Tenzo is fourteen when he is assigned to ANBU Dog's squad. He comes to discover that ANBU Dog is lazy, perverted, and prone to changing the squad's tactics at the last moment and without warning. He is also Tenzo's first true comrade and, later, his first true friend.
At sixteen, Tenzo realizes that somewhere along the way he has fallen deeply and devastatingly in love with his captain. It takes six months of intense pining and every scrap of Tenzo's nervy confidence to approach Kakashi and ask him out for drinks.
"Sure," says Kakashi with a sunny smile. It crinkles his eye shut and makes his mask scrunch up. "Let me get my coat."
They go on four dates and Tenzo gives Kakashi a plant that he later names Mr. Ukki before Kakashi realizes that they are dating. He promptly dumps Tenzo.
"It's not me, it's you," Kakashi says awkwardly. His right hand rubbing the back of his neck, Kakashi smiles his widest, cheesiest smile at Tenzo and adds, "You're too young for me."
"That's a self-correcting problem," Tenzo argues, feeling more than a little desperate and utterly humiliated. He has the wild idea of waiting until Kakashi thinks him old enough for everything. Because that is what he wants from Kakashi, his everything. "I'm getting older every moment of every day."
"There's more than one way of being too young." His hand dropping from the back of his neck to his side, Kakashi adds, "I like you, Tenzo, perhaps too much. I won't be the one who fucks you up."
"Too late," Tenzo says bitterly.
"I'm sorry, Tenzo," Kakashi says helplessly. He disappears in a puff of smoke and autumn leaves, leaving Tenzo to pay their bill.
Thankfully, Tenzo's brief one-sided romance with Kakashi does not affect their teamwork. And Kakashi continues to treat Tenzo the same as he always has. But Tenzo is miserable for months after Kakashi's rejection because feelings, it turns out, do not just go away.
Kakashi is Tenzo's first crush... and his first rejection.
Genma, with his lazy smile, knowing eyes, and clever hands, is both older than Kakashi and Tenzo's first. It is exactly what Tenzo wants from him and all that Tenzo wants from him. Genma is no Kakashi. And, despite all of his good points including the fact that Tenzo can have as much of Genma as he likes for as long as he likes, Tenzo refuses to replace one with the other.
The sex is quick and sloppy and Tenzo is terribly enthusiastic rather than terribly skilled. Afterwards, Genma lights a cigarette, takes a deep drag, and looks about his rather small apartment with open interest.
Tenzo, who is looking about too, squirms. His face heats with embarrassment.
Sometime during the sex, a carpet of grass sprouted over Genma's actual carpet. There are a few spindly trees growing in his kitchen and ivy crawling up his bed's metal frame.
The grin that Genma shoots Tenzo is one part amused, two parts smug, and one part filthy. In response, Tenzo hides his face in Genma's pillow. Gemna's laugh is almost as low and warm as the hand that he slides along Tenzo's hip.
"Don't fret," he murmurs as he stubs out his cigarette on his cheap bedside table. "You can put it right later."
But it's right now, Tenzo thinks, confused, before Genma has him too distracted to think about anything but how amazing he feels when Gemna puts his mouth just there.
Much later, Tenzo puts Genma's apartment back to the way that it was. He mourns the lost plants.
"I'm not a virgin anymore, Kakashi-taicho," Tenzo declares. It is nearly dawn and he is crouched on the windowsill near Kakashi's bed. Tenzo is leaning over Kakashi, the better to look down into his captain's sleepy face. Tenzo has come straight from Genma's apartment.
"I can smell that," Kakashi drawls.
Despite everything, Tenzo flushes. He took a shower with Genma before he left, of course, but his captain's nose is very sensitive. There is no telling what Kakashi can smell on him.
"And I'm eighteen now!"
"And not a virgin, I know," Kakashi says, sitting up. His bedding falls away from his face and chest. Tenzo's mouth goes dry and his heart sets up a reeling staccato in his chest. Kakashi is a private man who guards his face like civilian women guard their virtue. Looking terribly handsome in the moonlight, Kakashi adds, "But you're still too young for me."
His smile breaks Tenzo's heart.
"Fine," Tenzo snarls. Rather than using the transportation jutsu, he turns and runs from Kakashi's apartment. The stretch and strain of his muscles, his gasping breaths, and the distance he sprints are all poor distractions from this, Tenzo's first broken heart.
Together Aoba and Anko comprise both Tenzo's first threesome and his first relationship. The sex, in pairs or as a group, is incendiary but the relationship itself is an all around disaster. Thankfully, none of them are in love.
