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A Marriage Inconvenienced

Chapter Text

It wasn't too difficult to learn of Sakura's engagement, as it was one of the most talked about things in the village. For Kakashi, there was a bizarre sense of irony: if he had arrived only a week earlier, the situation could have been entirely avoided. Once again, he had arrived too late, although it had little to do with his own habits and more to do with the Kage's tendency to be long-winded. Lightning Country's had been especially loquacious, as he believed to have found a mutual friend interested in the history of tapestry. The man never realized that Kakashi's replies of hmm... and really, and how interesting, were long honed skills from ignoring people while he read porn.

It was an arranged marriage of sorts. A few months back, Tsunade and several other ninja went to visit the daimyo of Fire Country, Kichirou Ehime. The daimyo's son Norio was quite entranced by Sakura's beauty, which only grew more appealing when he discovered that she was the Hokage's apprentice. It was rumored that he lobbied for his father's approval for several months for her hand in marriage before the man relented.

Norio also made a plea to her parents and the Hokage for their approval as well. Tsunade thought it was an odd request, and many thought that she would balk at Sakura giving up her growing reputation as a kunoichi for a status as a symbol and a baby maker. However, some argued that the romantic in Tsunade, the part of her that still loved Dan every day when she woke up until she collapsed into bed, was quite pleased.

Sakura's parents had been thrilled; as civilians they had difficulty understanding the drama of Team Seven, her role as a ninja, and her frequent missions. But being wooed by a Lord for a life of prosperity was simple and impressive.

Kakashi supposed that had been the tipping point for Sakura. He could recall quite clearly her giggles and squeals when Sasuke threw a kunai, with her hopes that the boy would fall in love with her. While he didn't believe that Sakura still pined for Sasuke, he believed that her sense of romanticism had remained intact. Perhaps it was more realistic now, but having a courtship by a rich man half a country away had appeal. Kakashi would admit that Sakura could do worse.

But she could also do better.

It was for this reason that Kakashi had not shrugged his shoulders and moved on. The idea of her as his wife had been in his mind for five years. It was an uncomfortable thought at first, but with time he had grown accustomed to the idea, until a bit of possessiveness had grown.

What's more, Kakashi had gone on enough missions with her and would hate to see all the hard work she had placed into her skills to see them go to waste. He had how proud she was of her skills and tossing them away didn't seem to fit her character.

As a strong-minded and outspoken person, Sakura was an excellent ninja. However, these were traits that were rarely valued in daimyo's wives. And then there was the issue with the Ehime family. Kakashi had known the family for years, and was quite familiar with the world Sakura would enter.

When he was a child, he had been placed on a long-term mission at the household. This was before the arrival of the war when he was still young. Because of the amount of money the Ehime family provided, the Hokage deemed it appropriate to have some measure of security over them. Kakashi had assumed the position of a relative and was able to travel with the children to protect them when a more experienced ninja protected the daimyo.

Kakashi spent most of his years as a chunin on that mission, derailing several attacks while the children played in the gardens. Eventually, the attacks stopped as every soldier was called to the front lines and Kakashi was removed. But it wasn't the last time he worked with the family either, his extended time in that mission made Kichirou Ehime fond of him. Many times the daimyo would ask for him personally, especially when discreet assassinations were required or delicate cargo needed an escort.

Then there was the matter of the heirs themselves. The eldest was a daughter named Mitsuko who had long since married. Most of Kakashi's memories of her included him crouched in a shrub as a secret bodyguard while wealthy businessmen were courting her. The eldest son was three years older than Kakashi whose name was Tomio. They had gotten along well as children; Kakashi's chunin status made him more mature in some respects. They had been close friends for a time.

However, Kakashi had not expected to be confronted by him for a kiss in a dark hallway when he was eighteen. He had, rather foolishly, returned the kiss because he didn't quite know how else to react. It was later that Kakashi had realized his mistake and had the awkward situation of explaining that he wasn't interested. Tomio had been mortified, and their casual friendship had declined in the passing years.

Norio on the other hand, had been extremely jealous of Kakashi as a child, fearful of his presence and the attention given. The acrimony faded when they grew up, but it always lingered, springing up anytime the daimyo made a favorable comment about Kakashi.

