sudden shyness towards him or not. She looked so cute. It would be a shame to pass it up until she felt more comfortable around him.

"Sakura…"

"Yes…?"

"You're as red as a tomato right now. It's cute."

"S-shut up."

Sakura looked away from him while folding her arms, feeling more embarrassed. He was making it absolutely unbearable. Why couldn't she get a handle on her nerves? Maybe because she finally knew how intimidating he actually looked (in a good way) behind his mask or that the memory of them kissing was plaguing her thoughts more than it should. She was feeling more and more like a silly schoolgirl. Kakashi slowly walked behind her and went to the side she was facing towards.

"Do I make you that nervous?" he asked.

"Apparently," she replied back with a sigh as she faced forward.

Kakashi grinned as he touched her cheek with the back of his exposed fingers. "You don't have a fever do you?"

"Shush."

"Hum, I could make that weird face again if that helps."

"Dork." Sakura tried to hide a smile.

Kakashi was satisfied with his teasing for the moment. They found the machine she mentioned earlier. He shuffled around his pockets looking for change.

"I got it, though you don't deserve any," Sakura said with a small glare. She gathered some change from her purse pocket and selected a soup for herself. Placing more coins in she waited for him to make a selection.

Kakashi tried to look surprised as he picked a soup. "What did I ever do?"

"You and your relentless teasing."

"But it's fun."

"Says you."

"I'll make it up to you."

Sakura opened her can as they walked nowhere in particular down the hallway which was becoming more deserted. "I remember you saying that before."

"But you wanted things that required me to rob banks."

"Don't you want to make me happy?" Sakura said teasingly.

"Certainly, but I can think of better ways."

"Like?"

"This really isn't the place to discuss those kinds of things." Kakashi sipped from his soup hoping she might miss his implied innuendo. He just couldn't help himself to test Sakura's innocence. She blushed and poked the side of his ribs, causing him to sputter his soup. Sakura groaned annoyed. Her cheeks were starting to hurt from all the blushing she was managing to do in just one day.

"You're teasing. Stop. I can't handle blushing anymore today."

"But I like it."

"I hate you."

"I think we're off to a good start in this relationship."

Sakura bumped into him in response giving a half smile as she glanced into his eyes. Somehow or another she was beginning to feel not as nervous anymore, which she was thankful for. Maybe his joking was helping more than she thought. Kakashi led them up the stairs which led them to the third floor. There was a small bench which faced out towards one of the giant windows, overlooking into a few of the other nearby buildings and dotted scenery. It was mostly grey outside, but it was somehow relaxing to look at. The rain made soft taps against the window which slowly dripped down the glass. The floor was empty of people so it seemed like a good spot they could talk.

"Well, what's on your mind?" Sakura was a little uneasy as she asked that, but wanted to know what all he wanted to talk about.

"Um, well, if we're going to make this… um, our relationship work, there's something you should be aware of."

"Ex-wives?"

"Thankfully never married."

"Psychotic ex-girlfriends?"

"I still have the restraining order active for most of them. No worries."

"…"

Sakura stared at him with an expressionless face.

"I'm joking."

"…"

"Sakura…" Kakashi said in a warning tone. She finally broke into a smile.

"I'm kidding. What's up?"

Kakashi leaned his elbows on his knees, staring into his soup as he searched for the words. He didn't enjoy talking about the subject relating to his family very much if he could help it. With a sigh, he finally spoke.

"Well, what all do you know about H&H Corporation?"

"I've seen the name in a lot in advertisements. It's a big electronics company isn't it? Based at Osaka I think?"

"Yes. Do you know what both H's stand for?"

Sakura looked confused for a moment. "No…"

"Hatake and Hara."

"Eh, does that mean…"

"Though it's merged with Hara Company now, it's been run by my family for a quiet a few generations. Personally, I don't have a part in it. I don't want one."

Kakashi felt a bit of a disdain at saying the word family. "Competing companies trying to break it apart are always looking for dirt within the family to throw to the press. I'm targeted for various reasons, but it's been awhile since I've been bothered."

"So, you're worried about our relationship?"

"I don't want to ignore the possibility of our relationship being used as some kind of scandal because of our age difference. I agree with you, it shouldn't matter, but people are people. They don't care to understand. I just don't want you to get dragged into it."

Sakura circled the edge of the can she held with her fingers. She could understand what he was trying to say. It made sense why he was having some reservations about them being together, if there was a possibility it would be made into some big deal publicly. She'd always thought Kakashi was just well known because of his accomplishments in martial arts and how he helped the school's teams become renowned, but didn't have any idea there was something more beyond that about him. She didn't know much about the corporate world, but knew they were notorious for being rather conservative.

"Kakashi, like I've said before, I don't care what people might say."

"You probably don't know since it was over a decade ago, but I had to deal with something which was made public when I was younger. I just don't want it to happen to you. It's not an enjoyable experience."

"I appreciate what you're trying to say, but you're worrying too much."

"Maybe, but I care about you."

Sakura smiled and leaned against the side of his shoulder. "That means a lot to me that you care, but its okay. Long as I'm with you, I'll take the good and bad. There are lots of couples who have a ten year gap or more between them and they are just fine. So stop worrying, okay?"

"Alright, I'll try. Just take it one day at a time, right?"

"Right."

Kakashi smiled as he held her quietly. He closed his eyes for a moment listening to the rain that kept tumbling at the window. He loved how she felt against him. A lot had changed in one day between them and although he couldn't completely shake off his apprehension, he was glad to know how much she wanted to be with him. It was a nice feeling. It had been years since he had to deal with his family, which he had been trying to distance himself from for a long time now. Doing what he could to make his own living without anyone's help. He probably was worrying over nothing. It's just that his memories… made it so hard to let go.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Small Mishap

Sakura tapped a brush against the dish of her makeup powder. A few particles swirled in the air as she applied the silky powder around her cheeks, nose and forehead. Using the edge of her finger she wiped away a drop of mascara that found its way near the corner of her eye. Looking in the mirror now, she seemed satisfied and placed her brush on the counter near the sink. Normally she never had time to really pay much attention to applying makeup, but she wanted to look extra nice tonight. It was the first time she and Kakashi were going to meet each other outside of college. Would they be much different around each other from before? It had only been a few days since he finally confessed he felt the same for her. Her nerves were getting the better of her already as she pondered. Ino peeked from the bathroom doorway with a small grin forming on her face.

"My little Sakura on a date. It brings tears to my eyes," Ino said while making a fake sniffling sound as she looked into the mirror's reflection at Sakura.

Sakura let out a tired sigh. "Ugh, don't call it that. That makes me feel even more nervous."

"Well it is, but don't be nervous about it. I'm just glad he had the common sense to admit he likes you. Long as he doesn't make you cry again, I approve."

"Awe, if only you were my mother."

"Heh, well, your mother is a bit overbearing. Remember when she totally scared that Tomoya boy away when he first –snicker– kissed you on the porch at your house? Didn't she totally chase him with a broom because she was spying on you?"

"Don't remind me."

"Kakashi doesn't kiss like he did right?"

"Anyone can kiss better than Tomoya."

Ino held back a laugh at that thought. "Let me help you with your makeup."

Sakura sighed. "I just want to look normal, but just more put together than usual."

"I won't make you look like a hooker, here." Ino looked into her makeup bag that was sitting on the far end of the counter and dug into it until she found what she was looking for. She had a double ended makeup crayon that sort of looked like an eyeliner pencil, but was bigger and had a light translucent color to it. "It highlights the skin and makes it look really natural."

Ino made a few blending marks with it on Sakura's top lip which made her lips reflect more subtlety in the light. With one finger, Ino smoothed the top bone of Sakura's cheeks and outlined the inner bottom of her eyes which made her black eyeliner pop out more.

"There. Now you look like a cute Japanese girl."

Sakura looked in the mirror and smiled. "I actually like it. It looks natural. Good job, Ino-pig."

"You're welcome forehead. Hey, you're not going to wear that are you?"

Sakura glanced down at what she was wearing. It was just some simple dark skinny jeans and a short sleeved button-up blouse. "What's wrong with it?"

"It's cute, but the top doesn't scream sexy."

"Well… it doesn't have to…"

"Sure it does. It's a date."

Sakura blushed and looked slightly uncomfortable. "I guess…"

Ino took Sakura by her hand and pulled her into Sakura's room. Ino started looking through the racks of clothes inside the small closet. After a bit of shuffling she pulled out a top.

"Hum… Oh, how about this one?" Ino held up a shirt that had spaghetti straps which the neckline was outlined with tiny pearl embellishments. The fabric in the front of it draped into neat folds as it tucked under the beading. Sakura thought for a moment as she looked at it.

"Hum yeah, I like that one, too. I suppose that's better."

Suddenly there was a light knock on the front door. Ino handed Sakura the shirt quickly. "Probably him, right? Want me to get it?"

"Um, sure, but I'll be out in just one minute."

Sakura began switching shirts as Ino exited out of Sakura's room to answer the door. Somehow Ino was feeling a little giddy finally getting to see Kakashi after hearing so much about him. Maybe he wouldn't be wearing his mask either. After a few clicks of unlocking the door, she slowly opened it.

"Hello, Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi smiled awkwardly under his mask at Ino hoping Sakura would have answered. He wasn't sure how he felt about meeting most of Sakura's friends which were most likely past students of his. He still had a hard time trying not to feel awkward at hearing the sensei honorific. If he was going to be with Sakura, he had a feeling he'd end up hearing it more often than he'd wished to.

"Hello… Just Kakashi is fine. Um, Yamanaka-san, right?"

"Yep! You can just call me Ino. Sakura will be out in a sec. You can come in if you like."

"Oh, uh… that's okay."

"Suit yourself."

Ino tried to hide a smirk as she left the door slightly open to walk back to find Sakura doing a last minute check of herself in the bathroom's mirror. Sakura said a quick goodbye to Ino after she gathered her things. Slipping through the front door, she softly closed it to find Kakashi leaning near the doorway. He was dressed rather nicely in some loosely fit washed jeans and a slim fitting unbuttoned shirt which was left open to reveal a simple black t-shirt beneath it. The sun behind him was disappearing at the horizon, creating a soft orange glow mixed with hues of yellow and purple. It almost resembled a kind of watercolor wash beneath the scattered clouds. The way the light was highlighting Kakashi's face made him look really dashing in a way. Sakura smiled at him as he nudged away from the wall.

"You look really beautiful, Sakura."

Sakura hid a blush as she sheepishly looked at the ground before she glanced at him. "Thank you. You're still handsome looking as always. Even with that pesky mask."

Kakashi grinned as he took her hand in his to lead them down the steps towards the street. He couldn't remember the last time he'd actually been out on a real date with someone. Certainly, it was too long to count. He couldn't deny that in his early twenties he tended to have a string of one night stands in lieu of finding an actual relationship. He wasn't very proud of it and was glad he seemed to have grown out of it the older he got. Only managing a few short relationships since then, he never really let anyone get too close to him. He never wanted to, until Sakura.

Sakura looked a little confused as her eyes searched the street for the motorcycle he usually drove. "Where's your bike?"

"At home. I figured I'd be nice and not have bugs fly in your hair today."

"Oh, such a gentleman," Sakura mused.

"And the fact that you're still scared of riding," Kakashi added.

"I'm not scared…"

"Uh-huh."

"Well, maybe a little. So, don't tell me we're walking?"

"Actually, yes, we've got fifty miles to walk. So let's get going."

"…Good joke."

"I'm not kidding."

"…"

Sakura narrowed her eyes at his indifferent face.

"Fine, fine. I'm kidding."

They walked down to the sidewalk and stopped in front of a midnight-gray colored car that was parked alongside the curb. It was a four-door car that looked similar in the kind of taste he had in his motorcycle. It was sleek looking, but nothing too overly flashy. Kakashi pulled out his keys from his pocket, unlocking the passenger door. He held it open, waiting for her to slip inside. Sakura entered and fumbled with the seat belt as she waited for him to enter from the other side. The silence and warm air inside the car was making her feel slightly more nervous. Kakashi entered in the driver's seat and, with a jingle of his keys, started the car. The various instruments on the dash board lit up in a dim red color. Cool air slowly circulated its way to Sakura's face, creating a few fly away strands that began to tickle her nose.

Kakashi leaned over to remove one as he looked into her eyes. "You really do look stunning."

Sakura smiled leaning into his hand that pushed back her hair. "You're going to start making me have a blush-fest again."

"Hum…"

Sakura looked at him with a questioning look as he leaned over towards her. Pulling his mask down, he quickly surprised her with a kiss to her pouting lips, making her jump.

"Kakashi! Not that I mind, but don't surprise me like that."

"I wanted to see what kind of blush you'd make."

"Ugh, great. Now it's a game to you. I can't imagine how relentless you're going to be now."

Sakura sulked in her seat while she folded her arms. Kakashi responded with a mischievous smile before he pulled his mask back up and buckled his seat belt. He shifted the gear of the car and pulled into the street.

"So, Kakashi… Where are we headed?"

"It's a secret."

"Oh, come on, please?"

"Secret."

"Pretty please?"

"Nope."

"I hate you."

"But I like you. A lot."

Sakura stared out the window in defeat of not managing to get a straight answer out of him as scenery progressed by. The radio mumbled softly in the background as it spouted various commercials until music would play. She tried to note the kind of music it was.

'Alternative/Pop?'

Was that his favorite kind of music? She also hoped to learn more about Kakashi today as well. What were his likes? Besides reading. What were his dislikes? The city had a kind of hypnotic allure to it as she focused on nothing in particular as various signs, people, and tall buildings swept past them. It was easy to lose yourself in the glowing neon signs that were spread out all across Tokyo. Lately, she found herself missing the old green hills of home which were filled with deep forests that would surround the town. Compared to here, those forests now were replaced with cemented trees that decorated the sidewalks. Sakura turned her gaze to Kakashi's profile as he adjusted the visor above him to block the fading sun from his eyes. She still couldn't suppress a smile of how happy she was being with him right now. It was comforting, exciting, and yet nerve wrecking to imagine of what was to come later.

'Just be yourself. Enjoy the moment,' she tried to calm herself with that thought.

Why she was worrying so much of appearing foolish in front of him, she wasn't completely sure. She still didn't know him all that well yet. Maybe that's why she felt a bit of uncertainty of how to act with him. She managed to make some small conversation with him as they drove.

The sky had fallen into twilight after they had driven about forty minutes. The buildings surrounding them slightly gapped in the distance revealing the open waters of Tokyo Bay. One by one, the lights of the skyscrapers were shining vibrantly against the darkening backdrop of the sky.

"Hum, I guess I've never been to the bay at night."

"Then you're in for a treat."

"Oh, that so?" Sakura said with a grin.

They were traveling on one of the main city streets now which was bustling with traffic and people. Sakura's neck hurt trying to see behind the limited car window of how tall the buildings were that dwarfed them in comparison. Kakashi's eyes searched carefully at the street names and buildings as they drove by. Sakura still wasn't sure where they were going exactly, but was getting excited. They pulled into a public multi-level parking garage which was a little busy with other people, who were either leaving or parking their cars to go down to the sidewalk. Kakashi parked and turned off the car. He did a last minute check, making sure he wasn't forgetting anything before he opened the car door to leave. Sakura unbuckled her seat belt and did the same. She tried her best not to hit the car door against the car next to them. All the cars had to be snugly parked next to each other to save as much space as possible. She gave a sigh of relief as she left the narrow passage and rejoined him. They walked down the level they were on into the stairwell where the bottom revealed the city's hustling sidewalk. Sakura linked her hand around Kakashi's upper arm as they walked, feeling a little worried she might get swept away in the crowd.

There was a nice energy from various couples and groups of people that passed by them, having a good time talking excitedly to each other. Sakura admired the scenery around them. It wasn't too often she'd walk around the city like this to take in the sights and sounds. It was certainly a nice change from her stuffy apartment bedroom.

Sakura tugged at Kakashi's sleeve. "Soooo, where are we going?"

Kakashi gave her a usual eye crinkle of a smile. "Secret."

Sakura groaned in response as they continued to walk. After they rounded the corner of the block Kakashi led her into one of the tall buildings. Inside, it had quite an expansive lobby with a dark patterned marble floor. They entered one of the elevators; the buttons to select the floor seriously had too many choices. Kakashi pressed a few buttons short of the very top one which was the 70th floor.

Sakura tapped Kakashi's shoulder lightly with her other hand. She cleared her throat as she tried to make the best sounding worried voice she could muster. "Is now a bad time to tell you I fear heights?"

"…"

Kakashi looked concerned for a moment.

"I'm joking."

He let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. "You worried me for a second."

"That's what you get for teasing me all the time."

Kakashi poked the side of her stomach in response which made her giggle. They finally reached their destined floor that revealed a bustling restaurant. Diners and staff shuffled by in the distance. The restaurant had a nice classy-casual vibe as some of the off-white linen tables had comfortable looking grey couches as seating. All of the windows on the floor gave an amazing, breathtaking view of the surrounding city. Kakashi gave his name to the host who seemed to know exactly where to seat them without having to look into a list. They were seated right next to the window that overlooked Rainbow Bridge that was already illuminated with a multicolored gradient of projected lights at its arches. You could even see Tokyo Tower in the distance. Against the indigo sky, the lights shimmered beautifully as they reflected off the rippled water. It was all incredibly romantic looking.

"Wow, it's so pretty," Sakura commented as she looked.

"Thought you might enjoy it," he replied.

"Have you been here before?"

"Yes. Believe it or not, at one point I worked here."

Sakura was surprised at that. "Oh, really? Doing what?"

"I was a waiter. It was one of the first jobs I ever got with the help of a friend."

"Hum, you as a waiter huh?" Sakura had a hard time trying to picture him as one. Did he still wear his mask then, too? She glanced at a waiter's uniform as one passed by. The waiters were dressed in a simple, white long sleeved shirt with causal black pants, complimented by a black apron. He probably looked really cute.

"Did you like it?"

"It wasn't bad. Job's a job."

A server came by to take their orders. Sakura decided to let Kakashi choose something for her since he was already familiar with the food. She wasn't terribly picky anyway.

Sakura sulked for a moment thinking about the subject of jobs. "Blah, reminds me I still need to keep job searching. I've tried a few places, but no luck yet."

"Hum, well let me know if you want help. I could probably ask a few people I know for you."

"We'll see. I want to try my best on my own first."

"I understand. I'm the same way really," he replied with a smile.

"Oh," Sakura said with a sudden thought. "Do you work anywhere right now?"

"No. I guess you could say I'm taking a break at the moment and just going to school. Honestly, I don't have to work at all if I wanted, but I'd rather use my own earnings for things."

"Why's that?"

Kakashi hesitated in answering as he thought of what he should say. It dealt with his family which he really didn't want to talk about yet. It would also probably just put him in a damper mood. "Mm… Well, it's sort of complicated…"

"Ah, I see…"

Sakura could see he wasn't very comfortable in answering for some reason, so she decided to just leave it at that. She tried to perk the mood up. "Well, so what's the plan after this?"

"Secret."

"Ugh, Kakashi. You're killing me."

Kakashi simply grinned in response, enjoying her misery of wanting to know what else he had planned. He smoothed over the folds of the crimson napkin that was placed on the table. It reminded him of how the old ones they used use to be a deep tan color. He started working here when he was about seventeen. It had been when he decided he had enough of his home life and decided to move out on his own. They certainly thought he was crazy, trading the mansion life he grew up in for a one bedroom apartment in a shady part of town. He tried not to ever look back, but as hard as he tried he could never run far enough. It just never stopped.

The food arriving broke into his thoughts. He had decided to order something he never tried before that was on the menu, a roasted chicken with a mango glaze. He didn't hide to eat as he usually did, since they were secluded from most people where they sat. Sakura admired his face while she ate as if she was seeing it for the first time again. She still couldn't get used to it quite yet as it still seemed like a stranger's face, but certainly felt glad he was more open around her now.

"So, will you ever tell me why you wear your mask?"

"Secret."

"So many secrets," Sakura sighed.

"All to be revealed in due time," he replied back with a smirk.

They talked comfortably for awhile before Sakura declared there was no way she could eat anymore without turning into a whale. She felt pretty relaxed when they left back into the crowded sidewalk. They were back in his car again, now driving to another mystery location. Time seemed to pass by quickly as they chatted. The suspense was agonizing as they were driving farther away from the blinking lights of the city.

"Hum, you're not kidnapping me are you?" Sakura questioned.

"Maybe."

"Long as you're my kidnapper, I don't mind."

"Just what I want to hear from my hostage."

Sakura snickered at that. After some more time had passed, it looked like they were entering into a park. A few nature trail signs were pointing away at some paths alongside the road. They headed up further to a moderately forested area that now surrounded them. He parked the car and shut off the engine. He emptied his pockets of his beloved book and wallet, and then placed them in the glove compartment. He motioned for her to leave her purse behind and hide it under the seat, since it wouldn't be needed for whatever they were doing.

"Well, let's see if we can see anything."

Sakura looked at him, confused, as she followed his lead to exit the car. There were hardly any lights except for the bright moon that lit the ground. Sakura looked up, surprised to find a blanket of stars above them.

"Awe, wow. You can actually see the stars over here."

"There's an observatory near here behind the hills, so it's easier to see."

"Really amazing," Sakura said as she looked at him with a grin and added, "You sure are spoiling me today."

"Happy to."

Kakashi held out his hand to her and took them to a nearby clearing of a hill. The skyline of the city was hidden behind some trees, but it looked amazing, like a hidden sparkling gem that glowed into the night's sky. Kakashi motioned for her to lie back next to him on the grass. She placed her head on his shoulder as he rested his against the palm of his hand. They looked into the vast dark sky above them.

Butterflies were already starting to churn in Sakura's stomach. "Kakashi…"

"Hum?"

"Thank you."

"Best time I've had. Ever."

He smiled. "Me too."

After some silence, Kakashi lifted a silhouetted finger pointed into the sky. He commented on some of the star constellations that he could make out. Sakura felt so elated to be here with him. He was smart, silly, handsome… How could she have gotten so lucky? Sakura felt a little nervous, but moved closer to him. She slinked an arm around his chest and let her face lay above where his heart was. She smirked as she listened to it beat faster. At least through all her blushing he forced her to do, she was happy to know she created a stir in his heart as well.

Wondering how much she could make his heart race, she slowly dragged a finger up the middle of his chest to the tip of his mask and began to pull it down gently. She leaned over to kiss his lips. They felt so good against hers. His responding kisses slowly turned into more dominating ones as he began to explore her mouth. Their tongues swirled against each other almost desperately.

Kakashi slowly kissed away to her cheek, leading up to the bottom of her earlobe. He nibbled it tenderly before making one slow lick along the edge of her ear, up to the very top. Sakura gave a muffled moan at how wonderful it felt, creating a small tingle in the pit of her stomach. She managed to break away from his lips so she could explore her tongue along the nape of his neck. She swirled it in circles, pressing firmly against his skin. Feeling his heart beating faster underneath her hand on his chest, she explored up his neck to the edge of his ear like he had done to her. He could feel her breath against his ear which was sending chills up his spine.

"Mm, Sakura…"

He could feel her smile against his ear in response. Unable to keep his hands at bay, he slowly brought them to the sides of her waist and turned her body underneath him against the grass. His chest pressed against hers as he found her lips again while he explored one hand up the side of her waist. Kakashi was slowly losing himself in each heated kiss he began planting on the top of her collar bone, exploring his tongue further on her bare skin that her top revealed. The sweet taste was so incredibly addicting. Hesitantly testing his boundaries, he traced his hand along the edge of her breast over the fabric of her shirt. Kissing the side of her neck now, he slowly dragged his fingers to the very top of her breast giving a light squeeze. She gave another muffled moan in response.

"Ka-kashi..."

"Mm?"

"I…" Sakura was having a hard time finding her breath with each pass of Kakashi's tongue against her neck. "I…need to tell you something. B-Before we end up getting too far…"

He stopped to look into her eyes, wondering if she was feeling uncomfortable. He must have gone too far. "What's up?"

"I don't know if you'll be mad or something…"

"Why would I be mad?"

"I'm um…Stillsortofavirgin," Sakura said while rushing the ending part out of embarrassment. "So, well, I'm open to just about anything else… Just not that yet…"

"Sakura, that's perfectly fine. I respect that. Why would I be mad?"

"I don't know… I almost did it once with someone and I stopped at the last minute. He broke up with me a few days after that…"

"Well that guy's an asshole. I only want to do what you're comfortable with. So just let me know if I ever go too far. I'll never be mad about it, okay? Last thing I want is for you to think that's what I only care about. It's not. I care about you."

"Thanks, makes me feel a bit relieved," she replied with a sigh.

"Don't worry, okay?"

"Okay. So, where were we…" Sakura shyly smiled up at him as she held her hands around his neck. Kakashi slid his hands down her sides and began to make her mouth his once more. Tentatively, he slid a hand up the top of her thigh up towards and then under the folds of fabric of her top.

"Does that bother you?"

"N-No. Exact opposite."

Kakashi sucked the bottom of her lip and then trailed down her neck with his tongue. Sakura couldn't understand how something so simple felt so good. She could feel his hand explore the top of her slender stomach to the sides of her ribs. His fingertips were barely touching the top of her skin at first, which gave her goosebumps, before fully settling his hand to rub against her. He could feel the bottom edge of her bra. With a thumb, he glided barely under it. Sakura couldn't resist arching her back in response of wanting to feel more of his touch. Placing her hands slowly down his back, she really wanted to feel his skin. One of her hands slipped underneath the side of his cotton shirt. His skin felt so smooth with a mix of toned muscle. Her other hand decided to explore his back near the edge of his spine. Trailing her fingers lightly, she found a spot on his smooth back that turned into a few bumpy lines of what felt like… scars?

"Kakashi…"

He stopped what he was doing to find worry in her eyes.

"What happened to your back?"

A flash of memories came to mind, though he didn't particularly care to share at the moment or maybe ever. He sighed and rolled off of her to lie in the grass, taking a moment to catch his breath. He decided to say what he usually replied with if anyone ever asked.

"Accident."

"With your bike or something…?"

"Not exactly."

"Then, what happened?"

"I don't… really want to talk about it."

Sakura propped herself against her elbows. She was starting to feel guilty now for even mentioning them. Maybe it was a really bad accident and she was bringing back some painful memories for him of whatever happened. "I'm sorry… I didn't mean to–"

"It's okay," he said cutting in. His eyes glanced to her face which was starting to look sad. He sighed. He didn't mean to make her feel bad. "Come here," he added.

He leaned her down towards his chest to lie into the grass with him. He wished the scars on his back could disappear, but much like the memories attached to them, he knew better. He stroked his fingers lightly in her hair as he stared into the night's sky. Sakura still looked a bit down as she gazed at the side of his face. Slowly, she turned her eyes at the stars with him. What was it that he didn't want to say? She wished she could know. Maybe in time he'd reveal to her what happened. They lay in the splinters of the moonlit grass for awhile, while a subtle breeze washed over them occasionally. Sakura felt so comfortable wrapped in his arm around her shoulders.

The moon was up high before Kakashi broke into the long silence. "Sakura." Kakashi looked to find her sleeping against his chest. He smiled at how beautiful she looked. "Sakura…"

Sakura made an inaudible mumble in response as she stirred. She stretched before realizing she must have fallen asleep.

"Come on, sleepyhead."

Kakashi sat them upwards. He stood and reached out a hand to pull her up. Her legs felt a little weak, but she managed to stand. He held her by the hand as they made their way down the small hill to his parked car. Kakashi let go of his hold on her as he began to fumble in his pockets for his keys.

"Um…" He doubled checked every pocket in his jeans, including the one on his outer shirt. "Eh…" he began to say.

"What's wrong?"

"I seemed to have misplaced my keys…" He tried opening the car handle by chance it wasn't locked. It was locked.

"Okay…" Kakashi checked the door on the driver's side. Locked. Sakura turned her gaze back to the hill.

"Maybe it's where we were?"

"Mmm…"

Kakashi cupped a hand to peer inside the car. He noticed the shine of a key that was still hanging in the ignition.

"Fuck."

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Jumble of Doubt

Kakashi sighed as he pressed his head against the cool glass of his car, staring sullenly inside. He was pretty sure the keys in the ignition were purposely mocking him as they slightly swayed from his leaning against the car. This wasn't the first time he had forgotten his keys inside. Maybe it was because he drove his motorcycle more often so he didn't ever give much thought about it. That was the beauty of it; it was idiot proof. You couldn't lock your keys inside. He had a bad habit of locking the car from the door panel on the driver's side before he exited. Usually he had a spare key, but that was also in his wallet - inside the car. He also had another spare clipped on his keys he used for his bike, but that was at home.

"I suppose I could try and break the window," Kakashi said, his breath fogging the glass as he spoke.

"Break it? No, don't do that," Sakura replied worriedly.

Kakashi sighed as he stood up while interlacing his fingers on top of his silvery head. "There isn't much choice. We have no money, no phone, and every place except for bars is closed right now. We can't get anyone to unlock it for us until the morning."

"We could walk…"

Kakashi held back a laugh. "That would take us hours to get back."

"Well, we have all night?"

Kakashi looked at her grinning face questionably, not entirely sure if she was being serious or not. His eyes searched the dark ground for any kind of decent sized rock. All he could make out were some pebble sized ones, which would hardly do any damage. Maybe he could find some bigger rocks deeper inside the park. Though he supposed he could try and use his martial art skills to break it, but it was likely he'd end up embedding more glass in his skin...

He tried to think of what other options they had. They were outside of the city. There were hardly any local homes or businesses unless they crossed back over the bridge, but that was like an hour away. If they did walk all the way back to the edge of the city, he could probably call someone. Or actually, the park they were at now should have a public phone somewhere, but they'd need change. Ugh. This was turning into a nightmare.

'Phone…'

He did leave it in the car too, right? His memory only recalled putting up his book and wallet in the glove box. Did he have it? But it wasn't in his pockets when he checked earlier. Kakashi's eyes turned toward the small hill they had been at. It was worth a shot to check.

"I'm going to check the hill real quick. Be right back," he said as he began to jog towards the hill.

Sakura leaned against the hood of the car as she watched him jog off in the distance. She really didn't mind being stuck like this. It was actually quite funny how things were turning out. She also couldn't help but want to spend more time with him. This night could never end as far as she cared. She smiled at that thought as she turned her attention back to the stars that sparkled overhead.

Kakashi looked carefully around where they were last. Stepping lightly onto the grass, he tried to see if the glimmer of the moon reflected off of anything that could possibly be his phone. His eyes caught sight of a small shimmer as he walked. He stepped back slowly to try and find it again. There it was. He did bring his phone. He briefly thanked all the divine powers that be in finding it. Dusting off a few blades of grass and dirt when he picked it up, it seemed to be working just fine. Now who could he call… and not be indebted to for the rest of his life? That already crossed off a lot of his friends. Given what time it was, which was around 1:00 am on a Saturday night, a few were probably already wasted at some bar by now. That excluded even more people. Thinking more about what today's date was, one of his good friends should actually be in town. His mind settled on giving him a try. Scrolling through his contact list, he found the number he was looking for. He cleared his throat and prepared to try to give the best guilt trip performance ever.

"Hey, sorry to call you so late. It's Kakashi. Are you in Tokyo visiting this weekend? Oh, good. Well, I'm in a bit of bind. I have a small favor to ask and since you're my most reliable friend ever in the world you could help me, right?"

There was a moment of silence over the phone.

"Okay, okay, well I locked my keys in the car… yeah again, and my wallet. Even my book. I'm pretty distraught about it. Do you think you could, um, pick up me and my friend and take us to my place? Or… If you can't I guess I could walk. I could probably be home by sunrise... Oh, you can? Great! Well, I'm at Sansui Park. Yeah, the one outside of town. I know it's a little over an hour trip for you… I'll pay for gas and, um, whatever else you want. Okay, thanks. I owe you... yes… a lot. Thank you."

Kakashi let out a sigh of relief as he ended the call. He was lucky his friend was in Tokyo visiting some family. At least that was settled. Now he had to wonder how uncomfortable it was going to get when his friend got here. Since he was a teacher at the same place he was, he probably knew Sakura. No telling what he'd think about the situation they were in. Kakashi hadn't been open with anyone about their relationship yet, or why he was skipping a lot of his usual outings to be with Sakura. He supposed he'd have to deal with it sooner than later anyway. With a shrug, he walked back down the hill. Sakura sat on top of his car with her feet dangling above the ground.

"I found my phone back where we were, thankfully. I called a friend to come pick us up. It will be awhile until he gets here," he said.

"Oh, good! Though I'm a little disappointed we don't get to walk for several hours."

"I'm sure you are."

Sakura smiled as she began leaning back against the windshield of his car, arms crossed. She let out a yawn. "I'm getting really tired already," she murmured while closing her eyes.

"Get some sleep for a little bit."

Sakura opened her eyes slightly to reach her arms towards Kakashi. "Come up here with me."

He smiled, making his way to where she was, and hopped up on the hood. He placed an arm around her and leaned her into his chest. He was glad today didn't end up too terribly bad. It could have been a lot worse. Kakashi rested his eyes for a moment, listening to a breeze intertwining its way between the branches of trees that surrounded them. A few crickets would grow silent, and then chirp again once the air was still once more. It wasn't before long he had fallen asleep with her.

The crunch of gravel in the distance stirred him awake. A pair of headlights slowly traveled up the road to where they were. It was most likely his friend. Kakashi gave a small shake to Sakura as she still lay against him.

"Mm?" she mumbled.

"I think our ride's here."

"Oh, okay," she replied back with a yawn.

Kakashi pulled up his mask, almost forgetting it had been down this whole time, and slid off of the hood to walk into the clearing of the parking lot. The car drove up in front of Kakashi and rolled the window down on the driver's side. His friend peered at him with an annoyed face.

"Hello, good, good friend of mine," Kakashi said with a sheepish smile.

"Hi, Kakashi. You owe me big time," he replied glumly.

"Sure, sure," he replied quickly as he motioned Sakura to come. She peeked behind Kakashi shyly, unable to see who his friend was in the dark. Kakashi opened the back door for her to enter. She slid in and flinched once she realized who was staring at her in the rear-view mirror. A young man with dark eyes and a light scar that ran across the bridge of his nose stared back at her. She was very much aware of who he was.

"Haruno… Sakura?"

"Hello… Iruka-sensei."

Sakura wanted to die. She never thought she would meet another ex-teacher of hers. Though she slowly realized it would make sense that Kakashi was friends with a lot of the teachers from middle and high school where she had attended. It seemed like she had just left her hometown forever ago, but in some ways it was not. She wondered if it was really alright for other people to know about them. She did just graduate only a few months ago. How would that look to people? It would probably just make their relationship seem even weirder.

"Why is she here…?" Iruka asked slowly towards Kakashi, after he slid into the front passenger seat.

"Um…"

"Alone in a dark park with you…"

Sakura began sinking lower into her seat, trying to avoid anymore questioning glances from Iruka in the rear-view mirror.

"It's complicated."

"Uh-huh…" Iruka rubbed the bridge of his nose with two fingers and let out a sigh. "Okay… So we're going to your place?"

"Yep. Do you still remember?"

"Yeah, but shouldn't we perhaps drop Sakura off wherever she lives first?"

"Well, I live closer where we are right now and I'll just take her home once I get my other set of keys. So, I don't want to trouble you any more than that."

Iruka let out another troubling sigh. "Fine, I guess."

Reluctantly he began to shift the car to head back down the road. Kakashi could see how uncomfortable Iruka was; it was written all over his face, probably thinking of the questionable relationship between him and Sakura.

Kakashi cleared his throat, breaking into the silence. "So, um, thanks for coming to get us. I'm pretty sure I won't lock my keys in again after this…"

"You better hope so. You're lucky I was visiting Tokyo this weekend."

"Yeah, I remembered your father's birthday was this week and I figured you'd be down. So, how's your family doing?"

"They're doing as well as they can be. They keep getting older and older. So, you haven't visited in a while since you moved, Kakashi. Been busy with school?"

"Um, yeah, I forget how to be in classes now."

Iruka chuckled at that. "I suppose that would be a little strange after teaching for so long. Did you decide if you're going to come back after you finish?"

"Maybe."

"Hum, I see. So Sakura…" Iruka said as he shifted his gaze into the mirror. She was still trying to hide in the backseat.

"Yes..?"

"What have you been up to since I last saw you at, um, graduation?"

"Oh, well, I moved to Tokyo to go to school here."

"I see… How do you and Kakashi know each other?"

A small awkward silence.

"We have a class together…" she said finally.

"I see…"

Iruka looked like he was debating on saying something more. Sakura was hoping he'd avoid any more questions about her and Kakashi. Maybe she should pretend to fall asleep, though she was wide awake from her nap earlier. The drive back was going to be a long one. Thankfully, he didn't say much else, but the silence was almost deafening to her. Part of her wished she could hold Kakashi like they did earlier for some kind of assurance. Kakashi simply stared out of the window, expressionless looking as usual. After about an hour and a half they were reaching a nice looking suburb.

"I forget, is it this road?" Iruka asked.

"Not this one, but the next one."

They turned onto the street and shortly after that, pulled into the driveway of a two story house.

'So this is where Kakashi lives,' Sakura thought.

It was kind of strange being in a place so personal to him, but it was certainly very intriguing. She hoped she'd get to explore inside a bit, even though she was feeling super tired again right now. The clock on the dashboard said it was a little after 5: 00 am now. Iruka turned off the car while he let out a yawn.

"Thanks again, Iruka," Kakashi said tiredly.

"You're welcome. Um, do you mind if I talked with you… alone?" Iruka asked while hesitantly glancing at a sleepy Sakura in the back.

"Could it wait until tomorrow? Well, later today? I'll be coming by your place anyway to pay you for the trouble."

"Rather now."

Kakashi sighed. "Okay, Sakura can you wait by the front door for me?"

Sakura nodded as she unbuckled her belt and opened the car door. She shut it quietly before giving one last awkward look towards Kakashi. He tried to give her a reassuring smile before she made her way towards the house. The smell of fresh cut grass washed over Sakura's senses. She was always really fond of that scent. She walked towards the front steps of the house through the wet dewy slivers of grass. Sitting at the steps now, she bit her lip, wondering what exactly they were talking about. It was more than likely about her. She felt awkward looking towards the car, so she shifted her body to admire the rest of the neighborhood surrounding them. It seemed really nice and quiet here. Compared to where she lived with Ino, there was always constant movement in the streets surrounding their apartment building, and here it was so still. Part of her really admired how he got to live in and own a place like this, but it all the more reminded her of how much younger she was compared to him. She wondered what it would be like to live here with Kakashi…

'That's thinking way too ahead,' she thought embarrassingly.

Iruka rubbed his face as his eyes searched for exactly what words to say. Leaning his head against the palm of his hand, his elbow rested on the door panel.

He sighed and said, "Kakashi, please tell me this isn't what it looks like… between you and Sakura."

"Okay, then it's not. Does that make you feel better?"

"Are you telling the truth?"

"No."

"…"

Iruka looked even more troubled as he gave another sigh. "Kakashi, you're over a decade older than her. We've been friends for a long time now, but I never thought you would stoop to something like this."

"Stoop?"

"You're taking advantage of her and frankly, that's pretty disgusting..."

Kakashi couldn't help but feel a flush of anger. He fought back the urge to punch something. After a moment of reclaiming his nerves, he replied, "That's not what's going on here."

"Then what's going on?"

"Things just happened. I don't know. You think I don't know how messed up it looks? But I care about her a lot and she feels the same… So, it is what it is."

"She's still a kid, Kakashi."

"…"

"Furthermore, I can't help but think…" Iruka's words faded out as if he didn't want to finish them.

"Think what…?"

"She was in one of your classes right?"

"Yes, and…?"

"Well, you didn't start all this when she was still going to middle and high school? Did you…?"

Kakashi felt his anger flaring up again. "Did you really just suggest that? You've known me for so long and you think I'd do something like that?"

He began to open the car door to leave. Part of him felt angry that Iruka was more or less right about their age difference, which opened a floodgate of guilt, but suggesting he would have started the relationship while she was still in middle school just pissed him off. He wasn't taking advantage of her… was he? He heard Iruka call out his name, but he shut the door deciding to end their conversation at that. Sakura looked at him worriedly as he approached.

"You okay?" she asked.

"Fine."

Sakura felt her gut drop at his tone. He definitely didn't sound fine. Kakashi picked up a potted plant near the doorway and dug through the soil to reveal a key. Sakura wondered how often he lost his keys exactly. He unlocked the door and held it open for her.

Inside now, her eyes scanned the entryway. It led into a decent sized hallway. Only a couple of his shoes were visible at the genkan. Other than that, it looked pretty empty besides a few seldom furniture pieces. She could hear Iruka pulling away into the street shortly after Kakashi closed the door.

"Let me get my other keys and I'll take you home."

"Kakashi…"

"Yes?"

"It would probably be better if I just stayed here. I mean… the sun is almost up and we haven't really slept yet. So…"

"I don't know…"

"It's not a big deal, and I really don't want you to drive if you're tired anyway."

"I'll be fine."

"Kakashi…"

Kakashi sighed and took in a deep breath, slowly defusing his anger. He really was pretty tired right now. "Okay."

Sakura had a gleeful kind of smile in response. After they took off their shoes, she followed Kakashi up a set of stairs. Once upstairs, they passed by a room that was closed shut. To the right was the bathroom and straight ahead was his bedroom. He led them to his room and flicked on a light. He began to rummage through his walk-in closet. Sakura was starting to feel a little nervous for some reason as she stood, unsure of what to do.

"You can sleep in my room… and I'll just be, um, downstairs," He said from within the closet before coming out with a few sets of clothes.

"Oh, well, you don't have to…" Sakura said while fighting back a blush.

"I think it'd be a good idea if I did…"

Sakura frowned slightly at that. They were together now, but… well so what if they slept in the same bed together. They didn't have to necessarily do anything. More embarrassment seemed to color her cheeks. Kakashi hid a smirk at her blush. Iruka's words were still echoing around in his head. There was no way he could sleep with her and not feel even guiltier.

He handed her a simple cotton t-shirt. "You can sleep in that if you want. I'm going to change in the bathroom."

"Okay," she replied as she took it. He disappeared into the hallway and closed the door behind him. Her eyes searched over his room. There were all kinds of scattered things somewhat neatly placed throughout the room. It varied from papers to some interesting decorative objects. On the wall there were a lot of various certificates and awards he had won. A tall bookshelf stood in one corner and she paled at all of the Icha Icha books that took up about three shelves. Snapping her eyes back to the shirt in her hands, she figured she should start changing before he came back to find her half naked. Quickly, she took off her top and shrugged off her pants to the floor. Pulling the soft shirt over her head, she could already smell his scent. Part of her really wished he could sleep next to her. She was already starting to miss his touch. Picking up her clothes from the floor, she neatly folded them and placed them on top of a chest that was placed at the foot of the bed. Her curiosity was prodding at her to peek inside.

'What if… it's filled with porn?'

That thought made her apprehensive to pry, but what else could it be? She slowly sunk down to her knees, and began to approach with a finger to open the latch. A soft knock made her jump straight up from her spot. Trying to collect herself, she distanced herself from it, trying not to look obvious that she had been snooping.

"You can come in."

Kakashi walked in hesitantly as his eyes looked her up and down. Sakura stood somewhat embarrassed, twirling the end of his shirt she wore. It barely covered the top of her thighs and the way she was picking up one end of the shirt, he could almost see her panties. He decided it was a very good thing he was sleeping downstairs as he tried to hide an uncomfortable blush from his now maskless face. He wore his usual pajama pants and for the sake of modesty, wore a somewhat snug white shirt to sleep in. Averting his eyes, he walked to the closet to drop off his dirty clothes into a hamper. From there, he went to the bed and pick up one of the pillows to sleep with downstairs. He tapped the bed for her to lie down. She slowly made her way to his bed and sunk under the covers.

He adjusted the sheets over her and said, "Well, I'll see you a little bit later in the morning, alright?"

"Okay,"

He gave her another reassuring smile, before he turned to leave. He flicked off the light as he hugged the pillow in his arms. "Goodnight."

"Night," she replied, somewhat disappointed.

Sakura hoped he'd at least kiss or hug her one last time before they parted for the night. He disappeared beyond the doorway and she heard his steps slowly fade away the further he went downstairs. She sighed, and clinging the pillow against her face, she turned on her side. He did look pretty upset after he talked with Iruka. Maybe he was having doubts about them now or… No. She was just reading too much into things. They had an amazing date today with an unexpected ending to it. She was sure he'd be okay after they both slept for the night. Birds were already chirping behind the covered window above the bed. She closed her eyes and found sleep rather quickly.

Kakashi tossed the pillow on the couch as he rubbed his tired eyes. Letting his body fall onto the couch, he couldn't keep his mind from straying away from thinking about what Iruka said. Maybe he really was a disgusting person. He had finally come to terms with the fact that he was simply acting on what he felt. Age be damned between them, but Iruka was right, wasn't he? He really didn't have any business being with her. She was still impressionable. Sakura did just move out of her parent's house just barely a few months ago. It was hard to justify that she could make any adult decisions. Was he manipulating her feelings? Or…

Groaning into his pillow in desperation, he decided to stop thinking about it for now. He was just upset and not thinking clearly. He hoped to feel better in the morning. Adjusting his body comfortably on the couch, he wondered if he really would feel any different in the morning. He hoped so.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Between Right and Wrong

Sakura opened her eyes to find herself curled in a ball. The sheets were completely knocked onto the floor. She seemed to move around in her sleep sometimes. She slowly stretched out on her back as a yawn escaped her lips. A warm beam of light poked behind a set of dark green curtains which barely reached the edge of the bed. She still felt really tired, but figured she should get up. Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she placed her bare feet on the wooden floor which creaked when she stood up. Her eyes looked curiously to a curtain covering a sliding door to the side of the room. She walked to it and lifted a single finger to pull back the fabric to find a balcony. It was a wooden deck looking out towards some of the neighboring trees. It looked rather pretty how one branch seemed to intertwine itself along one of the banisters. Pulling back from the door, she glanced back towards the room and fought back another yawn. She figured she should see if Kakashi was awake yet.

She left the room and entered the hallway. From a distant window down the hall, the soft morning's light reflected onto the bare walls which shined over the glossy wooden floor. Sakura wondered if he usually kept it undecorated like this or if it was because he had just moved here. Fighting back the urge to look around, she made her way down the steps cautiously. There weren't any lights on as far as she could tell. Within a few steps she was in the living room. Kakashi was lying on his back with one arm behind his head against the pillow and the other hung almost delicately over the side of the couch. She found herself smiling, admiring how peaceful and cute he looked. It was sort of strange seeing him so vulnerable in that way. Sakura bit her lip wondering if she should let him sleep a little longer.

'Maybe I should see about making us some breakfast?'

At that thought, she turned back towards the hallway. There were two more rooms downstairs of which one of the doors was open. Glancing inside as she walked by, it looked sort of like a training room by the exercise equipment that caught her eye. Going further back past the stairs, an open archway led to the kitchen and adjoining dining room. It looked somewhat traditional compared to most modern houses. A dark cherry-colored wooden U-shaped counter made up the kitchen. There was a simple sink and a stove which was inset in a white-tiled stone. The counters were mostly bare except in the corner where there was a coffee maker and a rice cooker. Wooden cabinets were lined against the wall above most of the counters and on the far end was a tall refrigerator. Complimenting the wood finish of the kitchen, on the other side of the counter, there was a simple dining table that could seat six people.

Sakura looked out the window of the side door which revealed the backyard. The open lawn led up to the edge of a wooden fence that enclosed the house. Nested against it were several trees with sparse clusters of various plants and flowers that seemed well maintained. Sunlight washed over the ground in a soft white light through the tall swaying trees.

'Hum, Kakashi must like gardening. Maybe?'

She smirked in satisfaction of learning something else about Kakashi. She secretly hoped she would get a chance to go outside later as she admired how beautiful it looked. Stepping back from the door, she went to the kitchen area. Opening the fridge, she peered inside to find there were various fresh foods ranging from vegetables and fruits to deli meats. Compared to what she had back at the apartment she felt so unhealthy. A carton of eggs were in the back along with some fresh packaged fish. She picked the eggs up and placed them on the counter. Searching through the cabinets for what kind of pans and sauces he had, she decided she could make a simple tamagoyaki* along with some steamed rice. She hoped he didn't mind her cooking two of the fresh fish she saw earlier. As she prepared everything, she couldn't help but feel sort of happy where she was right now. It was almost surreal to her that she was inside Kakashi's house. It was strange, yet comforting in a lot of ways. She certainly was starting to wish she could stay longer.

Kakashi stirred from his pillow as he smelled something rather delicious in the air. He turned his body expecting to have room to stretch, and instead he almost fell off the side of the couch. Luckily, his hand made it in time before he completely fell off. He had almost forgotten he had slept downstairs for the night. Pushing himself back up into a sitting position, he rubbed his eyes feeling a little more alert now. He felt so tired from not sleeping all that well.

It had been quite impossible for him to stop thinking about Sakura last night. He had hoped he would feel better, but the same burdening feeling was still sitting in his chest, like he was doing something wrong. But wasn't that one of his fears to begin with way before they even initiated some kind of relationship? He wasn't as mentally prepared as he thought he was. Iruka was a close friend of his and he guessed it touched a nerve deeper than any random person's opinion ever could. He didn't account for the possibility of feeling that way about it, or that his friend would suggest something so outlandish… Would everyone else think that way, too? His heart sunk a little lower.

Scooting to the edge of the couch, he stood up and stretched again. He followed his curiosity of the scent that was invading his home. Walking silently into the kitchen, he was amused at watching Sakura try to reach up to one of the top cabinets for what he guessed was a plate. She stood on her toes as one leg extended with a pointed foot. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the revealed bottom of her oversized shirt that was picked up above her hip bone while she stretched. He was surprised at what he was staring at: black, lacy panties. He really wished he hadn't have seen that. Suddenly his mood turned from slightly depressed to aroused. Sighing at himself, he tried to pull himself together as he approached warily.

"Morning," he said casually.

Sakura jumped in surprise at his voice behind her and blushed. "Morning, Kakashi," she replied warmly.

Just hearing Sakura's voice was already making him forget for a moment about his reservations. It amazed him how she had the unconscious power to do that to him. He gave a small grin noticing her blush, and picked out two plates from where she was stretching for earlier, and then placed them on the counter.

"I guess I'm a bit short," she added while staring at the plates.

"It was amusing watching you trying to reach." He wouldn't dare reveal specifically why.

"Those top cabinets are about as high as Mount Fuji," she sighed.

"Not my fault you're short."

Sakura gave a playful huff and turned back to her cooking. Kakashi peeked over her shoulder looking rather surprised. "I didn't know you could cook."

"Well, I have had some casualties… I mean… unfavorable events from the last thing I made, but I figure you could be my next victim. I mean… no, actually victim sounds about right." She smiled at his worried face.

With one arm she pushed him back from hovering and trying to figure out if she really did know what she was doing or not. "Go sit. It's almost done."

"Am I going to die…?"

"Maybe."

"Hum, yeah…"

He began to back away slowly towards the hallway, fearing her description of him being a victim. Catching sight of where he was going, she left the stove top still clutching a spatula in one hand, to pull him by the shirt towards the table.

"Sit."

Since when did she get so domineering? Part of him couldn't help but be greatly intrigued by it. He obediently sat while watching her smirk as she went back to finish cooking.

"So demanding," he muttered lightheartedly.

"Huh, what was that?"

"Nothing."

Sakura smiled at him with a quick glance. He returned a smile as he interlocked his fingers together to rest under his chin. His heart felt a kind of warmth as he watched her. This was why he had such strong feelings for her in the first place. Who else could make him feel this way? He really wished he could leave all the negative feelings, doubts, and worries behind him. It would just make it so much easier, but he supposed that's how life was. It was never easy - at least never to him.

A plate filled with neatly cut tamagoyaki and baked fish was placed in front of him. After putting a bowl of rice for them to share on the table, Sakura sat across from him with her own plate and handed him a pair of chopsticks. He tried to look at the plate like he was apprehensive to eat it because of her jests earlier, but it actually looked really good. The delicious smell was almost mouthwatering. Sakura began to eat, but stopped to look at him eagerly when he hadn't made any move to try it yet.

"Well, try it!"

"Hold on, since my life is at stake."

He closed his eyes and mouthed a silent prayer with the palms of his hands joined together. Sakura eyed him amusingly. Once he was finished, she still waited for him to take a bite. "Tryyyy it."

"Wait. I can't take chances." He tapped over a salt shaker to throw some over his shoulder for good luck.

"Ugh, Kakashi."

"Okay, okay."

Finally he ate a piece of fish, while making his face unreadable to her as he chewed. "Humm…"

"Well?"

"It's…"

"It's…?"

"Very delicious," Kakashi said with a smile. "Now really, how do you know how to cook so well?"

Sakura made a satisfied grin from his comment and began to try it herself. "Secret."

Kakashi was amused thinking of how the roles slightly reversed from yesterday and now he was feeling left out and wanting to know more. It wasn't fun if he wasn't the one holding secrets.

"Tell me."

"Maybe later," she replied.

"Please?"

"Nope."

He grumbled in response and continued eating. Sakura munched happily feeling as if she must have won some kind of battle against him, which was a rare feat. They talked for a little bit. Sakura still felt like he wasn't saying something that he was thinking. She figured she'd ask him later. After they were finished eating Kakashi insisted on taking care of the dishes, much to Sakura's protests.

"Ugh, well, what else can I do?" Sakura asked as she tried to poke her hand in the sink to help, but she kept getting swiped away.

"Mm, well… I should take you home. So you should get dressed."

"Oh, do I have to?"

"…"

Sakura blushed. "What I mean is… can I just spend the day with you?"

"Mm, I don't know…"

"Please?"

"You probably shouldn't even be here in the first place…"

"Why not?"

Kakashi sighed, not really sure how to answer. He did want to be with her more, didn't he? Seeing her only at the college was driving him insane with anticipation, especially now since that they had just gotten closer. He knew what was nagging at him subconsciously, much to the thanks of not only Iruka, but the same doubts that have been plaguing him to involve himself in this relationship.

Hearing Sakura categorized as just a kid - it made him feel guilty and conflicted between his mind and heart. He was dragging under the weight of what anyone would expect an adult to do in this situation. Like not letting her stay overnight with him. It would certainly be any parent's nightmare to learn something like that, but for any normal adult couple there really wasn't anything wrong with it. Then there were the preconceived notions like Iruka suggested that made him all the more weary. Views that he was manipulating her to be with him because she was too young to know any better was simply aggravating.

"Because…" he replied hesitantly.

"I want to spend more time with you," Sakura said softly as she held him around his waist from behind.

She couldn't stop herself from wanting to hold him again. It felt like it had been ages. Kakashi stood for a moment, surprised at the slender arms that clung to his waist. He wiped his soapy hands on a dry towel and then opened her grasp a little for him to turn her against his chest.

Sakura gave a heavy sigh. "Kakashi, I can tell since last night you've seemed upset…"

He avoided her gaze after she said that as she looked up at him. Figuring she must have guessed correctly, she continued, "What did you and Iruka talk about last night?"

"Well, about us," he replied.

"And?"

"He wasn't thrilled about it and made a few points... and accusations."

"What do you mean?"

"That I'm basically manipulating you…"

"How does he figure that? I'm here with you because I want to be."

"That you're still too young… to be with me like this."

"Kakashi, I may be young, but I'm not stupid. No one forced me to be with you. I'm not a child."

"I don't know, Sakura." He held her closer trying to think of how to say it. "I just can't help but wonder if it's right or wrong for us to be together."

"What are you thinking now about us then…?" Sakura stepped back, worried about what he might say next.

"That it's wrong."

Feeling her heart drop, she could begin to feel her throat starting to burn. She held her breath and sharply turned away, not wanting him to see the tears that were beginning to sting her eyes.

"Ka-kashi," she sputtered in a weak voice. "I thought we agreed that all the reservations and whatever else didn't matter as long as we took it on… together. One day at a time."

"But I…"

It finally dawned on him. This was the first test of their relationship. He had utterly failed them.

Iruka was almost like a brother to him and his words stung more than he could have ever anticipated. He knew it was a possibility, and there would likely be many others who would feel the same, but they didn't know them or anything about their relationship. He had forgotten that. They don't know. They wouldn't understand. Their relationship was still new and raw, but his feelings for her were real. Her feelings for him were real. It was the suggestion that she was still some child that made it hard for him to deal with, more than he realized until now. His memory of her from middle school filled his mind for a moment. She wasn't that person anymore.

"You're right," he finally said.

"So, now you just want to give up?"

"That's not what I want." He tried to pull at her shoulder to make her look at him, but she wasn't budging from her spot.

"Then what do you want?" she muttered.

"You, Sakura. I'm sorry… I just… His opinion bothered me more than I realized… and then I began to doubt myself again. I… It's no excuse, Sakura. Please, look at me."

Sakura placed a hand around her face still trying to avoid his gaze. Pulling her shoulders back into his chest he finally managed to spin her around to face him. His heart wretched at what he saw. Tears were streaming down her face. Her chest shook with muffled sobs trying to escape past her lips. He didn't mean to make her cry…

"Sakura…"

He brought his hands to her red face to wipe away her tears.

"Don't."

Kakashi froze where he touched her cheek, feeling even worse. His chest began to well up with panic.

She finally looked up at him with her piercing green eyes. "Don't ever scare me like that again. I… thought…"

"I'm really sorry, Sakura. I didn't mean for you to think I wanted to end it… I almost forgot the reason why I'm here with you. Why I want to be with you. Why I shouldn't care what people might think. I do want to be with you."

Kakashi lowered himself to kiss her. He could taste the salt of her tears on the edge of her soft lips. He felt worthless right now in making her upset. He kissed her deeper, wanting to make her forget. Sakura slid her hands up the sides of his ribs until they linked around his neck. Pulling him closer, she had really missed holding him and kissing him.

When their kiss finally broke, Kakashi still wanted to reassure her that everything was okay. They would be okay. "Sakura, I…"

Sakura began to trail light kisses down his neck before he could finish. Her soft lips dragged against his skin as she worked her way around to the other side of his neck. Kakashi was having a hard time thinking clearly of whatever he was going to say when she began to explore his skin with the tip of her tongue.

Unable to keep himself from responding, he began to take control, kissing from the collar of the shirt she was wearing up to her ear. He bit along the edge of her earlobe, earning a stifled moan from her in response. He ran his tongue from the tip of her ear down to her neck and started to suck tenderly against her skin. Sakura was starting to feel weak in the knees as he continued. Feeling her slipping beneath him as he kissed, he held her by the waist and in a quick motion set her on the edge of the kitchen counter. She let out a startled gasp at the sudden movement as well as from the shock of cold tile beneath her. Something plastic had fallen to the floor when her hand suddenly knocked it, but neither of them seemed to care at the moment what it was.

"Kakashi," Sakura said in a surprised whisper.

Kakashi knew he should stop himself, but all notions of sense and worry seemed to have fled his brain with each passing kiss. His hands traced down from her waist to the sides of her thighs. Pulling her knees closer around his hips, the tips of his fingers dug softly into her smooth legs as he continued his kisses at her neck. Sakura glided her hands into his messy hair and felt her lips covered by his again. His tongue swirled with hers almost competitively. She could feel his hands tentatively slide up her legs and over the sides of her panties underneath her shirt. Sakura's cheeks flush with heat as he did that. Trying to hide her sudden nervous embarrassment, she traced her fingers down his spine. She wanted to attempt to try and feel under his shirt again… except not to freak out like she did last time when she felt scars on his back. She wanted to let him know that she wasn't actually bothered by them. It didn't matter what he looked liked. She just wanted to feel him for who he was - scars and all.

Carefully, she explored her hands over his toned sides beneath his shirt, and shifted her palms to glide down his back. He hesitated in his kisses as she did this. She started to slowly kiss his jaw as a kind of assurance. There were a few tender lines of flesh near the middle of his back that were raised against the rest of his smooth skin, but didn't feel strange to her. Looking for any signs of pain as she explored him, he never made an indication that it did hurt. She further kissed along his jaw until she met his lips while she moved her hands across his strong back.

Feeling more at ease now, she became more adventurous in exploring. She reached one hand from his back and slid it over his abdomen. It felt so amazing against her fingers. Part of her was wishing he wasn't wearing a shirt. Deciding to act on that thought, she began to pull up the edges of the bottom hem. He obliged as he broke their kiss to pull his shirt completely off over his head, and tossed it to the floor behind him. She blushed for a moment, glancing at how he really did look just as amazing as he had felt. His physique almost seemed too perfect looking. It made her feel even more aware of how he was a man and not a young boy. Trying to compare him to any other experiences she had seemed like a joke.

Kakashi rubbed the sides of her stomach underneath the oversized shirt she wore, causing her to lean back. Taking in the opportunity of her position, he lowered himself and lifted the shirt slowly to just below her breast line. He licked a rough tongue over her belly button and continued over her ribs. She had to stop herself from pulling away because of how it was beginning to turn from pleasure into a tickle. Unable to resist wanting to explore more, he began to go higher, lifting the shirt up as he went from the center of her stomach over to the small connection of fabric of her bra between her breasts. Her arms lifted up, giving an okay for him to remove the overbearing shirt. After he pulled it over her head and tossed it away, he couldn't help but admire her deep blush as she shyly tried to cover herself in only her bra and panties. She looked so amazing to him.

"You're always beautiful, Sakura. You don't need to hide."

His comment made her even more bashful. Moving her guarded hands away slowly, he began to kiss her collarbone while following it down to her chest. Lapping his tongue over the top of her left breast, she withered from his touch. Her knees squeezed against the side of his hips in response. Hooking a leg behind him, she unconsciously wanted to feel against him more as she moved her hips closer to the edge of the counter. She hadn't expected to feel his arousal pressed between her legs.

"S-Sakura…" Kakashi stuttered her name, knowing he couldn't push on anymore without doing something he might regret later. He was way past the line where they should have stopped. They didn't need to rush anything, yet why was it so hard to pull away? Besides the fact she was looking unbelievably sexy half-naked on his kitchen counter.

Sakura felt her heart racing within her chest as she kept her hold of him, trying to hide her blushing face while also tightening her embrace around his sides. He just felt so incredible against her chest. His bare body against hers just felt so new and exciting. Kissing across the top of his shoulder, she could hear him grunt, trying to shift his hips, but he wasn't getting anywhere with the grip of her leg around him.

"Sakura, I can't… control myself… if I stay like this," he struggled to say between breaths.

Not only could he feel how warm she was against himself, but the small layers of soft fabric covering their intimate areas separating them almost felt like nothing was between them at all. Thankfully, he still held some sanity by not trying to discard any more of what little clothing was left or else all would have probably been lost in trying to hold himself back.

He tried to remember how exactly they ended up like this so early in the morning. She seemed unnerved against his plea as she continued to kiss him from his shoulder to his neck. Trying to achieve a little distance again, he felt the consequence of his hips grinding into hers making Sakura give a sharpened gasp against his ear. The feeling from that compelled him to want more. Hesitantly, he pulled both of her legs around his waist. She pressed her hips against him even more. He should stop. He really should, but it felt so wonderful. The shy moan against his neck just now was not helping him decide otherwise. He ground his hips into hers again.

Sakura had never felt anything so marvelous as he slowly pushed his hips repeatedly into hers. She couldn't help but whimper from how overwhelming it was as their bodies mashed together. Gasping for air between kisses, she tried to get a hold of her racing heart. His breaths quickly became just as staggered as hers with each thrust.

"Sakura," he groaned desperately.

A sudden knock caused them to snap back to reality of what exactly they were doing. They tried to catch their breaths while Sakura struggled to keep her sweaty hands steady against the counter. They briefly looked at each other in surprise.

Another knock sounded off. Who exactly decided to bother him right now and wanted to die an untimely death? Their eyes glanced towards the hallway that led to the front door.

'I did lock the door last night, right?' Kakashi thought to himself. It would so be his luck that he didn't and one of his idiot friends would walk in…

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Pendulum

Neither of them said anything as they looked back at each other, still struggling to catch their breath. The knocking seemed to have stopped. Sakura suddenly felt her face flush with embarrassment when she looked at the position of their bodies. Of course she was more than enjoying their position just barely a minute ago, but looking at it made her feel slightly mortified. Turning her green eyes upward to his, she was surprised at the vulnerable gaze Kakashi was giving her. She realized he must have completely lost himself in their moment earlier just as much as she had. Though she was embarrassed, she couldn't help but feel the urge between her legs to rock against him, to get that quickly fading feeling back. That feeling, traces of it could still be felt at her core which was still pressed tightly against him. Any slight movement between them made her sensitive area yearn more touch.

Her legs were starting to slip from Kakashi's now sweaty grip. He was unsure what to do now that they had awakened from whatever spell that bound them earlier. He felt Sakura's hips move unsurely against his, making him utter a grunt.

"Ka-kashi, please… don't stop."

"Sakura…"

From the corner of his eye he saw a shadow go by the kitchen's window through the pale sheer curtain. Suddenly, he shifted his hands to her waist and pulled her down completely off the counter as quickly as he could. Sakura's legs clung around him in surprise as they both fell towards the floor. He landed clumsily on top of her, not accounting for her holding on to him like that. Sakura gave a muffled shriek of surprise as her back felt a shock of cold against the floor. Kakashi held up a hand to his lips as he hovered over her on his elbows, making a shush gesture. She slowly loosened her legs from around him, settling them at the sides of his body.

A knock was heard at the back door which was near the dining table. Sakura was confused at first why they hid behind the counters, until she realized that anyone could have seen them from peering inside the sliding glass door. The expression on Kakashi's face was a mix of annoyance and disbelief at how this situation could possibility get any worse. Lowering himself on his forearms, their chests touched each other. Another knock was tapped against the glass. Kakashi held back an annoyed sigh as he looked into Sakura's eyes. They both stared back at each other in disbelief. A grin started to slowly spread to Sakura's lips. Her hand flew on top of her mouth to try to suppress a laugh.

Her laughter had to have been contagious; Kakashi was starting to laugh as well. He turned his head into the crook of her neck trying not to. It was just ridiculous. How in the hell did point A get to this strange point B? A louder knock rang out. It only prompted Sakura to laugh more, making him want to laugh more.

"S-Sakura, Shhhhhh," he said as quietly as he could into her ear through stifled laughter.

"I-I… can't….. h-help it," she replied. Looking rather red faced now, she tried to turn away to prevent herself from laughing more.

After a few moments the knocking stopped. Kakashi leaned on the side of his arm to look back towards the kitchen's window above them. The figured passed by again, seemingly returning towards the front. He let out a sigh. Turning back towards Sakura, she slowly turned her head towards him and looked into his eyes. They burst into laughter again.

"I-I don't know why I'm laughing," Sakura admitted, trying to catch her breath.

"I think I'm laughing because you're laughing…"

His reply seemed to just egg on her laughter more. "I…I can't stop. It's just... t-too funny."

Kakashi couldn't recall the last time he'd ever laughed this much before. Not only that, but laughing with someone who was clad in nothing but a set of bra and panties. This only made the situation even funnier to him. Their laughter finally died down as he was still on top of her in the middle of the kitchen floor.

"I…" Kakashi said between breaths. "I think… we got a little carried away earlier."

"Maybe, but I can't say that I wanted to stop..." Sakura said, shyly looking away.

Kakashi wasn't sure if it was the after effects of laughing, but he felt really relieved. She really did enjoy it as much as he did. The back of his mind still kept trying to think maybe it was going too far, that it was wrong. Maybe he was forcing himself on her, but she wanted to be with him like this. It made him feel happy. He captured her face in his hands and turned her head towards him.

He kissed her lips softly and said, "You are making it really hard for me to stop."

"Why's that?"

"Well, let's see… Here you are lying half-naked on my floor, looking incredibly sexy…"

"It's not my fault I'm half naked."

"Yes, it is."

"You pulled my shirt off," she replied teasingly.

"Because you were obviously hot. I was helping."

"Oh, helping."

"Correct, and I'm pretty sure you started all of this."

"I did?"

"Yes and…" Kakashi began to trace a finger from the side of her blushing cheek, down her neck towards her chest. "I'm pretty sure you weren't complaining to what we were doing so… Let me finish what I started."

Sakura felt anxious at what exactly he meant by that and a bit more nervous while he further touched her slowly with one finger. He kept going down between her covered breasts and through the valley between her ribs towards her stomach. He adjusted his body to lean against her off on one side. Sakura sucked in a breath at how it felt almost agonizing to want to fully feel his hand against her. He began to make sweet kisses at her lips and around her neck. Feeling his hand over the silky fabric of her panties, she unconsciously pulled her legs together not used to having anyone touch her there so intimately.

"Relax," he whispered.

Her heart jumped at his words. Trying to comply, she relaxed her shaky legs, feeling a bit embarrassed as she parted her legs slightly. The last time she had ever gone this far with anyone, the feeling had been so completely different. Instead of unsure touches wandering her body abruptly, Kakashi's seemed to make her feel in such a way it was hard to explain. It was electrifying. Enticing. Addictive.

Sakura closed her eyes, trying to focus on the feeling of his touches. He outlined the top edge of her panties and kept going lower into the inner sides of her thighs, before sliding down into her sweet spot. She held back a groan as his fingers softly touched over her now fairly sensitive bundle of nerves. Kakashi could feel how wet she was from their previous escapade through the thin fabric. He began to rub lightly over her spot and began to kiss down her neck, tasting the salt of her sweat. She slowly began to breathe heavy again. Seeing her sprawled out against the floor like this was making his arousal even more pressing, but he tried his best to ignore it for now. He wanted to just take care of her, given they've never done anything like this before.

"Do you like that?" he asked softly against her ear.

"…Yes."

"Do you want me to go faster?"

"P-please," she muttered shyly.

She began to touch the sides of his back as she melted further from his kisses. He began to increase the pace of his fingers nestled in the folds of fabric on top of her nerves. Arching her back further into his touch, she couldn't stop herself from trying to prevent more moans escaping her throat.

"Mm, Ka… k-a-shi."

Kakashi smiled at her struggling to say his name. She so felt incredibly hot and wet under his hand as he stroked her. What she would possibly feel like without the mere fabric separation… he certainly had something to look forward to exploring later. He began to circle his tongue around her neck while sucking her skin. Sakura wondered how his kisses were so amazing. She would probably never figure it out, but she loved every second of it. She lightly dug her nails into his side, trying to hold back this intense feeling taking over her. It was driving her crazy how it made her feel so helpless to do something about it. It felt so good though. Sakura furrowed her brows, struggling against the floor of an overwhelming feeling washing over her. Her breaths were increasingly getting shorter and more desperate.

"A-ah," she gasped sharply.

Sakura felt the almost unbearable feeling between her legs turn into a feeling of release that shook throughout her body. Her breaths turned into shuddered exhales as she moved her body, unable to contain herself from squirming. Seeing her slowly trying to catch her breath, Kakashi slowly glided his hand up from her warm spot to her waist, claiming her mouth as his again. She kissed back showing in a way how much she loved his touches. When their kiss broke, she finally had a handle on her breathing. Both of them were looking rather disheveled as they held each other. After a small moment of silence, Sakura took in a deep breath.

"So… Can we do that after every breakfast?" Sakura asked jokingly.

"I like that idea." He kissed the side of her jaw softly, admiring how beautiful the pink strands of her hair were fanned out behind her. He had no idea how he was going to manage to walk with his ever present arousal in his loose fitted pajama pants, but figured if there was a will there was a way.

"Well, so… um, can I stay with you today?"

Kakashi eyed her. "Did you just seduce me to let you stay?"

"Maybe."

"Then yes."

Sakura smiled devilishly up at him. He returned the smile while pushing back up from the floor. Slowly he stood up and extended a hand to her. Pulling her up into an embrace, he kissed her cheek before letting go.

"I'm going to take a much needed shower… and um, we'll talk about what all we'll do today after you clean up, too."

"Okay," she replied happily, but still slightly dazed. Turning her gaze at the floor to their discarded shirts from earlier, she noticed a cup that managed to roll near the bottom corner of one of the counters.

'Ah, so that's what fell,' she thought amusingly to herself as she went to pick them all up.

Kakashi was already halfway up the stairs by the time she glanced around the kitchen again. She had an idea why. A squeeze of her legs together still made her shudder. Sighing, she felt resolved to somehow make him feel… like he did to her. Though she wasn't exactly sure, she had a few ideas. It was just something she'd never acted on before. At least she had plenty of experience making out. It was a bit embarrassing to think she'd never really… done many other things yet, and the fact he was so experienced made her worry she'd just make a fool out of herself.

Throwing the shirt she wore earlier over her shoulder, she scrunched up Kakashi's in her hand. She placed the cup that fell into the sink and began to make her way upstairs into Kakashi's room. Walking into his closet, she tossed his shirt into the hamper. Her hands guided over the neatly hung clothes. She noticed he seemed to have a lot of dark colored t-shirts, but he did have a couple of nice dress shirts that were light colored. Moving back into the main room, she stretched, wondering what she should do now until he got out. Searching the room for a moment, her eyes lingered on the chest that she almost peeked into last night.

'It's not like it has a lock on it so...' she tried to reason with herself as she slowly approached.

Sakura looked over her shoulder into the hallway. She could still hear the shower running. Biting her lip, she opened the latch and opened it up. There were several clean folded bed sheets inside. Slowly she picked them up enough to see if there was anything else hidden beneath them. There seemed to be something glossy near a corner. Fully pushing up the chest cover, she pulled out the shiny paper that caught her eye.

It was a photograph. It looked like Kakashi when he must have been seven or so standing next to a woman that was hugging him tightly. What was strange was that the photo was torn into several pieces, but was taped back together again on the back. Her eyes glanced back to the hall again, starting to feel a little guilty that she was snooping. She looked further into the corner of the chest and found a couple of trinkets. There was a broken porcelain bird that looked like it could be attached to something else which was missing, a tarnished silver necklace that had a center piece made of different colored beading, and a folded letter that was yellowed with age. She placed them all back after examining them - except for the folded letter.

'I really shouldn't read this... but…'

She slowly unfolded it open. The words were jotted down in hurried script writing, but were blurred in some spots like rain must had fallen on it, and she couldn't help but notice the dark crimson stains that were smudged along the edges. Looking at it as a whole, it was a bit difficult to make out what it said. It was so strange. It was giving her a bad, heavy feeling. Sakura heard the shower get turned off. She quickly folded the letter and placed it back within the same spot in the chest and closed it. Sakura moved to the bed and laid down feeling a bit guilty. Part of her wanted to know what it said, but the other part of her felt like it certainly wasn't her business. She decided she shouldn't poke her nose into anything that looked private like that, no matter how much her curiosity pleaded with her. Kakashi would certainly tell her whatever he was comfortable with. It probably wasn't a big deal…

Sakura leaned her head over the side of the bed and looked up at his bookshelf upside down. She began to make out all the Icha Icha titles and wondered exactly how many times he must have read all of those. What was so good about them anyway…?

She heard Kakashi open the bathroom door and come into the room. She sat up to find him in nothing but a fluffy towel that hung around his waist. She blushed and averted her eyes.

"All yours. There's a towel for you to use near the sink."

"Okay, thanks," she quickly replied before she got up from the bed.

Kakashi smiled at her cute awkwardness as she left. He quickly found some fresh clothes to change into and made his way downstairs. He glanced at the clock that hung in the living room from the hallway. It was a little past noon already. Before he left the hallway to go to the kitchen, he saw a piece of paper sticking inside the door slot. He sighed. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know what it was.

Slowly he walked to it and pulled it out. It was a package delivery slip. Flipping it over there was writing saying the package was put by the back door. He mentally cursed figuring that was who it was knocking earlier. He figured they must have put it in the back since last time he complained that it went missing before he got home. It either vanished into thin air, or someone really wanted to explore their education more than he did, stealing his textbooks he ordered online. At least the company was nice enough to send it again for free, which was what was probably sitting outside right now. He went back into the kitchen and opened the side door. There it sat. A box.

Kakashi picked it up and placed it on the table after closing and locking the door again. Unconcerned about it for now, he went to finish the dishes that he had forgotten about earlier for various reasons, mainly named Sakura. After he was finished, he wondered what they should do today after he unlocked his car and talked to Iruka. His gut dropped at the thought of talking to Iruka again. He sighed. He just had to deal with it as quick as possible. After a few minutes, his eyes glanced towards the hallway, hearing Sakura's footsteps coming down the stairs. She found her way to the kitchen searching for him. She was wearing the clothes she had on yesterday.

Shaking her damp hair out of her face, she looked towards the table. "What's that?"

"Our interruption earlier."

"Oh, boxes can knock?"

"Yes."

"Hum, I see. Evil box," she smiled sheepishly. "So what's the plan?" she added.

"Um, do you know how to drive a car?"

"I took driver's ed before I moved here, but I haven't driven anything since then."

"Did you pass…?"

"I only hit the cones on the course that didn't matter."

"Like, how many?"

"All of them."

"…"

"I'm joking."

"Are you…?"

"Yes," she said with a glare. "I'm guessing you want me to drive your car back?"

"Yeah, though you're not going to wreck it are you?"

"I'll try not to."

"Don't just try. Don't."

Kakashi wondered if she really would. He could take a cab out there or he could hope to save money letting her drive it back. He decided he was indeed a gambling man.

"Okay, let's go."


Sakura felt her legs become all wobbly again after she slid off the back of his motorcycle. She wasn't sure if she'd ever get used to riding it. Unbuckling the helmet, she gave it back to Kakashi. He got off of his bike and placed it on the handle bar and walked to his locked car. It was just as they left it last night. Pulling out the spare key from his pocket, he unlocked it. The car was pretty hot inside from sitting under the high noon sun. He opened the glove compartment and got his wallet, book, and her purse which he handed back to her.

Opening her bag, she pulled out her phone. There were about twenty text messages and fifteen missed called. Most of them were from her mother. She sighed. Her phone began ringing in her hand.

"I should take this… though can't say I want to," Sakura muttered. She turned and glared at the forest in front of her and accepted the call.

