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Small Sins / Why Don't You Believe Me?

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter One

 

Exhausted wasn't quite strong enough a word to describe how Sakura felt at the moment. Rubbing her eyes, she glanced at her GPS, taking note of how many turns she had left until she reached the supermarket. She wasn't very familiar with the suburbs and was embarrassed with how difficult a time she was having getting around.

 

Sakura was the only person in the world to work on her day off. It was unhealthy, she knew. To the point that her friends had no shame in telling her off when she flaked out on them to pick up extra shifts. Today she was helping her friend, Kurenai, run the Women's Health and Resource Center since the usual clerk had called in sick. Kurenai had recently lost her husband, and in a fit of what some might call insanity, used his insurance money, which was far more than she had ever been made aware, to open the clinic in a part of town that desperately needed it. She had originally wanted Sakura to be their lead physician, but she wasn't quite ready to give up on her current job.

 

"Finally," she muttered to herself, pulling into a smaller supermarket than she was used to seeing this far from the city proper. Assuming she'd make it back before the rain started, Sakura left her umbrella seated in the back. Though really she was just too weary to rifle through the war-zone her backseat had become to search for it. She hated not being organized, so if she ignored the mess long enough, Sakura could forget it. Making her way inside, Sakura located the wine section with ease. It was a gift she had, being able to find wine in any store in existence. She opened her phone, needing to make a quick call, though calls to Naruto were usually anything but.

 

"What kind of wine should I bring?" Sakura questioned, looking at the vast selection of carefully designed bottles. Having worked her ass through medical school, Sakura considered herself a connoisseur of cheap wine. Doubling up on classes and part-time jobs in order to pay for said classes did not a wealthy girl make, therefore Sakura was well acquainted with how good cheap alcohol could be. That and coupon cutting, not that she'd admit the latter willingly.

 

"Sakura, I'm a dude. I don't give a fu- wait, Sasuke says red zinfandel, it will go best with the h'orderves." Naruto said mockingly.

 

"Sometimes I am blown away with what a good housewife he makes." Naruto cackled and Sakura could faintly hear Sasuke demanding what she'd said. "Anyways, the only year they have is 2009. That's okay, right? 2009 was a good year."

 

"No it wasn't. It was a terrible year, but what other fucking choice do we have? The queen has spoken." Sakura heard the sound of Naruto dropping the phone and them arguing, so she patiently held her cell on her shoulder and made her way to the check-out counter.

 

"Sorry, Sakura-chan. Anyways, you won't be too late will you?" Naruto whined.

 

"I'm already late, you oaf, but I'm literally checking out now. I'm gonna change in the store bathroom, then I'll be on my way."

 

"Ew, Sakura! The store bathroom? That is so-" Sakura ended the call with a click and dropped the phone in her purse. She really really hated being late. It just wasn't in her nature, and yet with her profession it was unavoidable. She changed as quickly as possible, and the moment her little black dress was zipped, she threw on her green raincoat and hurried out to her car. Her best friend and former love-interest from college, Sasuke, had gotten a job in a law firm out of the city and his new house was nearly a half-hour drive away, and she had to take the bridge (which was incidentally named after her other best friend Naruto when he was born. Naruto's father had flair for the dramatics and thought building a bridge for his son was a most adequate gift for the future, he'd said). Traffic on the Naruto Uzumaki Bridge was always miserable on the weekends, since it was the only bridge that connected the selective island-like community to the outside world.

 

She sighed heavily, failing to choose a radio station as she drove through the pouring rain. The moment she got onto the bridge, her phone began to ring. Sakura was not one to be late, and she was also not one to ignore phone calls. She pulled to the side of the lane and searched through her purse.

 

"Hello?" She asked, exasperated. She glanced out the window as Naruto begged her to stop and get some extra ice, Sakura half-heartedly agreed but found herself distracted by a man standing out in the rain. He had white hair and was perched on the edge of the bridge. Standing still as a statue, the lights from passing cars glimmering across his silhouette, giving the man an ethereal glow. 'He looks like an angel caught in the downpour' she mused silently. Ignoring Naruto, she had completely succumbed to the mesmerizing sight before her.

 

Her eyes widened in horror at the sudden realization he was going to jump. Without a moment of hesitation she was unbuckled and out of her car. She sprinted to him, screaming out for him to stop. By this point the bottom had let out, and the downpour was rapidly becoming torrential. Dropping her phone, she only glanced behind her before continuing forward. Sakura just barely managed to grab him by the tail of his coat and yanked him back, forcing him to fall on top of her. They stayed that way for a moment, sitting in the rain, soaked to the bone. She recognized him, somehow, despite being able to see his face. It was half-covered by a dark mask, the kind motorcyclists wore in the city.

 

"What in the hell do you think you're doing?" She demanded, her sorrow and pity immediately replaced with rage. Not merely angry at him, but with the world. Did the other drivers not notice? Did they even care?

 

"Well, the weather was so lovely, I thought I'd take a swim." Her jaw dropped at his unconcerned response. And for a moment the twinkle in his eye most likely indicating a smile made her believe him. As though he really were just out for a swim.

 

"Right.." She looked down, suddenly embarrassed with her rash behavior despite the fact that she had not been in the wrong, right? "I'm gonna drive you to the hospital. I'm a doctor." He nodded and stood up, helping her to her feet. "What about your bike?" She pointed to the expensive-looking motorcycle.

 

"Just garbage." She knew he was lying, but didn't push it since he was so obediently following her to her car. They were silent in the car for a while before the man turned to look at her. "You know, I didn't ask you to save me."

 

"So you admit you were trying to kill yourself," she replied sternly. He merely shrugged, then continued to look out the window.

 

"Here's your phone." He slipped it into her lap. "You dropped it on the pavement." 

 

She murmured a quiet thank you. Almost instantly, the phone started vibrating, much to their surprise. Maybe her phone was as waterproof as the salesperson had said.

 

"Haruno," she answered with little emotion, the exhaustion suddenly taking its toll on her overworked body.

 

"Sakura what the fuck happened? Are you okay?" It was Naruto, no surprise there. He was angry, too. He was about to be even more angry, however.

 

"Something.. happened." She stole a glance to her passenger. His handsome, mismatched eyes stared back with a blank, almost bored expression. She shrugged the odd feeling his gaze gave her and directed her attention straight ahead, preparing to turn around and head back to the city. "I'm not going to make it out tonight, Naruto. I'm sorry. Really, I really am. Something came up with work and I have no choice." That was mostly true.

 

"Bullshit. You are so fucking full of it." Sakura winced at his foul language, she could tell he was absolutely livid. And though he had every right to be, Sakura wasn't going to admit it. "We've been planning this party for weeks. I know for a fact Tsunade wouldn't let you come to work tonight and you are certainly not on the call-list."

 

"Listen, Naru-" She braced herself when she heard his voice start to cut out.

 

"No you listen, Sakura." He took a deep breath. "We are your only friends, and to be honest, I'm tired of it. You are a workaholic. You spend every moment of every day helping people you don't even know while your friends have to fight for your attention. Pretty soon, the invites will stop coming in, you know that right? We're tired of being let down by you. I'm tired of being let down, Sakura. And I'm telling you this because I love you. I just love you so much and it makes me sick that our friendship has come to phone arguments because you can't even find the time for a goddamn cup of coffee with me. I'm done with this. I'll call you next week." Then the call cut out, leaving Sakura to gape in silence. Her heart was racing. She had not been expecting all that. She willed the tears to not fall onto her cheeks, then heard the man in her front seat clear his throat, she had momentarily forgotten his presence.

 

"I'm sorry if my presence caused a problem. Allow me to reiterate that I didn't ask for it. Though I may be grateful to be so high on your list of priorities." His voice was deep, and smooth, and very familiar. She sent him a sharp glare from the corner of her eye, and much to her chagrin he continued talking. "But why? You don't even know me.."

 

"If I only helped people I knew, I'd make a terrible doctor," she replied exasperatedly.

 

"Seems like you only help people you don't know." That comment earned him a baleful scowl. "You know, I know who you are. I'm a little upset you don't remember me " he said, with little amusement in his tone.

 

"How would you know who I am? You're not my patient." Not yet, really.

 

"Oh but I was your teacher in middle school. It's hard to forget a girl with pink hair, Miss Haruno Sakura." Her eyes widened in response, suddenly able to recall nearly every detail of her Honors English class in the 8th grade.

 

"Kakashi-sensei?" She breathed out, still watching the road.

 

"The one and only." She suddenly felt worried he may still be a teacher. A man suffering with severe depression couldn't possibly make a suitable teacher for such impressionable young teens. And as though sensing her anxieties, he quickly put her worries to rest. "No, I don't still teach. I only did that for two semesters as a favor to Principle Maito Gai, he's an old friend of mine." She let out a breath she'd been holding, her shoulders relaxing slightly.

 

The silence stretched out for a long time before Kakashi spoke, which surprised Sakura. He had seemingly been engrossed in the same smut he was reading ten years ago. "I always knew you'd be successful, you were quite the brown-noser."

 

Sakura huffed in response. "Being a very diligent and reliable student does not necessarily mean I was brown-nosing, Kakashi-sensei."

 

"Just Kakashi please, and no, you took reliable to new heights for your age. You graded all of my essays without the promise of extra credit. And you did hours in the library and office, if I remember correctly."

 

"I'm mildly disturbed you took such great care in keeping tabs on me. Anyways, we're here." She pulled into the parking spot clearly labeled as hers, and she heard Kakashi mutter something about 'Well well, your own spot and everything,' but she promptly ignored it.

 

They made their way into the ER, Sakura quickly claimed one of the empty rooms and told him to stay put while a nurse came in to check his vitals. After checking the files, she found that Kakashi's file was private. Only accessible to the person in charge, i.e. Tsunade. Sakura grabbed a clipboard and chewed on the edge of her pen, trying to figure out exactly who Kakashi was and what was so important about him that his file be kept under lock and key.

 

"Sakura!" Snapped from her thoughts, Sakura turned to see a very buxom, very annoyed blonde heading her way, her large breasts bouncing in a way that indicated angry, graceless stomping. Intense dread filled Sakura's stomach, causing sour bile to work its way up her throat. Though Sakura wouldn't readily admit it, Tsunade was the only person that absolutely terrified her. "Who the hell do you think you are coming into work? I got the most ridiculous call from Naruto, accusing me of calling you in when I promised him I wouldn't! Yet here you are, undoubtedly doing others' work. As per usual!"

 

Deciding that she may need to cut to the chase before she got her hours suspended, the only punishment that seemed to keep the pink-haired girl on track, Sakura blurted out her words. "I saved a jumper! I thought we could get him some psyche evaluation or something!"

 

"Sakura, it is a well-known fact that jumpers do not particularly seek advice.. But let me see his file," Tsunade snapped while holding out a hand, impatience slowly waning. Tsunade may act hard as nails, but she was as softhearted as any good doctor.

 

"I don't have it, it's a private file. I need your authorization code, and you changed it a few weeks ago." Sakura fidgeted with the pen, an indication that she was uncomfortable, without any inclination as to why.

 

"Well does Mister Yukko Syndrome have a name?" Suddenly her impatience in full swing, one amber eye twitching.

 

"Of course, Hatake Kakashi." Tsunade's eyes widened with what could only be described as pure, blind rage.

 

"WHAT?" And immediately she was inside the room where Kakashi was patiently waiting, then the door was slammed shut, and just as Sakura's hand reached for the knob, the soft click of a lock closing into place greeted her ears, leaving Sakura to simply try and listen from outside. The sound of Tsunade's heated screams rang through the hallways, causing a few passersby to stop in wonder before continuing on. Then as quick as the hurricane came, it was gone. Tsunade exited the room, a statuesque example of poise, and deposited a diagnosis and prescription onto Sakura's clipboard before swiftly hurrying away.

 

Glancing at the pink and yellow slips, Sakura cocked her head to the side, bemused. Such strange directions.. Upon entering the room she felt as though someone had punched her in the chest, leaving her breathless and disoriented. Kakashi's room was a disaster. Supplies were strewn all over the place, as though a hurricane really had blown through, and Kakashi's scrubs (he'd insisted he was not to be put in a gown for that only made the fact he was in a hospital more apparent, and he 'hated that') were splattered with blood. And if his hand covering his nose, or the blood soaking through his surgical mask were any indications at all, Sakura would have to assume the full time Chief of Medicine and part-time martial artist had punched the shit out of Hatake Kakashi. And he apparently just sat back and took it.

 

"Damn..." she whispered, still trying to process her surroundings. He simply nodded in return, a bored expression on his face. Sakura could only assume that this was exactly the reaction he'd been expecting from Tsunade, which meant they must have known one another for a long time.

 

"So what's the verdict, doctor?" Kakashi asked, his voice muffled by his hand.

 

"Well, it appears you have a broken nose, sir. But we have the technology, so you might just pull through." She grinned, hoping to spur a smile out from the older man, but none came.

 

"Oh joy," he replied, his voice more blank than the poker face he was currently sporting.

 

"Well, Tsunade's getting your license revoked. She has far too many connections for a normal person, but I don't pry when she's sober." She glanced at him again. Still nothing. "You're to be driven to psych appointments twice a week by yours truly, me. As my punishment for 'life-meddling and day-ruining' so it reads." Really, how can he have no reaction to anything? "And you've been assigned to do some community service with Maito Gai, who apparently can't get enough of helping the community. And it is recommended you take 120 mg of Wellbutrin twice daily, and .5 mg of Xanax no more than three times daily, should you need it. I can get you some Valium, but whatever really. I think some natural remedies would be more appropriate, but first I need to read your file."

 

Through her entire spiel, the only thing that got him to react, which was an eye-twitch, was the mention of Maito Gai, otherwise Kakashi was a perfect example of well-trained stoicism.

 

"You know, you may be the prettiest doctor here. We wouldn't even need to role play for this fantasy, it's already a reality." She could tell he was smirking, his eyes twinkling with mirth. Once Sakura realized exactly what he'd just said, her face flushed the sweetest shade of cherry just before she knocked him upside the head with her clipboard.

 

"I think among depression, anxiety, and PTSD, she forgot to list disgustingly perverted among your diagnoses." Though her comment had been in fun, she noticed she may have struck a chord, because instead of continuing their light-hearted banter, Kakashi's eyes clouded over, indicating he was deep in thought. This was going to be one of her tougher cases, she realized.

...

 

Rilo Kiley / Capturing Moods

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Two

 

Sakura took another large gulp of the red zinfandel she had purchased earlier in the evening and tried to focus on the task in front of her. At some point during the hospital visit Tsunade had quite inconspicuously slipped Kakashi's rather large file into the rose-haired girl's bag, and as soon as Sakura dropped Kakashi off at his apartment, she rushed home to get started. However studying his file wasn't a particularly easy endeavor. Everytime she stumbled upon new information, her mind went soaring in different directions. It was exhausting.

 

Nearly all of Tsunade's notes were written on the back of old records, bank statements; there was even an in-depth report of a bullet removal procedure written on the back of a to-go menu from some pizza joint. This could only mean that Tsunade had performed  these procedures on the sly, or rather in her own home, which would explain why Kakashi's file was private. It was becoming more and more evident that Kakashi would rather bleed to death than be in a hospital, which was puzzling to Sakura. She couldn't help but wonder what caused such a disdain towards hospitals in Kakashi. There were a few legitimately stamped reports depicting that on three different incidents Kakashi had to be hospitalized and put under drug induced comas.

 

"What the fuck does he do for a living?" She mused quietly. It was listed that he worked for the police department, but the city of Konoha couldn't possibly be so dangerous that Kakashi was almost constantly in danger of not living to see the next day, could it? 'Unless he is being reckless..'

 

His x-rays showed he had broken both arms and legs, as well as half of his ribs and his collarbone multiple times. It also showed he had perfect teeth.. His vitals had come up perfectly normal. His resting bpm suggested he was in marvelous shape. The only other issues she could uncover was that he drank far too much and possibly once had an addiction to cocaine, which upon finding the file on his time in rehab she was proven correct.

 

Sakura sighed, her jade orbs dancing from left to right rapidly as she continued to absorb Kakashi's life story as told through health records. He'd aced every mental health evaluation, so Sakura assumed he was smart enough to lie through his teeth while hooked up to a lie detector, because no one checked out on mental health tests flawlessly. Which was a hindrance on Sakura's part, because now she had no way to access information on his psyche; he had managed to evade every opportunity given to him to attend therapy.

 

Sakura stole a glance at her phone, wanting desperately to call her friend, Ino, but she could only assume no one was going to answer her calls right now. Although Ino managed her mother's flower shop, she had majored in psychiatry before deciding that she needed a long break after college. Despite the fact that Sakura was merely four credits shy of being qualified for a double major, she still felt inadequate to understand how to handle this patient. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Sakura tried desperately to find a moment's peace from the dull throbbing behind her eyes.

 

Tsunade had ordered Sakura to take on Kakashi's case completely. For the next two months, Sakura was only allowed to take two shifts per week, otherwise she was charged with driving her perverted ex-teacher to and from work, psych appointments, and community service. Although technically Sakura could have refused, part of her didn't want to. Tsunade had been her mentor in college and was the closest thing to a mother Sakura had had since her parents passed away on high scho. If the amber-eyed Chief of Medicine thought Sakura was the best person for the job, then she was. But Sakura was more under the impression that Tsunade was just trying to get her out of the hospital for a while and give the other doctors and nurses a chance to work.

 

After a few moments of reviewing the notes she'd recorded, Sakura suddenly tasted something sweet, then her mouth filled with a cool, slick liquid causing her to choke, dotting the paperwork with small blue splatters. Wiping her hand across her lips Sakura realized she had chewed completely through her pen. She didn't even know that she was chewing on it. Everyone at work found it hilarious that when stressed enough, Sakura could chew pens into bursting open inside her mouth. Tears began to slowly slide down her cheeks, dripping from her chin onto her notes, mingling with the now drying specs of ink.

 

Sakura slowly made her way into the bathroom, avoiding the mirror as she passed and stepped into the shower. The moment the warm water burst onto her still-clothed skin, Sakura let all the frustrations of the day coming out in choked sobs dotted with dark blue ink.

 

...

 

"Kakashi! For fuck's sake I am begging you to hurry up! I hate being late!" Sakura tapped her foot impatiently on the polished wooden floor of the foyer, her desperate pleas echoing through the small, sparsely furnished apartment. Kakashi suddenly appeared before her causing Sakura to gasp in surprise.

 

"I don't understand what you're fussing about, Sakura. It's my job on the line, not yours." He rolled his eyes while deliberately tying his tie with slow, careful precision. Step by step. Sakura knew he was doing it on purpose, just feeding her the bait.

 

"That is the exact reason why I care! Because you so obviously don't! I honestly have no idea how you get out of the house in the morning without someone to drag you along." 

 

He turned and walked to the living-room. Sakura couldn't help but notice how his shirt hugged the soft contours of his muscular back. She mentally slapped herself. No .

 

"The answer is simple, I don't," he called over his shoulder then went back to examining his bookshelf, trying to determine which installment of Icha Icha he wanted to accompany him to his now mundane job. Sakura gave him a total of thirty seconds to make up his mind, and when the time was up, she grabbed his jacket and shoes then stomped over to where he was pondering. Sakura chose a book at random then violently grabbed Kakashi's wrist to drag him out the door and into the car. Kakashi complied without a single complaint or faltered step. Taking a deep breath, Sakura calmed her nerves and chose her words carefully, making a great effort to not raise her voice, which was of course an attempt made in vain.

 

"Kakashi, this is the third day you've kept me waiting." She turned to face him, only to be greeted with a shrug and a look of apology shining in his incongruous, almond-shaped eyes. "I agreed to help you get your shit together, not to behave as your goddamn hired driver!" Mission failed, her voice rose over the sounds of the morning headlines droning from the back speakers.

 

"I had a theory you may not be a morning person, now I know that to be fact. It is uncanny how much more charming you are later in the day," he stated matter-of-factly.

 

Sakura sighed through clenched teeth, using the hand not in charge of steering to tug at the thin, coral locks on the nape of her neck, allowing the slight pain to pull her thoughts away from her growing frustration. 'Tsunade is torturing me. She is probably sitting in her office now, sipping sake and placing ill thought out bets with the others about how long I will last before I put him out of his misery. Or mine.'

 

"Sakura, the light is green." Kakashi said over the top of his book. Sakura straightened quickly and muttered a bitter thanks then continued forward. Her mints eyes slid slowly to the side to sneak a glance at her passenger.

 

Sakura thought Kakashi to be the definition of enigmatic. Like a walking contradiction to himself and to society, but an honor that came by him honestly; Sakura highly doubted Kakashi was trying to be as interesting as he was. His mask-wearing compulsion looked comical when paired with his nice, tailored suit. Grant it, the shirt was wrinkled and possibly miss-buttoned, and his silvery hair held that perfectly coiffed, elegantly disheveled style some men probably strived for, and yet Kakashi acquired that charming bedraggled look naturally. He wasn't as stylish as he was apathetic and lazy. She couldn't help but admire the man's shamelessness when it came to his appearance, or enjoying his questionable taste in literature whilst in public.

 

This being the third day to drive Kakashi to work, and acting as appointed watch-dog, Sakura discovered that Kakashi did in fact work for the police department, but for whatever reason had been placed on desk duty for the time being. At first Sakura was under the impression that his now lax job requirements was the reasoning behind his disinterest in punctuality, but the cotton-candy haired girl was rapidly realizing it had more to do with his passion for grating peoples nerves. A passion that was expertly hidden behind a practiced facade, a mixture of nonchalance and amiable ignorance.

 

Hatake Kakashi may not deign pressed suits or take others' comfort into consideration when reading graphically illustrated erotic literature, but if someone were to point any of that out, his relaxed and easy-going attitude had a way of making you feel like your problems with him were more of a personal issue with yourself. It both infuriated and fascinated Sakura. Because Sakura was the type of girl to take scruffiness and tardiness personally, and yet the feeling that he was subtly pointing out that her aggravation was more her problem than his was a rather genius trick. Of course it could all be in her head. He might just be a jackass for the pure sake of jackassery.

 

"Inconsiderate ass," she breathed.

 

"Pardon? Did you say something Sa-ku-ra?" Sakura could feel his innocent, smiling eyes boring into her. She suppressed the urge to shiver at the lulling baritones of his voice.

 

"No, certainly not, Kakashi-sensei." Tossing him a smile sweeter than the sugary tone she used in her voice. "We're here!" She sing-songed. Kakashi promptly stepped out of the car without so much as a thank you or a goodbye, his eyes stubbornly fixed on the pages of his neon-colored book, an action that left Sakura feeling scandalized and frankly used, an action he would regret. Andimpish grin broke across Sakura's face as a fiery, mischievous glint shone in her burning, forest eyes. Naruto had once told her that when you feel the urge to pull a prank or be a smart-ass for the sake of good fun, you should probably just give in, but if it was for the sake of revenge you should always give in. Sakura rolled down her window, her voice booming like a megaphone.

 

"Have a good day sweetie! Play nice with the other kids! Remember to blow your nose if it feels stuffy!" Though there were only a few late stragglers outside to hear, Sakura was certain word would spread around the office, giving everyone inside a little something to hold over the masked man's head. And apparently she was right when Kakashi turned to shoot her the closest thing to a glare the seemingly carefree man could manage. She swore she heard him yell 'Real mature' as he disappeared into the building, but the sound of her laughing was far too loud for her to be certain.

 

...

 

"Kurenai, I have a problem," Sakura stated, leaning over the desk staring at nothing in particular while unconsciously chewing on the end of her pin. Tsunade often acted as Sakura's surrogate mother, whereas Kurenai was her older sister, something Sakura had desperately needed throughout her life.

 

The older woman paused her actions for a moment. They had received a huge donation of baby clothes from 0-24 months and the two women were writing the thank you cards to the businesses that had been willing to donate. Of course, Sakura was not her usual self, lost in thought rather than tackling the task with a type of zeal most people reserved for more exciting endeavors. "Yes, I heard your friends aren't talking to you, which seems rather childish if you ask me."

 

"Huh?" Sakura turned to look into Kurenai warm, almost maroon eyes to search for what she had been referring to until Sakura suddenly remembered last week. "Oh, no. Man, sometimes I think Kiba behaves more like a girlfriend to you than a nephew."

 

"Well, you know. I was 'the cool aunt' while he was growing up." She chuckled, flipping her always unkempt, raven hair over her shoulder. "But he did mention that Naruto felt pretty slated. And when he's unhappy, all of his loyal followers are unhappy."

 

"Yeah..." Sakura sighed, fingering her pink hair as a substitute for pen-chewing during conversation. "Sasuke sent me a text saying he understood. Saying that I wouldn't turn my back on them unless it was really important, so by me not coming he assumed it was and his feelings were not hurt. And don't tell anyone I mentioned that. If anyone knew Sasuke had a soft-side he'd never let me live it down."

 

"What about Ino? She came in yesterday morning to redo the flower arrangements and she didn't say a thing, which is so odd for her..."

 

"She won't answer my calls, but she'll get over it. I am upset about it, but damage control will have to wait. That problem is not the one I am referring to." Sakura picked up another card and tried to use her best penmanship, which was difficult considering she was a doctor and wrote in a manner only well trained nurses and pharmacists could decipher. After a few moments of silence Kurenai spoke up, jerking Sakura back into conversation.

 

"Well what is the issue, Sakura? You seem so dreadful today," the raven-haired woman pointed out, a small but caring smile on her lips.

 

"If I tell you this, it has to be in complete confidence. I trust you won't mention it?" Kurenai gave her a look that simply implied 'Sakura, I'm a grown-ass woman. Of course I won't tell anyone.' So the rosette continued, albeit a bit nervously. "I would talk to Ino, but.. Anyway, do you know why I missed the party?"

 

"No, Kiba was really vague, said there was an emergency."

 

"Well, en route to Sasuke's place, while I was crossing Naruto's bridge, I saw a jumper.. and I sort of saved him..." The look in Kurenai's eyes was a combination of surprise, pride, and admiration. The respectful gaze caused Sakura to blush deeply. "But he turned out to be someone I knew, sort of. At least someone Tsunade knew quite personally. So then like.. Tsunade assigned me to be his caretaker of sorts."

 

"That's rather... Odd. Aside from your new job description wherein lies the problem?"

 

"I think I may be attracted to him..." It was as if Kurenai had forgotten the very obvious setbacks to this situation, because the older woman practically transformed into Ino, thoroughly excited about the prospect of Sakura finally being attracted to someone.