If Kakashi were to seek Sakura's hand in marriage this he would have to be extremely careful in not damaging the already established relationship with the daimyo. It could be a disaster otherwise. Kichirou might like him, but Kakashi thought the daimyo would not be pleased if he stole Norio's betrothed. Particularly since the eldest son, Tomio, had little interest in bearing the family heirs. Part of Kakashi, (the lazy part) thought it would not be worth the time and effort to chase Sakura.

Still, he had grown comfortable at the idea of Sakura as his wife ever since she proved her determination and strength. Kakashi certainly thought he owed Sakura an earnest attempt. And while he didn't necessarily love Sakura, he could think of several things more awful than marrying a talented, powerful woman with a temper. The only other option was Anko, and he could think of several things more awful than marrying a talented, powerful woman with a case of schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, most of those things involved thumbscrews.

The first time Kakashi saw Sakura properly after learning the gossip was when he saw her through the restaurant window. He wouldn't have noticed her at all but her frenzied movements through the glass caught his attention. Sakura was working through lunch and she was half-hidden behind a stack of paperwork. Her cheeks were puffed up from the food in her mouth, her hair was askew, and there were dark bags under her eyes. He rubbed his chin in contemplation as he watched her choke on a piece of dango and frantically reach for a cup of water. Quite frankly, it wasn't a flattering image, and it nearly put Kakashi off of his quest to secure her as his wife.

On the other hand, Sakura was an elite kunoichi, and the odds of him finding someone to match her skills were very slim. He was also getting to the point were he could be the father of the females he evaluated, and that was not a path he wanted to go down. Kakashi would admit that he was a bit of a pervert, but he did have honor and respect.

"Can you believe that is the girl who will marry the daimyo's son?" said a female voice behind him. "I don't know what he sees in her, she's not even that pretty."

Kakashi belatedly realized that when he stopped in the middle of the street to look at her, he inadvertently brought other's attention to her.

"I know what you mean. That forehead makes her a bit ugly," said the other woman with her.

Kakashi frowned. That seemed a bit harsh; it was only noticeable if someone was searching for flaws. His eyes widened when he saw Sakura reach for another large chunk of food- it looked as if she was going to stuff the entire thing in her mouth. If word ever got out he was marrying a pink chipmunk, well, he didn't think he could live with himself. He gave the window a strong tap to catch her attention.

Sakura paused and turned to look at him around the paperwork. Kakashi took advantage of her attention, and tapped the bottom of his chin with his fingertips. Recognizing his silent action, her mouth snapped shut, and she began to take more demure bites of her food. The women, seeing that Sakura was no longer making a fool of herself, continued down the street.

Kakashi walked away from the restaurant annoyed with himself. He intended to walk inside the restaurant, mooch off her dinner, and help her with various reports. But when she turned to him he realized something. Kakashi had not talked to her in two years, and he didn't know how much she had changed since that time. There was nothing like a good, long, awkward conversation to discover hidden truths. Hell, he liked to cause awkward conversations.

But from what he could remember of Sakura, she had a temper. And if she discovered he was winding her up on purpose, he could kiss his genius marriage goodbye. Kakashi sighed in frustration. This sort of thinking was precisely why he avoided relationships for so long. If he was going to win Sakura over he needed a tactic. He turned around the corner of the street, and that was when he saw it.

The Thing.

It was a large arrangement of exotic flowers, so grandiose that the delivery men were having a difficult time getting it into the flower shop. He could hear a loud voice crying out from inside.

"Careful there, we have more customers than Forehead!" Kakashi frowned- he knew that voice, but he couldn't quite place it. His question was answered when he saw Ino exit the store. What an excellent opportunity. He sauntered over to her as she shooed the delivery man out of the store.

"What is that thing?" he asked as he walked into the flower shop.

"That," Ino said tiredly, "is the latest flower arrangement Norio Ehime sent to Sakura. He delivers them here because he knows that she will pick them up from the flower shop. With missions and all, there's no guarantee that she will be in the village when they come, so he can't deliver them to her apartment."

"Hmm…very interesting," Kakashi said as he wandered over to take a better look at the gift. It was large, ostentatious and impractical. The flowers would die in a few days. Norio didn't even have the sensibility to send her a potted plant.

"Does he send them often?" he asked Ino.