Anko hates Tenzo more than she likes him and, even though she will never admit it aloud, Tenzo knows that she both loathes and fears his abilities, especially when he loses control of them during sex. He can see it in the way that she looks at him, looks at his plants, and her dogged determination to pretend that the haunted expression in her eyes is born of fondness for him.
Tenzo hates Aoba for cheating on them more than he likes Aoba for being Aoba. And he both loathes and fears Anko's abilities, especially when she loses control of them during sex. He hates her overly long, overly thick tongue, the way her eyes sharpen and her pupils turn to slits, and his own dogged determination to pretend like he is unaffected by both.
Like calls to like and he can sense the shred of Orochimaru's power in her the same as she can sense it in him. They are each other's only link to the man that created them both. Their mutual connection is as attractive as it is repulsive.
Silly, flirtatious Aoba lessens the tension between Tenzo and Anko. With him, they pretend that sex between them can be anything other than hate sex. Aoba is by turns endearingly funny and earnest or frustratingly arrogant and vain. He cheats on them at every opportunity that presents itself, something which infuriates Tenzo and amuses Anko in equal measure.
The dissolution of their unhappy union is loud, violent, and vindictive. It is an utter relief to Tenzo.
Tenzo is twenty-one the first time that he takes Kakashi home from a dive bar. Tenzo is drunk but Kakashi is obviously worse off than even he is. Kakashi's eyes is glazed, there is green gunk in his hair, and he is swaying on his barstool. He looks and smells like hell.
Even under the current circumstances, Tenzo's heart tightens with love for him. Tenzo blames it on being a sloppy drunk.
This time, Kakashi lets Tenzo take him home.
"Better fuck me," he slurs as soon as the apartment door slams shut behind them. "Won't get another opportunity like this one."
"I intend to," Tenzo growls as he shoves Kakashi onto his bed.
Things are getting interesting when Tenzo becomes aware of two important facts. Firstly, that Kakashi has passed out, half-dressed and half-hard. Secondly, that he himself can't get it up.
The fact that he is far too drunk for sex seems like the funniest thing ever to Tenzo. He is still laughing as he arranges himself around Kakashi.
In the morning, Tenzo wakes to find himself hung over, miserably unhappy, and alone. Kakashi has already left. And Tenzo is still in love with him.
It starts when Tenzo, who is now going by Yamato, hears Sakura curse. Her vitriol is both lengthy and graphic enough that, when he peeks into the room, Tenzo expects to see her standing over a beaten and bloodied Sai or Naruto. Instead, Sakura is alone and kneeling at the center of a scattered mess of medical supplies. She is fiddling with her empty medic's pouch.
"Can I help you with something?" Tenzo asks as he steps into the room.
Sakura looks up, startled. Smiling sheepishly, she tucks a bit of hair behind her ear and says, "The latch on my pouch broke and it refuses to be fixed or even tied back together."
"Maybe I can help," Tenzo says as he joins her, carefully stepping over or around her scattered supplies. When he squats next to her, Sakura passes him the malfunctioning piece of equipment. Tenzo carefully studies the shape of the latch and how it is attached to the pouch then forms an exact, working replica in his palm. Sakura, who crowds close to him and watches the wooden latch form in his hand with wide eyes, exhales a long, shuddering breath.
"Thanks, Yamato-taicho," she says cheerfully. When she looks up to flash him a wide smile, her pupils are blown wide and her cheeks are flushed.
"What's a teammate for?" Tenzo asks and smiles, uncertain as to her precise response to his abilities but pleased that Sakura is willing to pretend at normality. He replaces the broken latch with the one that he created, helps her gather up her things, and keeps her company while she repacks her pouch. When Sakura is finished with her task, Tenzo is confident of the strength of their bond. Sakura, at least, is willing to treat him as her teammate.
That is the first time that Tenzo makes something wooden for Sakura but it is hardly his last.
After that first broken latch, Sakura politely asks Tenzo to make other wooden objects for her. Tenzo, who enjoys being useful, always agrees.
While he forms the requested objects, perhaps taking more time than is strictly necessary in their construction, Tenzo studies Sakura. He watches her cheeks flush, her breathing increase, and her pupils dilate. He studies the twitch in her fingers, the quick, darting looks she snatches of his face, and her open posture.
No one has ever looked at him, at his creations, quite like that. It is... gratifying. And deeply arousing. And, sometimes, it sparks an odd feeling in his chest that he remembers from being fifteen and infatuated with his captain.