 

"Oh! How great! Is he handsome? Anyone I know?"

 

"Pump the brakes, Kurenai! He's got a laundry list of problems, suicidal tendencies being one, plus he's my patient. And I have no clue if he's handsome, I've not seen his face, but judging by the rest he is very... Wait no! Patient! Demented!" Sakura was too busy fighting with herself to catch the look of recognition on Kurenai's face.

 

"That bastard, I cannot believe he would try and off himself. What a selfish little fuck." Kurenai's voice had dropped to a menacingly low tone, startling Sakura from her inner conflicts.

 

"What? You know him? Damn, did I say something? I mean I was already practically breaking the doctor-patient confidentiality law, but now I've completely done it. Shit shit." Sakura began chewing her lip, her heart filling up with immense guilt.

 

"Now you need to pump the brakes, calm down girl, listen. I just know him, he used to work with Asuma. They weren't partners or anything, but they worked the same unit. I was just.. I am just so miffed he would do something like that, I mean considering his father.." Her voice trailed off, but Sakura was already too consumed in the first part of Kurenai's observations to pay mind to Kakashi's family life.

 

"You mean Kakashi is an undercover cop? Damn, that's pretty cool, this is certainly not helping my attraction issues," Sakura laughed, until she turned to see Kurenai's stony face.

 

"Sakura, listen to me. I think it would be best if you didn't try to pursue Kakashi, not even after he has been proven capable of getting better. That relationship could either greatly benefit the both of you, or ruin you and break him apart even more than he already is." Sakura just stared, bemused, hoping Kurenai would expound. "I'm not saying he isn't a great guy. Truth is, he is probably hands down the best at what he does. But he's a broken man, Sakura. Don't let his attitude fool you. Remember why you're his caretaker, because he tried to kill himself. Happy people don't do that. They just don't. He's seen shit your nightmares are made of, and then some."

 

Sakura felt very sick all of the sudden. Her erratic emotions had her mind jumping all over the place. Kurenai did have a point, happy people don't end their lives, but being unhappy didn't inherently mean someone wasn't deserving of love. Although to be perfectly honest, Sakura was confident that while she could easily make him happy, he could just as easily make her miserable. She sighed, a melancholy expression clouding her pretty features, and with one wayward glance at Kurenai, she accepted the conversation as finished.

 

The Fratellis / Part Man Part Myth Part Time

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Three

 

"Sakura.." The pink-haired girl in question snapped her head upwards, nearly dropping the medical journal she had been so engrossed in. "It is not that I don't thoroughly enjoy your presence, but it's a Friday night. Don't you have friends to call and drinks to coerce out of unsuspecting men? I wouldn't even really call my apartment a cozy place to study."

 

He was right, too. His apartment was incredibly dull. The walls, which were barely visible behind the rows and rows of bookshelves, were painted a muted shade of blue without a single photograph or painting throughout the rest of his house, just blue. Kakashi didn't own a television, he didn't even have internet. And though the kitchen was state-of-art, he claimed he no longer enjoyed cooking as a hobby. The only personal touches in the entire apartment were his books and the loan potted plant beside the window, otherwise it was like no one really lived here.

 

"No friends to speak of for the moment. And I'm not just sitting here, I'm reading, and don't you remember what Gai said at the animal shelter?"

 

He stared blankly with lethargically half-lidded eyes. Sakura likened them to bedroom eyes... When Sakura realized she had been staring, a warm blush crept up her neck and she continued the explanation before he would notice. Which was futile, of course he noticed. "While you guys were having your dog-washing competition..?" Still nothing. "Ugh, he challenged you to a dog washing competition, and you beat him, so as well as the 200 push-ups he did, he has to buy everyone at the bar drinks all night. And don't act so cool like you don't remember! It makes you look like an asshole."

 

"It's not that I think I'm too cool to care about what Gai is doing, it is that I am too cool," the masked-man replied without a hint of irony. Sakura scoffed, but she knew better. She saw that smile in his eyes while they were soaking themselves for the sake of good, clean rivalry.

 

"Oh, well I feel so honored that you would lower your standards so much to spend time with me." She rolled her eyes.

 

"As you should be." The corners of his eyes wrinkled, meaning he had a wolfish grin hiding behind that black cloth. Sakura huffed, trying not to think about how incredibly handsome his smile must be. All those perfect teeth..

 

"Well do you want to go or not? He says they go nearly every week and you've been thoroughly missed."

 

"When did he say that?" Kakashi asked skeptically.

 

"Well, he just texted me." 

 

Shock, that was the look in his eyes now. He was shocked that she would give the bowl-cut wearing, spandex loving beast her phone number. But so far, she saw no real harm in it, he was easily the most exhausting man in existence, but he was very kind and very fierce and Sakura couldn't help but respect his enthusiasm for life. He was the walking definition of carpe diem. He was Kakashi's perfect opposite, which made their supposed one-sided rivalry incredibly entertaining.

 

"I don't exactly know how to tell you this Sakura, but I don't really go out."

 

"I call bullshit. You just look like you used to be quite the card. And if you weren't dragging around all that heavy emotional baggage, for a moment I think you might remember what fun is." Sakura almost yelped when the color of his beautifully inconsistent eyes darken tremendously, causing the temperature of the room to drop. She shivered.

 

"Don't begin to think you understand, Sakura. You may be surprised at how much you don't." Immediately the pressure lifted and he actually smiled at her. Changing lanes with ease. Sakura gulped and put on her brave face, this man was not the one in control of this situation.

 

"Quit being such a drama queen." He chuckled at her response. "We're going to the bar, where we will put all frat boys in existence to shame. I had a stressful week and I refuse to turn down free drinks. Besides, I bet your friends are all real pieces of work."

 

Kakashi snorted at the mention of his friends , but Sakura promptly ignored it. Sakura was in no position to turn down the promise of having people to hang out with tonight, seeing as how the War of the Stubborn Assholes betwixt herself and Naruto was still going strong, and Sakura would not break first. And besides, she was positive that these people cared a lot more about the Kakashi than he was letting on. 

 

...

 

"Well well well! Look what the cat dragged in! And be brought a little mouse, too." 

 

Sakura scowled at the boisterous woman's words and tried not to judge the woman's weird spiky hair, or odd choice in clothing (fishnet, everywhere) but the Ino in her had beat her to it. Before she could form a proper comeback, the indigo-haired woman threw an arm around Sakura's shoulders.

 

"Well my name's Anko! I reckon you know the Green Idiot already, he's spoken quite fondly of your 'youthful charm and beauty' but in my opinion he was giving you far too much credit! Oh come on, don't glare like that! You're just proving my point! Anyways, that guy munching on the toothpick is Genma. He's a smooth-talker so watch out. Then Scareface with the ponytail beside him is Iruka. And this guy is Kakashi's partner, I can honestly say I have no idea what his real name is, but you can call him Tenzo, that's what Kakashi calls him, but most of us just call him Yamato."

 

They respectably re-introduced themselves one by one so Sakura could lean in for a better look and shake their hands. She was surprised when Tenzo, or Yamato, just told her to pick a name. She was immensely interested to talk to him later. This was the first mention of Kakashi's profession she'd heard since her talk with Kurenai, but that would need to wait for a few more rounds, sadly her wish wasn't granted. Sakura felt intimidated by Anko, but something about her reminded the rosette of Naruto, so she assumed Anko was okay.

 

When they all dispersed to go find a free pool table or help Gai order drinks, Genma slid into the seat next to Sakura and casually draped his arm on the back of her chair. He was smooth alright. And incredibly handsome. His shaggy, chestnut hair was peeking out from under the navy bandana he had wrapped around his head. The leather jacket and gloves indicated he was a motorcyclist. And the toothpick hanging from the corner of his mouth really completed the look he was going for.

 

"Haruno, right? Gai's been talking about you for half an hour. About how he was so proud a student of his was such a successful, youthful beauty. And screw what Anko says, he was making an understatement if anything." Sakura blushed, and not just a faint pink one, it was a full-on blush. Guys didn't usually shamelessly hit on her, and it was obvious this Genma was a seasoned pro.

 

"You're way too kind, but I appreciate the compliment." She smiled as innocently as she could manage.

 

"You're friends with Kurenei, right?"

 

"How did you know..." she asked suspiciously, which earned her a hearty laugh.

 

"Well, sometimes she makes it out, but she didn't have a sitter. She told me--well rather she told Iruka who told me--to keep an eye on you. Make sure you don't get trashed and hit on Mister Hatake over there." He smirked, using his toothpick to direct her attention to Kakashi, who was leaning against the bar, he was casually reading and sipping on his near-empty drink.

 

Sakura felt her eyes widen, first with surprise but then with anger. It was so like Kurenei to keep tabs on her. Making a move on him honestly hadn't even crossed her mind because she was a professional and an adult , but now she wanted to in spite of her strict orders not to. But the beautiful Kurenai was wise, so for now Sakura would continue to heed her advice about the enigma. Unless he made a move first. She felt calloused fingers graze the side of her cheek before moving to tuck a fallen strand of hair back behind her ear.

 

"Genma, Gai said for you to go order your drink before they start their pool game without you. It's an open tab." Sakura nearly fell out of her seat with how startled Kakashi's sudden appearance had made her. She heard Genma grumble a few colorful words under his breath before shooting Kakashi a knowing smirk. Which made the girl wonder what he knew that she so obviously didn't.

 

"I am not sure what you think you're doing, interrupting our conversation like that," she said coldly, but only half serious.

 

"I hate to break it to you, Sakura-chan, but Genma doesn't have conversations with attractive girls. Talking is merely the foreplay of the foreplay for him." She flushed at how frank he was being. And at the fact he called her attractive, but it was cancelled out by the 

Sakura-chan. Made her feel like a kid. Now all he had to do was ruffle her hair and... Kakashi reached across the table and ruffled her hair. "You take care of me everyday, the least I can do is return the favor, kid."

 

"Did you at least get me a drink?" she ground out, trying to change the subject as fast as possible but lacking in the casual poise with which Kakashi could do it so well.

 

"Of course." Then like magic the drink was literally in front of her. She had no idea how he did it, but he was faster than lightning. And it was vodka on ice, her favourite. She took a few long gulps, trying to suppress her aggravation with this situation. Did he really think of her as a kid? Sure, he was easily a foot taller than her, but she was practically twenty-four years old. With a house and car payment. Kids don't pay taxes. And she wasn't that scrawny-looking, right?

 

"Get out of your head," he called out over the top of his now opened book.

 

"That's really rich coming from you," she clipped.

 

"Yeah, but I don't space out, ne?"

 

"I'm gonna go play pool." She quickly disappeared, ignoring the 'have fun' Kakashi sweetly said to her. Making a quick stop at the bar for a refill, Sakura found her way to the pool table where Kakashi's friends were playing.

 

"So Sakura!" Suddenly the very strong grip of Anko was latched around her shoulders again. "A little bird tells me that you actually managed to embarrass the famously flat Hatake Kakashi."

 

"It's true, really. He's been tortured all week by the office staff, even more so by the on-duty cops," Tenzo stated before taking a shot that sunk him three balls. Then he stood up, smiling at the impressed look he got from Sakura for his shot. "I'm almost positive he was blushing. Almost."

 

"Oh it was rich. I was listening in via radio with my partner, Ibiki. Biggest tightass known to man. And even he managed to laugh and join in." Confusion was quickly replaced with guilt when she recalled what they were talking about. Her screaming like a mother a few days ago in front of the building. She could only imagine what they were saying. 'Kakashi, did you pack extra underwear in case of accidents?' or 'Kakashi, did you remember your lunch money?'

 

Tuning out their conversation, Sakura realized something odd. No one questioned why she was with him, and no one assumed she was dating him. That could only mean that they were all very aware of his suicide attempt and trying desperately to act okay with it all. They were so strong. Her chest tightened, a surge of sadness mixed with pity for Kakashi. He'd been demoted because he was deemed mentally unfit for the field, it seemed. And not only that, but Sakura had to go and make his demotion all the more miserable by giving the whole department a reason to harass him.

 

"So who's winning?" The sound of smooth, lazy baritones snapped her from her reverie. Sakura was certain the tips of Kakashi's fingers were resting on the small of her back, almost reassuringly. She felt embarrassed to admit to herself that this was the second time he'd saved her this evening. First from Genma and now herself. He was far too perceptive.

 

"Yamato and Iruka, obviously. Gai left to challenge Genma to a game of darts because you were too busy being lonely to pay attention to him calling your name," Anko answered sourly. To be honest, Sakura was so lost in thought she hadn't heard Gai either. Nor did she remember finishing her drink.

 

"Here's another drink," Kakashi said, a smile in his eye as he took the empty glass and replaced it with a new one. She had been counting his, and was sure he had exceeded the amount he was allowed to have given his medications. "You know Anko, I could always take Gai's place," he suggested, Sakura could hear the humor in his request and wondered why until Iruka spoke up.

 

"No! No way in hell you are playing, we have money on this game."

 

Sakura's pink eyebrows shot up at the calm man's outburst. "Why not?" She asked, completely confused.

 

"Because he's too damn smart. That's why not." Iruka defended his point, followed by Tenzo, who had the look in his eyes of someone who had terrible memories of losing a lot of money over games of pool with Kakashi.

 

"Yeah, Kakashi doesn't like to dumb himself down for us people of average intelligence. So playing a game involving some thought with him is miserable. He can win at nearly any bar game, pool, darts, cards, in less than three turns." Sakura thought Tenzo sounded almost proud, if not a tad bitter.

 

"Which is why Gai only challenges him to physical battles." Anko's statement had Sakura silently musing just how many 'battles' Kakashi and Gai had shared. Maybe their rivalry was a little less one-sided than she previously thought..

 

Kakashi guided her to the bar and let them continue their game without further interruption. "They're over-exaggerating," he said simply, then ordered another drink.

 

"I'm not so sure, that Iruka guy seemed pretty passionate about it."

 

"That's because he's a shrieking mother hen and passionate about everything." Sakura choked on her drink with laughter, vainly hitting her chest to alleviate the discomfort. "Iruka used to babysit your little friend Naruto, I believe they still keep in touch."

 

Sakura thought for a moment, she recalled Naruto having a babysitter, maybe. But she and Naruto hadn't really grown close until after high school. He was too into himself and she was a bitch. "Hm, I guess. I wouldn't know, really," she replied a tad bashful that couldn't place Iruka. "Wait! He was a TA at our high school! Umino-san! I didn't know he used to babysit Naruto, but I can't believe I couldn't recognize him. Why didn't he say anything?"

 

"Because he used to be a bit of a… well very shy, from what I understand. Don't worry about it. He won't cry for too long over it." He smiled down at her, making her giggle, something Sakura hated to do. Kakashi thankfully decided to draw the attention elsewhere. 

 

"Cheers," he said and they tapped their glasses together before downing the remaining liquid in one gulp.

 

...

 

"Kakashi?"

 

"Yes, Sakura?"

 

"I am trashed. Like, I am in a trash bag. There is no way I can drive." She hiccuped. Sometime after the three rounds of shots Genma ordered her memory had become rather hazy. She was sobered up just enough to dread tomorrow when Kakashi told her what an ass she had made of herself.

 

"Well, we have a dilemma. Because I have exceeded my limits, and furthermore my license is being held captive by the State."

 

"Can't you just use easier words? I hate those classy smashed asses who get all wordy and overcompensating." She nudged him, hard, to prove some point she forgot she was proving. "Where did everyone go?" She looked up and him. He was giving her a look she didn't understand. One she'd never seen before. A warm heart began to swirl at the pit of her stomach the longer he let his gaze linger.

 

"Overcompensating is a pretty big word..." he said quietly, as if their conversation had suddenly become much more secretive. She was beginning to think he was leaning in closer, but her distorted perception made it hard to be sure.

 

She was able to make out the fine details of the upper-part of his face, so he was definitely closer than before. His mismatched eyes were hazy and warm, still maintaining that lazy look he wore so earnestly. One dark one, so dark it was mistakable for black, and one auburn brown one, with flecks of dark brown and gold, for the first time she noticed there was a light pink scar that ran from his forehead to the middle of his cheek. His hair always perfectly provided shade over his left eye, and had he not been so close now, she never would have known the scar existed. Nothing in his medical records mentioned it, which meant someone else must have patched that up other than Tsunade.

 

"You have such lovely eyes..." Kakashi whispered while brushing her confetti-colored hair out of her face. "Like cool and perfect jade." At that comment, Sakura became very aware of their close proximity. The heat between them was electrifying, causing her heart to flutter uncontrollably. Her intoxication was giving the entire exchange a foggy, dream-like glow and she was worried that her alarm was about to wake her up any minute. Like she had imagined everything.

 

She quickly scanned the bar, they were in a dark booth, far from the loud customers, their chanting voices creating a white noise humming in the background, making her feel even more light-headed than the warm, rough fingertips tracing the line of her jaw and pushing into her hair. Sakura's head was gently turned back to face Kakashi. And she must have looked surprised to see him because his low chuckles were tickling her ears. Taking a deep breath in hopes to calm herself, Sakura noticed Kakashi's scent. He smelled so fresh and woody, and dare she say it, sweet.

 

Then before she could take another break his lips were on hers. The pressure was soft, but the way his hand was trembling as it tangled into her hair suggested he was being as reserved as possible. The thought of him trying so hard to control himself made her moan quietly into his clothed lips. She pushed against him, deepening the kiss as well as she could while his mask was still in place. Sakura heard herself whimper when he pulled away, but then she felt his hot breath in the cavern of her ear.

 

"Keep your eyes closed," he murmured against her neck. And doing as instructed, despite how much she really really didn't want to, she enjoyed the feeling of his mouth on her neck as he spoke between scorching, but restrained kisses. "You deserve so much better than this." The guilt dripping from his voice almost made her stop his ministrations so she could explain how stupid that was, though her mind was too jumbled to form a proper response. 

 

"But you are just so beautiful, sometimes just looking at you…" he trailed off and placed his lips against hers with a need Sakura was unfamiliar with, and she tried as best as she could to match the passion. She felt the pressure of his right hand on her knee, then it moved up painfully slowly, only to stop momentarily to grasp her breast before working its way up to her cheek. He groaned against her lips when she fingered the front of his shirt to pull him closer, roughly deepening the kiss...

 

Sakura woke up, much to her surprise, in her own bed, wearing the same clothes she'd put on the morning before. The smell of alcohol permeated the air, making it difficult to ignore that it was daytime and she was in dire need of a shower. She slowly opened her eyes and cursed at the bright sunlight streaming through her windows. Sakura glanced at the clock and groaned. It was after noon. But something caught her eye. Scooting closer to the bedside table, Sakura found a tylenol, a bottle of water, and a note that simply read:

 

Thanks for at least waiting until after you got into the bathroom to vomit on me.

 

"UGH!" Sakura fell back into bed, trying desperately to remember the night before, but with no such luck.

 

...

 

Allie Moss / Melancholy Astronautic Man

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Four

 

It had been six days since Sakura's drunken escapade, and she had a sneaking feeling something happened that Kakashi wasn't telling her about. Of course, Sakura had blacked out before. She was in medical school, for christ's sake; the only way to turn your overworked brain off sometimes was by abusing your body into forgetful submission. But this time felt different, and she couldn't put her finger on it. Sakura knew it was mostly in the way Kakashi was behaving, he was being much more friendly, more charming. And there were a few instances when she was certain the silver-haired man had been staring at her, only to look away the moment she acknowledged his gaze. However, these new advancements didn't make her uncomfortable, not really. Just incredibly confused and maybe more than a bit worried at her ability to keep herself behaving appropriately. 

 

"Kakashi." He looked up from his book, his eyes were blank as he met her gaze directly. "Are you sure nothing happened on Friday?" Her voice must have sounded a tad too desperate, because he replied with more frustration than the first three times she asked him.

 

Kakashi raked his hand through his hair and heaved a sigh, his eyes rolling in disbelief that was asking this again. "Sakura, contrary to what you believe, there is no possible way the story could have changed since the last time you asked me."

 

She bit her lip, trying to accept his comment and easy smile for what it was: honesty. But she couldn't help but see a flicker of guilt in his eyes when she asked.

 

"Are you worried about something you did, or are you upset with something you didn't do?" 

 

Her head shot up at his strange question. "What does that mean?" Sakura asked and cocked her head to the side, trying to decipher that dark look in his eyes, or the way his right eye closed slightly with the smirk forming beneath his mask. The blossom-haired girl had the distinct feeling Kakashi was readying himself to tease her, and her stomach fluttered at the prospect. She loved the way he teased her, it was always flirtatious and frustrating, but she would never admit to how much she appreciated his light-heartedness.

 

"I'm merely suggesting that maybe you're distressed over your lack of memory because there was something you wanted very much to happen, and now you'll never know if it actually did." Then he winked. Sakura felt a fierce blush creep up her chest and burn all the way to the roots of her pink hair. Kakashi merely chuckled, then picked up his book to read while he discreetly ate the take-out Sakura had picked up after his psych appointment.

 

"Why so flustered, Sakura-chan? Is something the matter?" She heard him ask between bites, his voice sounded so genuine that she almost flipped over the table and flung him through the window, but this was her apartment. Why would he say something like that? Was he just tormenting her and was there more behind his words than he was willing to share?

 

"What are you playing at? Saying things like that?" She demanded. 

 

Setting down his book again, his mask firmly in place, he just stared at her for a moment, his eyes were glazed over in thought, holding the look of someone making mental calculations. Then he smiled warmly. "Maybe I just thoroughly enjoy how you look in pink." He said simply, causing Sakura to choke for a moment on her rice wine. 

 

'I really really need Ino.' Sakura realized, sadly. She tried to think of what Ino would do in this scenario, and she knew it was certainly not become flushed and nervous. No, Ino would beat him at his own game. Sakrua smirked, hoping she hadn't spent too much time in thought to respond gracefully.

 

"Well..." she paused to take a demure sip of her sake and Kakashi raised a silver eyebrow. "It's a good thing you like how I look in pink." This time both of his eyebrows shot up at her low, throaty voice.

 

"And why is that?" He challenged.

 

"Because," she smiled, taking another sip for dramatic effect. "I love the things you say to make me blush the way I do." Much to her chagrin, her words didn't have the desired effect. Instead of surprise, he greeted her with a smoldering gaze; the look in Kakashi's eyes clearly said 'Oh you sweet girl, you are in over your head.'

 

"Is that so? Because we don't have to limit this to mere conversation, Sakura." Her eyes widened slightly at the forgotten honorific, and how in a moment he was standing up, one hand on the back of her chair and the other resting on the table. He was towering over her, trapping her in his gaze. He leaned closer, the outline of a seductive smirk could be seen in the dark cloth of his mask.

 

"In fact, I can think of many many other ways to make you blush that involve no talking whatsoever. Because unlike you, I don't give a fuck about the rules." By now he was whispering in her ear, and his scent filled Sakura's nose, flooding her senses with a deja vu so strong, she was almost frightened.

 

Kakashi pulled back to gaze into her emerald orbs, but upon catching the look of confusion and desire in her eyes, he faltered. Suddenly he was three feet away, looking in the other direction thoughtfully. Sakura just watched him, bemused. Her rapid heart was beginning to slow, and the aching heat in her stomach ebbing away.

 

Long forgotten insecurities began to sprout and Sakura had to force her mind to remember that he was a very confused, very emotionally unstable person and that his behavior had a lot less to do with her. It was easy to forget why they were put together, to remember Kurenai's words as truth. He seemed so calm, cool, confident, or was this all a lie? Why had he been flirting so shamelessly only to become so cold and distant?

 

"Kakashi..." she began, hoping she could get him to open up to her, but she knew it would be in vain. He turned to face her, his eyes painfully hollow.

 

"I thoroughly apologize, Sakura. That was very inappropriate; I shouldn't be taking advantage of this situation in such a way." His voice was more empty than his eyes, he sounded so professional and entirely bereft of any feeling, it made Sakura flinch. She stared back at him, pouring her worry and care into the look she sent his way.

 

"Hey, it's ok-"

 

"Don't," he said harshly. "I have enough pity, I certainly do not want any from you."

 

"Why do you think I'm pitying you?" She stood angrily, nearly knocking over her chair with the quickness of her movement.

 

"Of course you are, Sakura. You started pitying me the moment you saw me standing on that bridge. And this affection you are displaying is just a symptom of that pity."

 

"You know what? For someone who is supposed to be so smart, you are so fucking stupid." She had taken a few steps closer, forgetting that he stood nearly a foot over her, but she held her ground and painfully poked his chest. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe I just like you as a person? Or that maybe I'm attracted to you?" Her face flushed at her admission, then she felt a hand clamp over her mouth to stop any more from leaving her heart.

 

"Just stop it," he pleaded, voice and eyes remaining cold and impassive, but Sakura could see from his furrowed brow he was trying to maintain his cool demeanor. "You have no idea what you're saying, and I frankly do not think I want to hear anymore." Kakashi's calloused hand was replaced with cool air as he pulled away to start towards the door.

 

"What are you so afraid of?" She asked calmly while quickly making her way to block the door, and made it just before Kakashi could turn the handle.

 

"Get out of the way, Sakura."

 

"No. Answer the question," she challenged defiantly, still trying to process how they had gone from flirting to arguing so quickly.

 

"You're behaving like a child." She flinched again, he knew how to hurt her feelings, but pushed her back harder against the door. When he accepted she wasn't going to give up, he walked over to the table, picking up the large, nearly full bottle of sake and proceeded to empty its contents in one long gulp. Sakura had no idea how to respond to his actions. He wiped his sleeve across the damp mask the turned back to face her, Sakura could see by his swaying movements, the rice wine had the effect he was seeking.

 

"Well, first of all, you are far too good for me." He sauntered towards her, effectively pinning her against the door with a force that both scared and excited Sakura.

 

"I could go on to talk about how inappropriate it is for a doctor in your position, but I was never one for rules." His voice was angry and restrained and Sakura played with the idea of closing the space between them with a kiss, just to diffuse the situation, but something about his attitude had her frozen in place until he finished.

 

"And I hate to sound superstitious, but I've got a trail of death in my wake." Sakura couldn't stop the confusion and pity and righteous indignation that must have played across her face. He pressed his body roughly against hers, his voice, low and desperately unhappy, eating at her ear. Then Sakura realized that this was the longest conversation they had ever shared, and even though he was on the verge of sharing something from his past with her, she felt disgusted in herself for pushing him to this point. She wanted him to tell her things about his past willingly, not like this. 