"Hello…"

Sakura held the phone away from her ear at the yelling to turn the volume down. "Yes, Mom… I'm not dead in a ditch somewhere. Ino told you what? Oh, yes, I was at a friend's house. I forgot to charge my phone. Who? Just… a friend. No. No... No. For the last time, no."

Kakashi had a hard time trying not to laugh from what he was overhearing. He started the car to try and circulate some cool air into it.

"I need to go… I'll call you later… I won't forget... Okay. Bye. Yes, I know… B-….Yes, bye." Sakura let out a sigh. She loved her mother, but jeez she wanted to kill her sometimes. After she sent Ino a quick text, she turned back towards Kakashi who had a smug look on his face.

"I hope I never meet your mother," he tried to say rather seriously.

"You and me both."

"Okay, so just follow me back to my place, and from there I figured I'd drop you off at your apartment to get changed and whatever else you need to do. Then I'll pick you up later."

"Sounds good. So, when I wreck the car, where are your insurance papers at?"

"…"

"I joke, but actually I should probably know where they are…"

"Glove box…"

"Okay, and then… just to double check with me, R is where you shift it to go forward right?"

"Sakura…"

"Kakashi…"

"…"

"You're so fun to tease," Sakura said as she kissed his lips.

He grumbled while slowly lifting himself from the car seat. He tried not to think of all the various scenarios of her wrecking his car as she slipped into the driver's seat and began to adjust the mirrors and chair height like a teenage girl who had just received the gift of a brand new car.

"Okay, please, please… be careful," he said worriedly as he kissed her cheek.

"It will be fine. Don't worry," Sakura replied with an all-knowing smile.

After she shut the car door, he walked back to his bike. He was definitely going to make certain he would never lock his keys in his car again. Ever.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Strip Fighter

 

Kakashi had felt so relieved that Sakura had driven back to his place without running into something like a telephone pole or a parked car. After that, he dropped her off at her apartment and was now almost to Iruka's house. No, he wasn't looking forward to it, but Iruka did go out of his way to pick them up last night. He at least needed to thank him for that much - and cover his expenses. Now he had to wonder how much their friendship would be strained over his relationship with Sakura. Part of him couldn't help but be slightly bothered.

With a sigh, he reluctantly had to admit to himself that his friends were like a family to him in a strange way, but if it was going to end up like this with everyone… it really didn't matter. Sakura was important to him. Iruka and anyone else close to him could either accept it or not. Kakashi had made up his mind and was going to stick to his heart. He wanted to be with her no matter what. Otherwise, he would be the biggest fool ever to give up on her.

Pulling his motorcycle into the Umino estate, he sighed again as he parked and turned off his bike. After pulling off his helmet, he adjusted his mask back in place and shook his hair into looking less like a bird's nest. Last time he was here it was New Year's Eve. Iruka had a really kind family. Really welcoming and all that… which he figured that's how normal families are. He had always wondered what that would have been like, to be a part of something normal.

Slowly, he walked up to the front door with a hand in his pocket and knocked briefly with the other. After a moment, the door creaked open to reveal a very uncomfortable looking Iruka. Iruka's emotions were always easy to read, which was certainly opposite to his own.

"Here." Kakashi slipped his hand out of his pocket and held out some money between his fingers. He waited for Iruka to hold out his and quickly placed it in his palm. "There's a little extra for your trouble."

Iruka began to protest. "I really don't–"

"Just keep it. Anyway… I appreciated it. Give your family my regards. I'll talk to you later sometime." Not waiting for a reply, Kakashi turned to walk back down the steps.

"W-wait."

He paused mid-step, feeling slightly annoyed. Kakashi really wasn't in the mood to try and hold a conversation with him.

"Look, about you and Sakura..."

Kakashi sighed and turned with a foot already down one step. "I don't want to talk about it with you."

"Just hear me out…"

"…"

"Please?"

After a moment of silence, Kakashi let out an annoyed grunt and replied a bit more forcefully than he should have, "What then?"

Iruka winced slightly at his words and glanced down to the ground, looking a bit unsure at what he wanted to say first. He sighed and looked back up into Kakashi's eyes. "I'm sorry about what I said last night... asking if you started things with her while she was still a student of yours. You're right. I do know you better than to think that."

"Thanks for the confidence," Kakashi replied dryly.

Iruka sighed. "I don't know why I said it. I guess… It was just a weird sight to see you two together like that. Maybe because I've known you both at school, which made me a little taken back by surprise. So, I… well, just forget I ever mentioned it."

"Fine."

"And… well, to be more to the point of what concerns me, let's be honest with each other," he said uneasily.

"…?"

"You're not exactly known to have long standing relationships with women. Sakura's just–"

"Perhaps, but it's been a long time since I've been with anyone like that," Kakashi cut in.

"So, this isn't some fling to you?"

"No."

"You really care about her?"

"I do… and I did try and stop before anything really happened, but I can't stop myself from wanting to try and make it work. She makes me happy, which, trust me, is a weird thing for me to admit."

Iruka looked a little surprised by Kakashi's reply as he focused for a moment at the ground thinking about his next question. "The age gap… doesn't bother you?"

"I know it sounds strange, but it just doesn't seem apparent to me, well, to us, that it even matters."

He hummed. "I guess it's true what they say…"

Kakashi looked at him questionably.

"Love is blind."

'Love?'

Kakashi wasn't sure what to think about that word. Love wasn't part of his vocabulary. He knew he cared about her a lot, but to even begin to think of feelings on that kind of level he wasn't really sure how he felt in that respect. Not that he had anything to compare to gauge his feelings.

"Perhaps," Kakashi finally replied as he turned and went to the bottom of the steps.

"Anyway, Kakashi," Iruka called out before he could walk too much further.

He looked back over his shoulder. "Hum?"

"Just to be clear, I may not be able to fully agree with your relationship, but I still want to be your friend regardless… okay?"

A faint smile appeared beneath his mask. "…I appreciate it."

"Of course," Iruka replied with a nod. "Well, see you soon for a visit back at home sometime?"

"Probably. Anyway… thanks. Take care."

"You, too."

Kakashi held up a hand as a goodbye as he went back to his motorcycle. He felt a bit better knowing his friendship with Iruka wouldn't be as much of a total loss like he was figuring. It was easy to understand where his friend was coming from though. He had the same doubts from before if it was really a good idea or not. But maybe, just maybe after some time had passed and they were still together, it would change people's minds about the nature of their relationship. It would also reassure him he wasn't foolish in seriously giving this a shot. Least that's all he had to hope for at this point.


Kakashi knocked lightly at Sakura's apartment door. He hoped she was ready to go so he wouldn't feel any more awkward than he'd have to. The door opened quickly to find a familiar blonde staring back at him with a grin. Why can't Sakura ever answer the door?

"Hello, Kakashi-sensei!" she said enthusiastically.

He inwardly sighed. "Just… Kakashi."

"Right, so Kakashi… Are you two going to like, I don't know, spend the night together every weekend from now on?"

"…"

"I don't know wha–aah."

Ino was suddenly jerked backwards by the back of her shirt. Sakura squeezed through the door and quickly said goodbye to Ino while pulling Kakashi by the hand down the steps. He was confused why they were rushing so quickly, but he was partly glad to be getting away from Ino's awkward question.

"S-Sakura?" he strutted.

She spun around to turn at him once they were by the street curb. "Yes?"

"What was that back there?"

"What's what?"

"Well for one… Rushing us down here."

"I, uh, missed you and wanted to get going," Sakura smiled sweetly as she said that.

"Uh-huh… and…?"

"Andddd… to get away from Ino before she said anything super embarrassing."

"Mmm, I see."

He had to wonder what exactly did they talk about after he dropped her off earlier. Maybe he shouldn't know. Kakashi leaned down while pulling down his mask and gave Sakura a quick kiss. It was funny to him how he actually did start to miss her for the mere few hours they were apart. She smiled warmly up at him as she adjusted the duffel bag at her side.

"You aren't planning to spend the night are you?" Kakashi asked while eyeing her large bag. She usually only carried a moderately sized purse with her.

"So, um, how did your visit with Iruka go?" she replied, completely ignoring his question.

"Actually better than I had expected."

"Oh, that's good to hear. He always seemed nice… So, I'm glad everything's okay."

"Yeah, more or less anyway." Kakashi began to poke at her bag. "So… really, why is your bag so heavy?"

Pushing his hand away, she looked embarrassed for a moment. "Well, it's Sunday and we both have class early in the morning and I really want to spend more time with you. So, I figured…"

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Sakura…"

"Please?"

"…"

"Pretty please?"

"…"

"Pretty, pretty, please?"

"…"

Sakura made her best attempt to look completely sad with a pouted lip. Her eyes actually appeared like they were about to tear up. Kakashi cursed those damn crocodile tears of hers and realized she had some decent acting skills. He had no idea how he could refuse those beautiful green eyes of hers, but he couldn't deny it did cross his mind to let her stay tonight.

"I'll think about it."

Her tears instantly stopped as she grinned in a small victory. Kakashi poked her side playfully at her evil way of playing.

"So… off to your place then?" Sakura asked.

"For now," he replied.

Sakura wrapped her arms around him snugly when they were set to leave on his motorcycle. She was glad she was getting less nervous now around him, though she wasn't sure if she'd ever not get scared from riding his bike. Closing her eyes, she wondered how much more amazing this feeling she felt in heart could get.


Sakura hung her head over the side of the couch as her feet curled into the back cushions. Kakashi had gone upstairs after they had came back to his place to change into something more comfortable while she waited in the living room. She never actually looked around the room before. Already she was envious of his flat screen TV which stood on a short, but elongated black entertainment center that had quite a few videos and a gaming console. Her curiosity piqued at that as she began to twist her head to see what games he had. She figured all he did all day was just read. While her body was twisted, she felt hands tickle her sides causing her to squirm into the couch. She held Kakashi's hands in an attempt to stop him.

"Ka-ka-shi," she said in between laughs. "How would you like it if I tickled you all the time, hum?"

"Good thing I'm not ticklish."

"Oh, really?"

Kakashi's hands broke from her grasp easily to tackle her sides again.

"N-noooo, stop!"

Her face was red from laughter when he finally stopped. Stepping around to the front of the couch, he plopped down beside her and began to reach for her again. Sitting upright now, she began to push him away with a bare foot to his chest.

"I won't tickle you again. At least for a few minutes," Kakashi muttered the last part quickly as he held out his arms.

Sakura hesitantly eyed him before removing her foot from his chest.

"Come here."

Slowly she entered his warm embrace and lay on his chest. She loved this feeling so much. It felt so secure, comforting, and simply just made it all the more unbelievable to her how she could be like this with him. Never had she felt like this towards anyone. She didn't know such an overwhelming feeling of happiness could even exist. Looking up into his eyes, she had a feeling he felt the same way.

Sakura kissed his now unmasked face tenderly. His cheek felt so smooth. He must have just shaved. Rubbing her face against his cheek, she could smell an intoxicating musky scent.

"I love whatever aftershave you use," Sakura stated, brushing her lips against his cheek into an approving kiss.

"Do you now?" he mused.

"Yes, makes me want to kiss you more."

"I will make sure to never run out of it then," Kakashi said with a smile.

Sakura settled more into his chest now while he leaned against the arm of the couch holding her. It was strange for him. Sitting here with someone like this. The air around them was quiet and still. Yet it was a different kind of quiet than usual. He could faintly hear the soft breathing of someone other than himself. Usually he'd feel just about as empty like most of his house was, but with her being here, it was amazing to him how he felt so warm. Not just from the feeling of her against him, but warm in just a sense of how he knew he wasn't alone anymore.

Running a hand through the strands of her pink locks, he had to wonder how different it all could have been if he hadn't unknowingly sat next to her on the first day of class. What would he be doing now? He wouldn't have anything to look forward to. His life probably would have felt even more mundane and stifling like it always had been for the countless years past. He didn't realize until now how numb he was beginning to feel inside. No matter how hard he tried to change things on the outside. Moving, switching jobs, he still couldn't find what he didn't know he was looking for. He never would have imagined the answer to be Sakura. She was the change he was looking for in his life. It was a crazy realization to him.

"What's with that smug looking smile?" Sakura asked with a tender gaze.

His smile grew. "Just realizing how lucky I am…"

"Oh, how so?"

"To have someone like you."

At his comment, Sakura hid a blush into his chest. "I- I don't think I'm that amazing or anything, but I feel the same about you."

"You're plenty amazing," he said warmly.

"Not really…"

"You don't give yourself enough credit," he said, touching the edge of her heated face softly with his fingertips. "No one can make me laugh like you can. You're beautiful, smart… You can make me feel happy just being beside me. How is that not amazing?" Kakashi added while smiling at how shy she suddenly became as she buried herself more into his shirt. After a moment of silence, he rubbed her back lightly. "It's cute when you're embarrassed."

"Shush," she softly replied, still hiding from his eyes as she was thinking to herself how he could feel this way about somebody like her. Not that she wasn't thankful or flattered, but them being together still felt like a dream. She felt weightless. That at any moment she could fall out of this illusion and find herself tumbling back onto the hard ground of reality. Sakura felt a bit too shy at the moment to tell him how she thought he was crazy to think so highly of her. That she was certainly the lucky one to be with someone as smart, capable, mature and wonderful like he was.

His voice interrupted her thoughts. "So, did you want to do anything in particular tonight?"

"Oh, I'm up for whatever or we could just stay like this for several hours."

He chuckled and replied, "Sadly I probably could do that."

"Have you decided if I can stay tonight or not?"

"Still thinking…" he replied, wondering why she asked suddenly.

"Any way I can persuade you?" she asked hopefully.

"I will not give in to your seductress advances again," he teased.

Sakura looked up to him from his chest, slowly bringing her mouth to his and whispered, "I could test that theory…"

Feeling a tingle down his spine, Kakashi was already starting to waver and she hadn't even brought her lips to his yet. He sighed. "Okay. See, that's not fair."

Sakura kissed him gently trying to mask a hidden smile. "Fair is foul, foul is fair."

"Hey, don't get all Shakespearean on me," he playfully jested.

Sakura smirked in response and glanced at his media center. She pointed and said, "Okay, what if I beat you in one of those games you have down there. Then can I stay?"

"You play video games?" he asked skeptically.

"Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean I can't play."

"Oh, really… I never would have thought," he hummed. "What you play?"

"Um, you know, little things here and there growing up," she replied.

"Hum…"

Kakashi wondered why her reply was so vague, but there was no way she had any hopes of beating him in anything. He wasn't an avid gamer anymore like he used to be when he had a lot of down time after school growing up, but was fairly decent still today. She was simply asking to be beaten no matter what. He tried to think of ways of how he could make this a fun bet for his easy win. Sakura was staring at him with a smirk like she was plotting something.

"I'll let you choose whatever game you like as long as it has a versus mode and um, if you win, you get to stay tonight, but if I win… hum…"

"How about, if I win I get to stay over every weekend – as long as you aren't busy," Sakura chimed in.

He had a feeling she would from now on anyway. He wanted her to, but decided for the sake of the game to make it a bet.

"Fine," he allowed.

"And I want you to cook us some dinner tonight."

"Agreed, but you'll have to if you lose."

She nodded. "So, how many rounds?"

Kakashi thought for a moment. He couldn't help but want to tease her with a sinister suggestion at the back of his mind. He was curious to see how she would react. "How about we make this, um… interesting."

"How so?"

"How about… each loss you remove one article of clothing..."

Sakura smacked him in the shoulder trying to hide a grin. "Pervert."

"Whaa? I am no such thing," he defended, rubbing his shoulder.

"Do you usually make your video game matches into some kind of stripping contest?"

"No, just with you, but doesn't it make it more exciting?"

Sakura blushed. He really was about as perverted as she figured his books were, but found it quite intriguing. She felt fairly confident she wasn't going to lose, though she wondered how she would handle in seeing him nothing but… wait…

"So, are we stripping down to… nothing?"

He grinned mischievously. "We could…"

Sakura's blush seemed to deepen more as she averted her eyes. Kakashi could see how she was looking uncomfortable and laughed. "I'm just joking."

She thought to herself for a moment. Glancing around the room, she was glad to find all the windows had closed blinds. If she really agreed to this, at least no one would see them like that close call earlier in the morning. She felt more resolve in wanting to try and be braver being with him. Also to completely beat him and have bragging rights forever.

"N-no. I agree," she muttered.

Kakashi was a little stunned she agreed. He actually really was joking about it, but if she really wanted to, he would happily comply.

"When you lose you only have yourself to blame."

"Don't be so sure about that," she replied as she rose from his comforting chest.

"Awe, there's that competitive spirit of yours. Mighty until the very end," he snickered.

"You're adorable," she replied, now sitting with her knees folded underneath her on the couch.

"Here, I have a few downloaded games on the console." He handed her a controller which was stored under the couch beneath him. "Do you know how to turn it on?"

"No."

Sakura hit the button seeming to know otherwise as it beeped on.

He raised a brow. "Do you have one at home?"

"I used to, but it broke and I figured I'd be studying a lot anyway. So I haven't bothered to get another."

She navigated through the menu seeming to know exactly where to look for the list of various games. Kakashi wondered if maybe she knew more than he figured, but still wasn't particularly worried about it.

"This one," she declared.

"Street fighter? A classic, huh?"

She nodded. "Mm-hum."

"You might want to pick something else."

"Nope."

"Okay, I expect all your clothes right here." He tapped the black lacquer coffee table in front of them.

"Ha," she scoffed. "You mean yours."

Kakashi couldn't help but laugh. Her confidence was really entertaining although extremely misguided. He had played this game who knows how many times with friends over the years. This was a cakewalk. Searching for the other controller stashed under the couch, he still couldn't stop smirking. Now he had to wonder exactly how far she would strip in front of him before turning completely embarrassed. Sakura selected her character.

"Chun-Li, huh?"

"Girl power all the way."

"And I respect that." Kakashi selected his character.

"Ryu, huh?" Sakura asked similarly on purpose.

"We have similar fighting styles," he said with a shrug.

"You can do a Shoryuken in real life?" she teased.

"Yes."

"And Hadouken?"

"Naturally."

"Show me."

"Later."

"Liar."

Kakashi smiled as they began their first match. He had already decided to let her win the match. It was the honorable thing to do. He couldn't just completely kick her butt off the bat. That would just be too cruel. Then after that, he wasn't going to hold back. She seemed rather unsure in her moves though he played not very aggressively, but enough to seem like he was really trying. Their match had ended.

"Ah, you beat me. I have to say I'm a little surprised," Kakashi said rather nonchalantly.

"Mm, yes, I bet you are," Sakura said, eying him knowing exactly what he was trying to pull. She had her own game up her sleeve. He just didn't know it yet. "Shirt off," she added.

"Fine."

He pulled off his snug short sleeved shirt and tossed it on the coffee table. Sakura couldn't help but admire his muscled frame as his pale skin was shaded by the soft glow of colors radiating from the screen before them.

They began the second round. This time he played slightly differently, still letting her take in some shots and receiving a bit of damage, but near the end but pummeled her with a string of combos which lead to his easy win.

"Shirt off," he called out. He watched her coolly do so without any protest. She didn't seem too embarrassed as she placed her shirt on top of his on the table.

Noticing his gaze fixated on her chest, she turned her back towards him. "I see you staring."

He grinned. "I was just admiring the color of purple you're wearing."

"Pervert."

Third round of their match began. He planned to only make her strip down to just her underwear as the conclusion of their bet. This would be their final round.

"Don't hold back," he murmured.

"Oh, I won't."

The battle started and she had already thrown him to the ground. Every approach he made he was getting blocked or shot down. She hadn't been this aggressive right from the start before. All the small jab moves she was making were eating at his health little by little. This match was turning into using much more effort than he had planned for. Throwing several Hadoukens weren't very effective as she shot back fireballs. Jumping his character in the air to get closer, she had thrown him to the ground again before he could even land.

He had lost.

Kakashi was a little perplexed. Did he just get hustled in a video game? He actually had attempted to win, but didn't get much of a chance to. Trying to hide his surprise, he eyed her as she smirked back at him.

"That's what you get for throwing the first match," she said with a glare.

"…"

"Pants off."

"…"

Clearly seeing the enjoyment on her face between her interlaced fingers over her smirking lips, he leaned back into the couch and unbuttoned the top of his jeans. He stood up and slowly unzipped them teasingly. He shrugged them off his hips, revealing a dark blue pair of boxers with a gray elastic band just barely hinting his cut muscle lines down to his inner groin.

Sakura tried to hide her blush as she stared at him, wondering how it was possible for anyone to look so incredibly sexy. Kakashi smirked as he plopped back down into the couch while placing his pants on the table.

"Now you're staring," he commented.

"I'm admiring the blue color you're wearing of course," she playfully mocked.

"Of course… So, I suppose this means I lose," he replied, still smiling.

"Oh, but I thought we were stripping down to nothing? So, you still have one more shot to beat me. Actually to be fair, I'll give you two more shots."

"…"

Sakura could tell he was a bit surprised to hear her say that. "Afraid to lose?"

"Well, I wasn't going to go that far if you only had your underwear left..."

"So you admit ultimate defeat?"

"No…"

"Oh, well then let's go." Sakura smiled as she got ready to play again.

"So if I lose, you're really going to make me strip down to nothing?"

"Yep. Since I'm giving you an extra chance if you lose… I want you to run around this couch once in the buff and say, 'Sakura's the strongest woman in the world!'"

"…"

'Is she serious?' he wondered. Now that would definitely be embarrassing. There was no way she was serious. "You're…"

"I'm not kidding."

"I, uh…"

"I'll do the same if you manage to beat me, but good luck with that," she mused.

Now, he didn't want to back down from a bet, but he had no idea what he was getting himself into by agreeing, for what he thought was originally a cute contest. She was evil. Merciless. Sexy. Well, that last one was mostly due to her being in a bra right now, which highlighted her ample cleavage he was admiring earlier. Now if he could win, would she really run around the couch nude? That would be a sight to see. He could win, right? He was determined to. Doing whatever was necessary, even if it meant cheating.

"Fine," he agreed smoothly. "And I just want to note I had no idea how competitive you really are. It's a little scary and quite sexy."

"Thank you. Now you know to be serious against me. Always," she said with a glare.

"I didn't throw the first match…"

"Is that the truth?"

"Probably."

"Uh-huh."

Kakashi sighed and admitted, "Fine. I did. So let's do this."

Queuing up the next match, they both chose to play with their same characters again. He was determined to win. Like his life depended on it. After the screen displayed the words 'fight', he immediately began to leap into a combo knocking her character into the corner. She squeezed out of it using a spinning bird kick, but his character's handy Shoryuken kept her from not getting too far. Sakura made an aggravated grunt as she pressed buttons desperately trying to overcome his blows, yet to no avail. He had won.

"Pants."

Sighing once more, Sakura started to worry maybe she couldn't beat him again since he suddenly was getting really serious. She actually used to play the game a lot with one of her neighbors growing up. All they ever had was fighting games like this, which she grew to enjoy. She figured she'd have the upper hand being decently experienced, but maybe not quite as much as she hoped. Standing up, she began to unbutton her pants thinking how this was the strangest way to play video games she had ever experienced.

Mimicking what Kakashi had done earlier, she teasingly was being quite slow and sensual as she further revealed her matching purple panties to her bra. She was starting to feel nervous as she did it. She wasn't experienced stripping in front of anyone before, but made the best of it trying to look like she knew what she was doing in being sexy. Kakashi seemed pretty intrigued with the motions though. When her pants fell to the floor, she peeled them from her feet and placed them on the table. She sat back onto the couch feeling her cheeks heat. This may have been the second time now he's seen her like this, but it was still a bit nerve wracking. If she lost again… she was quite afraid what part he'd want her to remove next.

Sakura turned her gaze into his. "You and your stares."

"Admiring," he replied coolly with a grin.

Unpausing the game now, he turned his attention back to their second match and tried to refocus. He just needed to do what he did last time. Once they began he started to, but had already been countered by an aerial attack which had left him open to being tossed to the ground. He hated that throw move. It took so much damage. Sakura's character was already doing lighting kicks as he tried to recover, but stopped that fast using a few Hadoukens.

Blocking and dodging a few of Sakura's attempts to catch him off guard, he threw her character onto the ground followed by an upper and lower kick combo. Unfortunately for him, she countered once she recovered by knocking his character down and threw him once more. Now they both only had a little bit of health left, but that soon ended as he tried to block her attacks. She suddenly switched to the other side and threw him a final time.

She had won.

Sakura grinned at him looking rather pleased and also relieved. "Humm, you get one more chance. Then it's just you." She made a circular motion with a finger. "Around this couch."

Part of him was still hoping she was pulling an extended joke that was getting carried away too far now. He really didn't want to push his luck if she did or didn't though. He can't lose again. He can't. He won't. He refused.

"Any last prayers before this next round?" Sakura asked jokingly.

"I don't need prayers… I need a miracle," he muttered dryly.

"Indeed," she replied happily, already set to start the next round.

The final round was already intense and completely aggressive between both of them. Besides the sounds of button mashing, there were a few aggravated sighs between them both. Kakashi felt partly ridiculous putting so much energy into this one fight in a silly video game, but the other part of him was actually having a lot of fun. It was just hard to admit how he never had fun in this kind of way. He decided they should definitely play more stripping games like this. The battle was already near its end. Both of their health bars were dangerously low. It was anyone's game. Their characters were on opposite ends of the screen, bracing for each other's next move. Kakashi could see in the corner of his eye how focused Sakura was right now. He must do something to turn this in his favor. Quickly his left hand left the controller to tickle her side.

Sakura gasped with a laugh as she looked at him trying to swipe him away. "Kakashi!"

He had already begun to move his character on the screen for a final attack, but she had recovered her hands back into the controller again to block.

"Ugh, you little cheat!" she griped.

"Fair is foul, foul is fair," he replied quickly as he continued his attack attempts.

"Grr…"

Kakashi had no idea how, but she had managed to throw his character again. That was it. He had lost. Even his surprise tickle attack didn't save him. Maybe she would give him another chance…?

Sakura turned to him still looking a bit mad from his earlier attempt to cheaply gain a win. She pointed at him and said, "You. Naked. Now."

He held his breath at first. "Do… I really have to…"

"Yes."

"But..."

"No buts. Just your butt. Around this couch. Now."

"…"

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Guilty

 

"Well? I'm waiting," Sakura said as she folded her arms while smirking. The blank stare on Kakashi's face was beyond hilarious.

"Sakura, really? This isn't some long winded joke right?"

Kakashi looked at her seriously trying to hide a panic that was forming in the pit of his stomach. She had to have been joking. Running around in the nude in front of her saying, 'Sakura's the strongest woman in the world!' He figured a scene like that would be too embarrassing for her to endure. Now he was quickly realizing it was too embarrassing for him to endure.

"Kakashi, drop your boxers and go."

Turning away from her gaze for a moment, he tried to ponder ways of getting out of this. "Okay, how about we have a rematch? A fair one?" he offered.

"No."

Holding his breath at first, he added, "How about… I just kiss you instead?"

"No."

"Back massage?"

She hummed in consideration. "Tempting, but no."

"I'll give you all the cash in my wallet."

"No."

"My credit cards."

"No."

"My car."

"No."

"My house."

"No."

"My soul."

"No."

"…"

"Less talking. More stripping. Go."

Kakashi hung his head low. This was really happening. This was not how he imagined being nude for the first time in front of her. Completely opposite situation he would have hoped for. It's not that he was shy, but… ugh. Who wouldn't be embarrassed running around a couch yelling something ridiculous? He was a thirty something year old man damn it. Men didn't do that, unless they were completely intoxicated.

Sakura stretched and made a fake yawn. "Man… So tired of waiting for the inevitable."

Sighing, Kakashi got up slowly from the couch. "You speak of this to no one," he grumbled.

"I doubt anyone would believe me anyway."

With a sigh, he pointed towards her. "…Give me that at least."

Looking around at first, she was confused until she realized that she was leaning against a pillow. "I don't think you need this," she replied.

"…"

"Chop, chop. I want dinner," she demanded playfully.

"I… am going to pay you back for this. I don't know when. I don't know how, but I will," Kakashi proclaimed with a glare. If looks could kill, Sakura would have been long gone by now.

"Hey, you did agree to this."

Kakashi sighed in response, beginning to tug at the top band of his boxers before he turned his backside towards her. Sakura's smile dropped for a moment as she looked at his back. She never had actually seen it before. She knew scars were there from feeling it, but seeing it… welts were threaded mostly along his lower back. It wasn't hideous or anything like that to her. It just made her heart drop in wondering why or how it happened. It looked like he was beaten.

Seeing Kakashi hesitantly peer over his shoulder, she quickly averted her eyes from staring and plastered on a devious smirk again. Bringing her knees up to her face, she hid behind them slightly as she sat, letting her smile fall. She didn't want to bring the mood down from overreacting or making him feel bad in anyway.

"I'm going to be an old woman by the time you finish," she called out behind her knees.

With a heavy sigh, Kakashi slowly pulled the elastic band further revealing his buttocks. She was almost a bit startled of how unbelievably sexy his firm butt was. Never had she thought she would ever find a guy's ass so attractive, but his certainly was. Sakura blushed. Stepping out of his boxers that had fallen at his feet now, he picked them up by a foot still hiding his front from her and placed them in front of him to at least have a bare minimal amount of decency. He finally turned around.

Kakashi's face was so pink with embarrassment as he gripped his boxers against himself best he could with both hands. She couldn't help feeling somewhat embarrassed as she took in the sight, yet giddy at the same time.

"Like what you see?" Kakashi asked in a playful sexy tone.

"Definitely."

Her reply snagged a smile out of him finally. Feeling her cheeks burn hotter against her knees the longer they stared at each other, she said, "Okay, now run around the couch saying that little thing we talked about earlier."

Another sigh left his lips as he tried to prepare himself for his journey around the couch. He figured he should get it over with as soon as possible and then pull his boxers back on. At that thought, he left from his spot and began to lightly jog around the couch and utter in a miserable tone, "Sakura… is the… strongest woman… in the world."

After he completed his circle around the couch he stood and glared at her. She was desperately trying to hold back a giggle.

"Oh, no, no, Kakashi." She broke into a laugh after she said that and tried to collect herself again before continuing to say, "That won't do. You need to say it with feeling."

"…"

Kakashi began to look crestfallen. "But, I said it… you never said how I had to say it."

She grinned. "Sure I did. I did say it a certain way when I told you, now didn't I? I was quite enthusiastic sounding."

"…"

Taking in a deep breath, Kakashi didn't know what to think. Was he dreaming right now? This had to have been a nightmare. "You know… I'm getting you back ten fold for this right?" he said dully.

Sakura replied with a smile as she leaned back into the couch. She didn't want to think how he'd be paying her back. All she should do now is just enjoy his misery.

"Come on, one more time with feeling."

Another miserable sigh left his lips. Again he leapt around the couch and said enthusiastically as he could, "Sakura is the strongest woman in the world!"

Kakashi stood still and glared as coldly as possible. "How's that?"

"Better, but…"

"Sakura…"

"I'm just joking! You're done."

Feeling glad he fulfilled his debt, he turned around again to slip on his boxers. Sakura felt a little sad seeing his butt covered again, but felt that heavy feeling coming back as she looked up towards his back. Turned around now, he plopped into the couch staring at the wall behind the TV with his arms crossed. Sakura worried he was actually upset.

"Hey, it's all in fun… You're not really mad are you?" she asked as she began to crawl towards him on the couch.

"…"

Silence was the only response she was getting. Pulling herself closer now, she sat with her knees folded next to him. He still wouldn't look at her. "Don't be mad…Please?"

Leaning herself against him, she kissed his cheek.

Still nothing.

"Kakashi… Please…" She kissed him again, a bit longer this time. "Baby… Please…"

Kakashi couldn't play mad anymore as he felt a strange affection hearing her call him baby. He glanced at her sullen face before he melted his imperturbable mask. "I'm just playing," he said while he brought a hand to her face.

Sakura gave a sigh of relief.

"But you really are evil," he added before her kissed her soft lips.

"Well, I did accomplish my goal objective of making you do that."

"What…?"

"Seeing that amazing ass of yours."

"Ha, now I see your true colors. You're the pervert, Sakura."

She smiled warmly before hugging him in her arms. Kissing her cheek, he pulled from her embrace and chuckled. His eyes seem to light up as he looked off into the distance as if he could see the images of whatever he was plotting. "I can't wait to pay you back. Oh, it will be so great. I can just imagine it now."

She awkwardly laughed. "I, uh… don't look forward to that day."

"I do. Very. Very. Much."

Sakura had no doubt he absolutely meant it. "So yeah… About that dinner…"

"Yes, your majesty," he said with a nod and rose from the couch. He began to sort through their clothes on the coffee table, since he didn't think it would be a good idea to cook practically naked. Not with the possibility of hot cooking oil to pop at his skin. After pulling on his shirt and pants, he leaned down to Sakura who still wasn't dressed yet and kissed her once more. "It will probably be about thirty minutes until I'm done, so make yourself at home."

"Do you mind if I looked around?" she asked hopefully.

"Sure."

"Yay! Okay. Also, don't poison my food please."

"Ugh, there goes my payback plan. I'll do plan B instead," he replied with a smile as he left into the hallway towards the kitchen.

After his steps faded away in the distance, Sakura got dressed and turned off his TV and gaming console. Now she had the permission to explore around as much as she pleased without feeling uneasy about it. Heading into the hall, she started to look into a room that was closed. Slowly pushing the door open, she slid her hand against the wall to find the light switch. With a sound of a click, the light flashed on to reveal a bunch of boxes and a few furniture pieces were stacked up everywhere. Obviously the room was acting as storage. She peered into some of the open boxes noting there were quite a few books that ranged from novels (amazingly not Icha Icha related) to textbooks. Besides that, there were several boxes filled with boring looking documents she didn't care to read.

Looking to the right of her, she was surprised to find a dusty looking piano in a corner. It had boxes and several kinds of papers scattered all over it. Did he play the piano? She wouldn't be surprised given how amazing he was already. Yet it looked like it hadn't been touched in ages. There were smudges of hand prints along the sides, but most likely from it being moved. Coming a bit closer to it, she traced a finger into the dusty keys. Hesitantly, she pushed down a white key, a sound was a released and echoed within the walls of the room. She made a mental note wanting to ask him if he played. Glancing one final look over the room, she went back into the hallway after turning off the light again.

She could hear Kakashi moving some pans around in the kitchen as she went to her next stop. This was the room she glanced past earlier. The door was already opened as she stepped inside, flicking on the light. There was a punching bag, a couple of exercise machines and a set of weights. Overall the room had a dojo kind of feel, as there were a few weapons like samurai swords neatly shelved about. There was a cushioned mat in the middle of the floor. Sakura stepped on the briefly and did a small jump. She began to jump around on the mat like a rabbit, enjoying herself a little too much as she realized how much of a kid she must have looked like right now. Eying the door as if he would walk in on her at any moment, she stopped. After she toyed around with some of the equipment, she stepped back into the hallway. There was one more room she hadn't seen yet.

Traveling up the creaky stairs, she opened the door of the room she wanted to explore. After the light was on, she could see it was a simple office space. There was a desktop computer centered on a desk, which was against in front of a closed window surrounded by a couple of shelves. It really was amazing to her how many books he must have owned in total. There were a few plastic bins with some papers stuffed inside. Old certificates and dusty awards were scattered about on some shelves as well. Peering into a bin, she could see a few kid drawings that were created in crayon. Most of them looked like they were of Kakashi in a white gi. It was really cute. She wondered where they were from as she pulled a couple of them out to look more closely. The first one had a poorly drawn looking Kakashi doing some sort of karate move. Flipping it over, there was a scribbled misspelled message saying, 'Kaashi-sensei, You are a kind teacher. Best evrrr. Nodoby bestest!'

"Awe, that's so cute!" she muttered to herself happily, placing it underneath the stack.

It was dated several years ago. He must have taught kids who were really young as a karate instructor. What she wouldn't give to have seen that. Kakashi with little kids? It had to have been so adorable. Sakura was starting to feel giddy just imagining it. The next drawing depicted a chibi looking Kakashi and what looked like a girl student. On the front there were hearts drawn everywhere.

'Oh god,' she thought warily as she flipped to the back. It said: 'i loves you kakashi-sensei!'

Sakura smirked. She had to wonder exactly how many students of his probably fell in love with him. Sakura blushed and quickly flipped the drawing under the stack. After she browsed through a couple more, she placed them back into the bin. Stretching her shoulders for a moment, she went to sit behind his desk and stared into the florescent light above her. It was kind of strange how Kakashi didn't have any pictures. Anywhere. Except for that one photo she found tucked away in his chest. Maybe he didn't like pictures of himself? But… there weren't any of family or friends. Of course maybe they were in one of those boxes downstairs. What kind of family did he have? Was he an only child like her? She'd gotten the impression that he probably was, but was only speculating since he had never mentioned anything about family yet. Spinning the chair now, she accidentally made herself dizzy and dragged her feet into wooden floor to stop.

Refocusing her senses back, she got up and felt the various rough and smooth spines of books with the tip of her fingers as she walked past a shelf. She looked behind the curtained window of the room, admiring the yellow lit shaded windows of the house next to them. Night seemed to have fallen some time ago.

'Oh God, I never called my mother back yet…'

She sighed. Sakura knew her mother's life was all about her. Sometimes it was amusing, but other times mostly embarrassing. She was pretty sure if her mother had her own way she would have never left from home. At least she had been very supportive of her going to college. Her mother was all alone now since she divorced her father when she was around five years old. She never told her the reason why. Sakura had met him once, at her high school graduation which was barely a few months ago. That was it. It was an awkward meeting that only lasted for a few moments. Only sign of his existence was a stale birthday card with small words that saying 'from Dad.' Sakura couldn't help but roll her eyes at that thought.

Closing the door behind her, she turned off the light and went down stairs to find her bag that was in the living room still. Rummaging through it, she found her phone which had a few missed calls already. Strangely one was a number she hadn't seen before. Listening to her voicemail, her face went from confused to ecstatic.

"Yessssssss! Yes, yes, yes!" Sakura began to do a happy dance in celebration. Her dance stopped as soon as she turned to find an amused looking Kakashi leaning into the archway from the hallway, seeming to be suppressing a laugh. She blushed and felt embarrassed.

"Oh, don't stop," he encouraged. "It was cute."

"Shush," Sakura replied, averting her eyes down to her phone to close out of her voicemail.

"Sooo, what are we cutely dancing about?"

"Job interview," Sakura replied, narrowing her eyes at him still feeling embarrassed.

He smiled. "Nice, where at?"

"One of the coffee shops on campus," she beamed.

"Ooh, I approve."

"Why's that?"

"I can still continue to stalk you easily."

"Well, let's see if I get the job first," Sakura smiled and added, "I need to call them tomorrow."

"Hopefully it will go just fine. Oh, by the way your majesty, did you want to have hot tea or water to drink for dinner?"

"Oh, just water is fine for me. What are you making?"

"Secret."

"Ugh." Sakura rolled her eyes and began to click through her contacts on her phone. "I need to call my mom before she thinks I died again, so I'll just be a bit."

"Sure. It will be ready in about um, I guess fifteen minutes."

Kakashi let her be and walked back to the kitchen. He opened the top cover of the saucepan he was simmering to stir its contents a bit and placed the lid back down. After checking other pots that were heating, he set the table for them then went back to the kitchen side to finish preparing.

Sakura came in after a little over ten minutes later and smelled the air. "Mmm, smells good."

"Yes, you'll never be able to tell what poisons I used," he mused.

Sitting down at the table, she gave him a sharp glare. Swinging her feet under the chair, she wondered what she should talk about as she waited. Sakura cleared her throat to get his attention. "Oh, so I was wondering… when I was looking around earlier…."

He continued to stir into a pan. "Mm?"

"Do you play the piano?"

"Ah, I used to. The one in my little storage room is acting a table now."

"Don't like it anymore?"

"Well, it's not that I don't like it. I guess it's just um, that particular piano reminds me of my parents."

"Oh, is… that bad?"

"Yes… and no."

Sakura bit her lip wondering if she should push further. She took a deep breath and asked, "Well, can I ask where they are now?"

"They died when I was eight."

"Oh, s-sorry," she muttered feeling stupid for asking now.

Sakura was shocked at the fact she had no idea he had lost his parents so young. What happened? Why? What would it have been like growing up without parents? Who did he live with? She had so many questions. As she glanced at him, part of her wanted to just ask exactly what she was thinking. She wanted to know, but she didn't want to force him to share. Like how he didn't want to share what happened with the scars on his back. Perhaps it was too big of a tragedy for her to even comprehend. She didn't know. How could she know? Sighing inwardly, she felt even stupider. She probably kept making him feel bad uttering questions that were too personal and painful.

"Don't worry about it. It has been many years now," he replied, seeing her look uncomfortable.

Kakashi tapped a ladle against a big pot and compiled all his ingredients from different saucepans, preparing two bowls of soup for them on the side. Placing them on the table, he went back into the kitchen once more and got a side of steamed rice for them and sat across from Sakura. She poked her chopsticks around her bowl still feeling slightly depressed finding out about his parents.

"…This looks good. I suppose if it tastes as good as it looks I don't mind being poisoned," she commented.

"Good. This will be your last meal."

Sakura eyed him playfully like he was serious. "What's in it?" she asked.

"Green tea soba noodles, tofu, shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, um… some various spices that may or may not be poisonous for your particular bowl."

Ignoring his last remark she gave it a taste. "Mmhum. It's awesome," she concluded.

"Glad her majesty approves," he said with a grin.

"All this just means is that you're going to cook for me forever."

"Ha. Fat chance. Not since I discovered you can cook, too. After this I'll never cook dinner again if you're here."

She laughed lightly. "Then you'll starve."

Kakashi poked her with a chopstick. "I'll eat you then."

Sakura playfully frowned as she continued to eat. After they had finished their meal this time Sakura was determined to do the dishes and shoved Kakashi out of the kitchen. He made his way to the living room and decided to watch some TV until she finished. A yawn escaped his lips, starting to feel tired already. Glancing at the clock on the wall, it was a little past 10:00 pm now. They would need to leave around six in the morning tomorrow to make it to class on time. Oh how he hated morning classes with a passion. There was no reason in his mind to ever conduct classes so early. He would rather sleep. When Sakura was finished in the kitchen, she came to the living room and crawled into his arms, relaxing against his chest. A small chuckle left Sakura's lips.

"What's so funny?" he asked softly.

"Just the memory of you running around this couch earlier."

"…"

"I'll cherish that memory forever," she said fondly.

"Evil, evil," he muttered under his breath.

"Heyyy, I'm not evil. You're just a sore loser," she said in defense.

They sat comfortably in silence for awhile watching the news. Sakura was beginning to get a little too comfortable as she found herself starting to fall asleep. She really didn't want to move from his warm arms though.

Kakashi yawned noticing her starting to nod off. "It's getting late. We should get some sleep."

"Mm, mkay," she mumbled into his chest.

"You're not going to sleep here again are you?" she asked a little sadly.

"Mm…"

Given everything they've done and been through today, he didn't see why he should deny himself a bit of happiness of wanting to hold her throughout the night.

"No…" he decided. "I'll be with you if that's fine."

"More than fine," she quickly replied, giving him a squeeze with her arms.

Turning off the TV, they both rose from the couch. Sakura made her way upstairs with her bag. Kakashi turned off all the lights downstairs, double checking that the doors were locked before making his way up. After he brushed his teeth in the bathroom, he walked into his room to find Sakura mid-changing into a t-shirt to sleep in. Her back was bare as she slipped it over her head, pulling her hair out from beneath the fabric. She tucked her bra into her bag and slipped on some comfortable shorts after shaking off her pants.

"You don't have to wear anything," Kakashi joked, startling her to turn around.

He wasn't sure if it was the way her shirt was revealing a shoulder, or that he could clearly see a nipple poking beneath the fabric or maybe it was the way her pink hair had twisted down the front beautifully, but she was increasingly sexy as she smiled at him. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea for him to sleep upstairs with her.

"Mm, I bet you would like that a lot, huh," she teased back.

"Yes… though I have a feeling I wouldn't be getting much sleep."

Or any sleep as she was now for that matter. Kakashi mentally sighed. Having a half baked excuse in mind on having self control, he still decided he could do this. Though he didn't have much control earlier today… Trying to ignore that fact, he went to the closet to change out of his clothes.

"You don't have to wear anything either," Sakura shyly called out towards him.

"Don't tempt me."

Slipping into a blue plaid pair of comfortable pajama pants, he decided to skip wearing a shirt since he usually didn't anyway and made his way out to find Sakura already snuggling under the covers. Sitting up on her elbows when he entered, she had a sheet held up with one hand wrapped around her mouth and nose, looking quite similar to the style of mask he would wear. With the other hand, she held one of his Icha Icha books which she grabbed from his side table next to the bed. Clearly she was impersonating him. He folded his arms and smirked while waiting a response of what exactly she was doing.

Sakura cleared her throat and in a low voice said, "My name is Kakashi. My hobbies include reading… and running around a couch naked."

"…"

At that comment, he leapt into the bed and tickled her viciously.

"AH! Ka-kashi, I… was… j-ust… joking!" Sakura said between a fit of laughter, trying to escape his punishing tickles.

"Pleaseee, s-sstop," she cried, still trying to get away from his grasp. Finally she was able to twist her body away, but only managed to get to the foot of the bed before he held her sides again, pulling her back into his chest. "Please! N-no more," she said while trying to squirm away.

"Why should I stop, hum?" He began to tap fingers lightly against her soft stomach ready to tickle attack again.

"I'll do anything," she squeaked.

"Anything?"

"I'll uh…"

"You should run around this room naked and say, 'Kakashi is the most amazing man in the world!'"

"…"

"Either that or I tickle you forever."

"No!"

Sakura burst from his grasp and almost hopped off the bed in time before familiar hands pulled her back again.

"No, no, no. You're not going anywhere," Kakashi teased. "You see, Sakura… this was my plan all along. The reason I wanted to come up here. Torture you until you comply with my wishes. Only then, will I stop."

"…"

Kakashi tried is best not to laugh at her blank face considering if he was dead serious. He loved making things up on the fly.

"You're kidding me," she said in a worried tone.

"Nope. So, what's it going to be?"

"You know what? Maybe… I shouldn't stay the night after all. Haha… Yeah. So, I'll go get my things."

"Nice try," he replied still holding her snugly, poking her sides as she tried to jerk away.

"Okay… What about… this!"

Sakura wiggled her fingers to his sides in an attempt to tickle him. Flexing his abdominal muscles, he really couldn't be tickled easily. His face remained expressionless as ever. After a few seconds of trying with no response, Sakura sighed and said, "This…isn't fair..."

"See this?"

Sakura looked confused as he held up a hand in front of her, slowly rubbing his index finger and thumb together in a circle.

"World's smallest violin… playing a sad song for you."

"…"

Sakura turned her body more into his chest within his grasp and sternly looked into his eyes. Slowly, she leaned into his mouth and gave him a deep kiss. When she parted her lips from his, he eyed her and finally said, "I see what you're up to."

"Do you?"

She kissed him again this time under his jaw. He gradually loosened his grip around her, losing himself from feeling her tongue along his chin now.

Suddenly she broke away from his hold again. "Ha!" she pointed in victory at him.

Simply grabbing her extended arm that she was pointing at him with, she was back into his embrace again. Sakura sighed, realizing a bit late that she should have just run instead.

"You are so in trouble," he said huskily.

"Oh, am I?"

Sakura glanced at him nervously as he slowly pushed her back into the bed. Hovering over her, he said, "For one thing… you shouldn't tease."

"Me? Tease? Never."

"Another thing, you have made several unsuccessful escape attempts. This is severely punishable by law," he mused.

"By what law?"

"My law."

"I demand the right to a trial."

"I'm the judge and jury. You're guilty."

"I… demand a retrial."

"Still guilty."

"…"

Kakashi leaned into her neck, slowly kissed up towards her flushed lips. Pulling at her bottom lip from the suck of his kiss, he entered her mouth with his tongue, swirling around against hers eagerly. She could barely keep up with his intense kiss.

"Wait, wait," Sakura gasped out before he made another move. "Is this my punishment?"

"Yes."

"Oh, well I don't mind at.. al–uh, I mean this is the most unbearable punishment ever, but I deserve it and accept it willingly."

Kakashi smirked as he cupped her face with a hand and kissed her lips feeling like he could never get enough of them. Amazingly for some reason, he didn't feel as sleepy anymore as he began to kiss down to her bare skin around her collar bone that her shirt failed to cover. Sakura trailed her fingers over his sculpted chest feeling him slip lower from her grasp as he moved.

Kissing lower over her shirt, he lingered over a protruding nipple and nibbled it. Sakura let out a gasp of surprise feeling him begin to bite it lightly before it felt cold from him moving to the base of her stomach. He began to feel the sides of her ribs underneath her shirt. Unable to resist anymore, Kakashi pulled her shirt up and trailed kisses behind the hem until her exposed breasts appeared. Sakura's heart skipped a beat as she felt embarrassed being revealed like that for a moment. Her shyness slowly disappeared from the feeling of him sucking tenderly against her delicate flesh. Licking her pink nipple hungrily, he squeezed her other breast, loving how tender they were against his touch.

Not wanting to deny exploring her other breast with his mouth, he licked a tongue between them switching to the other. Digging his tongue into the center of her nipple, Sakura groaned from the feeling.

"Ah," Sakura whispered as he popped her nipple from his mouth, moving up to kiss her addicting lips again. She was beginning to think maybe this really was a punishment of how wonderful his touches felt, wanting him to never stop. Feeling alongside his back and she grabbed one of her now favorite assets of his. Pulling at his behind, she pressed his body further into hers while slipping a hand beneath the soft fabric of his pants and boxers to caress his bare bottom.

Nipping at the edge of her ear now, Kakashi roamed his hands along the sides of her ribs and down to her hips before going back up. Her shirt had fallen over her breasts again. Fabric. He decided it was such a hindrance. He tugged off her shirt completely in one motion and randomly tossed it off the side of the bed purposely rather far so he could enjoy watching her fetch it later.

He took in the view of her full milky topless skin. Sakura blushed under his gaze and tried to hide herself, though there really wasn't much point since he'd already had a close and personal view earlier. She still couldn't help but feel slightly embarrassed being stared at like that.

"No need to be modest. Now we're both topless. See? I removed it so you wouldn't feel left out," Kakashi mused in hopes of making her feel less shy. He caressed his hands up her sides again going up along her arms, pulling them away slowly from her chest. He held her hands with his as they were placed over her head now.

Sakura smiled coyly and said, "Oh, no ulterior motives at all then?"

"Um, of course not."

"Riiiight."

He smiled as he kissed her neck while sliding his hands down the length of her slender arms to her sides again. Sakura managed to turn his head enough with her cheek so she could torture him with kisses as well along his neck. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she decided it was her turn to punish him. She managed to push him beside her without any resistance and switched their positions. Kakashi grunted as she straddled him while bending over him.

"You can't have all the fun," Sakura whispered into his ear.

Kakashi felt a chill as she said that followed by soft kisses against his ear. Feeling her kisses going lower he felt a tongue run along his chest and around his nipples, giving them each a quick suck before pulling back. Sakura explored every bit of his muscles across his stomach with her mouth, rubbing his wet chest against her fingers as they receded down. Prolonging her next move from hesitation, she kissed his chest again awhile longer before she built up the nerve to touch his arousal with her hand. He groaned in response, failing to stop himself pressing his hips forward into her hand. Satisfied with that response, she cupped her hand along the fabric of his length, slowly rubbing it, which received more pleasing grunts from Kakashi.

"Mmm, you're making it really… really… really difficult for me to sleep tonight. Or maybe ever," he uttered.

Treading her hands to the edge of his pants, she began to slide them down.

"Sakura…" he warned.

"It's okay," she assured, trying not to lose her nerve.

Sakura continued to pull them down revealing his blue boxers that she saw earlier. Pulling his pants off his legs now, she set it aside and traced her fingers across his length once more. It felt a bit different against her hand now that a layer of fabric was gone. She began kneading the bottom mounds of his sensitive flesh. Sakura licked above the band of his boxes and circled her tongue around his bellybutton. Kakashi was certain now; she was evil. An evil sexy vixen. His breaths turned heavy now as he turned his grip into the sheets.

After a moment, Sakura settled her flaring nerves again and pulled the band of his boxers down. She felt uneasy and slightly embarrassed as she continued, feeling like her heart was about to jump out of her throat. Pulling his boxers far enough down to be at his thighs, she tried not to blush looking at him being fully revealed. Not being able to bare his glances peeking through his half-closed eyes, she moved up and began to kiss the nape of his neck, slowing beginning to rub along his hardened length timidly.

"Mm, S-Sakura," he whispered with a haggard breath.

He held a hand against the small of her back, pulling her closer towards his body as she kissed his neck, swirling her tongue around his Adam's apple. He was still almost finding it hard to believe how easily he lost his will again leading to this. Not that he cared to complain at the moment or even wanting to find a reason to. Adjusting her modest hand against him to making it more pleasurable, it wasn't too much longer before he was getting close to a release.

"Baby that feels so good, don't stop," Kakashi whispered into her ear as his breaths were becoming harder to control.

Sakura continued her pace while biting and kissing into his neck. She felt she had to have been crazy to have the gall to do what she was doing, but despite the initial embarrassment and uncertainty, she loved being finally close to him in this way.

Feeling his muscles tense up, he desperately claimed her mouth into his before an overwhelming tingling sensation washed over him, leading to his release. Trying to catch his breath, Sakura hid herself into his shoulder.

"I thought… I was supposed to be punishing you," Kakashi said half jokingly.

"I just uh, wanted to return the favor earlier today," Sakura mumbled, still hiding from his line of sight.

He pulled her face from his shoulder and kissed her softly. How did she manage to make him so crazy every time she touched or kissed him? Kakashi concluded and said, "Evil."

"I am not! Well, maybe a little... Just don't tell anyone."

"Our little secret," he chuckled and added, "Be right back."

Kakashi rose up from the bed and half pulled up his boxers, making a dash to the bathroom. Sakura sat in amusement, feeling kind of surreal as she looked around his quiet bedroom. Crossing her arms over her chest, she felt relieved that her nerves were finally settling back down. Not finding her shirt anywhere on the bed, she laid back into the tangled sheets and waited for Kakashi.

Shortly after he came back, he smirked as he saw her clutching her bare chest. "Cold?" he asked.

"I'm not used to being topless like you are," she dryly replied.

"I could warm you up again..."

"Then we'll never get sleep."

He chuckled. "Sleep is for the weak."

"Says you," she glared playfully.

Sakura got up from the bed, trying not to feel shy. "Where's my shirt?"

"Hum, not sure," he said with a shrug.

Glancing around the room she pouted. "I don't even see it."

"Well, I threw it somewhere."

"Maybe you're hiding it?"

A smirk grew at his lips. "I would never."

"…"

Sakura gave him another glare as she searched around the bed. After circling the room and still finding nothing, she sighed. Kakashi held back a laugh as he watched. After he remade the covers back in place on the mattress, he hopped in and relaxed.

"Kakashi," she whined.

"What?" he replied innocently.

"Shirt?"

He shrugged.

"…"

Her glare was starting to get to him. He sighed. "Finee. Over there," he said while pointing.

Sakura blinked as he was pointing towards the open door of the room. Slowly she walked over and peered into the hall. Somehow her shirt managed to be several feet from the doorway. Snatching it up, she pulled it over herself and went back into the room.

"How did it get all the way out there?" she asked in astonishment.

"No idea."

"You're the one who's evil."

Kakashi replied with a small smile. Pulling the covers down next to him, he tapped the bed for her to come. After she slipped inside, he covered her with the bedding before rising back up to turn off the lights quickly.

Hearing the click of the clock's buttons being pressed on the side table, Sakura leaned towards him after he settled under the covers. "What time is it?" she asked.

"You don't want to know," he replied.

"…"

Kakashi linked an arm around her waist and pressed his chest against her back. He loved this overwhelming feeling he got holding her like this. It was hard to really place why. It wasn't as if he had never held anyone before, but with her it seemed so entirely different. For some reason it was so very comforting. It was a strange feeling that he was certainly getting used to and wanting nothing but more of.

"Goodnight," he whispered against her neck before placing a soft kiss there.

"Night," she replied, snuggling further into his warmth.


-beep beep beep beep-

Sakura instantly shot awake from the ear pinching noise, half forgetting where she was for a moment until she saw a familiar hand around her waist. Kakashi stirred slowly, pulling away towards the other side and stopped the alarm. Her eyes felt like they were burning from sleep deprivation. It was just as dark as it was earlier when she went to sleep.

Letting out a sigh, she said, "I hate your alarm…"

"Mghfff," he mumbled back something indecipherable as he was face down against his pillow.

"Do we really have to get up…?"

"Mgsfhlfff…" he replied again.

She rolled her eyes. "I see. Can you elaborate?"

"Mggggfffff."

"…and then?"

"Mgfhfffff…"

"So you're saying that… you want to run around the couch naked again?" she snickered.

"…"

Still not moving his face from the pillow, Kakashi's hand blindly found her waist to tickle her.

"Ah!" She shot quickly away from the bed, but a little too fast entangling herself in the sheets, falling ungracefully to the floor with a thud.

Kakashi's head shot up still half asleep. "Sakura?" He pulled himself to the edge of the bed to find her rubbing her knee.

"I'm fine. Actually, it's kind of funny," she mumbled tiredly.

"Come here," Kakashi said as he held out his hands. After he pulled her up in a sitting position on the bed, he kissed her reddening knee. "Sorry. I didn't mean for you to fall."

"I'm okay," she tried to say warmly, appreciating his gesture.

He embraced her for a moment before letting go. "We have like…"

Glancing at the clock quickly, he added, "Twenty five minutes to get ready. Go grab a shower first?"

"Okay," she yawned, sitting up to grab a change of clothes from her bag.

Kakashi groaned, falling back into bed. He hated mornings. It would have done him better to have an apartment and being closer not having to wake up so damn early, but he loved having more of a sense of privacy. So he ended up living about an hour away from the university. Listening to the faint sounds of the shower running, he closed his eyes again.

"Done," Sakura said as she poked him in his stomach. He blinked, realizing he must have fallen back asleep. Sakura stared at him with her hair slicked back into a pony tail. She was changed into some jeans and a simple short sleeved graphic tee. Satisfied that he seemed awake, she looked into her bag and brought out some makeup to brush over her face, hoping to look more presentable for the day.

Kakashi reluctantly rolled out of bed to shower. When he entered the steamy bathroom, he found a small heart with small drips of water running underneath it in the corner of the bathroom's mirror. He inwardly smiled at that, wondering what it would have been like meeting her years before he had lost most hope of who he was and where he was going in life. How much could he have changed back then? But they would have been entirely two different people if they had gotten to know each other earlier. How things were now was just meant to be.

Sakura glanced at the clock worriedly. If they were really going to make it to class in time, Kakashi really needed to hurry. She wasn't sure why she felt so anxious of wanting to make sure she wasn't late, but she supposed she usually prided herself on being punctual. It made her feel worried that she would get in trouble, which technically she would in a way, but it wasn't that big of a deal. It wasn't like high school where you would get written up, but she couldn't help herself to worry a little as she paced in his room.

Trying to find something to preoccupy her mind with, her eyes glanced at his Icha Icha book that had fallen on the floor last night when she was playfully mocking him. Picking it up, she plopped down on bed and flipped through the pages. She actually was really curious why he seemed to like them so much…

Skipping to the middle of the book, she just wanted to get a gist of it. She started to blush reading some rather very descriptive words which quickly began to paint a picture of what was going on. How did he manage to read this in public? She felt so embarrassed reading it. Yet as she flipped another page, she couldn't seem to stop herself. Least this was distracting her from how late they were likely going to be.

"Ah–hem."

Fumbling the book in her grasp, Kakashi looked at her in amusement from the doorway clad in nothing but a towel around his waist.

"Like it?"

"I-I don't know," she replied quickly, looking completely red in the face as she placed it back on the nightstand.

"Awe, see. So cute when you're embarrassed," he teased.

"Shush."

Sakura averted her eyes as he went inside the walk-in closet to change. After he was finished, he stepped out in his usual mask with a simple shirt and jeans. Studying him for a moment, she felt sad having to see him behind his mask again.

Stretching, Kakashi said, "So, let's get going?"

"Sure, I'm good to go."

As she got up to get her packed bag, Kakashi pointed towards the nightstand and smirked. "Don't forget that for me."

"Okay," she sighed, feeling embarrassed again. She grabbed his dreaded book and handed it to him.

Making their way into the car outside now, Kakashi couldn't help but know what exactly he'd like to talk about for their hour drive. Pulling out of the driveway, he cleared his throat and asked, "So, which pages did you read?"

"…"


Sakura dragged her feet out of her second class, barely trying to avoid the mass of people leaving around her. Man, did she feel tired. She wasn't sure when they slept last night, but she kept finding herself nodding off all throughout her first and second class.

They were a little late to their first class as she figured. Kakashi was no help in caring about staying awake as he promptly lowered himself into the seat and placed his wonderful Icha Icha book on top of his face to sleep. She had half the mind not to smack him. Relentlessly he kept asking her embarrassing questions throughout their drive. She made the mistake of mentioning what page she left off on. He could recite the words from memory exactly as if he was reading it. It was nuts to her. When she asked why he liked them so much, he danced around her question. She sighed. She would pay him back somehow.

Meeting up for lunch with him now, she trudged along the sidewalk, still wishing for more sleep. Kakashi looked rather energetic compared to her as she stepped in front of him glaring.

"What?" he asked.

"I hate you."

"This again…Why?" he sighed.

"You look awake."

"I had a nap earlier."

"Oh, I'm aware. I was there next to you writing notes."

"I was taking notes…"

"Oh?"

"Subconsciously."

"…"

Sakura glared and smacked his arm.

"Ow."

"And something else," she gritted.

"What else did I do?"

"Embarrassing me. All the way up here."

"I told you," he sighed. "It's cute when you blush. I can't help it."

"Ugh…" Folding her arms, she huffed and turned away.

"I'll buy you lunch. Whatever you want," he offered.

"You better."

"Also you–"

"SAKURAAAAAAA-CHANNNNN!"

Sakura and Kakashi looked at each other in confusion for a moment. Footsteps were running towards them at a blinding speed before Sakura felt herself tugged into the air, spinning round and round.

"Sakura! I finally found you."

"Oh, uh… Hi Naruto. You're squeezing a little too hard," she said while trying to breathe.

"Oops, sorry," he replied as sat her down with a grin on his face. Suddenly he noticed a blank faced looking masked man. "Oh, Kakashi-sensei?"

"Hi…"

"Do you teach here?"

"No."

"Oh. How have you been?"

"Fine."

Naruto didn't seem to notice the uncomfortable-ness like Sakura could as she looked at an annoyed Kakashi. He turned his attention back to Sakura. "Hey, so… Sakura-chan, let's get some lunch and catch up?"

"Uh…"

"We're already going to have lunch together…" Kakashi mumbled.

"Oh, can I come then? Be great to hear what you've been up to, too."

"…"

Sakura glanced at Kakashi, who was behind Naruto and couldn't see him shaking his head no. Sakura slowly smirked. "Oh, of course you can Naruto. Right, Kakashi?"

"…"

She decided this would definitely be a fitting payback for this morning. Smiling, Sakura started walking while tugging at both of them to follow. "So, where shall we go?"

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Acquaintances

Kakashi inwardly sighed as he felt helpless being dragged along by Sakura with Naruto at his side. Uzumaki Naruto. He remembered him from middle and high school. Not only did he remember him from being in the same class with Sakura of his, but once he had moved up to managing the karate team in the high school Naruto was one of its members. More or less he knew him at on a basic student teacher level.

Back then Naruto was loud and obnoxious. Lazy scholastically, but did manage to change after he had grown more serious about school. He was pretty sure his threats of kicking him off the team for any failing grades helped change his motivation. Kakashi had some not so fond memories of Naruto in middle school always trying to cause trouble for him and the other teachers every chance he got. Dealing with that and other kids that had the maturity level of a spoon certainly wasn't a highlight of his teaching career. Naruto had grown more mature in his own way like Sakura had, but unlike Sakura, Kakashi had witnessed Naruto's transformation himself continuing as his teacher in high school.

Sakura finally let them go as she walked between them along the sidewalk happily grinning. He knew she was purposely tormenting him as he felt her nudge his arm playfully. Kakashi kept a blank face and stared ahead with his hands in his pockets. The thing that was bothering Kakashi most right now was how they knew each other so well. Hugging her all like that just a moment ago. Why did he get an overwhelming annoyed feeling seeing that? Glancing into Naruto's eyes as they walked he could see why now. He looked completely infatuated with Sakura. His Sakura. Not that anyone else knew it yet beyond Ino and Iruka. Thinking back on it now, Naruto seemed to have a crush on Sakura all throughout middle school. Was he still fawning after her?

Maybe this wouldn't turn out as bad as he thought. It was just lunch after all. It wouldn't last for very long. He couldn't just avoid Sakura's friends of wanting to talk with her anyway. Long as Naruto didn't keep touching Sakura… it will be fine.

"Where do you wanna go, Sakura-chan?" Naruto piped up through their silent walk.

"Oh um… Up to Kakashi, since he's buying us lunch...Right?"

"…"

Kakashi shot her a glare. Perhaps he deserved it from this morning, but he would deny it up and down to her that he did. He felt another nudge against his arm.

"Fine…" he said reluctantly. If it would make her happy he supposed he didn't mind paying for Naruto as well.

"Oh, really? Sweet! Oh, oh…Kakashi-sensei… How about we have ramen?" Naruto popped in.

"Oh god, you still can't quit ramen can you?" Sakura muttered. She couldn't believe he was still fascinated with ramen. Ramen was like crack to him. His love affair as far as she knew started in middle school and never went back. She was pretty damn sure he ate so much that he would turn into a bowl of ramen himself. What exactly would he do if the world ran out of ramen? Probably end up homeless looking somewhere panning the streets of Tokyo for his beloved addiction.

"Sure whatever and you don't have to call me sensei anymore…Um, there's a shop near the front of campus we can go to."

Naruto's eyes seem to sparkle in delight that they were going to have ramen as he did an approving fist pump in the air.

"Alright! Hey so, Kakashi-sensei, you really aren't teaching here?"

"No..."

"Oh, weird. Wait, so you go here?"

"Mmhum."

"Aren't you too old to be in college?"

"…"

"He's not old, Naruto," Sakura butted in.

Somehow Kakashi felt inwardly relived hearing her say that. Once they made it inside the shop they were seated at glossy Chinese patterned table. The shop itself was a generic scene of various Asian memorabilia. It was kind of packed right now since it was the peak of the lunch hour. The restaurant was a pretty convenient and fast way to pick up lunch being so close to the heart of the campus. Kakashi felt a little irked again watching Naruto hurriedly snagging a seat right next to Sakura. Like, really close. Arms touching close. He mentally sighed. Honestly, why was he feeling this way? It was so juvenile. Yet Naruto's constant grinning at Sakura made him want to punch his smug face.

Kakashi decided now would be the best time to distract himself as he pulled out his book and started to read. After they had placed their orders Naruto started chattering away.

"Sakura-chan! I've missed you. We've yet to go out together since we've started living here."

'Go out?' Kakashi thought feeling more irked glancing over his book.

"Eh, well I'm busy so…"

"Awwwe, come on. You need to come out with me sometime. Me and some other guys hang out that were from our class. You need to come with us! Ino said she would come too when I talked to her couple weeks ago."

"Busy."

"Every weekend?"

"Yeah… Pretty much…" Sakura glanced at Kakashi when she said that. He felt happy for slight moment. Naruto sighed. He turned his attention to Kakashi.

"Why'd you quit teaching at our school?"

"Searching for a new path in life."

"Ha ha! I remember you saying something like that every time you came to practice late."

"...It was true."

"Riiightt. Hey, so do you two usually have lunch together?"

"Um…"

"Cause…If you do we should all get together each week!"

"…"

The waitress thankfully kept him from having to reply as their food was placed on the table. Naruto had already begun guzzling down ramen before Kakashi or Sakura had a chance to even break apart their chopsticks.

"Sroo, Saakura," Naruto began to mumble while still chewing.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," she sighed back a bit disgusted.

He gulped. "Sorry, but really… You don't have any time at all to come out with us?"

"I just have other things to do…"

"Like what?"

"Studying…"

"That's it?"

"HEY MISS! Another pork cutlet bowl please," Naruto added as he flagged the waitress before she passed them. She nodded and went to place in the order. Kakashi sighed as he turned his attention back to his book hoping Naruto wouldn't order anymore.

"Um…" Sakura slowly responded.

"You promised we'd go out after classes started..."

"Well…"

"Pleaseee?"

"Eh…May–"

"–She's busy with her boyfriend," Kakashi uttered behind his book with one hand. He was already getting tired of listening to Naruto keep pressing her.

A blush spread on Sakura's face as she stared into her soup.

"WHATTT? Sakura! Ino didn't tell me that! You never tell me anything anymore!"

"Kind of… happened recently…"

"Someone I know?"

"Uh…"

Sakura glanced at Kakashi again as he seemed completely emotionless as usual. How could he act so indifferent? It was like a switch. Comparing to how he was outside of his mask it almost seemed like a night and day difference. He saw her looking at him as he responded with a usual eye crinkle as he flipped a page while she struggled to find a response. He had easily just made this more awkward than she bargained for agreeing to have Naruto come along. Least Kakashi would end up paying for it in the end as she originally planned. She knew Naruto well enough to know exactly how much ramen he was going to order.

They did just start officially being together, but she wasn't sure how to handle spreading the news to all of the people she knew. Especially if they know who exactly Kakashi was and how they would react to that. Yet, she didn't want to feel ashamed being with him. So why shouldn't she be honest?

After a couple of minutes of silence while she was debating what to say another bowl was placed in front of Naruto as he began to dig in already.

"Wrelll?" Naruto mumbled through slurps.

"It's Kakashi."

Naruto began to choke as his eyes slightly bugged out.

-COUGH- -COUGH- -HAK-

Sakura began to pat his back. She didn't think her reply would choke him as she watched him struggle for air…

Kakashi sighed as he placed down his book. He supposed he would do the heimlich maneuver, but only if Naruto started to turn blue. Eyeing the clock on the wall he calculated how much time he would had left to doing it without him being close to actually dying. Or maybe someone else would step in if he was lucky. Thankfully it didn't come to that as Naruto began to catch his breath again. A few stares lingered their way.

"WHA- WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!" Naruto said with minor coughs as he pointed a shaky finger at Kakashi.

"Him? Are you joking?" He looked towards Sakura expecting her to nod yes or maybe tell him it was a different person named Kakashi.

"No," Kakashi answered coolly for her as he began to stir his soup with his chopsticks.

Naruto blinked and shifted his gaze between Kakashi's unamused face and Sakura's blushed face feeling more and more uneasy. He leaned towards Sakura to whisper something in her ear.

"Sakura… He's joking, right?"

Sakura sighed and responded aloud, "No, Naruto."

Naruto's expression turned glum as he seemed to have lost his appetite for a moment. Sakura imagined this is what his expression would have looked like if a ramen apocalypse were to happen. She hoped at least as a friend he wouldn't care who she dated. That was probably wishful thinking. Especially since he seemed to never want to give up talking with her after they ended their short week long relationship on a romantic level. Perhaps he still wanted to be with her and felt depressed by it?

Kakashi enjoyed the moment of silence at their table as he ate. He was surprised at what he heard next though when Naruto finally broke the silence after appearing lost in thought for a moment.

"Oh, Well… I'm happy for you two then."

"Oh…?" Sakura replied as she seemed surprised as well. Now she had to wonder if he was the one who was joking here.

"Yeah, Well… I know Kakashi-sensei as my old teacher, but I know he's a good guy… So…. You know… Whatever makes you happy?"

"Ah… Well… I appreciate that..."

"Um… same," Kakashi added slowly still rather surprised. Maybe Naruto had grown up more than he had thought as well?

"Even though… Kakashi-sensei is probably about as old as Mt. Fuji–"

Kakashi inwardly sighed. Maybe Naruto wasn't mature after all.

" –Or the sea…Or the air… Or the Earth… Or Mars… Or Juniper… Or Saturn…Or the solar system… Or the galaxy… Or–"

"Naruto!" Sakura cut in as she plowed her fist into his shoulder. Naruto seemed to have gotten a nice blow to the arm as he rubbed it tenderly starting to get tears in his eyes.

"I-I'm joking!" he replied.

Despite Naruto's little joke Kakashi felt more at ease throughout the rest of lunch. Sakura had sweetly defended his honor, well age, which Naruto will be reminded by a lovely bruise on his arm for awhile. Naruto didn't press about their relationship anymore, but still wanted Sakura to come out with on a night out with friends. Even inviting Kakashi to come along, but he wouldn't have any idea what to do even if he did agree to go. His and Sakura's age didn't matter when they were together but in groups it would completely obvious. The differences of what's considered fun or what they would probably talk about. Kakashi had to wonder if Naruto talked about ramen all day. He felt sorry for whoever were friends with him. Naruto did unfortunately talk about that for most of their lunch. The different kinds ramen he's had and why a certain flavors mixed together was better than another. After they had finished lunch they walked back towards campus.

"Let's meet up next Monday!" Naruto said excitedly as they stood at the university's gates.

"…"

Kakashi had already decided he would do whatever he can to not make this happen again. Unless Sakura asked…which he was really hoping she wouldn't. Naruto reluctantly left them alone as he parted ways with them. Kakashi turned to Sakura seeing Naruto had disappeared far enough not to hear them.

"Sakura…"

Sakura shyly looked up at him. "Yes…?"

"I hate you."

"What! You can't hate me. That's not how this game works."

"He ordered fifteen bowls. Fifteen. Sakura."

"It's a decent payback for harassing me this morning."

"Now I'll have to tap into my savings…"

"See this…?"

Sakura held up her hand and circled her index finger on her thumb slowly as her expression changed to look incredibly sad.

"I play a sad song for you."

"…"

Kakashi promptly replied by tickling her sides.

"Gah!" Sakura struggled away as they began to walk deeper into the campus.

Finding Kakashi no longer threatening her with more tickles she held his arm as they walked. A few people would glance their way, but Sakura didn't mind. She wasn't sure how they probably looked together like that, but she was happy. Kissing him goodbye as she left to her next class she hoped the coming days she continued to spend with Kakashi would be just like this that could only be described as one word:

Bliss.


About two weeks had flown by as it was getting closer to mid September now. Much like the leaves that were starting to hint at the beginnings of the autumn season that would fully flourish in November, Sakura's and Kakashi's relationship had been steadily building stronger. It felt so natural to be together. In a lot of ways Sakura felt like they had been together for several months rather than weeks. She felt that comfortable with him and she was sure he felt the same way.

This weekend was no different from previous ones as morning light crawled within the walls of Kakashi's room stirring her awake. There was a soft green glow around the windows as the curtains were trying its best to hold back the sun behind it's weaved fabric. Turning her cheek against the pillow Kakashi slept beside her peacefully. She had a hard time trying not to bring a hand to his delicate face in not wanting to wake him just yet. Tugging at his arm draped across her stomach she slowly pulled it away.

"Mrff…I don't want to eat it…" he muttered in his sleep.

Sakura held herself still for a moment wondering if he had woken up. Seeing no other movement she tugged at his arm again.

"Swashbuckling…" he mumbled in his sleep again this time turning his body more into his pillow as his brows furrowed. Sakura wondered what the heck kind of dream he was in. Did he think he was a pirate?

She had never seen him talk in his sleep before. Holding back a laugh she slowly rose from the bed and planted her feet on the floor. Deciding to make breakfast for them again this morning she stretched and readjusted her night shirt. She had somehow lost her shorts during the night due to Kakashi so she wasn't sure where exactly it was now. Not that she minded. Sakura made her way downstairs tracing her hand down the smooth banister as she stepped slowly hoping to not make much noise.

-clank-

Sakura stopped as she heard that.

'What the heck was that?' she thought.

Glancing around as she came to the bottom of the steps. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe it was something from outside…? But it certainly seemed like it came from inside. She felt uneasy, but decided ultimately it was nothing as she walked into the kitchen.

Sakura's heart leaped as a pair of eyes stared at her from the dining table as she entered. It was a man… with medium length brown hair that was partly tied back. He had a spoon in his mouth frozen in mid-bite. A box of cereal was opened beside him as well along with an opened jug of milk.

They stared in silence.

Sakura slowly began to step backwards as her heart continued to pump. Who the hell was this and how did they get inside? She was ready to scream if he made any sudden movement.

"Uh…" he fumbled with taking the spoon from his mouth before he shot up from the chair suddenly.

"AHHHHHHHHH!" Sakura shrieked as she ran into the hallway.

"W-wait!" he called after her.

Sakura was at the end of the hall before she saw his head poke in from the kitchen's archway.

"Shhhh…" he said with a hand to his lips starting to approach her quickly.

Panic had long swept into her veins as she made a dash up the stairs quickly almost losing her footing on a step.

"S-Stop!" the man uttered desperately.

"KAKASHI!" she yelled.

At the top of the steps Kakashi had ran into her still half asleep wondering what the heck was going on. She held his waist trying to catch her breath.

"There's some creepy man downstairs!"

"Wha-What?" Kakashi replied holding her shoulders worriedly until he looked peered down the staircase.

Worry was replaced with annoyance. He sighed and gave Sakura as reassuring hug.

"It's just an idiot friend of mine. I apologize for his lack of a brain of knowing not to break into people's houses…"

The man held up a hand sheepishly grinning. "Um… My bad… Scaring… uh… your…W-who's that, Kakashi?"

"Okay seriously Genma, I told you to stop breaking in my house."

"Then move your spare key outside…"

"I have."

"Okay. Make it harder."

Kakashi groaned. Letting Sakura slip out of his arms he whispered to her to get changed. She nodded unsurely and disappeared into his room. Stepping down stairs now he stopped in front of Genma and coldly glared.

"Really, Kakashi. Who's that girl? I thought you had given up women and had become a monk by now?"

"She's my girlfriend… Okay?"