Tenzo tries to ignore that last reaction because those sorts of feelings have never done him any good. And Sakura, who is sixteen and fierce and still oddly vulnerable, is too young to be the object of such emotions. For the first time, Tenzo understands what Kakashi may have been about when he called Tenzo 'too young' all those years ago. (Why Kakashi still considers Tenzo 'too young' is still a mystery to Tenzo, however.)
For Sakura's seventeenth birthday, Tenzo makes her a wooden bracelet that is designed to be worn around her bicep. It is designed to expand and contract with her arm's movements and has a cunning little compartment for poisons.
Sakura loves it. In fact, she puts it on and never takes it off again.
For her eighteenth birthday, Tenzo makes her a pair of light, wooden barrettes that she immediately clips into her short hair where they stand in stark contrast to her vivid hair. He never sees her without them again.
On the one hand, Tenzo is pleased that Sakura enjoys his gifts so much. On the other hand, even glimpses of her bracelet or hair clips make his stomach swoop and his chest tighten.
It is not like it was with Kakashi, of course, but it is definitely something. But, for the first time, Tenzo cannot name what emotion makes him continue to come around Team Kakashi even after his unique services are no longer needed by Naruto. He just knows that he wants to see Sakura and Kakashi as often as he can without being overly eager or creepy.
Tenzo pretends not to notice it when Kakashi looks at him with knowing eyes and a sharp, bitter smile because, so long as neither of them tries to name his fragile, burgeoning emotion, it is not real.
Tenzo does not believe that, of course, but he tells himself that he does and sticks with it anyway.
At some point while Tenzo is haunting Kakashi's team, Sakura and Sai start haunting him back. Tenzo knows that Sakura likes him, perhaps more than she should, and that she gets off on his abilities. Sai's motivations, however, are a mystery. When Tenzo finally asks Sai what he is up to, Sai says, "At first, I was showing my interest in Ugly. But now, I come to watch you make things. Your art is very beautiful, Yamato-senpai."
Tenzo stares at the guileless young man, who stares right back at him, and feels a tangled, complicated emotion. It is one thing to suspect that Sakura admires his abilities. It is another to hear it for the first time that someone, a passionate artist, finds his abnormality beautiful, artistic even.
"Thank you," Yamato says, his voice hoarse.
Sai nods, smiles, and asks Tenzo if he knows how to make a paintbrush. Tenzo does not, of course, but he is willing to figure it out.
On Sakura's nineteenth birthday, Tenzo gives her a set of sharp wooden chopsticks for her hair. They are light, ornate, and some of his best work.
"I love them, Yamato," Sakura enthuses, her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. "I'll have to grow my hair out a bit."
"You can't wear them?" Yamato asks, feeling a swooping sense of disappointment. He had been looking forward to seeing his creations in her bright hair.
"Not yet," Sakura says. "But I will. Promise!"
Tenzo does better with Sai's twentieth birthday. At his informal Team Kakashi birthday, which was arranged by Sakura, Tenzo gives the artist a set of wooden paintbrushes. He is suitably gratified when Sai praises them, especially their fine bristles. Those had been a bitch to form properly.
At that party, Sai receives a jutsu scroll from Kakashi, a handful of ramen coupons from Naruto, a new set of paintbrushes from Tenzo, a couple of bottles of sake from Sakura, and Sakura herself.
Tenzo, who feels both horribly jealous and unreasonably heartbroken by that development, tells himself that he has no reason to be upset. Sakura and Sai are about the same age, teammates, and very close. He is just some weird older guy who hangs out with their team leader.
The sight of them leaving together still hurts.
"C'mon," Kakashi says, slinging an arm around Tenzo's shoulders. "I'll take you home."
"Senpai?" Tenzo asks, feeling hopeful. It is the first time that Kakashi has ever flirted with him, however badly.
"We might have to stop at Naruto's apartment along the way, though," Kakashi muses.
Tenzo glances at Naruto, who is terribly drunk and singing love songs at a plastic pink flamingo, and then glares at Kakashi.
"Tease," he accuses bitterly.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Kakashi says, all deceptive innocence and good cheer. He heaves Naruto's left arm over his shoulders. "Grab his other size, Tenzo."
Despite himself, Tenzo helps Kakashi get Naruto home anyway. Along the way, he alternates bitter anger at Kakashi and Sakura for using him thus with admiration for Sakura's cleverness. Thanks to her gift to Sai, Naruto is too drunk to have noticed that Sakura left with someone who is not him. They were never an item as far as Tenzo knows, but that had never stopped Naruto from feeling possessive of Team Kakashi's kunoichi.