 

"Every person foolish enough to love me has died in less than humane ways." Sakura shivered at his tone of voice, so wooden, so angry and she heard his fingernails scrape at the wood finish of the door.

 

"Father, suicide. Mother, alcohol poisoning. My former partner, tortured to death. His fiancee, the victim of a hit. And regardless of all that, I let some pretty singer fall for me. She jumped off the 12th story of Golden Empire Records." Sakura recalled the last one from the news a few years ago, her name was Hanare. He pulled away to look into her eyes, pleadingly. Kakashi's mismatched eyes closed as if in pain. "Sakura, please do not make the mistake of thinking I am the type of person you want to be romantically involved with."

 

Sakura heard her voice, but was unaware of herself talking, as though some unseen force had possessed her. "You can't possibly think like that. You cannot really think you're cursed. I certainly don't, and maybe I'm just lonely, but I like you."

 

"You barely know me," he argued.

 

"No, I believe you've changed that now," she replied between trembling lips, suppressing the tears that threatened to spill down her face. Her bleeding heart in pieces over Kakashi's loss. "Please just kiss me."

 

Kakashi's fist pounded against the door behind her then he took a deep breath and slowly nodded in defeat, not wanting to do without the feel of her lips against his. Sakura grabbed his wrist, he followed her without complaint and even let her sit him on her soft, worn couch, this time her body towering over him.

 

"Look at me." 

 

He did as instructed and she gaped at how broken and dark his eyes were, he looked utterly defeated and brimming with self-hatred. Shaking off her second thoughts, she hooked her fingers beneath the seam of his mask and slowly began to pull it down, only to have him grab her and quickly force her onto the couch, far from the dominating stance she held above him.

 

"Just close your eyes," he murmured and the deja vu came clawing at her mind, she nodded mutely and closed her eyes.

 

The couch shifted and Sakura felt a pair of firm, cool lips connect with her own. Kakashi's hand cupped her face, his fingertips brushing with the back of her neck. He slowly guided her to lay on her back, the weight of his body moving over hers, gently pressing her further into the cushions beneath her. Sakura sighed into his lips when she felt him bring his other hand to her face, ghosting the rough pads of his fingers over her cheek.

 

Disjointed memories began to cloud her mind with desperate touches and a similar whiskey-drenched mouth working passionately against hers, but she shook them off, deciding that this incredibly tender moment was the only place she wanted to be.

 

Kakashi's lips parted and he ran his tongue steadily over her bottom lip, and Sakura could feel his thumb tracing the corner of her mouth softly. Sakura sighed again, dragging her hands up his chest to rest in his hair, she tilted her head, giving Kakashi the opportunity to deepen the kiss. His body pressed more firmly against hers as he began to explore her mouth tentatively.

 

Sakura couldn't recall a time when kissing had made her feel this way. Kakashi was almost timid, but equally sensual. His body had molded to hers, and Sakura's hips unconsciously bucked upwards, which caused a low moan erupt from Kakashi's throat. Sakura managed to pull her legs from under him, successfully wrapping them around Kakashi hips, her loose skirt falling to her rest on her stomach.

 

She was certain she felt another low groan in the silver-haired man's chest when she caught his bottom lips and began to gently suck it. Almost immediately, Kakashi's hips surged forward, rubbing his growing erection against her. The unsuspected movement caused Sakura's back to arch, a moan escaping her.

 

"Sakura," he breathed into her neck. Her jade eyes opened at the sound of her name, but she quickly closed them, remembering his previous request. He pushed against her again, and he could feel the chill-bumps rise on her skin beneath his lips. She mimicked him, using her legs to force him harder against the thin fabric covering her burning sex. "Oh Sakura..." his voice rasped with need, the hot breath against her ear making her shiver. Her name had never sounded so delicious than when spoken with his deep, husky baritones.

 

"Please… I need you to-- oh, Sakura." His hand grasped her hip as he took control, moving against her with a steady pace. His mouth devoured hers again, only this time his hunger more evident and his movements became more rough with need, and Sakura threw her head back, his name echoing through the apartment from her lips.

 

Kakashi stopped abruptly, and began kissing her neck passionately. The hand tangled in her hair grasping the coral locks tightly. "Sakura, please tell me to stop," he begged halfheartedly.

 

"I can't do that, Kakashi. I want this just as much as you," she replied honestly. He pulled back to study her face.

 

"Look at me," he instructed between hot, labored breaths. Sakura's eyes fluttered open and she quickly regained focus when she realized she was looking at his face. "Do you really mean that, Sakura?"

 

She nodded dumbly, still trying to memorize his features, slightly crooked nose, high cheekbones, a sharp but firm jaw. He put a stop to her staring effectively by crashing his lips against hers desperately. Sakura could tell that despite his guilt, he needed this. For all she knew, the man was so terrified of hurting anyone, that it might have been years since he last been with anyone.

 

"You are so soft," he murmured into her chest while working at removing her panties, then running his rough hands over her thighs and stomach. Sakura could only respond by whimpering and shivering at his touch.

 

In the back of her mind, Sakura knew this was the wrong thing to do, but her objections were laid to rest when her blouse was tugged off and she felt Kakashi's strong, muscular body against her, the skin to skin contact causing Sakura to hiss in pleasure. There was no warning before he plunged inside her, and Sakura heard herself scream in surprise and pleasure.

 

Kakashi placed hot, fevered kisses on her neck and jaw as he used his free hand to explore her naked frame. He was moving into her with slow, deep motions, each thrust leaving her breathless. Between Kakashi's shuddered moans, Sakura could faintly hear him brokenly whispering sweet nothings into her ear as his hand moved to rest against her face. The pace began to pick up and Sakura found herself unable to think about anything beside the soaring heat he was pounding into her.

 

The older man propped himself up, giving her a view of his face, now twisted in pleasure, and Sakura could admit he was one of the most handsome men she had ever laid eyes on. Sweat plastered his hair to his forehead, and his perfect teeth were biting down on his bottom lip.

 

Never breaking pace, he gave her a small, crooked half-smile before his free hand slid down between her legs and his thumb made contact with her sensitive bundle of nerves. Sakura jerked, moaning his name as he slowly began to massage her. His actions were causing a strong heat to burn through her veins, tingling to the tips of her toes. She could feel his gaze burning into her and when she opened her eyes to gaze back, the mere sight of him sent her over the edge.

 

"Kakashi..." she breathed, trying to find her voice. "K-Kakashi I'm going to..." His thumb worked faster, and the moment she began to contract wildly around him, he pulled her into a heated embrace, capturing her lips and he drove into her. Sakura saw stars as he prolonged her orgasm. His muscles were twitching wildly against her. He moaned her name in their sloppy kiss one last time before she felt him hit his release. For a few moments they remained upright, embracing each other, and Sakura could feel tears tickling the corners of her eyes at the sheer volume of their being together.

 

Very carefully, Kakashi laid Sakura back onto the couch and pulled out of her, so he could collapse beside her on the small space left of the sofa. They stayed silent for a long time, the only sounds that could be heard was their labored breathing and the beginnings of rainfall outside.

 

When Sakura awoke the next morning, she found herself tucked into her bed, alone. Sitting, up she looked around the room, confused. She pulled herself out of bed and ran down the hall only to discover that her house was empty. The food and dishes had been put away, even her discarded clothes were folded neatly on the arm of the couch. Sakura stared hard at the couch, remembering what had happened.

 

The feeling that something wasn't right had the pinkette sprinting back to her to get dressed. Her trepidation was immediately replaced with terror and anxiety as she called Kakashi's phone, only for it to continue to ring, with no promise of anyone answering. Tripping into her jeans, Sakura threw on the rest of her clothes without looking to see what they were, and she was out of the door in minutes.

 

 

Panic! At the Disco ft. fun. / C'mon

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Five

 

"Fuck fuck fuck," Sakura whispered under her breath, her knuckles fading to white as she clenched the steering wheel even tighter. "This is all my fault. God I am so fucking stupid !"

 

Driving just a few miles over the speed limit, Sakura continued to scream and curse herself and this situation. Her green eyes flickered over to the clock. On a normal day, Kakashi would be at work now. She wanted to call and tell the office that there was an emergency, but the denial ghosting in her mind was hopelessly trying to convince her that maybe he just went home to get ready for work, or he's just really exhausted from the earth-shattering sex they shared last night, so therefore upon arriving home to sleep in his bed, he is still asleep and too tired to take calls. A shiver ran down Sakura's spine.

 

"Finally!" She pulled into a free spot half a block from his apartment and proceeded to run full-force to his front door only to discover the spare key was missing. She then started to bang on his door, screaming her pleas for him to come to the door.

 

Her voice was breaking into sobs as she leaned her head against the cold wood, fists still rapping the entrance, trying to think. A locksmith would take far too long. There were no spare bricks to shatter any windows. "Maybe.."

 

Sakura worked her way next door and knocked feverishly on Kakashi's neighbor's door. Finally the door swung open to reveal an oddly familiar redhead, but Sakura shook away the distracting thoughts of trying to place her.

 

"Hey, do you have a key to Kakashi's place?" She asked between gasping breath and poorly restrained sobs. The girl eyed her strangely and adjusted the glasses on her face, as if also trying to place the manic pink-haired girl.

 

"Yeah.. I water his plant sometimes while he's out of town.. Why?"

 

"Can I please borrow it? Just for a moment?" Sakura begged.

 

"Who the hell are you? Why would I do that?" The redhead replied, crossing her arms over her chest.

 

"I'm his... Girlfriend! Goddammit! He might be in trouble or hurt, so help me god if I don't beat the key out of you!" Sakura screamed, having completely abandoned her patience. However the redhead just scoffed and disappeared inside for a moment then returned with a key.

 

"Just keep it, you crazy fuck," the girl spat before slamming the door in Sakura's face. Quickly running back to his door, Sakura's shaking hands finally managed to unlock the door.

 

Sakura cautiously took a step inside, only to be knocked back slightly by the uncharacteristically cold temperature. It was freezing. Trying hard to ignore the bundle of worry nauseating her stomach, the rose-haired girl made her way through the foyer, pausing every few steps to glance around.

 

The smell of freshly brewed coffee permeated the air and Kakahi's jacket, shoes, and briefcase were set beside the door. She called his name, the sound of her voice, unrecognizable to her own ears, bounced around the hollow rooms. No reply.

 

Deciding to waste no more time, she ran to the back of the house and up the small staircase at the end of the hall, the patter of her hurried footsteps on the hardwood kept her grounded and focused.

 

Sakura had never been inside Kakashi's room, when she arrived she stood frozen in the doorway, swallowing the bile that was threatening to escape her mouth. Kakashi looked as if he had laid down for a nap after getting completely dressed for work. She spoke his name a few times, when he remained perfectly still, Sakura rushed to him, pulling down the mask to check his pulse. It was so slow, so dull, and the freezing state of his apartment was only speeding up the process of his heart stopping.

 

"Sakura..." his voiced rasped, jerking her attention to his glazed, heavily dilated eyes.

 

"Kakashi, can you speak? Please tell me what happened." She watched as his powder-white lips open then close again. His tired, expressionless eyes glanced to the left and Sakura saw an empty bottle of anti-anxiety medicine. The air expelled from her lungs in a slow, shaking manner.

 

The tears from earlier began to trickle back down her cheeks, leaving a thin water trail on her now ashen complexion. Her emerald eyes were cold and calculating and they swept around the room, trying to assess the situation. Knowing what she needed to do, she turned back to meet Kakashi's eyes.

 

"I can expel most of it, but it will be uncomfortable, and you may not be able to speak afterwards, so if there is anything you need to say now that cannot wait for a few hours, then spit it out." Her voice was stern, oddly professional given her current mental state.

 

"I.. I am sorry," he mumbled meekly, his breathing shallow and slow. "Seeing you, I  imme..immedia-"

 

"Immediately," she said, nodding to urge him to continue. 

 

"Regret this," he finished with a deep breath, but the words quit coming and Sakura took the initiative to get started.

 

With very little help from the older man, Sakura propped his back against the wall and frowned when she saw him struggle to hold his head straight. She rushed into his bathroom. When the door was closed behind her, Sakura allowed herself forty-five seconds to come undone, silently sobbing and dry heaving into the sink. Then taking a deep breath she dialed for emergency response while rifling through the closet and medicine cabinet.

 

"Yes, hello?" Sakura located what she had been searching for, a large brown bottle of peroxide, grabbing it up she then snatched a towel.

 

"Yes I have an emergency." Her voice shook as she entered his room again and flinched at the sight of him trembling, his dark eyes peering at her, almost unseeing.

 

"I'm with a friend, a patient of mine. The address is 607 Cedar Pike. Yes. Hatake Kakashi. No, my name is Haruno Sakura. Yes, Dr. Haruno." The pinkette crawled onto the older man's bed and struggled to position herself in his lap while balancing the phone on her shoulder.

 

"He's overdosed on anti-anxiety meds." She saw Kakashi wince at her words, but she looked away to continue talking. "Yes, he is conscious, but only barely. I can keep him alive, but I'll need someone here immediately. Yes, thank you. No, I do not need to stay on the line, please just come." She pressed the end button and her phone fell on the bed.

 

"Sakura.. ." He whispered, his head falling softly onto her shoulder as if speaking and holding up his body was too much. "I'm glad you're here."

 

Pushing him back against the wall, Sakura smiled, but he continued to talk, albeit softly. "I think that I li-" Sakura's eyes widened and she clamped her hand over his mouth.

 

"Not right now, not like this. You won't even remember this."

 

Straddling the man's knees more comfortably, Sakura pulled his head back and poured the peroxide down his throat, massaging the muscles to make sure he swallowed it. If the burning taste bothered him, Kakashi made no show of it. Keeping a firm lock on Kakashi's rapidly fading pulse, Sakura watched the analog clock beside his bed, waiting patiently for a minute to pass and as her body began to shake violently. The moment the sixty seconds were up, Sakura's trembling hands placed the towel in his lap, then grasped his shoulder to pull him forward.

 

"Please, Kakashi... I hope this works." She whispered, placing a kiss on his forehead.

 

Thankful for all of those martial arts classes she had taken growing up, Sakura pulled her fist back and threw her entire body into the hardest punch she could manage into Kakashi's stomach. His eyes bulged with surprise and his body involuntarily winced.

 

Kakashi's head slumped forward as he emptied contents of his stomach onto the towel in Sakura's lap. Sakura held his shoulders gently as the silver-haired man continued to heave and choke. She saw his hand grasp the end table and his body slumped to the side, fiercely trying to catch his breath.

 

Sakura jumped up and ran to the bathroom and came back with a glass of water. She forced him to drink the entire class despite his protests, his entire body trembling violently, he teeth chattering.

 

"Cold..." He wheezed out before breaking into a fit of uncontrollable coughs. Sakura grabbed the blanket behind him and wrapped him tightly. He met her gaze, his eyes were bloodshot from the stress of vomiting. Worried that his body might collapse from the exertion, Sakura held him tightly, subtly maintaining a close watch on his heart. She felt his body deadweight in her arms the moment the paramedics arrived.

 

...

 

"Sakura." 

 

The sound of Tsunade's sharp voice cut through the young doctor's silent contemplations, causing her to jump slightly before meeting the blonde woman's gaze. "I'm really proud of you," she said bending down, giving Sakura's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Not many people can work so well under pressure."

 

"What's his status, Tsunade?" Sakura's voice barely louder than a whisper.

 

"We've filtered the drugs from his system and I sent an intern to clear out all of the medications in his apartment should his next psych exam deem him worthy of being home at all, but at this rate..." They locked eyes for a moment, and Sakura immediately glanced to the side, fixing her gaze on the EXIT sign at the end of the hall. "Anyways, the peroxide did a number on his esophagus and stomach lining, but he should be physically fine in a few days."

 

Sakura felt a clipboard land in her lap and she knew she needed to write a report on exactly what took place. The pen immediately finding its way into her mouth, Sakura began to gently gnaw on the plastic, worrying over the exact nature of the information she was required to provide.

 

"By the way, I called Naruto. I thought you might need a friend, he's waiting for you in the lounge." Tsunade pointed down the hall. Gulping, Sakura rose to her feet, silently thankful for Tsunade's interference in her personal affairs. She glanced around for a moment to realize the buxom Chief of Medicine was turning the corner, out of sight.

 

"Hey Sakura-chan," Naruto greeted her immediately when she pushed open the door. Sakura merely nodded in response and fell in a heap onto the empty space beside Naruto, the hospital lounge couch feeling far more comfortable than she recalled.

 

"Tsunade said you needed me at the hospital, said it was an emergency. I was so worried..." She watched his expressive corn-blossom eyes as they darted around the room, a sign he felt nervous. And guilty. "Listen, Sakura I-"

 

"It's okay, Naruto. I understand. I was a flake." She spoke quickly, with little feeling. Honestly, Sakura didn't care about her argument with Naruto any longer. It all seemed so petty now. "Please, let's just drop it. We both know the other is forgiven and that everything is okay," she finished, a brittle smile tugging at the corners of her lips.

 

"So what happened, Sakura?" His eyes turned serious as he linked arms with her. Sakura accepted his subtle vie for affection and nuzzled into his neck, proceeding to recount the events that transpired over the past week.

 

She surprised herself by not crying, but that was probably due more to emotional exhaustion than willpower or strength. The cotton candy-haired girl considered leaving out the part involving sex with her patient, but she really really needed a friend, and although Naruto had the tendency to be judgmental, it was out of love and at least he cared whole-heartedly.

 

"You slept with Kakashi-sensei," Naruto stated quietly, a tan hand twisting his overgrown, honey-coloured locks, biting back the opinion that was perched waiting on his tongue.

 

"Yeah, I did. Then he swallowed a bottle of pills..." she said without an ounce of irony, which caused Naruto to jerked her sideways, forcing her to face him.

 

"Sakura do not even start thinking that bullshit. Don't act like everything's about you," he said firmly, and much to her surprise his words were oddly wise.

 

"I know, I'm just upset.. It was all so.. taxing..." she trailed off. Naruto sighed, wishing he would continue this conversation with her.

 

"Well, listen, Sakura-chan. Gaara and his sister are coming up to the gallery to set up for his exhibit on Friday, so I need to run." She nodded in understanding, seeing the look of apology in his azure orbs. "I hope you can make it, but it's okay if you can't."

 

"I'll try," Sakura replied noncommittally.

 

"Cool. Well, Sasuke's working on a really big case, so I doubt he can leave the office." Sakura stared at him, her head cocked to the side as she tried to grasp his point. "If you need company? Duh. Do you want me to call Ino or something?"

 

"No, thank you though. I'll be alright on my own for now."

 

"Alright." He stood up and pulled her into a tight embrace, giving her a wet kiss on the forehead, and he chuckled when she cringed from the sensation.

 

"Give Sasuke a kiss for me?" Sakura asked as Naruto made his way to the door, the first real smile on her face all morning. A wolfish grin broke across Naruto's handsome, sun-drenched features.

 

"Oh, I will." He winked, then disappeared from sight.

 

Sakura gravitated towards Kakashi's room until she found herself curled up in the recliner located at his bedside. She stared at the unwritten report in her lap, chewing on her pen. The swelling theme from Icha Icha The Movie was quietly playing from the television opposite Kakashi's bed. Sakura scoffed at how spoiled he was, because it was evident someone had brought in a copy of the movie and a player for him.

 

The lulling, rhythmic sound of soft-spoken dialogue tore Sakura away from her clipboard and she found herself admiring the soothing cadence of their voices and the beautifully colourful visuals reminiscent of over the top martial arts movies.

 

Sakura's jade orbs flicked back over to Kakashi's resting form and she couldn't help but laugh at the look on his face. With the medicine they had given him, the enigmatic man should have been in a peaceful sleep, however he was sporting a deep scowl, as if subconsciously aware that he was in a hospital.

 

Shaking her head, Sakura refocused her thoughts on the clipboard before her. She was expected to record the entire experience, and with-holding information was heavily frowned upon, but becoming intimate with your patient was even more frowned upon. Plus, if she came clean, she would lose Kakashi as a patient, which would result in her having no reason to spend time with him. It was very likely Tsunade would try to waive his rights and have him committed.

 

The longer she thought about it, the more Sakura began to grasp that Kakashi's actions were an honest indication that his unspoken statement from earlier had far more weight than she realized, that he truly had very strong feelings for her, regardless of how askew his logic in handling them was.

 

Not as though Sakura behaved very well either. She had completely abused her position of power as his caretaker and his doctor and his friend. She was the worst kind of person.

 

Taking a deep breath, Sakura pulled the now mangled pen from her mouth and began to record the events leading up to Kakashi's suicide attempt, trying to be as matter-of-fact and systematic as possible, being sure to include him voicing his regret, it would look better for him in the long run, all while stealing glances at the man in question every few moments as if he were going to disappear when she completed her report.

 

Signing her name at the bottom, Sakura set the clipboard and pen beside the chair and took a seat on Kakashi's bed. She reached up to remove the surgical mask Tsunade had placed over his mouth and leaned closer to trace the lines of his face in admiration.

 

"I'm sorry, Kakashi," she murmured, her voice wrought with guilt. Sakura truly wanted Kakashi to be happy, and this morning did little to curb her affection for the man. She wanted him to want her, sure, but as she watched him sleep, a warm feeling brewing in her heart, she realized that it didn't matter if she were a part of the equation in the end.

 

She merely wanted to see him overcome all the regrets that held him back from doing the things he wanted to do, and regardless of what could happen in the coming weeks, Sakura vowed to help him. Recalling something her mother said once, Sakura laughed at the irony, 'Never fall for a man thinking you can change him.' To which the stubborn sixteen year old Sakura replied, 'But what if I know I can?'

 

Deciding she wasn't close enough, Sakura scooted forward, turning to face him completely. Moving herself over him, she brought her lips to his ear, dropping her voice to just above a whisper. "I just want you.." She muttered against the skin of his exposed neck, her lips ghosting over him with airy kisses.

 

Sakura stopped as the beeping sounds of Kakashi's slow heart rate became a bit more erratic. Sakura smirked while she brought her lips to his, in a soft, warm kiss. For a moment his lips moved slightly against hers and she questioned whether or not he was truly asleep. Pulling back to give him a once over, Sakura tugged his mask back into place, signing off her suspicions as hopeful imagination, then pushed herself off the bed.

 

Picking up her report, she walked to the door, and with one last glance over her shoulder, she slipped the clipboard into the slot containing his chart hurried to exit the building so Sakura wouldn't be present while Tsunade read her written account.

 

...

 

The Strokes / You Only Live Once

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Six

 

Sakura sat on the cool brick landing of her fire-place, staring at her couch. Taking another long drink from the bottle her favourite cheap, red wine. Her phone began to ring and before she answered the call, she gave her couch a suspicious look. "I'm onto you.."

 

Sakura groaned loudly when she saw who was calling her; she had only been home for one night and Tsunade was already prepared to reprimand her. "Hello?"

 

"Hey Sakura, it's Shizune. What are you up to right now?" Sure, Sakura could hear the smile in Shizune's voice, but it wasn't the normal kind of smile. No, it was the 'don't kill the messenger' kind of smile.

 

"Drinking," she replied simply, pausing for a few gulps.

 

"Sakura, it is two in the afternoon."

 

"Well, it is good to know that our doctors on staff can tell time." 

 

"I am not sure what has gotten into you, but I'd leave that attitude at home. Tsunade requested you for a private meeting immediately." Her voice was stern, but still had that soft-around-the-edges touch to it that eased Sakura's mind.

 

"Alright, alright. I'm gonna get dressed and I'll be right over," she said defeatedly.

 

"Sakura, please don't tell me you're driving.."

 

"Calm down, I'll call a cab." 

 

Let it be known that Sakura wasn't much of a day drinker, in that sense she was more of a Holiday Alcoholic. But after coming home yesterday and having no way to shut her brain off and no one to talk about it with, she settled for plowing through her stash of wine while watching an entire series about two girls falling in love, because it was just one of those days. 

 

"Goodmorning, Dr. Haruno." 

 

She jerked to the side, nearly stumbling. "Oh, Nurse Juniper, how nice to see you. Will you do me a favour?" Sakura smiled as the burgundy-haired girl made a face at the nickname, but she nodded nonetheless. "Will you set me up with a saline solution while I run and grab a coffee?"

 

"Of course, Dr. Haruno, meet you at the coffee shop in five?" 

 

Sakura was already walking there and gave a thumbs up behind her head.

 

"Hey Sakura.. Oh, nice baggage there." Shizune smirked as the bubblegum-haired doctor waltzed up to Tsunade's office. Sakura glanced down, suddenly remembering that she had a saline drip attached to her arm. She merely shrugged in response and knocked on Tsunade's door.

 

"Enter," Tsunade spat venomously. Sakura winced, she knew that tone. It was the one Tsunade got after losing a lot of money paired with a wicked hangover. Why today?

 

"Bad day at the races, Tsunade-shishou?" Sakura grinned nervously, shutting the door behind her. Tsunade stood at her arrival.

 

"Well well well. Look we have here, no don't sit." She ordered. Sakura knew this move well. Tsunade was going to slowly circle the young doctor as she gave judgement. Sakura likened it to a lioness teasing her trapped prey. "Nice to see you decided to at least attempt to sober up." Tsunade's eye flickered to Sakura's saline drip. She did not reply.

 

A long, painful silence set in as Tsunade's heels made contact with the floor slowly. Sakura tried to breathe, but it was as though the oxygen was diluted heavily with smoke, because she only found herself choking quietly.

 

"I must say, Sakura. I am really really disappointed in you." Tsunade sighed, but her voice was still firm, an angry edge to her words. "I know that look, we will talk about your Kakashi in a moment. I thought long and hard about how to handle this. And I may or may not be blaming you for my poor luck at the track last night." Sakura suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. As if Tsunade ever won anything.

 

"I'm sorry for this, girl. But I have to be fair. Just because you're my favourite doesn't mean I get to treat you like my favourite. So, that being said, I'm stripping you of the title Head of the Otolaryngology Department." Sakura sucked in quickly, as if she had been punched in the gut. It was then that Sakura noticed something, Tsunade wasn't yelling at her, which was very odd. She honestly sounded sorry for Sakura, which she had to admit made her feel even more miserable.

 

"You will no longer be approved for both overtime and E.R. on call duty. You will work the shifts given to you without complaint, regardless of how few they may be. In return I am going to wipe this... incident off of your record. Furthermore, you will no longer be charged with taking care of Hatake. Which brings me to my next point."

