Fanfiction: Getting Lost on the Roads of Life - Chapter 8 (A KakaSaku Story)


Chapter 8 - A Reunion

*sorry :) completely forgot to post this on here. 

written by kakashi

“What is taking so long? We’re only meeting Naruto,” Sasuke grumbled, his voice muffled by the bathroom door.

Only Naruto? Sakura rolled her eyes. Hinata was also going to be there and Ino with Sai, of course she wanted to look her best! If not, her childhood friend would tease her brutally about not taking good care of herself. So it was cameo pink lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, and a bit of blush... nothing too fancy or that would get her teased too.

She batted her eyelids at herself in the large mirror. Not bad! She had put on a purple dress for the occasion, it was new and even though cut just a tiny bit too short for her full comfort, she thought it brought out the color of her eyes really well. After checking her image one last time - she had bought a purple headband to go with the dress and had washed and carefully blow dried her hair - she stepped outside.

Sasuke was... nowhere to be seen.

But since the front door stood slightly ajar, she gathered he must have gone ahead. Sakura hastily grabbed a purse, the little brown one with the tassels she had bought on a whim not long ago, slipped into her sneakers… but no, they wouldn’t do. She hadn’t packed that many shoes, but she had had foresight enough to realize the need for dressing up might arise, so she had brought one pair of black pumps. They were slightly uncomfortable if she wore them for too long, but they would mainly be sitting down anyway.

Their temporary apartment was far more spacious than their real one and stylish in an understated, traditional kind of way, befitting important guests from other villages. Right after moving in, she had returned to work at the hospital. Their current abode was at least thirty minutes further away from her workplace than their other apartment, but she actually enjoyed the longish walks through town twice a day. The bustling streets and busy shops made her feel proud of Konoha and its inhabitants.

But where was Kakashi? It was like he had disappeared from the face of the earth again.

Tsunade had assured her he’d be in touch but had also made it clear that making him remember wasn’t a top priority anymore. That seemed very strange to her, but apparently, the situation was defused with the killing of such a high number of enemies.

To Sakura, it was unreal to hear stories told of that night everywhere she went. She wasn’t ready to believe half of it, but even then, it seemed Kakashi had single-handedly killed several dozen enemy soldiers! To honor him and his bravery, the people of Konoha had even given him a new nickname: Purple Fang of Konoha, in honor of his father’s nickname: Konoha’s White Fang.

It was well intended, but Sakura feared that Kakashi might not like to be reminded of his father. She had remembered how in one of her more desperate moments after the war, when she could not find Kakashi however much she looked for him, she had done a little research in the library and found out that Hatake Sakumo, a very capable Shinobi and sole parent, had committed suicide when Kakashi was only five years of age. The information was overall sketchy, but it seemed Sakumo had abandoned a mission in order to save his team-mates. The failure of that mission had come with highly unpleasant consequences for the Land of Fire and Sakumo had been brutally shunned by everyone afterwards because of it, eventually leading to a severe depression and his untimely death.

Imagining child Kakashi all alone and heartbroken made Sakura burst into tears every time she thought of it. But even so, she almost preferred it to thinking of him on those rooftops slaughtering enemies with his bare hands. “A most proficient killer” indeed, so proficient it was frightening. But she did not want him to be known as a killer, even with people dropping their voices in awe when they talked about him these days. He deserved better. Something different. True happiness… whatever that was.

Sakura rushed down the stairs, thinking she would have to ask Naruto whether he had heard from Kakashi, nodding to the Anbu guards at the door before she exited the building. Sasuke was waiting for her leaning against the red wall of the Hokage Tower, staring up into the darkening sky.

He looked… so cool. All the time, women turned their heads to look at him…. until they recognized who he was and quickly scurried away.

Oh well.

Sakura sighed and waited a short distance away for him to notice her.

She was still hopeful he would start feeling at home again in Konoha. She did everything in her power to make him feel welcome. She had already made onigiri for him twice, his favorite kind with okaka and tomatoes, even though she had hardly any time between shifts. Making a baby came up at least once a day and however many times she assured him she didn’t want one yet, he brushed it aside. Because of that, Sakura had decided she would not tell him about the birth control pills she was taking, even though she felt bad about keeping such a secret from him. Still, her job and especially her idea to open up a special mental health clinic for children was important to her - more important than having babies for the time being. Besides, the whole topic made her uncomfortable when it should have made her very happy that he found so much pleasure in her body. Sadly, she was just tired and listless these days and she was even beginning to think something was wrong with her, she really could not find any fulfillment even if she touched herself.

But what could it be? Tsunade had given her a very thorough check-up a few days ago, but had found nothing wrong with her. Nothing physically wrong. She might have to consult with a specialist.