They take Naruto home, force him to drink two glasses of water and take some aspirin. Then they pour him into his bed and leave another glass of water and two more aspirin on his bedside table.
After they are done with Naruto, Kakashi walks Tenzo home. Rather than coming in with Tenzo, however, Kakashi leaves Tenzo on his doorstep with a wave and a smile.
Tenzo is twenty-six but Kakashi makes him as furious as when he was sixteen.
Tenzo gets back from a grueling, three month tracking, infiltration, and assassination mission about sixteen hours before Sakura's twentieth birthday. He has neither the time nor the chakra to make her a gift. When he shows up at her birthday party, empty-handed and sheepish, Sakura smiles and takes his hand and escorts him around the party as if he is her boyfriend instead of Sai.
Tenzo might have tried to escape her, but Sakura is flushed and laughing and wearing a short white sundress, his bracelet, his barrettes and his chopsticks in her hair. She is one of the most beautiful sights that Tenzo has ever seen. And Sai, who spends most of the night either holding Sakura's other hand or bumping shoulders with Tenzo, does not seem to mind Tenzo's presence at all.
So Tenzo stays with Sakura and Sai all night, talking and laughing and letting Sakura tease him into dancing with her. She gives Sai the first piece of her birthday cake, him the second, and a loudly complaining Naruto the third.
Sakura's birthday parties, which are always much larger and more boisterous than the other members of Team Kakashi's birthday parties, are always an education. The gossip spawned in that single night is enough to keep even Konohagakure's rumor mills going for at least a week.
"I'm sorry that I didn't make you anything," Tenzo says at the end of the night, after even most of the stragglers have staggered home. He is helping Sakura and Sai to do a cursory clean up job before bed. Tenzo likes to be useful and helping with this job almost makes up for not bringing a gift in his mind. Except, Tenzo will not get to see Sakura wear his gift which will be a shame.
"It's okay," Sakura says. "We're just glad that you made it."
Tenzo decides not to tell her how very close he came to not making it home at all.
When most of the paper plates and cups have been thrown away, any spills wiped up, and the food tidied away into Sakura's small refrigerator or tossed, Tenzo starts to make his excuses.
"Don't," says Sakura, who catches his hands and gives them a gentle squeeze. "Stay, Yamato."
"I, uh, probably shouldn't," Tenzo says weakly, after first mentally flailing his way through several other possible answers. It would be too painful for him. Rather than admitting that aloud, Tenzo darts a glance at Sai as he adds, "You're both probably tired from the day and I'd-"
"We're trying to seduce you," Sai says bluntly. "We were going to work up to it but you've been gone a long time. And we don't want to miss our opportunity."
"Oh," says Tenzo blankly, at a loss for the correct response in such a situation.
"Stay with us," Sakura says, her tone a question and her hands tight on his. "Just tonight, if that's all you want."
"Okay," says Tenzo hoarsely. It will probably kill him to have everything that he wants for a single night and then have to give it up but it is impossible to refuse them. Tenzo wants it too much.
As he lets Sai and Sakura lead him back into their bedroom, Tenzo vows to make the most of this opportunity. He may never be old enough for Kakashi, but Tenzo is old enough to make the most of the chances presented to him.
That night is Tenzo's first night with Sakura and Sai but it is hardly his last. The one-night stand that Tenzo takes for a birthday indulgence turns into a series of invitations and then a series of dates and before he knows it, Tenzo has fallen into a relationship with the younger shinobi.
He does not notice it until he finds himself shaping a wooden dildo for Sakura to strap on and fuck him with. Across from him, Sakura is curled up on their battered old couch and reading a medical journal. Sai is in the second bedroom, painting. Tenzo can just see him through the open doorway. It is the easy domesticity of that moment that alerts Tenzo to the fact that he is, in fact, in a relationship with Sai and Sakura rather than simply being their occasional sexual conquest. In fact, he has all but moved into their apartment with them.
It is a wonderful moment.
"Can I move in?" Tenzo blurts and then wishes that he had not. What if they say no?
Sakura looks up from her journal, blinks in bemusement and then, when his words catch up with her, smiles. She says, "Yes. We don't have a lot of space, but we were hoping that you'd want to. Unless you'd rather we move in with you?"
"Or we can get a new place, all together?" Tenzo offers, feeling greatly daring. Then the apartment would truly feel like it belongs to all of them, rather than being theirs or his.
Sakura purses her lips in thought then glances at Sai.