 

Sakura's eyes widened slightly. Next point? At this rate, Sakura would have to dip into her savings just to pay her bills. Sakura tasted blood and realized she had chewed a hole into her cheek, she just swallowed and focused her attention back to Tsunade.

 

"What in the hell were you thinking?" Ah, there it was, the anger. This was better, this made sense to Sakura. "I mean, you've done some pretty unprofessional shit before, excluding today, but honestly, is there a brain on inside that massive forehead of yours?" Sakura never should have let Ino visit her at work. "Because obviously not! Now, I might have assumed something would happen between you two, and maybe I placed bets on it, but I at least thought you had the sense to wait until the two months were up! Not after a goddamn week!"

 

By this point Sakura had dodged a stapler, a paperweight, and a steel thermos. This type of rage meant that Tsunade lost money directly-more or less-because of Sakura. Tsunade was breathing evenly, and was seated behind her desk, ushering Sakura to take the seat in front of her.

 

"Kinky stuff aside, Kakashi has been in evaluation all morning. And I know that you're no longer in charge of him, I figured you had the right to know." 

 

'Not treating me like a favourite my ass.'

 

"He was apparently truthful for this exam, so that's a good start. He won't be committed, but he signed a waiver promising that should any suicidal thoughts or behaviours occur again, then he would subject himself to staying at our mental health center for the required minimum of five days."

 

Sakura let out the breath she had been holding in, the weight on her shoulders being lifted bit by bit. "So, I'm not sure what exactly occurred between you two, but it obviously had an effect. I've assigned him a live-in nurse, no not you, put those hopeful eyes away, brat. I was thinking Sai."

 

"Sai?" Sakura questioned in disbelief, her throat dry from not speaking for awhile.

 

"Do you need your hearing checked? Yes, Sai."

 

It wasn't that Sakura disliked Sai, per se. He was very interesting, rather handsome, a marvelous painter, and he was nothing short of brilliant. But he was an asshole and had absolutely no idea how to behave socially, which made one wonder why he chose a job that was so very social. His stupid grins and rude comments earned him dead last in terms of coworkers, but patients loved him and he worked with a lot of elderly and psychiatric patients. 

 

Sakura nodded, still lost in thought. "Is there anything else you need, ma'am?"

 

"Well, I reckon not. Tell Shizune to bring me in some painkillers on your way out. By the way, Kakashi is still here, waiting for his discharge." Tsunade said flippantly, and Sakura had to restrain herself from bounding out of the office, given it would look bad and she had an iv attached to her arm.

 

Sakura took the long walk to Kakashi's room, her mind reeling over what had happened. Sakura was immensely unhappy about being demoted, but truthfully she should be thankful that Tsunade didn't file a report on her, because that was like getting blacklisted in Konoha. When she reached his door, Sakura realized she hadn't looked in a mirror since this morning and prayed her wavy hair and wine-stained lips weren't too unappealing. Pausing to call and have a nurse remove her iv, Sakura took a few calming breaths before pushing the door open.

 

Just as the day before, Icha Icha was playing in the background. Kakashi looked up and met her eyes, but his expression was as unreadable as it had been when she met him. Sweeping her eyes over him, she noticed he was now wearing casual--could you call them that?--clothes. A black, fitting turtle-neck that was pulled over his face, which was obviously custom-made, and a pair of dark-wash jeans. She blushed when her eyes locked on his again, because this time he was smirking.

 

"Imagine my displeasure upon waking to find a doctor not nearly as pretty as you taking care of me," he said quietly, his throat obviously still healing from the chemical burns. Sakura slowly made her way to the bed he was so lazily lounging in, the book he was holding quickly forgotten with her presence. Sakura realized someone must have been sent to fetch some of his things. 

 

"So who's your neighbor?" Sakura asked. Kakashi had obviously not been expecting that, his eyebrow lifted with curiosity but he obliged her.

 

"Which one? You mean Crazy Bryce or Cute Redhead?" He chuckled when Sakura made a sour face.

 

"She's a little venomous to be considered cute don't you think?" 

 

Kakashi shrugged, which Sakura translated into him not wanting to discuss if he thought she was cute, because it would lead to Sakura feeling jealous. Grant it, she had been known to over-analyze.

 

"Her name's Karin," he replied simply. Sakura recalled they had freshman biology, Karin was in love with pre-out of the closet Sasuke, and she was awfully cruel. Sakura saw his hand twitching to his book and she quickly changed the subject.

 

"Are you okay?" She asked quietly, her tone serious. Although she realized how stupid that question was and bit her lip. She felt his familiar touch as he pushed her hair behind her ear, and she glanced up to meet Kakashi's lazy, warm gaze.

 

"Are you?" 

 

At first Sakura thought that was a lame way to avoid the question, but she realized that Naruto had been the only one to ask her that. She looked out the window thoughtfully for a moment before nodding.

 

"I'm sorry," she breathed, avoiding his eyes. She suddenly felt a pair of bare lips connect with her cheek and she let her eyes slide closed when his strong arms pulled her closer.

 

"Me too." His voice was low and scratchy, liked listening to an old record, and when he pulled back her breath caught in her throat at the sight of his face. Seeing his face in its normal state was much different than before. The other night, his eyes were half-lidded and dark, his cheeks flushed with desire. Then yesterday his skin was ashen, almost blue, making his features appear sharp and a little intimidating.

 

Now he just looked lazy. So very at ease with himself. Small lines peeking from the corners of his large, ever bored, almond-shaped eyes, he even had a dimple in the corner of his mouth, and small, almost invisible scars were scattered around. Her eyes found the scar over his eye, and she wondered how many scars he had that she hadn't noticed the other night.

 

"Did you kiss me that night at the bar?" She asked suddenly. His eyes widened a fraction before resumed their tired expression, and despite how cool he seemed, Sakura saw the faintest bit of blush tinging his neck.

 

"Without a doubt," he said without pause.

 

"I knew it you, toad!" She shoved him into the back of the bed. After a small, incredibly handsome and perfect grin, Kakashi pulled his mask up and scratched the back of his head.

 

"If you are expecting an apology, well that simply is just not going to happen." She stuck her tongue out at him causing a brief chuckle to escape his lips. Silence fell upon them for a few moments, Kakashi trying to read and Sakura watching the storm clouds gather outside.

 

"Sakura, generally speaking, would you consider yourself a rule follower?" He asked suddenly. Sakura tilted her head to the side, furrowing her brow.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"The type of person to adhere to dress codes, show up for work early, and overall abide by the rules." 

 

She bit her lip, fighting back the angry blush coming up from her shirt. "I know what it means, I think we both know the answer to that. But why do you ask?"

 

He shrugged, "You just have that got-caught-sneaking-out look about you."

 

Deciding she would rather not break the news of her demotion quite yet, Sakura simply replied with a similar shrug. "So it goes."

 

Kakashi hummed in response and stretched like a cat, trying to find a better lounging position. Sakura couldn't help but to sneak a glance at his exposed abdomen while his shirt rode up. Feeling his eyes on her, she turned to face him with rosy cheeks.

 

"You are doing wonders for my ego, Sakura-chan," he said with a smirk.

 

"Kakashi, where do we stand?" The rosette asked abruptly, not so smoothly changing the subject. 

 

A dark look of realization passed over his mis-matched eyes, as though he had suddenly remembered that he was in a hospital bed, and the reason behind that.

 

Sakura found his reaction to be rather curious. It dawned on her that in terms of compartmentalizing his feelings, Kakashi was probably one of the best. She wondered if he willingly let the walls subdividing his thoughts dissolve, like making an attempt to try and be honest with her about himself. But maybe he had spent so long in private solitude that he was no longer capable of sharing the darker parts of his mind--where his regrets, his haunting memories resided--without serious mental repercussions.

 

Tearing herself away from her thoughts with a newfound understanding, Sakura waited patiently for him to respond. Kakashi's fingers were tapping lightly over his hidden mouth in thought and Sakura found herself envious of those fingers.

 

"I suppose telling someone with your type of personality to go with the flow is a suggestion made in vain," he mused quietly, not really smiling, but not quite frowning either.

 

"I could go with the flow..." She knew she sounded unsure of herself, and Kakashi must have known too because in a blink of an eye he was on her, burying his face into her shoulder, taking deep breaths, muttering something about wine and apples.

 

"Sakura..." He murmured into the crook of her neck, reaching up to tug down his mask, his rich baritones sending shivers down her spine. Sakura blinked for a few moments before noticing that she was in his lap, Kakashi's strong arms latched firmly around her waist. Her body began to relax after the initial shock of being repositioned so suddenly, the rising and falling of Kakashi's chest made her feel sleepy.

 

As the tension subsided, Kakashi resumed lightly kissing her neck, parting his lips to ghost his tongue over the sensitive skin while Sakura's heart was beating wildly in her chest. Unlatching one of his arms, the silver-haired man began to run his fingers over Sakura's denim-clad leg, unhurried but purposeful, causing the girl to shudder slightly when he brushed her inner thigh.

 

Sakura was positive she was dreaming. Her head was absolutely swimming, void of any thoughts that didn't completely involve what was happening to her in that moment. He was barely doing anything, but it was somehow everything, taking all of her other experiences and tossing them to the wind.

 

She felt his lips tug into a smug, but small, smile against her skin. Then his teeth grazed against her ear, his hot breath coming out in pants, Sakura sighed out loud, her hips unconsciously jerking into him. Kakashi groaned at the friction, cupping her as he pushed her against him again, his other hand twisted into the fabric of her shirt. It was that first moment in the hospital when Sakura knew that deep down, Kakashi was an unrestrained pervert; she blamed the leftover morphine in his bloodstream.

 

"In answer to your question..." He started, his words muddled slightly with his rapid breathing. "I think we--"

 

He didn't get the opportunity to express his thoughts because the sound of the door opening had the flushed, pink-haired doctor stumbling onto the floor, looking very guilty as she straightened her clothes and smoothed down her hair.

 

"Oh, hey, Ugly. Am I interrupting anything?" Sakura heard Kakashi chuckling as she shot a withering glare towards the raven-haired nurse, who simply smiled in return.

 

"Sai, for the last time, I am your superior. You will address me accordingly or I'll have your written up again," she seethed.

 

"I suppose I just have a problem with authority when the person in charge is a five-foot-tall twenty-four year old girl." Sai had spoken with complete honesty, confused as to why Sakura didn't seem to grasp the concept yet. At this Kakashi actually laughed, a sound Sakura rarely heard. Definitely the morphine.

 

"I am just... Not dealing with this now. I will leave you two to get acquainted since you're to be spending so much time together from here on out." She turned to Kakashi and gave him a vague but apologetic smile, but he just raised an eyebrow, perplexed at her comment. After shooting Sai a sugary sweet smile, Sakura was out the door. She had blondes to call and free time to fill.

 

...

 

TV Girl / It's Not Something

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Seven

 

Sakura cringed when she saw Sai's awful, yellow car parked in front of Kakashi's apartment, but she trudged inside anyway.

 

"Hey Sai, what are you up to?" Sai smiled his warm, weird smile and Sakura just swallowed, forcing a smile in return.

 

"Oh hey, Ugly. Just trying to decide on what colours to paint this miserable excuse of an apartment," Sai replied with a smile as he sorted the paint swatches spread across the counter. Sakura cocked her head to the side, trying to decipher why, and Sai rolled his eyes dramatically. "His therapist mentioned to me that it might be a good idea for him to try and decorate his apartment, to make it feel more lived in."

 

Sakura frowned deeply. She had never once spoken to Kakashi's therapist or his therapist, but apparently Sai was given certain rights that she herself had not been granted. It didn't feel unfair, necessarily. She just felt a pang of guilt, and maybe a little bit of jealousy. The curiosity Sakura had about the inner-workings of Kakashi's mind may or may not have kept her up at night, wondering. But the cotton candy-haired girl was positive she respected him enough to not snoop.

 

"Then shouldn't Kakashi be choosing the colours, ne?" She plastered on her best grin.

 

Sai shrugged, his perfect posture waning for just a moment, revealing how tired he was. "He simply has no opinion whatsoever. He seems perfectly content living in a ghost house." Sakura shivered slightly at Sai's explanation. Ghost house did not sit well with her. 

 

"Where is he, may I ask?"

 

"He's on the roof, the fire escape is outside his bedroom window." 

 

Sakura was halfway up the stairs before Sai could finish. She quickly walked through his room, making sure to not spare a look around, the events of Thursday were still fresh in her mind.

 

Sakura opened the window and stepped onto the fire escape, the hot summer air instantly stifling and unbearable. 

 

"Fuck me," she muttered as she glanced up. She had no idea there were so many floors above his apartment, but she was in good enough shape and managed to drag herself up the iron staircase step by step.

 

Sakura leaned down, hands on her knees to catch her breath. It was understandable why Kakashi would be up here despite the humid, late summer climate. The view was amazing. Sakura walked around, her fingers lightly grazing the ledge as she peered out at the city. Konoha was a very beautiful, very old city. Every single building that jutted into the sky had its own unique style, yet there was a sense of harmony among the multicoloured skyscrapers. It was clear that rather than demolish the old, they simply built onto it, resulting in a hodge-podge of incongruous colours and shapes, that when silhouetted against a setting summer sun, created a scene no painter could capture. Sakura sighed for a moment, relishing in the way the warm light bounced off the buildings, casting long, crooked shadows across the city.

 

The sound of snoring snapped the girl from her peace and Sakura quickly remembered her mission. She made her way through the maze of potted plants until she found the object of her pursuit. Kakashi was stretched across a hammock, a bright green book covering his eyes. Sakura smiled at the sight; the wind was slowly rocking him and his arm was hanging off the side, letting his fingers graze the bright green astroturf.

 

Slowly Sakura tip-toed to the sleeping man, her hand just barely slipping under his book to lift it up. Then a sharp pain shot through her wrist as it was grabbed in a firm grip then twisted behind her back. And without thinking, Sakura bent her knees and flipped the man over her, slamming him on his back.

 

"Kuso!" Kakashi huffed, his eyes wide and confused.

 

"I am so sorry!" She dropped to her knees and helped him sit up.

 

"I think I'm the one who's sorry," he grinned beneath his mask, scratching the back of his head, embarrassed. "I guess I just wasn't expecting all that." Sakura continued to apologize, absolutely mortified. "Sakura, calm down." She nervously met his sleepy eyes. "It was just surprising is all. I'm a tough guy, I can handle getting violently thrown into the concrete by someone half my size. If anything, it's my ego that's hurting."

 

"Maybe you needed to be brought down a few pegs. Luckily, I am just the girl to do that for you." Sakura laughed, biting her lip. Kakashi stood up, and Sakura accepted his outstretched hand. Dusting off the invisible dirt from her denim shorts, Sakura followed after Kakashi.

 

"So, why is it that you are physically able to wipe the ground with me?" Kakashi asked as he directed her to sit beside him on a white bench, situated by the ledge.

 

"Stop saying it like that! Violently? Wiping the ground with you? That is hardly the case," she defended, but answered him regardless. "Anyways, I'd always been an angry kid, so my parents thought martial arts might help, then after they died I threw myself into training and studying before I killed someone. I still have a pretty wicked temper, though."

 

Kakashi hummed, nodding in understanding. "Well, I have no qualms with fighting you, so pick your battles wisely, okay?" He chuckled and Sakura sought to put an end to said chuckling by swiftly punching him in the arm, which as a result only made him grasp his sore arm and break into a full-blown laugh.

 

Sakura scoffed at how short-tempered she was, and how much she hated it. "Whatever, I could take you." Kakashi only nodded, deciding to let her win. Because Kakashi did know when to pick his battles.

 

A comfortable silence fell between them, admiring the setting sun taking first priority. Sakura hadn't taken the time to appreciate a city sunset in a very long time and had forgotten how magical it looked from such a high angle.

 

"This is always the best time of day." Kakashi said quietly, taking the words from her mouth. "The way the night-lights of the city begin to flicker on at dusk. Such a contrasting view, the sun slowly disappearing, its light being swiftly replaced..." He trailed off, not really talking to her, she realized.

 

Then she felt the air between them shift slightly, a certain tension present that wasn't there before. 

 

"We need to talk about something," Kakashi stated, his low voice was dark and almost sad. It made Sakura nervous.

 

"What is it?" She turned to face him, his expression was unreadable.

 

"I've been put back on the field." It took Sakura only a moment to understand him, and her face paled instantly, she opened her mouth to demand why, but Kakashi was already on her with an explanation. "Last week, one of our agent's blew his cover. As a result his entire team was trapped and killed. We have plenty of guys fresh from the academy, but the last time the department sent rookies on cases without proper field training, well.." He looked away, facing the city, his eyes looked distant and hollow for a moment before he regained composure and continued. "We just can't afford to take risks like that anymore."

 

"Why are you telling me this? I mean, not why, but… is this a good idea?" Her voice was shaky and uncertain, but she held eye contact.

 

"No, it is not a good idea, but it is the only option. I can handle it. I'm the most capable. And I'm telling you this in confidence..."

 

"What kind of undercover job are you doing?" She interrupted.

 

"I'm not at liberty to discuss it really. It is of utmost importance that no one else gains knowledge of what has happened between us, Sakura." His tone was stern, leaving no room for debate, but her curiosity couldn't be stifled so swiftly.

 

"What do you mean? Why are you saying this?" Her voice cracked, and her eyes glazed with tears.

 

"I didn't expect this. I can't be who you want me to be right now."

 

"You can't or you won't?" Sakura demanded, anger slowly burning through her.

 

"Listen to me. It's not what you think it is. My doctors, and Sai, they are all people who are being paid a lot of money to deny ever knowing me should my cover fail. I can't let anymore people into my life right now, because they're just going to become liabilities should something happen. And when you see my face in the media, you're going to be one of the only people not involved with the case who will be able to place me."

 

Sakura didn't say anything for a long time, trying to process this information. His therapist, his psychiatrist, and now his nurse Sai were all given their jobs because they are people guaranteed to take a bullet to the head before confessing to having any knowledge about Hatake Kakashi. The thought sent a cold wave of uncertainty through her body.

 

"But… but I want to be with you.. I can take care of myself. If you'll just tell me who it is you're portraying, then I can work something out. Don't shut me out. Please." She felt his hands grasp her face, turning her back towards him.

 

"Please don't think I'm shutting you out. Telling you that information would only put you in danger. So trust me, you'll know when you see it." He leaned down pressing his forehead against hers, his voice dropped to a low, husky octave. "And I'm sorry you lost your job because of me. Don't saything--I'm a cop, Sakura. Getting information about you is so easy it scares me. So please just stay away for awhile, and if you see me, don't acknowledge me, if at all possible."

 

Kakashi reached up and slowly pulled down his mask and pressed his lips firmly against Sakura's. Her mind was swirling in so many directions, she couldn't process what he was saying. This wasn't how this was supposed to turn out. Sakura had visions of a slow, warm romance forming between them. She wanted to spend her free time learning more about this mysterious, funny, kind, sad, hopeful man. She sighed against him, giving into the kiss, abandoning her thoughts for now.

 

"I'm sorry, Sakura." He pulled away and murmured in her ear. Sakura only nodded, not trusting her voice. He swiftly pulled her against him and buried his face into her neck. Sakura moaned silently at the feel of his calloused hand ghosting up her thigh. This was in no way fair. His lips met hers again with an unparalleled passion. 

 

But as quickly as it came, it was gone. Kakashi led her down the fire escape, and through his now empty house, Sai had run and errand. The front door closed behind her and Sakura stood for a few moments, trying to focus on breathing while her head was wrapping around everything. Then she heard something crash against something else, the sound of breaking glass maybe. Sakura jumped and held her breath listening to the muffled sounds within the apartment. She heard Kakashi curse himself as he hurled something against the wall, and biting back her tears, Sakura used every ounce of her strength to walk to her car.

 

...

 

It had been a few weeks since Kakashi had more or less dumped Sakura on the roof. Actually, it had been two weeks, five days, and twenty-two hours, but she wasn't keeping track. However it hadn't been all that difficult to busy herself with other activities. Since she got a total of one shift per week as of late, Sakura was working for all of her friends for some extra cash. She helped Ino close the flower shop nearly every night, babysat for Kurenai three times a week, and now she was seated in the office of Naruto's gallery space, working diligently at reorganizing his life for him. She was going through all of his emails and appointments, recording them on the large, desk-size calendar she'd bought for him, the sound of the local headlines droning from the television across the room.

 

Since the death of business conglomerate Sarutobi Hiruzen, the question of who will take over his affairs has been under debate. Sarutobi's only heir, estranged son Sarutobi Asuma, died late last year during a local drug-bust, leaving a wife and daughter, the only immediate family. This brought Sarutobi Industries to a stand-still. Long-time rival Shimuru Danzo sought to buy the company, and today he would have had the opportunity. Just hours before the scheduled auction, a family member came forward to accept his role of CEO. Ishimaru Gaikotsu arrived late last week, claiming to be the extramarital child of the late Sarutobi Biwako, and after extensive blood-work and background checks, he has every right to make such claims.

 

"So Mister Ishimaru, what made you decide to take over the company? It is clear you had no relationship with Sarutobi Hiruzen."

 

"Please, call me Gaikotsu. Although-"

 

Sakura stopped what she was doing instantly at the sound of Gaikostu's smooth, charming voice as he calmly talked about his family. She slowly drug her eyes to the television, the sight before her making her heart stop. It was Kakashi. She knew it was before she looked, but she craved the visual confirmation.

 

He looked very much the same, but also very different. He wore a charcoal suit with a light blue tie, it was pressed and molded to his body seamlessly. The usual piece of dark cloth that covered his face was gone, revealing a perfectly crooked smile, a smile that was supposed to be hers. Finally tearing her gaze away from his mouth, she glanced at his eyes and nearly gasped. His eyes were piercing, and completely unlike his own. They were a bright, shimmering shade of golden-brown, identical to Kurenai's daughter.

 

Sakura rose to her feet and made her way to the television until she was so close, Kakashi only appeared to be a mash of colourful pixels. But she could still hear his voice. So deep and rich, yet very formal and unlike him. Sakura closed her eyes, her breaths came in deep gasps as she strained to listen.

 

"So, Gaikostu, your mother founded the Care Givers Foundation shortly before her death, I'm sure you're familiar with it. The annual Care Givers Dinner is tomorrow night, will you be filling the position of head of the board and attending the event?"

 

"I suppose I could manage."

 

Sakura listened as they chuckled before shutting off the television, fighting the urge to vomit. She was the hospital's representative for the Care Givers Foundation, and because the hospital received a rather large donation every year, she was required to attend. Grabbing her things, Sakura quickly made her way out of the building, ignoring Naruto's calls as she stormed past him. She had to find a way to shirk her responsibilities before tomorrow night, because there was no way she could attend that party.

 

… 

 

The Strokes / Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Eight

 

Kakashi liked to think he was a smart enough guy. He was a homeschooled genius who went to college terribly early, taking as many classes as his advisors would allow, he could speak at least six languages fluently, and was a year of work away from being a grand master in martial.l arts. Kakashi knew for a fact that he could pass any test on any subject in nearly any language, but for what? Kakashi had tried desperately to find a profession until he decided to follow in his father's footsteps in becoming an undercover cop, or really more like undercover criminal detective. And in this line of work Kakashi quickly became fluent in a concept he hadn't considered before then. The greater good. In theory, the greater good sounded... well great. But in practice, when you're the one implementing the greater good, it starts to wear on you.

 

So, Kakashi was smart enough to understand that sometimes good people had to do very bad things in order to achieve a greater purpose, however he really hadn't counted on the extent of how terrible those bad things could be. And as he sat on the edge of his hotel bed at the Hokage Tower Hotel, head in his hands, he was rapidly remembering why he wanted to end his life in the first place.

 

Kakashi found it easy to just ignore the feelings of regret and self-hatred by consuming every free moment with drinking or reading, or any multitude of the seemingly boring hobbies he'd already perfected. But this therapy he was forced to attend was causing his sanity to slip. Kakashi couldn't help but think this was a tad counterproductive. He honestly didn't want to talk about the men and women he'd slept with, the innocent people he'd killed, the drugs he'd consumed, all for the greater good. Kakashi wasn't the best at his job by caring how all those instances affected him, he was the best because he ignored how all of it affected him. And now it was damn near impossible to ignore when some phD was telling him it was okay to accept how ashamed he was by his past.

 

At least he would see Sakura tonight. Kakashi may or may not have called the hospital and charmed his way into making sure Sakura had to represent the hospital. After Tenzou called to tell Kakashi that Sakura may be in attendance at tonight's shindig, Kakashi said he'd make sure she had a reason not to come. And he lied. Of course, he was professional enough to know that acknowledging her was simply not going to happen, but just seeing her seemed to calm his nerves. He wasn't sure what it was about her that fascinated him so, but he was hoping after all of this was finished he could take the time to find out.

 

Standing up, Kakashi finished his third drink of the afternoon, straightened his tie, and popped a breath mint in his mouth. It was time to officially start working. He needed to establish his cover in society, and attending this dinner seemed to be the best way to start.

 

...

 

Sakura looked at herself in the mirror and couldn't help but scowl. Sure, she looked great. With her high-waisted, black, cigarette leg trousers, white green flouncy top that showed off the soft muscle of her back, and incredibly high heels, Sakura looked great. But she felt miserable. She knew the moment she left the ladies' room, she would have to face the full extent of this evening. Sighing one more time, Sakura reapplied her powder-pink lipstick and slipped on her blazer. If she could dodge Mikoto then she may make it out tonight unnoticed and unscathed. Of course, the moment the door closed behind her, Sakura realized that was a wish made in vain.

 

"Sakura! Oh you doll!" The beautiful, raven-haired woman was on her before Sakura could take her first step.

 

"Hello Mikoto. You look beautiful, as usual." She hugged the small woman and glanced at her attire. Uchiha Mikoto was usually the most beautiful woman everywhere she went, tonight being no exception. He long, blue-black hair was curled and pulled over one shoulder to reveal a perfectly tailored gown, backless, in a silky shade of navy.

 

"You too, dear. Though you ought to be wearing a dress! What has gotten into you?" She scolded.

 

"Just wasn't in the mood to be too dressy, you know how it is."

 

"Do I ever. I'm sure Mister Uchiha would flip a lid if I left the house in pants. Walk with me, Sakura." She obliged, locking arms with the woman. "Oh Sakura, you are just such a gem. I really wish one of my boys would hurry up and marry you so I could have another girl around."

 

Sakura rolled her eyes. It was only a matter of time before this conversation came up. "Well, need I remind you that Sasuke is in fact gay. And Itachi stood me up, remember?"

