It's Something Unpredictable (But in the End is Right)
Ultimately, Kakashi was not surprised someone broke into his apartment. It had been a game when he joined ANBU to try and break into a captain’s quarters, a little bit of friendly competition to keep on point even when off-duty. The tradition continued on, apparently, though most had given up on his apartment.
Even for the handful that hadn’t gotten the memo it wasn’t a problem for him. There was, after all, only one person he had taught how to get around the wards and traps. The pretense had been for emergencies and, like any good kunoichi, she promptly ran with it and frequently snuck into his home.
No, the real problem was that Sakura had initiative.
His hair was still smouldering when he finally managed to disarm the newest, unsanctioned addition to his apartment and entered his apartment, “A fire ward, really?”
On his couch, bare feet propped on his coffee table, his former teammate was surrounded by the entirety of his pack. Pakkun had claimed the place of honour on her shoulder, a delicate hand he had known to crush bones and break minds scratched the sleeping pug’s ear.
Sakura shrugged, short cotton candy pink hair falling over an ear, not looking up from a scroll she was reading. The edge of the fine paper had Kiri waves and more than likely belonged to someone now dead. On her lap, Shiba and Akino had settled into some sort of an agreement as they curled together and shared the space. Her black, sleeveless turtleneck spoke volumes of what kind of mission she had just come back from. Possibly the same one where she acquired the scroll. A thin illusion hid her tattoo.
“Pakkun said I could.” Sakura replied just as Kakashi kicked off his sandals. “He agreed with me that if you are going to take on the last Uchiha as a Genin student you should prepare for more fire in your life.”
She set the scroll down, covering Shiba and Akino, a frown Kakashi knew all too well, from the pinch of her brow to the twist of her lip, crossed her face. “Speaking of which. A Genin team? How true is that rumour?”
If she was asking, she already knew. That was how Sakura operated. A thirst for knowledge that had devastating consequences in her hands. Delicate and light handed genjutsu, often twisting reality so subtly her target didn’t know they were dead until it was far too late. The devil was in the details and Sakura made the details her bitch.
“I will neither confirm nor deny anything.” Kakashi made his way to the little kitchenette. A hot pot of tea sat waiting for him, mismatched cup beside it. One of the many reasons he gave Sakura a key.
Her soft snort confirmed it. She picked up her scroll again, “You’ll be pleased to know Genma almost poisoned himself when he heard. By way of laughing.”
Meandering over, he nudged Sakura’s legs until she pulled them in enough for him to pass. Bull hopped off the couch with a grunt and Kakashi flopped on the couch beside her, mug of tea not even rippling. “Shiranui should stop chewing his senbon.”
Sakura ignored him, unfurling a couple inches more of her reading material. Her own tea mug was empty by her foot. If he was more of a host he would get up and refill it for her. But he wasn’t, and this many years into their relationship it would be rude to treat Sakura like she was a guest. She’d also likely gut him if he tried. Worse, she was good enough she would probably succeed.
Icha Icha was a worn comfort in his hands, the pages dogeared and tea stained. The sleepy breathing of his dogs and soft rustle of paper unfurling and being rolled up stopped the quiet from being too overbearing. Ghosts didn’t have space to gather.
Rereading a scene he had read a hundred times before, Kakashi briefly wondering what happened to the slip of a teenager assigned to his squad over a decade ago. Sakura wasn’t always with his team, her skillset were often demanded on sabotage missions as well as assassinations, and somewhere along the line she shifted from awkward teenage girl to graceful, deadly young woman breaking into his apartment.
“You’re thinking too hard.” She murmured.
“It’s a good scene.”
The scroll rustled as she set it down again, this time rolling it up and disappearing it. He could probably judge their entire conversation by the movement of that scroll. Though he couldn’t see it, Kakashi just about felt the incredulity of her stare.
He kept steadfast on the words in his hand, pretending that he was reading. Between the dogs the circled her on all sides, and the fire element chakra Sakura had been working on, she radiated heat in the cool of a Konoha spring evening. Warmth pressed against Kakashi on one side, gentle through his uniform.
She leaned over, head just about resting on his shoulder, seafoam eyes severe as they regarded the pages he was on. Her soft exhale moved a stray thread of his flax vest, while Pakkun dozed on unperturbed by her movement. “That’s not Jiraiya-sama’s best work.”
Sakura was already moving, jostling Shiba and Akino off her lap, and setting Pakkun down on Kakashi’s shoulder before standing up and stretching. Muscles rippled up and down her trim arms in testimony to a training regime kept since before his students were alive.
Man, he was getting old.
With the light of the fading sun highlighting her back, Sakura rolled her shoulders as she padded over to the tea pot, mug in hand. Scars crisscrossed across her upper left arm, pale white against sun-tanned skin, one of the many stories of her body. The baggy pants she wore would have never been found on a battlefield, hems covering her feet.