"I don't mind," Sakura finally says. "We'll have to ask Sai when he finishes up but I don't think he will, either."
Tenzo grins and nods.
Sakura is the first to ask Tenzo to create and shape an object that he is to be fucked with. To his surprise, Tenzo finds that he enjoys the assignment, perhaps a little too much. So he takes his time with it.
He chooses the wood with care, something light and springy but firm enough to endure, and shapes it with the same attention to detail that Sai displays in his paintings. As he works, slowly, patiently, with a slow burn of arousal warming him from the inside out, Tenzo considers what he has enjoyed most over the years. Big is good but too big can be uncomfortable. Thick veins are wonderful. He likes to feel full. He enjoys it when the well-flared head of a penis first presses into him.
The dildo that Tenzo shapes for Sakura is slightly too long and a fraction too wide, which will hopefully make Tenzo feel nearly too full without actually being too much for him. He lovingly crafts a wide, flared head for Sakura's wooden dick and then thick veins that twist and trail along its length. The dildo's surface is irregular enough to be interesting but smoother than silk. There will be no splinters or rough patches for either of them.
He finishes it in time for their move into their new home, which is a ramshackle house on the edge of the forest. It is a hovel, of course, but it is their hovel.
They spend their first morning in the house cleaning two bedrooms and then that afternoon, Tenzo lays down wooden flooring in both rooms. One becomes their bedroom and the other is Sai's new studio.
Sakura immediately insists that they have sex on their new wooden floorboards. Tenzo insists that she use the strap-on that he made her. Sai insists that they put down some padding, first.
It is a glorious afternoon.
Kakashi was Tenzo's first love but Sai and Sakura will be his final ones. The love he feels for each of them is different but no less intense. Trees, it seems, have loyal hearts, even when those loyal hearts belong failed genetic experiments. Tenzo feels no regret about loving Kakashi or Sai or Sakura but sometimes, occasionally, he feels a gentle wistfulness over opportunities that have been lost or denied because Kakashi had always refused to even try.
"Don't worry," Sakura murmurs to him one night. She is curled up against Tenzo's chest. Sai, who is curled up against Tenzo's back, is deeply asleep. "You'll get your chance with Kakashi-sensei."
"Sa-Sakura," Tenzo splutters. His arms tighten around her. The wooden bracelet, which is warm from her body heat, presses against the inside of his bicep. "I'm happy with my life the way it is."
"I know," she says and drops a kiss against the base of his throat. "But you shouldn't have to wonder."
"But it's okay," Tenzo says, beginning to become upset. "I love you and Sai. I don't want to break up!"
"No one's breaking up," Sakura assures him, her arm finally tightening around his side. The other one is trapped underneath her body, her palm pressed to against his ribs. "We love you. And I'm too selfish to give you up, even to Kakashi-sensei. But that doesn't mean that you won't get your chance."
"Sakura..." Tenzo begins, his words trailing away.
"Don't worry," she scolds. "Just be ready if an opportunity presents itself."
"I'm always ready!" Tenzo protests, more for the principle of the matter than because he has any idea what she is alluding to.
Giggling and shimmying against him in an interesting way, Sakura says, "Really? Prove it."
Against what happens next, Tenzo forgets about their prior conversation.
He remembers about three weeks later when Kakashi shows up on their doorstep, grumpy and wearing a pack. He is carrying poor, half-dead Mr. Ukki in his hands.
"Can I stay here for a few days?" he asks. "There's apparently a gas leak in my building."
"Sure," Tenzo says, opening the door wider. "We've just finished fixing up our guest room."
Sai had cleaned it, Sakura had painted the walls, and Tenzo had put down the flooring and formed the furniture. Then, Sai and Sakura had ravished him on every bit of wood he had shaped or grown in the room. It was a (very enjoyable) thing with them.
It is not until Tenzo leads Kakashi past Sakura, who is sitting at their kitchen table and smirking down at a paperback novel, that Tenzo remembers their odd little conversation. When he attempts to ask her about it later though, Sakura pretends not to know what he is talking about. Then she winks, kisses him thoroughly, and distracts him with sex.
Tenzo is okay with that.
And, when Kakashi ends up staying in their home rather than moving back into his apartment, Tenzo is okay with that, too. He never knows how Sakura and Sai persuaded Kakashi to stay but, Tenzo finds, he does not particularly care either, so long as Kakashi does.
Tenzo is happy and wildly in love and, even if it is not a standard romance (as Sakura's mother calls to remind her every Sunday afternoon), he would not change a thing.