 

"Of course! How could I forget? The toad! Don't think he will have the opportunity to forget either. You know I remind him every chance I get."

 

"Oh Mikoto, give him a break." Sakura laughed. "You know he loves working more than anything. A feeling I can truly sympathize with."

 

"Which is why I think you two would be a marvelous couple," she pointed out, elbowing Sakura suggestively.

 

"I'm sure you have no ulterior motives whatsoever in saying that."

 

"Ah you know me too well. There's someone I want you to meet, He is an absolute slice as well. Much more charming than my gargoyle of a son." Sakura found herself laughing again, forgetting her trepidations with running into Mikoto. Her good-natured jabs were something Sakura never grew weary of.

 

"Well who is this mysterious man, Mikoto? My interest is piqued."

 

"He's new here. I'm sure you've seen him in the news." Sakura's heart fell into her stomach. This couldn't be happening. "I managed to talk to the event coordinator and switched some people around, so he's going to be sitting at our table. I tried to get Itachi to switch seats so you could be beside him, but Itachi insisted he be seated by you, so sorry for that. Ah here we are."

 

It took Sakura all of two seconds for her to remember why she wanted to avoid Mikoto. She was the social butterfly of the elite. Mikoto knew everyone by name, and she never forgot a face. And Sakura was, standing in front of the man she planned on dodging the entire night. Stupid Tsunade, not letting her out of this. Stupid Mikoto for being so damn personable. Stupid Kakashi for looking so incredibly at ease and handsome, even with those stupid contacts. Sakura was certain she was about to scream. At least he looked just as surprised.

 

"Sakura for christ's sake pick your jaw up off the floor, you're embarrassing the man." 

 

Blushing furiously Sakura did as she was told and extended her hand. "I'm Haruno Sakura, representing Konoha Veteran's Hospital." He grabbed her hand, sending a bolt of electricity through her. He smiled in return, and Sakura wanted to smack him. He just looked so damn amused by all of this.

 

"Ishimaru Gaikostu. Very pleased to meet you, Ms Sakura. Mikoto's managed to say so much about you in the short time I've made her acquaintance." His lazy expression put Sakura at ease for a moment.

 

"Oh hush, you." Mikoto scolded the man. "I think I see Terumi Mei, I must be on my way, you two." And without another word, Mikoto disappeared to talk to the beautiful, redheaded politician.

 

Sakura stood awkwardly for a moment, biting her lip and pretending a certain silver-haired man wasn't staring her down with a stupid, beautiful smirk on his stupid, perfect face.

 

"So, Ms Sakura." He took a step forward, forcing Sakura to look him in the eyes. She felt her stomach fluttering hopelessly as she met his now caramel-chocolate eyes. For a moment she forgot her promise to treat him as a stranger and almost leaned up to wrap her arms around him, but as if sensing her thoughts he eased back slightly. "I must say, in a sea of flashy gowns, you certainly stick out." Sakura's jaw dropped open and she glanced down at her attire. He was right, but that didn't change how rude it seemed.

 

"I didn't mean it to be rude." He started, causing her eyes to snap back up. He was standing unbelievably straight, making Sakura's heels seem useless. She found herself missing his lazy gait. "Quite the opposite, actually. I think you may the most beautiful woman in attendance this evening." He smirked as Sakura's faint blush deepened. "I have a thing for elegant women's pantsuits." He said with a wink and laugh, before bowing and walking off to talk to someone else, leaving Sakura stunned and confused and incredibly flustered.

 

The lights dimmed, indicating it was time to be seated and start dinner. Before finding her place, Sakura grabbed a young server by the arm, nearly causing him to drop his tray. "I need a favor, kid," she said darkly.

 

The boy's eyebrow quirked. "What is it?"

 

"You see this pink hair? Hard to miss right?" He nodded and she continued. "I'll be sitting over there. I'm going to order red wine with my dinner and it is your job to make sure that my wine glass is never empty. Think you can handle that?"

 

"What's in it for me?"

 

"You're in college, right? I thought so. Here." She opened her clutch and retrieved her wallet. She pulled out fifty dollars and her business card, then stuck it inside his jacket pocket. "There's fifty bucks and my card. I'm a doctor. If goes wrong, you call me and I'll treat you on the sly. Got it?" He nodded, intimidated by her stern voice. "Good. Thanks."

 

She then made her way to be seated next to Itachi, silently wishing Sasuke didn't hate these events so she could have Naruto and him as a fun distraction. This night was already rapidly becoming one of the most stressful of her short life. She spared a look around, hoping to find someone to switch seats with before Itachi took notice of her presence. But the elegant, overhead chandeliers were casting a dark glow over the crowd, making it difficult to make out faces.

 

"Well well well. Look what we have here." Sakura turned to meet Itachi's crimson gaze. "I must say, Sakura. You look absolutely ravishing as always." His low, even tenors still managed to make her heart skip a beat and she disdained him for it. Sakura suddenly felt a different pair of eyes and she turned to the left to find Kakashi talking amiably to Uchiha Fugaku. Shaking it off she looked back at Itachi.

 

"Hello Itachi. How are you?" The bubblegum-haired doctor asked through clenched teeth.

 

"Only so much better now that you're here." He flashed his perfect, white teeth in a flirtatious smile, as a result Sakura's minty eyes rolled as a scoff escaped her.

 

"You are impossible, Itachi. You know that?"

 

"Are you still angry about me standing you up? Sakura, that was ages ago. And I said I was sorry," he clipped, directing his attention to the wine being poured for him.

 

"It was New Years, Itachi! For your parent's party! Everyone knew you were my date and I had to stand there all alone for hours!" She whispered loudly, before gulping down her own wine and holding out the glass, allowing the young boy to fill it up.

 

"You're being horribly dramatic."

 

Sakura felt it again, someone's eyes on her, only this time she turned to see Kakashi looking straight at her. His expression was unreadable, but he almost looked upset. 'Can he hear our conversation? Is he.. jealous?' His mouth twitched upwards in a tight smile, causing a spark to shoot down her spine.

 

...

 

The rest of the dinner went on, more or less, without a hitch. Itachi shamelessly hit on her throughout the entire ordeal, and Kakashi kept tossing glances her way that bordered on territorial, but overall it was okay. Her glass never went empty, so when the final speaker concluded the evening she found herself a little wobbly on her heels.

 

"Sakura! Oh darling you look a little flushed." Sakura glanced over to see Mikoto latched onto her arm again.

 

"Well, you know. Wine," Sakura replied with a shrug.

 

"Ugh you aren't even married to him yet and Itachi is already driving you to drink." Sakura laughed, ignoring the 'yet' of Mikoto's observation. "Please be safe on your way home."

 

"I always am," She said sweetly, letting Mikoto walk away feeling easier.

 

Sakura very carefully made her way out of the hotel's elegant ballroom and towards the lobby. Then she felt a very strong grip yank her into darkness. A scream was making its way out of her mouth, but was quickly muffled when she felt a hand clamp over her lips. Panic was causing her body to tremble until the hands left her body and a light switched on, revealing a very tall, very handsome, silver-haired man wearing a perfectly tailored silver suit. He reached over to lock the door and Sakura realized she was in a cleaning supply closet. Turning to face his blank face, Sakura giggled before she had a chance to stop herself.

 

"I know you..." she whispered louder than she intended, causing Kakashi to put a finger over her mouth. She lowered her voice in response. "Are you kidnapping me?"

 

"Of course not," he said in mock-offense.

 

"Then why, man I've never met before tonight, are you dragging me into a supply closet? You must know this is very forward behavior." Her voice had a playful, carefree ring to it, but Sakura was aware of the hurt reflecting in her emerald orbs. Kakashi sighed deeply, letting his formal mask slip away. He slouched down, his head hanging low.

 

"I know. I just…  wanted to see you," he said, defeated.

 

"You've hardly quit seeing me since the night began. You're being unfair to me, Ka-Gaikostu-sama." The starry-haired man stepped forward, wincing at the way she spoke his alias, like it pained her to say it. He rested his arms against the shelves behind Sakura, their bodies impossibly close, the heat between them thick, making it hard for Sakura to breath.

 

"I wanted to see you as myself," he whispered against her forehead, letting his lips brush against her brow. "Besides, seeing that Uchiha-punk making pass after pass at you was driving me absolutely insane." His voice ended in a growl and Sakura smiled despite herself. So he was jealous. He leaned down, pressing a soft kiss on the corner of her mouth, causing Sakura to let out a long, contented sigh.

 

"You don't strike me as the petty, jealous type, Kakashi." She spoke his name barely over a whisper. She let her hand rest on his chest then slowly dragged her fingertips down to his stomach, making the defined muscles twitch from the contact, then pulled his hips against her. He gasped quietly in surprise.

 

"You don't strike me as the perverted, hook-up-in-a-closet type, Sakura," he spoke against her neck, kissing the spot just below her ear. Kakashi's knee parted her thighs, and Sakura couldn't stifle the moan that escaped when he pressed himself against her.

 

"I'm not," she choked out. "I think this is a really bad idea... if you don't stop that is exactly what's going to happen."

 

Kakashi pulled away and looked her in the eyes. "There's just something about you that makes me want to forget everything else that's going on," he said honestly before standing up completely, straightening his appearance. "I'm sorry for behaving like this. I know I need to keep away from you and I just can't seem to..."

 

Sakura wanted to say that she didn't want him to stay away. That she wanted him to come home with her and possibly never leave. But she had a bad feeling about it all. Sakura remembered Kurenai's words last month, about Kakashi seeing things her nightmares were made of and more. As a result Sakura felt herself sober up quickly.

 

This type of behavior was putting both of them in danger, and he knew it. Sakura could tell he knew it from the shameful look in his eyes. But she could also tell that he was conflicted. Wanting desperately to be with her, but knowing it was his duty not to. She shuddered at how often his job must force him to make such sacrifices, and she wondered just how serious those sacrifices could be. Without a goodbye, he unlocked the door and slipped outside, leaving the pink-haired girl alone.

 

...

 

Lana Del Rey / Kill Kill

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Nine

 

"Gaikotsu-sama, may I come in?"

 

"Sure..." Kakashi said into the small intercom and within seconds the ash blonde-haired 'assistant' was staring him down, arms folded over her chest and her black shoe tapping impatiently on the hardwood floor. "Yo."

 

"You missed the board meeting. How could you forget it was this morning? You were three hours late," she spoke through clenched teeth, barely keeping her frustration in check.

 

"C'mon." He rolled his eyes. "Give me a break, Temari. You know the board neither needs nor desires my presence." She responded with a stern glare that simply said 'you are so incredibly full of shit.'

 

Kakashi really liked Temari. She was his assigned backup on the case, really she just played messenger, but she earned her role despite her rookie status. Three months ago Kakashi led Temari on her first field assignment. In theory her job was simple, locate and detain a wanted war criminal. The only place he was known to frequent was a gentlemen's club, to which Temari had absolutely no complaints. She was professional and diligent, mastering the art of exotic dancing in less than two weeks. And when the time came for Temari to play her part, Kakashi found her standing in the middle of a private room full of unconscious criminals, her only weapon being the fan she had danced with.

 

"Earth to Gaikotsu! What are you staring at? Were you even listening to me?" She demanded.

 

"No," the silver-haired man replied honestly. "But that file in your hand indicates I have work to do, so if you could be a doll and hand it over so I can get started..."

 

Immune to his idiocy, Temari tossed the manila folder onto his desk and stomped out of his office without another word, slamming the large oak door closed behind her.

 

Kakashi leisurely opened the file, he was in no hurry to peek at its contents. He honestly dreaded every new lead and assignment, because it was just written proof that the past month and half were merely child's play and he was in it for the long-haul.

 

His assignment was to establish an influential social standing among Konoha's elite, whilst working to uncover the well-hidden track left behind by the shadier businessmen ruling the upperclass. Yet despite how much Kakashi truly enjoyed justice, he under no circumstances enjoyed the person he had to become in order to serve it.

 

Kakashi had made acquaintances of some very suspicious people, one of them being Koi Robin, Danzo's alleged step daughter. Koi Robin was the President of Communications in Danzo's company, and she herself was linked to many unscrupulous business transactions, and she happened to be just young and naive enough vie for Kakashi's affection, which he had no other option but to oblige. Koi Robin was a real card, incredibly outspoken and social. Her carefully applied sex appeal and charismatic disposition left Kakashi choking for fresh air, a moment of peace. She was simply too much for him, she exhausted Kakashi to the point where he found himself ignoring her in favor of quietly longing for Sakura's easy company and simple attraction. Sakura didn't try to be charming and beautiful, she just was.

 

Kakashi spared a moment to think about Sakura. It had been so long since he had seen her, nearly a month. Her and Temari had apparently been college mates, so Temari more or less kept tabs on the pink-haired woman, giving Kakashi any updates that she deemed important, however Kakashi had a feeling there was bad blood between two of them. But it really wasn't enough for him. Just thinking about Sakura with her shining emerald eyes took him to a place where nothing else seemed to matter. She had saved his life twice now and he almost wanted to put himself in harm's way so he could wake up with her fussing over him a third time. Dispelling any further thoughts of her, Kakashi shook his head and took to examining the file.

 

"Ugh," he groaned aloud. Of course he would have to work tonight. He glanced longingly at the bright orange book sitting on his desk and continued to skim the report. Kakashi was to use his newfound celebrity status to gain entrance to a popular lounge bar. It was owned by a rather chauvinistic, trust fund artist by the name of Deidara, who was notorious for slipping out of every scandal and criminal accusation unscathed for years. In the underground, it was a well known fact Deidara was a black-market explosives dealer and Kakashi only needed a wisp of hard evidence to prove it. However, how he needed to gain said evidence was the real question. Kakashi needed to determine which route to take, he could use sex, should his preference lean towards the male persuasion, or he could use his vast knowledge of art methodology and history.

 

Sighing loudly, Kakashi stood up to put the paper through the shredder. It was going to be a very long night.

 

...

 

"Seriously, Pig. If you say his name one more time I swear to god I will remind you why you quit picking fist fights with me in the first place," Sakura seethed, her face pressed against the cool, marble-top bar in the blonde woman's kitchen.

 

Ino scoffed. "God you are such a sourpuss. I was merely commenting on how philanthropic he was. I mean, he's practically taken the art community to a whole new level."

 

"Since when do you give a flying fuck about art?" Sakura sat up, emitting dark waves of vexation.

 

Ino paused for a moment, as if she needed a moment to ponder the reasoning, a pizza-cutter propped against her lip in thought. "Well, I guess since Ishimaru Gaikotsu began taking interest in it." She turned back around, continuing to slice up their pizza.

 

Sakura let her face fall back onto the countertop, heaving an exasperated sigh. "You only think with your dick," she muttered under her breath, a phrase the two girls had always found to be quite funny, but her voice didn't have a ring of humor to it.

 

"I don't see what the big deal is! Why do you insist on hating him? Here, have some wine." She handed Sakura a glass and a plate.

 

They chewed their food quietly as Sakura tried to formulate a response. Of course Sakura didn't hate him, she just really really wanted to hate him. Because hating Ishimaru Gaikotsu made it easier for Sakura to separate him and Hatake Kakashi in her mind. It wasn't working of course when his face was everywhere. He had been around for less than two months and already he was the talk of the town, stealing the role of Konoha's Most Eligible Bachelor from Itachi.

 

Moreover, he was behaving like an insatiable concupiscent playboy. To Sakura, it didn't matter that Sarutobi's company was in the best shape it had ever been, or that he'd donated large sums of money to the artist's community, because she still saw Kakashi staring back at her, with his rainy, mismatched eyes. A lonely man in need of affection, more specifically her affection. Of course, from what Ino had been telling her, Gaikotsu was never in need of affection because he got from everyone who crossed his path, right now that person being Koi Robin. Sakura groaned into her wine, hoping that tomorrow she'd wake up from the heart-clenching nightmare. If he could just explain what his actions meant, what they were accomplishing, then she would feel slightly less slated.

 

"Stop your whining, Forehead. We need to get ready or we'll be late." Ino stood, putting their dishes in the sink. Sakura continued to sit quietly, her face vacant of recognition. "Sakura? Are you going to get ready or not?"

 

The girl in question glanced down at her attire. Skinny jeans, red v-neck, and black flats. She shrugged. "I don't feel like getting ready, I'll just wait for you down here."

 

"God your mood swings lately have been so damn depressing. But fine! If you want to go looking like a bridge troll, that's fine with me. Just know you'll be the only person in jeans, I guarantee!" With that the blonde skipped out of view.

 

And Ino had been absolutely right. Everyone was dressed to the nines, leaving Sakura to look like someone's kid sister. One didn't simply get into this bar, it seemed. Sasuke apparently had to call in a favour from Itachi just to get them a reservation, then upon arrival everyone had to wait ten minutes while Sakura convinced the doorman that she was, in fact, of age and that she wouldn't even know where to acquire a falsified driver's license. But once they were seated, waiting for the guest of honor, everyone had forgotten how much fun teasing Sakura had been. Sakura looked around at her friends, the ones who could make it were in attendance, but Sakura realized as she was scanning their faces how much she had missed everyone. Being an adult sucked. Ino, Sasuke, Naruto, Kiba, Shikamaru(who was playing Hanafuda on his phone), and Chouji could make it. It seemed everyone else was out of town or too busy.

 

"Gaara!" Naruto shouted, bounding over the table to greet the redheaded man. Everyone watched, amused, save for Sasuke, as Naruto and Gaara shared an incredibly bromantic reunion, as though they had been separated for years. Finally pulling away from the hug, Gaara turned to give everyone a small wave.

 

"Come sit by me!" Naruto begged, his cornflower-blue eyes shining.

 

"I think I'll be fine over here, Naruto." Gaara sensed Sasuke's baleful stare and knew when to back off.

 

"So what's the big news?" Ino asked as she scooted over, letting Gaara sit between her and Sakura, who was being oddly quiet.

 

"Well, you all know my exhibition at Naruto's gallery went really well." Everyone nodded, save for Sakura who had missed the show, she just bit her lip guiltily. "The Konoha Museum of Modern Art has agreed to showcase my work." Gasps were heard around the table, followed by congratulations. Naruto ordered their first round, making sure everyone knew that Gaara wasn't to pay a single cent whilst in their company.

 

"So Gaara," Sakura began, her cheeks flushed slightly when he turned his sea-foam eyes on her. He gave her a small smile, one he reserved only for Sakura, and felt herself become nervous as a result. "Congratulations. I'm sorry I missed your show."

 

"It really is fine, it was one of many and Naruto said you had a lot of personal stuff you needed to work through." His eyes looked so earnest as he spoke, the thick dark eyelashes fluttering slightly. Sakura coughed for a moment, breaking the mood that was rapidly forming between them and gazed at the other occupants. They were all talking about sports, except for Sasuke and Shikamaru who were apparently now playing a game of Hanafuda with each other on their phones. Sakura rolled her eyes and smiled at how some things remain the same. She turned back to Gaara, who like herself, didn't care about sports. 

 

"Who is sponsoring your event?" She eyed him carefully, hoping that he didn't catch the hesitation in her voice. If he noticed, he certainly didn't point it out. Gaara was always understanding like that.

 

"Oh, Ishimaru Gaikotsu. My sister apparently works for him and she showed him some of my stuff. I'm not the only artist. I think the guy who owns this place may have some entries, and this other guy named Sasori. And I think she even mentioned Sai getting a spot." Sakura nodded, not really listening after Gaikotsu. She had known it was him, but hearing it just made it worse. "Which reminds me, I have a serious question, Sakura."

 

Her eyes shot up and locked on his gaze, celadon on emerald. Gaara was, to the general public, a very serious person, so if he said something was serious, then that was an understatement. She pulled her lips into a nervous grin. "What's up?"

 

He chuckled quietly, despite his face being void of a smile. "It's nothing grave. I was wondering if..." pausing for a moment, Gaara ran a hand through his candy apple-red hair, the only sign of hesitation he was known for. "If it was okay with you that I showcase the photos I took of you."

 

"Gaara… Those were kind of personal," she replied slowly.

 

"No, I know. I would understand if you're not comfortable with it. However, those photos are some of the best in my collection." He had a point, and Sakura knew it. While they were dating, Gaara had become consumed with an unquenchable need to photograph her. As a result, he'd taken some absolutely exquisite pictures of her, making Sakura see herself in a new light, as someone desirable and beautiful, not the short, skinny girl she always considered herself to be.

 

Realizing she had been taking a while thinking about his request, she turned and gave him a sugary smile. "I guess you can, Gaara. Just nothing too revealing, alright?"

 

"I wouldn't dream of it," he agreed. Naruto called the redhead's name, capturing his attention and leaving Sakura to mull over her decision. Everyone was going to see her, blown up in black and white, possibly without clothing. Though she felt incredibly nervous, she also felt excited, empowered even.

 

"Hey Sakura-chan! Can you get the next round?" Naruto's scratchy voice broke her musings and she gave him a hard look.

 

"What do I look like? Your servant?"

 

"No, but you look young enough to boss around! So why don't you respect your elders, ne?" He replied with an impish grin on his face, knowing full well the price he would pay for that comment. Sakura walked towards the bar, leaving Naruto to nurse his now busted lip. She smirked proudly to herself.

 

Sakura told the bartender their order and table number then leaned against the bar to sip the same beer she had been nursing, facing the other patrons. 'I wonder what it's like, living this kind of lifestyle…' Everyone here was so beautiful, so classy.

 

For the briefest moment, her eyes flickered over silver, making her heart race instantly. Sakura searched for a few moments, trying to remember where she had seen the starry colour. Her heart plummeted when she found the source of her anxiety. There he was. Hatake Kakashi, in all his glory. He wasn't that far off either, close enough that Sakura could make out every detail, despite the low lighting. Now he looked much more like himself, tired, wearing a rumpled shirt with the sleeves rolled up, his tie hanging loosely around his neck, his flawless mouth pulled into an easy smile.

 

However it wasn't his appearance that made her chest tighten, nor his mere presence. It was his company. The beautiful, statuesque Koi Robin was practically sitting in his lap, and he didn't appear to have a problem with it at all. Kakashi's hand was on her thigh, tracing small figure-eights onto her bare, sun-kissed skin while his other arm was propped lazily behind her chair. Koi Robin had long, flowing locks of silky chestnut hair that tumbled over her shoulder, tickling her endless, toned legs. Sakura watched in agony, unable to turn away, as Kakashi drug his hand up her thigh, whispering something that had the young woman blushing prettily. She nodded in reply, then rose to her feet, sashaying her hips as she disappeared behind an unmarked door.

 

Sakura had never felt more alone in her entire life. She was certain that she was the only woman in existence who was granted with such oddly specific, terrible luck. Maybe Kurenai had experienced similar difficulties, but Sakura knew talking to the ravenette was simply out of the question. Sakura spared a glance over her shoulder, making sure her presence wasn't missed. Her friends were watching, enthralled, as Ino and Naruto animatedly told one of their many stories from college. Sakura was surprised to see that even the more stoic boys were hanging on the blondes' every word. And apparently their drinks had arrived. Deciding to resume her stalking, Sakura turned back to Kakashi.

 

It was odd, she realized, watching the 'events' unfold, because she had no dialogue to pair with the scene, and she also had no prior knowledge of the people in question, save for Kakashi, but she knew that wasn't really the silver-haired man who starred in her dreams. Koi Robin returned, a handsome blond man in tow. Sakura recognized him from the tabloids, but she couldn't seem to grasp his name. Koi Robin bowed, possibly in apology, then waved to the men before walking out the door, unknowingly leaving behind a trail of scorch marks from Sakura's burning glare.

 

The two men were shaking hands and talking amiably, the blond realizing why he recognized Kakashi. Deciding that Sakura really didn't want to see anymore, she set her empty bottle on the counter and ordered a draft, but when she turned back her gaze locked momentarily with Kakashi's. His eyes widened a fraction, yet without a hint of recognition, before turning back to his blond companion. Angry and somehow embarrassed, Sakura scurried back to her table, slipping back into her seat unnoticed.

 

...

 

What in the hell was she doing here? Why did Temari decide to withhold that information? He could see from here that the red-haired artist he was sponsoring, Temari's brother, was sitting beside Sakura. So why hadn't Temari warned him? He nodded when he needed, and responded in short answer to Deidara's chattering, achieving a level of multitasking ability Kakashi himself was unaware he possessed, his mind stiff reeling.

 

He hadn't missed that look in her eyes. Sakura looked absolutely forlorn, and judging by the way her lips were set in a hard line, he knew she was angry. Why did she have to be here tonight? It was already hard enough dealing with Koi Robin--who at least proved useful in introducing him to Deidara--but now working was going to be impossible when visions of azalea-haired girls wearing fitting, denim jeans were prancing through his head. Kakashi sponsored Temari's little brother, the promise of Sakura's presence at opening night of the exhibition had been guaranteed. He easily could have just requested his targets, Deidara and Sasori's work be on display, but he went out of his way to reserve Gaara a spot, and Sai because he owed him one after trashing his apartment and forcing the man to help him clean it up.

 

"Well hey, listen man." At this Kakashi gave the man his complete attention rather than a small portion, and looked into his blue orbs through half-lidded eyes, a hint of desire flickering in his brown depths. Deidara caught the suggestive glint and smirked. "I was going to say I had some work to do upstairs, but if you can think of something better to do, I've got plenty of space in my office, yeah," Deidara purred, taking a step towards the silver-haired man.

 

Kakashi had been hoping that the blond preferred woman, but apparently Kakashi laid the smoldering gaze on a hair too thick. He looked over to where Sakura sat one last time, and was despaired to see her watching him closely over her pint of beer. Clenching his teeth, Kakashi swallowed and slipped into professional mode, turning off his feelings like the flip of a switch. He had done this more times than he was comfortable admitting, and he knew when to accept the reality of the situation. In no time at all, Kakashi would be inside Deidara's office, gaining access to any information hiding there. He found himself thankful that cameras weren't allowed on the premises for what he was about to do.

 

Kakashi licked his lips, letting the pink organ drag slowly over his mouth before speaking. Bringing his lips to the blond man's ear, his voice dropped to a dangerously sexy note, "I'm sure we can think of plenty to do." Then he pulled away, catching the man in short, sensual kiss, ignoring the set of emerald eyes boring into him. Without another look behind him, Kakashi followed Deidara up the stairs.

 

...