Genma looked shocked. "Wait, how old is she?"

"…"

"I'm just wondering if my friend's going to end up in jail or not… I am eyeing that TV over there of yours if you do."

"Not funny," Kakashi responded coldly.

"When did all this happen? When you moved?"

"Pretty much."

"Huh… Never would have thought."

"So… I'm going to say this nicely."

"…?"

"Leave."

"But…"

"Now."

Sakura emerged from Kakashi's room changed into some blue jean shorts and a knit top. Stepping down slowly towards them she felt nervous wondering exactly who this guy and what exactly he was doing here unannounced.

"Oh, um… Sorry I scared you…" Genma utterly apologetically while glancing at her up and down.

"Its fine…"

"I'm Genma."

"Sakura."

"Oh, what a lovely name!" he said flirtatiously with the best charming smile he could muster. Kakashi sighed.

"Genma. Go."

"But I came all this way for your birthday…"

"…"

Sakura gasped in shock. "What! It's your birthday?"

"It sure is!" Genma said excitedly as he patted Kakashi's back heartily.

"I figured you would be lonely and depressed so I came early today to cheer you up… You know guys from back home are coming tonight, right?"

"…"

"My plan was to get you trashed and drag you into a strip club for some intimacy, but I guess you aren't lonely…"

Sakura felt uneasy at the mention of Kakashi going into a strip club… Did he usually do that…? Is that what men usually did to have a good time? She felt a bit disgusted thinking about that. Her face seemed to show what she was thinking. Kakashi picked up on it and began hating Genma more and more by the second.

"Pass…" Kakashi muttered.

"Well, they are coming no matter what…"

"I don't want a celebration."

"See, we knew you would say that. You don't have a say in the matter. Sorry. They are all coming tonight no matter if you like it or not. Everyone's missed you since you've left."

"…"

"Kakashi… Why didn't you tell me it was your birthday?" Sakura spoke up sadly.

"It's not a big deal… so…"

"Yes it is! Now I feel bad."

"Ugh.."

Kakashi glared at Genma. This was all his fault. Deciding he had already done enough damage he turned his friend by the shoulders towards the door. "Leave."

"Where am I going to go?"

"Not my problem."

"I am coming back tonight."

"…"

Before closing the door on Genma, Kakashi held out his hand shooting another glare at him.

"Give it."

"Give what?"

"You know what."

Genma sighed as he reached into his pocket to pull out a key and reluctantly gave it to Kakashi.

"See you tonight!" Genma yelled before seeing the door slam in front of him.

Kakashi turned to find Sakura cross armed staring at him. Apprehensive of what she might say he sighed.

"What...?"

"I wish you would have told me…I thought.. I don't know… You'd least tell me something like this…It kind of hurts…" Sakura started to say as she glanced at the ground.

"I... don't really ever celebrate birthdays…without being forced to… So…I didn't care to… Sorry…"

Sakura wondered if it dealt with his past or not in not wanting to share something as simple as a birthday. Or maybe he was more self conscious about his age around her more than she had originally thought. She was determined to make the best of it though. Maybe he had lots of unhappy birthdays growing up?

"Oh… well… it's okay. I understand," she replied.

Kakashi looked relived after hearing her say that. He took in a breath. Sometimes he loved his friends and other times like now he hated them. Though he probably should have known better they might pull something like this without telling him. Just to annoy him. Kakashi leaned in towards Sakura and kissed her forehead.

"Well… I think it's best if you went home for tonight," he started to say slowly unsure how she'd react to that.

"What? Why…"

"I don't care for you to be around my friends if their intention is to probably drink all night."

"Well… but I want to be here for you."

"I know, and I appreciate that. It's likely to be only guys here and I'd feel really uncomfortable leaving you alone for more than a second…"

"Oh…So I'd be a bother…"

"No…"

Kakashi sighed. He wasn't sure if there really was a right way to say it anymore nicely. He knew how his friends were. Chances are he would probably be forced to drink more than he'd want to. He would definitely not want Sakura to see him like that. Who knows what he would do if he couldn't think clearly. If he ever forced himself on Sakura… he would never forgive himself.

Sakura frowned. She really didn't want to leave. Why couldn't she stay? Sure… she wouldn't know anyone… except whoever was a teacher of hers and they were likely way older than here…and maybe it would be really weird being the only girl…

Sighing at that last thought it was apparent it this would be awkward if she forced herself to stay. In the end she supposed all that mattered to her is that she got a chance to do something for him for his birthday.

"Well, can we do something together for your birthday… another day then if I go?"

"Sure."

"Okay…"

"Today's Friday so… How about we do whatever you want Sunday?"

"Why not tomorrow?"

"I might be sick…"

"Oh… Well, okay."

"Good… So, let's get ready to leave, okay?"

"Okay," Sakura responded still half sadly.

"Oh," she added before taking another step.

Kakashi looked confused as Sakura wrapped her arms around him and leaned a sweet kiss to his lips.

"Happy birthday," she said.

"Thank you…"

He kissed her back still finding it weird to hear that being said to him. It always seemed foreign no matter who said it to him. Honestly he would rather just forget about it and treat it just like any other day. He didn't want to celebrate being born or involve himself being the center of anything if he could help it. Yet, still the people around him tried. He couldn't exactly understand why it was a necessity to. Perhaps that's just how it was for normal people… to have happy celebrations and parties for things. It was just strange to him. Maybe he would always feel this way about it.

Kakashi hoped his friends wouldn't do anything stupid tonight… or that he would do anything stupid…

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Unhappy Birthday

Kakashi grumbled as he reluctantly started to invite people inside his home sometime after night had well settled itself into the vast sky. Most of them either had various cases of alcohol with them or a couple platters of food to snack on throughout the night. The annoyance Kakashi was feeling from their little unannounced planned surprise visit today started to fade. He did actually miss them more than he would openly admit. It was a nice feeling knowing how even though some things change, some things stayed the same. Having Sakura fall into his life he really didn't realize until now how isolated he would have been being by himself this whole time since he moved here. Everyone here probably thought he's been lonely this whole time and was all the more reason to come. Well, everyone except Iruka and Genma now.

His throat burned after taking a shot of tequila with Genma to shut up his pestering to loosen up. Not that he had anything against drinking, but Genma's enthusiasm to get him plastered was not sitting well with him at the moment. Kakashi had long been there and done that knowing full well the after effects of drinking heavily. He didn't care to experience that again. It was all good and fun until you went past a certain limit. Long as he didn't forget how much he drank tonight he figured he would be okay… He hoped.

Everyone was gathered in the kitchen now chattering away. Screeching the chairs around to fit everyone they forced Kakashi to sit at the head of the table. Deciding to have some traditional sake to start, filled cups were prepared and slid around the table.

Genma cleared his throat and raised his cup, "A toast, to that old goat down there."

Everyone hushed with a few snickers and listened intently as they held their glasses respectively.

He added, "You know you're getting old when the only thing that you want for your birthday is not to be reminded of it."

Various low chuckles erupted around the table.

"Very funny," Kakashi said with a small glare.

Glasses clinked all around. Everyone drank while deciding amongst themselves they should start off playing some poker. When he was living back at their home town they would meet up almost every weekend most of the time to just have a game and shoot the breeze. Given most of them were teachers they had a fun time swapping student horror stories. Most of time the subject was latest national sport matches going on, movies or one of Kakashi's least favorite subjects: women.

"So, Kakashi…"

Poker chips stacked together clinked in Genma's hand almost subconsciously moving them between his fingers as he spoke. A devious smile was spreading slowly on his lips. Kakashi already knew what he was going to say and began to already shoot him an icy glare. Unfortunately it didn't falter Genma's next words out of his mouth.

"Why don't you share about the latest love in your life I saw this morning?"

A bearded man with raven colored hair who taking in a drag of his cigarette began to cough in surprise and choked out, "W-what?"

Kakashi sighed. He didn't want to talk about this. Eyeing everyone's bemused faces they all looked pretty damn interested in what Genma was going on about except for Iruka, who began to look incredibly uncomfortable in his seat averting his eyes to the table.

"I have nothing to say…" Kakashi said hoping by some miracle they wouldn't press further about it. It was his birthday. Couldn't they least grant him that wish? Oh wait. His birthday just meant Let's Harass Kakashi Day.

"Hasn't it been years since you've been with someone?" someone murmured amongst a couple of whispers.

"I thought for sure you were going to join a monkhood or something," the raven haired man further commented with a cigarette tilting at his lips.

"I said that too Asuma!" Genma happily added.

"I have nothing to say," Kakashi repeated more dully.

"Kakashiii! No need to be shy. Being in love is the true essence of youth!" A man with the most unflattering bowl cut hair style uttered next to him with a thumbs up.

Kakashi rolled his eyes and leaned his masked chin against his hand. "Can you just deal the cards already…?"

Clearly not going to be getting many answers from him, a few of them threw some questions towards Genma. What did she look like? Was she tall? Short? Sexy?

"Well… its obvious Kakashi likes jailbait…" Genma began to say teasingly.

Questionable glances went back at Kakashi. Already the question of his relationship was off to a great start. Ignoring their stares he looked unamused as he folded his arms. Suddenly this was turning into an interrogation.

"Kakashi! How old is she?" Asuma uttered.

"…"

"Hum… By your silence I'd say…Twenty…five?"

"…"

"Twenty…three?"

"No way she's even that old," Genma harped in smirking.

Everyone looked even more shocked while a few muttered sarcastically they were jealous. Kakashi wondered why was he friends with Genma again? He was having a hard time remembering. Shifting his weight in the chair he debated if he should throw his sake cup at Genma's face right now. Admitting who and exactly how old she was… He already knew he would be pissed off at any crude remarks they'd might utter their opinion on. He was already irritated as it was with them going on by the dropped hints from Genma.

Kakashi sighed and said, "Look… I'm not going to comment about it. It's not really anyone's business. So drop it."

A few seemed surprised to find it was a touchy subject for Kakashi. It was a rare thing to ever see him get worked up over anything. Given he was usually pretty laid back to just about anything. This only was making their curiosity more persistent.

"Take another shot and we'll drop it for now," Genma smirked.

Sighing at Genma's obvious little game for bringing it up in the first place, Kakashi definitely would rather avoid the subject. So more alcohol it was.

"Fine…"

After he took another shot Genma added, "At least for an hour."

"…"

They stuck to their word for now not pestering about his mysterious new love interest and began to finally pass out the cards. It didn't however stop them quietly murmuring to themselves as they speculated who exactly this woman was. Kakashi was pretty sure that they were putting gossiping housewives to shame how they were going on. Was his romantic life really that interesting? Sure, he couldn't clearly remember last time he had one… but that was beside the point. Inwardly sighing at that thought he supposed they had a reason to be all surprised.

Glancing over his cards at an amused looking Genma he wanted to make sure he didn't at least lose to that loud mouth in poker. There was at least one great thing about his mask. He could make a poker face without even trying making him always unpredictable in his plays. Tricking them into acting like he had tell signs like rubbing his nose or scratching his cheek throughout the past couple of years he always had them guessing. He loved poker.

Already getting close into an hour into the game it wasn't too long before he was gaining momentum. He wasn't going to be merciless today. Now he was determined to beat everyone into the ground.

"Royal flush," Kakashi said in an almost bored tone as he tossed his cards into the table.

A lot of aggravated groans replied back as a response.

"Sometimes I think you must be cheating," Asuma grumbled.

"What? Me? Cheat? Never."

Enjoying their guessing stares if he actually was or not he happily took his winnings from the pot. Tapping his fingertips lightly against the beer he was idling sipping now he wondered what Sakura was doing now. Was he missing her already? He felt silly. How could he begin to miss someone for just over a couple mere hours? Realizing that his other hand had propped his chin up the cuff of his shirt smelled like her. He loved the shampoo she used lately. It smelled like a mix of wildflowers and cherries. It certainly complimented her usually cherry flavored lips well. He wasn't going to get to see her until Sunday…God. He really was missing her, wasn't he?

He was starting to forget how many cups of sake he had earlier. It wasn't long before Genma was pestering him again to have another shot as a porcelain cup was slid down the table.

"It's been an hour. So, are you going to share with the class yet?" Genma asked teasingly.

"Nope."

"Drink up then."

"…"

Kakashi knew he probably shouldn't. He was starting to get that feeling of being… pretty good right now. Yet, he still didn't care to talk about Sakura. Genma was going to turn him into an alcoholic, wasn't he? He was glad he ate earlier to absorb hopefully a lot of it. Also the fact that his friend Guy… the lovely bowl hair cut fellow from earlier had challenged himself for whatever reason to have just as many and then some to prove he could handle it. He seemed to do this each time they got together. Making one way contests against each other he had no say in. Nor did he ever try. Seeing Guy drunk would be funny like always though. Enjoying the chatter when they weren't trying to pry information from him about Sakura, he was overall having a decent time reminiscing with them and catching up what everyone had been up to over the summer.

Rubbing his masked face now, he wasn't sure what time it was anymore as he decided about three or however many hours ago he had no hope of not wanting to drink anymore. Somehow or another they started to play drinking games after they were tired of losing to him in poker. He wasn't sure how he got bullied into it playing, but he was regretting it now as he was having a hard time going up the stairs to the restroom. Why did he have to have so many stairs? He stood lazily on the third bottom step staring towards the top like he was looking at Mt. Everest itself. Slowly but surely he pulled his way up clinging to the banister. Making it to the top he thanked the powers that be he didn't fall backwards as he entered the bathroom to relieve himself. It was taking him forever not to make sure he didn't miss the toilet and it didn't help he heard a distant crashing kind of sound which startled him.

Washing his hands now he had to focus a little more than he really should have into accomplishing a simple task like that. Hearing a message sound off from his phone in his back pocket he slid it out and tried to unlock the screen. His phone had a puzzle piece you had to put into place so it would unlock. After failing the third time of trying to place it correctly he sighed. This really shouldn't be that hard. Determined to do it, he went about as slow as a snail and dragged it into place until it unlocked. A message from Sakura popped up.

'Hope you're having a good night… sweet dreams ;)'

Inwardly he felt his heart fill with a kind of tenderness reminding him how much he was missing her tonight. He wanted to text back sweet dreams to her… but he wasn't sure if he could. He began to try.

'swweertt rims'

That didn't look right. He tried again deciding to use the auto-filled words that would pop up when he started to type a word.

'swayed balls'

He sighed. Moving his thumb to delete it again he accidentally pressed send instead. He panicked.

"Fuck. Fuck."

He stared hoping perhaps she wouldn't respond. Or maybe he was asleep right now and didn't know it. Unfortunately it was neither since his phone had already sounded off in receiving another message. She had indeed replied.

'...'

Trying to make a message that would make sense he tried to type again.

'srry i meeant…'

Deciding that was as closest thing as a sentence so far he sent that part off first and tried to complete the last set of words.

'swayed balls'

Fucking. Auto-fill. Kept putting that in now. Trying to delete it he pushed send accidentally again.

"Fuckkkkkkkk!"

Deciding to stop what he was doing and that he shouldn't have even tried to reply in the first place he placed his phone on the counter and decided to leave it there for now. He will just… fix things with Sakura tomorrow. Finally leaving the bathroom he stood at the top of the stairs. How was he going to get down...? He sighed. He must be really fucked up right now. When did that happen? Clutching the banister again he slowly made his steps downward. Almost missing a step he caught himself. He really was hating stairs right now. He had to use a kind of tunnel vision effect focusing just on his feet just to make sure he'd step without breaking his neck.

Somehow he made it. Trying to collect himself again he went to the dining table. He was surprised when he stepped into the room to find no one there. Glancing around he felt uneasy. Feeling like he was swaying where he stood he pouted his bottom lip in confusion. Where the hell was everyone…? They didn't leave without saying goodbye did they? Noticing the sliding door was slightly opened he trudged to it and opened it fully. Crickets greeted him with chirps at a distance. Glancing around in the dark that was slightly illuminated by the porch light he heard voices near the front of the house. Wet dewed grass licked at his shoes as he walked into the front lawn to find a few people standing around looking for something.

"Um… What's going on...?" he asked while not sure who was in front of him until his shadowed face appeared starkly against one of the street lamps.

"Tenzo…" he added.

"Guy… Um… Hey, you don't look so good," Tenzo replied taking a hold of Kakashi's shoulder for a moment like he was about to fall over.

"I'm fineeeee…"

"Okay… Well, Guy kind of ran off somewhere... and he doesn't seem to be wearing clothes since we found them on the back porch…"

"…"

"And Aoba kind of passed out on the hood of your car…but I'm sure he'll wake up soon…"

"…"

"And… uh… Kotetsu and Izumo started to fight and they kind of broke your window by the front door…"

"…"

"I'm sure they'll pay for it…they are taping it up right now…And um…"

"Okay… how the fuck did this all happen in the time span I went to the restroom?"

"Got me."

"…"

Kakashi sighed. What the hell kind of punishment was this? Rubbing his eyes he tried to focus. Genma popped up in front of him after he opened his eyes again to find him patting him on the shoulder with an amused face.

"Hey, you okay?"

"Not… anymore…"

"Oh, so there may or may not be vomit in some of your plants in the backyard. Blame Guy."

"…"

Kakashi had decided officially. This was the worst birthday ever.

In the distance in the graveled street Kakashi could see three figures walking closer towards them. Stepping into the lawn it was Iruka and Asuma holding up Guy between them. His body was slouched over. All he was wearing was pink boxers with yellow flowers on them and a pair of socks. What… an interesting choice of boxers.

"He seemed to have gotten lost… and um…walked into your neighbors house," Asuma started to say.

"…"

"The man…um…Takede-san who lives in that house was kind of angry… and said he wants to talk to you tomorrow…Apparently Guy peed all over his living room," Iruka added.

"…"

"Where should we put him?"

"The ditch," Kakashi replied unemotionally.

He really would just like to leave him there. Iruka and Asuma glanced at each other for a moment.

"Are…you serious?"

Kakashi sighed. "Fine… couch."

Nodding they went towards the front door stepping around some of the glass that had fallen from the broken window. Honestly… How did he leave just for a couple minutes or whatever long it was and all hell break loose? Starting feel more and more woozy he started to drift towards the ground.

"Kakashi…" Tenzo said hoisting him back up.

"See? Wasn't this fun?" Genma asked taking a better hold of Kakashi on the other side.

"No…"

"Lies Kakashi. Look around you. This is the best time of your life."

"Fuck you."

Ignoring the venom in Kakashi's tone Genma still happily replied, "You'll thank me in the morning."

"Very. Unlikely."

"Stop messing with him Genma and let's get him to bed," Tenzo said with an annoyed sigh.

"Fine... fine," Genma replied sullenly.

Walking past his car Kakashi had almost forgotten about Aoba who was still crashed out on it. Why did he have to sleep on his car…? Why did his window have to be broken? Why did Guy have to strip and walk into someone's house? Why did Genma hate him? Why did going up stairs seem to be more difficult than walking? Why… just… so many… questions….of…. why….?

Stepping around glass as they passed through the front door Kakashi couldn't help but mutter, "This is why I can't have nice things…"

The last thing Kakashi remembered besides feeling incredibly dizzy was falling into bed with the help of Tenzo and Genma. Curling comfortably on his side he shooed them away from removing anything more than just his shoes. He felt so incredibly sleepy all of a sudden. Inhaling Sakura's sweet scent from the bedding his last thoughts was drawn towards her making him feel even more comfortable. Falling into a deep slumber nothing could stir him awake now.


Kakashi turned his head into his pillow trying to dull the bright light surrounding him. His head was throbbing a bit. The taste is his mouth… was disgusting. Reluctantly shifting his head into the bitter light he slowly unsqueezed his eyes from being shut. It was already two in the afternoon. He sighed knowing he really needed to get up. Rubbing his eyes he slowly rolled his body up and hung his legs over the side of the mattress. Deciding he really needed a shower and some fresh clothes he shuffled his feet towards the bathroom. The whole house was quiet which he was thankful for. It was most likely everyone had gone home already.

Turning on the shower the room started to get steamy. The heart that Sakura had drawn for him several weeks ago showed up dully in the corner again. Sakura. He had almost forgotten about his failed attempts of texting her goodnight last night. His phone sat where he left it last on the sink's counter. Wiping away some of the steam with his sleeve that had already started to settle on the phone he unlocked it to find his message chat opened still with Sakura. Looking at the message log… The very last message was from her… and it said…

'Call me when you're not drunk… Thanks.'

Scrolling up to his horror he couldn't believe what he was reading. He remembered that stupid swayed balls part, which was embarrassing enough…but after that…. There was no way in hell he wrote everything under that.

'ME WANNA LUV U LONG TIME BABY'

'…'

'U MAKE MEEEE SOOOOOOOOO HORNYYYYYYY'

'Holy. Fuck. At this shit,' Kakashi thought feeling rather overwhelmed as his cheeks flushed under his mask with embarrassment. The messages didn't stop there. Oh god. Why. Why didn't they stop there?

'Y DON'T U CUM OVER?'

'3 WAY?'

'YES OR NO?'

Trying really hard not to throw his phone he decided to punch one of the bathroom walls instead which the thud of his hit echoed within the hollowed walls. Who the fuck sent these? Genma…? It had to have been. That little shit. Genma was a practical joker, but this was not funny.

Not funny. At all.

He didn't want Sakura to think he was some… trashed out drunk sending crap like this to her. Taking in a deep breath to calm his nerves he decided taking a shower would hopefully help him relax and collect himself from leaving right now to punch Genma repeatedly in the face. After he stepped into the shower he felt his anger slip away slowly as the water ran through his silvery hair and down his back. Deciding what exactly to tell Sakura he would just stick with the truth and hope she wasn't too… freaked out or upset about it. She's been more than understanding about most things. Of course maybe she's really angry about it… He sighed. He just had to hope for the best.

Stepping out now he dried himself and shook the towel into his hair. Wiping the mirror above the sink with a hand he saw a weird dark mark in the mirror. Squinting, he rubbed a finger at the line finding it not disappearing no matter how hard he rubbed. As he shifted his movement his heart began to drop noticing the dark markings was following wherever his face was…

Taking the towel and fully wiping the mirror he stood frozen looking into the mirror at himself. He let out a frustrated exhale feeling anger sweep back into his veins again. He had decided right then and there.

Genma was going to die.


Sakura sighed as she looked out the window near the front door of her apartment. It was Sunday and Kakashi should have been here already. Drumming her fingers against the window's edge she reflected how pissed off Friday night she was at all the horrible texts she received really late at night. He explained later Saturday his friend sent them as a joke. He apologized profusely, which made her easily wavier in not being angry anymore. It wasn't his fault after all, but he tried really hard not to meet up with her today for some reason. He didn't give much of an excuse except that he didn't think he would feel very well…

It made her worry in the back of her mind that he didn't want to be with her anymore. Maybe he had told his friends about them… and they convinced him how much of a mistake she was. Sliding her fingers down the window's pane her heart felt tight from that last thought. She really hoped that wasn't what was going on. Now he was late for the first time ever picking her up...

She had missed him so much over the weekend. Not being able to kiss him for more than a day made her feel so empty. It was crazy to her how she could feel that way about anyone. At least even more so now thinking something must be wrong. She had more or less turned on the power of guilt into making him come like he had promised. She felt kind of bad about it… but if he really did seem sick she would change her plans today into just taking care of him. If not…

Sakura didn't want to think about if not. Turning back towards the living room she began to pace until she leaned against the couch hearing only a few footsteps over the ceiling of the people who lived above them. Otherwise it was pretty quiet. Ino had already left earlier in the day on some date. She was happy for her. She seemed really excited when she left. She wish she could feel the same excitement right now besides dread that kept building more and more as time passed by.

Checking her phone there weren't any new messages. Letting out another sigh she began to walk to the front of the couch about to sit down until a familiar knock erupted from the front door. Finally. Each step she took towards the door she couldn't help but feel more worried. No matter how many times she tried to tell herself she was just over thinking things, she still couldn't help herself from worrying. She placed her best smile on as she opened the door to find a tired looking Kakashi smiling under his mask back at her.

"Hey…" she said awkwardly.

"Hey… Sorry I'm a bit late. Was trying to fix something at home… Lost track of time."

"No worries," she replied trying to smile. Shifting herself closer to him she rose up on her toes to kiss him moving her hands in place to pull his mask down. She was surprised to find her hands held back from doing so, but he leaned down to kiss her with his mask still on.

"Er…" Sakura began to say slightly confused. She tried to lift her hands towards his face again, only to be stopped once more.

"Why… can't I kiss your lips?"

Kakashi looked down at the ground unsure how to answer before saying, "Because… I'm… sick…"

He didn't sound very convincing.

"Oh… Well… I don't care…One kiss isn't going to hurt."

Sakura tried again, but he held her hands this time from going anywhere near his face. She huffed. Why was he doing this all of a sudden? Maybe he didn't to kiss her anymore…

"Let me kiss you…"

"No…"

"…"

Crossing her arms she held back the knot that was beginning to form in her throat. He turned his gaze away from her as she began to feel even more uncomfortable.

"Why not…?" Sakura said finally.

"I'm more than happy to… in like… I don't know… a week?"

"What the… Why?"

Kakashi sighed. This was the exactly reason why he didn't want to come today. Least at school during the week it would be easier from avoiding kissing her in public. He felt so embarrassed. She just couldn't understand… and he felt too stupid to say why.

"It's hard to explain… Look… I want to kiss you… but I can't…"

"Can't or won't?"

After more silence passed she added, "…If you're really sick… Just show me your face then. I won't kiss you… Okay…?"

"I…can't…do that…"

This was ridiculous. He was either hiding something or he really didn't want to kiss her anymore. Feeling a bit frustrated she stood back trying not to show in her face how upset she was getting.

"Kakashi… If you don't want to be together anymore just say so… and don't do it in some roundabout way like this…"

"What? No, no, no… That's not it."

"It's not…?"

Sakura's voice sounded relieved as she finally looked back up at him.

"Of course not...Why do you think that?"

"Then why are you acting so weird…?"

"Because…"

"Look… let's… talk more inside, okay?"

"I…uh…"

"Ino isn't here right now."

"Oh… okay then."

Taking his hand she pulled him inside and let go for a moment to close the door behind them. Grasping his hand into hers again she tugged him into the living room and nudged him down into the couch. He glanced around taking in the surroundings. It wasn't nearly as big as his home, but it looked pretty nice he thought. Once he turned his attention back to Sakura she was glaring at him. Clearly she was waiting for him to say something.

"Well… What the heck is wrong?" she asked.

"My life."

"Specifics?"

"Douchebag friends."

"Explain…"

"Okay well… as you know… and had witnessed from one of them stealing my phone… A few of them…Including myself… kind of drank a lot. I don't know if I want to go into detail what all happened but–"

"–What does this have to do with you not wanting to show me your face?"

"Well…um…"

Silence.

"Go on..."

"Uh…"

More silence.

"Uh-huh…and…?"

Getting annoyed at her smart comments he sighed.

"Fuck, Sakura. Look… It's embarrassing."

Her eyes softened as she began to feel less upset. Feeling regret in pushing him she lowered her eyes to the couch.

"S-sorry.." she stammered.

"It's okay… I'm sorry…I'm kind of on edge today," he replied.

Taking in a breath she returned her gaze at him.

"Kakashi, unless you tell me what's wrong… I won't ever understand. So… Just be honest…That's all I ask."

Looking away from her he took in a sigh.

"Fine… but…"

"But..?"

"Promise you won't laugh?"

"I…promise," she replied slightly confused why she would laugh.

Turning his eyes back at her he reached at the top of his mask. Deciding to get it over with fast as possible he pulled it down his mask quickly and saw Sakura's green eyes go wide. Her mouth was slightly agape in shock. Clearly drawn on his face with a marker above his lip was a black lined mustache with that curled upwards towards the end. His chin had a little triangle drawn in. It was slightly faded, but very much apparent. The look in his eyes at her could probably be best described as hate.

A split second later she turned herself completely around plowing her face into one of the couch pillows by the armrest. He could see her body twitching as she was shaking her head no into the pillow.

"Sakura…"

She shook her head no again like she was refusing to look at him. He sighed.

"Sa…ku…ra…. Look at me…"

She responded with another furious shake of her head saying no. She wasn't making any sounds, but he didn't see how she could be breathing right now like that. Pulling her shoulders back she desperately still clung the pillow against her face as he pulled her away from the armrest.

"Sakura."

Slowly she turned her body towards him still covering herself with her new favorite object. She took in a deep breath through the cotton filling of the pillow and slowly moved it down revealing her eyes to him. Her face was very red and her eyes were watered. Kakashi glared at her in the heavy silence.

Sakura's eyebrows turned upward finding chuckles emitting from her throat against her will. She couldn't stop herself as she stared at his face. She began to fully laugh now behind the pillow.

"I… I…" she tried to say, but couldn't stop her insistent laughter.

She felt so bad. She promised she wasn't going to laugh, but she couldn't stop herself. She also felt incredibly relieved that he really didn't want to break up with her in acting so weird. Perhaps he wanted to now though as she kept carrying on with her laughter she tried her best to muffle. God she tried so hard to stop too. Glancing at Kakashi's face... it probably the funniest thing she had ever seen in her life.

Removing the pillow more from her face she tried to hold her lips together, but failed miserably making her snicker from her nose before exploding. Her lips parted exhaling the breath she was trying to hold in.

"I… I'm…..S-… Ssso-…Soooooooorrrrry," she uttered between laughs squealing the line as she hunched over now laughing so hard tears were coming out of her eyes. Her stomach hurt so badly.

Gasping for air now she had fallen over from the couch completely limp as she clung into the cushion still being overwhelmed by a string of giggles. Kakashi looked at expressionless as ever as he watched her practically crying now in front of him. He had a feeling this would happen, but he didn't think to this extent.

"It's permanent marker…I can't…get it off…"

Him saying that only made her laugh harder. God. She felt like the worst person ever in existent as she fell further into the floor laughing now. Taking in deep inhaled breaths feeling like she was running out of air she finally calmed herself now. She felt so worn out as she tried to catch her breath as she laid face down in the carpet. Shakily she pulled herself up to find Kakashi's face covered with his mask again. He didn't look amused at all.

"K…Kakashi…"

His eyes didn't care to meet hers as he stared at the wall childishly. Sitting in front of him now she leaned close to his face. Even though she was so close to him he wouldn't budge. Sakura felt like crap now.

"Kakashi… I didn't mean… to laugh it's just… it was… just so funny… I didn't expect that. I… I know it's not an excuse. I think I'm kind of relieved that's all you were hiding from me. So…I'm really sorry."

Remaining unresponsive he still looked at the same spot in the wall.

"I'm really… really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really…"

Sakura inhaled a breath and continued, "Really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really…Sorry."

Kakashi seemed unfazed. Sakura began to look crestfallen until an idea popped up.

"Will… you forgive me if I remove it for you? I know how to."

That finally got her a response as he glanced into her hopeful green eyes.

"Maybe."

"Okay… Be right back."

She stumbled into the floor and dashed off into the bathroom quickly. Hearing the facet turn on and off she was running back now with some supplies in her hands. She placed them on the coffee table and stood with hands on her hips.

"Lay down," she commanded.

He slid down on the couch with his feet hanging off the sides and did so while still folding his arms. Taking a warm damp soapy wash cloth from the table she straddled his hips on top of him making him grunt from the pressure on his sensitive area.

"Do you have to sit on me…?"

"Well, of course," she replied like it was the most obvious answer the world to her. She smirked and leaned over on his chest and began to pull his mask down. Starting to snicker already she turned away for a moment to collect herself. Kakashi groaned in annoyance.

"S-sorry," she uttered as she turned back finding her composure again. Placing the cloth over the markings she patted down around his mouth. Looking at the cloth it picked up a little bit, but not entirely. Swapping the end of the rag she went over his mouth again. Leaning over to the table she grabbed another towel which was dry and patted him down. She was feeling proud she hadn't burst into a giggle fit yet.

Leaning again she grabbed a bottle of nail polish remover and some cotton balls from an opened bag. Unscrewing the bottle top and shaking its contents into a cotton ball at the opening she poked around his face slowly rubbing his skin. Kakashi squeezed his eyes shut and tried focusing breathing through his mouth to avoid the strong smell. After she was finished there were about twenty blackened cotton balls on the table.

"All done. You can use the bathroom to wash your face," Sakura said cheerfully looking at her work.

"Okay."

Kakashi wasn't sure if it was truly off or not, but seeing she wasn't snickering he was hopeful. Getting up after she slid off of him he found his way to the bathroom. He let out a sigh of relief that he looked normal again, besides that his face was slightly red now. After he finished washing his face he felt ten times better now. Maybe he was over dramatizing it, but he was really unhappy at the prospect of looking like that for a week or more. Sure, he had a mask he always wore in public… but if Sakura erupted into giggles like that every time he wanted to kiss her he'd probably lose it. He felt bad now acting kind of cold towards her when he got here. It's not like he didn't wanted to be here… he just didn't want to hear her reaction. In the end at least she got it off of him. His pride only sunk maybe two notches….

Walking back into the hallway again he made his way into the living room to find Sakura lost in thought. Sitting next to her on the couch the dip of his weight snapped her back into a reality. She glanced at him shyly.

"Um… Again… Kakashi… I'm sorry I laughed…I feel…really bad…"

"It's fine. I knew you would… I guess I felt more embarrassed than I should have. I didn't think you'd cry though…"

"Sorry…"

"It's okay… I don't care to admit, but it was kind of funny. Only… kind of."

Sakura smiled at that.

"I'm glad you got it off... So thank you," Kakashi said sincerely.

"No problem… Can I kiss you finally?"

"If you don't laugh," he said teasingly.

"I won't this time now."

"Fine…"

Not waiting for another second she leaned in towards him and pulled his mask down once more before planting her lips tenderly against his. She was so afraid earlier she would never get to kiss him again. She took her time enjoying each kiss that followed before pulling away smiling.

"So… I have something for you."

"Oh?"

"Yep! So… Let me get it. Be back in a sec."

"Alright…" Kakashi replied uneasily as she slid off the couch and dashed into what he assumed was her bedroom. Coming back out again she handed him a colorful looking bag.

"Here you go. Happy birthday!"

"You didn't have to get me something…"

"Silly. Birthdays mean you get a present."

Giving her a questionable look he reluctantly looked inside the bag pushing past some decorative tissue paper. He pulled out a wrapped box and then another item which looked like it could be a book. Tearing away the wrapping on he box… it revealed another layer of wrapping. Glancing at Sakura she only grinned. Tearing away another layer… there was another….layer… of wrapping paper.

"I was bored…Saturday," she said in response to his stares. In the end there were about twenty layers of gift wrap paper.

Kakashi glanced around at the crumpled balls of paper around them on the couch before looking back up at her highly amused face.

"You waste… so much paper," he finally commented.

"It was funny watching you opening it…"

"…"

Staring at a cardboard box now he opened the side and leaned it making a rock slide out.

"I think you meant to put coal in here," he scoffed.

"Har har. It's actually a hide-a-key thing. We both know you desperately need one…" she said while giving him a knowing glare.

"Oooh. I approve," Kakashi replied while flipping it over to the underside. It was actually weighted like a real rock, but had a hidden compartment underneath. Maybe there was hope ensuring Genma to never be in his life again.

"Thank you, I really like it," he said while smiling warmly.

"Good! So open the next one. Go. Go."

"Okay, okay."

Her smile was becoming infectious as he began to peel the wrapping away from the next present. Astonishingly she only wrapped it once. She seemed to know what he was thinking as she nodded.

"I ran out of paper so… you got lucky."

"The trees thank you."

"Har har."

Removing the tissue around it a familiar glossy logo was spread across a deep purple colored book.

'Icha Icha: Secrets.'

"I didn't see it in your porn collection so… there you go."

"It's not porn… It's romance."

"Uh-huh. Call it whatever makes you feel better at night…" she mused back.

"I haven't had time to pick up the newest one. Since I've been busy mostly every weekend because of someone," he replied while eyeing her teasingly.

"Yeah, yeah. Hey, so I didn't read it and no I don't want to, but I did go through it to put a message in it for you…"

"Oh?"

He flipped through the pages to find a few letters underlined here and there.

"Title made me think of doing a hidden message inside, so let me know when you figure it out," she beamed.

"Even more reason to look forward to reading it. Thank you."

Kakashi leaned in towards her to kiss her forehead. He really appreciated her thoughtful choice of gifts and even being rather creative. This was probably the only gift he's ever gotten that actually meant something to him. Crumpling all the papers of what he could only imagine was probably about a small forest of trees used to make the paper he stuffed them into the bag.

Not being able to stop himself he began to read the first paragraph his new found book. A hand had waved in front of him a minute later, but that couldn't stop him already turning the page.

"Hey, I'm not going to watch you read," Sakura muttered.

"You shouldn't have gotten me a new book and you shouldn't have put a message inside. I can't stand waiting."

Sakura popped her head under the book and pushed him into the couch straddling him again. Maybe he could wait for a moment longer depending what she was going to do next as he watched her curiously with her movements.

"I missed you a lot… Even if it was barely over a day," she admitted. Leaning into his chest she kissed his cheek.

"I missed you too... I'd rather be with you than anywhere else," he replied tracing one hand through her strands of hair that had fallen on top of his face. She smiled and kissed his lips again. Nuzzling her face into his neck she inhaled his scent as he held her close. She heard a flip of a page.

Bolting up from his arms she glared as he tried to hide the book he was hovering above her.

"You're… ruining the moment," she said while poking her finger at his chest.

"Hey… I meant what I said, but I need to know what you wrote…and what happens…"

Sakura sighed. This was her punishment of wanting to be with a man obsessed with Icha Icha. She couldn't be mad about it though. It did seem like he didn't have the greatest time ever Friday for his birthday, so she could at least grant him some time wanting to read.

"Alright, I'll let you read for now you pervert. Just only because it's your birthday."

Kakashi looked surprised at her response as she collapsed fully into his chest. She kissed him one final time and turned her head fumbling an outstretched hand to the coffee table to grab the remote next to the pile of cotton balls she left there earlier. Turning on the TV she hid a smile as he ran his fingers down her back lightly in an appreciative kind of way.

Enjoying the faint murmur of the TV and warmth of her body against him he flipped another page. He was pretty sure now thinking about all his past birthdays that she was the best gift of all.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Laughing Through the Pain

"How can I help you…Sir?" Sakura muttered as she eyed an all too familiar masked face. She tried her best to hide a smile, but was failing miserably. How could he manage to melt her heart so easily just by seeing him? She'll never know.

From the mischievous gleam in his dark eyes, she could already tell that he was plotting something. He tapped his fingers lightly against the wooden counter while looking up at menu above her head.

After Sakura received a call to set up an interview she met with the manager about a week later; it went pretty well enough. She didn't have any experience, but luckily they told her a lot of people usually didn't which made her hopeful. Mostly all that mattered was when she could work around her class schedule. It wasn't until another week had passed she learned she got the job shortly after Kakashi's birthday. It was only her third day now and she was stressed out enough as it was trying to remember all the different kinds of coffee, lattes versus cappuccinos, espressos, teas, and flavors. Who knew coffee could be so complicated?

Sakura sighed waiting for Kakashi to order as her manager was hovering in the background checking over their current stock. Her name was Fujita Kazuko and she seemed like a pleasant woman so far. She had jet black hair which was obviously dyed as her grey roots were beginning to show on the top of her head. She was constantly fixing her thick rimmed glasses that kept slipping down her nose. Kazuko wanted her to try and do the cash register and coffee making today by herself. Apparently morning shifts were chaotic and although she would be working with more people she needed to try and prepare herself as fast as possible for both positions. Right now she was working the slow shifts to get accustomed to everything. Evenings seemed like it was dead most of the time, but were steady on and off so far today. Kakashi cleared his throat finally as he crossed him arms peering at the menu.

"Okay… I want…a medium mocha latte, but I want it 1/3rd half & half, rest 2% milk, one shot espresso, one shot decaf, no whip, one pump of mocha, add one pump of vanilla, just maybe like a dash of hazelnut and if you could top it off with just a pinch of cinnamon that would be wonderful. Oh... and extra hot please."

Sakura stared at him dumbfounded for a moment and eyed her manger before whispering, "… Are you seriously ordering that?"

"…Yes."

"…"

Sakura grumbled as she picked up a medium sized cup from a stack next to the register and began writing down with a permanent marker everything he spat out. Of course he had to give her one of the most complicated coffee order she had ever heard in her life. After she made her last mark of his order on the cup she made sure to draw an angry smiley face on it with a tongue sticking out. She plopped down the cup on the counter and sighed trying to poke at all the labeled buttons on the cash register that would make a beep.

"Okay… that will be 510 Yen."

"Highway robbery," Kakashi muttered half seriously.

Sakura shot him a glare as he pulled out his wallet and thumbed through his cash. He held out a bill to her as she tried to pull it from his grasp without much success after two tugs.

"Stop making my life miserable," she whispered.

"Then tell me what you wrote in the Icha Icha book you gave me…"

It had only been a couple days and he had reread the book a couple times claiming he couldn't figure out her secret message and that there was no message. She wanted it to make it challenging since he was obviously smart. He was probably just used to figuring out things in just a split second and was irritating him.

"You need to figure it out," she answered while still trying to tug the bill from his hand.

"A lot of the letters don't make sense…"

"Maybe there's some in there to throw you off…"

"…"

He let go of the bill finally as he seemed to think for a moment then saying, "Okay. Give me a hint which ones."

"No."

"Please?"

"Change your drink order…"

"…No."

"Then too bad," Sakura said as she narrowed her eyes at him.

With a clink of the register she swapped out his bill for change and placed it in the palm of his hand. He held her hand for a moment making her blush making her feel embarrassed seeing her manager eying them. She picked up the cup and was about to leave to the espresso machine before Kakashi spoke up.

"Aren't you going to ask me my name? They always ask my name to write on the cup. It makes me feel special."

"I already know your name…"

"But I have a special name I use when I order coffee."

"…"

Sakura reluctantly had to ask, "What…?"

"Zorro."

"…"

He made a motion in the air with a single finger outlining a Z. She inwardly sighed while rolling her eyes how he must really have a thing for movies. She wrote down his equally ridiculous "name" on his cup and started to make his order. She mumbled to herself how much he hated him as she pulled out the different milks and flavors while beginning to run the machine to make the two different kinds of espresso. Why was he so cruel to her? She was pretty sure he always just had black coffee. Jerk.

Kakashi stood nonchalantly trying not to laugh watching her stress out running back and forth behind the counter. He didn't even like lattes, but it was the most complicated thing he could think of to order. It was good practice for her. Yes... That was it. Practice. Well… and also maybe it was amusing watching his little Sakura blossom stress out in a cute way. She was always cute no matter what she did though. Her little apron was cute. The way a few strands of hair had fallen over her deep green eyes was cute. Her little pout she made as she cast a few angry glances at him was especially cute.

She brought this on herself. It's her fault… he couldn't figure out this damn message she put in his book. Which was hands down so far was one of his favorite Icha Icha novels from the series. Perhaps it was even more special because she gave it to him, but he loved the story. He pulled out his book from his pocket and flipped through the pages to the back cover where he had begun to write out all the underlined letters she picked throughout the book. If she really threw some in there just to throw him off maybe there was a certain pattern to it. He didn't expect it to be this complicated. He was pretty surprised she was capable of doing something that made even him baffle a bit, yet he was finding it irritating at the same time. In a good way though. He just wanted to figure it out already.

He heard the sound of a cup slam down on the far end of the counter that was meant for pick up. Sakura still playfully glared at him as he made his way to pick up his creation which he had no idea what would it would actually taste like.

"Here you are… Zorro."

"Thank you… You know, I think you're the prettiest barista I've ever seen."

Sakura blushed as she tried to shush him. Her manager must have heard that as she saw her in the corner of her eye. How embarrassing. Kakashi replied with a smirk as he picked up his coffee.

"I'm going to be in the computer lab at the library across from here. Let's have dinner when you get off?"

"Okay. Be like another hour," she replied still blushing while feeling like there were eyes burning into the back of her head.

"Alright," Kakashi said while smiling warmly beneath his mask before heading out of the shop.

Sakura let out a sigh of relief that he didn't do anything else to try and embarrass her just to see her blush. Turning back around, she almost jumped that Kazuko had snuck up behind her. She smiled at her politely as she adjusted the clipboard in her hand.

"You know Hatake-san?" Kazuko asked adjusting the bridge of her glasses glancing at the door that had slowly shut close after Kakashi had left.

"Oh… um..."

"I remember him from years ago. I don't think I've never seen him ever have a hint of a smile so much as I have just now."

"Oh… really?"

"Well, I think given what he's been through I can't blame him for being a depressed kind of man, but I'm glad to see he's changed for the better. He seems like a nice guy."

"Depressed?"

"Oh, you know about his parent's, right? You might be too young to know though."

"Um… apparently they died when he was eight? But… that's kind of all I know about it..."

"Ahh, well it was all over the news when it happened. This was many years ago of course, but I remember it fairly well. They were brutally murdered in their sleep by one of their house keepers…so… that must have been tough. I really can't imagine going through something like that. Especially so young."

"…"

Sakura couldn't believe what she was hearing. She tried her best to hide the shock from her face as she looked away for a moment. That was so horrible. She had no idea… She felt like even more of an idiot. No wonder it was so hard for him to ever talk about his parents. There was such a mix of admiration and sorrow for him treading around in her heart. He had to have been such a strong person to deal with something like that. There was no doubt she wanted to know more about his life and how exactly he grew up… but something like this? Her heart dropped further into her gut. How could she even possibly relate to him on that level... or any level?

It was obvious that Kazuko was the gossiping type as her voice uttered Kakashi's name again snapping Sakura's attention back from her thoughts. Part of her was feeling guilty of listening to gossip about him rather than her asking him herself. What else did Kazuko apparently know about this man that had fallen into her heart so easily?

"Hatake-san was the heir to a multi-billion yen corporation like I'm sure you know, so it was kind of a big deal at the time. There was such a huge controversy over the custody of him and his rights to the company. He ended up with his uncle, least I think that's what the papers said. I thought his inheritance was something in the millions though, but maybe something happened and works just like the rest of us… Not sure why he'd ever be here at the university if he did."

Sakura paled. She wouldn't have ever guessed he was some millionaire by the looks of his house… or how he dresses. He just seemed like an average guy. Didn't millionaires live in mansions or something? Though… he did mention he really didn't have to work if he wanted to… that he would rather make his own earnings. That was pretty admirable he felt the need to do that. Yet, he could just do nothing for the rest of his life. Why did he choose to live that way? Not that she cared or wanted any part of what possible money he might have, but it just left her with more questions about the kind of person he was.

"I see," Sakura finally managed to reply.

Kazuko looked at the clock before looking startled, "Oh, I need to finish this order and check with the other shops around campus. So, can you manage by yourself? Just call me if you have trouble."

"I think I'll be okay."

"Alright young lady. I'll be back shortly."

"No problem," Sakura replied with the best fake smile she could muster.

Her smile easily faded once Kazuko disappeared into the backroom. Now she felt rather depressed thinking about Kakashi. His parents were murdered? It was all she could think about. It seemed so unreal. So unthinkable. It had to have been so difficult… She understood now more than ever what he meant talking about dealing with the media. If it was anything like celebrities today had to deal with, he must have grown up mostly being hounded by news reporters. What kind of life must had that been like? It was just hard to fathom.

What perhaps bothered her most is that she had no idea something like this was buried somewhere inside of him. It did happen many years ago… and perhaps her just learning about it now was a shock. It was just that… if she was in his shoes… how on earth could she ever smile again? How could she keep on living? She only had her mother and some extended family, but if she watched someone murder her in front of her eyes… It…

It was just…too difficult to imagine.

She never had so much fun with anyone as much as she did with Kakashi. That was for certain. She loved his jokes and his teases. Loved how caring he could be. Loved his hidden smile that only seemed to be meant for her. Loved… just everything about what makes Kakashi… Kakashi. Yet here was more proof she still didn't know squat about him. What did he really feel about… well hell, just about everything? Life? What was it she could see hidden in his eyes sometimes when he didn't know she was looking? She wanted to know. Even if she couldn't do anything about it… she wanted to be there for him. She cared. She wanted him to know that she did. It just seemed so hopeless in comparison of what she could really do for him. He's a grown man after all. He knows more about life than she ever could. Maybe he had a better handle of emotions compared to her, but didn't it say something… That he would want to avoid any subject regarding his past? It still had to hurt then… didn't it? He certainly didn't seem the type to share about himself. She would rather have nothing more than for him to tell her whatever possible hidden pain that's been manifesting for who knows how long. She wasn't sure what was worse. Not talking about it or talking about it. What would be better for him? What would be better for her?

By the time Sakura's shift was over she felt so depressed just thinking about Kakashi. What his life must have been like. She knew she was over thinking it all… but she just couldn't help herself. It was making her upset thinking about what he must have been through. Rolling up her apron now and placing it into a bin under the register, Sakura waived goodnight to Kazuko after she clocked out for the night. Once outside, she crossed the bricked walkway towards the other building. She had no idea what she was going to say to Kakashi. Maybe it was best to just say nothing at all. She could at least try to do that for now. Hopefully she would start to feel better.

Kakashi had his hands folded together above his masked mouth as he seemed to be reading the computer monitor in front of him. The white glow around his face made his eyes even appear even softer when he glanced up at Sakura. She walked quietly between the long rows of desks to where he sat.

"Hey," Sakura said as she pulled a chair next to him trying to shake off her troublesome thoughts.

"Hey, how your third day go?"

"Oh, pretty good. Though, this jerk customer made the most complicated order ever…"

"Hum. You don't say," he replied with a knowing grin.

"So… did you end up actually drinking the ridiculous order you made me make you?"

"Of course."

"Don't you usually just have plain coffee...?"

"I suddenly felt like expanding my horizons today."

"Uh-huh," Sakura replied with narrowed eyes.

"I actually liked it a lot. Maybe because a sexy barista made it for me," Kakashi said with a wink.

Trying her best to hide a blush she pouted and looked at the screen he was typing away at.

"You're actually doing school work?" she asked rather surprised as she realized it was a research paper.

"I don't read Icha Icha all day… Just most of the day… Among other things."

"Then what else you do?"

"…You?"

Sakura let out an annoyed sigh with a blush as she smacked his arm in how incredibly perverted that sounded.

"Ow," Kakashi replied with a hidden smirk as he rubbed his arm.

He finished up his last paragraph he was writing before saving the file and exported it to his flash drive from the computer. Standing from his chair he gathered textbooks that were laid out around the monitor and stacked them under an arm. He stretched out his other hand to Sakura to lift her up from her seat. She couldn't help but give a small smile at his gesture as they walked side by side outside into the night after he dropped off the books he was using.

The still air around them as they walked was slowly filled with Sakura's inner thoughts from earlier. It was annoying. This feeling she was getting like there was a grey cloud hovering over her. She tried her best just to enjoy his company like always, but couldn't shake this sunken mood wondering about his past. His voice snapped her out of staring at the sidewalk for a brief moment.

"Where would you like to go?" he asked.

"Anywhere you like," she replied absent mindedly looking back down at the sidewalk again. A moment later she felt a tug on her sleeve pulling her as she narrowly almost missed running into a street lamp that was close along the sidewalk.

"Ah… Eh-heh… Thanks," She replied rather embarrassed.

Kakashi interlinked her arm with his as they walked. Enjoying the feeling of his arm she held it tighter.

"Sakura..."

Sakura glanced up into his sideways glance with a smile.

"Hum?"

"Is something the matter?"

"Oh, um… no… not really," Sakura's smile faltered while she replied feeling her heart beat a bit faster. She felt bad. She didn't care to say what was really on her mind. She'd probably just make him annoyed at her for even mentioning the subject of anything relating to his past. He had reason to.

"I could tell the moment you walked in the door of the lab earlier you seemed upset… So…What happened? Something at work? You know you can tell me anything, right?"

Sakura flinched slightly not expecting him to pick up something was bothering her so easily. Maybe he knew her better than she knew herself. She sighed inwardly.

"Nothing's wrong…"

Kakashi halted their walk jolting her backwards. Unlinking his arm from her he turned her face towards him from trying to look away. She could see he did actually look pretty concerned which was making her feel all the guiltier.

"Sakura… Don't give me that. Obviously something is… I want to know what's on your mind."

"Erm…"

"Come on…Please?"

He nudged her shoulder with his arm and added, "Hum, hum?"

Sakura sighed. Maybe she wouldn't get to avoid the subject like she originally planned to, but it would be for the better…so she figured.

"I don't want to make anything weird between us asking you personal things…It's not my business."

"It's about me?"

"My manager… said something and I don't know… I'd rather not talk about it..."

"You can tell me. What did she say?"

"I don't…want to ask you if it's true or not…"

Kakashi sighed as ruffled a hand through his hair trying to think of what to say. Placing his hands in his pockets he replied, "You can ask me anything… Doesn't matter what."

"I don't know…"

"Just please…ask me."

"Was…um…"

She was already losing her confidence to finish her sentence. Looking away again she stared into the sidewalk while biting her lip.

"Was… what?"

"Was… your family really murdered..?"

"…Yes," Kakashi replied heavily.

Feeling even worse now, she definitely wished she had never asked.

"I…I… didn't know… and it really surprised me to hear that… and I don't know… I just…I just feel stupid not knowing something so… serious like that. I just… had no idea," she stuttered out still not managing to look at him.

"Sakura…"

"I don't want to bother you in bringing it up. It must be really painful… and I just… realize I don't know completely everything about you and I just… I just feel stupid. I should know… Other people seem to… so…"

"You're not stupid. It was a long… long time ago. I don't want to bring up our age difference, but you weren't even born yet then…"

Kakashi felt pretty awful at admitting that last sentence. It was true… but he really… really didn't like thinking that way. He didn't want anymore reminders of how much older he was than her. Looking back at her downcast eyes, the shadows of the night barely hid the small skewed frown at her lip. She remained silent staring at the ground uncomfortably until he spoke up again.

"People and coworkers around me never talk about it openly out of respect I guess. Yeah, it's kind of hard to talk about… I won't lie."

Sakura glanced briefly up at his eyes and began to say, "Okay… so th–"

"—That doesn't mean I don't want you to know or that you shouldn't know," Kakashi cut in.

"It's just… I know I've must have made you mad in me asking anything too personal… and I get why now… and I don't know… I'm sorry," Sakura replied unsurely.

"I'm not ever mad about it…I just…" Kakashi paused for a moment and took her hand into his making her surprised in finding her feet moving suddenly. He pulled them both towards a bench that was just a few feet up ahead along the walkway. It was dimly lit showing a glossy green paint coating that reflected in the light of the lamp hanging above. He sat them both down and turned his knees into hers.

He took in a breath and continued, "I know I've probably seemed really apprehensive to answer personal questions about myself. I'm like that with everyone. It's kind of my way of just… keeping a wall up around myself. Its how I've been getting through things in my life. It's probably not the healthiest thing to do. I know… but getting to know you…Sakura, you're really the first person that's helped me forget about the past every time I'm with you. I haven't laughed so much… or had so much fun with someone ever. It's… a great feeling for me. A relief in a lot of ways really. I feel like I can be myself around you… It's just… really amazing to me you can do that to me."

The worry swirling tossing around in her heart slowed down a bit at hearing that. Her green eyes looked up at his tentatively as she clutched the edge of the bench with her fingers tightly.

"It... makes me really happy to hear you say that. I feel the same in just never having such a fun and amazing relationship with someone like this before. I don't know much… but I just want you to know that I care a lot. I want to know the good and bad about you. I don't want you to hide, but at the same time I only want you to share if you ever want to. So, I guess I just want you to know that I'm here to listen no matter what… I probably can't say much… Since yeah… I don't know much about anything but… I'm here all the same…for you."

"I appreciate that. It kind of bothers me if you're hiding what you want to know and I rather you not hear through gossip either. So just… ask me. I want to always be honest with you and I of course want you to do the same," Kakashi said softly. It was pretty obvious to him the longer he got to know her he could open up to her. Never did he think he could ever do that with anyone or even want to, but she was just different.

"I just… want to know what it was like growing up for you. I don't know really anything… about your life and…where the scars on your back from?" she unsurely asked glancing down into his lap.

He thought for a moment, looking into the night's speckled sky that hovered above them before deciding where to even begin.

"I grew up privileged I guess you can say. Private schools. Private staffs. Ridiculous mansion that had so many rooms they didn't know what to do with. My father kind of yielded his personal tastes to fit what was expected of the Hatake family. Being really big about wealth and being in high society. They were really upset that he married my mother. She wasn't from any high profile family. She was just someone who worked within the company at a basic position… and through dealing with meetings with my father that's how they got together. So, they've always said things behind her back… usually in front of me… So you can say I don't care about anything that deals with my family. They aren't family to me."

"I can't believe they would act like that… What did you father say about it?"

"He ignored it best he could, but there were times my mother felt really isolated about it... but she did her best. She was truly a great woman and a mother…"

"I wish I could have met her and your father…"

"Me too," Kakashi replied warmly.

He had always felt a kind of emptiness inside ever since they had abruptly disappeared from his life. He had lost his parents when he was still so young… and never had a chance to grow up with someone to watch over him. To have someone tell him they were proud of him. To have someone to be there to see his failures and successes. To have someone tell you what's right or wrong. To have someone simply just to care.

"They were murdered by one of the new housekeepers. The media and police gave out some half baked reason that they were caught by one of my parents trying to steal something and flipped out...and decided to murder them in their sleep for it. It's a lie though… and as a kid then, no one seemed to believe me. But… I was there when it happened. They were attacked. As was I. I won't go into big details for now...but I managed to escape breaking through a window."

"…Why…did they kill them then? And try to kill you too?"

"I wish I had an answer for that."

Sakura's gut felt like it must had fallen to the floor. She didn't know what to even say to that. She felt stupid in only managing to utter, "That's… really terrible…"

"My uncle ended up volunteering taking care of me. The company that was in my father's name was supposed to fall into my hands but I was too young of course. So my uncle ended up taking it over and anything else that had to do with it. Which, I don't care. I don't want anything to do with it. No matter how much money its worth. He was one of the family members that were adamantly against my father marrying my mother. So, I suppose I was dirt to him. He never liked me, but played like he did on the outside like I was apart of some happy family with his two real sons. That was certainly far from the truth. You asked about the scars on my back… Well, he's the one who put them there for me to keep my mouth shut. If I did anything to embarrass him or the family… he made a point to correct me…"

"…"

Sakura had started to hold her breath trying to hold back the knot in her throat. She couldn't believe this was true. How could anyone have ever abused him like that? Especially someone who was supposed to be close family… blood is supposed to be thicker than water, wasn't it? Where was the trust? Where was the love? How could ANYONE do that to another person? To a child no less. He had already lost his parents… witnessed their deaths. Almost died himself… and was further tormented in what should have been a home. It was… just… unbelievable.

Kakashi leaned an arm against the top of the bench as he placed a hand to prop up the side of his head. He stared into the distance towards the black shrouded buildings that surrounded them. His face seemed emotionless, but his eyes told a different story as he took in another deep breath before continuing the lingering thoughts that paced within his mind.

"Basically, everyday he'd go out of his way to tell me how much of a worthless trash I was. That my mother wasn't any better and that she deserved to die. I've never really told that to anyone before…It's pretty…fucked up… I know…"

Kakashi continued to look out into the distance and didn't see Sakura move a hand over her lips holding back a sob as she tried to hide in the shadows. Tears were streaming down her face and wouldn't stop. She knew the moment she looked at him she would completely lose it. It was just so incredibly sad. She was shocked. Appalled. Hurt. How could this happen… to someone as wonderful as he was?

"…It went on like that until I could finally move out on my own. I guess that's why I was motivated to study so much to get out of school as quickly as possible. I just wanted to make something of myself and to get as far away as I could from them. I didn't want any part of the company or what was left of my estranged family. I've never been back since except to get the inheritance I was rightfully due when I turned eighteen. I didn't care to claim the company. That asshole could have it. I've hardly touched the money I was inherited… I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel like it's tainted in someway. I guess I'm just happy how I am in just making my own living. I've accomplished a lot without any help. I suppose, that's what makes me… me."

He turned his gaze finally to see Sakura with her head dipped low. The strands of her pink hair had fully covered her face. She looked like she was shaking.

"Sakura…"

Slowly, he moved a hand to her shoulder and squeezed it lightly. When she looked up for a split second she started to openly cry through muffles. She moved the base of her arm against her eyes and tried to shut them tight. No matter what she did. She couldn't stop the tears from falling. Kakashi immediately pulled her into his chest surprised at how upset she had suddenly gotten.

"Sakura… Why are you crying? What's wrong?"

"I- I-m sorry… I just…I just," she hiccuped between breaths.

"I just… I just… I just….." Sakura couldn't manage to even attempt to say more as she fully collapsed on his chest. She cried. Never had she ever cried this hard before. Her chest ached from the pain of her sobs.

She cried for his father. Cried for his mother. Cried for his childhood. Cried for his loneliness. Cried for his abuse. He didn't deserve to have lived like that that. No one deserved to live like that. She cried simply…for him and everything that he's ever lost or never had. She wasn't sure how long it was before she could breathe again. Kakashi's shirt was completely wet where her face had hid into his shoulder. Her hand was shaking as he cupped it into his.

Kakashi didn't know what to feel. He was completely shocked at her reaction. It's not like he had ever openly told anyone before what his life was like before he left his family, but it was just… over now. Why was she crying now? It hurt him more than he could ever describe seeing her like this.

"I'm sorry," he whispered apologetically in her ear.

Feeling a lot better now she turned her cheek against his shoulder and replied, "You don't have anything to be sorry for…"

"I made you cry…"

"I just… got overwhelmed hearing you lived like that...It's… just…almost unbelievable," she admitted.

"It's a long time ago… There isn't a reason to cry about it now."

"It doesn't matter when… Just simply that it did. It makes me upset I guess knowing I can't do anything to help you. At least back then…Or even now."

He really never thought much of it that way. He was never one to ever care or want to feel sorry for himself. At least he tried his hardest not to. There are all kinds of other people scattered throughout the world who's had a rougher life than he ever did. People who live in a kind of life wondering if they'll even make it to see the next sunrise. There was no point in feeling sad about his life compared to that. Or perhaps he just didn't want to think about it because it would always feel like he was making his wrapped feelings become worse, which he would rather just have had no feelings at all. Yet, saying it all aloud just now to her… he felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He wasn't sure why he felt so much better now than he ever had before in a sense of just feeling relieved. Perhaps it wasn't the best thing for him to keep it within himself, or perhaps the greater reason… that he finally had someone worthwhile to share completely to.

"You have helped me…Sakura," Kakashi said as he tightened his embrace around her.

"How you figure that?"

"It's the same reason you wrote in the book you gave me…"

Sakura rolled her head up from his shoulder to look him in the eyes with a surprised face.

"You…figured it out?" she asked as she sniffled.

"After you dropped that hint of not adding certain letters, it was the first thing I did when I went to the lab… which I'm very impressed you managed to stump me for a few days."

"I see… What did I say then?" she asked with a shy smile.

"It said… 'I'm glad you came into my life.'…and I feel the same way about you. If you hadn't… I'm pretty sure I'd still be the same miserable man I have been all these years. You make me forget about everything when I'm with you like this. You're very special to me…Sakura."

"You're special to me too," she replied feeling her heart swell seeing a smile form from beneath his mask.

Kakashi took his hands from around her waist to wipe her wet cheeks with his sleeve. She felt slightly embarrassed for crying, but she knew it just how she was. It was hard to keep back her emotions. She leaned in and slipped his mask down his face to plant a much needed kiss to his lips.

Sliding his hands around her face softly, he kissed her back and began to trail sweet kisses from the corner of her lip, up towards the cheek and finally planting a final tender kiss to her forehead. He was glad she finally seemed to have calmed down.

Tracing a finger through her hair he said, "Let's get some dinner?"

"Why…don't I make you something at home?" she asked in a tired voice, wiping away her tears one last time with a hand.

"At my home?"

"No… At my apartment. I went shopping the other day, so I have something I could make. Just…come over and stay for little while?"

"Is…Ino there…?"

"Yes…but why does it matter?"

"I just feel…uncomfortable… I don't know. I guess because she was my student as well. It makes me feel strange with our relationship…"

"Well… she's my best friend… and she approves of us so… you really don't need to feel weird about it…she doesn't. It doesn't matter you were our sensei."

Kakashi grumbled. It probably really wasn't a big deal… and he should learn more about Sakura's friends anyway. He could admit he was somewhat curious how exactly they normally lived together. He also wondered what Sakura's room looked like, which he was slightly disappointed the first time he came inside he didn't get a chance to peek. She didn't have like… posters of half naked men on her walls like a teenage girl would probably have…does she? He will certainly tear them all down if so.

"Well… Okay. If you're sure she won't mind… I'll come over for a little bit."

"Okay," she replied with a smile.

They both stood from the bench which creaked slightly as they got up. Sakura was about to start heading in the direction where he usually parked at before she felt a tug on her hand.

"Hey," he said warmly pulling her into his arms.

"Y-yes..?"

"Are you okay…?"

"Yeah…I'm…glad you told me more about yourself. It's difficult… but I understand more about you….and that in itself makes me very happy. I'm glad we can… I don't know… be more open with each other."

"I'm kind of surprised that I do feel a lot better in at least talking about some of it with you… its nice getting it off my chest, I think. So… thank you…for listening."

"Thank you for sharing with me," she replied sincerely. It was still very painful to think about what he had told her. Like it had to have been unreal or some kind of fabricated story, but she knew better. That's what made it even more difficult.

Sakura felt different somehow as he hugged her briefly. His arms felt like the same warm comfort as they had always been so many times before. There was a strange kind of change she couldn't quite place, but overall the feeling that swept into her was something powerful. It wasn't until a moment later she realized that she simply felt closer. Closer to him.

It made her smile.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Chirapsia

Sakura felt like she was practically pulling Kakashi up the stairs to her apartment by his gloved hand. She had to wonder if Ino being an old student of his really bothered him that much or if he was really just shy. There was no way she felt like going out anywhere from their conversation earlier and she really wanted to stay with him a bit longer before he drove back home for the night. The sting she felt in her eyes as the air brushed past her face reminded her all the more of her tears from earlier. Her chest still ached but with each breath she took in the pain she felt slowly was being replaced with relief. Just having him with her made her feel all the better.

After she unlocked the front door she held it with her back to have Kakashi enter first. He quietly took off his shoes as he watched her relock the door. There was already a call of a voice down the hall from within one of the bedrooms.

"Sakuraaaaaaaaa!"

"Hey, Ino!" she yelled back.

Ino emerged from her room surprised to see Kakashi standing somewhat awkwardly near the door waiting for Sakura to take off her shoes.

"Oh, hey Kakashi."

"Hello Ino," he responded with a usual eye crinkle of a smile above his mask.

"Did you eat yet Ino? I was going to make something quick for us," Sakura asked.

"Oh, nope not really."

"Okay. I'll make something for all of us then."

"Want any help?"

"Nah, I got it."

"Alrighty," Ino replied.

Sakura and Kakashi made their way to the living room as Ino trailed behind. Ino was grinning curiously at how Sakura held his hand lightly with her fingers as he followed. Ino never got to see him longer than a few seconds and didn't know him personally, but she and Sakura did gossip plenty about their relationship. She tried to give the best advice she could here and there from one friend to another, but he certainly did seem mysterious. Ino wasn't sure if he was as serious about her friend as much as Sakura was about him. She wanted to find out though.

"Just make yourself at home Kakashi," Sakura said as she made her way into the small kitchen area releasing his fingers from her grip. She started opening a few cabinets to rummage around the pantry. Kakashi sat at the couch and looked to see Ino sitting beside him with a smile as she twisted through her blonde hair absentmindedly as she tried to think of what to say. She glanced at Sakura for a moment as the noise of the shuffling of pans emitted. He was about to reach for his Icha book before Ino spoke up.

"Do you mind if I ask you something… If you don't find it too personal?" she asked in a hushed tone as she continued to twirl her hair hesitantly.

Kakashi gave a sideways glance with a raised eyebrow and reluctantly said, "Mm…Depends. What is it?"

"Why Sakura?"

"Why…?"

"What's your reason in being with her?"

Kakashi was kind of taken aback from the question. Why did she want to know exactly? He mulled the thought around. Perhaps because she was Sakura's close friend and maybe she just wanted to gauge their relationship? He figured he could at least try and be somewhat honest in his reply.

"Well, lots of reasons… but I suppose to sum it up… she's an amazing person."

"Ah, I see," Ino replied with a knowing smile as she looked into his eyes.

"She talks about you a lot you know," she added.

"Does she now?"

He couldn't suppress a smile from hearing that. Though now looking at Ino's grin he was slightly afraid what exactly did she share with Ino… everything? That's what girls usually talked about her age didn't they? His worry worsened all the more from the next words out of Ino's mouth.

"Yeah, though I'm really curious about something about a couch your obsessed with? She said you like to run around it? She kept giggling."

Kakashi's cheeks burned beneath his mask as well as he was pretty sure his heart just dropped five feet. Sakura told her about that? She didn't add the detail he was naked did she? All of sudden he really wanted to just flee from this conversation. He wanted to very much forget that incident as his pride was sinking further and further.

"Um…" he uttered uncomfortably. Shuffling a hand through his hair looking embarrassed he was pretty sure if he was maskless right now Sakura would have been thrilled to see how red he must had been.

Ino held back a laugh and said, "You don't need to say anything. Actually she told me not to mention it to you… that you'd probably look embarrassed, which you do by the way. Now I'm even more curious what it's about."

"Ah," he replied still slightly flustered. It was all he could manage to say. Least it seemed Sakura didn't tell her the whole story. He was secretly thankful for that.

Ino grinned as she turned on the television after her small attempt to pry a little bit inside her friend's relationship. She could already tell just by looking at his eyes when he talked about Sakura that he really did mean it. Now she felt slightly jealous of her to have a man like that talk so sincerely about her, but she was happy for her to find someone so caring. After their tug of war with Sasuke perhaps there would always be that sense of friendly jealously there when it came to romantic relationships.

For dinner Sakura made them a really simple chicken and rice stir-fry. Kakashi was mostly worried about what they would talk about. Would his age really that be much of a hindrance as he figured it would be in just talking simply with Sakura's friends that were around her age? It ended up not being as much of a big deal as he thought which he was glad for. Kakashi managed to loosen up a bit as they chattered a little bit about college and general day to day things. He tried to avoid talking much about their parents, but he was pretty intrigued learning more about Sakura's mother. Ino teased of how overprotective she was of Sakura. It certainly made him all the more not enjoy the idea of meeting her. He knew however in the back of his mind that he couldn't avoid it forever. Not if he really wanted to be with Sakura openly. He figured it was pretty likely she would disapprove. Though if she was as open minded as Sakura was there wouldn't be much of a problem, but he knew it was wishful thinking.

After dinner Ino excused herself in saying she had some homework to finish up in her room. Though from the hidden wink in her eye at Sakura as she left, she probably was just letting them have some privacy. Kakashi offered to finish up the last of the dishes. When he was finished he glanced around the living room looking for Sakura. Not seeing her, he dried his hands and walk into the small hallway. Sakura's door to her room was wide open as he saw her sitting on the edge of her bed with a leg folded up against her chest. She had a band-aid in her hands and peeled the paper covering away. She placed it on the heel of her foot and sighed.

"Hum, so this is what your room looks like," Kakashi said making her jump slightly, but recovered with a soft smile as she glanced up at him.

She crumpled the tiny paper of the band-aid package in hand and tossed it into a small wastebasket by her desk. Sakura replied with a slight tease in her voice, "Yep. Though it's nothing fancy like yours."

His eyes darted around as he gripped the sides of the doorway before he walked in. Most of the furniture was obviously something that came with the room in how generic it looked, but was the room itself was decorated pretty nicely. There were a few abstract art pieces that were pinned against the white wall as well as a couple of traditional calligraphy works of kanji symbols. Layered sheer crimson curtains draped over her window hiding the bright moon that was hanging up in the night's sky in the distance. The fabric gave off a faint red sheen around the window's edge from the moon's light making the room warmer looking. The colors were complimented by a cozy looking rug that was placed in the middle of the room. Her room felt like more of a home than his ever did. He half wished his house didn't look so empty and bare, but he never had any reason to put any effort into decorating. It was always just him there. He never saw the point of it.

"I was kind of worried you might be one of those girls who have pictures of half naked men on your wall," Kakashi said as he walked with his hands in his pockets to peer closer at one of the paintings.

"Oh, I hid those real fast when you were washing dishes," she replied back quickly with a smile.

Kakashi stopped his slow pace along the wall to narrow his eyes at her over a shoulder.

"…"

"I'm kidding!"

He did his best bored, unamused face he could muster as he stared back blankly.

"…"

Sakura sighed and said, "Though if you want to provide me some pictures of yourself…I'd happily place them up." She stuck out her tongue at him until he finally broke into a grin.

He finally turned from the wall to come sit next to her at the edge of her bed. His eyes peered at her foot she held with a hand. It was bandaged and had some pink scruff marks along the top. She tucked it quickly beneath her other leg seeing that he was staring. He wasn't sure why he hadn't noticed earlier, but he supposed was never one to look at people's feet unless he was in a sparring match.

"What happened to your… feet?" Kakashi asked as he tried to look at her other one that was on the floor only to have it quickly moved beneath the bed.

"They are kind of terrible looking at the moment," she muttered slightly embarrassed.

"Let me see."

"You don't need to see my feet."

"Let me see," he reiterated again as he reached over her to grab her ankle. He pulled it from under her into his lap. She tried to pull it away without much success as she leaned against the bed on her elbows now. He touched her foot tenderly as he inspected it while avoiding trying to touch the bandaged areas that looked painful. The back of her heel through the band-aid had a darkened spot which meant it must have been bleeding. You would think she must had walked barefoot on rocks or something equally ridiculous in how abused they looked.

"What happened?" he asked in a concerned voice.

"Well… I needed new closed toe shoes for work. So I'm wearing these new flats I got. My feet tend to get torn up a little until the shoes get broken in. Anyway, it's not a big deal."

"Why wear something that's tearing your feet up?"

"It's like that for most women shoes… unless it's something really comfortable and cushioned like sneakers."

"Then why don't you wear sneakers?"

"They aren't as cute."

"…"

Kakashi sighed as he began to massage her foot. He really wanted to roll his eyes how women seemed to choose beauty over pain. More often than not he would hear a common complaint from various women who usually wore heels on how painful they were. Then why wear them? It didn't make much sense to him. Personally he didn't care all the much about women fashion. He stopped himself from wanting to lecture her how her feet could be damaged constantly wearing shoes that harmed her like that.

Glancing over at Sakura as he worked his fingers around her sore foot she laid against the end of the bed with her eyes closed. She seemed to be really enjoying his massage.

"Give me your other foot," he said while motioning lightly with his fingers.

Sakura opened her eyes slightly to place her other leg that was hanging over the side of the bed into his lap without any complaints. He began to massage her other foot making her eyes close again.

"Feel good?" Kakashi asked already knowing from the look on her face as he smiled to himself. He continued rubbing in circles across the back of her foot.

"Mmmhum, I don't think I've ever had a massage as great as this," she replied.

Sakura inhaled a deep breath and stretched slightly into the mattress. How did his simple touches always make her feel so good? It never failed to amaze her. The press of his gentle fingers was making her slowly feel like she was turning it a puddle of mush. Her heart still felt drained from their conversation earlier about his parents but the sadness that was twisting at her insides was slowly escaping. She was feeling so relaxed. Opening her eyes slightly again she peeked through her eyelashes with fuzzy vision. She couldn't help but admire him in so many ways. He was such a strong person not just physically, but mentally. She had no doubt that he must had struggled to be the kind of person he was today. She felt really lucky to have gotten to know him for who he was now. Kind. Caring. Wise. What couldn't he do?

Her thoughts wandered about what would she be doing right now if he had never sat next to her first day of class? Class... she only had about two more months left with him in their psychology class. Then her first semester would be over. It was already going to be October once the weekend passed. Would much, if anything, change once she couldn't see him practically everyday? She had hopes she would still see him often. She felt ridiculous for a moment being worried that anything would change just because they wouldn't have a class together anymore. What would happen once he graduated though? That was certainly going to happen before she could finish school. What would happen then…?

The worries began to slip further away as she felt his hands work their way up to her ankles and slowly moved to massage around her bare calf. She already felt like putty in his hands as it was. After a few moments his fingers dipped under the hem of her khaki capris to massage her knees. From there the pump of her heart increased as he pulled his fingers down her leg and up against the sides of her thighs. She tried her best not to look like she wasn't being that affected from his sensual touches while she still closed her eyes, but was having a hard time composing herself the more she felt him linger around her hips.

Kakashi seemed to know otherwise as he saw her fight a grin at the corner of her lips at his wayward hands. Deciding to purposely make this into a game of getting a reaction out of her, he traced his teasing fingers along her ribs beneath her shirt. He leaned over her slowly still massaging in small circles at his fingertips. Once he began to rub softly around her breasts beneath her bra she began to pout in trying to ignore he was making her heart beat faster within her chest. Feeling like he couldn't deny himself stealing a kiss from her slightly puckered lips he lowered down his mask with a hand and placed a kiss against her while sucking a corner of her lip as he pulled away. He didn't get too far away as he felt her pulling him back down again with her hands now around his waist to feel his lips once more against hers.

He returned her kiss while exploring her mouth further with his tongue. Slowly he slipped his hands from beneath her shirt to glide up lightly over her chest. After releasing her lips, he cupped her blushed cheeks with his hands and looked into her deep green eyes for a moment. The look in her she had within them was something he had never seen before with anyone else. Yet, he couldn't exactly place what it was that she saw when she looked at him. All he knew was that it made him feel whole. She made him feel whole.

"What?" Sakura asked softly with a hidden smile noticing he was still gazing at her.

"What are you thinking about?" he asked completely curious at her grin.

"How your massages are pure evil…"

"I haven't even finished yet…"

"…And I'm not really sure why you're so worked up," Kakashi added as he continued gently rubbing between her ribs making her heart pace faster the further he slid his hands down.