From the fridge, she pulled out fresh vegetables and began moving around his kitchen like she knew what she was doing. “So,” Sakura started after deliberately examining the chef’s knife for nicks, “Are you going to tell me about your team, or do I need to take drastic measures?”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Kakashi flipped a page, eyeing the way Sakura stood on her toes to reach a pot. “Just a trio of annoying Genin.”
Sakura shot a glare back over her shoulder, “Who passed the bell test.” Right. Of course she would remember that detail. He had used a more advanced version as a training technique for his squad, along with a shinobi rendition of ‘keep away’.
He weighed out the pros and cons of not telling her. She was too good a kunoichi to not get the information eventually, and the havoc Sakura was capable of dropping on the unprepared would be migraine-inducing to clean up. Kakashi’s Genin were the picturebook definition of ‘unprepared’.
“You clearly know about the Uchiha.” He turned the page. “I got a clanless kunoichi by name of Ami, and Uzumaki Naruto.”
Sakura paused in her chopping. She set the knife down and turned around to face the couch, leaning back against the counter. Fierce. Sakura looked fierce in the red sunlight- deadly and beautiful-
“I can’t believe the Sandaime would do that to you.” Her hiss was quiet. She understood it. How much it hurt to have his sensei’s son on his team, along with an Uchiha. She understood loss- maybe not the same way Kakashi did- but the blow of losing a mentor, parents and friends all in one night. Then, just a handful of years after, the pain of her boyfriend’s disappearance- his clan wiped out just weeks later. Like Kakashi, she was the only surviving member of her Genin team, haunted by their mannerisms in the faces of strangers.
It was the kind of loss that bred apathy.
“Careful, Sakura.” Kakashi murmured back, “You’ll wake the dogs.”
He watched her take three controlled breaths, then deflate. Anger buried again before she made the decision that Konoha deserved a new Hokage. She didn’t apologize. “How is he?”
“Exactly like his mother.”
Her laugh startled him. “You’ll have your work cut out for you then, if he’s like Kushina-sensei.” The accompanying smile was weak, but there. “He’ll have tons of potential.”
An urge to make her smile again struck him. It had been years since he had seen the full smile, the grin that filled Sakura’s face and created wrinkles around her eyes. Hadn’t been seen since Shisui filled her entire apartment with flowers. Sakura had smelt of roses for a week straight. The Uchiha always were dramatic bastards but at least they had style.
She turned back to whatever it was she was cooking. A frying pan sat on the burner, warming up under the flame. “How’s Sasuke?”
How indeed. The wannabe avenger had the drive, but hadn’t clued in that the only way to take down someone like his brother was through perfect coordinated teamwork.
If Kakashi was still in ANBU, still on a team with Sakura and Tenzō, he liked his chances against Uchiha Itachi. One-on-one, it was probably a long shot to victory. But his squad had been a different beast entirely, especially when they were free to cut loose and drop any pretenses of anonymity. Sasuke had a long way to go to meet that level of training and experience. “Broody.”
The smell of ginger and garlic filled the apartment- a curry? Oh ho- was she making her pork curry over rice? Must have been in a better mood than he thought. “That sucks. He was such a cute kid.”
“Less cute. More annoying. All three of them.” He paused, resting his open book against his vest. “If you want ‘em, you can have ‘em.”
Sakura twitched. “When I told you I wanted to be a mother someday, that wasn’t what I meant and you know it. Also, I was delirious from blood loss at the time and nothing I said should be taken seriously.”
“Really? You don’t want three kids any more?” He kept his tone light, as if he wasn’t interested to hear her answer. As if he hadn’t wondered what it would be like to kiss a friend, and maybe convince her to try him on for a night. Or week.
The shrug made her shoulders slump. “It’s not that I don’t want them… it’s just, at this rate, I don’t think it’s happening.” Sakura shook her head, pink hair bouncing, and jabbed at the frying pork with more force than necessary. “Most shinobi panic and ditch when I talk about the future, and civilians give me hives.”
Kakashi could see it. Hard to plan for the future when you didn’t know if you’d live long enough to see it. Three kids was a big ask too. But when the nightmares kept him up at night, and his mind drifted to more pleasant things, he wondered what a household of kids and dogs would sound like. Loud. Vibrant. A pipe dream. Probably.
To have a chance at it would require him admitting he had been watching a teammate with something more than just respect. It meant acknowledging the feeling behind his ribs and sternum that had built over the years. From the moment she punched an enemy’s head clean off seconds before he stabbed Kakashi.
That it mattered she always came to his apartment after a mission.