 

fun. / Some Nights

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Ten

 

Sakura grunted as her fist came in contact with the punching bag, bruising her sore, wrapped knuckles. She pulled back to shake her wrists a bit, the tape once wrapped snugly around her hands and wrists was beginning to come loose. Her beryl eyes flickered around the dark, empty studio. Sakura had promised her friend, Lee, she would close the gym for him so he could make it to his date on time. Although she had spent many hours here since her teens, Sakura had yet to experience the studio after hours, alone. Without the diligently working students to fill the space, a sense of emptiness hung heavily in the air. Her eyes swept around, noticing for the first time the way the moon casted long, eerie shadows across the floors and walls. Sakura shook off the uncomfortable feeling brewing in her chest and continued to beat the bag, letting the echoes of her frustrated huffs and punching fill the quiet space.

 

Sakura had been there for two days, training with the other patrons, training nonstop to keep her mind occupied and her anger at bay, only pausing to hydrate. The pinkette slumped forward, balancing herself on her knees, trying to force down the bile rising in her throat from overexertion. She couldn't recall a time she had trained so hard out of pure spite. Not since she earned her black belt, at least. 

 

Of course, she had been running on pure fury rather than determination. After she had the pleasure of seeing exactly what Kakashi's profession could entail, Sakura stormed out of the bar, leaving her friends behind. She swore to herself that she wouldn't cry, and that she definitely wouldn't give into the strong urge to forgive and understand Kakashi's actions, so therefore she decided to cut off her cellphone and spent a few days with Rock Lee. His youthful demeanor and perfected fighting skills were exactly what she needed.

 

Sakura was smart enough to realize when something wasn't worth it, but even as those thoughts crept into her mind she found herself trembling in protest. The starry-haired man had left her absolutely moonstruck since the day he got into her car, and the longer she thought about him, the more Sakura began to realize the many things about his personality that she adored. Sure, she was a nurturer(or as her mother had once said 'controlling'), so she felt an unbridled need to be there for him, but as she stared down at her bloody knuckles and bruised body, Sakura knew that it was more than just a deep connection. She didn't beat the shit out of gym equipment for nothing.

 

And although her mind tried to focus on the negative, Sakura subconsciously kept adding things onto the pros side. She loved that Kakashi could finish a difficult crossword puzzle in ten minutes without having to ask for any answers, that he ate his dessert first in the event he should die before the dinner is finished, or that his emotional wall came in the form of incredibly romantic, sensual literature.

 

But those were all things she discovered under different circumstances, before they had sex, his second attempt at suicide, and him getting put back on the field. Who is to say he would even behave as the same person around her now? And Sakura wasn't so sure she was strong enough to lift his heavy heart as well as shoulder the burden of knowing that all those looks, touches, and sweet words he gave to her may very well be shared with others.

 

Sakura sighed deeply as she remembered the despaired look he'd shot her from across the bar. Even though he was focused on entirely different matters, Kakashi still managed to look at her as if she were the only person in the room, and it had given her chills. But she had also watched as his demeanor instantly shifted, replacing him with the playboy depicted in every tabloid.

 

"Stop trying to rationalize this, Sakura," she quietly scolded herself then unhooked the punching bag. She winced slightly as she slung the heavy bag onto her sore shoulder, then listened as the tinkling of bells resounded through the dark room, indicating someone had just come inside.

 

"Sorry, we're closed," Sakura tossed over her shoulder, not bothering to look back as she placed the punching bag back into storage. But she paused when she realized she hadn't heard the bell ring again. Sakura held her breath, listening closely as the silence was replaced with the rustling sounds of someone shrugging out of their jacket and shoes. 'Surely if this guy were trouble he wouldn't take the time to abide by the studio's rules.. .' she reasoned that maybe he hadn't heard her, but that didn't change the fact that Sakura was positive she'd locked that door earlier.

 

She swallowed her anxieties as she exited the equipment room, her fists clenched at her sides. "Excuse me, sir. I said we are closed. I'm going to have to ask you to leave or I will call..."

 

"The cops?" Sakura froze as a pair of smiling, mismatched eyes came in contact with her own, the familiar low baritones making her heart flip.

 

Sakura cutely cocked her head to the side as she examined the man before her as if they were seeing each other for the first time, although given his current appearance it certainly felt that way. That or she had been in a time machine, taking her back a couple of months. It seemed so strange to see Kakashi in a black shirt that hugged his muscular frame, an attached mask clinging to his face, sporting incredibly unruly hair, with his hands stuffed lazily into the pockets of his worn jeans. He was exhibiting an air of nonchalance that infuriated her, and he merely stared down at her, bored, as if she was the one to instigate this meeting.

 

Kakashi's eyes languidly roamed down her body, blatantly taking in her appearance. Sakura glanced down at her loose karate pants and sports bra. Having shed her gi and belt after closing up, she was revealing how bruised her fair skin was. She blushed furiously and crossed her arms over her chest, trying to shrink into herself.

 

"What are you doing here, how did you find me, and how did you get inside?" She demanded.

 

His shoulders slouched slightly as he let out a brief sigh. "You've got to give me some credit, Sakura."

 

Her mouth pulled into a deep frown. "That still doesn't explain why you are here, as yourself no less." Her tone was accusatory and a tad venomous. Kakashi flinched at the fire burning in her jade orbs. The moonlight spilling onto Sakura's creamy, bruised skin sharpened her features, making her appear fiercely intimidating, if not deadly.

 

The metallic-haired man took a small step backwards, letting the sweltering, tense air between them disperse before he continued to explain himself. "I'm sorry..." he whispered as his hand scratched the back of his head. "I know how you must be feeling and if I wasn't the best candidate for this job, I would be doing everything in my power to make sure you didn't feel this way. Ever."

 

"Why does it have to be you? Especially when we both know this can't be making you happy.. ."

 

"Because I'm the best, Sakura. And that is a serious responsibility. I'm the only person that is both capable and otherwise unrecognizable. I cannot bear the thought of some fresh-faced rookie taking this assignment and getting killed because I was too selfish to do what is expected of me."

 

"And you just accept it, like that? Because god knows I'm having difficulty accepting this." She took a defiant step forward.

 

His eyes softened at the sight of her pretty, oval-shaped face looking up at him. "I have been doing this for such a long time. It's just.. I don't usually have to think about anyone other than my team. I've been content with that for awhile."

 

"Then why try to kill yourself if you're so goddamn content?" Though her eyes were narrowed, her voice had lost its hard edge.

 

Kakashi was hesitant to answer, Sakura was overstepping his boundaries in a most brazen manner, but he understood. "The first time... I was just so tired of everything. The second… I thought that if I didn't I would just ruin your life, Sakura. I'm toxic in personal relationships."

 

"Then why lead me on? Why let me in?" She demanded, her voice was shrill. Kakashi turned away, unable to look her in the eyes.

 

"I don't know, Sakura. You are just so bright and so put together," he paused, taking a breath. "And just so incredibly beautiful. inside and out."

 

Sakura stood, rigid with shock. Why did he have to say that? This was all too much to absorb. He was making it difficult for her to hate him. Sakura's chest tightened over her fluttering heart. How dare he say those things and make her feel this way? It just wasn't fair.

 

"Fight me," she said, hoping she could find some solid reason to disdain him. Kakashi whipped around, the visible part of his face horrified.

 

"Why?" But before the silver-haired man could inquire further, he found himself swiftly avoiding and blocking her decisive attacks.

 

Kakashi was surprised to say the least. The azalea-haired young woman was obviously emotionally and physically on the brink of collapse, but her punches and kicks held such control and ferocious strength. Sakura knew exactly how to throw her body, and the way her lithe frame maneuvered with such fluid, yet solid movements had him enraptured. Having lost a moment of focus, Kakashi just barely caught her ankle milliseconds before her foot collided with his jaw and he hastily twisted her leg, causing her body the spin in the air for a moment before hitting the floor with a painful thump. Her head snapped up towards him to meet his gaze.

 

"Why aren't you fighting me back? Do you think I'm weak? Can you not respect me enough for this?" She spat while dragging herself to her feet. Kakashi's jaw clenched and his fist balled at his sides, but he managed to hold his tired, uncaring expression. He had had enough of this. Kakashi moved faster than Sakura thought possible as he charged towards her. Caught off guard, Sakura ducked, just narrowly missing his attack. However, that was exactly what he wanted her to do. Using her shoulders as leeway, he flipped over her, landing gracefully behind her back. Then he spun his crouched body, effectively landing a powerful kick into her legs, knocking her off her feet. After waiting a few moments, he crawled over to her fallen frame and brushed hair from her glistening brow.

 

"I guess I need to choose my battles more wisely, ne?" She laughed, embarrassed with herself for her faulty reasoning.

 

"I do recall us discussing this. However if the fight had been fair, I'm sure I wouldn't have made it out unscathed," she blushed at the smile in his voice, but rolled her eyes in disbelief. "I know you're angry with me. You have every right to be," he said quietly.

 

She pushed herself up, shaking her head guiltily. "No I don't. I'm not being fair." Kakashi hooked his finger under her chin and lifted her gaze towards him.

 

"Sakura, my tendency to self-sabotage is unrivaled. Don't let me bring you down any further than I already have. It's only been a short while, imagine what it would be like if you kept me around longer." A dry laugh escaped his lips, but it lacked any humor.

 

"What if the circumstances were different?" She murmured tiredly, her worn body slumping against his side. She took a deep breath, Kakashi always smelled so good. So clean and earthy, with a hint of whiskey.

 

He shrugged. "I don't know, but I'm sure the constant knowledge that you're too good for me would force me to push you away somehow."

 

Sakura smiled sadly and looked into his mismatched eyes. Sakura could see from the way he was peering down at her that he practically worshipped her. So much admiration shining in those incongruous depths. Her mind flipped back to their brief sexual encounters and how insatiable he'd seemed, how desperate he was to touch her. The memory excited her, rekindling a small fire within her, but the thought of Kakashi caressing and kissing someone else with the same beguiled ministrations made her stomach lurch uncomfortably.

 

"Can I ask what happened to you?" Kakashi asked, distracting her from her musings. He motioned to the bruises marring her smooth, supple skin and Sakura chewed on her thumb for a moment, embarrassed.

 

"I was really upset and sort of fought my way through it.."

 

Kakashi laughed, a light, warm sound that shook his shoulders. "That is both terrifying and incredibly sexy." The moment the words escaped, Kakashi snapped his mouth shut to prevent anymore praise from slipping past his barriers.

 

They sat in the shadowy, quiet studio for a few moments, both lost in thought while Sakura absently peeled the tape from her hands. She spared a glance in Kakashi's direction and his breath caught for a moment in his throat. Sakura's eyes were saturated with unshed tears, causing them to shine as brilliantly and multifaceted as real jade.

 

"Did you sleep with them? Koi Robin and that guy?" She asked meekly.

 

Kakashi bit the inside of his cheek and nodded slowly, feeling her wince beside him. "I'm sorry..."

 

"Did you enjoy it?" Unable to conceal the fear of inadequacy that was lacing her words.

 

"Sakura, I have had to make many sacrifices in my line of work, and sometimes sex is the the most efficient way to obtain what is required of me," he said slowly, but realizing he didn't answer her question, he quickly continued before his words could sink in. "Those experiences are meaningless to me."

 

He watched closely as she processed his words. Kakashi hoped she wouldn't catch that he had again evaded her question, so he held his tongue for fear of digging himself in deeper. As they sat quietly, Kakashi began to reason that the wiser decision may be to bend the truth a little and drive her far away from him. Needing to sleep with someone to obtain information wasn't as common as one might think. However that wasn't to say he hadn't had plenty of meaningless sex, most of which he enjoyed in some way. But telling her that would be like twisting the knife at this point. And although he knew it was better to push her away, he would much rather prefer to make sure no one else, himself included, made her feel this way again.

 

"Do you really want me to give up on these feelings for you, Kakashi? I don't offer many chances and I don't mean to sound conceited, but shutting me out completely would undoubtedly be one of the stupidest decisions you could make." She was right. However Kakashi wasn't given the opportunity to respond, for she passed out almost before the words made it out of her mouth. She must have been truly exhausted. He pulled down his mask and kissed her sweaty forehead, wishing he could see her in her full gi. He left silently with a heavy heart, locking the door behind him.

 

Kakashi's every waking moment had been spent thinking about Haruno Sakura. It was both incredibly annoying and liberating. There was something so bewitching about her temperament, so mercurial. Even when his fatigue would force him to bed, the moment Kakashi closed his eyes, all he could see was Sakura, her pink hair matted with sweat, her flushed skin dotted with bruises, and the way her workout apparel clung flagrantly to her small, slender frame. The number of showers Kakashi usually needed to take had been doubled as a result; mainly because he couldn't stop dwelling on what would've happened had she not passed out.

 

Of course he was foolish to track her down, let alone confront her. Kakashi had gone very far out of his way to shed his facade and visit the young doctor without detection. However, those were risks he was willing to take. So long as Sakura was still safe, Kakashi figured he could go through the incredibly troublesome process of ditching the press, if only it were for a short while. But it had been worth it. Sakura seemed bent on giving him a chance, and Kakashi knew there would be no other woman half as understanding as Sakura was being to him. It would be incredibly stupid to turn down that opportunity. However, Kakashi couldn't help but feel that this was all a curse in disguise.

 

"Gaikotsu-sama. The car is here to take you to the show."

 

"Thank you, Temari. Go wait for me in the car, I'll be right down."

 

"Hai."

 

Kakashi finished his bourbon and walked up to the mirror to straighten his tie. Although he hated wearing full suits almost as much as he hated attending social functions, he knew that he would see Sakura tonight, albeit from afar, but he was sure to snag some small talk, and if he was lucky more than that. But he was rarely lucky.

 

The trip to the museum was quiet. Temari typed furiously on her on phone, filling the cold limousine with a constant stream of rhythmic tapping. Kakashi had been absolutely livid with Temari when he came to the office after the night at the bar. The ash blonde assistant quickly discovered that getting on Kakashi's good side consisted of a lot less talking partnered with many many boxes of authentic mochi. So far she had done a good job with both.

 

However Kakashi took it a step farther and made the girl do all of his paperwork rather than a portion. So as a sneaky form of payback, Temari informed the department of Kakashi's mild obsession with a certain pink-haired doctor and how he had gone so far as to break protocol to visit her on the sly. This was very annoying for the undercover cop, because that meant Sakura had been marked as a liability. No longer was he able to use his resources to track her whereabouts, and there was a good chance they upped his surveillance, which made leaving his office or hotel for any reason other than business nearly impossible. If they wanted, the department's heads could prevent Kakashi from so much as glancing in Sakura's direction. It wasn't unheard of. Asuma certainly had his fair share of it.

 

The only loophole would be to marry the girl, which is exactly how Asuma fixed that problem. Marriage would provide her with priority protection, but Kakashi wasn't so keen on the idea of marriage. He had slept with too many married women to respect the institution.

 

"Gaikotsu-sama, we're here." Temari's voice broke Kakashi's thoughts and he nodded and slid out of the car. Cameras flashed in every direction, momentarily stunning the silver-haired CEO, but he made a lightning fast recovery and greeted the bright lights with an amiable smile as Temari trailed behind. Bypassing the reporters, Kakashi headed inside and straight for the museum's cafe turned open bar(as per his request). After he ordered a glass of bourbon, Kakashi inwardly sighed when he saw Koi Robin strutting her impossibly long legs towards him.

 

"Why hello Miss Koi Robin."

 

"You didn't call me last night."

 

"Well, you know. Busy guy. Don't know if you've heard, but I am in charge of a multi-billion dollar company and I happened to have sponsored this shindig." He swept his drink across the room to prove his point, wearing a somber, but complacent smile.

 

Koi Robin rolled her icy silver eyes. "How could I forget? Oh, there's Itachi. Later, sexy." She gave him a promising wink and Kakashi couldn't help but chuckle as he watched her flirt shamelessly with the crimson-eyed business man.

 

"Gaikotsu-sama." Kakashi glanced down to see a familiar redhead staring up at him with big, oceanic eyes. "I just want to say thanks again for this."

 

"There is no need to thank me. I'm very opportunistic." Lie. "Plus I love any excuse to drink." Truth.

 

Gaara chuckled humorlessly. "Of course. Well check out that display over there." He pointed to the left, where a few blown up, black and white photographs were. "They're some of my favourites. But I must go find my sister." Then the boy was gone. Kakashi leisurely made his way to the spot Gaara had recommended he see, taking in the surrounding art half-heartedly. In truth, Kakashi wasn't all that into art, but no one needed to know that.

 

Had he been a more careless man, Kakashi would have dropped his glass in surprise as he took a step back to absorb the photographs Gaara had directed him to. They were of Sakura. And they were breathtaking and tantalizing and positively joyful . The silver-haired man couldn't help but gape at how every scene seemed to capture Sakura's sensuality, but still remain pure and almost sweet. In all of them, Sakura was in various states of undress, revealing small, flawless breasts and cream, tone legs; her then very long hair was mussed and cute, never fixed. But what caught Kakashi's eyes was her perfect mouth, she was wearing an enchanting, mirthful smile that had Kakashi's chest tightening almost painfully.

 

Kakashi felt his heart swell with feelings he had long forgotten existed. They weren't those of jealousy necessarily, although jealousy was definitely a byproduct. The girl in these pictures was so happy, unmarred, and he was positive he could never make her feel that way. His mouth twitched into a defeated smile. It was difficult to tell if he was really falling for this young woman or if he was merely suffering from the forbidden fruit mentality.

 

The colour pink tickled Kakashi's periphery and he turned to see Sakura standing with her back to him, wearing a backless, red dress that captured the light, drawing everyone's attention. He grinned as he watched the women with Sakura nudging her and looking at him.

 

"Sakura. Oh my god. Ishimaru Gaikotsu is openly checking you out," Ino whispered loudly. "Do you know him?"

 

"Sure, we met once at an event." She replied nonchalantly, avoiding eye contact with her friends, lest her emerald orbs betray her excited energy. Ino slapped her bare arm.

 

"And you just decided to withhold that information? You sly bitch!" Sakura rolled her eyes at Ino's dramatics and took a long gulp of her wine.

 

Hinata spoke up, her sweet, heart-shaped face flushing. "Sakura, I do believe it is rude to not acknowledge him.."

 

"It is also rude for him to just stand there staring," Sakura mumbled as she turned on her heel and sauntered over to the older man.

 

"Who were the young ladies gawking at me?" He asked, directing her to walk with him.

 

"My friends, Ino and Hinata. Ino, the blonde, is in love with you by the way."

 

Kakashi's eyebrows shot up before a handsome smirk appeared on his lips. "She's pretty cute." Sakura elbowed him discreetly. "But I prefer pink." He ended in a whisper. Goosebumps spread over her skin at the sound of his low, sultry voice, but Sakura remained cool.

 

"Your girlfriend is staring at us," she observed, momentarily locking her jade orbs with Koi Robin's steely ones. Sakura swallowed her rage. 'Now is not the time.'

 

"So is your boyfriend."

 

"Itachi is not my boyfriend. And we need to talk, Gaikotsu-sama."

 

He nodded, then went about implementing his well-formulated plan of action, a plan that could get them alone for at least half an hour. "React," he muttered, barely over a whisper, causing Sakura to stare back, bemused. He grabbed her wrist and forced her red wine to pour all over the front of his suit and shirt. Sakura gasped loudly in surprise, catching the attention of the surrounding company. Quickly she began apologizing profusely, despite how underhanded she found his tactics.

 

"Why don't you get some seltzer and we can fix this in the staff lounge?" Kakashi suggested smoothly, Sakura just nodded frantically, anger present in her eyes.

 

When Sakura finally stumbled into the lounge, seltzer in hand, she nearly fainted at the sight before her. Kakashi was stretched languidly across the couch, one arm slung over his eyes while the other was holding a fresh drink. But it wasn't so much his position as it was his lack of clothing. Sakura had to wonder how such a lazy man could stay in such fabulous shape. Her mind went in two completely different directions. One where she tosses the soda water aside and straddles those gloriously defined, lean muscles, and kisses every sharp line of his body, and the other where she runs away, terrified at how attracted she is to him.

 

"Shirt's in the sink,"  Kakashi motioned with his drink towards the bathroom door. She flushed then entered the bathroom. Working furiously to remove the stain, Sakura sighed happily when the water ran clear. She hung up the clothes and headed back into the lounge, Kakashi was exactly where she left him.

 

"I cannot believe you did that, and then made me clean it like some obedient housewife."

 

He sat up, chuckling. "I made you do nothing, Sakura-chan. Besides, I love a pretty girl fussing over me." Sakura felt her pulse speed up as she watched him stand up and stretch, his porcelain skin pulled tightly over taut muscles. Kakashi locked the door and reclaimed his seat, motioning for Sakura to join him and politely ignoring the drool dripping from her mouth as she admired how his trousers fit so snugly over his legs.

 

"So..." Sakura's voice trailed off and she made no further inclination to continue. She wasn't positive as to what she'd said during their last encounter as she was both furious and running on empty.

 

"I want you, Sakura." His bluntness startled the pinkette. "Desperately." His voice was hoarse with drinking, low and exasperated.

 

"Kakashi..." she breathed, remembering the last thing she'd said to him. She told him to decide what he wanted. Sakura studied his face carefully, his fake-brown eyes were intensely conflicted, his lips parted slightly, the warmth of his breath mingling with her own.

 

"As I was looking at those pictures of you, it occurred to me that I may be the most emotionally guarded human alive." That was a massive understatement.

 

"Why is that, Kakashi?"

 

He shrugged. "I can pretend to think the sole reason is to protect people from myself."

 

"I think you're protecting yourself from people," she pointed out. Although her voice was stern, it lacked judgement. Sakura knew all too well about being too guarded, she was just better at hiding it.

 

"You're absolutely right." He looked away, a dark look passing over his features that had Sakura shivering. She had seen this look a few times, but never in its entirety. Without the mask, Kakashi was so much easier to read and she wondered if that contributed to his desire to wear it. Because god knows she would never cover a face like that. She mentally chided herself, knowing her mind could go in no other direction while he was so shirtless and sorry. Besides, she wanted to conduct an experiment of sorts. If her body reacted with revulsion at his touch, if her mind was consumed with thoughts of him with other people, then she would put a stop to everything immediately. Or maybe she was just trying to justify her bold actions.

 

"Kiss me." She gave no room for argument. It wasn't a request, it was an order. Kakashi faced her, a possessive glint in his eye as he traced a finger up the soft curve of her jaw, pushing a few bubblegum-pink locks behind her ear. Sakura felt her entire body jerk to life with his touch, and suddenly everything she wanted to hate him for was forgotten for the second, possibly third time. Kakashi's hand rested on the nape of her neck and he slowly pushed back onto the cushions, smirking as his thumb made contact with her fluttering pulse. Sakura shuddered as he touched his mouth to her neck with slow sensual movements, groans rumbling quietly as he pulled her flush against him, his arm possessively grasping her bare back, and Sakura revelled in the way his hard frame molded to hers seamlessly.

 

Kakashi removed his lips from Sakura's neck, a small whimper of protest greeting him. But the sweet scent of toothpaste and whiskey assault her senses as his lips brushed lightly against hers, his tongue gently tracing the shape of her mouth. Sakura moaned, the heat that was welling up inside of her making it hard to breath.

 

Sensing he was about to pull away, Sakura twisted her fingers in his silver hair and used her leverage to flip him into a sitting position, her silky, red dress riding up to her waist as a result of her straddling him. She ignored his surprised gasp and pressed her mouth to his. Their bodies moved against one another desperately while Kakashi's strong hands grasped every part of her exposed skin. The sounds of their gasping breaths and unrepentant moans bouncing around the room carelessly.

 

"Sakura." He moaned her name into her lips, subconsciously forcing her hips roughly against him, completely unaware of anything else. However, once Kakashi realized that he was unaware, he also realized that their movements were rapidly getting out of control.

 

Kakashi gradually began to slow Sakura's grinding hips to a stop, ignoring the warm, wet heat that settled on top of him as he did. He glanced up at the girl spread above him, her slender arms hook around his neck. "Gorgeous," he murmured, gently kissing Sakura's swollen lips until her beryl eyes slid shut. Kakashi continued to slowly kiss her, wanting so badly to pick her up in his arms and carry her to his car so they could continue this in her cozy apartment, but he had responsibilities. He was already breaking enough rules. Infatuation had made him careless, so much in fact that he failed to notice the looming presence listening outside the locked door.

 

...

 

Bright Eyes / A Perfect Sonnet

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Eleven

 

Sakura tried to wipe the brilliant smile from her face, but all attempts were futile. Everything just seemed so right with the world. After purchasing a four-hundred dollar bottle of sake and taking her former mentor out to the races, her treat, Sakura had managed to get her full-time job back. Grant it, Tsunade had won a lot of money, which was never a good sign. But Sakura tried to shake off her suspicions in favor of appreciating her rigid schedule. Nine to five was something that made sense to Sakura. For weeks she had been all over the city, trying to keep herself distracted and busy, now she needn't look further than the hospital doors, the only difference now was that she actually wanted to spend her free time with her friends. She felt so satisfied. Sakura spared a glance at the time and took another long gulp of her morning coffee.

 

"You won't be late for your shift, will you?" Kakashi's lulling, deep voice broke her thoughts and she watched amused as he added three more teaspoons of sugar to his already sickeningly sweet coffee. She shook her head. This was the only time Sakura got to spend with Kakashi, or Gaikotsu rather. Early every morning she would drive to his hotel and they would eat breakfast in the attached restaurant. Although Sakura desperately wanted more, she would accept this for now. He under no circumstances would tell her which room he was in, and supplied no way to reach him, so she had to make do. She was lucky he even allowed her to spend time with him, even if it was for an hour every other morning in a completely platonic setting. He had to explain several times to her that he couldn't be seen necking it with some girl in a hotel lobby, so it had to remain professional. Sakura supposed she could respect that.

 

"You must visit the dentist twice than the average person," she joked and he stirred in the sugar. He gave her a warm smile, showing off how truly perfect his teeth were, and making the fine lines at the corner of his eyes more defined. "You drink whiskey straight, but you can't stomach the taste of coffee?"

 

Kakashi shrugged, scratching the back of his head in an embarrassed manner Sakura found to be completely endearing. Picking up his book ( Icha Icha inside of a Book of Five Rings book jacket, which Sakura found to be an equally ridiculous book choice, but he had to remain 'covert') Kakashi took a long sip of his sugary coffee before sighing contentedly, licking the remaining sweetness from his lips, his eyes never leaving hers. 'He's torturing me. That or I'm being sensitive.'