"You know exactly why," she said pulling him closer by the top of his shirt acting like she was about to kiss him again before quickly switching their positions with a small tug and push. The bed squeaked nosily from the sudden shift in weight. There wasn't any room to really lie comfortably beside each other on the bed, but she wasn't concerned by that in the slightest as she straddled on top of him. Feeling his arousal pressed tightly against her she tried not to appear in looking slightly nervous about it.

"You seemed rather worked up… I think you need a massage too," she said as she mimicked the circular motions he did to her just moments ago along his sides and up towards his chest. She slowly pulled his shirt further up as she went along. Bending over now, she explored her tongue to his hardened nipple and continued throughout his chest before rolling herself back up to find him staring back at her almost looking a bit humored.

"How do we always manage to end up this way?" he asked suppressing a grunt as she extended her hands to the top of shoulders and neck to thoroughly massage his muscles.

"Whatever do you mean?" Sakura teased as she glided her fingers down to his hips. The closer she dug her fingers into the lining of his pants the more he wanted to buck his hips into hands.

"This…" Kakashi replied half losing his voice as he pushed his hips upwards making her heart jump.

"This?" she asked rather seductively slowly pushing her hips into his once making very sure the pressure was well applied along his ever present arousal.

"Mmhum," Kakashi mumbled in agreement as he omitted a hushed moan rocking his hips upwards again with half closed eyelids. He pulled his hands down her back to scoop her firm butt into his hands before jerking another thrust upwards making her gasp from the pressure. He couldn't help but fantasize what would fully taking her would be like. He couldn't deny the thought pressed in the back of his mind every time they were in sexual trysts like this. It was times like these he truly had to think about not completely wanting to flip her over and make love to her senselessly. He didn't want to talk about the subject of sex yet, but he was more than happy with exploring how exactly un-innocent she could be. He didn't want to pressure her in any way to even bring it up. Instead he tried to tell himself it didn't matter, but the desire would probably always be there. Maybe it was just natural human desire he felt, but he knew his feelings towards her weren't as meaningless as it was compared to his past lovers. It wasn't a matter of just bedding someone. It was more so about the love…

That last thought made his eyes open slightly to look at her flushed face. Did he think he loved her? Was that what he felt towards her? It was no lie that she had grown to be very special to him. Especially after today… He had never revealed so much with anyone ever before about himself, but he wasn't sure if he was even capable of loving someone. He was afraid to in a lot of ways. His thoughts dissipated as Sakura lowered herself into his chest burying her face into his neck nipping it with sweet kisses. The scent of his aftershave always prompted her into taking a deep comforting inhale before tasting the spices with her tongue. Kakashi loved every moment of it before he heard a twist of a doorknob from within the hallway open with a creek of a door opening. Before he had a chance to say anything Sakura already had hopped off him quickly looking completely blushed running to the wide open door of her room to shut it softly. She knew Ino would have completely peeked inside.

Knowing her friend's sinful curiosity she waited by the closed door for a moment with crossed arms holding in a laugh. Kakashi eyed her curiously from the bed in what she was smiling about. She waited about a minute as her hand gripped the golden door knob before she suddenly opened it just enough to hear a thud against the door. Ino looked up at her sheepishly.

"You weren't trying to listen in on us… were you?" Sakura asked through the small gap in the door already knowing clearly that she was.

"Ah, haha… I um… tripped as I was passing by," Ino said quickly as she rubbed her red marked face from falling into the door.

"You know I have a futon if he wants to stay…You two could um...ahem…share," Ino added with a whisper only loud enough for Sakura to hear.

"I don't know about that, but thanks for the offer," Sakura whispered back smiling shyly.

"Well then! Carry on. Don't mind my clumsiness," Ino said aloud quickly before trotting off down the hall with a grin etched on her face. Sakura closed the door behind her then ran back to the bed before Kakashi had a chance to sit up. He began to edge up on his elbows.

"Oof," Kakashi said as he fell back down into the mattress which made the springs squeak once more. Sakura straddled him again holding his chest down with her hands to hop herself over him.

"This is exactly why I don't want to come over if your friend is here," Kakashi said as he traced the wrinkles of her shirt along her sides. He adjusted her sitting position slightly to be more comfortable which was boarding a bit on being a bit too pleasurable every time she moved just even a little bit.

"Well, I can't help that she's slightly nosy… and I also can't help I need to live with a roommate."

"Hum well…"

Kakashi looked like he was thinking about his next words carefully before he finally said, "All the more reason you should just live with me…"

Sakura blinked in surprise, "Oh? You'd… want me to?"

She hid the slight excitement in the back of her voice wondering if he was serious or not. She was already staying over on the weekends and… if she could stay with him everyday… How wonderful would that be? Then she wouldn't have to worry about not being able to see him as much at college next semester. Was it too crazy already to be jumping into something like that? Normally every time she heard about girls who practically moved in with the boyfriends only after a couple of weeks she would be a bit disgusted by it... Surely that wasn't long enough to get to know someone. She's only known him since August, but perhaps she understood now how people seemed to manage to jump into living situations quickly. It didn't seem like it was crazy. At least…not when she said it out loud. It felt like she had been with him for ages and she felt very comfortable staying with him as it was. So, why couldn't she? Besides that her mother might kill her… it's not like she had to know anyway…but… ignoring that factor it seemed like a good idea.

"Just something to think about," he murmured.

"Ah," she only managed to reply with a small blush.

Noting her blush he added, "I don't want you to feel uncomfortable about the idea…I guess I figured since you stay over every weekend anyway why not… Um…Just well…"

"Oh, no I'm not… I'd... be more than happy to actually. I'm kind of surprised you'd want me to. Since well… you don't really seem the kind to…I don't know… live with someone."

"That's true, though I can say for sure that I'm always happy when you're there and…I basically just want you all to myself… Does that make me selfish?" he asked with a small smile.

"Yes. It does," she replied with a frown in a dull monotone voice like she was serious.

"Humph," he replied as if he was really hurt by the comment. He began to poke her sides in tickling her.

"Agghhh, you and your damn tickling," she muttered trying to squirm away from his hands.

Kakashi grinned as he pulled at her wrists towards his chest making her lay down on top of him capturing her lips into his. He was pretty convinced. He wanted nothing more than to just be with her. Maybe he was really selfish in wanting her to live with him. Was it really the right thing to do with someone so young and just barely starting to live on her own? Probably not… but would it make him happy? Absolutely. It almost even surprised him in wanting her to but it was also a sign of just how close she had gotten into his heart. He just knew his home would really feel like a home if she was there…

"So… You would really want to?" he asked releasing his hold on her lips for a moment.

She smiled shyly in response and said, "Very much so… but… I don't know when."

"What about before next semester starts in January?"

"Well, I'm leased here until the summer…and then I'd basically be abandoning Ino..."

"I could help pay for the rest of the months rent that you have left…and I'm sure she would understand."

"I'd still feel really bad having her live by herself. I don't think I can do that."

"Well…Maybe the summer then?"

A voice broke out muffled behind the door of Sakura's room.

"You can move in with him Sakura. I don't mind and I have a friend who's looking for a new place. So, I'd be just fine!" Ino said loudly behind the closed door.

Sakura blinked in surprise as she twirled her head around to face the door. She blushed realizing Ino had been listening in on their conversation and whatever else they had been doing earlier. She sighed. She should have figured. Sakura turned back around to see him smiling up at her.

"Hum, well that settles it then," Kakashi said loud enough for their eavesdropper to hear.

"Well, now I have something to look forward to then," she said while leaning over into his chest to snugly wrap her arms around him.

"Me too," he replied warmly.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Snowball Effect

Sakura shook her foot nervously beneath the dining table idly checking her phone. She made it very clear to Kakashi to text her once he was just outside a little ways from her house. Glancing up at her mother who was giving her a hesitant glance here and there from across the table she told her just enough where she was going for the evening. With who exactly? Well… a friend, but that vague information of course wasn't flying very well.

"Which friend?" Her mother asked again with an aggravated sigh. She tapped her well manicured nails on the table out of habit.

"Just a friend. We're going to festival and I'll be back in a couple of hours. You don't need to worry… As much as I'd love to skip out on greeting family tomorrow…I'll be back," Sakura said dully.

"It's Christmas Eve. I don't want you out late with drunks running around."

"I'll be fine."

"Why didn't you visit the festival earlier?" Her mother asked with a sigh.

"It's more fun on Christmas Eve… and you know I'm technically an adult now, right?" Sakura said with an annoyed look.

"Not in my house you aren't."

"…"

This woman was insufferable. Sakura had already returned home for an entire two weeks and already she wanted to leave about as quickly as she came. She loved her mother. She really did, but in small doses. Her mother has been driving her crazy with questions. Sakura had enough of a hard time as it was talking about what exactly she did all semester besides studying and working while avoiding any subject relating to Kakashi. Christmas probably wasn't going to be fun tomorrow. Every other year her mother's sisters would come down with their families. They would take up the entire house, including her bedroom. Last time one of their children thought it would be funny to put crudely drawn penises all over the walls. Guess who had to scrub that off? Sakura sighed. They really had no discipline and she would be expected to look after them most of the time while she was here. Such a pain. Sakura's phone buzzed in her hand. Kakashi wrote that he was outside.

"Okay! Be back later," she muttered quickly pushing her chair back fast making a loud scruff sound.

"Sakura," her mother began to say still wanting to know who this person was she was meeting up with.

Before her mother had a chance to get up to snoop outside the window Sakura was already at the front door fumbling it open quickly and closing it behind her. She ran like her life depended on it into the soft flurries of snow as her steps crunched down throughout the front yard. Glancing quickly she saw Kakashi's car parked just one house away, which she specifically asked for. He wasn't very fond of the idea trying to avoid her mother, but Sakura assured it was the best thing for now. She trotted down the sidewalk making sure to avoid any ice before she pulled open the passenger door. She plopped down inside the warm car. Sakura let out a sigh of relief and rubbed her cold hands together briefly before she placed them up to the heater vent on the dashboard.

Kakashi chucked and said, "Okay... You kind of looked like an escaped convict running like that here."

"I am," she replied while eying him seriously with her green eyes.

"Somehow I almost believe you."

Sakura pouted at that remark as he leaned in quickly while pulling a blue scarf that was wrapped around his neck and face to kiss her chilly lips.

"How've you been, Rudolph?" He asked as he pulled away to tap the tip of her cold red nose. She flinched.

"Did…you just call me a reindeer name?"

"Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" He asked teasingly as he tapped her cold nose again. She glared.

"What kind of sleigh?" Sakura shot back in a seductive voice with a raised brow.

Kakashi hid a smirk and tried to look like he was disturbed, "You're so perverted Sakura. Your mind is always in the gutter. Honestly, I just don't know how our relationship works."

He let out a fake disappointed sigh as he shook his head with a tsk.

"Says someone who reads porn in public," she replied.

Kakashi held his head high and argued, "Its romance."

"It's smut."

"Romance."

"Smut."

"Romance."

"I've read it. It's smut."

"It's romanc –wait wait. Did you say you've read it?"

Now he really did look surprised as he tried to read her face. Suddenly it all made sense. His books had corrupted her. He was half worried it was just his him (though it was most likely the case). Either way it was a small victory in gaining her appreciation for his literature.

"By read, I meant a paragraph."

"Oh," he said with disappointment.

"Which one?"

"I'm not going to tell you. You'll just recite the whole damn thing against my will," Sakura replied with a playful glare.

"I would never do that."

"Uh-huh."

Kakashi smiled at her as she returned it at their inside joke. Shifting his car finally into gear he pulled out into the street to head down towards the center of town.

"So really, how've you been holding up?" he asked again. It had only been a little over a two weeks since he had seen her in person, but he never realized exactly how much he would miss her. It was the kind of feelings like that he was pretty sure some love struck teenage boy would be experiencing. At first he really couldn't believe how he could feel that way about anyone. Then he finally just accepted it. He realized this is was happiness was. It was still very foreign to him, but slowly he was learning to enjoy the fact the he could be happy. It was just something that he had barely ever experienced before in his life.

They had been in constant contact one way or another before the semester finally came to a close. You would think you would get tired of seeing the same person every other day, yet it was the exact opposite for him. There was always something new he might learn about her that would make him smile. How not only when she bit her bottom lip when she was nervous, but also when she was just thinking to herself or how those same lips would part against his easily if he tilted his head just so when he kissed her. The closer January was coming, the more he was secretly a bit excited to have her move in with him. He still couldn't quite grasp how she had changed him so much. He was perfectly fine just having a quiet life alone forever as far as he cared. Now it didn't seem possible.

"I might kill myself," she finally replied sullenly.

"And how long have you had these suicidal tendencies?"

"For the entire time I've been here."

"It can't be that bad…"

"It is. You know what I did yesterday?"

"Read Icha Icha?" he asked jokingly. The day she would do that and admit it is probably the day pigs might fly.

"No."

"Danced in your underwear outside?"

"…"

"Okay, what?" he finally asked.

"Nothing."

"…Okay."

"You don't understand. Talking with my mother… for a whole day….which has been like that almost every day… with nothing to do..."

"Oh… Now I have sympathy for you. You know what I did?"

"What?"

"Nothing but missing you greatly," he said sweetly.

"And I missed you too, Mr. Cheese," she said while nudging his shoulder.

"Which I'm glad you decided to visit town for a few days," she added with a smile.

"It's not like I have anything else to do."

This was certainly true. He never did anything for the holidays. Unless avoiding daylight as he hid inside his house like some bear going into to hibernation was considered doing something. His friends would invite him over to stay for the holidays, but he always felt like a bother. He wasn't apart of their families and he didn't want the pity that he was usually alone. He almost decided against coming to see Sakura to leave her be with her family, but from the sounds of it when she talked with him over the phone she was going to be pretty miserable…and what would be the harm in spending time with each other? Besides having to avoid her mother like Sakura wished to do for now… which made him feel a little uncomfortable… but if he thought of it like a game it didn't seem so bad... He realized what a terrible thought that was.

His eyes glanced around familiar buildings as they drove closer to their destination. Their hometown was nothing like Tokyo in a lot of ways. There were open spaces, fields and trees as far as the eye could see in the distance; however, it had its fair share of suburbs and decent sized businesses spread throughout. It was nice here and rather relaxing. There wasn't the constant rush of traffic and people everywhere. He probably missed that the most though he enjoyed the change of scenery from moving.

Shortly he pulled into an open parking space which the lot itself was already filled with a fair amount of parked cars. There was always a Lights Festival every year during the week of Christmas. It seemed to get bigger and more popular each year. The entire central park and surrounding areas close by would be completely decorated in white lights. There were a few carnival rides they would set up as well as plenty of local vendor shops ranging from food to various knick knacks which were mostly lined up along the closed main street. Usually he would check it out each year when he lived here. You'd never know what interesting things you might find.

Kakashi readjusted his scarf in lieu of a mask before exiting and locking the car. He made damn sure he had his keys this time. He patted them in his pocket just to be extra sure. He walked to the front of the car and held out a fingerless gloved hand for Sakura to join his. She took it and held it firmly while giving him a small tug pulling him up to the sidewalk. Sakura adjusted her knit cap as they walked to avoid the sparse flurries of snow falling into her eyes.

As they entered the park they passed under one of the metal gated archways which were wrapped in white lights. Kakashi pulled her back from going any further.

"Can't waste opportunities," he said.

Sakura stared at him with a puzzled look before noticing there was several mistletoes tide up on the very top of the archway.

"Oh," she replied hiding a blush.

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her briefly dipping his scarf barely enough to do so before pulling it up again. She smiled bashfully before pulling his hand into walking along the sidewalk once more.

"Hum, what to do first..." she began to say to herself as her eyes searched the distance. There were so many attractions she wasn't sure where to even begin.

"Just so you know… I don't do rides," Kakashi spoke up.

"Awe... come on," she replied with a pout.

"No."

"Why not?"

"I just don't."

"Because you're scared?"

"No..." he lied. He wasn't sure what it was about them, but carnival rides just seemed… like a death trap waiting to happen. Always creaky…and rusty…and the smell of vomit was probably somewhere plastered in the seats. That couldn't be even remotely fun.

"Then why…?"

"…"

"Just come on at least one ride with me. Please?" she asked while snuggling his arm.

"No."

"Pretty please?"

"No."

"Pretty pretty please?"

"No."

"Pretty, pretty, pretty please?" she tried to look up at him with sad green eyes but he was keeping a stoic face looking forward.

"No."

"Pretty please with a cherry on top?"

"No."

"Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top?"

"No."

"Pretty please with chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top?"

"No."

"Pretty please with nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top?"

"No," Kakashi replied with a hidden smile.

"..."

Sakura sighed defeated.

"…Unless the nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and cherry on top is all over you…and nothing else," he said probably a little too happily imagining that.

"…"

-smack-

She gave him a good hit to the side of his bicep.

"What? If you do that then I'll be more than happy to go on a ride with you. I'll ride you all day long."

-smack-

"I mean ride on top of you."

-smack-

"I mean ride with you…"

"…I hate you," she muttered.

"I thought we had gotten past that finally. Don't you love me yet?"

"Nope," she replied with a frown.

"And if I go on one ride with you…of my choice… will you stop hating me?"

Her eyes looked up hopefully, "Yes."

"Fine then…"

"Yay!" she exclaimed with a slight hop. She began to tug him faster down the sidewalk sidestepping around other couples and families.

"Ugh…"

Kakashi tried to think of ways he could take it back. She seemed a bit too happy about it though. He sighed. It was pretty unlikely anything would happen… he just needed to bite the bullet and get over his unfounded fear about carnival rides. He was going to make sure he picked the slowest…most safest looking one though.

"What about that one?" she asked while pointing.

The ride looked like a ship that would swing back and forth until ultimately flipping over.

"Hell no," he spat.

"What about…that one?" she asked while pointing at one that seemed to spin in circles while victims…er….people were strapped inside.

"Hell to the no."

Sakura made a sad face as they continued to walk hand in hand. She pouted at his responses as he was saying no to basically everything. Her thoughts faded away looking at all the various stands they were passing by. As the fog of her breath would rise into the night sky, she admired how beautiful the stars looked for a moment before squeezing into Kakashi's arm more tightly. She felt so happy to be here with him.

"SAKURAAAAAAAAAAA-CHANNNNNN!"

"God, why?" Kakashi muttered his under his breath already knowing that ear pinching voice. He felt Sakura being tugged away from his arm. He sighed and turned around to see Naruto spinning Sakura in dizzying circles.

"Hello, Naruto," she said blinking back the white lights that was spinning around in her head when he finally stopped.

"I can't believe you're here! How awesome! Hey Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto said a bit too loudly.

"Hello…Naruto."

Naruto seemed to always find them no matter what they did. Even in Tokyo. He tried his best to avoid Naruto's idea of joining him and Sakura for lunch once a week, but no matter where he went Naruto would always find him or Sakura and drag himself along. He wasn't a bad kid. Just annoying. Most of the time.

A girl trotted up behind Naruto as she panted like she must had been running. She pulled back her fallen long hair before smiling unsurely at them while looking at the ground.

"N-Naruto-kun…"

"Oh! Hey, this is Hyuga Hinata," Naruto spoke giving her a pat on the shoulder making her blush.

"H-hello… I remember you…b-both from school…um…Sakura-chan and….um…Kakashi-s-sensei…" Hinata stuttered as she bowed briefly.

"They're together!" Naruto said pointing at them both back and forth with one hand rather rudely like they were spectacles. Hinata only managed to blush adverting her eyes in response managing an, "O-oh."

"Hello, yes I remember you from my old class," Kakashi said politely.

"We were in a lot of classes together. How are you, Hinata? Do you still live here in town?" Sakura asked with a warm smile.

"Oh, I've been taking classes here at the community college, but I was thinking of transferring to T-Tokyo."

"I keep telling her how great it is. She's afraid of moving," Naruto piped up.

"It's actually quite nice. I'd recommend it… and you know… you could see Naruto probably everyday again," Sakura said.

Hinata blushed and said, "I-I wouldn't want to bother him or anything…"

"Aren't you two…together?"

Her blush deepened probably two shades of red and began to tap her two index fingers together while staring at the ground, "N-n-no… just…we just here as friends…"

"Ah…I see."

Sakura knew how much of a gigantic crush she had on Naruto for as long as she can remember. He had to have known by now…right? Sakura stared at his goofy grin. He was probably too much of an idiot to realize it. She should probably just outright tell him and save Hinata some agonizing trouble. She wondered how they even managed to come to the park together.

"We were heading to the ferris wheel. You guys want to come?" Naruto asked.

Sakura looked up at Kakashi hopefully. He sighed inwardly. That was probably the slowest, safest ride here. He didn't want to go with Naruto though… he felt a nudge in his chest from Sakura as he was taking too long to answer.

"Um…sure… Why not?"

Sakura clapped happily. Finally. They were going to least go on something together. She didn't mind Naruto and Hinata coming, but first she needed to put things in motion for Hinata. As they all began to walk towards the large ferris wheel that was by the river not too far away, Sakura pulled Naruto aside.

She whispered in his ear, "You know Hinata likes you, right?"

"W-what?" he blurted with a blush.

Sakura sighed. God he was stupid. She glanced at Kakashi as he had already pulled out an Icha Icha book to distract himself. She let go of Naruto and walked to Hinata who was trailing behind everyone staring at the ground awkwardly.

"Hey, Hinata-chan… You should go walk next to Naruto…"

"O-oh…um…."

"Trust me."

Sakura began to push her towards Naruto until she was finally side by side with him. They both were blushing. It was so adorable to Sakura. She smiled at her quick handy work before settling beside Kakashi as he flipped a page.

"Interesting," he said.

"I know… They are so clueless…"

Kakashi pointed to a page in his book. "In this page here it talks about how this character named Sayo offers herself as dessert to her lover covering herself with nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry on top with nothing else on. Are you sure you don't read Icha Icha?"

"You're a damn liar. It doesn't say that," Sakura said with another light smack to his arm.

"It does."

"No… Not possible."

"It does. You don't need to hide that you read it from me. I find it really kinky…"

"I don't read your smut!" Sakura yelled getting a few stares from not only the people around them but a glance from Naruto and Hinata.

"I would never lie to you. It says it right here," he replied while tapping a page. He hovered it front of her.

"I don't want to look, shoo," she said while flying a hand to push the book out of her sight.

"Because you know I'm right?"

"No, I don't believe you."

"Then look."

"No."

"Look."

"No…"

"If I'm wrong I'll go on any other ride with you tonight no matter which one you choose, but if I'm right and not lying to you I fully expect you to reenact this whole page just for me."

"…"

He couldn't be serious and there was no damn way it could have possibly listed out exactly what she said earlier. She glanced at his happy grinning eyes. He was bluffing and he was going to pay for it. She'll make him ride every damn thing here with her.

"Give it to me," she said with an outstretched hand.

Kakashi happily did so making sure to point exactly where she needed to read. She sighed as she glanced between the book and what was in front of her making sure she didn't hit anyone as she read. She had no idea how he could walk and read so easily.

'He stood in the doorway letting his eyes readjust to the dim candlelit room. The house seemed so quiet except for the creek of the floorboards with each step he took. Deep red petals were scattered into a trail which led into the dining room. What was going on? His wife was still away. Did she come back early? He followed the trail slowly until he reached a brightly lit dinner table. In the center was his mistress… the very same one who had stolen his heart merely by the look of her brown eyes. She looked up at him sweetly from the table arching her back. She was completely nude. Except that she was covered with nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a single cherry on top…right on top of each of her breasts and clean shaven…'

"OH MY GOD!" Sakura yelled hysterically while she slammed his book into the snowy ground as if it had burned her hand. More stares glanced their way. Naruto actually looked worried for a moment before turning around figuring he should stay out of it.

"Hey! That's a special edition one," Kakashi said as he picked it up and wiped it off like it was a precious piece of gold. He tried to frown but the panic in Sakura's eyes was so damn hilarious.

"So… what night did you want to reenact that?" he asked with a smile. He said it about as nonchalantly as if he was ordering a pizza.

Sakura folded her arms as kept looking forward with a blush. She said nothing and kept walking stomping into the ground.

"Well…?"

"…"

"I'll let you think about it for now," he said with a soft reassuring hug around her shoulders.

Sakura tried her best to ignore looking at him the whole time until they had to wait in line at the ferris wheel. Every time he tried to say something to her she should look away into the distance. He sighed. At least Naruto's constant chattering was filling in the awkward silence.

"Oh, hey guys let's have ramen after this! My favorite ramen shop called Ichiraku is here!" he said with an excited fist pump.

"S-sure Naruto-kun!" Hinata said happily.

"Sure," replied Sakura.

Kakashi simply sighed. He was so sick of ramen for the past month. It was all Naruto would ever want when he had lunch with them. Least he would never make the mistake of ever being forced to buy for him again.

Finally it was their turn. Naruto offered to let them go into the first carriage. Sakura mumbled as Kakashi pulled her along inside wanting to get it over with fast as possible. They sat pretty snugly next to each other as they were slowly going up to have the rest of the carriages filled with people before it would fully start circling.

"Sakura…" Kakashi said with a sigh that fogged into in the cold night air.

"Hum…?" she replied still not looking at him.

"You don't really have to do it…You know me well enough to know that, right?"

Kakashi held an arm around her bringing her close into his chest. He hoped she really wasn't mad…

"Yes well… I don't like being wrong for one thing…and I still can't believe that was in your book. How do read that in public?"

He shrugged.

"I'm just unfazed by it I suppose. You on the other hand…"

"What about me?" she glared.

"So innocent. It's always cute."

"I…I am not."

"To some degree, but trust me. You pretty much are."

"No… I'm not."

"You don't have the faintest idea of the things I could do to you."

"…"

Sakura seemed to turn red.

"See? You're blushing."

"N-no I'm not. It's cold."

"You're blushing."

"I-I'm not."

"Right…There there. Just enjoy the scenery," Kakashi said with a pat on her shoulder while they slowly were being pulled into the very top of the ferris wheel. It actually did look quiet beautiful. The moon was full and bright as it would show itself on and off through passing clouds. It reflected off the river's streaming water below them. You could see the vast amount of speckled amber street lights mixed into several of hundreds of houses in all directions that were mostly decorated in all sorts of combinations of flickering red, green, blue and white Christmas lights.

"Oh! Quick take a picture with me before we pass the top."

"I don't do pictures."

"Please… Just for me?"

He sighed. "Fine…"

Before he could say anything else she had already brought out her phone from her purse. She tapped it a few times to get it into camera mode and pulled him closer to her before snapping a picture. She turned the phone to take a look. Kakashi looked completely crossed eyed.

"Damn it Kakashi, take a nice one."

"Fine…"

She pulled him closer again and snapped another picture one more time. She turned it and sighed. He had managed to make one eye look in one direction and the other in the complete opposite direction. He held back a laugh as he looked at it.

"I really hate you," she muttered.

"I'll take a real one. I promise. One more…"

"Ugh…"

For the third time she pulled him close before giving him a warning glare. She took one last picture and looked at it hoping it actually looked normal. Thankfully it did. She wouldn't have to throw him off this damn ferris wheel.

"Thank you…" she finally said pleased at the picture of them. She placed the phone back in her purse. She sighed. She was really annoyed at his antics so far. Although perhaps she was more embarrassed and irked about his book earlier. She really did hate to lose. Maybe also it was because they could clearly hear Naruto chattering away at Hinata about the different kinds of ramen Ichiraku had. Kind of ruining any notion of any possible romance at all…

"So Kakashi…" Sakura began to say as she watched their surroundings dip higher as the ferris wheel turned.

"Hum?"

"What kind of things would you do to me?"

"W-what?" his voice kind of cracked. He cleared his voice trying to play it off.

"Well, you said I don't have the faintest idea. So why don't you enlighten me?"

"Uh…"

He didn't expect her to say that. She knew it as she smiled to herself as he struggled what to say.

"Well? Or are you all talk, no action?"

"…"

Kakashi could not believe what he was hearing. He startled to chuckle, "You are… really asking for it, aren't you?"

"Well? What do you want to do to me?"

"Right now…well…"

He leaned over pulling his scarf down and whispered into her ear, "I want to do this…"

Licking a tongue into her ear he began to circle his tongue before softly sucking on the bottom of her ear lobe.

"Mmm, that's nice," she muttered while leaning into him.

He worked his way down her neck stopping for a moment as they circled the bottom again before rising back up to the top. He continued his teasing kisses like that until the ride had begun to let people out for the next people in line. They were almost at the top again before they would have to come down.

"And then this…"

Slipping a hand beneath the inner lining of her open coat with his cold fingers they found their way to the bottom of her bare stomach beneath her shirt. She shuddered at his icy hand at first before it quickly warmed up as he rubbed along her stomach going lower and lower into her to pants. He unbuttoned the top of her jeans.

"Kakashi…"

"You wanted to know…"

Kakashi unzipped her pants slowly as he slid his hand beneath her cotton panties. He knew didn't have much time until they were viewable by people again as they were sitting at the top now. This was perhaps more thrilling than he would have liked to admit. He entered a finger into the top her sensitive spot.

"Already wet?" he whispered.

"Mmm," was all she managed to say. Her eyes were half closed as she slid a hand against the groin of his pants. She almost couldn't bear it while he began rubbing teasingly against her in circles. Before she had time to contemplate what was happening her pants were already zipped and buttoned again.

"Kakashi…" she moaned disappointedly.

"Sorry ma'am, but your time is up. Thanks for flying Kakashi Airlines," he smirked at his joke.

Sakura seemed too out of it to even register what he had had just said. He had to admit he was a little sad how short it was as well. Their carriage had lowered into the crowd. By the time they were let out Sakura had shakily stepped down with wobbly knees. Kakashi seemed pretty pleased at himself. Not only that, but when she glanced back at him he purposely began to lick his fingers that he had touched her with. The look on her face. Priceless.

"So, you all set for some ramen?" Naruto asked coming up behind them excitedly as they were finally let out as well.

"Um… No… Actually I'm not that hungry and um… We need to go… see…do… something… So…see you both a bit later!" Sakura said quickly before pulling Kakashi without a word into the crowd.

Naruto and a blushed Hinata looked at each other for a moment before Naruto shrugged. He took Hinata's hand as they went off to find his beloved ramen.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: Embracing Love

Sakura continued her pull of a very amused Kakashi behind her as they headed farther and farther away from the crowds. She had no idea where she was going but that fact didn't stop her from looking like she knew where she was going. Trying not to lose her confidence she finally came to a normal walking speed once they were near the entrance of the decorated white lit park.

"So… where are we headed?" Kakashi asked with a hidden grin.

"I have no idea. It's looking like this way," she replied honestly.

"And…what exactly were you planning on doing once we get to wherever that way is?"

She hadn't really given it that much thought of what…well a few things did cross her mind, but all she knew right now is that she was in desperate need to be touched.

"Um…well…things," she replied lamely.

"What kind of things?"

"…"

Kakashi chuckled from her silence making her feel slightly embarrassed. Talking about those kinds of details simply made her feel awkwardly shy. Sometimes she felt like she was trying to play like she was a grown up in their relationship rather than be one when it came to being intimate. She did try her best to take things a step further but usually Kakashi would lead in how far they actually would go. He always seemed like he was afraid to go too far sometimes. His little stunt on the ferris wheel was certainly something new. Maybe it was just that she had to prove to him that she was ready for the next level?

At that thought she suddenly stopped in mid-step making him run into her back. Releasing his hand for a moment she quickly turned around on the heel of her boot and pulled him by the jacket off the path of the sidewalk.

"S-Sakura," he laughed at her surprising actions. She placed two hands firmly on his chest then pushed him abruptly against a tree. He grinned for a moment wondering what she would do next.

"This kind of thing," she said with a new founded confidence as she tugged on his scarf crashing her lips into his.

He responded back to her forceful kisses pulling in her body closer to his. If he wasn't already turned on from earlier, this was perhaps even more exciting by her eagerness. He kissed down her cold flushed cheek slowly pulling down her scarf to nip at her warm neck. The fallen flurries that swirled around them began to fall heavily making a light patter sound as it fell into the twisted tree branches above them. Kakashi's hair began to dampen as snow would catch into his silvery strands. Sakura didn't seem to mind as she combed her fingers into his hair. She inhaled a sharp breath feeling his fingertips run along her back as cold air slipped in beneath her shirt almost making her shudder.

Kakashi kissed farther past her neck parting back her jacket slightly to continue down over her chest. Playfully he bit at her hidden nipple through her sweater and with one hand tucked beneath her shirt began to tease her other hardened nipple slipping her bra back with his thumb. Sakura grunted at the feeling before weaving her fingers into the belt loops of his pants. She pulled his hips closer into hers enjoying the pressure between them. Kakashi's lips found hers again exploring the passionate circles of her tongue mingling with his.

Easily he unbuttoned the top of her jeans and slid a hand slowly pulling back the teeth of her zipper to touch right above her warm spot over her panties. An approving soft moan erupted from her throat feeling his fingers rub gently back and forth. Wanting to feel him with her own hands she slowly unzipped his jeans revealing a very tight bundle very much needing some attention. She fumbled with his top button having to use two hands to accomplish the task before stroking her fingers along his length inside the opening of his boxers. She slowly began to match his pace.

"K-kakashi," she whispered as her breath hitched feeling him fully immerse his fingers into the wet sliver of her desire beneath her panties. His slow pacing in strokes was almost maddening to her. She picked up the speed of her hand around him hoping he would go faster.

"A-ah," she groaned feeling his middle finger penetrating past her barrier. He began softly pumping his hand slipping in and out effortlessly. He continued for a moment before adding another finger as he went along stroking keeping pressure at the top of her bundled nerves with the bottom palm of his hand.

Sakura's breaths staggered as his pace turned to quick and deep strokes making her knees slowly begin to buckle beneath her. Momentarily she had forgotten to keep trying to match his pace with her own hands as she leaned against his chest for support of the overwhelming feeling about to tip over her. Sakura felt sweat beginning to bead down her back as she could hear people walking by on the sidewalk just a few feet away on the other side of the tree.

"Mmfph," she whimpered loudly with her eyes clutched tightly shut at the beginnings of her much needed release. Unable to stand any longer she held into his jacket desperately with both hands.

"Shh…" he whispered though he very much enjoyed her moans. Last thing he wanted was to call any attention to them from any of the random strangers passing by. He pulled her body slightly more turned into the tree before another desperate moan broke through the chilled air. She muffled herself in his jacket as a wonderful relief wash over her. Catching her breath she remembered his need again slipping a hand between them to find him once more. A thought that had been sitting in the back of her mind made her heart begin to flutter faster.

"Ka…Kakashi…I…I…" she began to say afraid to finish her sentence.

"Baby, tell me," he grunted at her warm hand fully stroking him.

"I…I want you…"

His half closed eyes opened to see a blush on her face staring back at him looking completely embarrassed. Did she really mean what he thought she meant…?

"P-Please…Kakashi. I…I want to…"

She didn't want to finish her stammered sentence. It was hard enough just trying to utter out those small words trying to express… that she felt she was ready to take on the next step in their relationship. Her heart was beating even more fiercely than it had just moments ago. She felt more blood rush to her face as he stopped her hands and pulled her by the waist into his chest.

"We… we can't," Kakashi finally said as he leaned against the tree with his back.

"Why not…?"

"Several reasons…"

"You don't want me…then?" she asked with an obvious hurt in the back of her voice.

"No, I very much do. More than you know."

She felt a little better at that statement. Pulling her arms around him she held him tighter and asked, "Then…why not?"

"This isn't the ideal place for your first time…and I don't have protection with me…"

"…And I just don't know if you're really ready…" he added trying to catch his breath.

"I am… I've been thinking about it a lot… and I'd rather be with nobody else but you. So, I don't see why we can't. I want to…We could make…um… Christmas Eve special…"

Silence fell between them for a moment. All that could be heard were the faded icy steps crunching into the snow in the distance. Sakura buried her face into his chest wondering why this was so hard to talk about. She was certain. She was very sure. She loved him... and wanted to express it in the most intimate way possible.

"If you're really sure…" he said slowly rather hesitantly.

"I am."

Kakashi felt a mix of relief and happiness hearing the stern affirmation in her voice. He was more than glad, but still felt unsure if it was really the right thing or not. Much like every bit of their relationship has been. He had always been afraid he was wrong. Yet each time she seemed to prove to him otherwise and they were both happier for it. He did decide some time ago to go with his heart…and his heart very much wanted her. Feeling his sweat turn cold he began to readjust himself back in his pants.

"I… didn't get a chance…" Sakura said a little embarrassed.

"This cold isn't the most ideal for me… and there's always later…"

"O-okay," she replied while involuntarily shuddering from a breeze. He pulled at her hips and refastened her pants. Then he pulled her crooked jacket on straight almost laughing at how disheveled she looked right now. She returned his smile and fixed him briefly as well patting away some snow here and there.

"Well… let's head out before we start freezing to completely to death."

"To where?"

"My hotel," he replied.

Sakura stiffened a bit. Kakashi dusted off some snow from her shoulders before checking one last time if they looked presentable enough. He took her hand and led them down the sidewalk towards where he had parked. It wasn't too far away. Sakura was starting to feel her stomach knotting up with each step. She was ready, wasn't she? She was just a minute ago. It really isn't that big of a deal… Half of her friends had done it before... Though most of them didn't have favorable first time experiences, but most of their first times happened with high school boys. It's not like they knew what they were doing. Of course who does at that age? It was all the more reason for her to wait besides the fact she had never truly fallen for anyone before now.

Ino had shared with her perhaps a little too much detail about what to expect. Part of Sakura was mostly curious and excited but as she shakily entered in the passenger's side of the car was mostly feeling nervous. It was kind of amazing how fast her confidence would just disappear in an instant. She quickly sighed watching her breath rise in the chilly air trying to relieve her nerves before Kakashi entered the driver's side. After he started the car he noticed the uneasy look on her face. He was worried for a moment before deciding she was probably nervous.

Trying to lighten her mood he said, "You look like you're about to take a test."

"Oh god… that makes me feel worse if you say it like that."

"…"

Kakashi sighed before leaning over the seat to cup her blushed cheeks in his hands. He kissed her lips softly and then said, "Sakura, don't be nervous. Trust me."

"I do, but I can't help my nerves."

He thought for a moment. "Does…this help?"

He made a funny face which looked something close to a monkey. It raised a smile at the edge of her lips.

"Humm… Yes. A little bit."

"And this?" he asked with a smile and kissed her softly once more.

"A little bit."

"What about… this?"

Kakashi leaned in almost looking like he was going to kiss her once more before quickly moving his hands to tickle her sides.

"Kakashi!" she laughed slapping his hands back with a fake pout.

"Feel better?"

"Yes," she replied unable to hold back a smile.

"Good so…"

He shifted the car into reverse and backed out from the parking spot. Then shifting it once more he pulled it into the line of cars that were waiting for their turn to exit into the main street.

"Shall we pick up some… nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and cherries?"

"…"

-smack-

Rubbing his bicep he said, "You'll change your mind later…I promise you."

-smack-

Kakashi huffed which prompted Sakura to laugh. He smiled, glad that she was feeling better now. A comfortable silence fell between them as he drove for about fifteen minutes towards the hotel he was staying at. He really hadn't planned on things developing like this when he came, but was glad he actually decided to stay in a decent hotel this time around. He tried to think why he picked it again… and just decided he must have felt more comfortable that side of town having to use to live near the area. Pulling into the circular driveway he stopped in front of the hotel's main doors. Sakura looked at him confused for a moment as he pulled out his wallet from his back pocket. He slid out a key card and handed it to her.

"It's 308 on the third floor."

"Oh, Um…" she blushed.

"I still need to stop by a convenience store real quick… and I really want to shower from all this dirty snow in my hair so… I figure you can go on up ahead and shower too real quickly if you want."

"Oh! Sure. That sounds really good actually. See you in a bit then. Don't get lost…or lock your keys inside again…"

"I might just get lost finding myself at a grocery store buying those nuts, chocolate sprin–"

-smack-

"So violent."

"Love taps."

"Pff… taps… more like bone crunching hits."

He held her wrists to prevent most likely a real bone crunching hit and kissed her lips making her melt into him. Satisfied for now she exited the car and waved a short goodbye before slowly making her way inside the lobby of the hotel. She fiddled with card in her hands starting to feel nervous again. Glancing at the receptionist as she passed by the front she made a polite smile hoping they wouldn't ask her anything as she searched the floor for an elevator.

"Need help miss?"

Sakura inwardly sighed.

"Nope! I'm good thanks," she replied holding up the key card pretending like she actually was staying here.

Thankfully nothing more was said as she darted towards the elevator area. The place actually sounded very quiet except for the metal creak of the elevator that dropped down to her level on the first floor. Most people were probably spending their time home with families. Sakura felt a little guilty not being home on Christmas Eve… which was the first time ever… but she had been here for weeks now helping with her mother with plenty of things for the family that were coming over tomorrow. She sighed not looking forward to it. Instead of worrying of that she decided she'll enjoy every bit of time she had with Kakashi tonight and forget about it until she had to leave later. Glancing at the clock on her phone she'd least probably need to get back in four hours. It was still a long time still. The elevator dinged at its arrival to the floor. Sakura walked along the ornate plush green rug that lined the hallways and searched for his room. Once she had found it she slipped the card inside the slot and opened the door. After finding the light switch her eyes adjusted. It was a decent looking western styled room. It wasn't too big but not too small either.

Closing the door behind her she placed the key on a desk and took off her jacket. She felt a little excited now but nervousness was creeping up on her again. Deciding it probably would only be ten minutes or so until he was coming up she pulled off her sweater and undid her boots. Jumping up and down she quickly pulled off her jeans and placed her clothes in one of the leather chairs that was seated in a corner. Turning on the shower she slipped off her underwear wondering if she should be wearing anything at all when he came back or… her nerves started to eat away at her again as she clicked the bathroom door shut.


Kakashi was pretty sure that some kind of all knowing power watching from the heavens really hated him. Everything was fine after he had left the store. Then he heard an all too familiar voice slur his name in a shout, "Kkkkaaaaakassssshiiiiiii!"

He was walking back to his car only to run into Genma of all people. A very drunk Genma who was held up by an equally drunk Guy. Tenzo held them both up with an annoyed look on his face.

"Yo," Kakashi replied.

"What are you doing in town?" asked Tenzo blinking back the surprised look on his face.

"Visiting for a few days."

"You should have called me up to come out with us. A lot of the guys are still at the bar actually if you want to visit. I was just bringing these two home early though… Guy seems to make Genma his contest partner since you aren't around. They both end up like drunken idiots really fast."

"Maybe another night."

"Youu width ur gurfiend?" Genma mumbled.

"Mmhum."

"Haruno Sakura..?" Tenzo asked.

Kakashi looked surprised at him for a moment. "How'd you know that?"

"Genma likes to talk when he's drunk…"

"That's… great."

Now the rumor mill would probably be in full effect in the next few days in town. Then her mother will defiantly find out no matter what. That was going to be fun. His eyes turned to glare Genma who was beginning to nod off. Guy was actually starting to snore.

"Yeah… Though a lot of people thought he was joking at first…"

"Well, whatever. I can't say I care what people think. So let's just drop it there."

"Oh, sure..."

"Let go of Guy for second. I want to see if he still does it."

"Do what?"

"You'll see…"

Tenzo released Guy's shoulder briefly finding him standing on his own, but swaying side to side slightly. Kakashi pulled off one of his gloves and threw it Guy which was immediately caught in his hand without even opening his eyes.

"You know two years ago he did the same thing except we made a game of how many things he would hold on to at once."

"How far did you get?"

"Twenty two, but there were some big things like a lamp he was holding," Kakashi replied as he quickly tugged back his glove from Guy's grip.

"Ha, where was I?" Tenzo asked with a laugh.

"I think you were out of town that weekend. Oh, so are you driving them home?"

"Yeah."

"I can take Genma home. It's on my way."

"Oh… where are you staying?"

"Don't worry about it," Kakashi said with an all too familiar eye crinkle of a smile.

"I'll take your word for it…" Tenzo replied skeptically. He motioned for Kakashi to take Genma.

Kakashi held him up and waved goodbye to Tenzo using Genma's limp hand. He watched him drive away with Guy and disappear around the corner block. Patting his bestest friend ever in the world on the shoulder he gauged how drunk Genma really was. His eyes were glossy with a reddening face and obviously he wasn't all that alert anymore. Now was the time for some quick sweet sweet revenge. What to do…? He couldn't keep Sakura waiting. He certainly didn't want to wait any longer either. Pulling out is phone he decided the best thing he could do for now was to make him pay. Literally.

"Hello… Yes I'd like a cab pick up on um…" Kakashi squinted his eyes at the street sign before giving their location. They said it would only take a couple minutes since someone was already in the area. Still with a leaning Genma on his shoulder he pulled out Genma's wallet from his back pocket and shuffled through his cash. He didn't have very much, but that wasn't going to be a problem. Genma's head suddenly shot up.

"Kaaaaasssssshiiiiiiiii…."

"Yes…Genma?"

"I wuvu bro."

"…That's nice."

His head fell back down again. Kakashi sighed in relief seeing the cab come down the street. He did a wave and slowly placed Genma inside.

"Where to?" the driver asked.

"I won't be coming, but just drop him off at the bus station in Matsue."

"That's five hours away…"

"It's no problem."

Kakashi handed him a card and said, "Just put it on that."

"Alright."

The driver swiped it at the reader and handed it back to Kakashi. He stuffed it back inside Genma's wallet and placed it inside Genma's jacket pocket.

"Farewell, good good friend of mine," he said with a smile. The only response was some incoherent mumbling before he fell back asleep. After closing the door Kakashi walked to his car wondering how long it would take his dear friend to realize he was in some random town. Then the moment Genma would see his bank statement. What Kakashi wouldn't give to see that.


Sakura finished drying her hair and ran her fingers through it sorting out her pink strands in the bathroom mirror. She kept fidgeting with it before deciding after the fiftieth time parting her hair in a different way it wasn't going to look anymore different than usual. Her eyes glanced to what she was wearing which for now was only a cotton terry robe. Should she put back on her regular clothes? Should she put on her underwear? It was just going to come off anyway wasn't it…? She paled at that thought. At a loss of what to do she remained in the robe for now and began to pace back and forth in the main room. The sound of a door shutting from outside in the hallway made her jump making her heart hammer inside her chest.

She sighed.

This was crazy. These stupid nerves. They were going to make her insane. She inhaled a deep breath.

"Chill out," she muttered to herself.

Figuring it would be best to occupy herself with something she began to explore the room a bit. It had all the amenities any usual hotel would. A little closet for clothes, a couple of dresser drawers, TV, coffee pot maker, ironing board and a few furniture pieces here and there. Pulling out one of the drawers there sat two Icha Icha books. She wondered if there was ever a day he didn't have one in his back pocket. She smiled at seeing the book she gave him and picked it up closing the drawer. Shifting through the pages she unfortunately remembered the part she read earlier in that other horrible book. She really had no idea how he read these all the time or why. How ridiculous did the sex scenes in these books get anyway? She didn't care to know…or so she told herself but she began flipping through the pages trying to find a scene. This particular one she was reading… her cheeks flushed at the imagery. Was a position like that even possible in a cramped compartment…? Her cheeks further burned. She wondered to herself what it would be like doing something like that in an airplane. As she kept reading she could feel herself becoming... rather aroused. She wasn't sure if she hated herself or not for it. Did that mean she liked it or that she was she becoming a pervert like Kakashi? She refused to admit either one as she kept reading. She was about to flip to the beginning of the book before she heard the door unlock. Sakura jumped on the bed sitting on the book just a second before he entered. She smiled up at him blushing hoping she didn't look like she was hiding anything.

Kakashi eyed her for a moment before dropping his stuff on the counter.

"Hum… you feeling alright?" he asked pulling off a glove and touching the top of her forehead. She looked so red.

"Mm…yep!" Sakura replied perhaps a little too happily.

"I see…"

He pulled off his scarf revealing his face. Dropping it to the floor he leaned towards her slowly pushing her back against the bed. Her heart pumped wondering if they were already starting so soon. Wasn't he going to take a shower first? He smiled and kissed her lips and tracing his hands down her sides until he reached her butt.

His fingers dipped further around her rump before quickly saying, "Ah ha!" while he pulled out the book she was sitting on.

"See, I knew you had to have been reading them. Look, I'll let you borrow it. You don't have to hide it."

"I-I'm not!"

"How did it get under your butt exactly?"

"I sat on it," she replied dully.

"Yes, but I didn't put it there. It was over there," he said while pointing to the drawer.

"I was…."

"Was…?"

"Tidying your drawers…"

"…"

Kakashi laughed and gave her a kiss before placing the book on the top of her face as he got up.

"You should read page 243."

Sakura mumbled something inaudible beneath the book. She heard a chuckle followed by the sound of the bathroom door closing. As the pipes churned within the walls for a moment from the shower turning on she slid the book from her face. She sighed and turned to page 243. Her prediction was it would probably be the dirtiest thing in this entire book.

'The first day he met her he was captured by her smile. The second day it was the way her eyes could sparkle no matter how dim the light. No matter how cold the sky was. The third day was the moment he knew when she finally broke her paralyzed lips to speak He had never met anyone with as much compassion and hope as she did. Even through the people around her made every effort to smash its existence. Her existence. She still had dreams. She still had hope. He knew he wanted to make those dreams a reality. Not because he felt obligated or out of pity. This wasn't even his world, but he had fallen in love with her. No matter the cost, it was something that he could never let go. Love was something that you shouldn't let go.'

She couldn't believe what she was reading. This wasn't page to page smut? Thinking about it now… Had she actually ever read anything besides the sex scenes? Her bottom lip curled. Now she almost felt bad calling him a pervert most of the time. Reading a bit more it was actually rather beautiful… this man's love for this woman. She was a prisoner who was abducted from her family years ago. Now she really wanted to read it.

When Kakashi emerged from the bathroom only wearing boxers he shook a towel into his hair. Noticing her pout he laid the towel on a chair and sat next to her.

"Did you read it?" he asked with a smile.

"I was surprised…"

"It's not all porn. There's actually quite a bit about simply finding love. You asked why I love the books so much… I suppose since I've never found love myself… It's nice to read about it."

"Why haven't you…?"

"I didn't think it existed. Just in books. Not life."

"You still think that way…?"

"Well thankfully… You came into my life… and it took me awhile to admit it to myself… but I do love you. Very much," he said warmly.

Sakura suddenly felt her cheeks heat. She wouldn't have ever imagined him saying that he loved her. It was something that she had always felt though, but knowing his past she was very much surprised at him for telling her. Why did he love though? She would always wonder why he chose her of all the people he could have. Perhaps she would never understand his reasoning in why… but she knew she was incredibly lucky. Especially in that she felt the same way about him.

"And because I do love you… I'd want nothing more but to show you how much I do… but as I said before… We don't have to. I don't care to rush you. We can just hang out until I have to take you home. No matter what… I just enjoy being with you."

Feeling her heart racing again she bit her bottom lip. She was feeling such a blend of emotions taking in what he had said. It was easy to tell when he was sincere about something and he certainly was now. Calming her nerves she faded her gaze to her lap partly afraid to look into his eyes except for a spare moment to say, "I… love you too…It makes me really happy to finally say that to you…and…I… still want to. I'm sure. So…Um… "

Not sure what else to say or do she looked back towards her lap again and began pulling at the fibers of her robe feeling a bit of anxiety. She was pretty sure she must have looked like a red beet right now.

"Turn around," he said while doing a small circle with his index finger.

Sakura's eyes went half wide scared what exactly that meant. He frowned at her uneasiness and pulled her around himself placing his hands on her shoulders. Sitting behind her on the bed now he began to massage her shoulders.

"Your back is so tense it's like a tennis racket," he muttered.

Sakura hit his side behind her blindly with a hand and replied, "I am not…"

"Okay… like a coffee table…"

He dodged her next hit still massaging her shoulders.

"You know you can trust me... Don't be nervous."

"I do trust you…"

"Then you have no reason to worry."

"I just…well…"

"Tell me."

"Well… I don't know what to do… Or what if I'm terrible…Or… I don't know…I feel stupid."

"You're worrying way too much. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax."

Sakura did just that starting to feel slightly better. She truly hated her stupid nerves. Never had she ever gotten like this about anything before. Feeling her shoulders finally feeling more at ease she actually could finally enjoy his massage. His circular motions along her back were deeply molding her firm skin through the robe. Slowly he replaced each knot of worry carefully into pockets of relief.

After a few minutes she was completely feeling like putty in his hands. She felt a string of sweet kisses go along the top of her spine. Pulling her back into his chest he wrapped his arms around her stomach kissing down slowly the nape of her neck.

"Feel relaxed now?" he whispered.

"Yes, thank you," she smiled into his cheek before realizing he was wearing that amazing aftershave she loved so much.

Turning herself around in his arms she pushed him back into the bed and crawled over his chest to inhale the spicy scent against his jaw. Kissing his smooth cheeks she licked the bottom of his chin towards the top of his ear.

"You don't love me. You just love my aftershave," he said sounding half depressed about it, but was smiling.

"Maybe."

She licked her tongue across his neck before lapping his skin into hungry playful kisses. She explored down further with her mouth into massaging circles on top of is broad chest. She moved her legs over his hips to straddle him forgetting for a moment she wasn't wearing anything beneath the robe until she felt a very familiar pressure between her legs.

"Are you not wearing anything under there…?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.

She replied simply once more with a shy smile, "Maybe."

He pulled her down towards him again by the collar of her robe and kissed her making sure to explore every bit of her tongue with his. Slowly he untied the belt of the robe letting it fall open revealing her exposed breasts. He pulled her hips forward to capture a nipple into his mouth and began sucking it generously. She fought back a moan as he sucked hard enough to create a pop from his mouth to switch to her other nipple. Squeezing the other with a free hand he licked around her breast then circling the pink bud around and around with his rough tongue.

His hands slowly edged up to her shoulders pulling back the cotton robe completely letting it drop behind her. Removing it to the floor he pulled her close switching their positions. Trailing hot kisses from her throat to her stomach he went lower and lower exploring her inner thighs with his tongue. She squirmed slightly from feeling ticklish at first before her breath turned sharp feeling a warm tongue slide along the outside of her most intimate folds between her legs.

"K-Kakashi," Sakura stuttered feeling a mix of embarrassment and arousal. She squeezed his shoulders with her knees before having them fall wider from the intense feeling created by his slow deep licks and sucks then trailing his tongue down to her opening. Twisting her fingers into his hair she grunted feeling him enter her with his tongue. He repeated the movement several times before flattening his tongue to stiffly licking upwards towards her bud.

Sakura's moans turned into whimpers as he repeatedly sucked at her spot while flicking his tongue back and forth driving her almost insane. She couldn't help but buck her hips subconsciously trying steady her staggered breaths.

"A-ah, Ka..Kashi," she yelped while gritting her teeth as a release took over her. The intensity was milked out from his continued sucks at her core.

Finally coming back down from her high she squeezed her legs together still feeling the remains of her orgasm as he sat up for moment wiping the edge of his mouth. He pulled her legs apart again and kissed base of her stomach extending a tongue slowly from her belly button making a wet trail up and over her nipples.

Kissing him when he found her lips she licked the strange taste from his mouth and ran her hands down his sculpted abdomen. She glided her hands beneath the band of his boxers to feel his firm butt into the palms of her hands. He swirled his tongue around her neck before feeling the tug of his boxers completely slide down with hesitant hands. She gripped along his backside pulling him closer to feel his arousal pressed against her.

"One last time… Are you sure?" he whispered.

"Yes," she whispered back.

He kissed her before leaving the bed momentary to pull out a small plastic package from where he had placed his stuff earlier. Sakura watched for a moment looking at him upside down before feeling her nerves flare up again as he opened it revealing a condom. Looking away towards the ceiling she took in a deep silent inhale trying to calm herself as she heard a crumple of paper fall into the far end of the counter. After a moment his face broke her gaze of the ceiling. He leaned over to cup her blushed cheeks to sweetly kiss her soft lips. Kneeling into the bed beside her he climbed over her and pressed his chest against hers. He began to kiss her once more trying calm her down as he could feel her heart pounding against his chest.

After a few moments he explored her with wandering hands and tenderly kissed every part her body. A moan escaped from her lips as he glided a hand between her legs to rub against her wet desire. Still sensitive from his earlier handling he inserted a finger into her entrance. He increased the amount slowly pumping his hand while stretching within her in an attempt to make it less painful as possible. Kissing against her chest and moving upwards he pulled out his fingers slowly. He slid his wet hand against her inner thigh making her heart beat faster.

He nibbled at her earlobe before interweaving his other hand into hers.

"Ready?" he asked softly.

She replied with a small single nod unable to find her voice at the moment as she gazed into his eyes. She had never seen them as different as they were now. In a way she felt like she was actually seeing his real soul that was usually hidden. She couldn't help but smile.

"I love you very much Sakura," he whispered.

"I love you too Kakashi," she whispered back before feeling him guiding himself at tip at her entrance. She held in a breath.

"Let me know if it hurts too much... Or if you want to stop."

She nodded briefly feeling him slowly fill her inside. It was more of a strange feeling rather than pain, but there was a slight burn that was beginning form the deeper he went until he completely filled her. It felt like something was tearing inside her. He slowly slid out watching her exhale the breath she had been holding in. He entered her slowly again seeing her wince. He kissed along the edge of her lips hoping to distract her for a moment.

It wasn't until he slowly entered her again did she feel completely fine. Urging him forward she moved her hips back making him slide out slowly before pushing herself into him.

"You feel so amazing," he murmured slowly building up a pace as he rocked his hips.

Closing his eyes for a moment he focused on the warm and tight feeling of her around him. There were so many things to say, but no words could possibly describe the mix of desire and love he felt for this woman before him in this very moment. He really did have no intention of ever admitting love to anyone. Even throughout his past intimate relationships. It was something he would never dare say. Not even as false words. He didn't think it was possible to even find it, but the more he thought about his feelings for Sakura the more obvious it was he was just blinding himself in the simple truth. He was scared in what it could mean admitting to not just her, but himself. The care that he would say he felt for her. It was love. There was an ungrounded fear in the back of his mind that she would disappear from his life once he admitted it. All he had ever known was what heartbreak was like. He lived it almost everyday, until she came into his life. Yet feeling her against him now so intimately... Why should he hold back what he had known all along?

Sakura wrapped her legs around his hips to further pull herself into his penetrating deep thrusts. Her nerves had been replaced with an overwhelming pleasure long ago. The slaps of flesh between thrusts were almost completely drowned out by their soft whispered moans and heavy pants. Her legs had begun to shake trying to hold her grasp around him with her legs. The sweat on their bodies was making it almost impossible to keep holding on, but it felt so amazing she didn't want to let go.

Kakashi began rubbing her core with a hand unsure how much longer he could keep himself from not instantly going off watching her bounce beneath him. It was so incredibly erotic watching her moan his name in desperation. Each of his thrusts were becoming harder and quicker. Her breaths began to shorten before digging her nails into his back from a release that echoed throughout her entire body. He felt his manhood clenched within her.

"Fuck," he whispered shutting his eyes tight from the explosion of his own release. His thrusts slowed into a jerk feeling every bit of him fully escape into the shallow tip of the condom. Pulling out he collapsed beside her trying to remember how to breathe again.

Turning his head towards her his eyes met hers. She briefly smiled before wiping a hand to the top of her sweaty brow and said, "Okay… Why haven't I done this sooner?"

"We should make up for all the wasted days then," Kakashi replied with a wink.

That prompted Sakura to laugh. "I hate to admit it but that actually sounds like a good idea."

"My little Sakura. A true pervert emerges after all."

"And now I seriously want to read your books too… This is just such a depressing day."

"Depressing? Please don't tell me sex with me is depressing."

"Exact opposite, but admitting I'm a pervert like you is depressing," she replied teasingly.

"You'll learn to enjoy my ways. I promise," he said with a grin.

Kakashi leaned over and gave her a long lasting kiss on her tender lips. Getting up he went to the bathroom briefly to clean himself. Sakura laid staring into the ceiling again almost not believing she had just done what she did. She almost felt giddy about it from how happy she was. The images of them together would probably be forever burned into her memory. Her cheeks blushed from simply thinking about it. Staring to feel cold from cool air that was circulating around the room she crawled under the newly pressed sheets. Kakashi returned back still as completely nude as she was. Somehow she didn't feel as shy about it anymore as she watched him hop under the covers with her.

He draped an arm over her stomach and kissed her once more unable to stop a goofy grin finding a way to his lips. He pulled her closer into his chest and closed his eyes feeling her steady heartbeat against him.

"Merry Christmas…I love you," she whispered still finding it strange to say it out loud.

"I love you too. More than you can imagine. Merry Christmas," he replied warmly.

They both smiled before finding themselves a bit too comfortable into each others arms. Sleep had found them both. Neither of them stirred awake until daylight peeked through the curtains the next day.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: Reprimand

Sakura stirred beneath the sheets, feeling a warm body pressed against her back. Snuggling more into the warmth, she inhaled an all too familiar scent which made her more relaxed. She began to fall back asleep until the chirping of birds tugged her consciousness back. The rays of light grew brighter between her eyelashes as she slowly began to open them. Inhaling a sharp gasp, her eyes shot wide open as she bolted upright from the bed.

"Fuck!" she exclaimed.

Turning to her side, she watched Kakashi pull his head deeper into his pillow still in a daze of sleep. "Kakashi," she said in a panicked voice, shaking his shoulder.

"Mfph," he grumbled in response.

Sakura's eyes glanced at the clock on the nightstand beside the bed. Her heart dropped; it was almost noon. "Kakashi!" she said again, a little louder.

"Mnff." He pulled the pillow over his head.

"Get up."

"Mnfsff."

"I'm going to burn your all your Icha Icha books."

He slid the pillow off his face and struggled to open his eyes. "W-what?"

"We fell asleep."

It took a moment for Kakashi to realize what exactly she was talking about. Rubbing his eyes with a hand, he blinked a couple of times. He looked over to see a naked Sakura sitting beside him with a sheet barely covering her breasts, fondly reminding him of last night. Then a thought shot through him. He never took her back home.

Afraid to look at the clock from how bright the room was, he still slowly turned to look at the red digital numbers. "Oh, fuck," he said while pushing the sheets aside to get up.

Sakura slid out of the bed on the other side and turned her back towards him out of embarrassment. She quickly pulled on her clothes that she had neatly folded on a chair from last night. Sitting on the edge of the bed now, she watched Kakashi finish buttoning his shirt after he pulled on a pair of jeans. She started to wonder how much longer she had left to live. There was no doubt in her mind that her mother was going to kill her.

Kakashi sat next to her, smoothing out a wrinkle on her knee before settling his hand there. He could see the worry etched on her face. Squeezing her knee in a comforting way he said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for us to fall asleep last night."

"Me neither, but it's not anyone's fault; I just have no idea how I'm going to explain being gone so long," she said with a sigh.

"I could talk to her."

Sakura glanced into his eyes in surprise. "That might make things worse."

"Well, I didn't tell you last night, but I ran into some friends of mine. One in particular was blabbing about our relationship. So, it's likely she'll hear about it sooner rather than later."

"Oh, that's… great."

"That's what I thought, too."

"My family on my mother's side is probably all at the house now. Might not be a great time or place to talk about us. I'll just… figure out something in the mean time."

Sakura looked down and sighed. She felt such an impending doom. Kakashi sat up and pulled her up from the bed into his arms and said, "Whatever happens, I'm sorry. I just hope you don't… have any regrets later."

"My only regret is not being with you every day," she replied with a hidden smile into his chest.

"Me, too," he replied and hugged her tightly. It sounded so cheesy, but he truly meant it.

"I-I love you, Kakashi," she stammered, feeling a blush sweep across her face. It still felt very strange saying it out loud.

"I love you, too, Sakura."

Butterflies suddenly swirled in her stomach hearing him say those words. She was half afraid she was going to wake up from a dream at any moment, but as she held him in her arms she knew this was most certainly real.

Feeling a little better now, she inhaled a deep breath and sighed. "Okay, we better get going," she said reluctantly.

Kakashi nodded and gathered the few things he needed. They left the room, hand in hand to the elevators. In the lobby, Sakura saw the same receptionist from last night and felt awkward as the woman's eyes followed them out the door.

The closer they got to her house, the more the anxiety built up within her chest. The amount of missed calls logged on her phone could be described as ridiculous, not that she could blame her mother. She did just randomly vanish last night. Too afraid to call back, she kept her phone on silent and placed it inside her bag. She hated this feeling. She still had absolutely no idea what she was going to say. Maybe the truth was best? Her mother didn't have to meet him yet and she worried what exactly she would do if he was there in person. If she told her the truth though, it would probably make them both look bad for being out the whole night. There was no way around it though. There was no other believable explanation she could give her besides the truth.

Kakashi parked a few feet away from Sakura's house. He watched her sigh. He felt so bad. This was completely his fault, accident or not. It was simply going to make things worse for them when Sakura admitted their relationship. He couldn't care less about family approval for obvious reasons, but she actually had ties to hers, so it was more important.

"I'll call you later… if I'm still able to dial the phone," Sakura muttered.

"Please let me know what happens, okay?"

"Okay," she said with a weak smile. After one last hug and kiss, she slowly exited into the frigid cold. Her hand slid along the slick ice that had covered his car overnight, as she walked around it and up to her driveway. Turning to give one final look over her shoulder at Kakashi, she trudged on through the snow and opened the front door after unlocking it with her key.

What she saw was not what she expected. The house was quiet and dark. After closing the door behind her, she stepped through the hall. Her eyes scanned through the open rooms of the house. The only lights that were on were the multicolored bulbs of the Christmas tree in the living room. Unsure what to do, she dropped her purse on the couch and plopped down onto the cushion. What the hell was going on? She had fully expected her mother's family running crazily through the house. They would have opened the presents by now since the children could never keep their hands off of them for very long. Yet, the presents that were meant for her nieces and nephews still sat unopened under the tree. A bad feeling began to sink in stomach.

Slipping out her phone, she stared at it before deciding she would have to do what she probably should have done earlier. Selecting her mother's number from the contact list, she held in a breath as her call rang once.

"Sakura?" a voice answered.

"…Mom?" she replied, unsure at the different tone she heard in the voice. It certainly had to have been her mother, but she sounded… strangely different.

After a moment of silence, her mother replied, "Where are you?"

"Home."

Sakura heard a sigh. "I'm too upset to talk to you right now. Stay home and don't go anywhere."

"Okay…"

The call ended with a sound of a click. No goodbye. She had never heard her mother say something like that before, that she was too upset to talk. Her mother always would give a piece of her mind, good or bad. Sakura had done plenty of things to make her mad growing up, but this certainly must have been on a whole different level. She let out a sigh and sent a text message:

'Kakashi...'

A moment later he replied back, '?'

'Let's flee the country. -_-'

'…what happened?'

'No one's here. I called my mom and she told me to stay. She seems really angry…'

'I haven't left yet… want me to come in and wait with you?'

'No… T_T Just go buy some plane tickets. How about… France?'

'…'

'Spain?'

'…'

'America?'

'…'

Sakura laughed; at least this was making her feel better for a small moment. Lying down on the couch, she stared into the mesmerizing lights of the tree. She was afraid of what her mother might say. Where had she been before she called her? Where was the rest of her family? Even though she had been out all night, and figured her mother would be mad about it, they still should have had Christmas. Or did her disappearance ruin it for them? Is that why no one was here?

It wouldn't be until about twenty minutes later that she would find out. Sakura bolted up from the couch as she heard the front door unlock. Her mother entered inside, giving her a glance where she sat. Placing her coat on the rack, she tossed her keys inside her purse and briskly threw it on a table in the hall. With hands on her hips, her glare was increasing making Sakura feel rather worthless…

"Do you have any idea how long I've been looking for you?" her mother spat.

Sakura flinched in surprised. She was looking for her? For how long? "No…"

"Since eight this morning."

"Oh." She darted her eyes away, feeling worse as the seconds passed by. "Where's… everyone else?"

"Their flights were delayed because of snow, so I've been here all night and morning worried sick about you. Do you have any idea how scared I was? I thought something happened to you. I heard from someone you were with some man last night at the park. Care to explain who?"

"Look, I lost track of time and I'm sorry. You don't have to forgive me, but believe me when I say I didn't mean to. I was too afraid to call you when I woke up."

"Woke up where with who?"

"Um…"

"Sakura."

"…"

"Sakura, if you don't answer me…"

"Well, I… I met someone at the university and, um, we've been together for a few months now. I was with him… okay?"

"Is that what you've been doing this whole semester while I'm helping to pay for you to go to school?"

Sakura bit her lip, trying to stop herself from completely exploding in anger. "I don't see why I can't have a boyfriend and go to school. I made A's in all my classes this semester. It's not hurting my studies…"

"Who is he?"

"Well, um, he was in a class of mine. His name is… Kakashi."

"Kakashi?" Her mother's brows furrowed like she was half remembering something. "How old is he?"

That was the question Sakura desperately didn't want to hear or answer. She did not want to talk about this. There really wasn't anyway to gauge what her mother might say.

"How old is he, Sakura?"

The thought of lying crossed her mind briefly, but that would only make her feel even guiltier.

Her mother's voice grew louder. "Sakura."

"Thirty-two."

Her mother stared at her in a long silence. "This isn't a good time to be joking."

"I'm not."

"…"

Her mother rubbed the side of her head as if she had just been physically hit with something. She walked toward the couch and sat next to Sakura, not looking at her eyes for a moment. "Sakura, it's one thing to completely worry the hell out of me and be gone for an entire night, but this… I can't even… Where did I go wrong as a parent?"

Sakura stared at her stunned. "I-"

"He is way too old for you, Sakura," her mother cut in.

"He's not."

"He is. You need to find someone more your age. It's inappropriate."

"Age doesn't matter."

"He's just using you."

"No, he isn't. You don't even know him."

"Sakura, I've seen this before. They say they love you, but they don't. He is using you for your body, that's it. When he's bored with you, he'll move on to someone else."

"It's not like that. He's one of the most admirable men I've ever met in my life. He's kind, caring, and amazing in more ways than one. He can always make me smile, and I know I can depend on him. I love him and that's all there is to it."

Her mother sighed. "Sakura… You don't know what love is."

"If you knew him, you'd understand."

"There's no way I can approve of something like this. I'm sorry."

"I don't need your approval."

"I can't stop you from seeing him, but I'll just say I'm really disappointed in your choices right now."

"Fine, whatever." Sakura sat up from the couch not feeling like she could listen to anymore. She felt angry. It didn't matter to her if her mother approved or not, but making him out to be someone trying to take advantage of her, that was just infuriating. It wasn't like that. It just seemed so stupid to her, prejudging someone whom you've never met.

"Don't stay out overnight like that again."

"Like I said, I didn't mean to, but you won't have to worry about it. I'll leave tomorrow."

"Sakura, I'm sorry I can't tell you what you want to hear, but you're making a mistake. I don't want you to make the same kind of bad choices in men like I did. "

"I don't want to discuss it anymore."

"We're far from done talking about this."

Sakura was certainly done. She went upstairs to her old bedroom and closed it shut, stopping herself from wanting to slam it in a childish way. She knew it wasn't going to be easy from the beginning, but still, it was just irritating. It could have gone a lot worse though. Worst case scenario was that she would have been completely forbidden to see him. Not that it would be possible to prevent her from doing that anyway. She was an adult after all. Her life couldn't be simply dictated like that anymore. She had the choice, no matter who may agree or disagree with it. All that mattered now was that she could still be with him. Their future together seemed promising. That's all she cared about. Still with her phone at hand, she sent another text to Kakashi:

'I lived.'

A moment later, her phone buzzed with a new message. '…or maybe you're the ghost of Sakura.'

'Ghost of Sakura still wants to flee the country though. ^_~'

'…'

'I want to leave tomorrow. I don't mind staying in town, or we can go back to Tokyo. I can tell you what all my mother said then, if you want.'

'Sounds fine to me… I'll have a surprise waiting for you tomorrow then. ^_^'

Sakura eyed that last text he sent carefully. The little emoticon he wrote was even more suspicious. A surprise? She grinned to herself. She really did feel lucky. Already she was feeling in a better mood. She couldn't wait to see him tomorrow. Now, she just needed to get through this day with her family.

It wasn't until the late afternoon that her mother's family finally make it to their house. They were full of smiles and holiday cheer, even after the delay at the airport. The kids were mostly grumpy though, but they perked up at the sight of presents left under the tree mostly for them. Sakura plastered a smile on her face and tried to act normal around everyone, glad that her mother didn't talk about her disappearance, or about Kakashi. She could still see the disapproval in her mother's eyes from time to time, and when they opened presents for each other it felt awkward. As she sat and watched others opening presents, Sakura remembered she had forgotten - in the rush of things - that she still hadn't given her present to Kakashi yet. It was something else she could look forward to tomorrow.


It was early morning when Sakura prepared all her bags to leave, stepping around the sleeping children in her room quietly. If she had it her way, she would have just left without saying a word, even earlier than before the sun would rise, but instead her mother insisted on seeing her off. She didn't mention that Kakashi was picking her up though. She hoped her mother would stay inside the house…

"I got it," Sakura said as she began to drag her suitcases down the stairs.

Her mother shot her hands up with a sigh, letting go of the handle. "Okay, just trying to help."

One of her mother's sisters, Jun, was up already. She stirred her coffee with a spoon as she leaned against the archway from the kitchen toward the hallway. "You're leaving already Sakura? We just came here."

"I've been here for a couple of weeks. I can't stay away from work for too long."

"Oh, I see. That's a shame."

It was a small lie. Her job at the coffee shop remained closed during the holidays since classes were out, but she really didn't want to be here any longer than she'd have to. She felt a little guilty about it. Perhaps it was a bit selfish wanting to just be with Kakashi, but it was what she wanted. Her mother wanted to talk more about them last night, which she attempted to, but it only lead to another argument of how Sakura was just making a mistake. It made her want to leave all the more. There really wasn't any more to say about it.

Sakura glanced at her phone as it buzzed once. Kakashi had texted her that he was outside.

"Okay, I'm going to go… So, Merry Christmas." She awkwardly hugged her mother before hearing her say, "Is he picking you up?"

"Who's he?" asked Jun as she eyed her mother.

Ignoring both questions, she hugged Jun quickly and opened the door. She dragged out both of her suitcases, feeling annoyed again as she saw her mother's disapproving look when she shut the door behind her. She was surprised to see Kakashi halfway up the sidewalk. He greeted her with a hug and smiled warmly beneath his scarf.

"They're going to see you…" Sakura muttered as she glanced at the peeled back curtain of the window by the door.

"I'm not worried about it. Let me get that." He motioned to one of her suitcases. She let him grab one and together they packed away her stuff in the trunk of his car. Inside now, she sighed as he backed out of the drive way.

"That bad, huh?" he asked.

"I'll be honest and say it's kind of depressing. Well, she's really against us by all means. That's fine, I can take that. I just… get really irritated when she says stuff about you and she's never even met you. It's not true."

"Just do me a favor, Sakura."

Sakura raised a brow. "Anything."

"Don't completely shut her out of your life, even if she doesn't agree about me. She might change her mind later… years later, but who knows, and if she ever wants to meet with me I'll be more than willing to. Just… don't shut off your family completely. Hell, I'd be even more worried if they did agree about us anyway. So, it shows they do care about you. I've already lost a family… I don't want you to either."

"I suppose. I do get what you're saying."

"It's going to be alright. Worst part is mostly over. I love you and that's what matters."

"And I love you, too," she replied with a smile. Feeling a bit better, she glanced around now at all the buildings they were passing. She had almost forgotten. "Oh, so, where are we going exactly?"

"Secret."

"Damn it, Kakashi. You and your secrets. Tell me!"

"Then it wouldn't be a surprise."

"Tell me."

"No."

"Please?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

Sakura tried to think over other ways of trying to get him to tell her. "I have a present for you."

"Oh?"

"Want to know what it is?"

"Nope."

Sakura groaned. "You're hopeless."

He simply smiled in response. Folding her arms, she tapped her fingers lightly against her jacket. Whatever he had planned, she was going to make sure he didn't get his present until he begged for it. She narrowed her eyes at him at that thought.

Kakashi glanced at her while trying to hold back a laugh. "What?"

"Nothing."

"Uh-huh. You're probably plotting something evil."

"Maybe."

She smiled and watched the snowy scenery fly past the window for a bit. It looked like they were heading into the next town over, which was even bigger compared to her hometown. It was near a channel, so it was primarily a great place for a lot of shipping and exporting. It was about forty-five minutes until they started to approach the outside of the town. She looked intently at the sea they crossed when they went over a long bridge, which lead straight towards the center district of the town.

"Where are we going?" she asked again.

"I already told you, it's a secret."

"I'll kiss you if you tell me."

"Nope."

"What if…"

"If…?"

"If I really did that nuts and chocolate sprinkles bit from your smutty story?"

He began to slow down the car at imagining it. Clearing his throat and trying to compose himself, he replied, "Um, then yes. Yes, I'll tell you."

"Good, so tell me."

"You have to do it first."

"Curses," Sakura said with a sigh. It was worth a shot trying trick him by indulging in his fantasies.

The streets they crossed weren't familiar to her at all. The only guess she could make so far was that maybe they were going out some place nice to spend the day. Whatever it was, she wanted to find out soon before she burst with anticipation. It wasn't until they exited a ramp that dipped into a busy intersection of traffic did she start to get an idea of what he was up to. Her eyes glanced at a long fence that stretched across a good portion of land. There was a large and long building in the distance, but she couldn't make out what exactly it was yet. They pulled inside a busy stretch of road that led them closer and closer to the building. Her mouth dropped open when she realized what she was staring at.

"Kakashi…"

"Yes, love?" he asked sweetly.

Trying to hide a blush, she whispered, "What are we doing here?"

"I'm doing what you asked me."

"You can't be serious."

"I'm very serious."

Her heart started to jump in her chest. He wasn't serious. This was a joke. When he found a parking space inside of the multileveled garages, she still sat in her seat expecting him to say, 'Haha! Got you.'

"Come on, Sakura."

Unbuckling her seat belt, she slowly slid from the car. She was still very convinced this was an elaborate joke – one of the cruelest jokes she could imagine.