“Hello! Sasuke! I’m ready!” Sakura declared and waved her arms through the air to catch his attention. What was Sasuke daydreaming about?

“Ah, you’re here,” he said and pushed himself away from the wall. After only a few steps, he took her hand into his, which made her grin like a fool. She was right to be hopeful! He only needed some more time… they needed some more time. They had spent so much more time apart than together, it was only natural they were somehow… estranged.

They were meeting Naruto and the others at a kakigori shave ice parlor. It had not changed in over twenty years, meaning it still had one of the best flavor selections in town and was much cheaper than all the new places, a true gem and quite the secret.

“Sakuraaaaa! Sasuke, Sasuke, Saaaasukeeeee!” Naruto’s enthusiastic voice boomed through the parlor as soon as they entered. He came running in their direction, toppling over his chair. Even as an adult, he was just so much like the boy who had constantly annoyed her, but tonight, he made her smile.

“Hi, Naruto!” Sakura said, “it took much too long to meet again!”

“Much too long,” he agreed grinning, “look at you, Sasuke! So grim and old!” he laughed and went in for a bear hug.

Sasuke stiffened at the show of affection, but only for a moment. A tiny but unmistakable smile pulled up the corners of his mouth right before he pushed Naruto away with force.

“You’re still lame,” he murmured and sat down at one of the tables in the middle of the room with his back to them.

He pretended to be unmoved by the reunion, but Sakura could see it in one of the mirrors to the side, the tiny smile stayed. It made her very happy to see it, so much so she just stood there like a dummy with a smile plastered on her face, watching how Naruto sat down opposite of Sasuke and started showering him with questions about where he had been, even though he should know Sasuke couldn’t say much.

Realizing this “conversation” would take a while because Naruto was tenacious and did not know when to stop and Sasuke would just call him an idiot from time to time, which only seemed to spurn Naruto on, Sakura went over to the figure seated upright at a smaller table by the wall.

“Hello Hinata”, Sakura smiled and put Naruto’s chair back upright, “wow, you look lovely tonight.”

Hinata’s long dark hair was flowing down her back freely and her cheeks were of a lovely, rosy color that reminded Sakura of her favorite type of roses. During their active shinobi days, none of them had worn clothes very advantageous to their figures, but today, Hinata wore a dark grey, tight dress with buttons all the way up, which made her look elegant and mysterious - like the heiress to an important clan that she was.

“Hi Sakura!” Hinata said with a faint blush, her hand touching her hair as if to check it was all in order. “Thanks a lot. You too.”

“How are things w…,” Sakura began when another loud voice from the entrance interrupted her.


It was Ino, radiant and happy, pulling Sai in behind her. Here was a guy who had learned how to smile against all odds, Sakura thought a bit bitterly, even though he had been the most emotionally stunted person she had ever met in her life. After she had forcefully seated the slightly overwhelmed Sai down next to Naruto, Ino came flying towards Sakura and hugged her tightly, immediately drowning her with chatter and gossip about this and that.

“How long has Sasuke been back for?” she asked eventually, grabbing a menu since the owner was coming over to take their orders.

“Five days,” Sakura said after a quick calculation.

“Wow, you must be delirious,” Ino smiled and winked at her. “Are you still working much too much?”

“No, it’s okay at the moment,” Sakura said, asking herself whether she should tell Ino about their move to the Hokage Tower, but then, she would have to explain a lot more and… somehow… she didn’t think it wise to even mention Kakashi, it would raise suspicions she did not want to be confronted with. Before Ino had hooked up with Sai, they had met about once a week for drinks and dinner, often talking through half the night. Now that she saw Ino again, Sakura realized how much she missed those evenings. She really had nobody to confide in, hadn’t she?

“If only I could do something as useful as you, Sakura,” Hinata sighed.

“Shikamaru told me you volunteer at the orphanage?” Ino asked, “that’s really awesome, Hinata. Not everyone must slave away as an underpaid doctor.”

“Yes, I do,” Hinata nodded and smiled a little, “the children are so grateful for so little.”

Had Kakashi grown up at the orphanage after the death of his father? Sakura asked herself. She knew nothing about him, even though he had been such an important person in their lives. In her youth, she had been thoroughly selfish. Maybe she still was.

“When have you last been to a hairdresser? You look like a broom. And your eyebrows!” Ino suddenly exclaimed, shocking Sakura out of her thoughts. What? But before she could go ballistic, she realized Ino was laughing.

“Got your attention, didn’t I? What are you daydreaming about?”

As always, Ino looked as elegant and perfect as a rare orchid. Sometimes, it was hard for Sakura not to fall back into the old patterns of insecurity when Ino was around. No matter how old she got and what goals she reached, a part of her was still like the vulnerable little girl who had cried over her large forehead. Maybe that’s why she was overly needy for affection, she thought as she began eating her lime flavored ice. Because she was insecure.