She shrugged. "Often enough. The first time it was kind of cool, you know? To think that someone was interested enough to send such a large arrangement of flowers across a couple of countries just for one girl. But now it's an inconvenience."

Kakashi snorted. Norio might think his show of money was sufficient enough but he completely failed to realize that this was Konoha. Ninja villages were different than civilians; for one thing, its citizens were more practical in nature.

"It must be extremely annoying," he said to Ino.

She rolled her eyes. "Yes. Not to mention that it doesn't even fit in her place, so I have no choice but to help her out to take it apart." She had already removed some flowers and stuck them in a separate vase.

"What do you think?" she asked as she showed them to Kakashi.

He looked at them seriously and nodded his head. "Well…" Ino leaned in to hear his words. "It looks like the sort of thing they would have at a clown's funeral."

Ino's face fell and she gave a moan of frustration. "It's hideous?"

"Oh, yes. I feel like tearing out my good eye." Kakashi responded cheerfully.

"Great," Ino said in an unenthusiastic voice. "It's always like this. Lots of strange flowers tossed together because they are expensive, and not because the look good together." She gave one of the offending flowers a glare.

"And what does Sakura think of this?" He asked evenly. It wouldn't do any good to hint Ino of his plans, the town would have a field day. But his words did not raise her alarm; he believed that it was a frequently asked question.

"Sakura doesn't say much about it. It's not like they know each other very well. They only met once and I think she's just relieved that he hasn't forgotten about her."

"Oh?" Kakashi was very glad he decided to stop by. Ino was incredibly forthcoming.

"Yeah. Kunoichi hear a lot of complaints for not being feminine enough. Most guys want a wife who will stay at home and always be there when they get home. But you wouldn't be a ninja if you did not have that edge. And Sakura's strong. Most guys don't like the idea of her being better than they are. She only had one boyfriend and he dumped her after they went on a mission together. I guess he botched part of it pretty badly and she had to save his ass. Good riddance is what I said, but she has not had a boyfriend since, and that was a year ago."

"Ah," said Kakashi. Sakura wasn't in love or impressed by Norio's title. She was just a little bit flattered and desperate. He could work with desperation.

"It's sad isn't it? She worked so hard to become a great ninja and now not a single man will let her be an equal. They want her to be a dutiful wife waiting hand and foot. She'll probably be doing that when she's at the daimyo's too, but at least she'll be rich. I don't blame her a bit."

Ino removed a pod plant from The Thing that looked a bit like male anatomy and wrinkled her nose, before she set it on the counter.

"Interesting," Kakashi replied, failing to keep the amusement from his voice. "But, it is a bit risqué for the public, you wouldn't want to give the grannies a heart attack."

Ino snorted. "I'm pretty sure it would give Sakura a heart attack. I'm sure that they will bloom in a few weeks into something really nice, but right now…" She gave the pod one more furtive glance before turning her back on them.

"Ino, would you like a bit of help?" Kakashi asked.

She gave him a glance of disbelief before she narrowed her eyes. "Yes, but I'm sensing there is more to this."

He smiled. "I want those flowers," he replied as he pointed to the pods.

Ino shrugged. "Fine, but don't blame me if you're accused of killing a couple of geriatrics."

~O~

The first thing Sakura noticed when she left the hospital was that Norio had delivered another set of flowers. There were several people carrying bouquets that were not native to Konoha. Sighing, she headed over to the Yamanaka Flower Shop, resigned that her evening would be filled with sorting out flowers. She was nearly there when her vision was blocked by a handful of oddly shaped pod plants and a gloved hand.

"Urk." Sakura wiped off some of the pollen around her nose and looked up to see Kakashi. "What are you doing?" She gave him a look of suspicion. She got along with the man, but she had a hard time believing that Kakashi was waiting for her. Excluding missions, the only time he ever talked to her was when he wanted something. Then again, the man rarely associated outside of his inner circle of friends. Sakura would have found the practice a bit annoying if she weren't so accustomed to his quirks.

Kakashi's redeeming quality was the respect given to him from other ninja and that tended to rub off on her. Of course, most people didn't know Kakashi was a bit of an ass. Sometimes he would put in a good word for her. If there was a mission she was eyeballing, it was more likely that she would get to go. There was one time a few years ago when she had plenty of cushy missions in villages filled with spas. She probably only lost the weight of those chocolates from all those visits to Rice Country last month.