"Kakashi," she said in a worried tone.

He grinned at her and handed her one of her suitcases to carry. He grabbed her other one and his own bag. As they walked through the main gates, they passed by crowds of people coming and going in all kinds of different directions.

"Kakashi," she whispered again.

Kakashi grinned at how freaked out she was getting. It was beyond cute as she pulled along her suitcase behind her looking lost. "Yes?"

"Where are we going?"

"Technically, Tokyo."

"And…?"

"Then Switzerland to connect to the layover flight."

"…"

"To France."

"What! Please tell me you're joking."

"I'm joking."

"Are you really?"

"Nope."

"…"

After waiting in line for a bit, they checked in their bags at the counter. He had two plane tickets ready to go. She couldn't believe it. When they were asked for their passports, she was even more surprised that he had hers with him. She had one, which she used in high school her junior year as an exchange student in America. "How did you get my passport?"

"I stole it."

"When?"

"If I tell you that, then how can I keep stealing your things?"

"Wait, what else have you stolen of mine?"

"Panties."

"…"

"I'm joking, but don't be surprised if they disappear later."

"…"

The receptionist, who had been checking them in, overheard their conversation and gave them an awkward stare while giving two officially stamped tickets back to Kakashi. Sakura did her best to hide behind the counter until they left to the section where their flight would be taking off from. It would be about an hour until they boarded.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why what?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"Well, you wanted to flee the country…"

She attempted to smack his arm as they walked, but he caught it with a hand and remained holding it as they walked. "I wasn't serious!"

"Oh." He stopped suddenly and began to walk back the way they came pulling her behind him adding, "I'll cancel it then."

She pulled his hand back. "Kakashi!"

"Yes?"

"We… can still go of course."

"Oh, okay," he said teasingly. He turned around again, still tugging at her hand.

"But I… don't understand why you're doing this."

"Well, I think it would be nice just to get out for a bit, leave worries behind, and have a little fun before next semester starts. I can't think of a better way of starting a new year than with you in some foreign country," he said with a smile.

"This is… beyond too generous," she gushed.

"Nonsense."

"How much is this all costing?"

"Trust me when I say you don't need to worry about it."

"Well…"

"Just enjoy it, alright?"

"Okay," she replied with an unsure smile.

"We'll only be gone for a week. Then you're still moving in with me, right?"

"Yep, unless you really do start stealing my panties…"

"…"

He made a mental note to hide the ones at his house when he got home. Once they were in the waiting area, they sat side by side. A couple of people would glance their way occasionally, making Sakura feel a little uncomfortable at first before she could ignore it. She did forget sometimes that he was a kind of recognizable person. She wondered exactly how many people knew him simply because of what happened to him growing up.

Kakashi shuffled through his pockets before pulling out an Icha Icha book, but instead of reading it, he handed it to her, prompting her to blush as he waved it front of her. She held the book down glancing at people around them.

"W-what are you doing?" she asked as she stared warily at it.

"I bought you your first Icha Icha earlier this morning."

"What?"

"We both confirmed you like it. So just read one."

"…I can't."

"Yes, you can."

"I don't… want to read porn in public."

"You don't need to worry."

"Why?"

He pulled out another book from his pocket. "I'll read with you so you don't feel lonely."

"…"

Sakura grumbled before snatching it from his hands. She pulled her knees up to her chest on the chair and placed the book behind it to hide the cover as she began to read it. He smiled approvingly before settling in his seat to reread one of his favorites. He truly wanted to take the trip to help take her mind off of things. She didn't go into many details about what happened with her mother, but the fact she wanted to leave today rather than staying for another week at home said something.

Kakashi remembered when they were stuck in the elevator months ago, how she also asked for a trip to France, which he claimed he would have to rob every bank in Japan in doing so. That was a lie of course. He could technically afford anything with the money he had stored away since his parents had died, but he never wanted to touch it until now. He really wasn't sure why. So he had thought of the idea of actually going for a while. Now just seemed like the best time. If anything, he hoped it would bring them not only closer, but stronger as a couple. He just had a feeling. They would really need to rely on the strength in the future.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: Joie de Vivre

Kakashi smiled as he watched Sakura fall in and out of sleep during their cab ride to the hotel. Her head slowly started to fall forward during a turn, almost hitting the backseat window before he pulled her into his arms.

The feeling of his chest roused her from sleep for a moment. She let out a small yawn and glanced sleepily at the mesmerizing garlands of lights that blurred by. Paris was absolutely just as beautiful as she had imagined. She just wished she wasn't so tired from their fifteen hour flight to really enjoy the spectacular view of the city.

"Awake?" Kakashi asked.

"Mm, barely. I don't think I'm dealing too well with the time change," she responded with a yawn.

"What? It's only like 1:00 am in Tokyo right now."

"Only," she scoffed. Wrapping her arms around his stomach, she squeezed him into a hug and added, "Where are we staying at?"

"Secret."

"…I hate you."

"It warms my heart when you say that."

"Icy heart," she muttered.

Kakashi patted her shoulder. "We're almost there."

Sakura nodded and buried her head more into his chest. She listened to the comforting patter of Kakashi's heart, making her doze off again. It wasn't until they had come to a complete stop that she woke again. Fighting a yawn, she slid out of the cab with the help of Kakashi pulling her by the hand. She rubbed her eyes briefly, trying to wake up more as he went to get their baggage and pay the driver. Crossing her arms to shield herself from the cold, she admired the well-manicured plants that surrounded the circular driveway. Her eyes slowly followed the pavement that wrapped around behind her up towards a breathtaking, multi-story château.

"Kakashi!" she gasped.

"Yes?"

She pointed a sharp finger towards the building. "Are we… seriously staying there?"

"No, we're actually going to camp outside it," he teased.

"…"

Sakura shot him a playful glare. She took in the beautiful outside as they walked towards the entrance. Vines had completely enveloped most of walls, leaving a small peek inside the warm amber glow of the rooms. Made up of a handcrafted decorative metal that intertwined with glass, the arch of the entryway completely dwarfed them in size. Crystal, French-styled chandeliers sparkled beyond the doors highlighting a grand staircase that stretched up towards the different levels of the château.

Once they were inside Sakura could hardly fathom where they were. It was like they had stepped into one of her art history books. The inner walls of the main lobby had a rich wood paneling with ornate cravings along the sides. Mirrors were beautifully incorporated into the walls, stretching high into the ceiling and reflecting the overhanging lights that made the room seem like it could stretch on for infinity. Rococo-styled paintings, ranging from small portraits to full-sized landscapes, which spanned across several feet, were placed thoughtfully around the room.

The French that rolled off of Kakashi's lips effortlessly was perhaps the most amazing to her. She had a very basic knowledge of French she had learned in school, but he was clearly fluent, using words she could barely make out as he spoke with the front desk clerk. A bellhop in a crisp, black uniform gathered their luggage on a rolling transporter and disappeared into one of the many hallways.

Kakashi turned to her and asked, "Well, they are still serving dinner, but I think we're both pretty tired. Want to go up and get settled? We could just order something small to bring up to us."

"Sounds good to me," she replied.

He grasped her hand into his and walked towards the direction where the bellhop had disappeared earlier. Glancing at all of the amazing details of the furnishings and art they passed in the hall, she could hardly wait to see their room.

Sakura squeezed his hand and said, "Kakashi, this place is so amazing."

"Glad you like it," he said with a small smile.

"This is all seriously… way too nice for someone like me."

"Nonsense, it's very deserving for someone like you."

"How am I supposed to ever pay you back for spoiling me like this?"

"You're very obsessed with trying to repay favors, aren't you?"

She glared. "I like to be fair."

"Well, if you really want to pay me back… There's one thing that comes to mind that you could do for me."

"Yes?"

"It involves n-"

"–Let me guess," she cut in. "Something to do with nuts, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a cherry?"

"Sakura, I was going to say nothing but sweet kisses from you would make up for it, but I like that idea better."

"Liar."

"Maybe."

Sakura rolled her eyes at his eye crinkle of a smile as they stepped into an elevator. After passing two floors they entered into another grand hallway. This one had the same art theme compared to the first floor, but with a richer color scheme of decorative wallpaper with accents of crimson and dark blues that complimented the dark stained wood panels. Sakura quietly bounced on her heels in anticipation as Kakashi unlocked the door to their room. Their luggage had been neatly placed to the side in the hall past the doorway.

Stepping slowly onto the polished wooden floor, Sakura inhaled the scent of fresh flowers. Clasping her hands together, she fought back a grin as she went into the main room as Kakashi followed behind. Her jaw almost dropped at the sight. The main bed was huge with several layers of plush bedding. The vertical print from the covers matched perfectly with the fabric of the back headboard, which had an off-white painted antique wooden frame. The same print was draped from the ceiling in folds which hung slightly over the bed. The walls of the room had a wonderfully crafted, white wooden paneling which had sparse trims of pale blues throughout the room. Detailed floral shapes of wallpaper appeared selectively inside a few of the panels, making the room feel like a modern version of an old French interior design pulled from the 1800s. The antique looking furniture almost seemed small compared to the size of the room, but the multiple pieces made the room feel rather charming. Nestled in the corner sat a TV which was surround by a small lover's seat and plush chairs. In the middle sat a coffee table with fresh-cut, tall pink daises she smelled earlier.

Turning to her right, she was surprised to see a small marble fireplace with a tall mirror that hung above. Trying to take everything in, she still couldn't believe she was actually going to be spending a week here. Never had she stayed in any place so nice in her life. She walked up to one of the multiple windows next to Kakashi to see what the view looked like. Below them, there was a terrace that led down into a garden that went as far as the eye could see into the night. Multi-colored flowers were illuminated by soft lighting. Trees and shaped bushes were decorated neatly with strings of white lights in celebration of the holiday season. This place was too perfect in more ways than one.

"What do you think?" Kakashi asked, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he peered out of the window.

"This is… insane, Kakashi. It's so beautiful."

"It certainly is. I've visited France once when I was little, but I don't think I've ever been anywhere like this before. Kind of amazing they built things like this so early in the century."

"Yeah, that's for sure," she agreed. Sakura moved behind him to snuggle her arms around his waist underneath his jacket. "Thank you… again and again for taking me here. I don't think I can say it enough."

"Happy to," he replied as he squeezed her arms.

"After all this traveling today, I think I sorely need a relaxing bath."

"Go for it. I'll take one after you."

"Okay," she replied, giving him one more hug around his waist before letting go. After discarding her winter wear and shoes in a corner, she walked over to her luggage and flipped it over to open it. Shuffling through her stuff, she got out a few bathing supplies and her usual pajamas. She was secretly glad she washed her clothes before she left her mother's house. The hotel probably had a laundry service, but she would have a difficult time talking in French with the staff. Kakashi probably wouldn't have minded helping in that area, but he had done so much for her as it was.

Holding her stuff in a hand, she opened the wooden door that led into the bathroom. She nearly dropped her belongings in surprise; there was a large whirlpool tub that sat near a window raised on a tiled platform surrounded by candles. Separated by a porcelain sink on the other side was a glass steam shower. Seeing that the tub was clearly big enough for two, she bit her bottom lip debating if perhaps she should ask him to join her. Trying to ignore her nerves flaring up at the thought, she placed her stuff on a stool and opened the bathroom door a little bit to shyly peek through. Kakashi laid comfortably in just his shirt and jeans now, resting against a few pillows on the bed.

Kakashi lowered his book from his now maskless face. "Something wrong?"

A blush shot through her cheeks. "Oh, no… I was, um, wondering if maybe… you'd want to join me?"

He raised a brow, intrigued. "Oh?"

"Yes, well, there's plenty of room… and you know… we should save water and time, right?"

Chuckling at her reasons, he replied, "Sure."

"Okay, I-I'll let you know when it's ready."

She smiled sweetly before closing the door, feeling idiotic at her embarrassed stuttering. With a sigh, she began to look for the faucets of the tub, which seemed to be only a small chrome cylinder. Realizing she had no idea how to turn it on after trying to twist it, she began to feel around over the jets inside the lining of the tub, finding nothing that really looked like a switch. Going back to the cylinder again, she tried to pull it, which did nothing. Then she tried to firmly push it, making her jump at the sudden water that poured out. Letting the water run after plugging the bottom, she browsed through the bottles that were in a small basket off to the side. She smelled one that was labeled bath bubbles in English and poured a bit into the rising water.

Standing up, she wondered if she should undress now or not. After some debating, she decided to do it now and then wrapped herself in one of the terry cotton robes that was hung on the wall. By the time the bath was filled high enough, she felt a bit excited, nervous, and a little embarrassed for a mix of reasons. She certainly had never bathed with anyone before, but it seemed like a fun thing for couples to do. Trying to remind herself they had both seen each other nude before, it still wasn't helping her to not feel somewhat shy as she opened the door again.

"Ready," she said, still hiding a bit behind the door.

Kakashi dropped his Icha Icha book on the end table beside the bed and slid off the covers to walk towards the bathroom. Sakura backed away from the door, glancing at the tiled floor for a moment, and then looked back up to find Kakashi placing a chaste kiss on her lips.

"So cute when you're embarrassed," he commented with a smile.

She huffed. "I am not."

"Uh-huh." He pulled off his shirt and tossed it near the sink. His pants followed after that, and he slowly lowered his boxers until they fell on the floor. Averting her gaze, she turned around and began to untie the sash around her waist. Feeling his hands dip behind the collar of her robe, she stopped and let him pull the robe away from her shoulders, letting it drop.

Massaging her shoulders for a moment, he then led her to the tub and helped her step inside before following after her.

Sliding lower into the warm jet stream, Sakura leaned her head back against the edge of the tub and sighed. "This feels really nice."

"Don't fall asleep now," he mused. Sakura snickered and began to fake snore the moment he said that. He laughed and shuffled through some of the soaps in the basket, then turned to sit comfortably. He tapped the water. "Come here, I'll wash you up."

Sakura smiled coyly before shifting through the water. "Cause, I'm a dirty girl?"

"Yes, so very dirty," he said with a smile.

She sighed before facing her back towards him. "It's sad to know that line is from that book you gave me."

"We could recreate the bath scene."

"Hum, yeah, didn't it have three people in that one?"

"Your point?"

She let out a sigh with an eye roll.

Scooping a few handfuls of water into her hair, it turned her light pink strands of hair into a deep shade once it was completely wet. Lathering some soap in his hands, he massaged her scalp.

Sakura closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying his massaging fingers as they worked in circles across her head. "Oh, I was wondering."

"Hum?"

"How did you learn French so well?"

"My mother was French, actually."

"Oh…" Her gut dropped slightly.

"I know what you're thinking. Don't feel bad for asking."

"Well…"

"I don't mind talking about it with you."

"Okay," she replied, still a bit uneasy.

"When I was growing up she would teach me a little bit every day, placing little sticky notes around the house of what that item was in French. It was kind of a fun game I played with her. Also, when we went to events or anything that required me to wait around a long time, we would usually practice talking in French."

"That sounds pretty cool. I wish I knew French a little better. I mostly focused on English in school."

"Well, I can teach you if you'd like. Drop your head back."

Moving her body forward, she slowly went back, looking up into his eyes as he rinsed her hair. "Teach me something, sensei," she replied teasingly.

"Tu as de beaux yeux."

"I have… what?"

"You have beautiful eyes."

She grinned. "I think I can counter that."

"Oh?"

"J'aime votre sourire."

He smiled. "You love my smile?"

"Oui," she replied with a nod. Sitting up from the bath, she wrung some water out of her hair and turned around. She motioned to the small shampoo bottle. "Let me do you."

"You can do me all night long."

Failing to dodge a splash of water at him, he gave her the bottle. She glared at him while moving in front of him. She quickly lathered soap in her hands and scratched her fingers lightly into his silvery hair. Wiping his forehead free of soap suds, she laughed and put it on his face. "Have you ever had a beard?"

"Beard and a mask don't mix well, so no."

Pulling more suds from his hair, she began to decorate his face like she was putting frosting on a cake. After sculpting a bit, she moved back a bit, admiring her handiwork. "Hum, yes. You would look really sexy with a beard."

He sighed. "I'm going to bet I look ridiculous right now. Especially if it's your doing…"

"You look amazing."

"…"

He peered into the reflection of the large faucet head. He looked like Santa Claus except without a hat… and why was his hair sticking up into a Mohawk? He glared at her long stare which prompted a giggle.

When he was about to wash it away, she stopped his hand. "Noooo. Stay like this for awhile."

"Absolutely not."

She pouted as she watched him dunk his head into the water, destroying her precious soap beard. Settling into the edge of the tub, she laid her head back onto the rim and took in a deep inhale. "I've decided."

"What's this now?"

"We're going to stay here forever."

"In this… tub?"

She nodded. "Yep."

"Well, we sure are going to get pruney… really pruney."

"Fine by me." She smiled.

"You'll look like an old lady."

Splashing water at him, she replied, "And you'll look like an old man."

He splashed back with a narrowed glare. Flinching from the water, she retaliated with another splash his way.

Kakashi smirked, splashing a large amount of water towards her. "You should pick your battles wisely."

Huffing, she sat still in the sloshing water for a moment before moving lower until it reached the bottom of her chin.

"What are you up to now?" he asked with a raised brow.

"I call a truce."

"Fine… truce," he said skeptically.

"So, come here and kiss on it," she said with hands outstretched from the bubbly water that swirled around.

He drifted closer, slowly feeling her soft stomach, and wrapped an arm around her waist. Leaning in, he kissed her wet lips. Quickly, she turned and dunked his head into the water. His head came up with the saddest pout she had ever seen, making her fight back a laugh. His silvery hair looked hilarious flattened against his wet face.

"This is far from over."

Before she had a chance to reply, she was promptly dunked into the water. Her head shot up with a gasp. He attempted to dunk her again, but she fought back with a foot on his chest, pushing him to the other side; it made some of the water splash from the tub.

Moving backwards from his advances, she said, "Kakashi, you stay on your side."

"Are you sure you want that?" He pulled her foot resting on his stomach out of the water and began to kiss her toes.

Sakura tried to yank her foot from his grasp. "Give me my foot back!"

"Un-uh." He kissed along her ankle and up her leg. Slowly coming closer, he felt along her legs towards her inner thighs with a hand. He barely touched her over her sweet spot.

"Kakashi," she warned.

"Yes?"

"S-stay on your side," she miserably tried to say, trying to hold onto her resolve to keep him at a distance. Her hands didn't seem to want to cooperate with her words; instead of pushing him back, her fingers caressed over his dripping chest, enticing him to even come even closer.

Kakashi leaned in and began a trail of kisses at the base of her shoulder leading up to her neck. He caressed her spot again, this time in slow strokes. "Are you sure?"

She breathed an unsure heavy sigh. "No, I mean yes."

"No or yes?"

"Yes, no…"

Kakashi held back a laugh. "Hum, so which is it?"

He began to lap up the water around her neck, and then kissed down to her chest until a bubble covered pink nipple met his lips barely above the water's edge.

"I… I can't think if you keep doing that," she said, moaning at the feeling from his rubbing fingers beneath the water. Water trickled down her arms as she let her hands roam into his messy, matted strands of hair.

"Well, which specifically? Since I'm doing two things at once," he replied in between ard sucks at her nipple.

Sakura moaned again. "Kakashi, please…"

"Please… stop, or please… faster?"

"F-faster."

"Well, wait. Which part?" he asked, licking his tongue in circles around her breasts.

"Damn it, Kakashi," she gritted through her teeth.

Kakashi grinned to himself. "This is what you get for lying on our truce. Now, what do you want?"

Sakura let out an aggravated sigh. "Please touch me faster… down there."

"Down where?"

"…"

Guessing she was getting close to punching him soon, he stopped his terrible teasing and quickened his strokes. He licked all around her exposed skin, sucking every bit tenderly and playfully. She pulled his head up with both hands to capture his lips, exploring his tongue with hers desperately. Moaning into his mouth, she broke away to try to catch her breath between her growing gasps. Melting further into the water, she held herself up the best she could, feeling his fingers start to enter her repeatedly.

"Kakashi," she whimpered.

Spreading her legs wider with each maddening pump of his hand, she bit her lip, trying not to completely burst with the moans clawing at the back of her throat. His fingers switched to her core, keeping up a quickened pace. Bending her head back with her eyes clutched tight, she felt cold water drip down along her neck. He nibbled at her ear and whispered, "Je t'aime."

She wasn't sure if it was the husky tone in his voice, but hearing him say he loved her in French sent chills down her spine. "Je t'aime aussi*," she murmured against his cheek - right before she crashed into a toe-curling orgasm. She couldn't fight back her staggered moans as he milked out her waves of pleasure. Slowly he eased back his feverish kisses along her neck and placed his arms around her waist.

Trying to catch her breath, she kissed across his cheek and captured his lips with hers. Breaking from the kiss, she sighed. "That was so mean, Kakashi."

"What?" he replied innocently.

"You and your horrid teasing."

"You know you loved it."

She mumbled in response, not really agreeing or disagreeing. Kakashi pulled at her hand from the water and tsk-ed. "See? Now we're wrinkly. Are you sure you want to stay in here forever?"

"Yes," she said with a narrowed glare.

He dropped her hand and splashed her lightly. "How am I going to make love to you senselessly if we stay in here forever?"

"Well, I suppose we can leave for now… wait, senselessly?" Her eyebrow rose.

"Mm, don't worry. I'm going to wait until tomorrow night so you can at least walk normally for one of the days we're here."

"…What?"

"What?" He chuckled at her expression before standing up from the tub. Holding out both hands for her, he pulled her up and almost let go before she started to drop down again. Tugging her up again, he asked, "You okay?"

"A little… light headed," she admitted, holding herself steady around his waist.

"You do look rather flushed. Unless I'm making you blush… from me poking you in the thigh right now.

"No," she grumbled, now suddenly feeling embarrassed by him mentioning that.

Kakashi slowly stepped out of the tub and helped her out. After drying off, they wrapped in their respective towels and went into the bedroom. Sakura fell back on the bed, still feeling a bit dizzy, and closed her eyes.

After he ordered them a quick dinner from room service, he changed into a shirt and pajamas. He knelt on the bed and sat beside Sakura, tapping her lightly on the shoulder.

"Mm?" she murmured sleepily.

"You should get changed before food gets here."

"Mm."

"Want me to help?"

"Um, sure."

Slowly he pulled open her wrapped towel, exposing her completely. He stared for a moment. Originally he did have good intentions, but somehow his mouth found its way on top of one of her perked nipples.

Her eyes shot open. "Kakashi! How is this helping?"

"Not sure, but I'm pretty sure it is somehow or another."

Sakura laughed. "I suppose I am feeling more awake now..."

"See?"

"But now I'm unmotivated to change…"

"Oh, that's a problem then."

"Well, we can figure it out later."

"A good plan."

Turning her flat on her back, he squeezed her breasts together, licking between them back and forth. Sakura began to pull up his shirt before a knock interrupted them.

Kakashi sighed and released his hold on her. "I completely forgot about food. I blame those." He pointed at her breasts.

She scowled and pointed at his lower region. "Blame that."

"Blame these," he whispered, dragging a finger softly across her lips.

Pulling him by his shirt towards her, she started to say, "Blame-"

Another polite knock sounded off.

"Damn it." He sighed once more, feeling a bit sad wrapping her in the towel again, and motioned for her to get under the covers. Sliding from the bed, he went to answer the door. Talking briefly in French, he tipped the concierge and pulled in the tray for them.

"What kind of food did you get?"

"I hope you like snails."

"…"

Sitting up from the bed, she stared at him for a moment, hoping he was joking.

"No?"

"…."

"It's just a chicken salad."

She sighed in relief. "Oh, good."

"That's mixed in with snails."

"…"

She glared at his teasing smile and slid out from the sheets still clutching her towel. Trotting quickly to the bathroom, she changed into her pajamas and started to brush the tangles from her hair. She couldn't help but smile in the mirror. She wasn't sure how many times she could ask herself just how did she get so lucky? To fall in love with someone who was so wonderful, compassionate, funny, witty… the list could just go on and on. This trip was beyond generous in so many ways, but what mattered most to her was that she'd get to share the experience with just him, to make memories together that would last forever. She hoped to make many more in the future. If only her mother knew what she did about him and not just brashly judging him from how old he was. If she knew him like she did, there wouldn't be any problems. She sighed. It didn't matter for now. There would be plenty of chances to persuade her mother otherwise. Even if she never approved, all that really mattered was just that they were happy in their relationship.

Leaving the bathroom, she walked into the bedroom and sat on the couch next to Kakashi who looked like he was poking at the salad he was holding, and then he handed it to her.

"I picked the snails out for you."

"…"

Sakura looked at the plate like she was about to vomit.

"Sakura, I'm kidding."

She pulled the plate from his hand and pouted. Snatching the fork from his other hand, she selected a few pieces of grilled chicken and vegetables and placed them in her mouth. She chewed slowly at first, glad to find it actually tasted pretty delicious.

"Mm, this is good."

"I was kidding that I picked them out."

"…"

She dropped her fork onto the plate.

"Sakura, I'm seriously kidding."

"I've lost my appetite." She placed the plate on the coffee table and started to stand up, before he pulled her arm to sit back down again.

"Sakura…"

She sighed and picked up the salad again. "Just… don't say snails."

"Escargot."

"Or in French."

He made a sad face before picking up his plate. "Fine, fine. I'm sorry for teasing you."

"You're not really sorry."

"You're right. It's too fun not to."

She jabbed him with the fork.

"Ow, always so violent…"

"You know you like it," she teased.

"I do, which makes me wonder…"

"Wonder what?"

"What are your thoughts on S&M?"

She dropped her fork again and blushed. "Kakashi! Let me eat without being disturbed in one way or another."

"Fine… we'll talk about it later."

"Never."

"Tomorrow."

"Never."

"Come on…"

She groaned. "Will you stop asking if I agree to later?"

"Yes."

"Fine… later." She thought to herself, 'never'.

He smiled and happily ate his salad for a moment. "Oh, so you never gave me some present?"

"Oh, yeah… you can forget about that."

"What? Why?"

"You have been nothing but a big tease today. No present for you."

"Please?"

"No."

"I brought you to France… doesn't that give me a lot of points?"

"All your teasing knocked you down to negative three points."

"How many points did I have to begin with?"

"One-hundred."

He sighed depressingly. "Man…"

Sakura smiled while she ate. "Hum, well I suppose you can make the points up. You have time."

"Oh, good. How many until I get my present?"

"Fifty."

"Damn it…"

After they finished eating, Kakashi placed their dishes on the cart and set it out in the hall. Sakura yawned and slowly trudged her way to the bathroom following right after Kakashi. Brushing their teeth together, they kept knock into each other's hips as they tried to spit in the sink first.

"Kaw-kaw-snee!" she mumbled with the toothbrush in her mouth.

Finally letting her get to the sink, she spit and placed her toothbrush on the counter. Turning to him, she said, "Negative five points."

He pushed her aside and spit into the sink. "No, no, no. Not fair. I was here first."

"No you… well, you did walk in first."

"See?"

"But ladies should always be first."

"But…"

"Nope!" Before he could say anything else, she smacked his ass and ran out of the bathroom.

"Hey!" He dropped his toothbrush on the sink and ran after her.

Sakura jumped onto the bed before being tackled from behind. He started to tickle her mercilessly.

"Kakashi! Please, don't!" she squealed between laughter.

"You can't just do a hit and run on my ass."

"Y-yes, I can. I just d-did."

He tickled her more in response.

"Pleaseeeee," she begged, feeling all the more helpless as she was being pinned down from behind.

"Why should I?"

"Because y-you l-love me?"

"Hum…" He tickled her some more.

Her face was flushed red with laughter, on the verge of tears. "B-because I l-love you?"

He stopped for a moment, letting her escape from his grasp. She scurried quickly across the bed and pointed at him. "Negative five points."

"Oh, hell no."

She braced herself, holding her hands like blades in a makeshift fighting stance lying down.

"Now, now. None of that. How about a truce?"

"You'd trust me?"

"I'll give you the benefit of the doubt."

"Okay… truce."

"Kiss on it."

Holding her sides as a counter measure for if he might tickle her, she shuffled her knees across the bed and kissed him on the lips. Eying him to see that he wouldn't try anything, she slowly went backwards to settle under the sheets of the bed.

"See… unlike someone I know, I keep my word."

"Fine… plus ten points."

"Finally. Where do I stand now?"

"Negative three."

He sighed and moved off of the bed to turn off all the lights. Slowly walking back to the bed in the dark, he slid under the covers and turned onto his side to wrap an arm around Sakura's waist. "Oh, um, for tomorrow… Sakura?"

"…"

"Sakura?"

"…"

He started to hear a light snore. Unsure if she was joking or not, he tapped her stomach which made her breathe into a sleepy grunt. Stunned that she had seriously fallen asleep within a couple of minutes, he made a mental note to tease her all day about it tomorrow. He whispered goodnight against her neck and closed his eyes. It wasn't until a minute later that he fell asleep as well.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: Le Cœur a ses Raisons

Sakura inhaled a deep breath, and slowly opening her eyes, she glanced up at the high vaulted ceiling above. For a second she had almost forgotten where exactly she was. Memories flooded back to her of how she was whisked away to France by the most amazing man lying beside her. Her green eyes turned towards his angelic, sleeping face. Shifting on her side, she pulled back several fallen strands of silver hair over his eyes, slowly moving her fingers down towards his lips. She grinned to herself realizing that very soon she would get to wake up next to him everyday. Before she was about to pull away, Kakashi grabbed her hand and squinted his eyes open. A soft smile formed at his lips.

He kissed her fingers lightly and whispered, "Good morning, beautiful."

She smiled shyly and replied, "Good morning, handsome. Or actually, I think its noon now." Bringing his hand down from his lips, she kissed him, lingering for a moment before pulling away.

"You fell asleep in a matter of seconds last night."

Sakura narrowed her eyes. "I bet you did, too."

He yawned. "Unlikely."

"Uh-huh. So, what's the plan for today?"

"Whatever your little heart desires."

She smiled and nuzzled herself into his chest, wrapping her arms around him tightly and thought to herself for a moment. "Hum… I think it would be fun to just wander around Paris a bit and maybe check out a museum or two."

"Sounds good to me. Do you want to find some random place to have lunch?" He squeezed her into a hug and held her for a moment.

"Sure. Let's do that." Giving him one last hug, she kissed him and slid out from under the covers to get dressed. He followed after her and went through his suitcase to find something somewhat dressy, but comfortable to wear. Once they were both dressed they headed down into the main lobby.

Sakura plucked a map from a display near the front entrance as she waited for Kakashi to have the front staff call them a cab. After a few moments, Kakashi peered over her shoulder. She pointed excitedly along a stretch of road on the map. "Maybe we should go to The Avenue des Champs-Élysées? I know there's a bunch of shops there and it would be neat to see the Arc de Triomphe, too."

"That'd be nice to see."

She smiled and put the folded the map into her jacket pocket. Once their cab arrived, they talked a bit during the ride about what all they should try to see while they were in France.

"Ooh," Sakura murmured as she bolted over him to look out the window on Kakashi's side. His brow rose as he glanced at what they were passing by. It was an open ice skating rink.

"You ice skate?" he asked.

"Yep! Ino and I used to during the winter break from school. Do you think we can go later?"

"Sure, but, um…"

"You don't want to?"

"I've never ice skated before."

"Oh, finally there's something I can teach you," she jested.

"I'll give it a try, but I have feeling I'll probably make a fool out of myself."

"Which makes it all the more fun," she beamed.

"For you." He gave her a teasing glare.

She smiled. "Exactly."

Kakashi pulled her by the hand from the cab once they arrived in front of a busy section of the Champs-Élysées Avenue strip. There were multiple buildings that lined along the street ranging from stores and theaters to cafes and restaurants. They held hands, walking with the flow of the crowd on the large bricked sidewalk which was decorated with street lamps and a long row of trees that went as far as the eye could see. Each tree was decorated with strings of holiday lights.

Sakura couldn't keep her eyes focused on one spot for too long. There were way too many shops to choose from and the antique buildings towering over them were simply breathtaking. It was amazing to her how the city had a wonderful blend of old and new modern style. She noted a lot of the retail stores seemed rather expensive looking, but figured a little window shopping wouldn't hurt.

"See any restaurants you'd like to try?" he asked.

"How about you pick? I'm sure they are all good."

"Let's see… which place would have a nice variety of snail dishes."

"…"

She tugged at his hand, casting him a disapproving glare. He smiled in response, turning back to survey the shops around them. "How about that restaurant over there?"

"Sure."

It seemed small from the exterior, but proved to be the exact opposite once they were inside. Kakashi said something in French to the hostess, who nodded almost too enthusiastically. They followed her through several short halls and dining rooms until they came to a room that overlooked a beautiful garden. There was also a patio accessible from a side door, but seemed to be closed most likely due to the chilly winter weather.

Once they were seated, Sakura glanced over the simple lunch menu in front of her and let out an aggravated sighed.

Kakashi lowered his and asked, "What's the matter?"

"I already see the words snail in here twice. You picked this place on purpose."

He held back a laugh. "I've never even been here before and lots of places have escargot."

"Conspiracy," Sakura muttered.

"I guess all of France is in on this conspiracy of yours."

She nudged his arm with her elbow. "Damn right."

Their waiter came by shortly and was holding a bottle of wine, and she could somewhat decipher that he asked if they wanted to try some. To Sakura's surprise, Kakashi agreed and they were both poured a glass. The waiter left to give them a few minutes to look over the menu.

"Am I even allowed to drink?" she asked, staring at the bubbly glass in front of her.

"The drinking age here is eighteen, so you can, but you don't have to."

"Oh, no. I like wine," she said happily and took a small sip.

"Oh? But the legal age in Japan is twenty."

"Well… You know, here and there, but not a lot."

Kakashi tsk-ed. "Such a rebel."

Sakura glanced up and smiled before looking towards the menu again. She really wasn't since it was her mother who let her have some on special occasions, but only a small amount. He didn't need to know how inexperienced she was in the world of alcohol. At the parties Ino dragged her to in high school she always was too uptight to ever have whatever was offered there. Ino always teased her how she was such a stick in the mud.

Reluctantly, she asked him to help translate a few of the dishes for her after making him promise none of them had snails in it at all. After they ordered their food, Sakura couldn't help but notice Kakashi's gaze on her.

"What?" she asked, glancing up at him with a blush.

"Just admiring."

"T-there's nothing to admire," she said, looking down to the napkin she was fumbling with awkwardly in her lap.

"Always so negative about yourself. Why do you think that?"

"I… don't know."

"Yes, you do. Tell me."

Sakura wished she still had a menu to look at to avoid his questioning gaze. She sighed. "I just… Um, oh, look at that." She pointed at something randomly behind him, but unfortunately he wasn't buying her sad attempt at a subject change.

He kept his stare at her. "Uh-huh. You know you're a very poor liar."

She sighed once more. "So I'm usually told…"

"I share with you. Share with me, hum?"

When he said it like that it made her feel guilty. He was right. He had shared with her about his painful past and she had been happy that he had felt comfortable enough with her to do that. It wasn't that she didn't want to tell him more about herself and her silly worries, but compared to his past anything that ever bothered her seemed absolutely trivial. It just doesn't seem worth mentioning. She felt stupid about her insecurities. It was so childish. Then again, he was asking to know and she knew how much he cared in wanting her to be honest no matter what.

"Okay, well… There isn't a moment that I'm not grateful to be with someone as wonderful as you, but I can't help but feel..."

"…Yes?"

She glanced down at the napkin again. "That, um, you could have someone that's probably one hundred times better than me in more ways than one."

"Well, you're wrong there. You're irreplaceable, and you know you're the first person whom I've truly fallen for, right? Doesn't that say something?"

She fought back a smile, glancing up sheepishly at him. "I know and that's why it's stupid of me to feel that way sometimes. I guess it's because… in past relationships I seemed to get dumped for someone else or I just wasn't good enough in general. All of this seems almost too good to be true. Ever feel that way?"

"Trust me. I feel the exact same way. It kind of took me awhile to be able to let myself be happy since I almost feel like I don't deserve it, but you know what?"

Raising a brow, she replied, "Um, what?"

"I know I'm not going anywhere and I'm pretty sure you aren't either, are you?"

She smiled. "No."

"I think with both of us… If we didn't go through past relationships that didn't work out, we wouldn't be the same people we are today and wouldn't be any wiser."

"That's true."

"I always have to wonder about all the different chain of events it took for us to meet. I think we both have had a difficult past in one way or another for different reasons, but we had to deal with it to get to this point. I don't know about you, but I'd go through it all over again if it meant I'd end up finding a wonderful and beautiful person who I could possibly spend the rest of my life with."

Sakura's cheeks shot bright red. She probably would have torn the napkin she was tugging at in half if it hadn't been a thick cloth. Her heart hammered at the mere idea of what exactly he implied by that. He couldn't have meant it that way, could he?

"Oh, that's a new blush," he commented, hiding a grin behind his scarf.

"Shush," she muttered while looking away still beet red. Suddenly, it sure did feel rather hot in here. She began to slip off her outer coat to the back of her chair before she felt him caress a finger at the bottom of her chin, pulling her to look at him.

"What? You know I love your cute blushes," he teased. Pulling his scarf down for a moment, he leaned in to briefly kiss her on the lips.

Seeing their waiter arriving with their food, she shooed his hand away from her face in embarrassment and tried to get a handle on her nerves. Her stomach quietly rumbled just from the mere smell of the hot food placed in front of them. Picking up her fork, she was about to eat before she realized what she was staring at. "God… damn it, Kakashi."

"Yes, love?"

"I hate you so much," she gritted through her teeth. She dropped her fork in defeat on the table. She was so hungry, too. This was not funny.

"What's wrong?"

She pointed to her food. "This."

"And… like I promised. There aren't any snails in it."

"You didn't mention at all this dish had frog legs." She stared down at her plate again with a disgusted frown.

"Oh, I guess I missed that. Sorry."

"You're a damn liar."

He smiled before trading plates with her. "It's a joke. Calm down, but honestly they aren't that bad. It does kind of taste like chicken."

"Yuck."

"Shouldn't you at least try it before hating it?"

She shot him a glare. "No."

"You should try new things. You know, experience a new culture and customs."

"Look, think of it like you're eating Kermit the Frog. How could you do such a thing?" Sakura winced at imagining that poor Muppet being chopped to pieces with that creepy plastered smile on its face.

"Mmm. Kermit."

She averted her eyes as Kakashi took a bite. She shuddered inwardly. Disgusting. She didn't care what kind of delicacy it was or how good it tasted. There was no way she would put frog meat in her mouth. Glancing at her new plate, it looked like the one he described earlier which was a grilled salmon in a nice white wine sauce with a few herbs and spices. Cutting off a small piece with her fork, she was happy it tasted like heaven in her mouth.

"But you seemed to like it last night," he piped up.

"Don't… even tease."

"I told you… it does taste like chicken."

"..."

He shook a small leg in front of her. "You're being silly. Just try one."

She swatted it away with her fork, which the tip brushed against it. She sighed and dropped her fork on the table in exchange for the other clean one. "No."

"Such a spoiled sport."

She huffed in response, giving him an icy glare. He simply smiled, obviously enjoying giving her a hard time. "It's amazing how I can love you so much in one minute, and then hate you in the next."

"Lies, Sakura. You love me all the time. Admit it."

"You're delusional."

"And you're in denial."

Sakura rolled her eyes and continued eating her lunch. The rest of their conversation was pretty pleasant - minus Kakashi's last plea with her to eat the last frog leg which prompted her to give him a swift kick in the shin under the table.

They were back along the main avenue street again, holding hands as they strode down the sidewalk. "You know, my leg kind of isn't feeling too well because of someone. Maybe we shouldn't ice skate later."

"Oh, come on, I know I didn't hit you that hard," she replied with a frown.

"I don't know… if only there was some way for you to make up for the brutality." Suddenly, he pulled her towards a store. "Oh, here we go."

Sakura's eyes went wide at where they were heading. "No, no, no."

"Yes, yes, yes."

Trying to fight against his grip, she slid her fingers along the open glass door to the store which made a screeching sound as she was pulled halfway inside against her will. She kept a stern hold on the door handle like her life depended on it, but Kakashi tickled her stomach to make her lose her grip. She groaned while she was pulled fully inside. How could he do this to her? She wanted to die in embarrassment as she glanced around at all the racy small bits clothing that hung on the walls. Hiding behind him from the woman who greeted them, she tried to yank her hand away from his to make a run for it. He said something in French that made the female clerk laugh, somehow making her feel even more irritated.

"Kakashi! This is embarrassing," she whispered. Although it was unlikely anyone in the store understood Japanese anyway.

"I thought women liked shopping?"

"I don't… shop for lingerie."

"You own panties and bras, don't you?"

Kakashi smiled as he looked around the store. He came here on a whim just to see what kind of blush she would make, but technically he did owe her some new panties - although she still had no clue she was missing any. Also, the mere thought of seeing her in one of these outfits almost made him giddy in excitement.

She glanced around. "T-that's different from… these."

"Well, I think you owe me for mocking the French half of my culture and for kicking me. So let's pick out something nice."

"I've never mocked your culture..."

"You refuse to try France's delicacies."

"Oh, come on. There are lots of things in Japan I won't eat either that's a delicacy."

"And you call yourself Japanese."

She rolled her eyes and tugged at his hand. "I won't run. Promise."

Slowly, he loosened his hold on her hand, and she immediately tried to make a mad dash for the door. He caught her by the jacket and pulled her further into the store as she groaned. He sighed. "You might actually like it if you just try."

Not wanting to admit he would probably be right, she kept quiet and blushed at all the various displays of corsets, stockings, bras, and panties they passed by. "You're just a pervert."

"What's wrong with wanting to see my gorgeous girlfriend in something nice?"

She mumbled something inaudible which made him laugh. "We could go looking for a store more suited for S&M if you want, which we still need to talk about. Don't think I've forgotten."

Sakura felt her face drain. "No, no. Let's stay here."

Kakashi smiled. "If you insist."

After seriously promising she wouldn't run off, she began to willingly explore the store on her own. She traced her hands among the various silks and laces as she searched through racks. She just couldn't imagine herself being sexy in get up like this. Hell, the manikins pulled this off better than she could. There were a lot of pretty things, but she couldn't help but feel like an alien. She sighed. Maybe Ino was right that she really was a prude.

Sakura returned to Kakashi who handed her about five different outfits. "Try these on."

"Um…"

"I'll stay here. Just pick something that you like. If you don't like any of those, we'll keep looking."

"Okay," she grumbled.

She tromped off to the changing area, shooing the girl there while trying to say in French that she didn't need help, and went inside one of the dressing rooms. All the clothes had partly intertwined with each other; she had a fun time figuring out what strap went where in pulling the outfits apart. Having them assorted separately now, she looked them over wondering why Kakashi picked these. They were all different styles, but had a common theme of lacy-textured details.

The first outfit she tried on was too sexy for her tastes. It had a deep V-neckline that went all the way down to her navel. The bottom half barely covered her intimate area and it was even sheer enough to see through. She looked at herself in the mirror. It certainly fitted her well in all the right places. How did he know exactly what size she was? Trying not to think about it, she changed out of it for the next one. Holding up the outfit to her chest she realized it totally looked like a French maid outfit. She rolled her eyes. It had a small black and white apron which only covered the crotch area. There were purposely holes left around the breasts, and the underwear attached didn't even have a back to it. She glared. Like hell she was trying on that one.

She had to admit she liked how she looked in the third one. It was black with front details of lace with mesh sides. It had garters, which she wasn't exactly sure how to hook stockings to, and had underwire cups that made her breasts look bigger than usual, which she appreciated. Slipping on stockings to really see the full effect, it took her several minutes to figure out how to attach them properly without them falling down. Placing hands on her hips, she spun around. She actually felt sexy. Even Ino would have been proud. She beamed at herself in the mirror.

The fourth outfit was cute, but wasn't as sexy as the last one. It was a simple, deep purple sheer baby-doll cut outfit that had a silk ribbon along the front. It felt pretty comfortable and she loved how soft it felt. She actually wouldn't have minded sleeping in something like this as pajamas, but assumed Kakashi would never let her get any sleep wearing something like this every night. The final outfit was a strapless satin corset that had matching lacy panties and garter. She liked this one, but didn't feel all that comfortable in it. She didn't lace up the corset all the way, but could already tell that if it was, she would have a hard time breathing.

Deciding on the third one, she got dressed and found Kakashi hovering over the panties section. He looked up to her and asked, "Like any?"

"Yeah, I liked one."

"Which one?" He tried to peer at what she was holding behind her back.

She swayed her shoulders keeping his view blocked. "Secret."

"There's no way I can wait that long. Tell me… please?" he asked hopefully.

"Then I refuse to ever wear it."

"…but you will tonight?"

"If you still ice skate with me."

"How about you wear it while you ice skate?" He sucked in a breath imagining her twirling around in practically nothing like in that French Maid outfit. He knew there was no chance she would have picked it, but he had to try. Least he could envision it. Yes. Oh, God yes.

"…"

She glared.

He snapped back to her unamused face. "No?"

"Pervert."

"I am no such thing."

"You're so in denial."

Kakashi responded with an eye crinkle of a smile and gave her some money to purchase whatever she decided on. Finding the need to have some kind of restraint to not peek on what she was going to purchase, he pulled out his Icha Icha book and paced around in the front until she was ready to go. Once they were outside again, he placed his book back in his pocket and felt Sakura pull at his hand. "Let's check out the Arc de Triomphe."

"Alright."

It was in sight, but there was still quite a walk to reach it. The closer they approached the landmark, the more his thoughts couldn't help but drift to what it must have been like for his mother growing up in France. He remembered her telling him she moved to Paris for college and then after a year or two decided to be an exchange student in Japan. She fell in love with the country and wanted to come back after she graduated. He wondered if her family was supportive in living so far away.

Kakashi sighed. He really didn't know anything about her family. He had only met them briefly when he was a child. There was no doubt they wanted nothing to do with anyone from Hatake. It didn't matter if he was her son or not. Why else wouldn't they have tried contacting him after her death? He couldn't blame them though, especially if they knew how his father's side of the family had treated her.

They stood at the foot of the monument now. The sculpted reliefs along the sides reminded him of an old picture he saw once of his mother standing in front that very section of the arc. It was a strange feeling, knowing that she had been here once, stepping on the very same bricks he was now.

Bitterness started to creep into his heart. He barely had anything but his memories that his parents had once existed. His uncle threw out all the family pictures of them once they had died. That was something he would never understand. Why? Why was it so important to destroy everything that he knew about them? Was it simply out of hate? Or was it just the satisfaction of making him feel even more miserable?

The only picture he managed to save was the one he had tucked away in his chest at home. It had been torn into pieces when he had found it in the wastebasket of his uncle's office. He had found even more pictures and mementos that night outside in the garbage can, but once his uncle had found out he had been digging through it, he ransacked his room. He tossed most of what he had found into the fireplace, saying how disgusting it was to have anyone with the Hatake name dirtying themselves like some homeless street beggar. That was the first of many nights he was beaten. What made it worse was that this all happened within the same week after his parents died. Never had he ever felt so miserable in his life. He would be lying if suicide didn't cross his mind back then. He almost did, but something stopped him.

"Kakashi?"

He flinched out of his daze to find Sakura staring at him in worry. "Hum?"

"You okay?"

"Yes… why?"

"Well, I asked you something, but you seemed kind of spaced out."

"Sorry. What did you ask?"

"Did you want to visit a museum after this?"

"Sure, sounds good."

"And, um… well, is anything the matter?"

"Not really."

Sakura frowned at him. "Tell me, please?"

"I was just... thinking about what kind of life my mother must have had when she lived here."

"Is she originally from Paris?"

"Only went to school here. Originally she's from a small town south of France."

"Oh, wow. I can only imagine how beautiful her hometown must be."

"Yeah, I'm sure it is."

"You've never been there?"

"Nope."

"We could visit… if you want to."

"I don't know…"

"Just think about it for now?"

"Well… I guess I'll think about it."

"Alright," she replied with an assuring smile. He smiled back, thankful all the more that she was here. There was absolutely no way he would have ever considered seeing what his mother's hometown was like on his own, but if Sakura was there, somehow it made him feel more at ease.


Kakashi would have chalked it up to being old for the kind of soreness he felt in his legs, but when he fell over on their bed at the hotel, Sakura followed right next to him with a plop. She let out a sigh.

"I never want to walk again."

"I vote we opt for wheelchairs for the rest of the trip," he mumbled face down into the bedding.

"Agreed."

After they visited the Arc de Triomphe, they went to explore one of the most famous museums in France, The Louvre Museum, which housed legendary works such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Sakura wasn't too happy at first at Kakashi elbowing a few people so they could get close enough to see it from the crowd surrounding it, but he knew she was really delighted to view it closely from the look on her face.

He didn't account for how massive the place was. He could have sworn they had walked for hours and hours looking through each section. It was certainly amazing to see the detailing of brush strokes and sculpted figures of famous works in person. It almost didn't seem possible that man could create something so detailed by hand. Pictures seriously didn't do the artworks any justice. They decided to go ahead and have dinner at the café there, which was rather nice. By the time they finished looking throughout most of the levels and even the gardens on the outside of the building, they decided to call it quits for the day, much to the disappointment of Sakura. They were both too tired to ice skate, which made him even more disappointed he wouldn't get to see her in some mouthwatering lingerie for promising to ice skate with her. He yawned, annoyed at how tired he felt. It was still so early at night. He really, really wanted to see her in that lingerie and, most importantly, slowly taking off said lingerie. He sighed, feeling a spark of desire wash over him from thinking about it.

Kakashi suddenly had a great idea to wake them up a bit. Sitting up on his elbows, he turned to her and cupped a hand to his ear. "What was that you said, Sakura?"

Her head poked up from the sheets and turned to look at him like he was crazy. "I didn't say anything…"

"No, no, I think you said you wanted to take a shower together."

"…"

"Splendid idea. Yes, you're right. It will save water and time."

She narrowed her eyes with a grin. "You're so funny."

Kakashi smiled and slowly sat up to kneel on the bed and turned to her to pull her up. "No time to waste."

Sakura chuckled and slid off the bed as she was pulled to the bathroom. She couldn't help but smile at the mischievous grin Kakashi had once he pulled the scarf from around his face. Folding her arms, she tried to best to look unamused. "I didn't agree to your little shower."

"Hey now, it was your idea…"

"You mean your idea. I didn't even say anything."

"Now, now. It doesn't matter whose idea it is. It's a great idea."

"Hum, I suppose it is…" Smiling, she sidestepped around him and opened the shower to get the water running. Closing the shower door, she turned to him and placed her hands at his hips to toy with the hem of his shirt. "Oh, let me help you with that…"

Slowly, she pulled up his shirt, leading a trail of kisses from his lean stomach up towards his chest until his shirt was completely removed. Tossing it to the stool beside them, she encircled her tongue briefly around his nipple.

"I think you need help, too," he murmured and pulled her shirt up to discard it to the pile of clothing forming beside them.

He leaned over and began to kiss along her neck as he pulled her close to his chest. His hands smoothed along her spine and slipped a hand inside her jeans to caress her butt underneath her panties. Sakura undid the zipper of her pants that Kakashi finished removing. She quickly undid his jeans, and then pulled them down to add to the pile of clothing.

Kakashi circled his thumbs around the waistband of her panties and pulled them down gradually until they fell past her knees to the floor. She moved her hands along the inside of his thigh and over his groin before she began to tug down his boxers. After he stepped out of them, he slowly edged them towards the shower, letting her enter inside first. He followed and closed the shower door behind him with a click.

Moving into the shower stream, Sakura quickly doused herself in warm water, running her hands teasingly across her body as the water fell into her hair and over her curves.

"Can you ever not look incredibly sexy?" Kakashi commented. He moved closer to slide his hands across her stomach and up over her breasts.

"I could try..." She crossed her eyes at him with a laugh.

"Still sexy."

"Really?"

"In a very… special kind of way. Really special."

She laughed and smacked his behind. "Mean."

"I'm never mean," he whined, slowly pushing her against the steamy tile of the shower. He bent down and licked along a trail of water that ran over her chest and sucked hungrily at a nipple. She grunted at the force as he continued his hard sucks at her skin, rising up towards to the top of her breast. He lingered there for a moment before finally releasing her skin from his lips with a pop.

"Hey!" she protested, looking down at the dark red hickey mark he left on her pale skin.

"No one will see it except me, unless you're going to be wearing a bikini top during winter or something…"

"Well, that's true… You better let me give you a hickey, too. It's only fair."

He smiled. "Fine."

Sakura immediately began to suck at his nipple, swirling her tongue around it while she edged her hands below his waist. She teased her fingers at his manhood for a moment, slowly massaging his sensitive mound of flesh making him grunt and groan. Her mouth dipped lower to his toned abs. She started to make hard sucks along his stomach, making sweet pop sounds, as if an octopus's tentacle was slowly being peeled away from him as she went along. Before long she murmured, "Perfect!"

His eyes shot down wondering what exactly she was talking about, until he saw multiple red marks along his stomach. Sakura held back a laugh as she distanced herself, slipping her fingers up from his groin to his abdomen, tracing the outline of her handiwork.

Looking more closely at the formation of the marks that were placed on his stomach, he blinked a couple of times before realizing it was shaped into a smiley face. "Sakura!"

"What?" she asked with a snicker.

"…"

"Don't give me that look, Kakashi. You said I could make hickeys."

"Hickey. Not hickeys shaped into an embarrassing smiley face…"

"But I like it… and I'll only see it, right?"

"…"

"See? Now don't make a fuss. It's cute. Now I'll always smile extra big when you strip off your shirt."

"…"

Sakura couldn't help but giggle at his blank expression.

"Let me give you a couple more hickeys then," he said, making a grab for her waist.

She slipped past his hands and moved to the other side of the shower. "No, no. I'm good."

"It's only fair…" He made a grab for her again, this time pinning her against the wall.

Squirming against his grip, she frowned until she finally gave in to having a matching hickey set of a smiley face on her stomach. When he was finished he laughed at her sour expression. "You look really funny like that. Sad face with a happy face on your stomach."

"…"

"Come on, turn that frown upside down."

"…"

"Come onnnn," he pleaded, tugging at her lips with kisses. She finally smiled before she began returning them.

Kissing him with a bit more force, she moved him towards the spray of water behind them and hungrily clamored for his tongue with hers. Sucking up the fresh water that ran down the stubble his cheek, she kissed along his neck and down across his chest.

"No more hickey faces please," he said, feeling her lips go down along his stomach.

"What about… around here?" Hesitantly at first, she licked along the top edge of his groin area making a warm sensation flare up inside him.

"Um, well, maybe…"

"Here?" She kissed lower to the base of his manhood, dropping to her knees.

"Uh…" He tensed in anticipation of what exactly she was planning on doing with that devious mouth of hers.

She trailed her kisses towards his tip while she held him in place with a hand. Slowly, she began to lick around him in seductive circles and stopped for a moment to say, "Maybe here?"

"Y-yes." It was the only word he could manage stutter out in surprise. His breath hitched as he felt her envelop him in her hot mouth. She sucked softly at first, before increasingly becoming harder. Kneading him with her other hand, she took him in as far as she could before stroking him with her mouth. He felt the vibration of a moan from her along his length.

"Fuck," he muttered, clutching his eyes tight at the incredible feeling. The shy moans she was making was already about to push him over the edge. He started to tentatively jerk into her sucks, failing to fight back a groan. The bobs of her mouth picked up in pace, sucking him harder with each pass.

"S-Sakura," he moaned. She felt so amazing. He couldn't remember the last time he ever had a blow job feel this fucking intense.

Sakura tried to stop herself from grinning at his moans and tried to just focus on pleasuring him for all the times he had done the same to her. She was beyond happy she could have this kind of effect on him, not thinking it was possible. She didn't think reading all those sex tips out of boredom from women's magazines would actually come in handy. Experimenting with different angles of her mouth, she found one that was most comfortable as she continued to pump her lips around him, sucking and pressing her tongue around him at the same time.

"S-Sakura… I'm going to… A-ah." He felt her increase her strokes before he could finish his warning. His body exploded into her mouth, making him groan in pleasure and he watched her swallow every last bit of him before removing her soft, wet lips around him. He shuddered, still feeling his orgasm rock through his body like a wave. He watched her lick her lips as she stood up. He kissed along her neck and across her jaw before claiming her mouth with his.

Kakashi sucked in a breath. "That… was amazing. Seriously. I'm still hard, Sakura."

She smiled, hiding a blush against his neck. "Oh, really? I couldn't tell," she joked.

He groaned while he started to nibble along her ear and whispered huskily, "You have no idea how bad I want to take you right now."

"Why don't you?" she teased.

"If that wouldn't result in little Kakashi's running around, I would… So, until you get birth control…" He turned off the shower and started to pick her up.

"AH! Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

"Um, I'm going to have my way with you. Obviously," he scoffed.

Kakashi hoisted her bridal style into his arms and exited the shower. She squealed in fear and gripped her hands against his wet back as they moved into the bedroom. He was about to toss on her the bed.

"Kakashi!"

He stopped. "…Yes?"

"We'll get the bed wet."

"Oh, you're right. Sorry." He started to put her on the floor. "Kakashi!"

He couldn't help but laugh. "Yes?"

"...Not on the floor."

"But it's kinky…"

"…"

"Fine. Have it your way, but you're missing out."

He moved her on top of one the plush couches in the room and kissed her briefly along her neck, giving her a small taste of what was to come as he broke away making her moan. She folded her arms over her chest, feeling chilly as he went quickly to one of the dresser drawers for his stashed box of condoms.

Deciding to have fun at his expense, she hushed a laugh to herself at her plan and then tried to look serious. "Kakashi."

He turned to look at her. "…Yes?"

"It's cold." She pretended to shudder.

"I'll warm you up."

"But… your wet hair is going to drip all over me."

"You'll forget about it. Trust me." He turned back around.

"Kakashi."

"Yes?"

"Maybe we should move to the bed."

"Mm, okay."

He approached her about to pick her up. "Ah! Wait. I changed my mind. Here is fine."

"Wherever is fine with me." He started to kiss her throat.

"Kakashi."

He halted. "…Yes?"

"I think I do want to go on the bed after all."

"…"

He picked her up with a grunt, wondering how this suddenly turned into the most difficult lay ever.

"Wait, wait, wait."

"…"

He heard her fight back a snicker against his ear, realizing she was toying with him. "Okay. That's it you damn tease. Now, I'm going to make you beg for it."

Sakura's cheeks flushed. "W-what?"

He tossed her on the bed which made her bounce once and climbed on top of her. He dominated her with feverish kisses all over her body, and then sucked at the valley between her breasts. She started to slide her hands over his chest, but he stopped her hands to pin them above her. He licked between the damp strands of hair that were slicked against her neck and went upwards to her jaw. He hastily began to nip at her lips.

"Kakas-Mm!"

She was cut off as he invaded with his tongue to explore every crevice in her mouth. Finding it more of a turn on than anything as he refused to let her even respond, she felt almost helpless as she felt his groin pressed against her wet center, making her arch her back.

"A-ah," she murmured, trying to press herself even more into him. To her disappointment, he moved his hips back. Kissing at her breasts now, he molded his hands around each one before squeezing while he sucked at pink, hardened nipples. Her heart hammered as he trailed his tongue down her stomach in one lick until he reached her sensitive bud. He flicked it furiously with his tongue.

"Kakashi," she cried in a hushed moan.

He stopped and began to circle his tongue around her intimate folds. Using two fingers, he widened his access to her and explored around her slowly, savoring the taste with each suck he made. She groaned, almost stunned at the powerful effect of need he had on her. Her hips bucked in desperation, wanting more, which only prompted him to stop. She was about to whine before she felt his fingers begin to slide against her in strokes. His mouth began to wander over her body again. She swore each kiss he placed was setting fire against her nerves. He traced over the hickeys he gave her earlier with his lips, and she could feel him smile as he went along the pattern. The sharp stubble of his cheek almost made it unbearable across her skin, but at the same time the kisses and hard sucks made it a mix of pain and pleasure.

Sakura's breaths began to shorten the longer and faster he began sliding his fingers over her spot. She was so close to finding release. The moment she was about to teeter off the edge he stopped. "Ka-kashi," she uttered in annoyance.

"Something the matter?" he asked, not hiding back the amusement in his voice.

She felt him enter a set of fingers inside her, making her gasp. She frowned in frustration of needing to feel more as she tried to roll her hips into his hand. He backed off not giving her the desired friction she wanted. "Please, Kakashi."

"Tell me what you need, baby."

"I need you." She moaned at feeling his fingers again. He seriously wasn't kidding when he said he was going to make her beg. God, there was so only much she could take at this point. "Please… take me," she pleaded again. Her heart skipped a beat hearing the tear of the wrapper. The anticipation was driving her crazy as she held in a breath.

Once he was ready he pressed his groin against her. "How bad do you want it?" he whispered in her ear, sending a chill down her spine.

Sakura mentally cursed, he was still going to torture her. He was so cruel. "Really badly," she groaned.

"Is that so?" he asked casually.

"Please… I…"

"Hum?"

"I can't take it anymore, Kakas-mmfph," she let out a muffled moan, feeling his tip enter her. Her hips rose eagerly to meet his until he filled her completely. A familiar burn hit her at first until he slid out of her slowly. Then he entered her again and again, making the small pain turn into pure pleasure.

"H-harder," she muttered.

He pulled out almost completely making her upset at first before he slammed into her in a deep thrust.

"Ahh! Yes," she breathed, arching back into the sheets. He slammed into her again with the same force making her moan once more. "God, yes. Faster."

Kakashi obliged, thrusting as deep and hard as he could. He pounded into her effortlessly inside her wet walls. She scratched her nails along his back, trying not to get too overwhelmed by how fast he plunged within her.

"Sakura," he moaned as he continued his pace. She cried out his name as an orgasm hit her that shook throughout her whole body. He didn't stop his relentless thrusts until he repositioned her legs to rest on shoulders. He dug his fingers along her inner thighs, completely lost in the feeling of her as he mindlessly pumped into her without stopping.

"Ka-ka-shi." She whimpered from the intense pleasure she felt before crashing into another orgasm. He kissed along her knee before he finally found his own sweet release. He almost fell completely on top of her in exhaustion, but managed to prop himself on his elbows as they both heaved, trying to catch their breaths.

"Um…" Sakura started to say between breaths, but seemed to be having trouble formulating any real words. She winced in pleasure feeling him pull out from her.

Kakashi smiled at her beautiful green eyes staring up at him. "I love you, too," he said in a random attempt of guessing what she was going to say. She smiled brightly as he fell beside her.

Curling into his chest, she took in a shaky breath. "Okay, I… I think I can talk now. Yes, I love you and that was amazing."

He laughed. "Ah, so you can speak." She flicked her index finger into his stomach making a tap sound. "Ow… always so violent."

Sakura smirked before further snuggling into him. He rubbed along her skin at the goosebumps that were forming along her arm from the cold. After a moment, he pulled them up towards the head of the bed to slip under the blankets. She pointed sleepily at where they were before they moved. "See? Now we've made the bed wet."

"It will dry at some point, silly."

She mumbled something inaudible before wrapping her arms around him. Only after few minutes, did they both fall asleep in each other's arms.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Après la Pluie, le Beau Temps

Kakashi stared with apprehension at Sakura at first before leaning over the edge of the thin wall of the rink. Glancing at all the various people skating around in circles he said, "How about I watch you first?"

She sighed, figuring he was stalling for time and waved her fingers at him. "Just come here. I'll help you."

"I, um…."

"Kakashi…"

"…Yes?"

"Are you scared?"

"Ha. Me? Scared of what?" He glanced at the ice hesitantly.

"Then come out here."

"But... I want to see how you do it first."

She sighed. "Fine."

Sakura pushed off from the wall separating them and joined the flow of people skating. His eyes never left her and he admired how effortless she made it look. She made one pass around the center before halting in front of Kakashi with her arms crossed. "Satisfied? Now come out here and try."

He sighed and carefully walked, trying to balance on the thin metal blades of his skates to the open gate to the rink. Slowly, he stepped on the ice while clinging to the wall, half afraid to let go. He felt so ridiculous.

"Keep your back straight and bend your knees. Use your arms for balance."

Kakashi nodded and slowly released his fingers from the wall and made one push with his foot. He wobbled a bit, but rebalanced himself. Sakura held him at his side at first before letting go again. "Just keep gliding one foot at a time until you get the hang of it," she said.

He pushed off with one foot again, but this time more forcefully, making him slide a good distance before gradually coming to a stop. He watched in disdain as a boy, who looked like he was around the age of ten, began to skate backwards in circles around him. The little kid grinned up at him brightly before bolting off to speed skate around the rink.

"Brat," Kakashi muttered under his breath.

Sakura skated in front of him and held out her arms. He grasped her hands and sighed. "I need a break."

She started to skate backwards while pulling him gently. "You've only been out here for thirty seconds."

He groaned. "I don't wanna fall."

She gave an assuring smile. "Everybody falls, don't worry. Just have fun. Oh, but if you do fall make sure you clutch your fists so no one around you accidentally slices your fingers off."

"…"

How could she say that so easily with a smile? Trying to remind himself it was for the sake of lingerie, he started to push off the ice again and slowly rounded the corner. Bracing himself a bit, he felt a bit more comfortable before letting her hands go. She skated slowly beside him and watched while trying to offer helpful pointers. He decided this really wasn't as bad as he thought. Filling up with a bit more confidence, he started to skate a bit faster.

"See? Easy."

"So far so good."

Sakura grinned and held his hand as they slowly drifted between various groups of people. Night had fallen not too long ago. Earlier in the day they had checked out a couple more well renowned museums in Paris and The Notre Dame Cathedral. He had to beg Sakura for them to see the Le Musée des Égouts de Paris - The Paris Sewer Museum. He was mostly curious about the engineering aspect behind it which had always been fascinating to him. She wasn't too fond of the smell or how dark and dreary it was, but she did find a few things that were interesting as much as she claimed to hate it. Afterwards, she made them go back to the hotel so she could take a shower. She claimed she'd never feel clean again from accidentally touching one of the grime covered walls in the sewer.

Now, they were at the public ice skating rink which was in front of an old historic building that used to be a town hall. Its handcrafted exterior was decorated in twinkling white Christmas lights. Kakashi looked towards Sakura for a moment, admiring how beautiful she looked against the blur of lights as the wind rustled through her hair. Her eyes found his and she shyly smiled at him. He loved it when she smiled. It really did make it seem like the world around him was just a little brighter. He squeezed her hand and returned an eye crinkle of a smile.

Every day they had spent together so far in France had certainly been a blast. Never had he ever done anything like this before or ever dreamed of ever finding a kind of love like this. It was amazing how much of his life had changed in just a matter of months, all thanks to her. He finally had someone else to live for and not just for himself.

He decided long ago to just do something with his life. Learn all that he could and contribute it back through teaching. That at least somehow or in someway it would make a difference. He wasn't sure where he would have been now if it wasn't for martial arts growing up. That was one of the reasons why he chose to become a teacher. It was his only outlet at the time that helped him live with the misery of his home life. His uncle only allowed it as a convenient excuse to explain the various bruises he would constantly get over the years.

Kakashi sighed, trying to shake off his drifting thoughts. This wasn't the time to think about the past. What was important now was the future, which he very much looked forward to. He squeezed Sakura's hand once more.

She smiled and hugged his arm briefly. "So, ready to learn a quadruple axel?"

"Now you're just trying to kill me."

Sakura stuck her tongue out in response. Suddenly, the little boy from earlier darted out in front of them, making Kakashi swing his hips trying to avoid crashing into him. Losing his balance, he fell hard into the ground. He sighed and shot the kid a dirty look as he slid across the frigid ice on his butt.

Sakura rushed over to him and helped him back up. "You okay?"

"Yeah… stupid kid." His eyes glanced back over at the boy who was picking up something from the ice. It was a very familiar looking book. Puzzled, Kakashi reached around to his back pocket to find nothing there. His book must have fallen out when he fell. The kid started to flip through and stopped on a page which made his eyes go wide. Kakashi had a good idea which illustration he must had stumbled on. Suddenly, the boy started to skate off.

Sakura watched in bemusement. "Wow, I think he's stealing your porn, Kakashi."

"Like hell he is."

Kakashi sighed, almost not believing this was happening. There was no way he was going to let some ten year-old steal his precious, limited edition Icha Icha book. He started to skate after the kid, fumbling a bit trying to pick up speed. Sakura sped past him and made a grab for the book, but missed as the kid spun out of her grasp. Kakashi decided to cut across the center of the rink in hopes of cutting the boy off, and raced across as fast as he could. His fingers narrowly missed grabbing the book's spine as the kid weaved around him. The thought didn't occur to him until it was too late. He had no idea how to stop.

"Fuck," he muttered, bracing his hands as he crashed into the wall. The momentum had forced him to flip over the railing and fall right into a bush. Staring up into the night's sky, he folded his arms and huffed. Hopefully Sakura didn't just see him eat it.

"Kakashi!"

Or not. Embarrassment flushed his cheeks as she peered over the side looking panicked. "Jesus, Kakashi. You okay?"

"No."

"Are you hurt?"

He started to move his arms before feeling several branches digging into his back and stopped. "I don't want to move to find out."

She let out a worried sigh and turned to look over her shoulder. "I'm going to kick his ass."

"Sakura," he started to say before she disappeared. She really wasn't going to beat up that little brat was she? If so, he really wanted to watch. He slowly began to stand up, picking out branches that scraped up against his back underneath his jacket, and held himself up onto the railing. Readjusting the scarf around his face, his eyes scanned for pink hair across the crowd. He found her. She had his book in her hand and was slapping the kid in the head with it a couple of times. Kakashi couldn't help but laugh and feel rather proud.

Sakura skated back towards him looking a bit flustered. "You really okay?"

"I'm fine. That was pretty hilarious to watch by the way."

"Well, I have to defend my man's porn," she teased.

"For the last time, it's romance."

She smiled and looked into his book. "I don't know. This picture looks like porn to me."

"It's art."

"Porn."

"Art."

Clearing her throat, she muttered as a whisper, "Porn."

Kakashi sighed with a small smile and pulled himself up and over the wall. Once he was settled on the ice again, Sakura dusted off his jacket and removed a couple of twigs and leaves from his hair. She started to pull up his jacket. He swatted her hand away. "Hey, hey, I'm fine."

"Did you get cut? Let me see."

"Trust me, I'm fine," he tried to assure. His back stung like hell, but the last thing he wanted was her to worry over just a few harmless scratches.

She sighed and handed him back his book. "Well, okay. So, did you wanna keep skating or maybe we should do something else?"

"Well… Have I earned it to see you in that lingerie tonight yet?" He looked at her hopefully.

"We didn't get to skate for too long, but I feel sorry for you not only having your porn-"

"Romance," he interjected.

"Whatever you like to call it stolen, but you wiped out pretty badly…"

He gave her a sad puppy dog look with his eyes and frowned.

"Ugh. I hate you. Fine…" She pulled out another twig from his hair. "What do you want to do now?"

Smiling beneath his scarf quite happily, he started to pull at her hand and started skating towards the exit of the rink.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"Château. Must. See. Lingerie. Now."

Rolling her eyes she tugged at his arm. "Shouldn't we eat somewhere first if we're going back?"

Damn. It was true they hadn't eaten dinner yet, but he wanted to see her so badly. Last night he even dreamed about what she would possibly be wearing. The anticipation was going to kill him. "How about… fast food?"

She laughed. "You're really in that much of a hurry to see me?"

"You have no idea."

"It won't kill you to wait a little longer, will it? Can't we have something nice? We did travel all this way… and you did force me to see that disgusting sewer museum of yours."

He groaned knowing she was right. "Okay."

After they unlaced their ice skates and swapped them for their own shoes, they returned them back to the rental area.

"Let's see what we can find along the river. It's down this way, isn't it?" She pointed enthusiastically.

He chuckled. "Yes, let's go that way then."

Sakura clasped his hand as they walked down the street until they reached along the Seine River. They had walked along the river before in another area, but she could never get enough of how beautiful it looked, especially at night like it was right now. The river boats floated peacefully down the waterway surrounded by the glowing lights of the city. It just made it so tranquil. In the distance, you could see the Eiffel Tower. It dawned on her they still hadn't visited it yet and their trip was going to be over soon.

"So, when are we going to see the Eiffel Tower?"

"I was wondering when you'd finally mention it. I was beginning to think you didn't want to see it," he teased.

"Oh?"

"There's two restaurants in the tower and one in particular that I wanted us to go to. Apparently it takes months in advance to make a reservation, but I managed to get us in for tomorrow actually."

"How did you manage that?"

"It doesn't matter how…"

Sakura looked at him questionably.

"Fine. Lots of blackmail and lies."

She sighed. "Sad thing is that I believe you."

He smiled. "There's a dress code, so we'll need to wear something kind of dressy."

"I don't have any nice dresses with me."

"We'll find something early tomorrow."

"Are you ever going to get tired of spoiling me like this?"

"Nope."

She grinned as they walked comfortably in silence for awhile until they reached a nice looking district. "Oh, how about that restaurant?"

"No matter to me. Let's hurry." He started to pull her faster down the sidewalk.

"Because you're so hungry and nothing else like silly lingerie is motivating you?"

"A man can only take so much teasing."

"Oh, that so?" She was grinning to herself at a terrible, terrible devious plan.

"What's that smile about?" he asked with a raised brow.

"Nothing."

"Liar."

"Maybe. You'll just have to find out later."

"Now I'm afraid."

"Let's just enjoy our dinner until then."

They were both surprised to find how beautiful and romantic the inside of the restaurant was. The walls were made up of a cream-colored wood paneling with a gold trim which matched the golden frames of the artworks that were hung up. The cove ceiling above them also had beautiful detailing of gold at each corner of the room. Most of the circular dining tables were small and intimate, but were comfortable enough for two.

"I swear every random place we find is always so extravagant," Sakura commented after they sat down.

"I think you just have an eye for picking the most expensive place in the area."

"I do not!"

"Clearly, you do."

She pouted. "I don't try to!"

"Sure, sure," he said with a laugh at how defensive she was.

"What does this one say?" she asked and pointed to the menu.

He leaned over and laughed again. "Of course you pick the most expensive thing on the menu…"

"…"

She flinched and pulled the menu away to look over the price. "No it's not."

"I was joking."

"Ugh." She glared at him before reluctantly showing him the menu again to have him help translate. Once she decided on something she added, "No lingerie if you make me get any weird dishes again. I'm dead serious."

He frowned and looked over his menu. "Okay, then you'll want to change your order."

"I thought you said it was just chicken?"

"It's chicken and squid."

"I hate you…"

"Least I'm telling you before we ordered. Aren't I nice?"

"No. You just want lingerie."

"Does that make me a bad person?"

"It makes you a pervert."

"And I admit it. There. Now we have that all out in the open."

"It was obvious that you were from the very beginning."

"I guess this means you love perverts?"

"Just you, silly. Pervert or not."

Kakashi grinned at that. After they placed their orders he got them a bottle of wine to share. Nibbling at the fresh bread on their table he cleared his throat. "Oh, yeah. Have I earned enough points to get my Christmas present yet?"

She swirled the wine in her glass before sipping and making a humming sound. "You're still at negative three points."

"You can't be serious. Still?"

"Well, forcing me to look at a sewer set you back again."

"It wasn't that bad. I thought it was rather romantic, too."

"Romantic?"

"It was dark and… cozy in there."

"It was wet and it smelled."

"That was the smell of man's hardship and sweat building an underappreciated complex system people take for granted."

"Pff. The things you make up. I swear..."

"Fine. Then you're not getting my present either."

Her eyes immediately lit up. "Oh? You got me something?"

"Of course."

"What is it?"

"Like I'm going to tell you."

"Please?"

"No. I'm going to force you to wait forever like you're forcing me."

"Then I'll just wear that lingerie tomorrow then."

"Hey, that's not fair…"

"Life isn't fair. So, tomorrow it is then."

"Wait, wait… I'll give you a hint."

"Okay, which is what?"

He thought for a moment, scratching his chin beneath his scarf. "Banana."

"That's your hint?"

"Yep."

She glared.

"What?"

"That's not much of a hint."

He shrugged. "Too bad, so sad."

Sakura scowled at him.

Kakashi pretended she wasn't glaring at him and smiled. "I love you," he said sweetly.

She sighed before breaking into a smile. "I love you, too."

Once they were finished eating their dinners, Sakura wanted dessert, much to the sadness of Kakashi. He wanted to leave already, but indulged her in ordering a dish for them to share. He watched her as she took a small bite from the chocolate mousse cake placed between them.

"Mmmm. So good," she said with a quiet moan. She licked the fork rather suggestively and flicked her mischievous green eyes upwards at him.

Kakashi stared, almost choking on the piece he just bit into. "Is that how you always eat cake?"

"Yep, but normally I eat it in nothing but my panties at home." She winked at him with her obvious lie.

He couldn't stop the vision from invading his mind, but pushed back his thoughts to compose himself. "…I see what you're doing and it's not going to work."

"What am I doing?"

"You're teasing me… and you know how bad I want to leave right now."

"You do? Oh, I wouldn't have ordered dessert if I would have known."

"Liar."

She took another forkful of fluffy chocolate cake. "Mmmmmm."

His spine tingled at hearing that small moan of hers. "Why are you doing this?"

"Eating cake?" she asked innocently.

"Torturing me."

"Not sure what you mean." She dabbed her index finger in the frosting and licked it, making another small moan, which was a little louder this time making a few stares look their way. "Mmmm."

"Shhh."

"I love cake. Can't I express my love for cake?"

"Not if you're going to make a scene and give me a damn hard on."

"Well, it's not like I'll ever see these people again. I don't care." She took another bite and moaned again.

"Fucking… damn it," he muttered and tried to look away.

"Are you blushing, Kakashi?"

"No."

"Let me see your face…"

"No."

"Just admit I've finally made you blush."

He readjusted his scarf and slinked down into his chair, crossing his arms. "I don't blush."

"Then why are you hiding your face again?"

"I'm done eating."