A misstep here could ruin one of the only true friendships he had left. “Well, you can have three Genin for the price of one. They would even be in the gender ratio you wanted.”
She laughed, and something tickled his throat dry. “And what if I wanted all girls now?”
“We can steal from Asuma and Kurenai.”
Sakura glanced at him, this time thoughtful. “We, huh?”
Oh. Double Shit. Evade. “Someone will have to distract those elite Jounin so you can grab the baby kunoichi.”
“You thinking of a smash and grab or something more delicate?” Her hip cocked out to the side, a hand on it. Cream was on the counter now, accompanied by butter and a bowl of tomato chunks. The rice cooker clicked to warm.
“Delicate. Gai would be upset if we did a smash and grab and didn’t invite him.”
“Well heaven forbid we upset Gai.” Sakura’s tone was mock serious. She was probably smiling. “Thankfully I don’t actually want three girls. A boy, a girl, and the last could be either.”
“Naruto has this jutsu that changes his gender. Does that count?”
“A jutsu that does what?”
“Nevermind. Don’t worry about it.”
“Worry about what?”
Sakura turned just enough for the last of the day’s light to catch her figure, highlighting a figure that he could spend an entire evening watching, and arched a thin pink brow. “You’re impossible.”
He smiled, though she wouldn’t be able to see it through the mask. “Why thank you.” He slipped Icha Icha back into his pocket and stood up. Pakkun grunted at him cracking one eye open when Kakashi set him on the couch. Sidestepping the rest of his sleeping dogs, Kakashi slowly shuffled over to his dented and scratched low table. The top was clear, but he still took the time to wipe it down.
In the kitchen, Sakura puttered. Bowls clinked as she dished up and grabbed chopsticks. She padded over silently, setting the meal down. Pork fat glistened on top of a spice darkened turmeric yellow sauce, vegetables bright in their colours. The rice was perfectly cooked and fragrant.
They settled at the table in comfortable silence, sitting at adjacent sides. Close enough for their knees to knock together if they weren’t careful. Pulling his mask down, the first bite was divine. Savoury, a hint of sweet to temper the spice of the chili. Cream mellowed and smoothed the harsh edges of the more pungent ingredients.
Kakashi wasn’t useless in the kitchen. He knew enough to make a meal tasty and enjoyable. But Sakura? Sakura treated cooking like a coping mechanism, like it was just another technique to be perfected. Where Kakashi would toss every ingredient in at the same time Sakura added them individually, timed to best bring out their flavour. It was simple food done well.
She was staring at him, head propped on a hand while she tapped her chopsticks against the painted rim of her empty bowl.
He slowly lowered his bowl to the table, wary. Sakura had seen his face before. Often. Probably had seen it more than anyone else. If she was staring it wasn’t because of the mask or the Sharingan. “What?”
“I’m having a thought.” She admitted, setting down her chopsticks.
A hand came up to still his head as a calloused thumb ran over his cheek, brushing away a stray rice grain. Seafoam green eyes were fierce, but uncertainty tinged the edges of her expression. “I want to try something.”
Her hand was warm against his skin. His throat was dry. Breathing. He was supposed to breath as she leaned in close, lips brushing against his. The smell of her strawberry shampoo mixed with the scent of the curry, against the backdrop of dog. It smelt like home, a tiny part whispered.
Then Sakura was pulling back, nimble fingers swiping the last piece of pork from his bowl.
Air returned in a sudden burst. He eyed the pork in her grasp, and watched in mute horror as she took a bite and swallowed it whole. “Thief.”
Sakura smiled at him, sticking out the tip of her tongue. Curry coated her lips. If Kakashi was a betting man he would figure it would taste better there. She didn’t pull away when he tested his theory.
This kiss lasted longer, still gentle. Lingering heat from the chili warmed his mouth. When he pulled back a hair, resting his forehead against hers and opening his eyes, seeing the red blush across tanned cheeks twinged something.
Oh all the shit- He could come home to this. Every mission for the rest of his life.
Sakura wet her lips, bringing her breath back to normal. Her hand drifted down from the back of his head, a finger tracing his jaw. “Three kids.” She breathed, “I want three kids and a place to raise them.”
Her hair was soft, he noted absently, tangling his fingers in it. Her words almost muffled in his ears, and requiring a moment to process. An out. If he didn’t want this, what she was offering. Of a house with a yard overrun with dog toys and blunt kunai and shuriken clouded everything. “The Hatake manor needs a clean.”
The smile that crossed her face was closer to the one in his memories. Her nose nuzzled his. “If it’s the same place where your father died, how about we burn it and build fresh?”
Laughter left him in a huff, “I like the way you think.”
“Good. Because I’m thinking open-concept and that I want to kiss you again.”
“I have no objections- mphf.”