Kakashi smiled, his eye curved in cheer. "Special delivery for Sakura Haruno from your husband-to-be." He held out the pods.

Sakura frowned in confusion before she took a good look at the plants. " Oh, my god ," she said in horror. "Put them away! Throw them away!" She could feel the embarrassment crawl up her neck and rise to her cheeks.

"I think he's trying to send you a message," Kakashi said pointedly as he refused to listen to her words. Sakura could see one of her neighbors about to round the corner, a grandmother who frequently asked her to heal the skinned knees of her grandson. When Sakura went off on missions, the lady tidied her place and had a meal ready for when Sakura came back. Sakura could kiss those free meals goodbye if she saw the perverted flowers, so she snatched the pods from Kakashi's hands and tossed them in a nearby bin.

"Hello Ms. Tokushima," she waved in greeting as she covered a rogue pod that peeked out with her thigh. The woman nodded in greeting, and when she rounded the corner, Sakura faced Kakashi. "Don't you have any shame?"

Kakashi looked at her blankly. "No. I thought you knew that. I know that two years has been a long time, but you shouldn't have forgotten. You were quite vocal about that in the past."

"What kind of plant was that anyway?" Sakura asked. She raised the lid to the trash can once more to see if she was hallucinating.

Nope.

" Manimpressivus Genitalius, otherwise known as the..."

"Liar," Sakura said with a smile before he could continue. There was no way Kakashi would have been able to resist teasing her over the flowers, and he probably came up with a long history of the pods that she didn't want to know about. She walked to her apartment, amused that he thought his made-up story was important enough to continue following her.

Kakashi frowned. "I didn't even get to the part where I tell you how they pollinate."

"I don't care."

"It involves a toaster."

Sakura's leg jerked mid-step. "What do you want?"

Kakashi shrugged. "Ah…. so eager to get rid of me?" Sakura said nothing, waiting for him to give up the information. "Very well. I wanted to remind you that it is very important to chew your food with a closed mouth. Women can be vicious, and I saved you from a good amount of embarrassment earlier today."

Sakura clenched her teeth when she heard that statement. "First of all, thank you for that. Second, you didn't need to bring that up. Third, the only time you ever come to me is when you want something only that I can give you. And even though two years have passed, I doubt you've changed that much. You're very persistent, which means that you won't drop it, and right now you are just stalling." She stopped at her apartment, and spun to face him. "I know you pretty well, Kakashi, so you might as well admit it. What do you want?"

Kakashi gave her an appraising look. "Are you sure you want to find out? It will make your life more complicated."

Sakura didn't say anything; she only raised an eyebrow in response.

"Ah well, can't say that I didn't warn you. What I want is you."

Sakura's face crumpled in confusion. "You want me to…?"

"No. I don't want you to do anything. Well, not right away. I just want you . "

Sakura gaped at him in shock. Surely this was some sort of joke? "I'm not sure what you are trying to say, but it's not funny Kakashi."

"I'm not joking. I'm very serious about this, Sakura."

She looked at him. While he wasn't as serious as he was in battle, he lacked the lazy slump that was a sign of his indolent attitude. Her brain felt numb and she desperately tried to think of something in response. "I'm engaged," she said, clinging to the obvious.

Kakashi nodded seriously. "I know. But you are not going to marry him. You're going to marry me ." He paused in thought. "And then have my children."

"Really?" Sakura felt annoyed by his presumptiveness. She clung on to that emotion, grateful that she could handle annoyance quite well. "You think you can make me change my mind? That I'll throw away the honor and opportunity for you?" She glared at him and gave him a poke in the chest.

"Yes."

"You're an idiot."

Kakashi chuckled. "No, if anything I'm quite the opposite. It's been a lovely chat, Sakura." He gave her a soft pat on her arm and walked away.

Sakura shook her head, and climbed up the stairs to get to her apartment. Honestly, she couldn't understand the man. He was probably only saying that so he could persuade her to do something else more easily. But a small seed of apprehension had begun to grow in her. She opened the door, and sneezed. Sitting in her apartment was vase, upon vase filled with flowers. Even her mugs were filled with short cuttings of plant life. Apparently, Ino had taken the opportunity and dropped off all of the flowers at her apartment. There was enough pollen in the room to give her allergies.

Sighing, she closed the door.