"Look at all this cake left… I can't finish it on my own."

"Then it goes to waste."

"Fine. I'll try and eat the rest." She licked her lips slowly before taking another bite and omitting a louder moan from before.

Kakashi slid further in his chair from the stares around them and sighed. He waved the waiter over and gave him his card to pay for their bill while muttering in French for him to hurry.

"Mmmmmmmm."

"You're killing me, Sakura."

"Well, then eat this cake on me."

He blinked, wondering if he just heard right. "What…?"

"Eat cake with me."

"…"

Another groan escaped her lips. "Mmmm. Oh, God. This chocolate is just so amazing."

He placed a hand beneath his chin on the table and glared at her, which made her smile all the more. Tapping his fingers against the table impatiently, he tried very hard not to be effected by her moans. After the waiter came back with the receipt for him to sign, he immediately stood up. "Let's go."

"I'm not done yet."

"Yes, you are." He grabbed her hand to pull her up from the chair and ushered them outside.

Sakura shivered from the blast of cold that greeted them. "Why are you in such a hurry, Kakashi?" she asked with a laugh.

"I'm trying really hard not to pull you into that dirty alleyway over there and have my way with you. Careful what you say."

Sakura pouted at him and remained silent as they entered the cab. He could have sworn it was the most agonizing and longest drive of his life. By the time they made it inside the lobby of the château, he had to stop himself from running in the lobby until they were in the hallway. He pulled her behind him at a speeding pace.

"Kakashi!" she gasped with a laugh, struggling not to fall behind him.

After they were in the elevator, he pinned her against the wall and pulled down his scarf to kiss her neck. "You're very talented at driving me crazy."

"Mm, that so?" she mumbled back in response before kissing him back eagerly. He started to kiss at her lips, tasting that menacing chocolate cake.

When the elevator's doors opened to their floor, they both stumbled into the hall still kissing each other senselessly until they found their way to their room's door. She wasn't sure how, but he managed to unlock it effortlessly without stopping kissing her.

Shutting the door behind them, he unzipped her jacket and let it fall to the floor, then shook off his coat as they moved further and further to the bed. Once they were at the edge of the bed, he pushed her delicately to fall backwards and began to unzip her pants.

"I thought you wanted me to wear that lingerie?"

Tugging her pants off he replied, "I can't wait any longer thanks to your damn moaning."

"Awe, but I was looking forward to wearing it for you."

He groaned. "And I really, really want to see it."

"Let me change into it."

"But I want you right now." He pulled her long-sleeved sweater up and over her head, trailing kisses along her chest, then tossed her shirt to the floor.

She placed a knee into his chest, pushing him back with a grin. "You can wait five more seconds."

He paused.

Sakura looked at him strangely wondering what he was going to do. She sucked in a deep inhale to calm her beating heart down.

"Okay, that was five seconds." He pushed her knee aside and leaned down into her chest, slipping his tongue beneath her bra.

"Ah, Kakashi… I- I'll never wear it if you don't let me do it now."

He sighed and forced himself to pull away, falling beside her on the bed. "Okay, go change now before I can't stop myself any longer. You have three seconds to get away. Three… Two…"

She bolted from the bed as he playfully made a grab for her, his fingers slipping past her waist. Casting him a flirty look, she disappeared into the bathroom with the shopping bag that had the outfit he desperately wanted to see.

Kakashi wasted no time stripping off the rest of his clothes until he was only in his boxers. He tried to mentally prepare himself to not immediately strip off whatever outfit she was going to wear. His mind changed the second she stepped out of the bathroom.

Shyly, she appeared from the doorway looking embarrassed at first before becoming more confident as she modeled a pose for him. "So, what you think?"

"…"

He couldn't formulate words as she did a slow spin. Every curve of her body was shown off from the skin-tight fabric. The mesh sides were sheer, revealing a small morsel of skin he definitely wanted to taste with his mouth right now. The fabric slipped down far enough to reach over her panties which he could see through the sides. She was wearing such tiny, tiny easily removable black lacy panties. He never cared much for stockings, but absolutely loved how they looked hooked against her long, luscious legs. He wanted to feel exactly how silky they were against his hands.

"It must be terrible if you're speechless," she teased.

"Hardly. You're fucking sexy as hell. Come here before I lose it," he said with a smile.

"Hum… Maybe I should model it a bit more for you, before you tear it off."

Sakura did another pose and slowly dragged a hand from her stockings up along her waist and over her breasts. Her eyes never left his as she traced her fingers along the top of a breast.

"I think you've modeled it well enough. Here. Now."

"Hum… Nope."

She leaned her back into the closed door and shook her pink strands of hair off to one side, revealing her bare neck. Her fingers slowly ran across her hair and down her neck until she reached between her thighs. She pressed her hand between her legs and moaned softly as if she was eating that damn chocolate cake all over again.

He let out a disgruntled sigh, feeling himself becoming even harder.

"What's wrong?" she asked with a grin.

"Come here before I lose my mind."

"Say please."

He narrowed his eyes with a smirk. "Please."

"Please… what?"

"Please come here."

Sakura smiled and slowly made her way to the bed. Once she was his front of him she pushed him back into sheets and straddled him. He began to slide his hands around her waist.

"Un-uh." She grabbed his hands and pinned them beside him.

"You're really trying to torture me, aren't you?"

"Obviously."

"I was being nice the other night making you beg. I can be far, far worse if you keep this up."

"Is that so?"

"Unless that's exactly what you want."

A blush grew at her cheeks. "N-no."

"Yes it is. You love to beg for it. Admit it."

"No! I'm just paying you back for all the times you teased me relentlessly."

"Uh-huh. Anyway, you can't stop me from touching you. Your plan was doomed to fail from the start." He rubbed his hands up along her silky stockings up to the top of her thighs.

She swatted his hands away again. "Don't make me…"

"Make you what?" he asked, intrigued. Again, he moved his hands to touch her except this time up the smooth fabric of her back.

She sighed. "You're right. I can't stop you." She moved her hands to the top of his bare chest and dragged them down to his stomach and snickered. "I almost forgot about your hickey smiley face."

He pouted. "Which hopefully will fade away soon."

"Awe, we can't have that happen."

She bent down and began to suck over her markings on his stomach.

"No, no." He moved her head by her shoulders away from his stomach. Casting his hands out of the way, she began to suck once more. "Sakura, I don't want those marks to last forever."

Unable to move her again, he turned into the bed on his stomach to make her stop. She straddled him again, sitting on his lower back and began to massage his shoulders. "Awe, but it's cute…"

"N-no it's not," he said unable to hold back a groan from her circulating fingers into his muscle. He closed his eyes for a moment, enjoying each movement of her hands. "Mm, where'd you learn how to massage like that?"

"It's magic."

"Hum… I believe it. It feels like magic."

Sakura laughed and started to massage him with just one hand, then bent over and started to work her elbow into his lower back. Slowly, very slowly, she undid the suspenders of her garter belt to one of her stockings.

Kakashi loved whatever she was doing and was enjoying how he could feel the lace of her outfit sliding up and down against his back. He took in a deep, relaxing breath. The need of wanting to touch her came over him again. That outfit of hers needed to come off already before he started to go insane with need. He started to turn around, but she pinned him back down again with her knee and pulled his hands together at his lower back.

His heart jumped as he felt something being wrapped around his wrists. A few whoosh sounds were made as he felt his hands bind snugly together. "What are you doing?"

"Nothing in particular."

He tried to move his hands and was shocked to find he couldn't move them at all. Even when he started to apply his strength it proved to be useless. All it did was create a burn against his skin from rubbing against whatever fabric was around him.

Sakura pulled at his shoulder to flip him around. She straddled him at his hips with the smuggest look on her face. "Guess you can't touch me now, hum?"

He stared at her blankly and noted one of her stockings was missing. "Okay… I have to ask how in the hell did you tie me in such an impossible knot?" He struggled to move his arms again, but they were so tightly bound together he couldn't do anything.

She grinned. "Magic."

"…"

Raising a brow at her, he groaned as she grinded her hips into him. "Was this your plan all along?"

"Mm-hum."

"I'm not sure if I should be proud or scared."

His breath hitched as she grinded into him again. She still had the biggest grin on her face as his eyes locked with hers. He wanted to touch her so badly. It was downright painful at this point. "S-sakura. Untie me."

"Maybe tomorrow morning."

"You can't be serious."

"I am."

She began to kiss along his chest and lap her tongue around his hardened nipple. He struggled against his bindings again and squirmed as her feather light kisses went across his stomach.

"Fuck, Sakura please untie me. This is beyond kinky, but I need you so badly since forever ago."

"You'll just have to wait longer."

He groaned in despair. "No, no, no."

"You're gonna have to beg for it then."

"Never have I begged for anyone."

"I'll be the first," she teased.

"I can admit you're the only person worth begging for."

"Glad you feel that way," she replied with a devious smile. She flicked her tongue across his stomach once more and along the shallow valleys of toned muscle of his abs. Moving herself lower, she began to kiss over his boxers and along his length. He made a desperate groan.

"Please… I want to feel you," he uttered.

"Oh, I don't know." She tapped her fingers lightly over his groin making his bulge twitch beneath.

"Please, please, please?"

"Well, since you are asking rather nicely…"

She pulled down the band of his boxers and slowly tugged them down to his thighs. He could feel her hot breath at his tip, making him almost want to jerk upwards in hopes of finding her mouth. "Please?" he asked again.

Finally, she began to lick up and down his member. He couldn't hold back a moan feeling her fully take him in her mouth, but was disappointed to find that it didn't last for very long. She sucked hard for a few seconds and made a subtle wet pop sound as she parted her lips from him. He felt so cold and helpless.

"Sakura," he whined, really wanting her to continue. Instead he felt her grind against him once more making him grunt. He could feel the heat from her panties. This was too much to take. "You're really… I just... Don't make me start to grovel here, Sakura," he groaned.

"Tell me what you want," she whispered.

"Me inside you. Now."

"You're not very convincing…"

"…"

Sakura laughed to herself at the pained look he was giving her. Now she really understood why he loved to tease her so much. It was so much fun. She hadn't originally planned to go this far or even thought she could manage to tie him so well with just a stocking. Learning knot tying from a summer camp she went to when she was younger seemed to have paid off. Of course this wasn't the situation she ever thought it would come in handy.

Bending over him again, she kissed along his neck for a moment and felt him began to lick his tongue along her neck. He was thankful to finally taste and feel something of her. He inhaled the sweet mango scent of her body wash. He sucked at her neck before she broke away to capture his lips with hers. Desperately he kissed back, loving every bit of her hot, sweet mouth.

"Please… I'm begging you. I want to… feel every bit inside you," he murmured between kisses.

"Alright," she whispered in his ear, nibbling his earlobe a bit before parting. She un-straddled him for a moment and crawled on all fours across the bed to the side table.

Kakashi finally felt relief that she was going to agree to his wishes as he watched her go across the sheets. It was not helping how incredibly sexy she looked bent over like that. Never had he felt so much need of wanting someone so badly. He was going to make damn sure he repaid her for this. Ten fold. Perhaps not tonight, but he certainly wanted to do something rather special when they got back home. Oh, the things he could do to torture her. The possibilities seemed almost endless.

She returned with a condom in hand and opened the package.

"You know how to put it on correctly, right?" he asked.

"Of course. I've had lots of practice."

"Practice?" he asked confused at first, then narrowed his eyes at her accusingly. "With who?"

She glanced at him almost laughing at the jealous tone in his voice. "Why would you think a person? You know you're my first."

"And last."

She smiled warmly at him for a moment and then remembered what she was doing. "Oh, right. I need to be torturing you still." After she finished slowly rolling the condom on him, she straddled him once more.

"Please. No more torture."

"What was that? I think you said more torture."

"Dear God, no," he groaned. He thrust upwards beneath her, making her moan. He did it once more making her almost topple over him in force and pleasure.

She planted her hands on top of his chest, feeling him press into her again. "Okay! This, a-ah, is unfair," she muttered.

"Hurry up and ride me already," he teased, repeatedly grinding his hips into hers. He made sure to keep doing it until he got his way.

"Y-you have to ask n-nicely."

"If you don't, I'm going to do something drastic."

"Oh? Aah. S-stop humping me damn it."

"You like it."

"That's beside the point. I'm supposed to torture you. Not the other way around."

"Ride me. Now."

"Still haven't asked nicely."

"Please ride me now?"

"Ride… how and where?"

"…"

"I'm joking!"

Kakashi sighed as he watched her unbuckle her other stocking to slip down her panties. She positioned herself on top of him while holding him with one hand and slowly pressed herself down onto his member until he was fully inside her. He wanted to cry out how damn good it felt.

"Ride me," he pleaded. He pressed into her more hoping to edge her on.

Sakura leaned forward and slowly started to move her hips back and forth unsurely at first. She found a comfortable rhythm and began to thrust faster. His breaths began to stagger. He clenched his teeth trying to fight back his much needed climax before she found hers. She felt so amazing and looked so incredibly erotic pumping herself onto him in that outfit. It was almost unbearable not being able to touch her elegant curves hidden beneath the lacy fabric or be able to suck on her rosy nipples, but he could live with it as long as she rode him like this.

She moaned and clutched her eyes tight enjoying the friction between them. Faster and harder she ground herself into him before a familiar sensation started to grow within her. Panting, she went even faster to give her that last push over the edge. "Kakashi," she rasped. A release washed over her making her thrusts stagger as she whimpered from overwhelming pleasure.

"Baby, keep going," he uttered.

Pressing her hips faster against him, she bit her lip trying to hold back from crying out from the amazing sensation that overcame her. She didn't stop rocking against him until he cried out her name from his own release.

"S-Sakura," he groaned, unable to stop himself from jerking within her until he was completely drained. She slowly removed herself and fell beside him fighting to regain her breath. Nudging her body more into him, she moved her head into his now sweat covered chest, and lay against him listening to his heartbeat become steady.

"Now can you untie me?" he asked after a satisfied sigh.

"No."

"…"

She smiled and rose from his chest and looked into his glaring eyes. "I'm joking. Turn to your side." She tugged at the stocking around his hands and seconds later he was free.

He returned to lie on his back and rubbed his reddening wrists. "I hate you."

"I love you," she replied.

"Now then…"

"What…?" She eyed him as he sat up. The look in his eyes made her back away as he moved towards her.

"You can't stop me from touching you now."

"But… but-"

Kakashi silenced her with a kiss. He made damn sure to touch every bit of her, slowly removing every button and every strap of her outfit. They made love again that night.

Their stay in France was already almost half-way over. Kakashi was sad about that realization at first, before reminding himself that as wonderful and romantic that their stay was - it didn't matter where they were as long as they were together.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Adieu

Kakashi watched Sakura pulled out the tag of the dress she was looking at and suddenly dropped it as if she touched fire.

"Holy crap," she muttered. She turned and pulled his hand to walk immediately out of the store. "These are way too expensive."

Kakashi sighed. "This is the fourth store we've looked… well, glanced at."

"I refuse to wear something worth three months' rent. Ridiculous! Do real people actually buy these?"

"Maybe just robots."

Sakura cast a playful glare at him and sighed. "You've already done so much paying for everything on this trip. I can't wear something that expensive. I really think it's a waste of money for just a tiny piece of fabric."

"Just get what you like and stop looking at the price tags."

Sakura grumbled. He was pretty sure any other woman would have loved to go on a shopping spree, especially in Paris which was considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. He supposed he was lucky that she was like him in a lot of ways - not caring about materialistic designer brand names and all that like his relatives did. The quality didn't matter as much as the brand name did. There was nothing wrong with liking certain designers, but only buying things just to show off their wealth was annoying to him. Normally, he would have only spent what he had earned from various jobs and not use his inheritance, but this trip was his first exception. It was nice just to do something out of the ordinary. Not only that, but it seemed more worthwhile to share it with someone rather than just spend money on himself.

"What about that store?" he asked. It looked like a small clothing shop. Maybe the prices wouldn't be as extravagant as the other trendy looking stores.

"Mm, I suppose we can go look."

Once they entered, she immediately went towards the nearest item to check the price. Kakashi smacked her hand lightly before she could pull out the tag. "Just try some things on first. Else we might be searching forever."

"I don't want anything that's really expensive," she said with a frown.

"Just do me a favor and try on a few things for me, please?"

She sighed and started to shift through the racks. "…Fine."

"Oh, I like this one." Kakashi pulled out a dress that resembled something that might have been shredded with a pair of scissors.

"Please tell me you're joking. That thing has more holes in it than Swiss cheese," she said mockingly. She plucked it from his hand and pressed it against her chest. "Oh my God, if I wore this you could see my underwear."

He smiled. "And… that's why I like it."

"...Pervert."

"We've discussed this already. I've admitted that I am."

"Hopeless pervert," she muttered and placed back the dress.

Wandering through the store a bit, she really couldn't find anything to her liking. She really wanted something simple and everything in the store was far from simple with crazy textures and colors. She sneaked a peek at one of the prices when Kakashi wasn't looking and cringed. These weren't any better than the other stores.

Kakashi held up another dress that was clearly sheer enough to see through. "What about this? It has, um… a nice color?" It looked like a vomit green.

"I hate you. You're just picking out the most horrible ones."

He laughed. "You're wrong. The most provocative ones… that happen to also be ugly."

She sighed. "Let's go find something else."

"Okay."

Stuffing his hands comfortably in his pockets, they walked back out onto the bustling sidewalk. He took in a deep breath of the nippy air around them. The sun was getting close to high noon now. He had no idea how he was managing to stay awake from how late they stayed up last night. Plus he was pretty sore from the ice skating fiasco he really wanted to forget about. He really didn't want to walk around too long today. Sakura, on the other hand, seemed pretty chipper since they woke up this morning. She was clearly a morning person, which was something he would never be. He yawned and made a mental note to buy some coffee before they went back to the château.

Sakura pointed up ahead. "There's a men's store over there. Want to see if we can find you something?"

"Sure. It will only take me five seconds to find something, unlike someone I know."

She huffed. "Guys are simple to shop for."

"Uh-huh."

"You know it's true."

Once they were inside, they were immediately greeted by a salesman and asked if he could help them find anything in particular. Kakashi said a few words in French and the clerk immediately rushed off into the aisles and started to pick out a few items. Sakura waited outside the dressing room for him to try on everything. She didn't have to wait for too long.

"See? Five seconds," Kakashi said as he emerged from the dressing room. He had a few clothes tucked away under his arm. He pulled Sakura up from the chair and started to walk to the register.

She frowned at the clothes he had folded together. "Awe, I was hoping you'd show me what you picked out."

"I know how bad you want to see how sexy I look, but you'll just have to wait until later."

"I also kind of have to question your fashion sense from the kind of stuff you were picking out for me earlier," she said in a teasing voice.

"I have wonderful fashion sense."

Sakura leaned against the register counter on her elbows and peered up at him. Lightly pulling at end of the scarf around his face, she said, "Hum… so, masks are fashionable?"

"Clearly, I'm a trend setter. It will catch on sooner or later," he replied.

Sakura laughed and rolled her eyes. Her face turned solemn for a moment and then she turned away from the counter. She waited behind him until he checked out his purchases.

"Something wrong?" he asked, nudging her shoulder as they walked onto the sidewalk. The excitement that was sparkling in her eyes earlier seemed to have left. It worried him.

She immediately perked up with a smile. "No, no. Nothing's wrong," she replied.

"Terrible liar."

"I'm serious."

"Then what were you thinking about?"

"Bananas."

"…"

"What? I'm trying to decipher your horrible hint."

"Come on, Sakura. Be honest. It was something else besides bananas."

She sighed. "Well, I was just thinking is all."

"About?"

"About… why you wear your mask."

"Oh… does it make you upset that I do?"

"No, no. I like it in a lot of ways. I feel like I'm special to know who you really are under there," she said with a warm smile.

"And you are," he replied.

"I was just thinking of why you do and then I realized it might be because of something painful in your past… I guess that thought made me sad a little. I am curious though. Do you ever get tired of having something over your face?"

"Mm, you know it's something I've never really thought much about. It's like second nature to always have something hiding my face when I'm in public. When I'm at home it's just natural to not want to wear it. I feel like I can relax."

"You feel tense when you're in public?"

"Kind of."

"I've never really noticed before."

"You've really helped me forget when I am. Because… well, you just make me feel comfortable wherever I am."

"I'm glad," she said, smiling brightly. "So… what made you first start wearing it?"

"Let's see… I first wore it when I started training in karate. I think I was half hoping the kids in the class wouldn't recognize me, but it actually makes me more recognizable, doesn't it?" He chuckled.

"Just a tiny bit. So, you just always kept wearing it growing up?"

"I think I stuck with it because it made me feel safer hiding myself, I guess from the press and people in general. Kind of silly…"

"It's not and I think you look great no matter if you wear it or not."

He raised a brow. "I thought you just told me I had a horrible fashion sense?"

"Well, when it comes to picking out things for me."

"But you did like that lingerie I picked out, didn't you?"

She pursed her lips together in disgust. "That maid outfit you chose was seriously questionable."

"What? It was nice."

"It was horrible."

"It was sexy."

She gave out a defeated sigh. "Hopeless pervert."

"I'm forever your hopeless pervert."

"Awe, that's… so romantic," she teased.

Kakashi smiled, glad that she seemed cheerful again, and looped his arm with hers as they walked. He wasn't sure if he would ever feel comfortable enough showing his true face in public. It made him feel so uneasy even thinking about doing it. He knew it wasn't normal to feel that way, but it was just how he was. How he grew up. He was happy to know she really didn't mind it. Sakura had never seemed to since the beginning. He supposed that's what made her even more special. She loved him for who he was.

They walked for a little bit, passing a couple blocks. Sakura glanced at each window display hoping to find something that would catch her eye. He was beginning to lose hope that she would ever find a dress before she finally pulled him into a store.

"Don't look at the prices," he quickly said before she went too far.

"I won't!" she called back. It was a lie of course. She discretely glanced at a tag as she was pulling out a few dresses to examine off the racks. "Finally, something that's not priced insane," she whispered to herself.

The shop seemed to have a nice variety of classy and simple dresses to choose from. Pulling out a few dresses, she started to search for the changing rooms.

Kakashi looked at her, stunned. "What? You actually found some things you like?"

"Yep!"

"Thank god… I mean, that's wonderful. So, I get to see you try them on, right?"

"Nope."

"Awe…"

"You didn't let me see yours."

"I was hoping you'd forget about that."

Sakura rolled her eyes and left to try them on. He spent the rest of his time pretending to read a couple pages of Icha Icha. He was trying to decide on what he should say to her tonight. It was kind of special, the gift he was planning on giving her. It seemed really fitting to him, but maybe she would find it too personal? She might find it weird. Or maybe she wouldn't like it. Maybe he should really reconsider getting her something else, but it seemed right. He couldn't think of anyone else more fitting than her to have it. He sighed and looked up from his book for a moment. He decided he'd just go for it and hope for the best.


Evening had fully nestled itself with the glittering stars up above. Kakashi leaned against the carved stone wall of the balcony out behind the château. He couldn't help but not want to read his book as he waited. For one thing, he couldn't stop the excitement from imagining what kind of dress Sakura chose to wear tonight. Also, for some reason, he was feeling just a little nervous about his gift for her. He could hardly believe it at first when he realized it. It was absolutely ridiculous for him to feel this way, but the weird feeling he was getting in his stomach couldn't lie, as much as he tried to ignore it. He sighed. Sakura certainly had been able to pull all kinds of firsts for him - in not just experiencing new feelings, but just being able to share openly with someone. That was something that had always been too hard for him to do. Yet, it was so easy and natural with her.

The second reason he didn't care to waste any seconds in his book was the spectacular view of the white light-covered garden below. It would be a shame to not fully appreciate it, especially with how crisp and clear the cool air of the night was. This was perhaps the first night they finally had a full view of the stars up above. He hoped it would stay like this for the New Year's fireworks in Paris.

Kakashi checked the time on his phone. It was getting close to thirty minutes now since he had changed and left the room. He didn't care if they were late, but he wasn't sure how much longer he could keep his curiosity at bay. He could go up to their room and try to sneak a peek while muttering some kind of made up excuse. Sakura didn't want to see him until she was completely ready and she wanted to do something extra special in prepping herself. So, he offered to kill some time outside. After some internal debating, he finally gave in to his insistent desire to see her and started to walk towards the double glass door entrance. His hand stopped on the curved metal doorknob when he caught sight of her walking down the hallway. He quickly turned his back against the wall just enough so he could still see her through the door. His eyes quickly took in the wonderful sight before him.

"Good… God," he muttered to himself.

He couldn't fight the smile that found its way to his lips as he watched her come closer. She looked so incredibly beautiful. She wore an elegant black fitted strapless dress; the thin bottom layers of chiffon swayed gracefully above her knee as she walked. He knew she was gorgeous no matter what she wore, but he swore she looked even sexier compared to the lingerie outfit. The classic red lipstick on her lips was just begging him to kiss her. He cursed. How in the hell was he going to find the will power to leave the château now? He wanted to take her right then and there.

Sakura stopped for a moment to pull her black buttoned coat over her shoulders and quickly shook a hand into her wavy pink tresses. She opened the door and carefully stepped onto the graveled floor. Her eyes glanced around the dimly illuminated balcony and frowned. Where was Kakashi? She thought he said he would be waiting here for her.

Suddenly she felt hands grab her shoulders. "Boo."

"AH!" She jumped and swung her shoulders around. Clutching her chest, she sighed and hit Kakashi in the arm with her purse. "You scared the hell out of me. Jerk!"

"I couldn't resist, sorry." He sheepishly scratched the back of his head and looked up at her apologetically.

Taking in a deep calming breath, she sighed. "I'm so going to pay you back. I'm going to scare you so bad… just you wait!"

"Good luck with that. I don't scare easily."

She folded her arms and huffed. "We'll see about that."

"I love a good challenge," he teased. "So, um… we don't have to go to dinner, right? How about we just stay here?"

"What? Why?"

"Because you look drop dead sexy and there's just no way we're going to make it."

Sakura laughed and shyly looked him with a smile. She moved her hands to feel along the smooth fabric of his suit jacket. Her fingers dragged over each exposed pearl button of his dress shirt until she reached his collar. "And you look quite sexy yourself. I like this on you." Her smile brightened when she glanced up into his eyes. "So, are you ready to go?"

He glanced down at her tantalizing finger. "Go… where again?"

"Out to dinner. Remember? Eiffel Tower?"

Slipping his hands around her slim waist, he pulled her into an embrace. "Do we… really have to?" he whispered against her ear.

She chuckled. "Yes. That's why I'm dressed up."

"I thought I'm your reason for dressing up."

"Well, yes, but… hey. What are you doing?"

He glided his hands along her back and placed a small kiss against her ear. "Nothing."

"Can't I enjoy wearing this dress longer than a few minutes?"

He started to tug at her back zipper. "No."

"…Kakashi! I-I really want us to go," she whined quietly.

"Then let's be late."

"I-I hate being late."

"Just this once?"

"N-n… stop that," she murmured, feeling his tongue swirl around her neck. She couldn't help but lean her head more into his kisses.

"We'll be quick. Just five minutes. Promise."

"You can't wait until we get back?"

"You have no idea how amazing, beautiful, and sexy you look."

She groaned for two reasons: one was how she really didn't want to be that late for their reservation, the other was how he completely just slid his hand under her dress, pressing his hand firmly over her panties. Her stance on wanting to leave now was quickly vanishing. Unable to protest any longer, she pressed her hips into his. "F-fine, but not here."

"Why not?"

Fear crept up in chest as she glanced at the door. "Anyone can see us… and what if someone comes outside? We're right by the door. Let's go upstairs."

"Can't wait that long."

Before Sakura knew what was happening, she was being pulled down the steps that led to the entrance of the garden below. The stairs wrapped around towards a large circular fountain. The garden expanded endlessly beyond that, but once they were at the bottom of the steps, he pulled her into a darkened corner of the cement wall that served as the bottom foundation of the balcony. Pressing her firmly against it, he kissed her wildly all around her neck and pushed her jacket back far enough to lick along her shoulders. Her heart hammered, almost feeling like it was about to jump out of her throat. A mix of fear and excitement pulsated through her veins as she creased her lips together not wanting to accidentally get her lipstick on him.

Kakashi dipped the top of her dress forward, still unzipped in the back, and left agonizing kisses along her breast while rubbing slowly between her legs. He loved hearing each grunt and groan she struggled to muffle between breaths. Moving his lips up towards her neck again, he slipped his fingers inside her panties and brushed against her slick desire.

"Kaka-shi," she groaned out desperately, pushing herself more into his hand.

Her knees buckled as he quickly increased his strokes against her until a release crashed abruptly over her. Pinching her lips together again, she tried not to cry out from the overwhelming feeling, but couldn't completely stop herself from bursting out a loud moan. Her fingers relaxed on his jacket as he pulled away for a moment to grab his wallet from the pocket. After he pulled out protection he had tucked away inside, he tossed his wallet to the ground and tried to make a mental note to not forget it later. Dropping his pants just low enough, he prepared himself and then pulled her panties quickly down her legs until they dropped to her ankles. Lifting the bottom hem of her dress, he pressed his length into her slowly until he was fully within her and then fully squeezed her backside with his hands.

Sakura twisted one foot out from her panties and wrapped a single leg around him as he slowly started to move inside her. Whatever anxieties she felt earlier from being somewhere so open completely vanished and was replaced with just the pure and raw feeling at their connection. Nothing else mattered. Somehow with each movement he made within her, this just seemed so different from other times they had made love. Inaudible murmurs, chaste kisses, and the mix of electrifying hard and soft touches of skin against skin was all that they heard or felt. It was quick, yet powerful. The envelopment of all of their senses between them completely drowned out the sounds of the world around them. Words didn't have to be said. They knew and felt how much they meant to each other.

He hoisted her up more, making her raise her other leg to wrap around him. She tried her best to hold on as he rolled his hips into hers. She lifted herself, meeting into each thrust and crying out into the darkness. He joined her in a sweet release and moaned her name against her neck at the very top of his peak. He pulled out from her slowly; her legs gently touched the ground again. They both breathed heavily for a few moments.

Neither of them said anything when their eyes finally met. A small smile broke from Sakura's lips making him grin in return. Her legs felt like they were shaking. She couldn't tell if was because she was cold or that he had made her have a hard time standing up right now. Perhaps it was a little bit of both. She bent over and pulled her panties back up.

"Is this going to happen every time I wear a nice dress?" she asked, attempting to re-zip up her dress with one hand.

"Highly possible."

"You have such a weakness towards clothing."

"No, just you," he replied with a smile.

She sighed. "And apparently you're my weakness, too."

Kakashi tripped over his wallet he left on the ground, which he was glad for since he almost had forgotten about it. He walked over and helped Sakura zip up her dress. After they both were cleaned up the best that they could tell from the dimly lit area, they went back up the stairs and entered the building into the hallway. Sakura was thankful there was a public restroom near the main lobby entrance. She glanced at Kakashi and busted out laughing.

He raised a brow at her. "Yes?"

"I guess… I didn't realize I kissed you. I tried not to… you're… red all over."

Pointing to her face, he said, "So are you."

She froze and searched the hall for a mirror. She ran up to it and sighed. He was right. She had smears of red here and there along her face and neck. It looked like she was attacked. "Last time I ever wear red lipstick."

"Awe, but I like it. It's sexy on you."

"But it gets everywhere."

"I don't mind."

"I bet tha-" she stopped mid-sentence and looked embarrassingly towards the floor away from a couple of people passing by them.

Kakashi pulled her up next to him and forced her to face forward. "Don't be embarrassed of our love, Sakura."

She cringed as they passed by more people who were clearly taking note of the red marks all over their faces. She wanted to die, but tried to keep in mind she'll never see any of these people again. He was probably preventing her from hiding as some kind of weird payback for her cake stunt last night. Once they quickly cleaned up, they met back out in the main lobby and waited for a cab to pick them up.

"How late are we?" she grumbled.

"Hum… maybe by like forty-five minutes by the time we get there."

"How are we even going to get a table anymore?"

"Don't worry. I got it covered. I called them after I left the restroom."

"What did you tell them?"

"That we're late."

"And…?"

"And that's it."

"They didn't give our table away?"

"They did."

She sighed. "This is your fault."

"It's yours by being too irresistible."

"Uh-huh, but how are we getting a table?"

"Don't worry about it."

"Ugh… You're being very suspicious, you know."

"Suspicious?"

"How are you not worried about losing our table?"

"Because."

"Because?"

"Just because."

"Ugh, you're so aggravating."

He gave her a quick hug. "I love you, too."

After the cab picked them up, it took close to a half hour to reach the Eiffel Tower. Seeing it up close was just as she imagined it to be. It was similar to Tokyo tower in a lot of ways, but the Eiffel Tower just seemed more special and romantic in comparison. It was illuminated beautifully in a pale yellow light that faded all the way to the very top. She admired the complex girders of the tower they passed as they went up on the private lift. She loved the atmosphere already as they were nearing the restaurant, but couldn't help but feel anxious that they weren't going to able to get a table.

Once they were inside, she became lost in the unique and modern architecture of the restaurant. The lights in the ceiling had thin, geometric honeycomb-shaped patterns in certain parts of the room. Sakura felt her hand being pulled as she continued to stare all around her at the things they passed. The place was packed. Every table was filled with either large groups of people or pairs of diners. The noise of glasses clinking and voices started to fade the further she walked. Her eyes were mesmerized by the deep blue glass wall they started to pass. It looked like it led into a lounge area. Suddenly, she walked into Kakashi's back as he stopped.

"Sakura," he laughed and pulled her around him.

"Sorry," she muttered, glancing embarrassingly up at the host, whom she had no idea they had been following, and sat down in the pulled out chair for her. She blinked and quickly glanced around them. They were alone in some secluded section of the restaurant away from everyone else. How on earth did he manage to get them somewhere so private? She noted the empty tables around them. "Did you like… rent out this whole room or something?"

He shrugged, giving her an all knowing eye crinkle of a smile.

She sighed. "You could have told me! I was really worried we wouldn't get a table."

"I told you not to worry."

"You didn't have to do this. I don't mind being around people," she commented and picked up a piece of hot fresh bread on their table. She took a bite and found it amazing how wonderfully tasty and fluffy this simple bread was.

"Well, I wanted us to have a little privacy… because I really wanted to talk to you about something important."

"Oh?"

"The next step in our relationship."

Sakura started to choke, but played it off trying to clear her throat. She raised the piece of bread in her hands to hide her blush. "Um, as in?"

"Well, we're moving in together and we haven't talked much about what will happen after that for the future. I kind of need to decide on something. So… anyway, let's talk about it later."

"O-Okay."

"Leave me some bread." He pointed to the basket.

She glanced down as she chewed. She could have sworn there were five pieces in there a minute ago. Did she just eat three? Slowly, she put back the tiny piece of bread that was left in her hand and smiled. "Here. That's kind of half. Eat the rest."

"I don't want your half eaten bread."

"What? I don't have cooties."

"Hum… questionable."

She stuck her tongue out and looked over the menu. Their waiter arrived shortly and seemed really pleasant and professional. They even spoke in English, which she was glad for since she knew way more English than French. She could actually understand what they were saying rather than just bits and pieces. They both chose a chestnut soup for an appetizer and ordered their main entrees. They took up their waiter's suggestion of a wine to pair with their food.

Sakura admired the amazing view of Paris around them as they ate their first serving. The amber lights of the old city seemed to just go on forever. She certainly could have never predicted she would be here of all the places in the world. Especially with someone she very much loved, which was something else she never could have predicted either when she moved to Tokyo. It was crazy how life could change so fast. As much as she loved Paris, she almost couldn't wait to get back to Japan. Although she had no idea what her mother would do when she found out she was living with him, but she had hopes of at least getting her mother to change her mind before admitting that she was. She pondered about what the rest of her family probably thought about her. Certainly they had to have been told by now after she left. Would they think any less of her, too? It still just didn't make any sense to her what the big deal was. Just because of their age difference? How did that make their love any less meaningful? She just didn't understand it.

Finished with the appetizers, their plates were removed. Glancing up at Kakashi, she smiled warmly as he looked at her. Her hands unfolded to intertwine with his across the candlelit table. She never noticed how much larger his hands were compared to her petite sized ones. Yet, they seemed to fit perfectly with hers all the same.

The presentation of each plate they were served was very impressively detailed. Visually it looked like pure art. Sakura almost felt bad cutting into her perfectly arranged plate of sautéed scallops, but the taste was well worth destroying its beauty. Kakashi stole some samples from her plate as she did the same with his, which was a mouthwatering duckling fricassée with garnished vegetables. She couldn't decide what dish she liked best. Every dish they had so far was just too delicious.

"Dessert?" he asked.

"I can't say no. Though I'm about as full as a whale right now."

"Let's hold off ordering until a little bit later. We don't need to rush."

"Okay," she said with a smile. Glancing at her purse, she remembered she still needed to give him his Christmas present. "Soooo, um, Kakashi. Ready for your gift?"

"Oh, did I finally earn enough points?"

"Well… about that. You still never reached fifty points," she teased.

He forced a serious look on his face. "You can't be serious."

"You're at forty-nine points. So, so close." She tsked.

"You're so just randomly making it up."

"Shh."

"Fine. I'll play along. How can I earn one more point?"

"Hum… kiss me."

"That's it?"

"Yep."

"Done."

He leaned over and kissed her softly on her now faded red lips.

"Okay. Kiss approved," she murmured.

"Approved," he scoffed. He watched her pull out her purse and shuffle inside quickly to pull out a small wrapped cylindrical package. She extended it out to him for him to take.

He shook it a couple of times against his ear. "Mm. I can already tell. It's porn."

She rolled her eyes. "Only one way to find out for sure."

He tore open the outer edge of the gift wrap paper… only to find another layer of paper. He glared at her, which made her grin spread even further. After tearing through nine more layers, he laughed at the drawing she made on the last layer. It was a masked stick figure doing who knows what. It looked like it had crossed eyes. "What's this?"

"It's a portrait of you, of course."

Staring at the poorly made picture, he said, "I had no idea you were so talented."

"I'm amazing. I know. I was going to be an art major," she joked.

"I'm glad you didn't choose that route."

"What was that?"

"Nothing, nothing."

Kakashi smiled and opened the end of the cardboard cylinder. A tied scroll slipped out. He unrolled it carefully to find beautifully written characters of his name. Behind it was another slip of paper with proverb that said: Perseverance is strength. They were both really well done in the lettering. The strokes of the brush from the characters were certainly handmade and not printed. "These are really nice. Where'd you get them done?"

She smiled happily. "I made them."

"Really?" He looked astounded as he looked over the scrolls. "I had no idea you did calligraphy."

"I can't draw to save my life, but I've always really liked calligraphy. I focused on classes for it in high school as my elective. It kind of makes me feel relaxed when I do it. So, I don't know. It's just fun for me."

His finger traced the edge of the characters. He smiled. "I really like it. Thank you."

"Welcome. I'm happy you like it. I figure you really needed something to decorate those sad white walls of yours at home."

"And when you move in, you can decorate it all you want."

"Oh, really? I can?"

"Yep."

Sakura clapped lightly in approval. "Ooh, I can't wait. I have lots of posters that desperately need some wall space."

He eyed her teasing smile. "Hum, dare I ask what kind?"

"You know: shirtless men, kittens, and unicorns."

Kakashi cringed at imagining that littered throughout his house. "Maybe you shouldn't move in after all."

She poked him in his arm disapprovingly.

"Ow, I kid… So, um…" He reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small rectangular box. He placed it on the table and slid it to her. "Here's my gift."

Carefully, she picked it up and glanced at him before opening the lid. Her fingers clutched the box tightly at what she was staring at. It was a necklace, but not just any necklace. It was the very same one she found when she was snooping around his chest at home. When she last saw it, it was tarnished, but the silver now had been finely polished, bringing the sparkle of the metal back. Her thumb traced over the multi-colored beading that swirled in a circular pattern in the heart shaped centerpiece. There were three dangling teardrop-shaped pieces with the same colored beading at the very bottom of the heart.

Guilt was quietly eating in her chest as she looked at it. She felt bad for looking in his things without telling him, and obviously this must have been very special to him. Placing the box on the table, she pulled it out and held it in palm of her hand. "It's very beautiful," she said softly.

"It's one of the only things I have left that was my mother's and… well, I want you have it."

She kept her gaze locked on the necklace in her hand feeling a lump starting to form in her throat. She swallowed, unsure of what to say.

"If it makes you uncomfortable having it, I understand..."

Sakura felt like such a sentimental sap as tears were beginning to make her vision blur. Not wanting to have him see her cry, she turned away and concentrated on the reflection of their table on the large window across from them. She was afraid to speak. She'd feel embarrassed if she were to openly cry in a restaurant, and she felt like the moment she'd try to speak, she wouldn't be able to hold back the aching burn in her throat. Pressing a hand to her mouth, she tried to stop the tears that began to fall down her cheek as she blinked. She almost couldn't believe he really wanted her to have something like this. It just really spoke volumes of how much he really cared for her.

Kakashi wasn't sure what she was thinking as she remained silent with her back turned to him. He inwardly sighed. He knew he should have just gotten her something simple like another Icha Icha book. Maybe it really was too soon in the amount of time they had been together to give her something like this. It was probably better suited for a long term relationship gift - like being with someone for over a year… and not just months. But he couldn't help how he felt about her. It wasn't like he was proposing to her, that was certainly too soon, but this gift had the same serious undertone that he was truly and seriously committed to them. To her. Maybe she didn't feel the same way, but he was so sure that she did. Especially from every wonderful moment they've shared together so far in not just the past few months, but this whole week.

"Sakura, I'm sorry… I-" he stopped mid-sentence when she finally turned towards him.

Sakura took in a deep breath as she stared at the necklace. She glanced up at him and started to move her lips to say something, but fresh tears started to run down her cheeks. "S-sorry. I was trying r-really hard not to c-cry," she stammered.

His chest tightened at watching her cry. How did he seem to always make her cry?

She held the necklace firmly in her hand against her chest. "T-this means a lot to me… you giving this to me. I… I don't know what to say. Thank you just… isn't enough."

He sighed in relief. "I wasn't sure if you'd like it or not… or… if it seemed too much."

"N-no. This is really… so special. Almost, too special… I don't know if I deserve it, but I'll gladly accept it."

"There's no one else more deserving than you."

She smiled softly and untangled the necklace in her hand. Opening the tiny clasp, she placed the delicate chain around her neck. Sniffling, she wiped away her tears and admired how the necklace looked against her chest. There was a different kind of weight she felt inside her as she rubbed her fingers over the beading. She simply just felt so happy.

"It's originally from Spain. My father gave that to my mother when they first got together. It's nothing fancy, but I know it meant a lot to her. I'm glad I was able to save it after she passed away."

"Thank you so much," she said sincerely. She slowly leaned over and gave him a kiss that lingered for a few seconds before pulling away. Looking down at the table she cleared her throat. "I have to confess that… I kind of was snooping in your room one night… and I'm really sorry I did that without asking. I saw this necklace in your chest. So… I know this must be really important to you. It really caught me off guard when I saw it… I didn't mean to cry like that."

"I don't care if you look around my things. You don't need to apologize for that. What's mine is yours anyway once you move in."

Feeling glad, she smiled and lifted the necklace up from her chest to look at it closer. "Wait… how does this relate to bananas?"

"Um… There's some yellow color in it."

"…"

She dropped her hands into her lap and glared at him. He simply smiled back. Their waiter approached and asked if they were ready to order dessert yet. Embarrassingly, she wiped her face once more, wondering if their waiter had saw her crying earlier, but he made no indication if he did or not. Trying to forget about it after their order was sent in, she asked, "So… what was it that you wanted to talk about… um, from earlier?"

"Oh, right. So, I'm kind of unsure what to do."

"About what?"

"Well, first of all, starting this semester I'm going to be Teacher Assistant for one of the freshman level English classes at the university."

"Oh, really?"

"It's good experience for me if I decide to teach college level classes in the future."

"Well, wait. I know college is completely different than how it is in high school, but does it matter that I'm in a relationship with you?"

"It doesn't as long as you don't enroll in whichever class I'm in. It also helps that we're in two completely different programs. So, there really aren't any issues."

She sighed. "Oh, good. So, what are you unsure about?"

"I've been asked to teach over the summer back at our hometown. I kind of want to because of the friends I have there. I'd like to help them out, but I don't want to leave you in Tokyo for the whole summer. I need to decide after we get back."

"Well, why don't I go with you?"

"I don't know… that's kind of burdening you."

"It's not. I mean, I could take some of the freshman classes I need at the junior college that can transfer over. It really wouldn't be any trouble. Lots of people do that to save money."

He thought for a moment. "Mm…"

"Really, you should do it."

"Also… I'm assuming you haven't mentioned to your mother that we're going to be living together."

"Um… not yet."

"So, that's kind of a problem if we both leave Tokyo for the summer. You could live with your mother if we go I guess…"

Sakura frowned at the idea. "I wouldn't want to do that."

"It might be for the best."

"I really, really don't want to."

"Then I should just stay here."

"Why can't we live together if we go?"

"I don't want you to get into more trouble with your family. You can't avoid her the whole summer living out there without her knowing. It's not possible."

"Then I'll tell her before then. So, don't worry about it."

"I just don't think it's wise…"

"You let me worry about it. That's still months from now."

"I just kind of doubt she'll ever be okay with it and she'll probably dislike the idea of us even more. I don't want to make things more difficult than it already is for you."

Sakura shrugged. "I don't care. It's my choice and it's what I want to do. So, let's just do it. Sound good?"

Kakashi sighed. There really wasn't any more use debating it with her. She seemed to have made up her mind, which was going to be impossible to change. "Okay, if you're sure."

She nodded and tried to give him a reassuring smile. He still had his worries, but figured perhaps he was a little too concerned about it. All he really cared about was not troubling her in any way with her family. He didn't want to make things worse, but at the same time he still wanted to be with her in every way that he could.

The moment he tasted their dessert, it completely washed away his worries. It tasted like heaven. How could a food do that? They ordered the classic dessert of crème brûlée. It was slightly sweet, but amazingly creamy. The mix of the caramelized sugar on top and tasty vanilla was such a great combination of pure deliciousness. Normally he didn't care much for sweet things, but there was no way he could hate something like this.

Sakura let out an annoyed grunt as she was trying to battle him over the last bite. "You so ate more than I did!"

He tried to keep a straight face. "We've had an equal amount of bites."

"Yeah right…"

She sighed and pushed the dish towards him. "Don't say I've never done anything for you."

He laughed. "You can have it."

"Nope, you take it."

"If you really don't want it…"

"Take it."

Kakashi almost regretted taking the last bite, but the taste was so worth it. When they finally left the restaurant and went back to the château, she took every chance she got to tease him how he owed her forever. Then he pointed out how she owed him forever by taking her France, but she countered many reasons ranging from lingerie to putting up with his various antics throughout their trip. At the end of the day, they both had a great time and another wonderful night together that they would both never forget.


The break of dawn slowly saturated the fog-filled rolling countryside. They had to leave really early in order to make it in time to catch their flight that was scheduled for tonight. Kakashi felt so tired. Last night was New Year's Eve. With the help from some of the staff at the château they stayed at, they found a great place to watch the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower that wasn't too overly crowded. Afterwards, they enjoyed just wandering the streets and talking about every subject they could think of. They topped off their night at a pub, filled with various groups of tourists and locals celebrating the New Year. They danced and drank the rest of the night away.

It was a lot of fun, although Sakura drank a little too much in the end. She said some really hilarious things in French to people that made no sense like: "Que le temps ne l'âne arrivât à la piscine?" Which meant, 'What time does the donkey arrive at the swimming pool?' It was so hilarious. He said it to her this morning; she apparently had no idea what it meant, or why he was even saying it.

Now they were on a train heading to a station in the south of France. It was about a three hour trip. Sakura rested comfortably against him and slept feeling a little sick from a slight hangover. He really wanted them to just stay in Paris until their flight, but last night she had convinced him to visit his mother's hometown before they flew back. He tried to back out of it this morning, but she didn't have any of it. She really wanted to see it as well, which he appreciated her gesture.

Kakashi wasn't sure what to expect when they arrived in the small town. He didn't know anything about it only that his mother grew up here. It was a medium-sized rustic looking village, which seemed like something you would see on a postcard. The town was spread across varying hills. It seemed like a really nice and beautiful place. On the fenced outskirts you could see herds of cattle spread out across lush farmland.

"This place is so beautiful," Sakura commented as they walked along one of the main cobbled roads that led into the heart of the village.

He smiled in response and squeezed her hand as he took everything in. It was strange being here. Knowing he was so close to her. It had been a long time since he had felt that way.

"Is… she here?" Sakura asked quietly.

"She is."

"Is your father here, too?"

"No… they had separate funerals. I could only go to my father's. I didn't get a choice in the matter. So, I never got to see her one last time to really say goodbye. I've always hated that I never had the chance. I'm not sure why I was hesitant in coming here… Maybe I kind of secretly wished that she really wasn't gone, since I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet."

"Well, I'm definitely glad we came then."

"It helps a lot that you're here."

Sakura smiled and looked at the ground for a moment. "Your parents were married. Shouldn't they have been buried and had a service together?"

"They should have, but my family wouldn't have it."

Sakura felt so sad, but angry as well. That just wasn't right. She knew if she were to die, she would absolutely want to be laid to rest next to her husband. How could his family do that to his parents? She inwardly sighed. She absolutely hated his family. Hate was a word she would never use lightly on anyone, but that was exactly what she felt. Hate. Never had she heard of a family to be so… malicious and condescending.

After they found a flower shop, they followed the signs that lead to the town's cemetery. They were greeted by rows and row of endless headstones, many of them dating back to the 1800s.

"I'm not sure where to start looking," Kakashi said with a sigh.

"Let's split up. What's her full name?"

"Reine Lemaire-Hatake."

Sakura nodded and began to search. As she walked, she was amazed how old most of the graves were. She carefully stepped between the rows and searched for dates that were more recent. She couldn't help but notice some of the dates that weren't completely weathered away. It broke her heart to see graves of children that had died so early in their lives.

Walking further back, she went towards what looked like freshly dug graves. The dirt was piled high in front of a simple marked heading, which would most likely be replaced later with a monument stone. Her eyes glanced towards Kakashi for a moment as he walked on the opposite side. He suddenly stopped and peered down towards a headstone. He waved her over. He must have found her.

She jogged quickly to where he was and stopped. There was a picture of his mother in the center under her name. She knelt down to look more closely. It was a black and white portrait, but her features certainly reminded her of Kakashi. The bridge of his nose looked exactly like hers. Other features seemed similar, but slightly different. It made her wonder what his father must have looked like.

"She's really pretty," Sakura commented.

"That she is."

Sakura looked down to find little trinkets and flowers decorated along the sides of the carved stone. She wondered who all of his mother's family visited here to take care of the grave. She clasped her hands together and said a silent prayer. When she opened her eyes, she found Kakashi kneeling next to her, seeming to be giving a prayer as well. He opened his eyes and placed down a bouquet of white roses at the base of the headstone.

"She must still have family here," she said quietly.

"Very likely."

"Have you met them before?"

"Just once when I was little."

"Do you want to meet them?"

"Not really."

"You're not curious about them?"

"I'd doubt they'd want to hear from anyone who's Hatake."

"Well, you were her son after all…"

"I'd just rather leave well enough alone."

Sakura bit into her lip and touched the base of her necklace. She couldn't help but wonder about all the possible family he had here. Maybe they were good people, but it was hard to say since neither of them knew anything about them. It just seemed like a real shame to her. He had such a torn family on both sides. They both sat in front of the grave for awhile and remained silent to their own thoughts.

Kakashi dragged a single finger in the engraved letters of the stone, over each one as if he was memorizing it. It was hard being here. He couldn't stop thinking about all the old memories he had of not just her, but his father as well. He always wondered if they were somewhere out there, watching up above. Standing up, he dusted the grass blades from his knees and helped Sakura up. He kept her hand in his and squeezed gently. His eyes looked over the grave one more time. This was probably the only and last time he would ever see it.

As they walked back to the entrance of the graveyard, they passed by an elderly man whose hair was about as white as snow itself. Kakashi glanced at him for a moment. The man's aged eyes did the same towards him. Politely, he smiled and continued to walk along the path with Sakura. Neither of them would see that the same old man would visit the exact same grave as they did that day.

There were so many things to look forward to once they were back in Japan. It was more than just a new year, but a new beginning together. What they didn't know was that this year would be the greatest test for them both.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: My Heart, Your Home

Sakura felt so exhausted. Her eyes struggled to stay open as they stepped off the plane. She was so tired that she was blindly holding on to Kakashi's arm so that she could rest her eyes. Their flight back was terrible. They had turbulence which just about scared her to death. He did his best to comfort her, which helped a lot, but she couldn't sleep for a good portion of their long fifteen hour flight.

"I'll carry you, if you want," Kakashi offered.

"No, don't do that. That'd be embarrassing," she groaned.

He sighed and patted her with his arm that was hugged around her shoulders. He felt pretty bad that he couldn't have done more for her. He had never seen her so scared before when their plane started to shake from the storm they ran into. He figured they were more likely to die a car crash than a plane, but didn't think telling her that would make her feel any better.

"We still need to get our luggage," he whispered.

She responded with a nod and kept her eyes half-closed as they walked. He moved her over to one of the benches along the main passageway of the airport and sat her down.

"I'll get our luggage. Just stay here and rest a little bit. Be right back."

"Mm," she murmured, comfortably scooting her back into the bench. She slumped over a bit and rested her head against the wall.

Afraid that someone might steal her purse while she slipped into sleep again, he pried it from around her shoulder and made his way to the luggage area. It took a little while for their bags to come around among the hundreds of other suitcases. Walking back to where he last left her, he hoped traffic wasn't too bad right now so they'd get back to his place fast. He really needed some rest as well.

Looking up from the glossy multi-colored tiled floor, he paused once he realized that Sakura wasn't at the bench. He looked around wondering if maybe he had gotten confused and accidentally went to a different section. At first he was really hoping he had just mixed up where she was, but the more he looked around the familiar surroundings he was sure. He was very sure this was where she was last. His eyes scanned the crowds walking around him as he approached the empty bench. There was no sign of her.

Anxiety started to surge in his chest. She had fallen asleep when he left her, hadn't she? How was she still not here? Maybe she got up to go somewhere, but where exactly would she go? Wouldn't she have waited for him? He tried to think. Maybe she didn't recall him saying he would be right back and was looking for him? He hoped that was it, but what was he to do now?

Biting the inside of his cheek as he thought, he tried not to panic. Slowly, he started to walk around the section of the airport in hopes of running into her. He checked nearby terminals, shops and restaurants. He even tried requesting her over the airport's intercom at the information station. After thirty minutes had passed since he last saw her, he asked the airport security to help find her. They told him not worry and that people got lost all the time, but he couldn't help it. At a loss of where else to search, he even checked his parked car out in the multi-leveled garage by chance she went there to wait… nothing.

He dropped their suitcases in the trunk, feeling his gut churn itself inside out. Closing it shut, he leaned his palms against the cold metal of the car feeling overwhelmed. He didn't know what to say… what to think. His blood was turning cold. What if something happened to her? If something really did… he wouldn't be able to live with himself. All kinds of possibilities were running through his mind, making him worry all the more. He was beginning to feel sick with panic.

Sucking in a breath, he forced himself to pull it together enough to walk back to the main entrance of the airport. He asked the security immediately if they had found her yet. Nothing. No one had seen her leave or go anywhere else. This was turning into his greatest nightmare. He was losing someone all over again. He really couldn't believe this was happening. After having one of the greatest experiences with someone in his whole life, she would just vanish? He felt so upset; he was on the brink of almost crying in frustration and fear.

It had almost been over an hour now since she disappeared. As he struggled to keep focused enough to keep searching, each step he took felt like he was stepping into quicksand. His feet felt so heavy. His mind felt weary. He was losing hope. Every minute that passed by, every second, the chances of finding her were becoming slim to none. He stopped in the middle of the crowded hall. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know what the hell happened. Did someone take her? That was his worst fear of all. His eyes had a hard time focusing anymore. Every person that passed around him seemed faceless. A blur.

"Kakashi?" a familiar voice called from behind.

Immediately he spun around and stood stunned. Sakura looked up at him, rubbing her face from sleep. He pulled her abruptly into a tight hug and then pushed back to look into her eyes, keeping his hands gripped at her shoulders. His fingers tensed as he took in a breath. "What the fuck, Sakura. Where've you been this whole fucking past hour?" he barked.

Taken aback from the harsh tone in his voice, she stammered, "W-well, um…"

"Do you have any idea how fucking scared I was that something happened to you?"

She looked down towards the ground in embarrassment feeling her heart pound. Just the sound of the anger in his voice towards her made her want to cry. He was scolding her just like how her mother did when she didn't come home that night. She didn't expect him to ever talk to her in this way before, but knew he had every reason to. She could tell how upset he was. It scared her that he was really mad at her which was something that had never happened before. It made her feel so small. Her voice cracked when she replied, "…I'm sorry."

Kakashi released his grip on her and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to calm himself down. He wanted to drop down on his knees in relief, but at the same time he felt like he was about to burst. After he was able to collect himself, he took in a deep breath. She was looking away from him, but he could see she was silently crying. Guilt immediately washed over him. He felt so horrible that he lost control talking to her like that. He pulled her chin up towards him. "Sakura, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you…"

"I-its fine. I d-deserve it," she sputtered back. She couldn't bring herself to look him in the eye and twisted away from his hand.

"No, you don't. No one deserves being yelled at, even with the best intentions. Look, I'm tired… and I just got really scared there for a moment, but it's not an excuse. I was wrong. I'm really sorry… I know how much it hurts being yelled at and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Doesn't matter what you did or didn't do. You're here now and that's all I care about, okay…?"

"Okay," she replied back somberly.

"Forgive me?" He pulled at her hands to make her face him again.

She still couldn't bring herself to look at him, but managed to say, "If you forgive me…"

"Of course."

She smiled weakly before looking up into his tender eyes. She felt so bad for making him worry. She never meant to which made her feel even worse. Never would she ever want to hurt him in any way and she had managed to do just that. She started to cry a little harder, as much as she tried not to. It made her feel even more like a stupid child.

"Come here," he commanded softly, wrapping his arms around her to pull her into a hug. Holding him against her made her feel so much better somehow and made her start to calm down a bit. She hugged back tightly and rested her head on his shoulder.

"I'm really sorry… I didn't mean for this to happen. I feel… really stupid," she said softly.

"You're not stupid. What happened?" he asked.

"I… well, it's really… embarrassing..."

"You can tell me."

"I can't. I feel like such an idiot…"

"Just tell me, please? You can tell me anything."

She remained silent for a moment, trying to build up the courage. He ran his fingertips through her hair slowly, still holding her as he hoped to find out what on earth made her disappear. Was it something that he had done and didn't realize it?

Sakura let out a troubling sigh. "I… um, so, when you left to get our bags…"

"Yes…?"

"I almost fell asleep again, but then I realized how badly I needed to go to the restroom…"

He wondered where this was going. "Okay…"

"And I… went and I… I kind of fell asleep."

"In the bathroom?"

"Yeah…"

"…"

Kakashi slowly pulled her from their hug to look at her, thinking she must have been joking, but she looked dead serious. "Really? How in the world…"

"Well, I was on the toilet… and I kind of fell asleep sitting there I guess…"

"For an hour…?"

"I'm sorry. It's not like I meant to," she muttered and looked away ashamed.

He sighed. "Well, it's certainly the place I didn't go look. I'm not sure why I didn't think to check there."

She glanced up at him and said firmly, "I'm really, really, sorry for making you upset. I feel like the worst person ever..."

"It's okay. It's not your fault. Again, I'm really sorry for yelling at you." He leaned down and found her lips with his for a moment, then pressed his forehead against hers. "Let's head home, okay?"

She nodded and kissed him again. They both pulled away to start walking towards the main exit of the airport. He let the security know she had been found before they left to the parking lot. She still couldn't shake off how bad she felt. How could she have fallen asleep in a restroom? She felt like such a moron.

"I guess you really did end up scaring me like you promised after all," he joked.

Sakura laughed uncomfortably. "Okay, I guess I did, but this was not the way I had intended though. You were really scared, huh?" she asked sadly.

"The thought of losing you really scares me more than anything else… and I thought it really might have happened today. I don't know what I'd do if I did."

"I'm sorry..."

"Don't be."

Once they were at his car, he unlocked the passenger's side for her and waited for her to slip inside. After the door shut, it made her feel all aware of the dead silence inside leaving her alone with her thoughts. She watched him in the rear-view mirror as he opened the trunk for a moment then closed it before entering the driver's side. He handed her purse to her.

"Thank you," she said in a glum voice.

He sighed and gripped the steering wheel making his knuckles turn white as he squeezed. Glancing over at her, he could still see how distressed she looked. "Sakura, it's not a big deal. Please don't be upset."

"It makes me feel so bad knowing I hurt you…"

"I overacted and jumped to the worst conclusion. Trust me, I'm not mad at you. I'm just thankful everything's okay. Don't sweat the small stuff. Things happen. I bet tomorrow you'll wake up and laugh about it. It could have been a lot worse."

She looked up hopefully. "Well…"

"You could have fallen in the toilet."

She let out a small chuckle. "That would have made it worse… yes."

"And then what if your butt was stuck in there for hours?"

"That would be terrible. I mean, if I had Icha Icha with me it might be doable," she teased.

He grinned. "Also, maybe your butt would turn blue for being stuck so long. Then I'd forever nickname you Smurf."

"…"

"Sorry, I mean Smurfette."

"…"

Sakura glared and folded her arms disapprovingly, but still had a grin on her lips. He was glad to finally see a smile on her face. After pulling out of the parking garage, they were on their way back on the main highway heading towards his house. He couldn't wait to fall into bed once they got there. After a couple of minutes he heard Sakura sigh. He glanced at her. She was staring at her phone.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

"Well… I naturally didn't get service when we were away. My voicemail box is full…"

"Oh…" He could easily guess who had filled that up.

She started listening to them and cringed. Never had she blatantly ignored her mother's calls for so long, although she really couldn't help it since she was out of the country. Probably wouldn't be the greatest thing to tell her that's what she had been doing this whole past week. It would be nice to tell the truth, but then again with everything that had happened so far, it just didn't seem like a good idea if she really wanted to change her mother's mind about him. Of course… ignoring her and arguing wasn't going to help either. Seemed like no matter what she did it wasn't going to come out good.

"What are you going to say when you call her back?" he asked.

"Um, I don't know. That I didn't want to talk to her I guess."

"Mm… We should really try and talk to her before things get too far."

"I don't know..."

"At least attempt to talk to her about it. I don't want you to lie or basically feel like you're sneaking around with me. I don't want that."

"Well, I don't either, but I'm afraid it will just make things worse if we do. I'm really afraid to tell her that we're living together… to be honest."

"I think it's going to more so if we don't. No matter if her opinion changes or not I'd feel a lot better as long as we at least try to talk to her once. She can disagree, but she can't change what's between us. As much as I don't want to put any strain between you and your family, I can't help that I do want to be with you no matter what. I'm too selfish; I want you in my life as much as possible."

She sighed and smiled at his last comment. "You're right I suppose. Well, I'll ask her about meeting you sometime and see what she says, okay?"

"Sounds like a plan."

Sakura nodded and lowered herself more comfortably into the seat. Turning off her phone for now, she drifted into sleep again. She was worried about what all the future would bring, but took solace that at least Kakashi would be by her side. That's all she needed.


Kakashi sipped a spoonful of stew he was making. Satisfied with the taste, he covered it to let it keep simmering. It would take a couple of hours to finish cooking, but would be perfect by the time they were ready to eat dinner. He sighed happily with a grin on his face. Today was an exciting day that he had been increasingly looking forward to since the moment he suggested it. Sakura was finally living with him on a full term basis.

After he finished cleaning up the kitchen, he made his way to the living room looking for Sakura. The pile of boxes they had brought in together from her apartment was almost completely unpacked. He let her have free reign to place things wherever she liked to. Earlier, he cleared out half of his closet for her clothes and emptied a couple of drawers in his dresser for her to share. She had already begun decorating some of the walls around the house with her calligraphy work and other art. It was nice just seeing something on his usual bare walls. It didn't feel so cold anymore, but what really made it a home now was having her here with him.

Walking into the hall, he remembered that he did have some stuff in storage she might like to use to decorate. He couldn't remember what all was inside the room anymore besides the old piano and random boxes of stuff. He took a step towards the door to see for himself until he heard his name.

"KAKASHI! YOU DAMN PERVERT!"

He froze. Sakura sounded upset. Did she find his stashed porn collection of magazines? He turned to see her standing at the top of the stairs, hands on her hips with a fistful of…

"What is this?" She held out a hand with quite an amount of colorful panties in her palm.

"Um…" He mentally cursed how apparently he didn't hide them well enough once they came back from France.

"Why do you have my panties stuffed in your desk drawer? I thought you were joking that you've been stealing them. I didn't realize I've been missing so many." She flipped through them and shook her head disapprovingly.

"I, um… well, you see…"

"Uh-huh… go on." she said impatiently.

"You forgot them… when you came over?" He wanted to slap himself with his pitiful excuse.

She scoffed. "This many? You stole them."

"Stole… is a harsh word. More like borrowed."

"For what? You don't… wear them or something do you?"

He flinched. "No! I just, um…"

"Pervert," she muttered and stomped back into his bedroom.

Worried that she actually was mad, he went up stairs and followed her into his room. "Sakura…"

She dropped her pile of panties on his bed next to some other sorted clothes she was going through and bent down under his bed. His heart dropped as she pulled out one of his old pornographic magazines.

"And what's this?" she asked.

"…"

"And this?" Another magazine flopped on his bedspread.

"…"

She continued, bent under his bed, and started pulling up things he barely could remember he even had anymore. Why didn't he clean his room before she moved in? He felt like such an idiot.

"And this?" she asked again, throwing a pair of handcuffs on the bed.

"Ah, that's where those were," he murmured.

"And this?" Another dirty magazine flew on his bed. He tried to remember how many he had down there.

"And this?" A rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle squeaked on his bed. He had no fucking idea what that was doing there or where it came from.

"…"

Sitting back up, she sneezed from the dust.

"Bless you," he said.

She glared at him. "Anything else you'd like to say about all this?"

His eyes glanced over all the objects on his bed, lingering on the rubber chicken. "Um… not really."

Folding her arms, she glared harder at him. Clearly, she was expecting some kind of explanation, but he wasn't sure what exactly to say.

"Sakura… all this is old stuff I haven't really looked at in years." He motioned towards the magazines.

"…"

"Are you really mad?"

"…"

Kakashi wanted to crawl under a rock from the silence. It wasn't his fault, he reasoned. He was a guy. Guys had stacks of porn on their bed. Didn't most people? Honestly, he hadn't looked at most of it in years which he figured was pretty evident from the amount of dust on them. Was she really that upset over it? Their first day together wasn't going to start out like this, was it?

"No," she finally said with a weak smile.

He blinked. "Uh, really? You're not?"

"No, I'm not," she replied nonchalantly. She started stacking his magazines together.

"Then…"

"I was just messing with you. Consider this payback for stealing all of my underwear. I really don't care if you have porn. I mean, you read Icha Icha almost everyday. That's porn."

He sighed in relief. "Romance."

"Porn."

"Well, don't pretend you don't like it."

"I'm not. I do like it," she teased. "Anyway, I saw dust under here earlier and thought I'd clean it out. Then I discovered your treasures."

He sighed and started to organize the things on top of his bed. He tossed out all of his old magazines since he really didn't look or need them anymore. They continued to clean and organize things around his room. By the time they finished, he was surprised how different it looked now. It didn't look as sloppy anymore and it had a nice combination of Sakura's things throughout. His house was really starting to reflect how they were sharing everything together now. It gave him a nice feeling.

"Like it?" she asked, giving him a hug from behind.

"I like it a lot," he replied, squeezing her arms.

"I still have a few more things to unpack, but I'll save it for tomorrow."

She sighed, giving him one final hug and moved to collapse backwards on the bed. He kneeled on the bed to lie down next to her. He turned his eyes up towards the ceiling and halted at what was staring back at him. It was a poster of a fluffy orange kitten hanging desperately on a rope with the cliché words, 'Hang in there.'

"What… in the hell is that?" he slowly asked.

Her eyes glanced at the ceiling above and fought back a grin. "Oh, that? It's a poster, silly."

"But… what is it doing there?"

"It's always been above my bed ever since I was a little girl. I think it brings me good luck. It's usually the first thing I see in the morning, so… I hope you don't mind."

"…"

He felt like his manliness was draining the more he stared at it. There was no way this was going to work. It creeped him out, and if he were to stare at that night after night he might have to kill himself. It was too adorable. Too cheesy. How could he even make love to her with that thing hanging above his head? Hang in there

He rubbed his face, starting to feel stressed. How could he ask her nicely to take it down? He pointed towards the hallway. "It might look better, um, over there."

"Mm, nah. It looks fine as it is. Oh! I didn't even finish putting up other parts to it."

"Other parts?" he asked curiously.

She sat up and bent over the side to rustle through a plastic bag that was on the floor beside the night stand. She pulled out a few things and stood on the bed on her tippy toes. The thin sheet of paper in her hand looked liked stickers. Slowly, she peeled them off one by one.

'Oh fuck me,' he thought as he watched her start them stick them all over the poster. They were glittery sequins hot pink bows and stars. He wasn't sure what was worse, the poster itself or the stickers.

Sakura fell back down onto the bed once she was finished. "There we go. Now it feels like home."

"…Sakura."

"Yes?"

"Um… how can I put this nicely?"

"I know, it is nice, isn't it?"

He began to shake his head. "No… I- "

"I got this poster as a gift from Ino. It means so much to me and just look how cute it is!"

"…"

At first he thought this had to have been a joke, but he couldn't tell. He had to say something. That damn poster could not stay up above his bed. He began to open his mouth to say something, but Sakura interjected.

"Oh yeah! The poster is also really special to me because it reminds me of this old tabby cat I used to have. His name was Mr. BooBoo since he always seemed to hurt himself accidentally. He had a cute little bob tail that would wag when you pet it and he loved to just run around the house. Sometimes he ran into doors, trees, cabinets, parked cars, but that was because he was half blind I think. We never could figure out why."

Kakashi began to rub his temples, trying not to envision a cat walking into a parked car. It made him want to laugh. Was she really serious? This poster was going to be the death of him. She really seemed to be attached to it, but he just couldn't have this above where they slept. Anywhere, but here. He sighed. "Sakura, would you mind if you moved it?"

She turned to look at him. "Move what?"

"The poster…"

"But… it won't feel like home if it's not hanging above me."

"Well, but we're making a new home together... and I just think it would be better if it was somewhere else…"

"You hate it," she accused him.

"Not really…"

"Then why do I have to move it?"

"Because, um…" He tried to think of a good answer.

"You hate it."

He sighed, unable to think of what else he could possibly say. "…Fine. Yes, I hate it."

She let out a depressed sigh and pointed up at the poster above them. "But this poster means the world to me. I thought you said I could put my things anywhere? So… you lied to me?"

His heart clenched. "…No."

This was starting to be more trouble than it's worth. He tried to tell himself this was just a silly poster. He shouldn't feel bad wanting her to move it. He glanced up at the kitten's beady little eyes. Even though he did technically tell her she could do as she pleased… this had to go.

"It's not just a kitten. It's a kitten of hope, courage, and perseverance. That orange ball of fur represents the human spirit. Are you one of those people who want to crush the dreams of an innocent kitten, desperately hanging on for its dear life? Look at those sparkling eyes, Kakashi. How can you say no to those eyes?"

"…"

One of the stickers fell down from the ceiling and smacked him right in between the eyes with a tap. He groaned and brushed it off his face. Leaving his hand across his eyes, he wondered if he should really just let her keep it there. Suddenly, he heard snickering and turned to look at Sakura. She was desperately trying to hold a back from bursting into laughter. He narrowed his eyes and turned on his side. "What's so funny?" he asked.

"Y-you totally think I-I'm serious!" Her giggles further erupted.

"…"

She picked up the fallen sticker on the bed and pressed it on his face. "I just wanted to see what you'd say. I can't believe you were really debating letting me keep it there. Don't you think it's creepy?"

He sighed, feeling relieved. "I hate you."

Smiling, she leaned over and kissed him. "It's a random parting gift from Ino, actually. I have no idea what to do with it."

"Let's burn it."

"Awe, but that's cruel."

After a moment of silence, he asked, "Did you really used to have a cat named Mr. BooBoo?"

"Nope. I lied."

"You know what liars deserve?"

Hesitantly, she looked at him. "Um… what?"

"Tickles." He pounced on her and began to tickle her sides.

Her hands shot to her stomach. "AH! Noooooo! Look, I-I'm sorry, but it was f-funny!" she hollered. He started to tickle her more viciously. "K-Kakashi, please!"

"You deserve one thousand tickles."

"No!" Somehow she managed to pull herself from his hands and fell ungracefully to the wooden floor with a thud. Narrowly, he missed grabbing her leg before she slid backwards with a screech. When he started to get out of the bed, she ran out of the room and slammed the bedroom door behind her.

Rolling out of the bed, he ran to the door and pulled. It didn't budge. She managed to turn the lock when she ran out. He had to applaud her on managing that. Unlocking the door, he opened it and stepped into the hall. It was quiet. Too quiet.

"You can run, but you can't hide," he teased.

There was no way she had time to go downstairs. He would have heard her footsteps. So, he started his search for her in the bathroom. He opened the door and flicked on the light. Slowly, he pulled back the shower curtain, but found nothing. He even looked inside the bottom cabinets by chance she was ninja enough to fit in there. Nothing. Only place that was left upstairs was his office.

Kakashi vowed he was so going to tickle her until tears came out of her eyes. He almost felt sorry for her. Closing the bathroom door, he went across the hall to his office and opened the door cautiously which made it creek eerily. His hand slid along the wall to find the light.

"Hum, where could she be?" he asked aloud. His eyes glanced to the desk. She must have been behind there. Taking a few steps towards it, he barely caught sight of a figure in the reflection of the window dart out behind him. She had been hiding behind the door. He turned quickly and started to chase after her. She squealed in fear and ran out of the room as fast as her legs would carry her. Jumping down some of the steps of the staircase, she had no hope of trying to outrun him as he pulled at the back of her shirt once they were at the bottom of the stairs.

"Ah-ah," he said, tugging her backwards to him.

Sakura whipped around and with a single arm twisted his hand away. Distancing herself from him, she struck a fighting pose.

Kakashi laughed, admiring her gall. "You do realize I've won world championships in karate, right?"

"So? I can take you on," she said sternly. Clenching her fists, she gave him a hardened look like she was serious.

"Oh?" He made a motion towards her and her façade of looking fearless crumbled. He quickly moved a hand to tickle her side, then pulled back to tickle her on her other side making her giggle.

She tried to smack his hands away, but was failing at each try. He was too quick. "Agh!" she tried to suppress more giggles that he was causing her.

"Your stance is leaving you open to attacks. Here." He rose his hands up in a momentary surrender that he wouldn't tickle her. She relaxed cautiously and let him approach. Gripping her shoulders, he moved them off to the side and forced her hips to follow. "Keep your shoulders and hips level or else your center of gravity will be off."

"Okay." She tried to adjust her weight to be more centered.

He poked a finger behind her knees. "Don't lock your knees."

She bent her knees slightly and raised her fists. "Keep your elbows in and keep your hands just below eye level. Also keep them in a loose fist like this." He paused and showed her with his hand. "And be sure to keep the rest of your body relaxed."

Nodding, she struck her new pose and made a playful jab at him. "How's this?"

"Good. Now try and block me by using an open hand to deflect my arms. Be sure and use this part of your hand." He opened her fist to caress the spot he mentioned, and then raised her arm up to demonstrate to her how she should block against him.

Pulling back, she reset her stance and grinned. "Okay, try me."

Slowly, he began making moves towards her which she blocked easily. She laughed as he pretended like he was really having a hard time. "So, sensei, am I black belt worthy, yet?"

"Mm… At this point, you could maybe take out two five year-olds who haven't earned white belts yet."

She glared and made a motion to smack his arm. He grabbed her wrist and twisted it behind her head, then pressed his knee behind her leg to make her fall backwards. He caught her right before she would have fallen to the floor.

"Show off," she muttered.

He grinned and pulled her back up.

"You know, you always let me hit you. You could easily block them, so why let me?"

"Because I usually deserve it," he teased.

"Damn right." She smiled and combed her fingers into her messy strands of hair.

Kakashi was lost in admiring how beautiful she was before remembering what he was supposed to be doing. "Oh yeah… I almost forgot about tickling you."

Her expression soured and suddenly went back into her fighting stance. "Don't you even."

"You can't stop me."

"Yes, I can!"

He started to make strikes towards her stomach, but she managed to block and dodge each attempt. Picking up speed, he dashed towards her and tried to sneak in at her side, but she twisted her hips at just the right moment.

Smiling, he commented, "Okay, I have to admit you're really impressing me. You really never took any kind of marital arts before, right?"

"Nope," she replied with a proud smile.

"You really should have signed up for karate in high school."

She shrugged. "Hum, I guess it never crossed my mind that I'd be any good at it."

"Well, I can tell you have a lot of potential."

"Want to help train me sometime?"

"Sure, but I'll need some form of payment…"

Frowning, she thought for a moment and then smiled. "Kisses?"

"Mm… I need a sample."

Sakura relaxed from her stance and approached him to place a kiss on his lips. She started with soft kisses at first and then parted his lips with her tongue. She explored his mouth for a minute before pulling away. "How's that?"

"I need more samples."

She glared playfully at him. "Greedy."

"Hey, I just want to be sure if I accept this kind of payment."

"Yeah, sure." She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him into another kiss. He held her at the waist and lifted her up into a hug, making her laugh. "What happened to you tickling me?" she asked.

He smiled. "Distracted. Happily distracted."