 

Before Kakashi could get too engrossed in his novel, Sakura cleared her throat. "So how's the case coming?" Her voice was so low, so only he could hear. He replied with a long, stern look before speaking up.

 

"Pretty well. I've got a lot of what I need, really. All I lack is proof that the leader of the 'mob' is who I think it is. They've already got another CEO lined up when I finish, so I'm nearing the end. Thank god too, my face is actually all one even skin tone. I hardly recognize myself without the tan-lines." He smirked, forgetting his anger with her broaching this topic when Sakura's head tipped back, a beautifully musical laugh ringing throughout the restaurant. It was nice to see her smiling, she usually spent the first half hour of every morning in a horrible mood, answering in grunts and rubbing her eyes like a tired child.

 

"So, Ino told me that Gaara made a pretty penny after his exhibition. Apparently someone bought all of the photographs of me that were on display." She smirked when Kakashi's eyes grew a tad larger for a moment. "I thought that was strange. But imagine my surprise when she said the buyer was none other than Ishimaru Gaikotsu himself. Now why would he go and do a thing like that?"

 

"Maybe his apartment was lacking in personality. Which is okay, because those pictures have more than enough to fill the house," he suggested innocently.

 

" Very inconspicuous," she joked, then her eyes twitched with angry recognition. "Wait.. . you mean you hung them up?"

 

"It's not as though I entertain guests often, Sakura-chan. Besides, maybe this will make you think twice before letting a young man take such risque pictures of you."

 

"Are you still pouting about that? Oh my god, you're ridiculous. Is there any way I can get you to stop bringing him up?"

 

Kakashi sat him book down and leaned back into his chair, a finger tapping thoughtfully against his bare lips. Suddenly, a wolfish grin spread across his face; he looked predatorial and deviant. Sakura shivered. "You could send me some pictures of yourself…"

 

"What am I, sixteen? And you refused to give me your new phone number!"

 

"I'd hand it over in a second for a promise like that."

 

"No deal," she said firmly, arms crossed over her chest defensively, but her eyes were shining brilliantly with mirth. Suddenly a loud, sharp beep sounded at her hip, causing Kakashi's handsome face to pull into a visible scowl. Sakura pulled her beeper up and sighed as she examined it. "I've got to go, there's an emergency at the hospital."

 

She looked up to meet Kakashi's eyes and he gave her an understanding smile. With utmost subtlety, he slid his hand across the red tablecloth and brushed his fingers with hers. Sakura felt her pulse jump erratically at the contact. Then abandoning his gesture quickly, Kakashi flicked his wrist flippantly. "Go, save lives."

 

"Yes sir," she saluted, then straightened her champagne pantsuit, which made her look years older. Gathering her things Sakura rushed out the door, throwing him a warm smile over her shoulder before disappearing out the door.

 

...

 

"Doctor Haruno," Sakura whipped around to see the young nurse giving an exhausted, pleading look. Sakura could see guilt in Juniper's eyes. "I know I'm supposed to accompany you on these last few patients, but my sister's flight got in early..."

 

The rosette chewed her pen thoughtfully for a moment before sighing in defeat. Juniper hadn't seen her sister in years. "Sure, go ahead. I can handle this one on my own."

 

"Thanks Sakura!" Juniper bowed deeply before rushing off. Chuckling to herself, Sakura waltzed over to her hopefully last patient's door and grabbed the file. Her eyes widened at the name, sparking a sense of familiarity Sakura couldn't quite put her finger on. 'Where have I heard the name Deidara?' She shrugged, pushing the door open and quietly closing it behind her before turning to lock eyes with her patient. Sakura felt her stomach drop. How ironic. Trying to remain professional, she walked towards his beautiful, smirking face, ignoring the malevolent look in his oceanic eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her to it.

 

"So, Pinky. Do these rooms have recording equipment installed or just cameras?" His voice was the voice of a wise-cracking, pompous ass and Sakura wanted to smack that look off his face, not just for his attitude, but because she recognized him from the pub. But once his words registered with her, she began chewing on her pen, confused.

 

"Well, you see, the thing is, now try not to react. The thing is, I've got this entire wing of the hospital rigged with explosives." He held out a small remote and Sakura felt the colour drain from her face, her emerald eyes turning grey with pure horror. "And I'm willing to detonate them unless you calmly follow me outside, then you will tell me everything I need to know. How does that sound, Haruno Sakura, hmm?"

 

Her mind was reeling, trying to absorb this turn of events. She knew who he was now. Deidara was an artist, a club owner, and had been questioned for three different scandals involving the bombing of two government buildings and a small bridge, he was never convicted. She knew he wasn't joking. Nodding, she set his file on the bed and turned towards the door, her entire body trembling with fear.

 

"May I change out of my scrubs?" He spared a glance at her dirty scrubs, missing the calculating look in her eyes, he shrugged and followed her a few paces behind as she walked to her office. Once inside, Deidara politely turned his back as she slipped out of her scrubs and into her clothes, seemingly oblivious that she was typing silently on her phone, thankful she had thought to have at least one person at the police department's number on her phone. Her hands were shaking violently.

 

Tenzou, Konoha Veterans Hospital. Please hurry. Bomb threat. West wing. Trouble. Deidara.

 

Quickly pressing send, she set her phone on her desk silently and turned around. "Ready," she whispered.

 

"Not sure why you wanted to change with what's going to happen to you." He chuckled and walk out the door, Sakura followed silently, regarding few people as she left. Once in the parking lot, she stepped inside an unmarked, black car and felt as someone in the seat behind her wrapped a blindfold around her head and roughly stuck a gun to the base of her neck. Hot tears began to soak through the blindfold, but Sakura remained silent, hoping in just a matter of moments she would wake up from this dream. There was no way she would ever feel as terrified as she did in that very moment, not just for her, but for those innocent people, and for Kakashi. Because if Deidara was kidnapping her, that only meant that something had gone terribly wrong, and they knew to use her as leverage. Goddamn it.

 

...

 

"Kakashi, we have a situation. We need you to come down to the station immediately."

 

"Tenzou, why are you calling me? I'm at the office. What is it?" As if on cue, Temari burst through his door and flipped on the television sitting in the far corner of the office. There was a news anchor, reporting the massive evacuation of Konoha Veteran's Hospital due to an anonymous tip about a possible bomb threat, so far it had been determined that the perpetrator had used a new form of explosives, meaning only a few K-9 units were able to trace anything. Kakashi's eyes widened in horror. The Sakura's face flashed on the screen with her name below and a number to call for information about her whereabouts. 

 

"Haruno was the one that sent the tip, since then no one has seen her. She mentioned Deidara, and the hospital security tapes reveal her talking to him, then following him outside. She managed to send me a text, pretty clever girl. But she's in trouble, I know you're too close to this case, but--"

 

Kakashi hung up before Tenzou could finish, and he was out the door and on his way in a matter of seconds, Temari following quickly behind him. He really couldn't understand how this happened. Since that night at the gallery, he had been so careful. He even made sure she had security for most hours of the day. How could this happen?

 

"Kakashi." The silver-haired man glanced up to see his team staring at him with pity. He honestly didn't recall the trip here. Anko was the one talking. "We've got the officers not working the hospital doing a thorough sweep of the city. A witness at the hospital said he saw a pink haired girl entering a black car without any plates. We've got aerial patrol keeping a look out, but for right now we need to sit tight. As soon as we get a lead we'll head out."

 

She must have seen Kakashi's pained expression because her usual hard, unforgiving eyes softened. "I'm sorry, Kakashi. Just go get changed. We're all on communications until we get word. We're the only team not involved in anything else, so we have to wait. We won't have any backup for awhile, so stay strong." He nodded and watched as the others scattered to continue their work.

 

His heart was racing as he made his way to the locker room. After changing into his standard-issue vest and uniform, Kakashi removed his contacts and pulled the mask over his face before making his way to the break room, trying desperately to keep his emotions at bay.

 

"Here." He glanced up to see Temari holding out a large cup of coffee, he accepted gladly. She took the seat next to him and sat down a couple of donuts. Kakashi took a long gulp of the drink through his mask, it was incredibly sweet, with a hint of whiskey. Temari truly understood him.

 

"Sakura'a really something," the blonde-haired girl spoke. She was now dressed in her uniform and looked very tired. Noticing that she'd captured his attention, she continued. "I've known her for years. You know she graduated high school early? All her friends were so pissed. Scored third highest on her entrance exams in the entire state. I've never met someone so smart, but so stupid, before. She broke my brother's heart, you know." She sighed deeply, shaking her head.

 

"How?" Kakashi found himself speaking before he could stop himself, he was desperate to hear anything about the pink-haired girl he'd spent the last two weeks talking to. Although Sakura spoke fondly, and often, about her past, she never really mentioned the red-haired boy who had taken such lovely pictures of her.

 

"They were dating at the start of college. Sakura was only seventeen her first semester. After a few years of dating, Gaara proposed to her." Kakashi flinched suddenly at the huge chunk of Sakura's love-life he'd never been privy to, but he knew there must have been a reason to withhold such information. "But, the closer to the wedding they got, the more restless she became. Until one day she just snapped, I don't know why, Gaara never went into the details. They had an argument, and when my brother is angry it gets scary and out of hand fast. But, we were all so young, too young to get married."

 

"You are all still pretty young," Kakashi pointed out.

 

Temari shrugged. "A lot happened in the four years after that. Gaara and Sakura are friends now, but he's still in love with her, which makes me hate her for leaving him. I think Gaara deserves better than her." Kakashi couldn't help but tremble with anger at her comment, causing a small chuckle to sound in her throat. "But that doesn't mean she deserves this, Kakashi-taichou. I can understand why you'd fall in love with her, just because I don't like her doesn't mean I don't get it. So don't worry, we'll save her. Sakura's not the type of girl to roll over and give up."

 

Kakashi shook his head, unable to mask the anxiety in his eyes. "It's not that I'm worried she'll give up or anything... I'm worried she'll try and protect me, say something stupid and get herself hurt." 'I'm worried she'll never be able to forgive me..'

 

"Yeah, she really does have a mouth on her." Temari stood up, placing a firm hand on Kakashi's shoulder. "Don't blame yourself, Kakashi. If she makes it back alive only to find that you've completely withdrawn into yourself again, I don't think she'll take it too well." Kakashi watched as she left the room, processing her words. When had these kids gotten to be so damn smart?

 

...

 

Damien Suomi & The Minor Prophets / Pearls Before The Swine

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Twelve

 

Sakura didn't recall being knocked out, but when she came to her stomach churned uncomfortably as the lights practically blinded her. The sensation altogether amplified the dull throbbing as the side of her head, and she could feel a tightness to her skin indicating dried blood. 'You have a concussion, Sakura. Just take deep breaths and try not to close your eyes for too long,' The voice in her head stern and omniscient, not at all unlike her mentor, or maybe her mother when she was caught searching for Christmas presents.

 

As the disorientation was beginning to ebb away, Sakura tried moving her arm only to discover they were tied skillfully above her head, and her feet were bound just as tightly, and she shivered when she noticed only her nude, lace underwear and white camisole remained. Furiously blinking away the black dots dancing in her eyes, threatening her consciousness, Sakura bit her lip harshly, appreciating the metallic taste that seeped into her mouth. She had to stay focused.

 

The door opened to reveal a slight man, unkempt dark hair, his face covered. He walked towards her calmly, displaying an air of confident precision with each step, like someone trained ruthlessly in military tactics. Sakura wanted to shout insults or threats as he gently tied a blindfold over eyes carefully, to avoid the fresh wound near her ear, but she had a feeling that nothing she could say would phase the silent, dark figure. The warmth of his presence disappeared, as did he, as silently as he had come, the only indication of his departure was a soft click as the door locked into place. The thought of someone so careful, so quiet had Sakura shuddering, wishing she could rub her hands over her arms to warm the goosebumps that now covered her skin.

 

The door opened again, only this time lacking in the finesse displayed from the previous visitor. "Well hello there, Pinky." Sakura rolled her eyes beneath the fabric.

 

"I already know who you are." She rasped, her voice lacking confidence she was trying desperately to convey. "Why bother with the blindfold?"

 

"What can I say? I'm a slave to appearances." She heard the door shut and the sliding of a chair across the floor as Deidara positioned himself, she assumed, in front of her. "Now, stop me if I'm wrong, but I've got a pretty big hunch, and I mean big, that Gaikotsu is an undercover cop, and you're directly, possibly romantically, involved with him. Am I right hmm?"

 

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Her voice was strong and even, despite her trembling frame.

 

"Yeah, you see the thing is: I don't buy that. We both know I'm right, and you're going to tell me his whereabouts or so help me god, I'll set this city on fire and make you watch."

 

"We also both know you're little scheme didn't work. Judging by the dried blood on my neck, I'd say it's been about three hours. That's plenty of time for the hospital to be properly evacuated and relocated." She was gaining confidence and she licked the blood from her lips and teeth menacingly. That was until she felt his hand grasping her throat.

 

"Yeah, I bet you think you're so clever, dontcha? How about we try this on for size, Pinky. You're not that hard to track down, if you don't tell me where Kakashi's shacking up, I'll kill you and all your little friends. I may not be in charge, but I've got a lot more power than you think." His voice was hot in her ear. He pulled away, finally allowing her to breath.

 

She sputtered for a few moments before enough air had filled her lungs to talk. "Why do you think I know anything? You think he's so careless as to divulge that information to me?"

 

"He's careless enough to let his guard down around you." He had her there.

 

"Well you can go ahead and kill me now. That scene you made today? I bet the media just ate that up. And now a sweet, innocent doctor has been abducted. You won't have time to kill anyone else because you'll be cuffed and convicted before you have a chance to leave this building." She spit, what she hoped to be, in his face, earning her a powerful slap across her cheek, his ring tearing open her flesh.

 

"You're quite a firecracker, Pinky. You think you're being noble by protecting Kakashi hmm? What makes him so worthy hmm?" Deidara landed a swift kick into her hip, causing her to hiss pain, the rope rubbing her wrists raw as her body reflexively tried to double over.

 

"He may look like the good guy given your current position, but I see him for what he is. I've read his police files, up to date until last year, and I know exactly who he is. Your precious Kakashi has done some pretty questionable things, and yet you think just because in the end a few criminals get put behind bars that his actions are justified." His lips were close to her face again and she could feel his chuckles swirling in her ear, and she felt him drag a finger slowly down her inner arm.

 

"So naive. Your blind loyalty is almost cute. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and he'll claim his rightful space soon enough." Sakura brought her head back against the wall before slamming her skull in his. He scrambled backwards, screaming obscenities. Once he was calm he spoke up, his voice venomous and unforgiving.

 

"I'm going to impart something to you before I leave." He took a shuddering breath. "While I was reading over his file, a particular case caught my eye." He paused again, as if finding the perfect way to word it so it would break her heart. 'Stay strong, Sakura.' She nodded to her inner voice, but the salty taste of tears on her lips only worked to further shatter her belief that everything was going to be alright.

 

"I suppose it was about ten years ago." Sakura jerked her head up as he grasped her attention, she winced in pain. "Him and his partner, Obito something or another, were on a case, but they fucked it up. They were infiltrated this guy, Oorochimaru, and some illegal sex trade, prostitution ring, whatever. Anyways, they were tied and tortured in front of one another, not allowed to look away. Neither of them were talking, just fucking refused to tell the man who they were working for and why. Then, now here's the kicker, he held out a gun and told them either one of them had to shoot the other unless someone talked."

 

Sakura felt her blood run cold, she already knew the ending of this story, but no matter how desperately she tried to block out the sound of Deidara's cocky voice, her mind's need for verbal confirmation won out. "Well, since they're both such loyal little shits, Kakashi did it. Shot his partner point blank in the head, only to be rescued by the SWAT team not ten minutes later." Deidara finished nonchalantly, as though he were gossiping over tea. "Is that the kind of person you think deserves saving, Sakura? Let me give you some time to think about it." He called over his shoulder as he pulled the door closed behind him.

 

For a while, Sakura just hung against the wall, unmoving, like a lifeless scarecrow tied to a post. Emotions were swirling around inside of her, changing directions at rapid speeds, the frantic whispers of her inner thoughts blocking out the sound of her choked sobs racking through her body. She was both terribly disgusted and incredibly heartbroken for Hatake Kakashi. To think that he would kill his own partner rather than betray his position was hard to understand. He seemed so lax about rules, for the most part. Sakura was too immersed in her thoughts to hear the door open.

 

"My my, Miss Sakura. This is quite the predicament you've gotten yourself into." A familiar set of tenors put an end to her pity party. Sakura was confused as to why Uchiha Itachi was standing in front of her. He pressed his body close as he worked at cutting the ropes that kept her in place, she breathed in his subtle scent of pipe tobacco and brandy, such an old soul. "This may even be worse than the time you spent the night in jail after getting caught skinny dipping, and I must say you've filled out quite a bit since then."

 

The blindfold was lifted, causing Sakura to blink repeatedly. Rubbing her wrists, she eyed him suspiciously. "Why are you here, Itachi?"

 

"Well the plan was to make sure your 'confinement' was a bit less uncomfortable.. and should I forget to lock the door behind me, so be it." He was smiling that smug smile that brought most girls to their knees, and would have Sakura were she not determined to get more answers.

 

"Though I appreciate the help, I meant why are you here ?"

 

"Oh of course. Well I suppose one might say that on occasion, I require the services of lesser men to take care of certain things, so as to not sully my name."

 

Sakura rolled her eyes, he always spoke like a damn English professor. "So you're saying you hire these assholes to do your dirty work?"

 

"To put it bluntly, yes." Itachi leaned closer and lowered his voice. "You didn't hear it from me, but Danzo has an army of followers who are, if paid handsomely, willing to deal in very dark business transactions."

 

"But why would help me? Won't you get into trouble?"

 

He shrugged flippantly. "Well, I heard about your disappearance and simply put two and two together. I am a valued client here, I shall do as I please. But in return I ask you to keep everything I've said off record, lest you want a thorough punishment." His crimson eyes gleamed lustfully for a moment. "Which I'd be happy to provide anyways."

 

"Ugh you are so incorrigible!" She huffed, pushing him away, but she swayed on her feet and ended up needing Itachi's help to stand regardless. Once she regained composure, Itachi shrugged out of his jacket, and helped her slip her arms inside, then he pulled out a handkerchief and cleaned off as much blood as he could. Sakura wondered why it never worked out between them. Despite her new knowledge of his underhanded methods of handling business, she found him to be quite the gentleman.

 

"That should do it. A friend down in security has agreed to ignore the security cameras for the time being, and I've informed the police of your whereabouts, a team should be here at once. I'd save you myself, but I don't want the publicity. Nor do I want to take the honor from you knight in shining armor." He winked knowingly then strutted towards the door.

 

"Oh, and check the pocket." Then he was gone. Sakura stood confused for a few moments before reaching into the hidden breast pocket of Itachi's jacket and her eyes widened. He'd given her a gun.

 

...

 

Kakashi rushed into Yamato's office, leaving a whirlwind of destruction in his wake. He skidded to a stop once he nearly crashed into Yamato's desk. "You said you have her location?"

 

Yamato nodded, but there was something unsettlingly grave about his expression, as though he were feeling guilty for what he was about to say. "Last week, Sakura came into the department. She was worried, said it felt like she was being followed. I assured her it was just the part-time security guard you apparently hired for her, but I wasn't positive. I gave her an emergency tracker, told her to put it somewhere hidden on her persons, and should she have any suspicions to press the button for emergency assistance. I did this because I had a feeling she would be abducted-"

 

"You what..?" Kakashi couldn't hide the fury in his voice, his emotions burning wildly in his mismatched irises. Yamato slammed his hand on the desk and stood up to meet Kakashi's height.

 

"Now you listen to me, Kakashi. Ever since your suicide attempts, you've been sloppy, apathetic about this mission. I'm not an idiot, I know you meet with Haruno, but I also know you were trying your best to keep her safe. However, last week when she was here it occurred to me that she could be of some usefulness. So yes, I allowed this to happen to further this case along. No, do not interrupt me, you are no longer my superior. The point is, she activated the tracker, but there is interference. The only thing functioning is the wire, so we can just barely pick up her conversations. She's okay, she's safe."

 

"Safe as she can be given the fucking circumstances." Yamato flinched, which was no surprise, Kakashi wasn't a man of curses or insults, he saved those for special occasions. "So let me get this straight, you essentially sent Sakura to me with a wire, unbeknownst to her, to not only record our conversations, but to track her should anything happen. However, even though you knew something would happen, you didn't take extra measures to ensure the satellite equipment was running properly, so she doesn't even have the protection you promised her. Am I correct?"

 

Yamato nodded, and Kakashi didn't have the opportunity to stop himself before punching the man hard in the jaw. He stood still as a statue for a minute, watching Yamato, Tenzo, his long time partner and part-time friend, pick himself up off the ground, massaging his jaw. "I deserved that." Yamato spared a few moments to adjust his mouth. "We've got her location nonetheless, someone on the inside gave us a tip. I want all of us ready to leave in fifteen minutes, and it would behove you to be on time, this time."

 

Kakashi's shoulders stiffened even more so. The proclaimed genius, Hatake Kakashi was having a difficult time wrapping his brain around this surprising turn of events. Although he understood full well why Tenzo did this. 'The ends justify the means' he thought grimly. But it was different now that the means involved someone special to him, someone he loved. The thought that his actions may have caused other people to feel this intense sorrow, this choking desperation, made him feel ashamed of himself. It was easy to do his job when his selfish lifestyle allowed him the luxury of caring only for himself and his comrades, but he could clearly see that there was no good in the things he did. Just because those things needed to be done, didn't mean he had to be the one to do them.

 

"I quit."

 

"I'm sorry, what was that Kakashi?"

 

"I said I quit. After this, I'm leaving the department." His voice was certain, his eyes bored.

 

"You can't be serious.."

 

"I really, truly am. Consider this my resignation." Kakashi turned on a heel, ignoring Tenzo's protests, and went about preparing for his rescue mission, a weight lifting off his shoulders.

 

...

 

Beach Fossils / Lessons

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Thirteen

 

Kakashi felt like a graceless idiot, despite how far from the truth it was. Regardless, no amount of tranquilizer guns equipped with silencers or endless crevices to stash unconscious security personnel made this operation feel covert. Kakashi was a master of stealth, but his practiced precision and flawless execution was doing little to quell his anxieties. His earpiece crackled on and Kakashi let out a shuddered sigh, hoping his teammates didn't catch the hopeless way his breaths came in and out with inconsistent gasps.

 

"Floors ten through thirteen are clear. She's not here. Over," Ibiki's gruff voice whispered.

 

Tenzou cut in, his quiet voice holding an air of control that Kakashi had to admit was a tad intimidating. "Remember the objective. Get Haruno out alive and survey the layout. I don't want anyone engaging the enemy until back-up arrives. Over."

 

"Obviously." Anko snorted. "You've got us using these tranquilizer guns like a bunch of bitches. Over."

 

Tenzou promptly ignored her. "Kakashi, what is your status? Over."

 

"I found a section of offices under the parking garage, only accessible with a keycard." Kakashi took a moment to silently thank the god that created hacking equipment then continued. "It's on the side opposite of the elevator, down two flights of stairs. Security is minimum, everyone thus far either hasn't seen me or is sleeping peacefully now. Over."

 

"I've got break rooms and office space. Looks all normal, really. Danzou's office is on my floor, but no sign of the girl. Over." Anko supplied.

 

"I've swept the intelligence and training sector, nothing." Tenzou sighed for a moment. "Anko, Ibiki, get outside and wait in the van with Temari for further instructions. I'll meet you soon. Kakashi, continue your sweep and report back asap. Over and out."

 

Kakashi nodded even though no one could see his movements. Despite his nerves, he realized that while his back was pressed against the wall and he crept silently through the halls that this was the part of his job he loved. Adrenaline was pumping through him, a heightened sense of perception burning through his veins. Kakashi chose to scout the lower levels simply because he knew it was the most likely place to find her, as proven by history.

 

Kakashi stilled suddenly as the distinct sound of a muted shot rang through the air, stinging his eardrums momentarily. Holding his breath, Kakashi's eyes slid closed to visualize where the shots were coming from. His head jerked to the left at the sound of shuffling, light, rapid steps followed by heavier ones. He saw her pink hair long before she noticed him, as she was being chased by an incredibly large man wielding an inappropriately large gun. Her gun misfired, just narrowly missing Kakashi's shoulders and she turned to greet him with a squeal. He yanked her behind him and landed a quick shot in her pursuer's leg and watched the man crumple to the ground. He didn't waste time tossing the unconscious guard into a nearby room.

 

Then he pulled the pink-haired girl into the next room, the door closing behind them, showering them in shadows. Sakura wriggled, trying to break loose from Kakashi's vice-like grip on her painfully bruised waist, his hand clamped firmly over her mouth. She felt his cloudy hairs tickling her cheek as he calmly counted backwards from one hundred twenty. Sakura assumed he was listening for anything outside, but his smooth, rich voice was causing her to relax against his hard chest, her pulse lowering to match Kakashi's steady pace.

 

"Sakura, who gave you that gun which you so obviously can't use?" His clothed lips were hot and moist, moving against her neck with each word, making her shiver. She tried to answer, but her voice was still muffled by his hand.

 

"No, don't speak. Hand me the gun." He spoke authoritatively. "Hand me the gun." She tried to shake her head, but it only resulted in him holding her tighter, possibly aware of the pain her was inflicted. "Now." He used his stern, teacher voice that had the rose-haired girl standing a little straighter as she handed him the weapon.

 

Sakura couldn't help but listen in amazement as she assumed he flipped the safety on and slipped it into the back of his pants with one hand. She was ashamed that despite her unfortunate situation and embarrassing display of firearm incompetence that she still managed to be turned on. Uniform-wearing, Sakura-saving Kakashi was very very appealing.

 

"Sakura, you're trembling. Breath." She wanted to inform him that it had little to do with fear, but seeing as how he still blocked her speech it wasn't possible. This was really an appropriate time anyways. "I need you to listen carefully." He spoke slowly, as though she were mentally compromised. Sakura couldn't help but scoff beneath his glove. He ignored it. "This floor is below B2. We'll need to get to B2 first, when we do, I'll tell you the rest from there. I'm going to cut the lights in the halls, I've got the path memorized."

 

She nodded in partial understanding and whimpered at the sudden cold rush of air from his departure. He pulled out a flashlight to work on what Sakura assumed to be a circuit breaker. The glow from the light illuminated Sakura's surroundings, revealing the faint outline of cleaners and office supplies. They were in a supply closet.