The next couple days went by fast as Sakura became more settled in. It was amazing to her how comfortable she felt living with him as if she had been already for years. It just seemed natural and completely right. Before they knew it the new semester was finally upon them. She was sad at the idea of having to go back to work at the café and wasn't looking forward to studying or homework. She had gotten so spoiled in the past month of being together with him every day. She'd really miss not being able to spend so much time with him anymore, but at least she knew they would always go home to the same place at the end of the day.

Kakashi woke up feeling warm and soft kisses at his cheek. Keeping his eyes closed, he smiled and moved his lips across smooth skin until he found her lips. Pulling back, he slowly opened his eyes to find a smiling Sakura staring back at him. "Is that going to be my wake up call every morning for the whole semester?" he asked.

"If you want it to be," she replied.

"Absolutely, yes."

Her smile grew and then she slipped her arms around him, pulling him into a hug. "So, are we going to be actually on time to school for the first day?"

He glanced at the clock. "Hum… Maybe."

"If you want, you can go back to sleep until I get out of the shower."

"Or I can join you… you know, to save money and time."

She poked him with an accusing finger. "We'd be really late then. Pass." Kissing him one last time, she scooted off the bed and started to head towards the bathroom.

"Awe… No fun," he mumbled, his head falling back onto the pillow. His eyes closed again, making him drift back into sleep. He didn't open them again until he heard the rustling of fabric. He was happy to find that Sakura was changing into fresh clothes outside the walk-in closet and was hopping up and down pulling her jeans up. The greatest thing of all was that she was still topless.

She caught his stare and turned her back to him. "Figures you wake up right when I'm changing."

"My pervert senses were tingling."

"…"

"What? It's a super power of mine."

She sighed and pointed to the door. "Go shower, Super Pervert Man."

"Fine." He kicked the sheets back and rubbed his stubbly face before getting up. "Off to my secret lair."

"The bathroom?"

"Secret lair." Then he stretched his arms out and pretended to fly towards the bathroom while making whoosh sounds.

"I'm in love with a crazy person," she muttered with a laugh.

After she finished changing, she quickly brushed her hair and put on a little makeup. She went down stairs into the living room and fell onto the couch to relax. She picked up her Icha Icha book that was on the coffee table and pulled out her bookmark to pick up where she last left off. She wasn't too worried they would be late.

About twenty minutes later, Kakashi flew down the steps in a hurry and grabbed his keys from the end table in the hall. Twirling them in his hand he stood in the living room's archway and watched Sakura stretch slowly before putting down her book. He was surprised how calm she was. "You might want to hurry. We're probably going to be late, sorry."

"Mm, nope. We're on time."

"Huh?" He glanced at the clock hung up in the living room. "Hey… you changed the time in the bedroom…"

She smiled. "Yep."

"I hurried for nothing!"

"No. Not for nothing. See, now we're assured to be there on time."

He started to walk back up the stairs. "I'm going back to bed."

"No you don't!"

Sakura ran up to him and pulled him back down. "Let's leave now."

He groaned. He felt swindled out of precious minutes of sleep. She managed to push him out the door and down the steps after she locked it. He pouted the whole way to the driveway. She stepped in front of his car and tapped her fingers.

He shook his head. "Hum, nope. Motorcycle today."

"Awe, but my hair is going to get everywhere."

"Shouldn't have changed the clock."

"Oh, come on! I did you a favor."

"Losing sleep is not a favor."

She rolled her eyes and reluctantly made her way over to his bike. He sighed at her pout and moved to unlock the car. "Fine, we'll go in the car. Only because I love you."

"Yay! Thank you," she said happily.

Kakashi sighed and muttered something about how he was so whipped before he settled in the driver's seat. As they drove, they talked about their schedules for the day. She had to work tonight, so he was going to stay at the school after he finished his classes to wait for her. He didn't mind at all and he was looking forward to ordering a super complicated latte again.

They kissed and wished each other a good day once they made it to the main walkway of the campus. As she pulled her fingers away from his, she was already missing him. She turned over her shoulder as she walked to find him glancing back at her as well. She smiled and couldn't help but blush.

Turning back around, she sighed and pulled out her schedule. She had nothing but chemistry and math courses this semester. All of her science classes had a mandatory lab, which was a separate class, but counted towards her final grade at the end of the semester towards the main lecture class. She hated the lab work, but it was just something she had to get used to if she wanted to get into medical school. As long as she stayed on top of everything this semester, it shouldn't be too hard to handle.

Working her way through the crowds, she found her chemistry class with plenty of minutes to spare before it started. It was a medium-sized class compared to the big lecture hall she was in last semester. The chair she randomly picked squeaked as she slipped in the wooden seat. She pulled out her notes along with a freshly sharpened pencil and began to tap lightly on her notebook as she waited.

"Haruno… Sakura?" a voice called out above her.

She glanced up and froze at the dark pair of eyes that stared back at her. "Hello, Sasuke..."

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: Holding On To Everything

"Hello, Sasuke," Sakura said, trying not to look too surprised. "I didn't know you came to Tokyo as well."

He replied with a forced smile and walked to a chair several rows in front of her.

She felt a little uncomfortable, not because she used to have a crush on him, but because of how much he had changed for the worst between junior high and high school. She wasn't sure why she childishly proclaimed her love for him in the first place back then. He was never a kind person. Although he acted indifferent towards most people, he always remained one of the most popular students in her school. If it wasn't his well-known family that made him so, it was how skilled he was no matter what subject or sport he did. Maybe it was the popularity that got to his head, but he had become really snobby and short with people, namely with Naruto who at the time in junior high was picked on a lot. She didn't care so much then when she was blinded by her crush on Sasuke, but the more she matured, the more she realized how wrong it was for anyone to treat people that way. She should know of all people. She was bullied by some of her classmates because of how she looked, but the people that used to tease her grew out of it. Sasuke always continued being rude to who he considered 'lesser' than him. His main target had always been Naruto, who she later learned what a great guy and friend he was. Sasuke's constant fighting with him really made her silently start to dislike him later in high school.

The last time she and Sasuke ever spoke words between each other was at graduation. He was the valedictorian of their class. Since she was salutatorian, they both had to sit next to each other separated from the rest of their classmates during the ceremony. They presented their speeches and made some small awkward talk as the ceremony progressed to pass time.

After Sasuke took his seat, she didn't pay him any mind and focused back on the starting lecture in class. She was hoping they would just do introductions today and leave early, but her professor already had a full lecture planned for them as well as homework. She sighed. She really didn't want to start readings already. Once class was over, she went to her next one which was calculus. Math wasn't her favorite subject, but it had always been pretty easy for her. To her it was just a matter of plugging in the numbers. She groaned silently when the professor of that class also assigned homework for today. All hope of having one last relaxing night with Kakashi was disappearing. She still had chemistry lab later and was going to bet she would get homework in there as well since it was only a once a week class.

At least today she and Kakashi would have time to get lunch together. She wouldn't be able to on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of their schedules. It was so depressing to her that she wouldn't be able to meet up for lunch on those days, but tried to remind herself at least they would go home together and have dinner every night. It made her even happier they decided to move in together now, rather than later. She would have gotten to see him even less if she was still living with Ino. It would have driven her crazy.

After buying a couple things from the bookstore, Sakura walked down the main campus walkway and weaved around passing crowds towards the language building. The English class Kakashi was assisting with wasn't out yet, but she decided to wait in the main lobby area which had a worktable area. She figured now would be a good time to start working on some of her piling amount of homework.

Pulling out her phone, she sighed at the text her mother sent wishing her a good day for the new semester. Right now they weren't talking, at least not calling each other directly. When she finally called her mother back the day after she came home from France, to say that her mother was angry from not hearing from her in a week was an understatement. She was furious. Sakura argued with her that she wasn't a baby that she needed to keep constantly checking in on. That just made her even angrier, telling her that she had the right to check in with her own daughter who disappeared off with some "man" when she last saw her. Then she started giving her guilt trip reasons: that she was the one who gave her life, raised her, and paid, among other things, for her education growing up. Needless to say, she didn't ask about possibly meeting Kakashi. She wasn't sure what to do now. Ignoring it for now seemed like a grand idea.

Sakura quickly replied back 'thanks' and then sent Kakashi a text that she was waiting around the lobby for him when he was finished. Sighing, she started working on her chemistry homework. About twenty minutes later, a pair of fingerless gloved hands covered her eyes while she was mid-writing one of her answers.

"Guess who?" a teasing voice asked.

"Hum… Naruto?" she asked.

"I should tickle you for even comparing my voice to his."

"Ino?"

"Now you're just insulting me."

She pulled his hands down and turned up to look at him with a grin. "Oh, Kakashi. I had no idea."

He sat down beside her and placed his bag on the table. He let out a fake depressed sigh. "Cruel."

"Never." She grinned, and then kissed his cheek. She turned back towards her work to finish up the last bit of the problem she was working on.

"Doing homework already?" he asked. "Day's not even half over yet."

"I know, right? I'm not even half way done and I still have lab later. So, how did the class assisting go?"

"So far, so good. The professor I'm working with seems like a decent guy who knows what he's doing. I really can't gauge how well the students are until I start grading papers. They could be all idiots."

She chuckled. "Oh, I'm sure it will be fine."

She quickly finished her work and placed the sheet into the pages of her book, then closed it to stuff it in her bag. Kakashi rose from the chair and helped her up. Squeezing his hand, she smiled and asked, "Where would you like to get lunch?"

"I'm down for whatever."

"How about ramen?" she asked jokingly.

"Okay, I'm down for anything, but that."

"Let's just go to one of the cafeterias."

He nodded in agreement and pointed towards a direction. "I think the closest one is that way."

They walked outside amidst the rush of people either getting lunch themselves or scurrying off to their next class. It was similar to the one they went to the first time they ate together. It had various buffet styled food stands for different specialty types. So you could pick and choose whatever you liked.

"Let's meet over there?" Kakashi asked, pointing near the group of tables over by the windows.

"Sure," she replied with a nod.

After they finished selecting a few items to eat for lunch, they met up at a small table. They started to chat a little bit about everything, including reminiscing about their trip to France that was merely just a couple of weeks ago.

"I miss France," she sighed.

"Me, too. I mean, where else can I get quality snail dishes to sneak in your food?"

Sakura playfully gagged. "Bleh. I still hate you for teasing me that there was some in my salad on the first night."

"But there was," he said sternly.

"Don't even say that."

"There was."

"…"

She narrowed her eyes at the serious look on his face. He remained silent until he took in a breath to say, "I joke."

"Argh. Hate you."

"You do realize though, that day I actually had some... you did kiss me later which means you technically were tasting the snails that I ate."

She dropped her chopsticks and gave him a death glare.

"Love you," he muttered meekly. He looked apologetically at her.

Not being able to withstand the sad look in his eyes, she smiled and gave him a quick kiss. Circling her chopsticks around in her food, she looked around the cafeteria to suddenly find her eyes locked with Sasuke's. He was a few tables over scowling at them. She flinched and blinked back to her food. Slowly, she looked back to him again. Finally, he shifted his cold looking gaze from them. She glared at him as he turned away. What was his problem?

Kakashi glanced at where she was looking at. "Oh, isn't that…Uchiha Sasuke?"

"Yeah…"

"Mm…" He looked at her uneasy gaze toward the Uchiha. "Look, um, I know things change over time. That's even obvious between us from when I first met you, but I have to ask…"

She turned her attention back towards Kakashi. "…Yes?"

He sighed, figuring she'll probably be angry at him for even saying it. "You don't still have some kind of thing… for him like you used to in junior high, do you?"

She looked shocked, then irritated. "O-of course not," she stammered. "Why are you even asking? You think I'd leave you for him or something?"

"No, no… but I can't help knowing how infatuated you were back then. I don't know anything between you both beyond junior high. So, I'm just curious if you still harbored any feelings like that anymore and I'm asking because… um... well, I…"

Sakura huffed. "For one thing that was eons ago. Stupid puppy love. Didn't you ever have a silly one-sided crush on someone growing up?"

"I can't say I have. I guess that's why I felt the need to ask you. It's not that I think you don't love me or anything like that. I already know you do."

Her anger dissipated a bit. "Oh, well, most people do and that's something that fades over time once you realize that it's not worth it for whatever reason. Then you just move on."

He couldn't help his curiosity. "What made you move on?"

"I only focused on his looks and not who he was. He turned into a real jerk… least from what I know and heard about him."

Kakashi glanced at Sasuke for a moment. "Yeah, I know that first hand."

"Oh?"

"He used to be a part of the karate team when I was in charge of it."

She hummed in thought. "I forgot about that. I remember he was in it during junior high, but… beginning of sophomore year in high school he dropped out. Everyone made a big deal out of it since he was one of the most skilled on the team. Wasn't he even one of the captains?"

"He was, yes."

"Do you know why he quit?"

Kakashi tossed around the vegetables in his bowl with his chopsticks as he contemplated. It wasn't something he could talk about when he was still teaching there. Only he and the headmaster knew anything about it to avoid any unnecessary drama. Of course, things were in the past now and he was no longer a teacher there anymore.

"I made him quit," he finally said.

Her mouth dropped open. "Huh?"

"Well, it was either quit or me officially kick him out. He chose the first option."

"What for?"

"Besides the growing lack of respect for me or any of his teammates, there was an incident that happened which he almost could have killed someone…"

Her eyes went wide. "What? Really? How come I never heard about this before? With who?"

"I shouldn't say who, I guess… but it happened after practice one night. I'm not sure what led to it, but when I got there it was almost too late. Sasuke's kind of like me in a way, in being descended from a well known family. No one was told about it because of his ties to Uchiha, who actually contributed quite a lot of money to the school over the years. The school didn't want to get any bad publicity for making an ordeal out of it. It's not right, but it's how they wanted to handle it at the time."

Sakura looked down for a moment, processing what he had just told her. She had heard Sasuke picked fights sometimes, usually outside of school, but nothing that ever ended up too serious. "That's crazy… I had no idea."

"Yeah, well. I probably shouldn't have told you most of that, but I trust you."

She smiled for a moment. "And I trust you, too."

Shifting an elbow to the table, Kakashi looked off to the side for a moment. "I have to admit, that I kind of feel like I failed as a teacher for him to end up acting like that."

"Don't say that…"

"It's just fact."

The mood darkened a bit. Sakura placed her chopsticks down to pull at his hand that was lying on the table. "Hey, I don't know everything, but I do know sometimes you can't reach out to everyone. Not if they don't want the help."

He tapped her hands appreciatively. "You're probably right."

"I am. You know, Naruto used to say nice things about you a lot back then."

"Really?"

"When he wasn't talking about ramen of course."

He chuckled. "Of course."

"Besides how late you'd be sometimes and being a bit of a hard-ass," she teased.

He playfully glared at her. "I can't deny that."

"But really. He told me he was seriously thinking of dropping out in high school when we became better friends, but he loved being a part of the team and that forced him to take school seriously. I know he's thankful for that. I bet he wouldn't even be here now on a scholarship if you didn't have any sort of part in it."

He smiled. "Well… that certainly makes me feel a bit better hearing that. Thank you."

She squeezed his hand. "You kind of pretended not to care when you were my teacher in middle school, but I can tell you generally love to teach and trying to make a difference, right?"

"Yeah. It is the reason why I wanted to be one. Specifically with karate growing up, it helped me not lose my sanity of the things around me. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be here if I didn't have any kind of outlet like that."

"What you mean not be here?"

"I really wasn't in a good place back then… I could have done something stupid to myself."

Understanding the implication he meant, she lowered her eyes. "Oh…"

"It's the past though. I'm better and stronger for everything now. Also, need I remind you if things didn't happen as they did I probably never would have met you."

"Well, I'm certainly glad to be here with you now," she said with a shy smile.

After they finished with their lunch, Kakashi walked with her towards her next class before he went on with the rest of his day. "I'll see you at ten, right?" he asked.

"Right. I'll be out of work by then."

"I'll come a little early."

"To torture me?"

He quirked an eyebrow. "Torture? I just want a special drink made by my love. Is that so wrong?"

She narrowed her eyes at him. "If you mean special as in your ridiculous order from last time, I'm going to be sure I punish you if you make me do something like that again…"

"Ooh," he said with intrigue. "Does punishment involve any removal of clothing?"

She rolled her eyes. "No."

"Handcuffs?"

"No."

"Leather?"

She sighed and glared at him. "Obviously, your idea of punishment is not my idea of punishment."

Completely ignoring her statement, he asked, "So, it's leather?"

She sighed. "Hopeless pervert."

"Your hopeless pervert."

"Wouldn't have it any other way," she teased back.

They kissed goodbye and reluctantly parted to head to their next class. Sakura had chemistry lab next. When she entered, half of the stools of the long rectangular lab tables were taken already. The laboratory was typically set up to have two people sharing per each section of the lab tables. She went towards one that was still empty and plopped her bag on the table. Pulling out her notes and homework from her previous classes today, she figured she should try and keep working on problems until class started.

Sakura inwardly sighed, seeing Sasuke come inside the room. She had hoped he would have picked a different lab day than her. At least he probably didn't care to talk to her, so it really didn't matter. It was just his presence that made her feel irked, especially after what Kakashi mentioned about him. She started to fill in answers again, but to her surprise, she could see in the corner of her eye that Sasuke decided to sit next to her. She glanced at the other tables that were still empty. He could have sat somewhere else besides here.

"You're kind of disgusting," Sasuke muttered.

She looked up from her work to see him peering at her. "Huh?"

"You and him."

Her cheeks flushed with a mix of anger and shock. Instead of saying something, she decided to keep her mouth shut and ignore him. Was he seriously saying that about her being with Kakashi? Jerk. She went back to the problem she was working on, but he pulled the paper out from her hands which made the tip of her pencil break.

"What the hell?" she spat. She tried to grab the paper back, but he kept her hands at a distance with a single arm.

He looked over her answers and said, "You have two and seven wrong."

She made an attempt to snatch it back, but was still out of reach. "Whatever."

"I'm being nice and helping you out. So, did he do all your work in school back then?"

She froze and glared at him. "…What is that supposed to mean?"

"I always wondered how in the world you managed second in our class. Now it makes a lot of sense."

Feeling her heart start to beat within her throat, she rose up to slam her hand down on the counter, making the glass instruments on the lab table shake.

"I do my own damn work!" she yelled. She then lowered herself on the stool, seeing various pairs of eyes staring at them. Biting her lip, she was trying really hard to control her anger.

"Sure, right." Sasuke looked forward with a bored look on his face and then threw the paper at her without looking. "Well, I'm sure a quick BJ will have him fix your problems on there for you. I was just trying to save you some effort."

Her hands clenched. "…I do my own fucking work and we weren't together when I was in school. Who I'm with is none of your fucking business, anyway. Fuck off."

"Wow. So mean to me, Sakura-chan. I thought you used to love me?"

Trying to keep her composure, she muttered between her teeth, "...Move to a different table. Now."

He pushed his chair back like he was going to, but instead of getting up, he turned to her to lean in and say, "By the way, you can be a skank with whatever old loser you want to. I don't care. Does it turn you on he's old enough to be your father? Did your father used to fuck you, too?"

She slapped him hard in the face which made him fall backwards off the stool. Screeched sounds of metal chairs and gasps in the room sounded as people rose up to peer at Sasuke on the floor.

"What the hell is going on?" a voice from the front yelled out.

Sakura's eyes snapped towards a man, who she assumed was the professor of the class. He placed a stack of papers on the desk he was holding and folded his arms with a shocked look on his face. Her cheeks further burned the longer he stared at her in disbelief.

Sasuke slowly latched his fingers on the table to help him rise off the floor. Once he was up, he propped up the chair and whispered an inaudible curse at her before he sat down.

He looked forwards towards the teacher and said aloud, "I don't know what her problem is." He glanced at her and then raised a hand to the side of his pale cheek where a red-stained hand print was forming.

"You. Outside. Now," the man said, pointing directly at her.

Glancing around the room and having everyone's attention on her, she felt utterly humiliated as she pushed her chair back to get up. She fumbled with her hands as she walked quickly to the door that led out into the hallway. The teacher followed out after her.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Haruno Sakura," she replied weakly.

"I didn't see what led to that, but I can't have any kind of violence in my class. It's dangerous if someone gets pushed into something. There are poisonous chemicals in the room, glass objects and fragile equipment."

"I-I'm sorry," she stammered. "I didn't mean to. He was harassing me and… I guess I wasn't thinking…"

"You'll need to drop from the class."

"…"

Tears started to well up in the corners of her eyes. She wouldn't be able to pass chemistry without this class. "He started it! Why don't you make him drop?" she argued.

"All I saw was you hitting him. I don't care what's all between you, but I can't take the chance of it happening again and it resulting into something more serious. I'm sorry. It's nothing personal."

"But-"

"Look, I'm not reporting this to the university or it could get a lot worse. So, just drop and try and to find a different time slot."

"Everything is full now. How am I supposed to find another lab?"

"You might find an opening after the week passes."

After a moment of silence she said, "This is so stupid. I don't see why he gets to stay."

"I'm sorry, but it is what it is. Go get your stuff, please."

Wiping her eyes, she hastily opened the door to the lab and went inside. Everyone hushed and stared at her as she stacked up her books from the lab table. She tried her best to look down and ignore everyone, but she was inwardly starting to crumble. Slinging her bag over her shoulder, Sasuke made a small wave goodbye to her, making her feel even more pissed off. She gritted her teeth and shoved her stool back in place under the counter.

Once she was outside the lab, she forced the door closed and stomped off down the hall. The loud slam of the door echoed down the hall, making her feel so childish in doing it, but she couldn't stop herself. It wasn't something an adult should do, acting out in some tantrum like that. Nor was slapping someone, but she couldn't regret that. He deserved it. She started to fully cry now as she rounded the corner. Ignoring people looking at her as she hurried by, she couldn't stop crying. She couldn't believe this. There was no way she could not take this class. It was only offered in the spring. She couldn't wait a whole fucking year to take it again. She wouldn't be able to sign up for her sophomore classes that needed it as a base requirement in the fall.

All she could think about was how this was so stupid and unfair. Sasuke. What he said to her was just unbelievable. Anger flared up in her veins just thinking about it. With that thought, she stopped to punch hard into the brick wall of the hall. The moment she felt pain shoot throughout her knuckles, she realized how stupid she was doing that in the first place, but the blast of anger she felt subsided as she pulled back her hand. Some of the skin on her knuckles had been torn and was beginning to bleed.

Relaxing her now aching fist at her side, she sucked in a breath only to make her voice tremble out in crying more. She felt so immature. Nowhere else to go, she walked to the library and found a single table to sit at. Throwing her stuff on the floor next to her, she rested her head in her crossed arms. She would stay that way until it was time for her shift later.


"What's wrong?" Kakashi asked gently. His heart dropped in seeing her look down from him. It was easy to tell something was the matter the moment he walked in the coffee shop.

"I'll tell you later," Sakura quickly replied. The tremor in her voice certainly didn't sound like nothing.

"Sakura…"

She fixated her gaze on a key of the register and clutched the inside of her apron her hands were currently stuffed into. "Do you want to order something or not?"

Sakura felt so relieved in seeing Kakashi, but at the same time it made her want to burst into tears and throw herself in his arms. She was still at work and she couldn't leave yet. She had to pull it together no matter how she was feeling right now. All day she had been feeling so stressed at the possibility of having to retake the course again next year. Work was hell for her. She couldn't keep her mind focused and was messing up orders left and right. Her manager seriously asked her if she had forgotten everything since the break. It made her feel so embarrassed. Now, she was struggling not to cry.

He leaned on the counter. "Please… tell me what's wrong."

"Later."

"Why?"

"I can't right now, okay? I have to work and I'm just getting more upset," she said as her voice cracked.

Placing his hands in his pockets, he sighed and looked worriedly at her. "Can't you take off early?"

"No. I'm already in trouble for screwing up so much today. I can't."

He sighed. "Okay. I'll wait over there. I'm not going anywhere."

She nodded and slowly lifted her eyes to watch him take a seat in the corner of the shop. He looked sadly at her before pulling out his Icha Icha book.

There was no way he could read anything. He kept glancing at Sakura when she wasn't looking. She seemed so upset and it was killing him. What the hell happened? He didn't think it was anything he had done. So, what was it? He racked his brain trying to think what in the world could make her so upset since lunch. Was it about her mother? She had told him they weren't talking at the moment. Did something happen? Whatever it was, he was going to make sure he made her feel better no matter what. The fake smile she held up as she dealt with customers made him feel even worse watching her struggle.

Once her shift was officially over, she dejectedly walked slowly to Kakashi with her arms crossed. She stared at the floor. "Let's go home, please."

Kakashi closed his book he had yet to turn a page on and got up from the chair. He put his book in his pocket and looked at Sakura. She still wouldn't look him in the eye. He began to follow her towards the door, but saw her bandaged hand as she started to push open the door. He pulled her wrist to make her stop walking any further and pulled her towards him to have a closer look.

"What the hell happened?" he asked. Her fingers twitched as he grazed a thumb on top of one of her knuckles.

"I stupidly punched the wall," she replied.

"…Why?"

"…"

Sakura's only response was a sigh. She winced as she pulled her hand away and went immediately to push open the door that led to the outside. The cold breezy night air whipped her pink strands into her face. Catching up to her, he pulled the stray hairs away from her eyes, and placed an arm around her. He heard her begin to sniffle. "Please, tell me what happened," he pleaded.

"Can we please go home first? I-I just really want to leave here."

"Sure," he replied back as calmly as he could. He held her more tightly, feeling her lean more into him. It hurt so much seeing her like this.

The drive home seemed like the longest hour in his life. She remained silent the whole time, looking out the window at the buildings and cars that passed by. When the amber lights of the street lamps faded in and out to highlight her face, he could see her brows furrow in trying to hold back from crying, but would quickly try to compose herself. He felt so helpless glancing at her, and had to stop himself from wanting to pull over to have her tell him right then and there what was making her so upset. She wanted to go home though. Their home. He could at least comply with her wish.

Kicking their shoes off at the genkan now, Kakashi wasted no time in pulling her towards the living room and making her sit down on the couch. "Please, tell me," he said.

She took in a deep breath. "Basically I was… I was kicked out of my class."

"What?" he asked completely stunned. He wouldn't have ever guessed something like this.

"I… I…" She began to cry in frustration. "I slapped someone. I know I shouldn't have, but I couldn't help myself. I made… I made him fall to the floor."

"Who?"

"Sasuke."

He tensed. "…What did he do?"

"He just… was saying things like I was disgusting… a skank…" She paused to fight back her tears "And other crap. I know I shouldn't have hit him, but he got to me."

"No," he murmured softly.

She looked up at him through the blurry vision of her tears. "No?" she asked, confused.

"Saying things like that to you. He deserved it. If I was there… I sure as hell would have hit him."

She smiled weakly at hearing him say that. "Still…"

"I'm sorry he said that to you. No doubt it's because he saw us together earlier. I'm sure he doesn't have many nice things to say about me either. So, was he kicked out, too?"

"No… My professor walked in to see me hit him and… and he only told me to leave the class. It's just… It's just so frustrating because I don't know if I'll ever find another open time for the lab I need. I'll be basically held back a year if I can't. I-I don't know what to do. That's what upsets me the most," she grimaced.

"He's still in the class…?"

"Yes, but its fine…"

He sighed. "It's not fine. You were provoked. He's as much at fault as you are."

"I don't know, but I can't change anything."

"Making sure you two were just separated would have been fair for you both. I don't understand why you're the only one having to be forced to leave. That's just stupid. Who's the professor?"

"Well… why?"

"I'll talk to them."

"No… don't do that. It will just make it worse," she protested.

"But it's not right."

"Maybe I'll find another class… I don't know."

"That's only a maybe though. Who's the professor?" he asked again.

She bit her lip as she thought. It really would just make it worse, she figured. Kakashi had just started being an assistant and wouldn't that look bad on him trying to start something up among the professors there, especially given their relationship? She knew he probably didn't care about all that and had the best intentions, but she had to deal with this herself. "I don't want you to fight my battles, Kakashi…"

He squeezed her knee and sighed. "I want to help. I'm here not only to listen, but if I can help do something, I want to. You don't have to do anything alone."

"You being here with me is enough. It really makes me feel so much better just to talk with you. See? I've stopped crying…" She wiped her eyes to further show how she actually did stop a few moments ago. "Really… it's okay."

"Okay," he reluctantly said. He pulled her into his chest and leaned back into the couch holding her.

Kakashi really didn't agree with it, but decided to leave it there for tonight. She did seem as if she was feeling a bit better after telling him, which relieved him a little bit. Now he felt angry towards Sasuke and the whole ordeal. He wasn't sure what he would say if he saw him, or if he should even say anything at all. If he did, he wasn't sure if he could control himself in wanting to smack him senselessly. Even though she didn't tell him everything that he said to her, if it made her this upset and caused her to get removed from of the class, that was just too much to ignore. He had to do something. This was his fault, more or less. Why else would Sasuke go out of his way to harass her? It had to have been because of a personal grudge against him. Taking it out on her wasn't right.

"Hungry?" he asked, in hopes of changing the subject.

"Yeah, a little bit."

"I'll make something quick for us. It's pretty late as it is."

"Can I help?" she asked.

"If you want, but you don't have to. You did have a pretty bad day, after all. Why not just rest a little bit?"

"It will help me take my mind off things."

"Well, if you insist. If that's what you really want." He lifted her chin to kiss her softly. He meant it as just a simple kiss, but quickly found her tongue begin to swirl dominantly against his. Not that he was complaining. Every time she pulled back, she would tug at his lips, making him all the more want to capture hers again and again.

She broke away and couldn't help but have a goofy smile on her face. "That makes me feel better, too."

He returned her smile and slowly began to trail small kisses along her cheek until he heard her stomach growl. He chuckled and pulled away as she blushed with embarrassment. "Okay, let's get something to eat."

Giving him one last kiss, Sakura rose up from his chest and stood up from the couch. Briefly smiling at him, she left into the hallway towards the kitchen. Kakashi slowly stretched and sat up from the couch to follow after her in the hall, but he halted midway. Their bags they dropped near the door caught his eye. Glancing towards the kitchen, he went to open the side pocket of her bag in hopes of finding what she stuffed in there before they left earlier in the morning.

He pulled out a folded slip of paper and quickly opened it. It was her schedule, which was exactly what he was hoping to find. Finding the name of the professor of her chemistry lab, he refolded it and placed it back into the pocket. He couldn't just sit by and do nothing about what happened. How everything had been handled was just ridiculous to him and it wasn't right on any level. She might be mad at him later for intervening, but if he didn't try, he would be angrier at himself more than anything.

Also, if he had the luck of running into Sasuke… he definitely needed to say something, or do something. He just wasn't sure what.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Truths Are Never Far From Lies

Kakashi momentarily looked at his phone again to check the time and then stuffed his hands back in his pockets. It was the beginning of his lunch break for his day, but he was willing to spare some time to try and find Sakura's professor instead of eating. Maybe it was a small blessing in disguise that he and Sakura couldn't have lunch today. Not that he liked the idea of going behind her back to try and sort things out for her, but until she was more willing to let him help her he didn't know how else to handle it. This just was too important for him to ignore - no matter if she wanted him not to help. Earlier in the morning after one of his classes, he looked up the office hours of her teacher that kicked her out of class, as well as what possible classes she could switch to. There weren't any openings, which she had mentioned to him last night, but she was still half-hoping that perhaps someone really would drop after a week. The chances of that happening were really slim because of the rare availability each spring. Not only was it unfair for her to have been kicked out in the first place, but the fact she wouldn't be able to take the course again until next year was even more of a problem. Didn't the professor realize that when he made her leave? Why would anyone do that to a student instead of working something out?

He continued to walk through the winding hallways on the fourth floor of the science building, glancing at each room number he passed by. Finding the door he had been hunting for, he gave it a quick and sturdy knock.

"Come in," a voice called within.

Taking in a breath, Kakashi entered inside and closed the door behind him. "Hello, you're Professor Seo Hisoka, correct?" he asked.

Looking him over, he guessed Seo was about five years younger than he was. Kakashi wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps he was just inexperienced in handling classroom confrontations at a college level.

The man lifted his brown eyes up from his computer monitor with a raised brow. "Yes, how can I help you?"

"I need to talk to you about a student you removed from your class yesterday, Haruno Sakura."

He looked confused as first, then annoyed. "Oh." He looked Kakashi up and down. "Who are… You seem familiar…"

"Hatake Kakashi. Look, I'm going to get to the point. She told me about what happened yesterday and you really had no right to kick her out."

Seo acted surprised. "Kick her out? I did no such thing."

Kakashi looked at him in disbelief at first, wondering if he was being serious or not. "You asked her to leave."

"I asked her, as a suggestion, to leave in order to deter from another confrontation, but that choice was entirely up to her. She could have stayed, but…" He turned his eyes back to the monitor and typed something in his computer before scrolling the mouse a few times. "Hum… As I see here, she opted to drop already, so it really isn't my problem anymore."

"Are you serious? You told her to pack up her books and leave the class. It wasn't a suggestion. I don't appreciate you trying to lie to me about it," he said in an accusing tone.

He glared at Kakashi then back to his computer. "I'm not lying. I'm not sure what she told you, but she was obviously upset. So, I told her to take off for the first day without any penalty, which I think is rather considerate of me. Also, as I said, I suggested she drop and possibly try and switch to another class since she seemed to have an issue with another student."

"You didn't suggest anything. You told her to drop the course without a choice."

"Were you there?" Seo asked, mockingly.

"No."

"How would you know?"

Kakashi let out an annoyed sigh. "Don't test my patience. How you handled it was completely off mark. The boy she hit, Uchiha Sasuke, is more to blame than she is for starting it. If you would have been fair about it, you could have at least heard them both out before deciding to kick her out."

"I did hear them both out and, perhaps you're deaf, but like I said, I didn't kick her out."

Clenching his fists inside his pockets, he tried to calm himself down. "Will you cut the bullshit and be honest with me?"

"She obviously misinterpreted what I said and I'm sorry, but why exactly are you here? This really isn't your concern."

"It is my concern, especially if there's a teacher who's blatantly abusing power."

"That's quite an accusation."

"It's quite the truth."

Seo sighed and looked back at his monitor. "Anything else you have to say? If not, I think we're done here. Feel free to leave and complain to someone who cares. Stop wasting my time."

"Like the university?"

"Good luck with that. Now leave, please."

Kakashi shot him one final glare before abruptly leaving out of the office. He swung the door, knocking it into the brick wall outside the hall and left it wide open as he left towards the exit of the building. His anger was steadily brewing after what he had just witnessed, but he was trying his best to calm himself down.

"Unbelievable," he muttered to himself.

Sakura wasn't a liar and she certainly wasn't blowing the situation out of context like Seo seemed to claim. The nerve of him trying to play off the whole thing like he merely suggested she leave the class was simply absurd. The fact that Seo could lie to him without a flinch was really unsettling. Kakashi knew this absolutely needed to be reported, but he couldn't do it without Sakura. She would need to tell them her side of the story. He inwardly sighed at the idea of having to talk with her about it. Letting Seo do this to people wasn't right on any level, but why? Why Sakura specifically? Did Sasuke's role in this have some kind of influence? Or was he just fueling the fire to something else? Perhaps Seo was biased against her?

All Kakashi could do was guess at this point, but for now he needed to convince Sakura to report it. If anything, maybe it would guarantee her admittance into a different lab. He figured she might be angry at first for him trying to help without her wanting him to, but he had to make her understand if it's something dealing with her, he couldn't just idly stand by and watch her get hurt by anyone or anything. Especially something as serious as this was. Perhaps she was afraid of him always "troubling" himself too much for her sake, but he was always glad to help in some way if it was for her. Didn't she understand that? He cared.

This was an awful way to start the New Year, but he figured it could be a lot worse. It just seemed like a bad coincidence having to deal with some jerk of a professor and Sasuke at the same time. He just really hated that Sakura had to go through something so stupid like this because of someone else. Hopefully things will start to look up once they reported it to the main office and were assured the rest of her semester would go smoothly. Sighing, he checked his phone and decided he'd have enough time to be able pick up a prepackaged lunch from somewhere. He wouldn't get to see Sakura until after his evening class today. Hopefully she was having a better day compared to yesterday, but this morning she was still understandably a bit depressed. Pulling out his phone once more, he decided to send her a text in hopes of brightening her day somehow.


Sakura's phone buzzed in her bag that was nestled between her feet under her seat. She was in the middle of class, but her mind kept wandering elsewhere and not so much on keeping up with her notes on the lecture. She didn't sleep very well last night and had been pretty grumpy most of the day. While working the morning shift at the coffee shop earlier, she felt so sleepy despite even drinking a cup after she was released from work. She couldn't shake off how worried she was about her class dilemma and just how incredibly rude Sasuke was to her. She tried to tell herself that words were just words, but it still hurt all the same. Now she was starting to dread tomorrow. She would have to see him again in her lecture class for chemistry. What would he say to her this time? She couldn't bring herself to drop that course as well. Not until there was officially no hope of finding another opening for the mandatory lab she needed. Everything that was weighing on her mind felt like a grey cloud hovering over her entire day that she couldn't shake off. It was all just so depressing.

Hunching over slightly, she sneaked her phone out from her bag to check her messages.

'Roses are red,

Your punches usually make me blue,

Reading Icha Icha all day is sweet,

And so is fantasizing that every character is you
^_~'

She slapped a hand over her mouth trying not to fully burst into a giggle. Only Kakashi would ever write something so sweet, corny and perverted all at the same time. She couldn't help but grin while feeling a spark of happiness for a moment. She felt bad for feeling so down last night and today when Kakashi was trying so hard to make her feel better. It was just one of the many reasons why she loved him so much. He truly was so amazing to her. Quickly typing back a response before she hid her phone again, she sent back:

'Awe… that's romantic… in a highly disturbing way and I think we need an intervention about your porn habits. Luv you. See you at 8 after your class. :)'

He replied back with a heart which made her smile even more. She tried to remind herself not to forget the positives around her. She had Kakashi. Even if she had to retake the class again in another year, it wasn't the end of the world. Certainly the whole thing didn't seem fair, but life wasn't fair sometimes. Inhaling a deep breath, she let out a relaxing sigh. She was feeling a lot better now realizing that things would be okay either way. She just needed to put on her big girl panties, if Kakashi didn't steal them yet, and just suck it up like an adult. No use moping about what she couldn't change.

After her class was over, she went off in search of Ino around the quad section of campus. She had made plans with her before the week started to have lunch on the days when she couldn't with Kakashi. Sakura was glad she and Ino would still get a chance to get together and talk after she had moved out.

"SAKURAAAAAA-CHANNNNNNN!"

Sakura winced at the shrill call of her name from a voice belonging to whom else but Naruto. He ran towards her in record speed. All she could see was a blur of yellow rushing towards her before she was twirled around in the air in familiar dizzying circles.

"N-Naruto," she sputtered out. "Dizzy. I-I'm dizzy!"

"Oops." He dropped her down on the sidewalk.

She rubbed her temples as she tried to regain her sense of balance. "One of these days you're going to make me vomit."

"Eh-heh. S-sorry, I was just excited to see you. I haven't seen you since you disappeared with Kakashi on Christmas Eve. Where did you guys go?"

"To France." A voice piped in.

Sakura whipped around to see a smirking Ino standing behind her.

"Really?" Naruto asked.

"Um, well, yeah. After Christmas," Sakura confirmed sheepishly.

"What! That's so awesome. You guys should have invited me," he said with a pout.

Ino rolled her eyes. "Three's a crowd, idiot."

He further pouted into a duck face. "But…"

"Just like it is now." Ino glared sternly at him. "Sakura, he invited himself along when I told him I was waiting for you. Oh, and Forehead! You didn't call me back last night so we could make lunch plans. I was waiting forever."

"Oh, sorry about that," she replied.

Ino linked her arm around Sakura and started to walk them down the sidewalk as Naruto hovered behind them. "Its okay, Forehead. I'm guessing you were busy having sexy times since you're deflowered now."

Naruto paled. "What..?"

"Pig, shut up!" Sakura hissed. "Don't blab."

Ino let out a bored sigh. "Fine. So, where are we going to go today? I like this one place that's pretty cool, but sometimes it's so busy I can barely hear myself."

"That wouldn't be a bad thing," Sakura teased.

Ino huffed. "Rude."

"Guys, I know where we should go!" Naruto said with a sparkle in his eye.

"No." Both Ino and Sakura said in unison.

He frowned and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his orange jacket in defeat, muttering to himself that ramen is underappreciated. Also that eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner wasn't wrong either.

They, well Ino, decided on a vegan place that she really liked. It was pretty cheap and had a fair selection of bento boxes to choose from. The restaurant was more of a take-out place since it only had about eight seats inside the tiny shop, so they decided to bring back their lunch inside one of the campus buildings to eat. The weather was still too chilly in Japan to eat comfortably outside.

Sitting in a triangle formation together now on the floor, Sakura couldn't help but smile at how this reminded her of how they used to get together like this for lunch in high school. It was a nice comfort to do this again and it was making her feel even better.

"So, did you and Hinata have fun at the festival?" Sakura asked.

Naruto blushed and suddenly shoved more food in his mouth.

Ino giggled. "Awe, I wish I could have been there to see that. I can't believe you guys finally hooked up. Poor Hinata-chan. You know how long she's loved you? Probably since kindergarten."

He blushed even more and though he looked like he was starting to sweat, he swallowed hard only to replace it with more food so he couldn't talk.

Sighing, Ino turned to Sakura. "He's so lame. Well, tell me about your love life instead, Forehead."

Sakura glared. "You already know enough."

"What about last night? Were you really having some smexy times? I forgive you for not calling me if so. You know, I still want you to have my Karma Sutra book."

Naruto started to gag.

"Ino, no," Sakura groaned with a blush.

"Awe… So, why didn't you call back?"

"I was upset at the time… I'm feeling much better though."

Ino hummed, tapping her fingers lightly on her bento box before making a gasp at a sudden thought. "Did Kakashi do something? I'll chop off his-"

"No, Ino," Sakura interrupted.

"Oh. What then?"

Sakura sighed. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Sa-kura-chan, whawt hoppened?" Naruto finally said, between his mouthfuls of chewing.

"You can tell us if it's Kakashi," Ino added.

Ino and Naruto both peered at her accusingly.

"It's not! He didn't do anything."

They still didn't look convinced.

"Ugh…" Sakura sighed. She didn't want them to make a big deal out of it and she wasn't quite sure what Ino would have to say about Sasuke since she used to be his number one fan back then. Their burning glares at her made her feel obligated to share though. Once she started to tell them all that happened yesterday, they both stopped eating about half way through her story and stared at her like she had just grown a second head.

"What… the flying fuck," Ino uttered in disbelief. "Our Sasuke said that to you?"

"I'm kind of shocked, too," Naruto said after clearing his throat. "I know from experience he's an ass, but being that much of an ass… I almost don't believe it… I mean, I've never seen him try to start shit with girls before. That's low… real low."

Ino sighed. "Now I feel disgusted that I used to love him…"

Sakura sighed. "Well…"

"And what's up with your professor?" Ino jumped in. "He had no right to kick you out. For one thing, he deserved it. Second of all, why didn't he even talk to Sasuke about it? He just instantly booted you out? Fuck that."

"But it's his class. He can do whatever he wants," she reasoned.

"Forehead, he can't just kick you out like that. It's unfair and completely overboard."

"I said that to him myself. He didn't care and wanted me out."

"You should report it to the university."

"Report it? I don't know… that sounds like it's turning into a lot of trouble."

"You really should, Forehead. It's too fucked up not to."

"I don't know… Maybe a lab will open up and I won't need to worry about it. I really don't want to make an ordeal out of it."

Ino sighed. "No, that's stupid. You need to say something. If it has happened with someone else before, he'll definitely get into trouble for it. You can't let someone walk all over you. You're better than that."

Sakura shrugged. "But I just started going here… and I'm afraid if I make a big deal out of it, it might make the future professors I have think I'm going to cause trouble for them."

"You have a good reason to though. It's the right thing to do. No one would blame you for it."

"Sakura-chan, please tell someone at the university about it. I bet Kakashi-sensei would want you to do that, too. You told him, didn't you?" Naruto asked. He picked up the last few bites from his bento box as he looked up at her for an answer.

"Kakashi wanted to talk to my teacher about it. I didn't want him to though…"

Ino sighed and rolled her eyes at how absurd her friend was. "You're being silly, Sakura."

"I guess I am."

"So, you're going to report it then?"

"Yeah… since you two are so adamant about it." Sakura glared at them both.

"Good," Naruto said happily at her decision. He dropped his finished bento box on the floor and started to eye Sakura's.

Sakura sighed, knowing by that look in his eye that he was about to ask if she wanted the rest of hers. She slid her box to him. "I don't see how you can eat so much."

"And not get fat," Ino added.

"I'm hungry," he whined and then started to stuff his mouth again without a second thought.

After a moment of silence, Ino asked, "Sakura, are you sure you don't want my Karma Sutra book? It has enough positions to last for every day of the year. You guys could try something every night before you go to sleep! Or if you want, I guess you could do it in the mornings. That would be a nice way to wake up, don't you think?"

Naruto started to choke again and doubled over with a hand over his mouth.

"Stop trying to embarrass me," Sakura muttered with her cheeks burning red.

"I'm trying to help, jeez… and you didn't say no, so I'll just bring it on Thursday, kay? I'll mark my favorites for you. I'm kind of envious, I mean, you guys have a whole house to yourself. You could do it in the kitchen, in the shower, couch, backyard…"

"…"

Sakura tried to tune Ino out after the tenth place from Ino's long list of where she should do the deed with Kakashi. She almost regretted sharing the finer details of her trip in France with her, but she knew Ino was just happy for her and simply wanted to help in her own way. She just wasn't as frank about things as Ino was.

Neither of them would notice until a couple minutes later that Naruto had passed out on the floor.


Sakura yawned and flipped another page in her Icha Icha book. She was waiting for Kakashi's class to get out, which she hoped he might be lucky and get out early for the first night, but luck didn't seem to be on her side as the hour continued to pass without hearing from him. She hadn't seen him since this morning and was missing him like crazy. After her last class, she decided to finish up all her homework that was due the next day and just save today's work for tomorrow. She figured she didn't need to burn herself out by trying to finish it all at once.

Snuggling herself into one of the couches inside a quiet open computer lab, she hadn't paused from reading since she first opened her book. She was almost done and was so engrossed in the story as she neared closer and closer to the ending. She was starting to fear she was seriously going to turn into Kakashi by pulling out this orange book at every spare moment she had if she didn't finish it today. Everything that was happening in the story was coming to a climax (both literally and figuratively) and every time she tried to stop reading just to take a break, she couldn't bring herself to do it.

About three hours later she finally closed the book. She had finished it. It felt satisfying and yet sad at the same time. Now she wanted to read another one, which was a depressing thought. Kakashi had finally made her addicted to Icha Icha. The moment she started to memorize the whole book like he did, would be the day that all hope was lost for her in considering herself normal. She looked up from her lap and nearly jumped off the couch in surprise. Kakashi was sitting next to her. Clearing her throat, she asked, "How long have you been there?"

He lowered his book and gave her a happy eye crinkle of a smile. "Since an hour ago."

Sakura's eyes narrowed in skepticism. "Liar…"

Snapping his book shut, he looked sternly at her. "I'm dead serious. I even said hello to you."

"No way! I… I would have heard you," she reasoned.

"You mumbled something in response, but you weren't really paying attention. So, I let you keep reading. Looks like you finished. Good, eh?" He smiled knowingly.

Sakura blushed at first, but tried to put on a poker face to reply nonchalantly, "Its okay."

"Just admit you love it. I think you're the one who needs an Icha Icha intervention."

She pouted. "No, you do! I don't… fantasize that characters are you."

"Lies. Now tell me the truth."

Sighing, she stretched her stiff muscles and scooted next to him on the couch. She moved into his arms with the closed book still in her hand. "Fine. You were right. I love it. It's an amazing story and I like… um… the… porn here and there, too," she admitted with a hidden blush.

"You mean romance. And…?"

"And…?" she repeated, unsure what he was asking.

"You've fantasized me as one of the characters. Haven't you? At least once?"

Every time she glanced into his eyes while trying to decide her reply, her blush would further deepen as if he could read her thoughts on the various scenes she was thinking about. She was pretty sure he was grinning evilly under that mask of his. Nuzzling into his jacket, she tried to speak as low as possible by the chance he wouldn't hear her clearly. "…Maybe."

"A-ha! Which scenes?" He tapped his fingers lightly at her sides, hoping the threat of him tickling her might make her share quicker.

She grumbled and swatted his hands away. "I'm not going to say!"

"Please?"

"…No."

"Come on, don't be shy about it, Sakura," he coaxed, giving her waist a gentle squeeze. "You can tell me, please?"

"No," she said flatly.

"You're no fun." He sighed and mumbled under his breath that he'd find out sooner or later.

Ignoring him, she hugged him for a moment. "Were you seriously here for an hour?"

"No. I sneaked on the couch when I came up behind you and saw you were almost finished. It was really just only ten minutes."

"Humpf. I knew you were lying, Pinocchio," she teased and tapped the tip of his nose lightly with her index finger.

He grabbed her finger and interlocked her hand with his. "Hum… So, it seems you're looking a bit happier since this morning. I knew it…"

"Knew what?"

"Icha Icha can cure anything."

She rolled her eyes. "Honestly, your text really made me giggle. It was cute… and it helped me feel a lot better so, thank you. Sorry I've been in such a bad mood. I know I worry too much sometimes…"

Kakashi smiled. "You don't need to apologize. We all have our bad days. I would feel the same way, too, if I were you. I'm just glad you're feeling a bit better. So, should I send you more love poems?"

"If the mood strikes you," she said with a grin. "Also, I had lunch with Ino and Naruto today. I talked to them about… what happened yesterday and they made me feel a bit better, too. I wanted to ask you something though..."

His brow rose. "What's up?"

"Well, they really want me to report what happened. Do you think I really should?"

"Definitely. It's not going to hurt doing so and might even help your current class situation. I was going to try and talk you into it tonight, actually, but I'm glad to hear you've already been talked into it."

"Hum, I guess I'll do it tomorrow then."

"I'll come with you, okay?" he asked hopefully.

"You don't have to," she began to protest.

"I want to."

She glanced at his pleading eyes and then nodded. "Well… alright. If you really don't mind then I appreciate it."

"Not at all. I really want to share with them what I was told today along with what you have to say for your side of the story."

Looking confused at first, she asked, "Told?"

"Um, I know you didn't want me to… but I talked with your professor."

She frowned disapprovingly. "You didn't have to do that…"

"I know… I was afraid you might not want to do anything about it and I figured you probably wouldn't want to talk to him yourself. It's fine if you're mad at me, but I wanted to try and hear his side before doing something serious like reporting it."

Looking into his worried eyes, she shook her head and said, "I'm not mad. I just… don't want you to get too entangled in my problems and I don't know… you don't need to act like my parent and try to talk to my teacher for me…" She glanced down towards her lap, immediately regretting saying that.

"I'm not trying to act like a parent," he said softly.

She bit her lip in worry. "I don't know why I said that. I just mean…"

"No… I can understand how you can see it that way. I don't mean to. You're someone who I love, and who I want to support in whatever way possible, but I don't want to tell you what to do… I just care about you. If I can do something, I want to." He sighed and ran hand through his messy styled hair. "But me still doing it without you wanting me to isn't exactly fair to you. Maybe I am acting like a parent…"

She sighed and patted his chest. "Don't. You're not. You were right in wanting to. If the roles were reversed, I know for a fact I'd do the same."

"Even if I said no?" he teased.

"Yep," she replied with a reluctant grin. "It's just that I guess I need to get used to letting you help me and not feel bad about it. Mainly that's why I didn't want you to. So… what did he say?"

"He said that he didn't tell you to drop. I told him I knew that's not how it happened and to tell me the truth, but he kept denying it."

She blinked and looked up into his eyes, wondering if she heard right. "What? Really? He said that?"

"He said he merely suggested it. He's just trying to cover his own ass by lying about it if we bring it up to the college, I think. I'm not entirely sure what his motivation is… or if he knows Sasuke in some way and was just doing him a favor…"

"I can't believe he'd say that. He told me flat out to drop."

He noticed her starting to look discouraged again. "It will be okay. Even though he's lying we should still tell the university about it. When there's a dispute between teachers or students, they try to be as fair and unbiased as possible to fix the situation for both sides. Hopefully they will do something about getting you into another class. So, don't worry for now, okay?"

Slowly, she nodded. "You're right."

He hugged her briefly before asking, "Ready to go? Want to just pick up something for dinner tonight?"

"Sure, if you'd like."

Kakashi sat up from the couch and pulled her up. After they gathered their things and exited the lab, he stole the book still in her grasp and started to thumb through it. "What about the scene on page 242?" he asked.

She snapped from her thoughts to give him a weird look. "Huh? What about it?"

"Did you imagine me in that one?"

Narrowing her eyes at him, she replied, "It's not like I have the pages memorized like you do."

"Oh. It's when they were floating in water and she took his coc-"

She slapped his arm. "No! Now stop guessing."

"…"

He flipped through a couple more pages and started to point out a paragraph of the book as they walked. "What about-"

"No."

"But-"

"No."

He whined sounding much like a puppy would. He didn't understand why she was being so shy about it. Nothing would make him happier than to learn more about any and all fantasies she had. After a few seconds of silence, he asked, "Sixty-nine scene?"

Sakura let out a disgruntled sigh. "No."

"Well, I highly recommend we try that…"

"…"

She pouted as her cheeks turned crimson.

Kakashi grinned at her blush and asked, "How about we try… Tonight?"

"…No."

"Tomorrow?"

"No."

"Day after that?"

"No."

"Day… after that?"

"No."

"…Now?"

"…"

"So cute when you blush."

She snatched the book from his hand and started to smack him repeatedly with it. "No! Now stop asking me something like that, you damn pervert!"

He sighed and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "I'll change your mind later," he vowed.


The next morning Sakura's good mood broke when she woke up and realized she would have to see Sasuke today in her lecture class. She couldn't help but feel a little afraid of hearing what he might say. She felt stupid for feeling that way. Who in the hell cared what he said? His opinion didn't matter. But words still hurt all the same and she wasn't sure if she could ignore it. What if she lost her temper again? That's what got her into the stupid mess with her lab teacher.

Kakashi kissed Sakura's forehead after he found a parking spot near the campus. "Are you okay?" he asked. "You've been really quiet the whole drive up here."

She tried to smile. "I'm okay."

"Are you worried about making a formal complaint to the university? It's the right thing to do…"

Glancing down at her lap, she sighed. "No, it's not that so much. I'm just worried about class…"

"Class?"

"My lecture class."

"Why?"

"Sasuke's in it and… I haven't seen him since I slapped him. So, I'm kind of worried what he might say or do…"

"Sakura, why didn't you tell me he was in that class, too?"

She shrugged. "I don't know."

He sighed. "You shouldn't go if you're going to feel uncomfortable. Maybe just skip today? Then let's just go straight to the department office and issue a complaint. Maybe they can switch you out of that class as well."

"We have homework due today…"

"Drop it off, then just leave? You can do that. They will still accept it while you take an absent day."

"But then I'll miss whatever the new homework might be."

Tracing a finger along her face, he pushed back a strand of her hair that had fallen over her eyes. "You're worrying too much. Just explain what's going on and I'm sure the professor won't have any problem telling you what the next assignment is when you drop off your work."

"Well, okay…" She frowned for a moment and then looked towards Kakashi with a sudden question. "Wait, you're not going to skip your class, are you?"

"Sakura…"

"…Yes?"

"Stop worrying."

Her frown turned even sourer.

"If you keep frowning like that you're going to get wrinkles."

Her frown switched to a glare.

Kakashi held back a chuckle. "Your eyes might get stuck that way…"

Then she started to frown and glare at him at the same time. The way her nose was wrinkled, she looked like she was constipated, but he wasn't going to say that. Actually, never mind. He was going to say it anyway.

He slowly started to open his car door and whispered, "Now you look constipated."

Before she could respond, he was already out of the car and had closed the door behind him. He kept spam pressing the lock button on the small remote to his car that was attached to his keys so she couldn't get out right away. He kept her locked inside until there were several parked cars between them. He wasn't being a coward, he reasoned. He was being smart. Placing his keys into his pocket, he watched her get out of the car and cursed something at him before she closed the door. She couldn't hide a smile from him though when she started to chase after him. They probably looked like lunatics running through the parking lot, but it was fun and his plan to keep her mind off of looming troubles was working.

Once they were starting to get near the rushing crowds of students inside the main areas of the campus, he let her catch up to him. She huffed and latched a finger to the loophole of his pants, making sure he didn't run off again.

"You're a jerk," she wheezed between breaths.

He gave her an eye crinkle of a smile and started to pull her forward. "Let's hurry to your class before it starts. Then we'll go to the main university office, okay?"

"Okay."

Letting her lead the way, they went inside the science building and quickly up the stairwell to the floor where her lecture class was. Encouraging her of what he said before to tell her professor, he waited outside and watched a few students walk past to enter the classroom. He stole a glance inside the room every time the door opened. She was talking with her professor, but that wasn't what he was looking for.

Kakashi looked down the hallway and searched as many faces as he could until his eyes found who he was looking for. Glancing one last time towards Sakura in the classroom, he stepped away from the door and went straight towards Sasuke. The closer he got, the more apparent the displeasing scowl was plastered on Sasuke's face when he realized who he was.

Once Kakashi stepped in front of him, Sasuke halted in his tracks and sighed. "Let me guess, you're here to warn me, right?" he asked.

"Warning? Consider it friendly advice. Have a problem with me? Fine, but don't take it out on Sakura. She doesn't have anything to do with it."

"Like I care. You and that stupid bitch can go fuck yourselves."

Kakashi glared. "What the hell is your problem?"

"You."

"Over something that happened years ago? Pretty sad you haven't matured at all since then. Think your brother would be proud of you?"

"Go to hell. Don't talk as if you knew him," he spat. "You're the reason that I'm stuck here."

"I don't follow."

"You wouldn't. Want me to stop messing with her? Too bad. I'll talk to whoever I want. Whenever I want. However I want. This isn't junior high anymore. You don't control me."

Pushing Sasuke back with his forearm, he shoved him into the wall which made a few passers-by stare. "No, it's not, but if I hear of you hurting her in any way again, I'm not afraid of doing what I need to get through your thick skull. You can't treat people however you want to out here in the real world. You'll have real consequences."

Sasuke made a half smirk. "Wrong. I have more connections here than you realize. I'd love to see you try something. You'll just end up paying for it." He shoved past Kakashi and made his way down the hall.

Kakashi didn't realize how long they must have been standing there until he saw Sakura standing awkwardly outside the classroom with a worried look. She began to walk down the hall towards Kakashi, casting a glare at Sasuke as he nearly shoved past her as well.

Sighing, she stopped in front of Kakashi and glanced behind her. "What happened?" she asked. "It looked like you were about to beat his ass… not that I would have minded," she added.

"Well, I wanted to find out what his deal was; he's changed even more since I last spoke with him. I just don't understand why he's so pissed off to act like this, or what his logic is in acting like a jerk towards you." He sighed. "I know it's a pain, but I think it's for the best if you switch out of this class as well."

She nodded. "I don't mind. Better chances of avoiding confrontations for everyone that way."

"Anyway, get everything squared away with your homework that you were worried about?"

"Yep, he was really understanding."

"Good. So, let's head down to the main university building and see what we can do about everything."

Kakashi took her hand and headed towards the stairs. He was thinking in the back of his mind the entire time why Sasuke was acting like this. Was he seriously holding a grudge against him for forcing him off the team so many years ago? Maybe, but he didn't think it would be this extreme. Most of its members went off to different schools based on their skill level and depending on the programs offered in the college. Their school had become renowned for winning a lot of titles individually as well as team wise, so many had a lot of opportunities to go to certain prestigious schools. Tokyo was considered one of them, but Sasuke was here. So that couldn't be it, but he was admitted because of how well he did scholastically. Perhaps it was something else entirely. Either way, Kakashi couldn't help but not care what was up Sasuke's ass. He just wanted Sakura to be left alone. Making sure she switched to different classes would solve the problem and make sure she wasn't harassed by him.

In the office now, Kakashi watched Sakura's knee bounce up and down where they sat. He was starting to fall into a trance watching it bobble before abruptly stopping. She moved uncomfortably in her chair and switched feet, tucking her other foot behind her ankle beneath her chair. Now her left knee started to bounce.

"Nervous?" he asked.

Her knee stopped for a moment as she glanced at him. "Not really, well, kind of. Are you sure this is the right thing to do?"

"Trust me, it will be fine. Here." He handed her his current Icha Icha he randomly picked to bring today before they came to campus. "Reading Icha Icha cures nerves..."

She rolled her eyes. "What else can it cure?"

"Sadness, upset stomach, hunger, headaches, cancer, world famine…"

"So full of it," she murmured, snatching the book from his hands anyway.

He grinned at her and checked the clock in the office. They had been waiting for about ten minutes now. The office seemed a bit busy as there were a couple students waiting around in the office along with them, most likely to have last minute fixes in the schedules or help with something else. When it was finally their turn, they were both greeted by the faculty coordinator of the school. Getting straight to the point, they told everything that had happened without missing any details. The advisor seemed surprised about the professor's actions to Sakura, but said there wasn't much they could do about it if he kept the story he told Kakashi. All they could do was keep the formal complaint on file since there weren't any witnesses to back up her claim. Kakashi figured as much, but he was hopeful maybe someone had complained about him before. No one ever had before apparently, which he thought was very unfortunate.

Not much could be done about Sasuke either, but they took the harassment claim seriously. The advisor helped Sakura switch her schedule around so that she wouldn't have to be in the same class as him. Apparently for all the marked closed classes, there were a few spots that were reserved mainly for sophomores or higher, but they made an exception for her. Kakashi felt relieved and by the way Sakura's stiff back looked more relaxed now in the chair, she did, too.

"See? It wasn't that bad. They couldn't do too much, but at least they could fix your schedule. Feel kind of better now?" Kakashi asked, as they stepped outside into the quiet walkway.

"I do," she said with a small smile. She sighed and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Thank you for coming with me… though you really didn't need to skip your class, too."

"It's not a big deal. I'd rather be with you," he replied, honestly.

She smiled. "And I'd rather be with you, too."

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 31: Too Little, Too Late

"Why are we in this aisle?" Sakura asked, trailing behind Kakashi as she pushed the grocery cart. "I thought you didn't like sweets very much? Now you want to make something?"

"Depends on the occasion," he replied nonchalantly with a slight grin forming beneath his mask.

"Hum…" Her bottom lip formed a questioning pout as she folded her arms over the handle of the cart. Slowly, she kept following behind him as she watched him search through the aisle at a snail's pace.

After they came home after classes today, they didn't realize until they started to search the kitchen to prepare dinner that they had completely run out of food. Instead of picking up something, they decided to make an impromptu grocery run to the store. They had never been grocery shopping together before and Sakura couldn't have ever guessed how different they were in just how they shopped. He preferred to go down every aisle and she would rather just decide on what they should have for dinner for the next few weeks and just get that. He was taking forever looking through each row. Maybe he was torturing her on purpose?

"You're such an old man," she muttered with a sigh.

"Why? Because I like nuts?" he asked, tossing a bag of diced nuts he just picked up into the cart.

Rolling her eyes, she replied, "No, you're so slow. I would have been out of here ages ago."

He shrugged, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he continued to comb through each shelf on the aisle. "I don't remember what all I need."

She sighed. "That's why you make lists."

"I never have before and I usually can't read what I write anyway."

"Your handwriting is pretty terrible," she teased.

He smiled and turned over his shoulder to ask, "So, you're volunteering to make grocery lists then?"

She huffed. "You just want me to do it because you're lazy!"

Turning back around, he sighed and searched through a few boxed packages. "If I was lazy, I'd be sitting in that cart and forcing you to push me."

"Ha ha," she said dryly. "Hey, why are you making me push the cart anyway?"

"No reason."

"Cause you're lazy," she muttered accusingly.

"Maybe." He tossed another item into the cart.

She picked up the package he just threw in and furrowed her brows. It was a package of chocolate sprinkles. "What are these for? Are you really planning to make cupcakes or something?"

"Maybe."

She sighed at his vague answer and continued to follow him as he trudged ever so slowly. Getting annoyed at how long he was taking, she pushed the cart into his butt trying to make him move faster. "You're such a turtle."

"Fine, then. If you push me anymore, I'm going to fall on my back and never get up just like a turtle." He began to walk even slower which prompted an aggravated groan from her, making him chuckle. After they left the baking aisle, they went towards the dairy section and picked up a couple gallons of milk and a few other dairy products. He went off further into the section and tossed a can of whip cream into the cart.

"What are you going to make with that?" she asked.

"Um, those cupcakes you mentioned?"

"Oh, well… don't we need cupcake mix? You didn't pick any up."

"Not when you're the cupcake."

"…Uh, what?" she replied back, puzzled at his words.

He had his mask on, but she could tell he had the biggest grin ever beneath by how happily his eyes were creasing. She bit her lip in thought, and then suddenly gasped at the realization of what he was implying. How didn't she catch on to what he was up to until now?

"Oh, God. You're not serious."

He fought back a laugh from the shocked look on her face. "You did promise me."

She flung the cart at him hysterically and yelled, "No way!"

He gently stopped it and arched a brow. "No? I clearly remember you betting you would. Promise is a promise."

She blushed and averted her eyes from his. "I… We… Can't we just forget about that? I-I was irritated when I said that!"

"Nope," he replied simply. "Now… where are the cherries?" he murmured under his breath, grinning even more at her blush as he started to walk towards the fruit section, leaving the cart behind. He wondered to himself if he'd ever get tired of teasing her. Probably not, it was too much fun.

Sakura reluctantly started to push the basket and follow after him. The wheel of the cart began to stick, chirping painfully along the way as she was starting to blush more and more at the thought of having to seriously act out that scene from Icha Icha. She had hoped he would have forgotten about it, but she knew better. As if he would forget anything like that. She had to wonder to herself why she foolishly proclaimed she would do it. It was a joke! Mostly a half joke. It wasn't so much the fact she wouldn't mind doing it, but she couldn't stop the embarrassment she felt by just imagining something like that, and when she was embarrassed she felt nervous. Even the memories of all the things they did in France made her blush. She couldn't help it. She couldn't quite understand why she felt that way, but she did.

Glancing at the back of Kakashi as he weaved around people to the fruit stand, she sighed from her thoughts and kept following him until he stopped at a section. She forced a frown at him when he held up a package of cherries next to her cheek.

"Your face matches the cherries," Kakashi mused.

She sighed. Of course he never failed to tease her about it. "Shush," she replied, swatting the box away until he dropped it in the cart.

"What?" He nudged her shoulder. "It's cute."

"No, it's not," she mumbled, trying to keep a straight face and ignore his playful pokes to get her to smile.

"It's very cute," he said warmly.

"…"

She folded her arms and pouted.

He grinned. "It's cute when you pout, too."

"…"

She narrowed her eyes at him and then abruptly turned around to hide her face where a smile was beginning to form.

Kakashi chuckled. "And your butt is also cute."

"Ugh, damn it. I hate you." She spun back around, startled to find him right in front of her.

He pulled her into his arms. "It's also really cute when you say that, because you and I both know it's not true."

"Yeah, well…" She sighed, unable to think of a retort. "Fine. Now stop teasing me, damn it!"

He squeezed her and smiled. "But… it's fun."

"Not as fun as me punching you - where it hurts," she gritted the last part between her teeth.

He swallowed hard and released her. "Your threats… not so cute."

She smiled happily with a hum and kissed his cheek. "You and I both know you love it."

"Maybe," he confessed.

Grabbing his waist, she turned him and pushed him towards the cart. "It's your turn to push the cart."

He started to protest, "But-"

"There are a few things I want to get, but I'm not as slow as you, so keep up! Turtle-kun."

In an instant, she slipped into the crowd. He blinked, thinking to himself perhaps he shouldn't have toyed with her earlier for his own amusement. Hopefully she wasn't going to keep calling him Turtle-kun. He went off towards the area where she disappeared to. The moment he caught sight of her pink hair, she would vanish again into a different aisle. He smiled at their game and tried to remember the last time he actually had fun in a grocery store of all places. There was no doubt in his mind how much he loved feeling this way. To feel happy about even the little things they did together. How did he get so lucky in finding someone like her in his life?


After Sakura dropped a handful of grocery bags on the kitchen counter, she immediately went to the couch in the living room to fall down face first with a sigh. She felt so exhausted. First week of school was officially over and the fact she would have to do it all over again next week wasn't a pleasant thought. She couldn't have ever predicted it being such a hectic week. Apart from dealing with school drama and moving in after they got back from France, she hadn't had a weekend yet to relax. The sound of her phone ringing from inside her purse broke into her thoughts. She groaned at the feeling it might be her mother who normally would call around this time. She was the last person she cared to talk to right now. She was so tired of dealing with stupid drama this entire week.

"Want me to get it for you?" Kakashi asked, emerging from the hallway after locking up the front door.

She mumbled something inaudible into the seat of the couch.

"Is that a yes?" he asked with a low chuckle.

Turning her head, she sighed and lifted her hand from the couch. "I suppose I should see who it is first."

He bent down to her purse that was on the floor and unzipped it to pull out her phone. He was about to zip it up again before something caught his eye. "Oh… what's this?" he asked curiously.

Sakura's cheeks burned as she watched him pull out the Karma Sutra book Ino forced her to take yesterday. Darting from the couch in hopes he hadn't read the title yet, she made a grab for the book, but he pulled it just barely out of her reach. "I-It's not mine!" she stammered embarrassedly.

"Sure it isn't," he chided with a grin, holding it high above her head. "Here's your phone." He accepted the call for her and quickly tossed it in her hands before she could protest.

Sakura let out an annoyed groan as she watched him start to flip eagerly through the book. Finally placing the phone to her ear, she said hello calmly into the phone. Her pout grew when she found that it was indeed her mother on the other end. He simply smiled at her as she made failed attempts to grab the book back – all while still trying to have a conversation with her mother on the phone. Giving up, she watched him stalk off into the kitchen. Sighing, she shifted her attention to what her mother was saying. It was the first time they had really spoken since she blew up at her about not returning her calls she missed when she was away in France. It probably would have helped to tell her about the trip in the first place, but her mother had no idea exactly how serious she was with Kakashi. She really wasn't happy about her being with someone so much older than she was as it is. For that reason, her mother was still oblivious that they had just started living together, much less anything else.

Much to Sakura's surprise, her mother actually called to apologize to her. She admitted she needed to let Sakura have more space, but that she meant well in worrying about her. She explained it was just hard being without her daughter every day and was still getting used to the idea that she needed to let her become more independent now. She went on to say that she missed her very much and reminded her that they've been together since the day she was born. Sakura felt a little bad hearing her say that. She had no doubt how lonely it must be for her mother right now without her being there. Just having nothing but work to pass time during the day was hard enough, but coming home to an empty dinner table would be all the more of a reminder how lonely it was. She wondered for a moment how Kakashi dealt with being alone for most of his life. Kakashi never mentioned much about what it was like to be on his own, but it had to have been hard. It would be for anyone. He didn't even have family to rely on growing up.

Kakashi placed the final item of their groceries in the refrigerator and lingered by the archway leading into the hallway, trying to make out any words he could hear from Sakura's conversation. He felt a little guilty forcing her to take the call, but he was worried Sakura might have wanted to ignore it knowing she wasn't on good terms with her mother right now, which made him feel even guiltier. It was mostly his fault after all. It seemed like no matter what he did, there was always a double edge to it. He wanted to be with her, but at the price of creating a strain on her family. He wanted to live with her and he knew all the reasons why he should have just waited, but he couldn't. Maybe it was because he loved her so much, or because he knew she was the best thing in his life, but no matter the reason, he just couldn't stop himself from following what he felt in his heart. He wanted to be here for her, take care of her, and be a part of her life in every way. She made him feel whole again and he just couldn't push something like that away for convenience sake.

He sighed and went to sit at the dinner table. Life was never easy, but he kept hanging on to the hope that things will work out in the end. Picking up the book he stole from Sakura earlier, he started to browse through. He had read the original translated Karma Sutra long ago, which goes beyond just a few sexual positions, but explores Indian history and culture. A lot of it was a bit mundane, but since that book was published there were plenty of modern versions mostly playing off the original Karma Sutra name, like this one in his hands that mainly focused on just positions with some nice illustrations of each. From the blushed look Sakura gave him, he certainly doubted she would actually ever buy something like this. It was probably from Ino. Not that it mattered. He was going to make sure to put it to good use. His brow rose curiously at a few circled pages he stumbled over. She didn't mark the ones she wanted to try, did she? He looked up from the table to see Sakura crossed armed and pouting at him. She looked more worried than embarrassed for some reason.

"Something wrong? I know something that can fix whatever it is," he teased in a thick, alluring voice. He tapped the book lightly with his fingertips with a grin.

She rolled her eyes and grumbled, "I told you… it's not mine!"

"Uh-huh," he replied, acting clearly unconvinced.

"Anyway…" She leaned against the archway and looked down for a moment. "I kind of have some good news…"

"Kind of?" he asked.

"My mother just called to apologize and, um, agreed she would try and give me some more space."

"Oh, well that's good news, isn't it? No disrespect to her or anything, but she seems kind of uptight."

"Yeah, I know. She just… means well. I don't know if she'll keep her promise to not flip out so much if I don't call her back right way, but the thing is…" She let out a depressed sigh. "She wants to come up next weekend to kind of make up for things and wants to see how well I'm living. She of course still thinks I'm living with Ino…"

"Oh..." He paused for a moment. "Ino won't mind if you drop by for a day when she comes to just say a quick hello inside and leave, right? So, there's nothing to really worry about."

"Ino already has a new roommate moving in with her this weekend. I can't ask her just to leave for a whole day, so I don't know how that will work. I also tried to have my mom not come at all, but she insisted." Sakura groaned in despair.

"Ah, I see…" He leaned back in his chair and scratched his hair in thought. "If you ask Ino, she could talk to her new roommate to just play along like she's just a friend visiting, can't she? Or maybe just leave for a couple hours. I bet Ino could work something out."

Sakura sighed. "I suppose I will have to, but I can't help but feel bad. It's a lot of trouble for them just for my sake."

He shrugged. "Don't feel bad about it. It's either that or telling her the truth."

Shaking her head, she replied, "If she finds out we're living together already she'll… I… I don't know what she'll do."

"You know, I should finally talk with her when she comes. She knows I live here since we're together."

"I don't know…"

Sighing at the worried look on her face, he placed the book down on the table and waved his fingers towards her. "Come here."

Slowly, she made her way into his inviting arms and he pulled her into his lap. "I have a feeling this could all end up in an epic catastrophe," she mumbled.

He briefly kissed her neck and said, "Don't worry. Whatever happens, it won't be the end of the world. Just like with this week, whatever comes our way we'll deal with it. I know you're worried… and I really understand how important it is to you for her to accept us. We don't need to tell her just yet we're living together, but I really need to talk with her. If she just understands how I feel… and what you mean to me, she'd have to understand."

Sakura formed a weak smile at the corners of her lips and nodded. "You're right, I know. I'll make sure we'll all get a chance to talk at least when she comes. I just hope she doesn't find out anything else before then, but I guess we'll see what happens…"

Kissing him on his cheek, she moved her fingers up towards his neck to play with the ends his hair. He smiled brightly at her for a moment. "Why are you smiling?" she asked.

"Just looking at you always makes me smile," he said tenderly.

"You're so cheesy," she teased.

"And you love it."

She smiled and tilted her head. "Maybe."

Returning her smile, he lifted a hand from her waist to open the Karma Sutra book once more. "So… about this…"

She sighed and whirled around towards the book to try and steal it from his grasp. "I told you! It's not mine!"

"Stole it, huh?" he teased.

"Of course not! Ino gave it, well, threw it at me against my will..."

"Hum…" He moved her hands away and started to flip through the pictures until he settled on a page. "Well, this certainly gives me lots of ideas."

Glancing at the illustration, she blushed and turned away. She didn't say anything, but the glare in her eyes was familiar in whenever she playfully said she hated him.

"There you go looking cute again," he noted at her blush with a grin.

"S-Shut it," she stammered back.

"Why don't you pick a few? Or… were those circles your idea?" he asked hopefully.

Her blush managed to deepen even more. "N-No."

She attempted to get up, but he hitched his hands at her waist to bring her back down into his lap. "Why are you so shy?" he teased.

She shrugged and averted her eyes. Even she wasn't quite sure why she was either. Their trip in France was certainly an eye opening experience about the wonders of sex. She couldn't deny that she loved every moment of it. Not just how it felt, but being so close with him on a different level, but now that they were back from their whirlwind of a trip, she seemed to have lost her courage again. Somehow it just seemed easier to get lost in the moment when they were in France. Maybe it was because of the breathtaking surroundings or just being so far away from all the worries back at home. Whatever it was that was different, she figured she was probably over thinking everything and psyching herself out. They hadn't had a chance to do anything intimate since they had returned from their trip. Between moving and dealing with school, sex really hadn't been much of a thought to her. Now, the more she thought about it, the more she was starting to get nervous again. Ino wasn't helping with her constant chatter all week about what she should try. She had also grown to love reading Icha Icha now, but she had to admit the sex scenes in the book still managed to make her blush from time to time. It made her feel rather silly. She finally had some experience with it and she still felt embarrassed about it.

This was the first weekend they finally had to themselves to just unwind. She didn't understand why she felt this way at first, before realizing it was because she was still new to it all. She couldn't be like Kakashi or Ino with just being so comfortable about everything. It's just that she just wasn't used to her sexuality just yet. Thinking of it that way, it made more sense why she sometimes felt the way she did.

"Well…" she began to say, returning her fingers into the silvery strands of his hair. "I think because, um, I'm just not used to being so open about things like that yet. I mean, it's not like I don't want to... if that makes sense. I just can't help but feel kind of self conscious and… well…"

"No, I understand," he softly interjected.

"You do?" she replied, feeling a little relieved.

"Besides that I do find your rosy cheeks very cute." He pretended not to hear her grumble at calling her cute for like the fifteenth time today, and paused to pinch her cheeks which made her playfully smack his hand away. "You know, when we first started to kiss, you'd blush each time, right?"

She immediately sputtered out, "No way! I wasn't that bad."

He shook his head and stroked a finger lightly down the edge of her jaw. "Oh, trust me. Yes, you were."

"No."

"Yes."

"No…"

"Yes…"

"…"

"…"

"Look," he laughed. "You're more comfortable with me now. Sex is a whole new level to explore. I know I tease you a lot, but I just want to be encouraging. Besides the fact I also love giving you a hard time…"

She glared. "All the time."

"It takes a while to get comfortable with someone and in time you will. So, don't worry so much. Just let things happen and let go. You have a seriously bad habit of doing that."

"I can't help it," she grumbled back.

"And that's just fine. I love you for who are, you know."

"I know," she replied with a coy smile.

"You can always trust me no matter what. Just relax and open up a little," he said in a soothing voice. He tucked a fallen strand of her hair back behind her ear and grinned. "So… which ones?" he asked.

She gave him with a puzzled look. "Which… what?"

He pointed the book. "Which ones?" he asked again.

"Ugh. Didn't we just finish talking about how I'm…" She sighed at the blank look on his face as if they didn't just had a conversation how she was shy about that stuff. "You're a pervert and I hate you."

"Hey, I'm just trying to be encouraging," he reasoned, smiling to himself.

She further glared at him. "Hate you."

He pulled her closer and started to kiss lightly at her neck. "Still?"

"Your little kisses aren't going to help."

"Oh, really? I think I've proven time and time again that my kisses help plenty," he replied back, not believing one word out of her mouth. He slowly licked with the tip of his tongue at the base of her neck, and then began to slowly explore the sensitive area behind her ear, making her shift in his arms from the tingling feeling he was causing to creep up her spine.

"T-They do not," she muttered meekly.

"Liar," he whispered huskily. She had to stop herself from wanting to shiver at the way he just spoke into her ear. Tugging at her leg, he repositioned her on his lap in a straddling position which made her give an embarrassed laugh.

"I know what you're up to," she said with an accusing look.

Settling his hands at first to her hips, he slowly moved them to the inside back of her shirt and started to massage along her spine with the tip of his fingers. "I'm trying to make you relaxed," he said innocently.

"So you can have me pick something from that book?" she asked, leaning into him more to rest her chin on his shoulder. She closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the soothing strokes of his fingers along her back.

"Or… I am kind of hungry," he teased.

She was about to agree she actually was, too, but then remembered the intent of the dessert supplies he picked up at the store. She was really hoping he was just making a long-winded joke about it and just put the items back later, but of course he never did.

"Ugh, you're impossible, Kakashi."

He simply grinned as she sat upright to playfully glare at him. The sudden shift in her position on top of him caused him to grunt perhaps a little too loudly than he meant to.

"What, me just sitting here makes you aroused already?" she asked.

"Sitting like that, um, of course," he replied.

Tossing her hair away from her face, she leaned in just enough for her nose to touch the tip of his, locking her eyes with his lustful stare. "You made me sit this way on purpose."

He blinked. "Well, the book might have suggested it…"

"…"

Kakashi grinned and stole a quick kiss before she had a chance to back away, making her yip in surprise.

"Ugh, why you…" Instead of finishing her sentence, she cupped her hands along his stubbly cheeks to bring her delicate lips to his. Small kisses turned hungrier and before she realized it, her hands seemed to have a mind of their own, sneaking in beneath the front of his long sleeved shirt. Gilding her hands from his lean torso, she let out a small groan as he hoisted her more forward into his lap.

"See? Told you my kisses help," he murmured.

"Look, this isn't fair. Holding me down like this."

"I'm not forcing you." To prove his point, he held his hands up, but thrust his hips lightly forward, making her moan again.

"I hate you," she mumbled.

"Because I'm right?"

"N-no," she stammered back, trying hard to pretend she wasn't being affected by the way he was touching lightly up her stomach.

"Oh, so, I should just stop trying then?" He started to nip along her collar bone, making her head fall further back the higher he began to kiss up towards her neck. "So, is that what you're saying?"

"Um… what was the question?" she asked, being half-serious.

He made a smug smile and kissed lightly along her jaw. "Just say I'm right, or I'll stop."

Torn at not wanting to admit he was right and between how seriously intoxicating his kisses were, she remained silent, hoping he would just forget about it and keep going, but then he halted. She groaned in disappointment.

"Admit it," he whispered.

The few seconds that passed made her skin feel cold without the warm feeling of his lips to tease her. Unable to endure waiting any longer, she quickly said, "Fine. I admit it. Now, kiss me."

Before he had a chance to comment on being proud of her for not being as stubborn as usual, she crashed her lips into his. All his thoughts were instantly switched to just the feeling of her lips against his. He pulled her even closer to feel her pressed against his body. Still not satisfied from wanting to feel more of her, he inched his hands along her smooth waist and began to pull up her shirt. She lifted her arms up to let him easily pull it up and over her head. After tossing it on the table, he wasted no time in wanting to spring her breasts free and unhooked her bra, making it slip from her shoulders and fall down towards the floor.

Sakura cooed feeling him begin to suck, bite and tease around her hardened nipples. She almost wanted to laugh at how her thoughts barely a few minutes ago of being intimate like this made her feel embarrassed. He always seemed to make her stop thinking and just feel. Right now, she was certainly grateful for it. Arching her back, he dipped her back far enough to lick her up and down along her chest like she was a Popsicle, making her utter smalls gasps and moans. Once she was sitting upright on top of him again, she tugged his shirt up, kissing along his skin until it was completely removed.

"Sit up a sec," he urged. She complied, letting him unbutton and unzip her pants, yanking them down over her hips until they fell towards the floor. He glanced at her bright purple, lacy panties for a moment. Moving his thumbs to feel the outer edges of them, he commented, "Those seem new…"

"You haven't seen me in these before. They are kind of new," she replied with a knowing smile.

Seeing the see-through lace stretch over her hips and around towards her backside, he slipped his hands to feel her bottom. "Turn around."

She blushed. "Huh?"

He made a circle motion with his index finger. "Turn around, I want to see."

"Oh." She slowly stepped away from him and turned to reveal him the back, which was just as lacy in the front but even more see through. She figured he would probably appreciate it. Feeling him lightly smack her ass, she whipped around and yelled, "Hey!"

He chuckled sheepishly. "Um, reflex," he poorly lied.

Rolling her eyes, she let him pull at her wrists to straddle him again on top of his lap and pulled her in close to give her a deep and tantalizing kiss. She groaned into his mouth, feeling him shift slightly beneath her, caressing his hands over her chest to cup and squeeze her breasts tenderly.

Looking up into her mesmerizing green eyes for a moment, he whispered softly, "So, beautiful."

She flashed him a shy smile and responded, "And you're quite-ah," She gasped at the sudden pop he made from her nipple. "Handsome."

Gripping the back of the chair around the sides of his waist, she couldn't help herself from grinding her hips slowly against his. His feverish kisses were making her body start to yearn more and more with need. Clutching her eyes tight, a guttural moan left her throat as she began to rock harder against him. She was basically dry humping against his pelvis, except she was pretty sure she was soaking through her panties as this point, so there really wasn't anything dry about it.

"Kakashi," she pleaded.

"Tell me what you want, baby," he groaned back, slipping both his hands inside the back of her panties to press her even more against him.

"You inside me," she said quickly, hoping he wouldn't decide to torture her relentlessly.

Much to her delight, he began to unbutton the top of his jeans. She stood up just enough to give him room to pull down his pants to the knees, his boxers soon following after. His hardened length sprang forth, which she began to touch.

He groaned and snatched her panties down, eager to finally quench his desire to have her right then and there. Then he remembered what he was doing and cursed for almost even forgetting. "Ah, Sakura. My wallet. Can you grab it? Back pocket," he said, feeling a little helpless in his current position to get it himself.

Already knowing what he needed, she grabbed it and pulled out a condom. After opening it and rolling it on for him, he forced her quickly down on his lap again. He grunted, feeling her rub herself along his length. Knowing he couldn't wait any longer, he hoisted her up, helping her guide himself within her slick entrance. Once he was fully inside her, he let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and urged her on, squeezing her thighs lightly with his hands.

"You feel so good," she cried out, feeling like she had never felt him so deep within her before. Slowly, she lifted her hips and started to thrust forward. After finding a rhythm, she panted and whimpered, clawing her nails lightly against his chest as she steadily rode him harder and faster.

"S-Sakura," he hoarsely stammered.

He wasn't sure how his mouth managed to even formulate any words. He was already about to lose his mind at how wonderful she felt, rocking wildly against him like there was no tomorrow. A small worry crept up at him for a moment, thinking there was no way he was going to last until she reached her climax first. Shortly after that thought, he felt her walls clench around him, making him suck in a breath. She came and came hard. Her thrusts slowed dramatically, but never stopped as she cried out his name from her high. He quickly joined her, whispering his love to her in his final moment of release.

Both of them panted heavily, struggling to catch their own breath. Sakura tiredly slumped over onto his sweat covered chest as she tried to remember how to work her lungs again.

"See?" he asked suddenly.

"See… what?" she replied back, unsure what he was going on about. She wondered if he was trying to further prove his point how he could make her forget about everything once he started to kiss her.

Kakashi reached an outstretched arm behind her, pushing her back slightly as he held her with his other arm, making his fingers slowly pull the book off of the table and into his hand. He picked it up and quickly thumbed through the pages to find one depicting the exact position they were in right now. "Good things come out of choosing something from the book. So, your turn next," he mused.

She sighed as she glanced over the book. "…So, you did pull me into this position just have me pick something."

His face instantly turned blank. "Yes."

"…"

She couldn't tell if he was joking or not and proceeded to glare at him. Still, he remained an expressionless enigma. "Argh, fine. You've proved your point. I'll pick something from that damn book, okay?" she grumbled and snatched the book away he dangled in front of her, making him chuckle. She slowly sat up, pulling free from his body, making him shudder a grunt in response.

He watched her walk calmly and still completely naked out of the dining room and into the hallway.

"So, wait," he called out. "Now?"

Not hearing a reply, he hastily pulled up his pants that were still at his knees and scrambled up the stairs after her.


Sakura paced around the living room as Ino watched her walk in circles around the couch. Reaching a hand out, Ino clutched Sakura's arm and sighed. "It's going to be fine," she assured. Seeing that her friend wasn't responding, she added, "Kakashi was right…"

Snapping out of her thoughts, Sakura looked up at the blonde not realizing what was preventing her from pacing. "Huh? Right about what?"

"He told me you'd probably be a nervous wreck before he left."

Sighing, she shrugged and eventually nodded in agreement. "I know, but I can't help it."

"My roommate won't be back until later and she's cool with everything. So, everything's going to be fine. Your little dirty secret will be safe," she said while playfully sticking out her tongue.

Jabbing a finger at her friend's stomach, Ino squealed away as Sakura went back to pacing. She couldn't believe the week had passed by so fast. She had been so swamped making up coursework she missed by switching classes, she didn't have any time to really plan for this weekend. Now, here she was waiting for what seemed like eternity. She knew she needed to calm down, but she couldn't. Not only was she worried that her mother would figure out that she wasn't living here anymore, but she still needed to ask if she would be willing to meet with Kakashi. She figured it would be better ask after they left and went out shopping, and then casually asking if she would be willing to. Unless she found out that she was indeed living with him of course. Then there was no way that would be an option. She didn't need to tour the whole place, so it should be fine. Right? Right.

A knock interrupted Sakura's thoughts, making her jump. Ino simply rolled her eyes at her and told her not to look so freaked out or her mother will certainly know something's wrong. She knew Ino was right. Sucking up the last bit of her worries with a quick inhale and exhale, she joined Ino in answering the front door.

"Hello, Okaasan," Ino and Sakura both greeted.

Her mother smiled and returned a polite hello. "Seems like forever since I've seen you both," she began to say.

"Oh, it's been awhile," Ino agreed.

"By the way, your mother says hello Ino and sends her best wishes. They really miss you at the shop back home."

"Thank you, I certainly miss them, too," she replied back with a smile.

After Sakura's mother entered inside, she gave Sakura a firm hug before proceeding into the living room. "Oh, this is a pretty place," she commented, looking around.

"Ah, yeah it's smaller than our house of course, but it suits us just fine, right, Ino?"

Ino nodded enthusiastically. "Yep! So, um, I don't wanna keep you guys here for too long from a long day of shopping."

"I'm in no hurry," Sakura's mother said, setting her purse down on the couch. "Do you have some tea? I'd love to catch up with you both for a little bit."

Sakura spoke up, "Oh, sure. Um, we have some oolong…"

Ino began to shake her head no.

She bit her lip in thought. Did Ino and her new roommate drink it all already since she moved out? She tried to think what else they had left. "Um, jasmine…"

Ino furiously shook her head no.

Sakura narrowed her eyes at her friend and asked, "Oh, I forget. What do we have, Ino?"

"All we have is green tea left," she replied, nervously twirling her blonde hair with a forced smile.

"Right. Is that okay, Mom?" Sakura asked.

"Sounds good. Been awhile since I've had that," she replied.

"I'll make it!" Ino volunteered, quickly sprinting off towards the kitchen.

Sakura nervously watched her mother start to explore the living room. Not much was changed since she left. The decorations and pictures she had up before were of course gone, but a few things remained in tact such as curtains and a few kitchen supplies she wouldn't be needing anymore. Her mother wiped a finger on the window sill and rubbed the dust away from her finger. Sakura was surprised she didn't say anything, given she was kind of a neat freak. Maybe she really meant it in trying to give her more space and not be so nagging about every little thing towards her. She felt a small glimmer of hope maybe she would take talking with Kakashi very well.

"How are your studies going?" her mother asked as she inspected more of the room.

"Oh, pretty well. Kind of been hectic for the last two weeks, but I'm staying on top of everything."

"Good to hear. You know, once you're in medical school it's going to be a lot harder."

"I know, but I'm sure I can do it."

Her mother gave a knowing smile and said, "If you set your mind to it."

Sakura held her breath as she watched her mother turn and start to inch closer towards the hallway. "Is this one your room?" her mother asked, pointing towards Ino's door that was closed.

A feeling of dread just dropped into her gut. "Uh…"

"Tea's done!" Ino rushed in the living room with a small pot for them to share along with three cups. Once she placed them on the coffee table, she patted the couch as an invitation for them both. "Take a seat."

Sighing in relief as her mother went to the couch, Sakura felt so thankful Ino came just at the right time. In the back of her mind, she was slowly figuring there was going to be no way in hell to explain the bedrooms. Her mother knew what things she took with her. She would certainly realize if it was someone else's belongings. She had to make sure her mother didn't enter inside any of the rooms at all costs.

Everyone chatted for awhile as they enjoyed tea. Her mother seemed to be really trying hard to be pleasant and not ask too many questions, but only things just to learn about how they've been living and about the university. Her mother hadn't even mentioned or asked about Kakashi at all, which was probably a good thing for now.

"Are you sure you wouldn't want to come along shopping with us, Ino? It's really no trouble," her mother said, as they were preparing to leave.

"I appreciate it, but no thank you. You two have fun, okay?" she replied with a smile.

Sakura mouthed the words 'thank you' to Ino as they left out the door. Before they went shopping, they decided to tour the university first since it wasn't very far from the apartment. Walking around the main path of the college, she pointed out a few buildings such as where she worked and the classes she had so far. They went inside a few to show how truly massive the place was and the amazing architecture. There were so many things Sakura wanted to say that were pressing at the tip of her tongue, but knew she couldn't. Like the building where she and Kakashi first met… their first kiss… the very first cafeteria they ran in the rain to on that first day. Those were the kind of precious memories she cared for most and felt such sadness in her heart that she couldn't share things like that with her own mother. They were important to her. He was important to her. Why couldn't she just say it? She sighed.

"Something on your mind?" her mother asked.

"Oh, I was just thinking…" She tried to think up of something quick. "Um, any certain place you'd like to get lunch at?" she asked.

Her mother hummed in thought. "We can just go to one of the shops in the mall. Does that sound okay?"

"Yeah, sounds good," she said with a forced smile.

After they left the university, they took a cab to one of their favorite malls they had been visiting for many years now. It was a four story mall, so it had a nice large variety of clothing and food shops to choose from. Most of the time, back when she was in junior high and high school, Ino would come and her mother would give them some time alone to do as they pleased. They always had a lot of fun together trying on silly clothes and just talking about anything and everything. It was amazing to her once they entered inside the mall, how things seemed so different now. It wasn't so much the stores that had changed, but just thinking about how she's changed since the last time she was here. Back then, she was still living at home and going to school with classmates she had known for almost all of her life. Even though college was an important change, the greatest one of all was certainly having Kakashi in her life. She smiled warmly to herself at that thought.

It was already late in the afternoon, so they were both pretty hungry and quickly decided on a restaurant they both knew pretty well that was on the west wing of the mall, tucked out of the way in a quiet corner away from the main floors of the shopping center. After they were seated at a table, she debated if she should really ask her mother to finally meet with Kakashi. She was worried. Really worried what she might say or if she agreed, what if it went really terribly?

Her mother folded her menu and placed it at the edge of the table. "So, Sakura… Now might be a good time to talk about things."

Lowering her menu, she hesitated at first before saying, "Oh… like what?"

She sighed. "Everything… First of all, like I mentioned on the phone last week, I'm really sorry how I've been since you moved out. I know you're growing up and I'm going to try and give you some space. I know I call a bit too much… I'm also really sorry how angry I was when I didn't hear from you."

Sakura shook her head. "It's okay. Really, I understand and I'm sorry for... not calling back right away. I'd be worried, too, if I didn't hear back from someone for that long… so really, don't be sorry about that. It's my fault… so, I'm sorry."

"It's alright honey," she replied with a sad smile. "It will take me some time. I feel a little guilty in being kind of… maybe a little unfair to you, but I just love you and I don't want you to make mistakes. I know sometimes you have to just let people go so they can learn on their own. It's what being an adult is after all."

"Mistakes," Sakura murmured. She couldn't help, but think she was implying Kakashi. What else would it be? Starting to feel a bit nervous about asking about him, she bit her lip, pretending to be looking over the menu again. After the server took their orders, she proceeded to keep staring off into the distance past the glass to watch various people walk by.

"Are you okay?" her mother asked.

Glancing at her mother's green eyes, she wanted to say that she was, but every nerve inside her body said otherwise. She wanted to just tell the truth. He was the best thing in her entire life and the only other person she loved didn't approve. As much as she didn't want to admit it, it hurt knowing that.

"I'm okay," she finally replied. "But I do want to talk to you… about Kakashi. He's important to me… more than you really know."

Her mother sighed and repositioned her hands from the table to her lap. "Okay, I'm listening."

"I understand you think I'm making a mistake about him… I get it and I appreciate you letting me still date him though you don't agree with it."

"Yes… well, honestly I don't really have a choice with you living here. It's not like I can stop you. I just don't want you to end up how I did, Sakura. Throwing your life away for someone who just ends up using you…"

"Is this about… Dad, when you say that?"

Her mother fell silent at first and then said, "The only good that came from your father is you, Sakura."

Sakura sighed. "Kakashi isn't like that… and he's more than just someone I'm merely dating."

"What are you saying…?"

"He means a lot to me. It's not just some fling between us. It's not like that. We're both really serious about each other and it being a long term relationship…"

Her mother looked down and began to fidget with her silver bracelet, looking as if she was trying to process what she just said. "I see…" her mother replied in a disappointed sounding tone.

"That's why I really want us to just sit down and talk. I want you to get to know him before you judge him."

"I do know him, Sakura."

"No, you don't…"

"I'm very much aware who the Hatake family is. I could tell the moment I saw him pick you up that day. That mask he wears… I've seen pictures of him lots of times in the news in the past. He's made a lot of contributions to your school. So, I know you didn't just meet him here, Sakura…"

"I didn't know him then. Not like I do now."

"I'd hope not."

Sakura sighed and folded her arms against the table. "He's a good person."

"I'm sure he probably is. Everyone I've talked to who knows him speaks very highly of him."

"Then, what's the issue?"

"I just think you're in something that's way over your head. To be so… infatuated with someone so quickly and even going so far to say you love him. You're still too young and I really don't know what influence he has on you and that scares me the most. Yes, you're starting to be an adult now, but he's in his thirties, Sakura. He's in a different part of his life compared to yours."

"He's not doing anything to me. He loves me and I love him. Yes, he's slightly older than I am, but that doesn't matter. Can you just please meet with him? I know you think I'm making a mistake and you always will for as long as we're together. I don't want you to. I want you to trust me."

"If I meet with him and still think it's a mistake, then what?"

"Then I won't ask you anything more about it. It will be your opinion… and I'll just respect it. In the end, it's still my decision to be with him and he's always going to be a part of my life. That's why it's important to me for you to least give us a chance, because it's really tearing me apart to know you feel like this… "

"It will really make you that happy if I speak with him?"

Sakura slowly nodded. "He really wants to as well."

"I see…" She sighed. "Well, okay then, but I can't promise anything..."

"Thank you. Do you think… maybe going out for dinner tonight would be okay? You're staying at a hotel tonight, right? And won't be leaving until tomorrow?"

"Right and dinner tonight would be fine."

Despite the tense talk they had during their lunch, the rest of their shopping day went pretty well. Sakura was glad that the shopping helped keep her mind off everything for a little while until they returned back to Ino's apartment. She could tell how hard her mother was really trying to be understanding, but she didn't know what to expect at dinner tonight. Worst case scenario it would end up going very badly. At least they could get everything off their chest and not feel like they'd have to sneak around her mother anymore. If it went really well, perhaps she could tell her mother about their trip together to France… and all she learned about his family there, but probably should still wait holding off information like that as well. Her mother would most likely be mad no matter what that they were living together, but maybe she would understand by the time they came down during the summer so Kakashi could teach. Just maybe.

Once they were back at the apartment, she saw from the entryway that Ino was still by herself and was watching TV in the living room. She was glad her roommate wasn't back just yet. She hoped by the time they left for dinner, they might avoid her just to make sure there weren't any complications to tip her mother off she wasn't living here anymore.

Before Sakura had a chance to lock the front door, her mother started to push open Ino's bedroom door.

"I'll set your bags in your room," her mother offered.

"Uh, wait!" she scrambled to say, trying to hurry and jiggle the key out of the door.

Her mother paused as she had the door open enough to see inside. "Oh, sorry. This one must be Ino's."

Sakura watched in horror as her mother turned around and walked into the next room.

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 32: My Heart's Broken in Two

Time seemed to have stood still the moment Sakura's mother opened her old bedroom door. The words that left Sakura's lips to prevent her were long forgotten in the heavy silence. Instead of moving like her brain was telling her to, she stood frozen in the middle of the hallway, her weight straining on one foot from suddenly halting in a mid-run towards her mother. Every nerve in her body was screaming to just run the other way and never look back, but she couldn't move. She swallowed hard as she watched her mother step inside. Her mother didn't say anything at first, but simply stood quietly with their shopping bags still dangling in her hands as she peered inside.

Sakura glanced at Ino to find her frozen in place, too, except she was half-way climbed over the couch in a failed attempt to reach her mother in time. They looked at each other briefly, then to her mother. After a moment, Ino slowly sunk back down onto the couch. She could tell by the look on her blonde friend's face this probably wasn't going to end well.

No one made a sound until her mother said, "Um… This is your room, Sakura?" she asked hesitantly.

Sakura's voice seemed to be caught in her throat. She wasn't sure if she could even manage attempting to formulate any words. Not knowing what to say, she reluctantly hummed in agreement and bit her lip. Her mother gave her a questionable look at first, before turning her attention back towards the room.

The door creaked as her mother gently pushed it open even more and then fully stepped inside the room. Sakura's heart began to flutter as she followed behind her inside, looking down at her hands that she had suddenly interlaced together out of nervousness. The gears in her mind were turning as she tried to frantically think of what she could possibly say in defense. Maybe her mother would just think she randomly bought a couple new things and wouldn't question anything?

"What happened to all of the art and decorations I thought you brought here?" her mother asked.

Sakura remained fixated on her hands as she tried to think of a convincing explanation. Having no idea who Ino's friend was, there was no way to predict what her old room could have possibly been turned into now. Hesitantly, she looked up at her surroundings, and then slapped a hand quietly to her mouth to hide her sudden gasp. She glanced at her mother who thankfully missed seeing her do that. How in the hell could she pretend this was her room? The entire bedroom was like the purple explosion of Barney the Dinosaur. The walls, the rug on the floor, bedding… everything was purple. Christ, even the open closet had various shades of purple clothes inside. Ino's friend must have been obsessed with the color on every level. Sakura didn't have anything against purple in particular, but to completely match the entire room to it was certainly something she would never do. Not only that, but a lot of the decorations followed a general theme of stars. She liked stars, but not in every corner of the room.

Her mother turned at her with a puzzled look. "This is seriously your room, Sakura?" she asked.

"…Yes," she replied, immediately feeling like she was digging her own grave each time she proclaimed this Twilight Zone was her room. Her mother simply stared at her, until Sakura finally averted her eyes to the floor.

Dropping the bags on the floor, her mother sidestepped around them and began to look at a few photographs that were pinned to a corkboard on the wall. Of course… none of them had Sakura in it. However, a girl in purple was prominent in most of them. She had short black hair with dark eyes. From the look of her, she seemed to be of Chinese descent. Where did Ino meet this friend of hers? Another class? She looked nice enough from the pictures. It was just too bad she obviously didn't have anything in common style wise with this girl.

Her mother huffed. "Sakura, do you think I'm an idiot? It doesn't even look like you live here. Whose room is this?"

"Um…" Her eyes looked everywhere but at her mother's. Her face suddenly flushed as she sputtered out, "I-I decided to completely change my decorations…"

"It's insulting when you're lying to me, Sakura…"

"…"

Sakura folded her hands behind her back and turned away. How was she going to get out of this? She was so screwed.

"I know the other bedroom must be Ino's. I've been to her house plenty of times to know what her stuff looks like, Sakura. Now, what the hell is going on? Are you not living here?"

"O-Of course I do," Sakura protested, feeling her heart begin to hammer. Still avoiding her mother's gaze, she could feel her eyes burning a hole in the back of her head. Each lie that managed to escape her lips made her gut start to twist more and more in knots.

"Look at me, please," her mother commanded.

Slowly, Sakura turned around and forced herself to look her mother in the eye.

Her mother folded her arms and scowled. "Tell me the truth Sakura, or so help me God… Why have I been helping you pay for rent if you're not even living here?"

She glanced down at the floor again. "I… I just…"

"Sakura… Are you living with him?"

Her heart stopped.

"No…" she impulsively lied in a faint voice, feeling herself on the brink of crying. Why in the hell couldn't she just accept all hope was lost and tell her the truth? Why was she so terrified of just admitting everything?

"Sakura, look at me," her mother spat out.

She hated hearing that tone in her mother's voice. It was a kind of tone she knew all too well, that she was in trouble. She mentally sighed and tried to prepare for the worst. Slowly, she hesitantly looked into her mother's eyes again. She looked angry. Really angry.

"You are, aren't you?" her mother proclaimed. "I can't believe you, Sakura! How could you do something like this? Have you lost all your common sense? Do you realize how much of a disgrace you're bringing to our family by doing that? You're supposed to wait until you get married. I trusted you-"

"She's not!" Ino suddenly cut in, bursting into the room from inside the hall. Sternly looking at her mother with conviction, she added, "We didn't want to tell you, but a friend of mine didn't have a place to stay, so, Sakura and I both agreed to let her live here with us as long as she could pay her share of rent. Sakura and I share the other room since we've known each other forever and don't mind sleeping together."

Sakura's mouth slightly dropped at what Ino had just said. Would her mother seriously believe something like that? Ino gave her a look that she should say something.

Not knowing what to do, she tentatively looked at her mother and sputtered out, "U-Um, yes. I'm sorry… I figured you might be mad for giving away my room to someone, but I really don't mind sharing with Ino. Her friend was, uh, really in a bind. It works out just fine for us and even makes living here even cheaper. Most of the stuff I have is just in storage for now..."

Her mother looked back and forth between them both, looking really unconvinced.

"Look, I'll show you our room and prove it to you," Ino added quickly. Picking up the shopping bags off from the floor, she motioned them both to follow her across the hall. Sakura murmured a silent prayer to herself hoping that Ino knew what the hell she was doing.

Ino placed the bags on the bed and bent down underneath to pull out her spare futon that she would keep for guests. "See? We take turns sleeping on this since the single bed is small… and, um…"

She darted to the closet and opened it. Shuffling a few hangers around, she reemerged with several blouses and skirts that were Sakura's.

Sakura silently fumed realizing now that she hadn't been crazy in thinking she had been missing some clothes after she moved. Ino had completely borrowed them without asking. What was it with people stealing her stuff? At least Kakashi stopped stealing her panties, but of course she was pretty sure he still went through them despite them living together. Her thoughts suddenly wandered in thinking about what exactly he did with them. She wasn't sure if she wanted to know… or maybe she did. Mentally wanting to slap herself, she sighed at how now certainly wasn't the time to think about that. Right now, she should be thankful that her blonde friend was a klepto when she saw her mother's expression soften.

Her mother let out a calm sigh. "Oh, I see. I wish you would have told me first thing when you decided to do this. I'm sorry I… I jumped to conclusions."

"It's… fine. I'm sorry," Sakura muttered, feeling worse and worse.

Ino forced a reassuring smile to Sakura, but it was far from feeling assuring to her. She was just slowly lowering herself even further into her own grave. All these lies were just going to implode later. She wasn't sure how conservative her mother might have felt about her moving in with him, but to this extreme was the worst reaction she could have imagined. Saying that she was bringing disgrace to her family… now there really was no hope she could still live with Kakashi in the summer. Unless she didn't tell her mother she was staying in town, but the chances of running into her or any of her mother's acquaintances was high. The thought suddenly pulled at her heart to just tell her mother everything. Let her be a disappointment and just give it up already. Least she would be happy.

"Mom… I want to talk to you about something." Sakura glanced at Ino.

Ino gave her a pitiful look and faintly shook her head in disapproval.

"I'm sorry about everything…" Sakura began to say. "But what you said about me living with Kakashi…"

"Sakura, I'm so sorry. I should have known you would never do something like that, I apologize. This is exactly why I just…" She sighed with a shrug. "I just need to calm down about things."

Sakura suddenly looked at the floor before asking, "Well, what if I did move in with him? In the future…" She looked up to find her mother's expression change.

"Why?" her mother asked.

"Because… we want to be close to each other…"

"No," she replied flatly.

"Why?"

Her mother groaned. "What do you mean, why? He's a grown man. You are just barely turning into a young adult now. Jesus, Sakura… Are you telling me you've been seriously considering doing this? Because you're sharing a room with Ino right now?"

"No! I… it doesn't matter that I am. We just want to be together."

"How far are you in this relationship with him?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are you having sex?"

Sakura's cheeks burned. She wasn't expecting her mother to ever ask that. It was looking even worse with the long pause she was taking, trying to come back with a reply after being stunned by the question.

Her mother gave her a wary look. "This is what it's all about, isn't it."

"W-what?" she stuttered back, still unsure how to even respond to her first question.

"Why he wants to speak with me. Why you both do."

"Huh?"

"Are you pregnant?"

Sakura let out a shocked gasp and shrieked, "No!"

Ino's eyebrows rose from what was being said between them, but made a point to keep her mouth shut for now. She could only feel sorry for her friend for now and watch.

Sakura's mother touched the base of her forehead and took in a deep breath. "Thank God…" She looked up to her daughter again. "You still didn't answer the first question."

Biting her lip again, Sakura sighed in frustration. Didn't her mother realize that most people her age had lost their virginity by now? Who cares if they were living together either. A lot of couples do it now. It just seemed so stupid to get so worked up over something that didn't seem like a big deal to her. It was one thing to just be with someone and not take the relationship seriously, but she did. Couldn't her mother understand that?

Sakura let out an annoyed groan. "Look, why does it even matter?"

"It matters. I thought I knew you better to wait," she replied furiously.

"To wait for what? The right person? I have. He's the right person."

Her mother let out an aggravated sigh. "Damn it, Sakura… I can't believe this. I knew it. I knew something like this would happen. What else is he going to take away from you?"

That struck a nerve in Sakura. Clutching her fists, she spat back, "It's not like that! Who cares if I am with him? We love each other. That's all that matters. Didn't you tell that to me once? That's what marriage is about. Loving and committing to each other? And we do! Also, many people my age live with their boyfriends. This isn't old Japan anymore. Who in the hell cares if we're living together now!"

"What!" her mother shrieked.

Sakura's eyes went wide, realizing too late what she just said. "I mean if we were living together…"

"…"

Without saying another word, her mother bolted out of the room and went outside the front door of the apartment, slamming the door behind her shut. Sakura just stood there feeling a bit stunned... and scared out of her mind. Lightly touching the base of the necklace around her neck that Kakashi had given her, she suddenly wished he was here right now. Fighting back the burn of tears, she wondered what in the world could she do now. What was running through her mother's mind? Did she hate her forever now?

Sakura suddenly felt Ino hug her tightly and sigh. "Forehead, you should have kept your mouth shut."

"I know," Sakura groaned back. "I was just trying to ask her hypothetically…"

"I tried the best I could to convince you were still living here… which might have worked."

She sighed and patted her friend's back. "It's okay. I don't understand why my mother's like this. I really don't."

Ino hummed in thought. "You're her only child. You mean a lot to her and I guess, yeah… she's kind of stuck in the old ways about how relationships should be. I mean, my parents sure as hell don't know I have sex already. If they did, they'd probably flip out, too."

"I wonder if she's going to disown me," Sakura mumbled into Ino's shoulder.

"I doubt it. She's just… really angry right now."

"The last time she was this mad was when I broke an old family heirloom when I was a kid."

"You Haruno's do seem to get angry easily."

Sakura rolled her eyes and gave her friend one last hug before stepping back. Slowly, she peered out of the room and glanced at the door. She didn't know what her mother was going to say now to her, but decided to give her a few minutes to cool off. Grabbing her purse she hastily threw down earlier by the door, she went to the couch and plopped down. She pulled out her phone and sent a text to Kakashi saying that she was probably going to die, and that she hoped to see him in her next lifetime. She made a half-hearted smile at first when she wrote it, but then realized that it probably wasn't far off to what her mother wanted to do to her now. A few seconds after she sent it, her phone started to buzz repeatedly in her hand. He was calling her.

"Hey…" she answered softly.

"Um… You're not allowed to die. Are you okay? What happened?" he asked.

"I'm okay, but um, she's pretty pissed off finding out that we're intimate… and possibly living together already. So, I'm not sure if dinner is a good idea anymore. She's outside fuming right now."

She heard him hum for a moment and then he said, "I'm going to come over."

"But-"

"I want to be there for you regardless, so, if she wants to head out early to avoid me, fine. If she's willing to talk, that's fine, too."

"Eh…"

"Trust me."

"I do…" she replied solemnly.

"I'll handle it if she still wants to talk, okay? It's just going to get worse before it gets better at this point."

"Okay… See you soon. Be safe," she replied.

After he said goodbye, she ended the call and sighed. Looking over the couch towards the entryway, she really didn't want to go outside. Not when there was a ticking time bomb out there, but she needed to find out what her mother wanted to do. Kill her? Kill Kakashi? Kill the world? Maybe she was destroying the neighborhood right now like Godzilla. She was certain it was most likely one of those four options, and even more likely the first.

Ino soon joined her on the couch and gave her a sad look. "Want me to go get her?" she asked.

"No, no. I should do it," Sakura sighed back, rising slowly from the couch to head towards the entryway.

Her stomach started to churn as she twisted the doorknob to go outside. Her mother was sitting at the base of the concrete steps leading up to the apartment, looking out towards the bustling road in front of the complex. Each step she took felt heavier and heavier the closer she came to her mother. Slowly, she eased down next to her. She was close, but not too close.

"Mom…" she called out.

Her voice seemed to be falling on deaf ears at the moment. Her mother still looked forward with a mixed expression etched on her face.

"Mom, please… I'm sorry," Sakura said softly.

Still, she couldn't get any response from her as her mother continued to remain silent. Sakura had never seen her mother act this way before. Was she that upset at her? Were they just going to end everything like this and never speak to each other again? Giving up, she started to stand up.

"Are you living with him? I want a straight answer. Yes, or no?" her mother abruptly asked.

Sakura's heart dropped. Feeling her knees become weak, she sat back down again on the steps. She debated if she should really confirm it or not.

"Sakura…"

"…"

"Sakura!"

She jumped at the bark of her name. Inhaling a small breath between her tense lips, she lowly mumbled, "…yes."

Her mother sighed. "How can I believe anything you say anymore, Sakura? Why did you lie to me earlier that you were still living here?"

Sakura shrugged and then looked towards her feet. "I was too scared to tell you. I figured you would act something like this. Look, I feel really bad about everything. I don't want to lie to you. There are lots of things I wish I could tell you about us, but I know how much you hate him..."

"How am I supposed to feel about him? First thing you do is stay out on Christmas Eve, scaring me half to death from not hearing a word from you that entire night. Then I suddenly find out you've been dating someone for months now without you ever mentioning it once to me. Not only that but he's way older than you, which just makes things even worse. Then you disappear for a week without a trace. Ino didn't even know where you were and it scared me to death."

"I didn't mean-"

"Now," her mother cut in. "I find out you're having sex and you've already decided to move in with him. You're moving way too damn fast for a relationship and I really just don't know what to do anymore at this point. You've changed, Sakura, and not for the better. It's one thing to let you become an adult to make your own decisions, but your acting this way seems like an unhealthy relationship to me."

Swallowing back the lump her throat, Sakura clutched her necklace tightly and muttered, "It's not unhealthy."

"Sakura…"

She groaned in annoyance and said, "I understand it sounds fast and like I said, I'm really sorry for messing up in not contacting you and making you worry. I'm really and sincerely sorry about that. I won't do it again. We're just…we're happy together and we want to be together as much as possible. Is that so wrong?"

"It is when it's changing you into someone I don't know anymore…"

"Mom…"

After a moment of silence, her mother sighed and said, "I wasn't joking when I said I considered it shaming the family, Sakura. It is."

Sakura's throat began to burn and she suddenly stood up. "I'm old enough to legally live with whoever I want," she stated in a shaky voice. "I'm sorry you hate me, but I'm not sorry for doing it. I'm happy. Despite everything that's happened in upsetting you, which I've apologized for… if you can just give him a chance, I think you'd be happy for me. I messed up in not telling you everything sooner, but I was afraid to tell you… you get so damn angry at me for the smallest things."

Her mother sat silently before admitting, "I married someone before your father… when I was about your age."

"Huh?" Sakura wasn't sure if she had just heard right. "I… I didn't know you married someone before Dad."

"I thought I loved him so much. So much that I eloped with him. It was the stupidest mistake of my life. He suddenly changed… and he wasn't the man who I thought he was. He turned abusive to me, Sakura."

Sakura froze at hearing that. She couldn't believe what her mother was saying. Never in her life had she ever heard her mother talk about being abused, or running off to get married with someone for that matter.

Her mother continued, "After I married him, I couldn't turn back to my family. They were so ashamed of what I had done. They never spoke to me again until I was able to divorce him years later. When I was finally strong enough to be on my own, I left him. Your father was my next mistake. You were too young to understand at the time, but he had an affair. Moment I found that out I kicked him out and told him to never look back."

Sakura slowly sat down again, feeling a little overwhelmed at first. "I had no idea... If I had known, I would have been more open with you about Kakashi."

"You and he are basically doing what I did, rushing into things without a second thought. Men are manipulative… and I'm afraid that's exactly what's going on here, Sakura."

Looking at the sincerity in her mother's eyes, she said, "I'm not making it up when I say I love him. I'm not saying it because I'm so swept up in everything that I don't have common sense anymore. I do, and I wish you'd give me a little more credit in making my own decisions. Now I understand why you're so against it all. I get it and you've seen nothing but the negative side of us together. I appreciate what you're trying to do… in why you're worried, but believe me when I say this… if he were to do anything to me at all to hurt me in any way… you'd be the first to know. I wouldn't stay in a relationship like that."

Her mother looked up at her hopefully. "You promise that? If he were to hurt you in any way… you'd tell me?" her mother asked softly.

"I promise."

Her mother sighed and wiped the corners of her eyes that were starting to tear. "That… makes me feel a lot better. I'm still unsure about everything, but… I want to trust you, Sakura. Please, just don't lie to me ever again. Be honest with me."

"I can do that if you promise to keep an open mind, deal?" Sakura asked.

Her mother nodded slowly at first. "Deal, but…"

"Yes?"

"Promise me you aren't going to run off and get married any time soon…"

Sakura blushed. "Well…"

"Sakura," her mother warned.

"I promise!" she assured. "We really haven't talked about that anyway, so… I wouldn't worry. It's not something I'd want to do right away."

"Good," her mother said in relief.

"So, I guess now is a good time to tell you that he's on his way here…"

"…Oh?"

Sakura stiffened. "I told him what happened earlier… and he got worried. So, he's coming and said if you still would like to talk, he's up for it. If not, that's fine…"

"Ah, I see…"

"Do you… want to?"

Her mother reluctantly nodded. "Yes."

"Oh, okay, well… let's go back inside for now, yeah?"

"Alright."

Sakura let out a small sigh of relief as they headed back inside. She felt such a weight lifted off of her shoulders in telling her mother everything, although she was pretty embarrassed still about the sex part. Not only did she feel a bit better, but she was really surprised at what her mother had told her about her past. She had no idea whatsoever that she had eloped when she was around her age. It made so much more sense to her why her mother was so upset with her starting to date Kakashi. Yeah, she messed up in not being completely honest since the beginning. Her mother had plenty of reason to be worried and just wanted to protect her. It was apparent her mother just didn't want history to repeat itself, but she just didn't know who he really was. Sakura wasn't going to get her hopes up of getting her mother's blessing on their relationship, but she just wanted to show her he is a good man, and that him ever doing anything to harm her was just unfathomable.

While they waited in the living room, Sakura was starting to feel anxious the more time passed. What would happen once he got here? What should she say? What would he say? What if he said something that ticked her off? What if her mother ended up really not liking him at all? There were too many scenarios her imagination kept looping over and over again in her mind. She knew Kakashi said he would handle it and had no doubt he would do his best, but she couldn't help but worry. Just the idea of them forever hating each other really made her heart feel like it would split in two. She didn't want to choose one relationship over the other. She wasn't sure what she would do if it came down to it. They were both important in her life.

The moment a familiar knock sounded, Sakura immediately shot off of the couch from between Ino and her mother to run to the door. She wanted to at least talk to him before bringing him and her mother face to face.

"Sakura-ah!" Kakashi was suddenly pushed back on his chest once the door opened, cutting whatever he was about to say short.

Sakura rushed through the narrow passage of the doorway and threw her arms around him in a tight embrace.

He sighed and happily returned her eager hug. "I'm going to take a wild guess that you're stressed out."

She nodded against his chest.

"I'm sorry how things are turning out right now, but I'm here now. What can I do to make you feel better?"

She parted slightly away from him and leaned up on her toes. "First, kiss me."

He chuckled at first, and then complied, quickly tugging his mask down to give her a kiss. "Feel any better?" he asked with a grin, placing his mask back up.

"A little bit," she replied, smiling slightly.

"But…?" he asked, encouraging her to tell more.

She sighed and said, "Okay, so, my mother and I talked a bit after I called you. We kind of came to an understanding and she still wants to meet you, despite everything… so, um… she's inside right now."

"Okay, well, let's go." He started to move towards the door.

"Wait!"

He sighed at her worried face and pulled her into another hug. "It will be fine. Let's just see what happens and then we'll go from there. No use worrying about something that hasn't happened yet."

"I-I know," she stammered back. He gave her a look. She sighed and tried to compose herself. "Okay, here goes nothing."

Once they were inside the entryway, Ino was outside her door and said an awkward, but warm hello to Kakashi. She whispered she would be in her room to give everyone some privacy. Sakura said she appreciated it, but knew her friend would be spying anyway by the way she left the door cracked open behind her. She appreciated her friend's incentive in letting the three of them talk for a moment alone at least though.

Kakashi lightly hitched a few fingers around hers as he walked behind her. Silently she was thankful feeling his hand around hers. It made her feel a lot better despite how nerve-wracked she was the closer they came to the living room.

Her mother remaining seated on the couch, smoothing out the wrinkle of her long skirt as they approached her. She frowned at first, and then looked up to glare at Kakashi to say, "So, you're the one who's having sex with my daughter."

"…"

TBC

Chapter Text

Chapter 33: It'll Never Be the Same Again

"Mother!" Sakura yelled, completely mortified. Her hand tensed around Kakashi's. How could her mother have just said that? She thought she was willing to talk… not start a confrontation right off the bat.

Kakashi sighed in response and returned a squeeze to her hand before letting go. He was half tempted to sarcastically say, 'Nice to meet you, too,' to her mother, but that probably wouldn't have been a good joke to say right now.

He didn't know what all was said between Sakura and her mother before he came over, but he had a good idea of what to expect. He tried to think of a basic plan of what to say when he arrived in case Sakura's mother did want to talk, but figured his best bet would be just to try and be honest with her. Talk from the heart. He loved her daughter after all and if she could see how much he did care about her, perhaps it would set her mother's mind at ease. He was willing to do anything for Sakura, especially trying to get her mother to come around to accept their relationship. He just hated to put her through this ordeal though. Seeing Sakura upset earlier when she rushed to greet him made a tight feeling rise in his chest. He hated to see her like that. Making her go through all of this just wasn't fair to her. How could he get her mother to be on their side? That was a question he really wish he had a better answer to besides just hoping for the best.

Obviously, her mother wasn't thrilled at the fact they were sleeping together. It's human nature to happen, but some private things like that were just better left unsaid. Sakura was still young and he understood the concern that any parent would feel about it. She was also most certainly just as upset that they were living together, too. Not many parents actually get to confront the boyfriend, and he was prepared to deal with the backlash. He just wasn't sure how to properly talk about the subject without it quickly getting out of hand.

Glancing at Sakura, he could already tell she was on the verge of tears, making him feel even worse. Looking back towards her mother, he asked, "Haruno-san, would you mind if we just talked in private?"

Sakura immediately started to protest, "But-"

"That's fine," her mother cut in.

"How about the balcony?" he suggested, pointing to the glass sliding door at the other side of the room.

"Fine."

Sakura stared at Kakashi in disbelief. He avoided her gaze as he moved towards the door. Her anger started to flare as she watched them both exit into the balcony without her. Shouldn't she be a part of the discussion? It was about her and Kakashi. Why wouldn't he want her to be a part of it? It made her feel like she was being ousted as a child - not being allowed to be a part of adult conversations. As much as her mother was having a hard time in letting her become more independent now, she was old enough to make her own decisions. She was old enough to be getting into a serious relationship with Kakashi. Being thrown aside from the conversation made her feel so small. Why did it seem so hard to prove she was adult enough to be a part of anything?

Once they were out on the small balcony, Kakashi glanced apologetically at Sakura as he closed the sliding door shut. He could tell she wasn't thrilled about her not being there with him. It was just for the better this way avoiding possibly making her even more upset. If their discussion turned into a yelling match between the three of them, there wasn't going to be any hope of trying to salvage any kind of possible relationship with her mother. Emotions make people do things that they regret and seeing Sakura like this was really hard for him to take as it was. If he wanted to try and do this right, he needed to talk with her mother one on one first.

Taking in a deep breath, Kakashi exhaled and finally broke the silence. "I appreciate you letting me speak with you face to face. I just want to be honest with you about everything and go from there."

"If you want to speak with me face to face, should you really be hiding behind that mask of yours?" Sakura's mother asked.

Annoyed at first at her barely subtle request to take off his mask, he knew that she had a point. His mask made him appear to people that he was guarding or hiding himself and that was pretty correct. Originally, he kept insisting to cover his face as a child from the hounding media and just never stopped after the curiosity of his life faded years after his parents passed away. Now, it was simply a part of him. It was a habit to wear it without much thought and around most people, even his closest friends. He got reminded though, like right now, that some people didn't think he was sincere when he was talking with it on.

Sakura was really the first person he ever felt like he could be completely himself. Of course she was curious about it like anyone else in the beginning, but it never seemed to bother her like it did with most people. Maybe that was why it just seemed so much easier to let his guard down around her. He couldn't explain his choice of constantly wearing something over his face outside of his home, but it was just something he couldn't help.

Normally he wouldn't give in to such a request to show his face. People didn't have to understand his choice behind it and he never cared to share it in the first place. Most accepted it was just who he was. Sakura did, but she turned into more than just a friend and into a lover. He loved to share the smile she always brought to his face which was always meant just for her.

Sakura's mother was a stranger to him essentially, but she was Sakura's most important family. If he wanted to be as sincere, honest and forthcoming to her about him wanting to be with her daughter, letting her see his face would at least show he was serious. She most likely knew how he never revealed himself in public and was pushing him. For the sake of Sakura, he would give in just this time.

Tugging his mask down under his chin, he slightly turned to her and asked, "Is that better?"

Sakura's mother glanced at him without much emotion and replied, "Thank you, at least now I can see who I'm talking to." She studied his face for a moment. "Don't really see why you need it in the first place."

He half-heartedly shrugged and turned. "Frankly, it's just a habit I'm used to now. I know it seems strange to people."

"It's alright. I have a few guesses on why, but I appreciate you being open with me in this way. I can assume it's not something you normally do."

He hummed in agreement and said, "So, I know you're upset about all that's been going on and it's understandable. No one blames you for feeling that way and you have the right to. I'm very aware how bad my relationship with your daughter must look on the outside to you."

"So, then it wouldn't come as a surprise to you if I said I wanted you to stop seeing her?"

Kakashi clenched his hands along the metal railing of the balcony, shifting his weight forward to gaze out towards the manicured lawns below. "I suppose not."

She sighed and joined him in leaning against the railing. "I was going to request that when I finally got the chance to speak with you, but…"

"But?" he asked, curiously.

"When she finally talked honestly about everything, I could tell it's not just a teenage puppy love that's going to fade any time soon. That's one reason I was worried about letting this go on. I've also been assuming you were just stringing her along and taking advantage of her naivety at her age, but I guess she's more grown up then I've been crediting her for."

"She's young, but quite mature for her age in many ways," he countered. "I know she just moved away from home merely half a year ago, but when we met and just how things happened the way they did took us both by surprise. We should have waited to move in together, I know, but it just felt too right to keep waiting any longer… I don't know how to explain it."

"I understand," Sakura's mother replied. "I felt the same way when I younger… I've just been really scared for her that she was making the same mistakes I did when I was her age. People can be deceiving and I just didn't want her to fall into something that seems so sure and get hurt like I did."

"Makes sense why you'd feel that way. Any parent would and I get that," he said solemnly with a slight nod.

She smiled slightly, looking a little relieved that he seemed to be very understanding about her feelings. She hummed in thought for a moment and then asked, "Hatake… it's your family that runs that company is Osaka, isn't it? Are you not involved in it? Never really understood why someone like you would become a simple teacher in a town like ours."

Kakashi shrugged. "It's complicated, but I wanted to create my own path in life and make my own living."

"I see, I really respect that," she nodded. "There's something else I have to ask… and I don't mean to offend you. I know you were her teacher before now. She used to complain about your assignments back then."

"Huh, that so," he replied, making a mental note to ask Sakura about it later.

Sakura's mother hesitated before asking her next question, "You didn't both start anything until you came here to Tokyo, right?"

Inwardly, Kakashi resented that implication that they would. He thought Iruka had seriously overblown the situation by asking him the same question, but apparently it was an easy thought to connect simply because he was her teacher just once. It bothered the hell out of him people might think that. Not only was it like jabbing a knife into his soul, but it made people question the kind of person he was. As if, he was someone who preyed upon young students and used his authoritative power as a teacher to forcefully seduce them. He wasn't anything remotely close to a sick person like that. Sakura could be the age of fifty and he still would have fallen in love with her. The age difference was unfortunate, but it made him realize that love came in all forms.

He looked at her uncomfortable stare for a moment and then confirmed, "Right. I only had one class with her in junior high. After that, I hadn't seen her in many years until we met here. So, no… I assure you there wasn't anything going on before that. I'd never do something like that. I know our age difference doesn't help the matter, but I'm not a pedophile."

She let out a relieved sigh. "I'm glad to hear that. Else there would be some bigger issues at hand here."

He sighed. "Don't worry… I'm not a horrible person to do something like that."

"Well, I didn't think you were. Sakura certainly thinks you're great and so do a few people I've talked to who know you. But I just wanted to be sure and get the question out of the way. You seem like a nice person," she admitted.

"Well… thanks," he offered in the small silence.

"I'm still a little hesitant about everything after finding all this out today, but I think… I think I'm okay with you both continuing to live together… for now."

Kakashi looked at her in surprise. "Oh, I'm glad to hear that," he replied, feeling really relieved to hear her say that.

He had no doubt Sakura would be just as happy to learn this, too. After with all the drama with Sasuke and the school, she really needed some kind of good news like this.

"But," she suddenly added, jolting him from his thoughts. "Let me make myself clear that I'm really not happy finding out she's sexually active…" She gave him a stern glare.

Awkward silence.

He made sure to avoid her dagger-like stare and suddenly became interested in picking at the paint chips curled up from the balcony railing. He sure as hell wanted to avoid this subject. 'Fun fact, Haruno-san, I banged your daughter quite a few times in France and in my dining room last week. So, yes, she's quite sexually active.'

And then perhaps they would have a good laugh, or her mother would push him over the railing. Most likely the latter one.

Scratching the back of his messy hair uncomfortably, still feeling her glare, he let out a tense laugh, slightly looking a little red in the face. "Ah, right… about that…"

"You use protection, right?" she asked.

"Of course," he replied quickly muttered, still avoiding her eyes.

"If I ever find out that she's pregnant, I will personally castrate you. That's a promise," she said firmly.

Kakashi quietly gulped.

"She's in no position to have her life changed forever and having to drop out of the school she's worked so hard to get into in the first place. She's long dreamed of being a doctor and I-"

He cleared his throat to interrupt her. "Uh, trust me. I'd never want that to happen either."

"Good," she replied simply. "I'm going to talk more with her about this… what's done is done. For now, I just want to be sure she knows she's doing."

"Trust me. She knows what she's doing-"

"What do you mean by that?" she spat.

He instantly froze realizing how it came out sounding, and then quickly scrambled, "I-I just mean she knows the consequences and…"

"Let's stop talking about this subject for now," she grumbled.

He ducked his head from feeling her hardened glare. "Good idea…"

Folding her arms, she sighed and said, "Is there anything else you'd like to tell me before we head back in?"

"Well, I, um…" He thought for a moment and then shifted towards her. "I love Sakura very much. I sincerely do. She's everything to me and I want nothing more but her to be happy. Her relationship is important to you and I never wanted to come in between that. I'm not asking for your full support right away about everything, but just ask you to be open-minded."

"I can be open-minded for now, but I'm cautious for her. It will take some time and a little trust for me to completely say I'm happy for you both," she replied.

"I understand. I do hope that someday we'll have your full support. I do have every intention of asking her to marry me…"

Her eyes went wide. "What?"

"Not now," he stressed. "I mean in the future."

Her lips turned into a disapproving frown. "You're that serious about my daughter? So soon to be thinking of marriage?"

He reluctantly nodded against his brain to confirm it. "I am and I don't mean to scare you. I'm saying this to you now because I want you to know how serious I am about her. I wouldn't ask until much later. Even I know its way too soon for something like that, most likely a couple years from now."

"If you two are still together and only if I approved at the time… I'd prefer you wait until after she graduated."

"Well, I know medical school takes quite a few years… and I'm not sure if I could wait that long."

She let out an irritated sighed at his answer, clearly not very thrilled about the idea. "We'll talk about this later."

"Good idea," he quickly agreed.

Kakashi pressed a smile on his lips and opened the sliding door, offering her to head in first. Sakura and Ino turned to look at them from the couch.

"Oh my God," Ino said loudly, her eyes fixated on Kakashi's face.

He sighed and glared at her in annoyance while he pulled up his mask.

"Sakura!" Ino whispered, lightly jabbing her friend in the stomach with her elbow. "How dare you not share how damn hot he is. You said he was cute. There's a difference between cute and drop dead sexy."

"Shush," Sakura grumbled back, not really in a great mood right now to listen to her blonde friend's antics. Glancing back and forth between her mother and Kakashi, she was desperate to learn about what all was said. She couldn't tell if it ended well or not by the looks on their faces.

"Are we still having dinner? I'm a bit hungry," her mother said nonchalantly, reaching for her purse that was on the coffee table.

"Oh, um… I guess?" Sakura replied, looking at Kakashi to confirm her answer.

He smiled warmly beneath his mask at her and then stuffed his hands in his pockets. "Ready then, Sakura?" he asked.

"S-Sure," she stammered, quickly getting up to gather her things.

Sakura wondered if she was daydreaming as the three of them left the apartment to his car. She had feared the worst when they left to talk privately without her. She was still a bit upset about being purposely left out of it, but could physically feel that the tension between them had gone down considerably. It made her breathe a lot easier and she was thankful for that. Kakashi sneaked his fingers around her hand when he could, making her feel even better.

There weren't any harsh words, yelling, or any kind of confrontation the whole way there to the restaurant they decided on. Dinner was just as pleasant, but they did talk carefully about her mother's expectations for them both to keep living together. She couldn't believe it when she heard it. Her mother was actually okay with it, albeit warily. If they weren't surrounded by people at their table, she probably would have jumped up and down in her seat in joy.

They even talked about plans for them to come down for her birthday in March. She was a bit floored he'd easily agree to come to be a part of everything and possibly meet even more of her friends back home. When dinner ended, they stopped at the hotel her mother was staying at to drop her off. Before she went up to her room, her mother privately said to Sakura that she wanted to talk to her later to discuss some things, but would save it for another day.

After they parted ways inside the lobby, Sakura skipped happily down the sidewalk outside the hotel, dragging Kakashi by the hand. "Come on, Turtle-kun, walk faster," she teased.

He groaned, tugging her hand back as she pulled. "I was really hoping you'd forget about that name."

"It's too cute to forget, Turtle-kun."

He sighed and tried to ignore her muttering the name repeatedly all the on the way back to the car. At least she was obviously in a good mood.

Once they were inside, she gave him a warm smile and kissed his masked lips. "I'm not sure what you said to her, but I'm so glad she's okay with us living together."

He pulled down his mask and gave her a soft kiss. "I just tried to be honest. She still has a lot of concerns, but only time will prove we're not going anywhere anytime soon."

Sakura smiled once more and kissed him again, this time lingering her tender lips on his. Slowly, she pulled away to flutter her eyes open. She always felt so many things when he looked at her in the way he did now, but most of all it made her feel exactly what was in every beat of her heart towards him: love.

 


 

Kakashi let out a sigh and squinted at the paper in front of him, tapping his red pen impatiently against his desk as he read. After marking through the paper, he placed it in the small pile that was forming to the right of him. This is what he hated most of all about teaching. Grading papers. He had dreaded this day ever since the new semester began once he accepted the job as a teacher assistant.

Glancing at the large stack of test forms he still needed to go through, he sighed even louder. He wanted to do anything but this. There were well over a hundred students each from the two English classes he was helping with. It was no wonder this damn pile of tests never seemed to diminish. Groaning, he bit the end of his pen as he picked up the next test paper.

His eyes glanced up to the door from hearing the stair's steps creak from inside the hall of his house. Sakura was on her way up. He could hear her humming cheerfully the closer she approached as she climbed up the stairs, making him inwardly smile.

Since talking with her mother about a month ago, Sakura seemed so much happier lately. It certainly made him breathe a little easier, too, knowing that they managed to find a resolution with her mother for now. He couldn't blame Sakura for feeling incredibly stressed before her mother came to visit, especially with school and all, but he knew how much her mother's reaction to their relationship was weighing on her mind ever since the beginning. The fact she agreed it was okay for them to continue living together made things so much more easier for them from here on out. No, she wasn't blessing them as a couple quite yet, but she managed to trust them and most importantly, him. Kakashi was also relieved they told the truth of their living situation before they left Tokyo for the summer. He really didn't like the idea of them trying to keep hiding the fact that they were living together any longer. Since the talk between the three of them, everything felt like it was finally coming into place. They could be more open being together as a couple without having to think so much about the minor consequences about it with her family. There might be some remarks from the people they both knew back home, but that was on the bottom list of his worries. He knew they both had supportive friends there. As for any strangers, it really didn't matter to him what anyone else thought.

Of course not everything was perfect. Sasuke still hadn't completely disappeared from the picture, as much as Kakashi wished he would have. Switching Sakura out of the classes they were in together helped a lot, but wasn't enough to completely avoid him. Just merely a few days ago, she mentioned seeing him again between classes, but said that nothing happened. He always did tell Sakura she was a bad liar for a reason. She always gave it away from the uneasy look her eyes, but he asked nothing further about it. As much as he hated that she wasn't being completely honest, she didn't seem hurt or upset. Whatever it was, it probably wasn't anything too serious. Perhaps all Sasuke ever said to her was a few choice words and nothing else, but she seemed alright for now and that's all that really mattered to him. If she was happy, he was happy.

"How's it going?" Sakura asked, leaning against the doorway of his makeshift office. She smiled at him with a steaming coffee mug in her hand.

"I'm thinking about stabbing myself with this pen." He glanced at the instrument in his hand for moment, deliberately looking at it as if he was seriously considering it.

She laughed and rolled her eyes. "It can't be that bad."

He sighed. "You don't understand. It's obvious hardly anyone studied for this test. My damn hand already hurts from marking so much," he pouted.

"Want me to kiss it to make it feel better?" she asked in a teasing voice.

He instantly dropped his pen on the desk and held out his hand. "Please?"

She laughed and walked over to his desk, setting down the mug in front of him. She lightly grabbed is wrist and kissed over each knuckle of his fingers, giving a final kiss to the back of his hand. Grinning, she lowered his hand and pointed to the cup she had just placed and said, "I made you some coffee."

"Free of charge?" he asked skeptically.

She narrowed her eyes playfully. "Of course not. I make drinks all day at the coffee shop and you want me to make you a free one? Pff. Why would I do that?" she joked, poking him lightly in the chest with her fingers.

"Because I'm your favorite customer?" he asked with a smile.

She glared and proceeded to pout. "Like hell you are. Every time when I'm with other co-workers, they instantly scatter when they see you, making me take your ridiculous order. Then they laugh about it after you leave. I hate you."

"You know you secretly love it," he said with a grin.

"I do not, Turtle-kun."

His smile dropped. "Don't call me that."

"Why? You're my Turtle-kun."

He sighed. "You've been saying that at least once everyday now. How'd you like it if I called you a name you didn't like?"

"Like what?"

He hummed for a moment in thought. Slowly, he brought a hand to her jaw and then stroked his fingers into her hair. He grinned. "Flamingo-chan."

"Ugh! My hair is not like a flamingo!" she protested.

He smiled brightly at the dead look she was giving him. "Who said anything about your hair?" he teased. "You have long graceful legs like a Flamingo. Just bend one leg up and you're a spitting image."

"…"

"What, Flamingo-chan?"

She let out a dejected sigh. "…Fine. I'll stop calling you Turtle-kun… for now."

Kakashi smiled at his minor victory and curiously watched her move behind his chair. She nuzzled her chin against his neck, silently inhaling the musky scent of his cologne she loved so much. Wrapping her arms around his chest, she peered over his shoulder at the paper he seemed to be working on. She suddenly chuckled.

"What?" he asked, titling his head to the side to see her giggle.

"You're such a hardass."

"Well… I do work out my buttocks, too."

She smacked him lightly in the chest. "I mean with your grading."

"What you mean?"

She pointed to the paper. "Maybe you'd grade these faster if you didn't keep drawing stick figures hanging themselves by the answers."

"It's my way of expressing that I think they should consider dropping the class."

"Shouldn't you get in trouble for drawing stuff like that on a student's paper?"

He sighed. "Sakura, this is the answer key I made. I can draw anything I want on it."

"Oh," she replied simply, feeling a little silly she didn't recognize it sooner.

Picking up his pen, he started to draw another figure. It started with an s-curve and had long skinny feet. Her brows furrowed at what on earth he was making until she realized it was a flamingo.

She smacked his chest again. "Damn it, Kakashi."

He chuckled and dropped his pen again to squeeze her arms around chest. "I'm going to be here for awhile," he sighed.

"Can't I help you?"

He looked unsurely at the stack. "Well..."

"Come on, you'll be done faster and I don't mind. At least let me go through multiple choice answers for you. Anyone can do that."

"Wouldn't you rather be doing something else?"

"Nope. I'm done with my homework and have nothing else to do. I want to help, please?"

She leaned over his shoulder to give him a sad, pitiful face. The longer he said nothing, the more she started to pout her bottom lip.

He finally caved when she started to quiver her lip. "Fine, pull up a chair," he grumbled.

She smiled and immediately darted off to pull up a chair that was nestled in the corner of the room. He scooted over to make room for her to work beside him at his desk and gave her a pen.

"Hold on, I need to fix this answer key before I start," she proclaimed.

Moving her shoulder in the way to block Kakashi's view as she drew, he patiently waited until she revealed her creation: a frowning turtle.

"Lovely," he muttered unenthusiastically, failing to stop himself from chuckling.

She stuck her tongue out at him and proceeded to work in helping him grade. Every so often, he would elbow her as if she was too close in his personal space, making her scoff and push herself even further into him like there wasn't enough room on earth for them both. Their small acts of flirting at least was helping make such a dull activity fun, though he was wondering if it was really helping that he couldn't seem to keep his hands off her.

Sakura grinned to herself as she worked. She knew how much he hated dealing with papers. It was even evident when he was her teacher long ago. During their silent self study break for his class in junior high, he would usually grumble quietly to himself as he graded papers. It was a small memory she had of him, besides reading, which stuck with her all these years. Especially at a time of her life when she was mostly obsessed with Sasuke, she was glad she remembered something like that about Kakashi.

She frowned a little at her memories. Sasuke. Why did he have to change so much? Or had he always been like this all along and she never noticed before? She wondered about that. How much of her memories of him did she really have of him from growing up about who he was? All she ever did all day was dream about him until high school. She finally had woken up to the kind of person he turned out to be. Now, she felt foolish in wasting so much of her time in wishing to ever be with someone like that. He had grown to be even more rude and hostile since high school, and lately it was mainly towards Kakashi. It made her angry every time he had to open his mouth to say something about him. She didn't understand why and hated every time she managed to run into him at the university, but at least it was seldom so far. She was slowly getting used to completely ignoring him, but in the process he was getting pissed off even more that she was doing that towards him.

Sasuke was acting like a bully, but she refused to keep getting upset by him. It was clearly what he was trying to do and she wasn't going to let him have it. He probably was trying to make her complain to Kakashi, which was the last thing she wanted by allowing something so stupid escalate in the first place. It was bad enough she switched classes because of him. She didn't want to make things any worse because of a few offhanded comments he threw her way in passing. She was stronger than that to let it bother her at this point.

She felt pity for Sasuke really. This was college for crying out loud and if he wanted to act childish with his snide remarks, that was all him. She didn't want any part in it. Slapping him was down right fitting for him, but she didn't want to make any more trouble. As long as he didn't interfere with her classes any more, she was okay with things. It was rare when she did run into him, but it happened a couple times so far since the incident. It was annoying, but she could handle it.

It was strange how Sasuke had never uttered so many words towards her until now. Was it all in just trying to make Kakashi upset if she told him about how he was still bothering her? She wasn't sure, but couldn't find any other reason about it since he had first seen them together. Was he really so angry at Kakashi because he forced him to quit the team in high school? Why was it such a big deal, if so? She sighed. She didn't know and just didn't care anymore. He wasn't going to ruin her relationship with Kakashi just because he hated him, if that what he was after.

Kakashi noted her sigh and nudged her arm. "Ah-ha. See? Grading sucks, doesn't it?"

Sakura looked at him strangely at first from her original thoughts, until she realized how she must have seemed bored of grading from her sigh. Looking at the paper she was working on, she hummed and finished grading it to pass it to him.

"Okay, it kind of sucks," she half-lied with a shrug. Actually, she kind of liked it. It was kind of therapeutic staring at the same answers over and over again.

"Go do something else," he offered. "We've done more than I ever could in a day and that's quite helpful enough.

She shook her head. "No, I'm good."

He started to wave her off. "Go read some Icha Icha," he said smugly.

There was a small inkling of desire inside of her to pick up where she left off in her current book, but she was having fun helping Kakashi. "No, I want to help," she said stubbornly.

"Are you sure? Aren't you at the part where Kino was going to discover who was behind the murder of-"

"Shush!" she interrupted.

"But-"

"Don't talk to me about it! I'll read it later." She yanked another test paper from the stack and started to grade.

He grinned. "But the mistress-"

"Shhhhhhhh!" She slapped her hand down on the desk and turned to glare at him. She placed a finger on his lips to further ensure he would be quiet.

Kakashi looked at her as if he didn't have a clue why she was getting upset and started pouting his lips to kiss her finger. She still insisted to keep her hand there until he started to suck on her fingertip.

"Kakashi," she uttered, not finding the strength the pull her finger away from his devious mouth. He continued to suck and bite until she finally pulled her hand away with a pop.

"What?" he asked, completely ignoring the flushed look in her cheeks as he went to finish up grading the paper in front of him. He hid a grin from her, feeling her stare at him in disbelief from teasing her.

"Hate you." She turned and tried to refocus on the next paper.

His grin fell when he felt a petite hand stroke along his inner thigh, inching dangerously close towards his most sensitive region. A single finger trailed along the zipper of his pants, making his breath hitch as she instantly withdrew her hand away to flip another paper in front of her.

Feeling him staring at her, Sakura turned to him with an arched brow. "What?"

He glared at her accusingly, quickly catching onto her little game as he went back to marking the test form. Now, he was wondering himself how long he could actually keep this up and properly grade at the same time. He was going to make sure she caved in first.

With that in mind, he slowly sneaked a hand up her smooth thigh, knowing right away she was going to lose the moment he dipped his fingers beneath her jean skirt. Oh, how he loved the days when she wore skirts like this. She was really making this too easy. His middle finger found its way at the base of her silky panties, gently rubbing his finger in circles around her small sensitive pearl hidden beneath the fabric.

She hissed at his touch, clamping her knees together to stop him, but it only intensified his strokes the more she tried to prevent him. Fighting back the urge to spread her legs to give him easier access, she glanced at him to find he still seemed to be keeping up with grading his paper as he stroked her. He suddenly flicked his finger, making her whimper.

"What's the matter?" he asked, knowing full and well the answer to that question.

"N-nothing," she stuttered almost miserably as she marked through her portion of the test paper, slightly shifting in her seat which seemed to only make his strokes worse in making her come undone.

Completely pretending he was still concentrating on the form, he watched her squirm and pout at what he was doing to her. She still tried her best to fight back, cupping her palm over his growing bulge, but little by little, she was losing her will to keep going as she spread her legs more and more.

"Kashi," she hushed, dropping back in her chair as she closed her eyes.

Hiking her skirt to her hips, he pressed his fingers beneath her panties into the slick, sensitive folds between her legs and steadily increased his repeated movements of his hand.

Her breathing fell heavy as she gripped the sides of her chair. She winced and slightly whined as a group of his fingers abruptly entered inside her. "Ah, Kakashi, please," she begged, arching her back to further push his hand within her.

Sakura really didn't care how she looked right now as she was practically humping his hand, but she couldn't help herself. She needed more and she was so close. Feeling him touch her tender bundle of nerves again, she groaned and clawed a hand of her against his thigh.

"Come for me, Sakura," he murmured huskily.

Her only response she could manage was breathy moans. His magical fingers worked her into a frenzy, making her desperately groan his name to not stop until she finally claimed a sweet release.

Still feeling her body buzz from her climax, she opened her eyes to find him licking her essence from each of his fingers. He hummed at the taste like she was some wonderfully sweet tasting honey.

Feeling her heart yearn for him even more at the intimate sight, she moved her hand to unzip his pants, wondering if now would be a good time to tell him something she had been hiding for several weeks now.

"Kakashi," she muttered shyly, slowly rubbing her fingers along his length, begging to be pulled from the restraints of his boxers.

"Mm?" he moaned in question, moving his hips forward as her hands toyed with the opening slip to his member.

"I-I'm on birth control now," she stuttered, not being able to stop herself from feeling embarrassed.

His eyes snapped open to hers. "What?"

She blushed, feeling suddenly nervous from the intense look in his eyes. "I-I saw a doctor when school started at the university and it's been well over the time I'd need to wait for it to be effective, I mean, w-we don't have to if you don't want to, o-of course, and… and…"

She paused her rambling to sigh at his blank face, feeling her blush deepen as if she must had said something strange.

"Why didn't you say so sooner?" he asked, suddenly moving to pull her up off the chair and onto the middle of his desk. Papers scattered to the floor as he arched her backwards to run a hand down the middle of her chest towards the bottom of her skirt, then nipped at her neck. "You have no idea how much I want to fully feel you," he whispered against her ear.

At first she choked at a response from feeling her panties already being pulled down her legs. Her heart hammered in excitement, but felt worried at the mess they were making already. "Kakashi, t-the papers," she mumbled.

"Oh, good call," he replied, moving back to pick up the half-drank coffee mug that was off to the side. He placed it on the floor far away before attacking her with kisses again.

"B-but we're going to smear the papers," she reasoned, feeling a few beneath slide against her bare butt as he kissed her. She was sweaty already and had no doubt the ink was going to smear.

"Its fine," he assured, pulling down his unzipped pants along with his boxers and yanking her forward with a screech along the desk, making her squeal slightly in fear of falling. A few more papers fell as she crumpled a couple beneath her hands.

She sighed. Although she couldn't resist his tantalizing kisses he was placing across the top of her breasts once he ripped away her shirt, she still felt wrong for doing this on top of his student's papers. "They're going to smell like sex."

"Febreeze," he replied simply, pulling her skirt further up.

Sakura might have rolled her eyes at his suggestion, but the feeling of his member rubbing against her made her thoughts stutter. Finding it a bit unfair he was still half-clothed with just his pants and boxers at his ankles, she clawed her nails against the long sleeved shirt he was wearing, eventually pulling it up and over his head as he kissed her. He had a white undershirt on, but she quickly took care of that and tossed it away somewhere on the floor with a plop.

Running her fingers down his muscled chest, she kissed along his neck as he pulled her even closer. She held her breath at feeling him hovering at her entrance. He was purposely teasing her, rubbing himself against her in agonizing circles. She didn't want to wait any longer at this point. She was about to open her mouth to ask him to take her now, but felt him already giving into her wishes.

He grunted as he slowly filled her completely, suspending his lips barely against her ear as he let a hot breath tickle her neck. "You feel so amazing," he whispered faintly.

She shuddered compulsively at his words, swearing she also felt his tongue glide against her ear, but she was too far gone from feeling him start to thrust inside her to really be sure.

Slowly, he grinded against her hips, loving the slick warmth he felt of her inner walls clenching around him. It was moments like these when he felt so intimate with her that he always fell back on the question on how he ended up so lucky being with someone like her. She could light a fire within him like no other person ever could. He loved every part of her and couldn't stop himself sometimes in wanting her. It was more than want, he needed her. She was amazing, special, and made him feel almost unworthy of having her. But she was his and she needed him as much as he needed her. No matter what happened in the future, he was sure that together, anything just seemed possible.

For Sakura, he felt wonderful with or without a condom, but there was obviously a minor difference of friction between skin and latex. She felt even closer to him in a non-physical sense, which almost seemed damn right impossible because she loved him so much already, but she did. Giving herself completely in every sense of the word to him made her happier more than anything.

The thumping hammer against her heart was beating so hard she was pretty sure his lips against her chest could feel it, too. Every kiss he placed seemed to have a purpose as he trailed up towards her lips, crashing his against hers in an almost demanding way.

"Tell me what you need, baby," he groaned as he broke away from her mouth, feeling his hands smooth over her rib cage and towards her thighs that were wrapped around him.

"Harder," she whimpered.

Her fingers found their way into his tousled silvery hair and groaned against his neck as he thrusts turned stronger and faster. She groaned louder and sucked in a breath as he started to rub at her sensitive nerves with a hand.

"Kashi," she breathed, "I-I'm going to-"

He pushed himself even harder, making her squirm under him against the crunch of papers behind her with a heighten moan from her intense release. She muttered his name, biting her lip as she hissed in pleasure from his continued thrusts.

"Sakura," he mumbled between breaths, slowing his hips.

She slid her hands down his sweat glazed back, treading her fingertips lightly over his scars. "Don't stop," she urged.

"But I'm-"

"Come inside me," she pleaded.

"But, S-Sakura."

"Please, Kakashi."

Shortly after calling his name once more, she felt him almost throbbing within her as he released, making her fight back a pleasing muffle of a groan. She couldn't feel him empty inside her for their first time, but knew he was by the stiffened stance over her, making their bond tighten even more of the love and trust they had between each other.

Leaning against her on the desk, Kakashi's heart slowed as he continued to catch his breath. As he looked down into her lust-filled eyes, he brushed a few wayward strands from her face and kissed her flushed lips. "I love you, Sakura," he whispered.

"I love you, too," she smiled, shakily releasing her legs' hold around his waist.

When he pulled out from her, a few papers stuck to his elbows and palms as he pushed himself up. He pulled them off himself humorously and then looked at her beginning to slide off his desk.

"Ack, see, I knew this desk was a bad idea," she said, turning over her shoulder to find dozens of papers fallen on the floor. Then she noticed the ones sticking to her sweat covered back and butt. "Ah!"

He simply laughed at her as she twirled around herself in an attempt to grab them like a puppy chasing its own tail, making her pause to glare at him. He helped her pluck them away from her body. Suddenly, she squeezed her legs together, feeling a weird sensation ooze down her inner thigh. She held herself in slight embarrassment.

"Oh, sorry… it's kind of messy," he said, and picked up his t-shirt off the floor to offer to her.

"I-I don't mind," she murmured, hiding a blush