 

"This seems familiar," Sakura offered quietly, her throat ached slightly, dry and bruised.

 

Kakashi chuckled quietly. "I have a fetish." He turned and gave her a smile, his eyes crinkling in the corners as he shut the case containing various wires and flipped off the flashlight. Sakura wasn't afraid of the dark, this was because she knew her eyes would adjust as soon as the lights were out. This was not the case today, in fact, Sakura had never seen so much darkness in her life, not a single bit of luminance to light her way.

 

She felt a strong grip wrap about the area just above her wrist and Kakashi began to lead her out the door and into the hall, she assumed. They picked up speed and Sakura was getting dizzy fast as her eyes frantically flicked around, trying to find anything to focus on in the vast expanse of nothingness. It was as though the darkness were engulfing her, choking her airways as it permeated her entire being. When she stumbled for the third time, Kakashi's voice drifted to her. Quiet but firm, he was obviously accustomed to giving orders, but Sakura assumed in most leadership situations his tone didn't hold the worried edge that was now so prevalent in his speech.

 

"Just close your eyes. Trust me." Although were he anyone else, Sakura wold have told him to fuck off, but she accepted Kakashi to be the exception, from now on she would probably do anything he told her to, should they survive. Sakura shuddered at the thought and swallowed the lump of emotion forming in her throat. Closing her eyes made a surprising difference, and she gracefully followed Kakashi's lead, wondering how he could maneuver through the endless darkness so flawlessly. Then without warning he scooped her up. She knew it was still dark, so she didn't need to open her eyes to know they were traveling up stairs. Sakura fisted the collar of Kakashi's uniform and breathed in deeply, committing the scent to memory, as though she hadn't already.

 

Kakashi abruptly stopped moving and gently set the petal-haired girl down, helping her lean against a cold wall. She opened her eyes, allowing the emerald orbs to adjust to the dimly lit parking garage surrounding her, Kakashi's lofty frame looming over her.

 

"Why are you on top of me? I can barely breath!" She wheezed as quietly as she could manage. Kakashi wanted to point out that he was wearing a kevlar vest, unlike herself, so should anyone show up guns blazing, he would take all the heat, but he held his tongue and took a small step back to give her some air. His eyes widened almost comically at her appearance.

 

"You look... interesting." He spoke carefully, surveying the damage. She had on a thin, white undershirt and a pair of incredibly sexy panties that were only a shade peachier than her skin and a slim men's sport coat to cover her, the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. As he drug his gaze slowly up to her face, he felt his blood begin to boil at the sight of her bruised cheek.

 

"Where are you hurt?"

 

"Kakashi, I'm okay. It's not a big deal," she countered indignantly. He completely dismissed her argument.

 

"Where are you hurt?" He repeated, this time with no patience to cushion his harsh tone. Sakura complied, but felt herself shrink under his scrutiny. His eyes were cold and calculating as she pointed out each area. Sakura surmised that the way his mismatched orbs swept over her in that composed and deliberate manner meant he was working out how each instance occurred. He brought his fingertips to her cheek to tuck a strand of her matted, floral hair behind her ear.

 

"Are you okay?" Kakashi's words ghosted over her skin in a warm, sweet cloud of whiskey and sugary coffee, mixing with the subtle woodland fragrance that always clung to his clothes. Sakura instantly relaxed and watched closely as Kakashi tugged the dark fabric of his mask down to reveal hard frown; worry etched deeply into the lines of his face, giving him the appearance of someone much older. She felt something seize in her heart at the sight.

 

"I am. I was scared, and I'm tired. But I'm okay now ." She tried to smile but it looked half-hearted as it felt.

 

She watched as his dark, esoteric eyes searched her for honesty, and when he seemed satisfied enough, he sighed with relief. Kakashi surprised her, however, by gently grabbing her hand and pressing his lips to the pastel bruises peppering her wrists. Sakura's eyes fluttered to half-mast at the feeling of his tongue lightly gliding across the sensitive skin, her heart hammering away in her chest at the way his eyes never left hers.

 

It was unexpected to watch as somehow during the last minute Kakashi's demeanor shifted dramatically from stern and worried to something fiery, and dare she say lustful. He released her hands and focused on her aching neck, planting long kisses across her throat and down her collarbone. Sakura faintly heard the sound of her name whispered against the shallow valley of her silk-covered breasts.

 

Kakashi gracefully dropped to his knees and spared a glance upwards as he slowly pulled the camisole up to reveal a menacingly dark bruise. Sakura almost giggled at the pouty frown he wore before tracing the outline of her purple skin, causing a sigh of pleasure to erupt from the rosette. Feeling her knees tremble against him, Kakashi firmly held her in place, mindful of her injury and Sakura watched in curiosity as his starry locks dipped lower.

 

Kakashi sighed deeply, drinking in the savory-sweet smell of sweat, apples, and Sakura's evident arousal. He was well aware of how incredibly compromising this position was, pressing his face into the lacy, nude undergarments of the girl he was supposed to be rescuing during a covert mission while he had her shoved against a concrete wall in the darkened corner of a parking garage, but the sense of foreboding tickling the edges of his mind subconsciously convinced him to savor this one moment of peace.

 

At the moment, it wasn't very hard for his subconscious to persuade him, especially not with how she was dressed and the way those soft noises she was trying not to make were ringing so loudly in his ears. It was intoxicating, and his favourite author would be proud of his decision. Kakashi grinned at the quiet moan of pleasure Sakura made as he pushed his lips against the lacy fabric. Kakashi opened his mouth and just barely grazed his tongue over her when, much to his chagrin, the radio crackled to life in his ear.

 

"Kakashi, what is your status? Over." Like a shot, Kakashi was instantly standing over the doctor, watching as she panted and glared up at him, her cheeks flushed a shade brighter than her perfect hair. With a smirk, Kakashi pulled up his mask and faced away, seemingly unfazed by what had transpired just a moment earlier. It severely irked Sakura.

 

"We're in the parking garage, about to head up. What's the situation? Over."

 

"Dammit Kakashi. Temari finally hacked the security system, but apparently someone killed the guard in the control room. The building is on high alert. You're going to have company in three minutes, about five or so guys. Keep the radio on. Backup will be here in ten. If you can't handle it, we'll try and be in. But security is at maximum. Over and out."

 

"Fuck," Kakashi muttered under his breath. Who could have possibly killed the guard in the control room? It was a rookie mistake, which was why his team was instructed to use tranquilizer guns unless it were absolutely necessary to do otherwise.

 

"Come on, we need to get you to a safer place." He ignored the scandalized look on her face. If Sakura thought she was going to try and hold her own, she was sorely mistaken.

 

Thankfully, Kakashi had made a point earlier in his sweep to check every car and find any unlocked vehicle with a view of the elevator and center. And people called him cynical for assuming the worst of every situation.

 

"W-what's going on?" Sakura stuttered, barely able to find her voice as Kakashi set her in the back seat of a low hatchback car. He paused for a moment and was bombarded with a symphony of emotions pouring out from Sakura's emerald eyes.

 

Kakashi sighed and reached for the gun he had taken from her earlier and placed it in her hands. "Stay here. I know you want to help, but I also know this is terrifying for you. So watch me closely. If you think I need help, open the door and use it as a shield, then aim using both arms, keeping both eyes open. Exhale before you shoot. Though I assume it won't come to that."

 

Sakura merely stared back, gaping like a fish out of water. It was fascinating how Kakashi could explain it with such an easy attitude, as though he were teaching her origami or some other trivial skill. Sakura was quickly reminded of how enigmatic Kakashi truly was. Hastily, but gracefully, switching gears without missing a beat. Was this the same man who had only moments ago been kissing her so intimately? She was beginning to believe that mask held some type of mystical qualities. Kakashi raised a silver eyebrow curiously before giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. He planted a long, lingering kiss on her lips through his mask.

 

For a moment Sakura worried he might utter some famous last words that would ultimately doom them, but instead he just smiled and shut car door, quickly making his way to another part of the garage to welcome their visitors.

 

Sakura wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but getting forcefully yanked out of the car by a man dressed entirely in black had not been it, well that wasn't entirely true. But having been caught off guard, she responded the only way she could in such a frenzied state: she shot the man in the leg. Kakashi would likely never trust her on her own again. Which was a shame. She was fine with defending herself, but give her a gun and she was utterly clueless.

 

In her defense, watching the silent exchange between Kakashi and Deidara, along with a few other thugs ranging from ethereal to terrifying, had been nerve-wracking. She was completely on edge. Even more so because she had to wonder if Kakashi even noticed the way the dark-clad man was weaving between the vehicles. Sakura silently chided herself for her lack of faith. Of course he noticed, he was too clever and manipulative not to, why he chose to leave her hanging was the true mystery.

 

Sakura tried, in vain, to muffle the man's agonized cries, but not a moment later another one was on her, and he ignored his comrade's pain in favour of snatching her gun and dragging Sakura by her pink locks towards the center of the garage.

 

"Well if it isn't the guest of honor herself. Out for a stroll, are we Pinky?" Deidara sneered. Sakura knew she should be terrified, especially since the odds were against them, five to two with her incapacitated to be exact, but Sakura couldn't help but think these men paled in comparison to Kakashi's cool and confident stance. Of course, she always did have a problem with putting people on pedestals.

 

"Fuck you," she spat without forethought, another problem that usually only presented itself in the presence of idiots. 

 

Kakashi shot her a subtle but firm glare. "Although I may be awesome, the odds are hardly in our favour, Sakura-chan. It would be wise for you to take a moment and think before speaking." 

 

She huffed indignantly before realizing what he was trying to say with his slow, measured speech. He was stalling.

 

"Unfortunately for you two, I am not a goddamn moron." Sakura scoffed, along with a few of Deidara's subordinates much to her amusement. "I know what you're trying to pull and it wont work. So I'm going to cut to the chase. It is either you or the girl, Kakashi."

 

"What makes you think I care what happens to her?" Kakashi replied, his disinterested tone laced with apathy. Deidara just smirked.

 

"Everyone go secure the entrance, make sure we remain undisturbed for as long as possible. Bring her to me." 

 

They obeyed without question. Kakashi winced inwardly when Deidara kicked the back of Sakura's knees, forcing her body to scrape across the concrete as she fell. He could feel his teeth grinding together in an attempt to keep a reign on his concealed rage. He had to remain calm.

 

Kakashi's eyes strayed to the other men as they dispersed, one of them carrying the guy Sakura shot. At first he thought their departure was leaving him in a very advantageous position, but his confidence quickly faded into anguish when he turned to Sakura and Deidara.

 

He took in the scene, now fully understanding Sakura's uncharacteristic silence. Her perfect pink lips were wrapped around the barrel of a gun. She was shaking violently. Deidara didn't need to tie her up, forcing a gun into her mouth did just fine.

 

"I wonder what's going through your head right now, Kakashi. You look calm, but you must be pretty upset. You know, Pinky here seems like she's pretty good with her mouth." Kakashi saw tears twinkling in the corners of her angry eyes as Deidara pushed the cylinder further into her mouth, causing a muted gag to ripple through her. Disgusted wasn't quite the word, but it was the first one that came to mind.

 

"I've not had the pleasure," he responded stoically.

 

"Well, I bet her skill has nothing on yours. Or does Pinkie not know about your many other talents?"

 

That was it. Kakashi really didn't feel the need to talk anymore. So instead he shrugged out of his kevlar vest, letting it fall to the ground. He couldn't quite pinpoint what he was feeling, but something had definitely changed within him.

 

Sakura just didn't deserve this. She was a smart and beautiful, so incredibly beautiful, young woman who had sculpted a perfectly normal, if not a tad lonely, life. He couldn't help but think her intervention on that bridge so many nights ago had been her undoing.

 

Sakura was honest and open and painfully understanding. She saved more lives on a daily basis than he did during his entire career. In terms of the greater good, him dying would be a small sacrifice when he knew she had the chance to be alive, maybe even happy. Kakashi wasn't sure if she was happy, but he saw in the way her eyes sparkled that she had the potential. She could marry a much more deserving and less troublesome Gaara; enjoy a life that didn't involve sneaking around or the possibility of being kidnapped, killed even. Kakashi clenched his fists in frustration. He really was in love with her, so much that he would soon kill himself rather than see her in distress again. Back to square one, it seems.

 

"We both know, Deidara, that you are fighting a losing battle. Your men can't hold out for long and everyone already knows of your location as well as who you work for. But if killing me will help bring you a sense of justice, then please do so. Just leave her out of this." Kakashi ignored the way Sakura's jade eyes widened in horror, or the way a very satisfied smirk spread across Deidara's smug face.

 

"Well, if you insist." 

 

As Deidara pulled the gun from Sakura's mouth and promptly aimed it straight for Kakashi's heart, a sense of peace overcame the starry-haired man. The shot sounded, vibrating throughout the room, and a flash of pink collided with him. The pain of the shot never came, and as Kakashi watched she crumpled to the ground, unconscious, his vision swam, bleeding a shade of red darker than the one pooling around his Haruno Sakura. A blind rage overtook Kakashi, and the world around him faded to crimson.

 

...

 

Pixies / Hey

 

Pedestrian Life: Chapter Fourteen

 

Waking up was overall an overwhelming sensation. Sakura could tell by her heavy limbs and trembling fingers that she had been under for awhile . It was strange to be on the other side of a situation she was an expert in. The bright fluorescent lights had been replaced by a few low-hanging lamps and the soft beeping of the machines were slowly helping Sakura get a grip on her situation, but the drugs were hindering her ability to think clearly, to recall why she was here. Her tired eyes swept across the room to find it void of life, save for a potted plant at her bedside. Sakura sighed, using all her strength to grip the warm blankets covering her, her knuckles turning white as her brain pieced together her last memories.

 

Then it hit her. Clarity washed over Sakura like a bucket of freezing water, and the beeping from her heart monitor became rapidly faster with each painful recollection. Hot tears began to sting the corners of her viridian eyes until they fell onto the sheets below, soaking the cloudy fabric to a shade of cobalt. Where is he? How could she be so reckless to just leave him to handle everything? Sakura was no hero, she was a fucking idiot, a romantic swept up in a situation she wasn't even supposed to be involved in. Of course, she really did have complete faith in Kakashi, but watching him die was not an option. He had to have made it out alive, and most likely unscathed if not a tad worse for wear. But if so, then where was he?

 

Her increased heart-rate must have triggered an alarm, because before Sakura could question any further, her once cozy, quiet hospital room was illuminated with the harsh overhead lights. Sakura heard Tsunade and Shizune approaching, a long stride of heavy steps followed by a hurried set of heels clicking frantically on the linoleum.

 

"Shizune, check her vitals. Sakura, how are you feeling?" Sakura lifted her arm, allowing Shizune to check her blood pressure and motioned for a glass of water. After a long drink, Sakura spoke her voice raspy and tired.

 

"I'm fine. My shoulder is stiff, and lifting my arm hurts like hell."

 

Tsunade nodded, jotting everything down and Shizune flashed a bright light straight into Sakura's pupils. "Any headache, dizziness, nausea, memory-loss, or numbness?" Rose locks swayed left to right slowly. "Good. I think you're a goddamn idiot for what it's worth. Though it's probably not much. You never listen to anyone's advice. Speaking of which, you owe Kurenai an apology. She is pretty furious with you."

 

Tsunade tossed Sakura her file, and the pinkette swallowed the guilt as best she could. Sakura loved and respected Kurenai, it was foolish of her to keep something like this from her. But had anyone asked her opinion, Sakura would probably just as foolishly state that Kakashi was worth the trouble.

 

Blinking a few times, Sakura's eyes began to absorb the information, and she shuddered with what she saw. She had been in a drug-induced coma for nearly five days after a risky operation and two blood transfusions. This all seemed so dramatic for one gunshot. The shot just nicked her lung, causing her lungs to fill with blood. The bullet literally sliced through her, leaving her an opening and exit wound to bleed out. It was at close-range, she supposed. At least she could leave in a couple of days.

 

She flipped the page to read the visitor sign in sheet, and her heart clenched painfully when she didn't see Kakashi's name among so many others. Was he not okay?

 

"What about-"

 

"Kakashi's fine, but he's not here. Cowardly ass if you ask me," Tsunade cut in, snarling. Sakura frowned, not sure how to feel about him not coming to visit. She was angry, one might say livid, but mostly just worried, intensely worried. "I've got a conference call in a few minutes. Shizune, finish up with Sakura then come to my office."

 

The buxom Chief disappeared out the door and a feeling of emptiness settled in Sakura's stomach. Tsunade was a cold, direct woman, but something about the exchange didn't sit well with her. She was too detached, like she was trying too hard to not care. A small smile crept up the corners of Sakura's mouth. Tsunade was worried over Sakura's feelings being hurt, and trying desperately to not let it show.

 

"Sakura, do you need anything else?" the bed dipped as Shizune took a seat beside her.

 

"Can you tell me what happened to Kakashi? Please?" Sakura grabbed Shizune's hand and gave her a pleading look, one that always worked.

 

Shizune sighed deeply, shaking her head before speaking. "They brought him in with you, he affronted a sense of calm.. even though we could see he was a wreck. He said he couldn't really remember what happened after you were shot so I questioned his captain, Yamato. They won't know for certain until they watch the security footage, but from what I understand he.." Shizune choked for a moment then cleared her throat to continue, her voice wavering. "He took on the man that shot you first, then the guards outside the door, then five more before back up came and his teammate knocked him out with something."

 

"When you say he took on.."

 

"He killed them, Sakura." Shizune stated bluntly, avoiding Sakura's piercing gaze. "We advised he check himself into the hospital, maybe get another psych evaluation, but once he heard of his…  exploits, he cleared out. Sai's been keeping an eye on him, so he's alive, don't worry about that..."

 

He voice trailed off leaving a heavy silence to fill the air, a thick cloud of tension that smothered Sakura into a state of paralysis. She didn't notice Shizune administer more drugs into her i.v., or the way she silently slipped out of the room, turning down the lights in her wake. Even the hum of medical equipment failed to reach Sakura's ears. She felt suspended in space, floating detached from the Earth below her, where no sounds vibrated to her ears, and no oxygen found her lungs. Faintly, Sakura could hear her inner-voice telling her these were symptoms of shock and that she should call for help, but before her brain could send her body the message, a deep, drug-induced sleep overtook her.

 

...

 

Kakashi took another long gulp of his watered down whiskey, polishing off the last remnants before lifting his finger to silently order another. The barkeep sighed but poured another regardless. It wasn't in her nature to refuse such well-paying customers, however Kakashi had been there every night this week and her heart hurt to watch this man drink himself into oblivion.

 

"Kakashi, I don't mean to be a nag.."

 

"Then don't," he clipped, his voice betraying the friendly eye-smile he was trying to give her. He regarded her for a moment. Ayame was sweet, Kakashi had been coming to this bar for years, he knew her father personally and witnessed Ayame mature into a beautiful woman.

 

He could still remember the night she turned twenty-one. He had just gotten of work, it had been a terrible day, and wanted nothing more than to drink until he woke up in Teuchi's spare bedroom upstairs, but the night had gone quite differently when he unknowingly walked into a private all-girl's, unsupervised birthday party. Ayame had looked so pretty, her long, ash-brown hair tumbling down her back, and the way her face became more and more flushed with every drink was driving him wild. Afterwards, they both pretended nothing had happened between them, for which Kakashi was eternally grateful. He got to frequent his favourite bar, and she got to keep her handsome boyfriend to whom she was married eight years now. Everybody won.

 

"Kakashi, stop spacing and at least hear me out. You can talk to me, you know." 

 

Kakashi could count on one hand the number of times he'd been drunk enough, or pathetic enough, to spill his guts to Ayame. Even though she no longer hung on his every word with innocent fascination, she was still willing to listen. The infatuation that had once sparkled in her eyes for him had dimmed and matured, growing into concern. She wasn't naive to his life-style, but neither was she judgmental. The blood on his hands didn't scare her away, and when he would slink out of the bar with anyone, man or woman, she held her tongue and merely turned the other direction. Teuchi and Ayame never expected Kakashi to change, instead they treated him like the screw-up cousin the rest of the family abandoned, it was a dynamic he grew to appreciate deeply. Kakashi took a deep breath before downing his beverage and looking at Ayame expectantly. She rolled her eyes and poured him another.

 

"Is it trouble at work?" She questioned while turning to mix a drink for another patron.

 

"I quit."

 

She paused, the cocktail shaker briefly forgotten in her hands. "A woman?" she changed the subject, sensing he didn't want to elaborate on his work situation. She'd heard about his heroics on the news, saving that young doctor and exposing Danzo for the crook he was. Ayame waited for the answer as she handed the waiting customer her drink and watched Kakashi's expression closely. He was so hard to read with that mask in place. A memory of him kissing and tasting her through the damp fabric of his mask seized her momentarily before she shrugged it away. Even in the most intimate of setting, he was still so very guarded. Ayame had long since accepted that she was not the one Kakashi would show his face to.

 

"You could say that." He shrugged.

 

"Won't you tell me about her?" She poured him another drink, and made one for herself.

 

Kakashi sent her long, bored look before giving in with a deep sigh of defeat. "She's mostly perfect. Which obviously puts her leagues ahead of me. She almost got herself killed trying to save me." Pausing for a drink, Kakashi caught the look of recognition in Ayame's eyes and waited for her to refill his glass. "I snapped. I just left her there, bleeding, too busy with my murderous rage to think straight." His hand tightened around the glass.

 

He felt Ayame's soft, warm hand wrap around his own. "Kakashi, none of this is your fault, it's never been your fault. I sat back and watched you blame yourself into suicidal submission, then let you walk out that door. If that person hadn't saved you… I don't know what I would've done, Kakashi. Regret is a scary thing. I regret not stopping you. I regret not calling you when I found out about it. I regret not noticing you were hurting. But those regrets don't define me . I know your burdens are heavy, but everyone's are..."

 

He pulled his hand away and set it in his lap, ignoring the full, sweating glass in front of him. Listening to how his behavior had hurt yet another person close to him caused a wave of nauseous guilt to pulse through him, of course he preferred to keep Ayame and Teuchi at arm's length, but for him that was pretty close.

 

"I haven't even gone to see her."

 

"Good god, Kakashi," she scoffed, almost laughing. "It's like you give yourself opportunities for regret to fester. Stop being so pathetic and go see her. If she's tough enough to deal with your punk-ass, then she must be worth it."

 

He thought about it for a moment before standing up. "You're right I guess. Can you call me cab?"

 

"Not that I condone drunk-driving, but what happened to your wheels?"

 

"Well, I lost my bike, and my license has been suspended, and my only other option is calling my nurse, and I am not willing to deal with that at the moment." She shook her head, chuckling under her breath at how at ease with the situation he seemed.

 

...

 

She was sleeping when he arrived, and if not for the soft beeping indicating her heartbeat, he would have assumed her dead. Her lips were pale, her skin lacking that youthful glow he had grown so fond of. Even in such unforgiving conditions, Sakura still managed to possess an air of cool warmth about her. The serene look on her face caused Kakashi to see the comically stark contrast to the person she was while awake. Brazen, confident, understanding, short-tempered, playful. Now she appeared to be a certain type of refined and graceful that Kakashi had only experienced from her during public events.

 

He threaded his finger through her soft, surprisingly clean hair and traced the line of her jaw before resting his fingertips on her lips. Sighing, Kakashi stole a glance at the clock and winced. It was well past visiting hours and he was in no mood to be escorted out by security should his inebriated self be noticed.

 

"You are such an idiot," he murmured, lowering his face to kiss the corner of her mouth through his mask. The soft scent of fresh mouthwash invaded his senses. He listened to her heart monitor and noticed the beats were much too fast for someone he'd assumed to be sleeping. He was losing his touch. "And you're a terrible actress."

 

A smirk spread across her lips and Kakashi watched, amazed as her eyes fluttered open. The ever-changing emerald hues of her eyes never ceased in keeping him mesmerized. He idly wondered how he managed to carry on conversations with a person whose eyes were so perfectly entrancing.

 

"I was wondering when you'd notice, detective ," she whispered, sitting up to take a drink of water. "I'd only gotten back in bed a few minutes ago." Sakura wrinkled her nose cutely as she caught a whiff of him. "You smell like a brewery. This is a respected place of healing you know."

 

"I couldn't help myself."

 

Sakura scoffed. "From what? Drinking or visiting me? God knows it's not the latter."

 

She was hurt and Kakashi knew he held no powers here and no valid argument to speak of, thus leaving him vulnerable to her attacks. He opened his mouth to apologize, but she spoke first.

 

"I was worried, Kakashi. You don't necessarily have the best track record for dealing with your emotions, mainly the ones involving me..." She didn't need to say anymore, her heart seized with the mere idea of continuing her train of thought. "I thought we were over this stuff. When are you going to stop running from me?"

 

Her eyes were sharp, and full of longing. Longing for him to get over himself. "I could start with now, I guess." He gave her a weak smile and scratched the back of his head, embarrassed with how corny he sounded.

 

"You guess?" She ignored the stiffness in her shoulder and crossed her arms over her chest, giving him a stern look. He rolled his eyes.

 

"I know." 

 

She smiled widely in return, but not before punching him with her good arm. "You'll continue with treatment right?" Her tone worried but firm, leaving no room for argument.

 

"Of course. I'll need to find a new job. Something very boring." 

 

She frowned deeply, causing Kakashi to chuckle, a rich and resonant sound that gave Sakura chills of excitement, making her wish she could see the perfect smile that matched his perfect laugh.

 

"No more uniform?" Sakura pouted, her girlish voice squeaking with disbelief.

 

Kakashi tilted his head back slightly to laugh whole-heartedly. This was why he loved being in her presence, he realized. Sakura simply made everything else melt away, all his anxiety, pain, and frustration quickly dissipated after just a small taste of her antics.

 

"I knew you were checking me out," he teased.

 

She summoned all of her available strength and shoved him. "As if. I was only appreciating . You were the one who couldn't keep his hands to himself."

 

Her efforts to push him away only made him scoot closer towards her and her breath caught in her throat as he began to pull down his mask. 

 

"Thank you for saving me, again, Sakura," he said with a wet smile, his cheeks flushing suddenly. 

 

"It's what I do, Kakashi," she replied, leaning in, until her dry, minty lips touched his warm, whiskey-flavored ones. 

 

He sighed into her, the tension leaving his shoulders and he gingerly cupped her face. He pulled back, his mismatched eyes meeting hers. "I love you, Haruno Sakura."

 

She smiled, her heart monitor sounding like electronic rainfall, and pulled him on top of her. "I know."