“Sakura looks absolutely lovely tonight,” Hinata came to her defense.

“She should be glad she secured a catch early in life because she works so much she’d never meet another man. Oh wait, unless you consider some of the other doctors, but… no thank you, there’s not one among them that’s a… I’ll be damned,” her voice went up a pitch. “Look who just walked in.”

Sakura turned her head to see who deserved such a reaction… and froze.

Konoha’s most famous silver-haired shinobi, his giant, slobbering ninken Bull on a leash and next to him… Anko. A very… corpulent version of Anko.

Well. That certainly explained things. How stupid of her to worry about him even for a second.

“Wow, she put on weight,” Ino exclaimed. “She is at least twice the size she once was!”

“Shhhhh, she will hear you!” Sakura hissed.

“She is an instructor at the Academy,” Hinata added, as if that explained such a weight gain. “Besides, many men like their women a little round.”

“She has always liked dango,” Sakura mused, wondering if Hinata was right about that last part. Another thing to be insecure about: cup size. As for the rest… an active Shinobi could easily burn thousands upon thousands of calories a day, but an inactive one who kept up the same calorie intake? Of course you’d put on weight.

“Sensei! Sensei! SEEEEENSEI!” trust Naruto to shout the house down and give everybody a proper scare.

“Oh,” Kakashi said, looking in their direction with a smile, “hi.”

Had he cut his hair? Sakura thought it definitely looked a little shorter and slightly less messy. It looked… good. Like he looked … good in the casual, all black civilian clothing he was wearing. Of course he would look good and of course he would not show even the slightest bit of awareness that she might have been worried sick about his whereabouts. In fact, he had not acknowledged her more than the others. Maybe even less: He had not even looked at her.

“Look, it’s Team 7!” Anko laughed, “almost like a reunion!”

“Come! Sensei, come and join us! We only just got our ice!” Naruto waved in excitement.

They wouldn’t sit with them, Sakura was certain, they’d want their privacy. Good. She already felt extremely awkward, which was strange, because really, what did she care that Kakashi had suddenly appeared here of all places with Anko?

Kakashi looked at Anko with a raise of his eyebrows and she immediately nodded with enthusiasm. “They’re now at the age we were back when they had the Chunin exam. Imagine! I’m feeling nostalgic.”

He ordered something for her, taking nothing himself - of course, he didn’t like sweets - then they came over, Kakashi naturally gravitating towards the boys table, Anko joining the girls at theirs.

“Senpai,” Sai murmured politely, offering Kakashi his comfortable chair with a bow - earning him a crinkly smile and a pat on the shoulder.

“Bull, sit,” Kakashi ordered his dog after seating himself on a stool, but the dog paid him no heed, he put his huge paws on Naruto’s knees to slobber all over his face.

“Sorry,” Kakashi sighed, after pulling at the leash with no result, “I really don’t know why I never noticed before, but these ninken have no manners whatsoever.”

“How’s Pakkun, Sensei?” Naruto laughed, pushing the dog away and drying his face with his sleeve, “still letting people touch his paws for a reward?”

“He’s the worst,” Kakashi murmured, “no respect at all. The other day when he came to see me, he didn’t even say goodbye.”

“You’re just too softhearted,” Naruto offered his advice, “you have to show a strong hand with the animals you summon!”

“Sure,” Sakura murmured, “he’d know, wouldn’t he.”

“Anko Sensei, how have you been?” Ino asked sweetly, watching with unhidden fascination how Anko shoveled in her gigantic, sauce and toppings covered ice in record time.

“Not bad, not bad,” Anko replied with a grin, “especially in the last few days. It’s not everyday a man from your past returns and… ouf. Some people stay in shape.”

Ino giggled and threw Sakura one of her looks, which Sakura chose to ignore. If she hated one thing, it was people who bragged about their happy sex life. As she had just now discovered.

Anko had already finished her dessert and frowned at the empty cup. “Want another one?” Kakashi asked, turning up behind her so suddenly, Ino jumped and Sakura’s heart wanted to stop.

“Do you think I should?” Anko grinned up at him.

“No,” Kakashi laughed, “but I’ll buy you one anyway.”

“Let me come choose,” Anko beamed, happily following him to the counter, where she started to point at various flavors.

“Since when is your Sensei buying people things?” Ino mused, “didn’t you always say he’s cheap?”

“He is very well mannered,” Hinata said, “Father always says that there are only a few old-style Shinobi left in the village and the best of them is Hatake Kakashi.”

“He’s not that old,” Ino grinned. “Not father old, anyway. More like an older brother type old. Oh!”

Sakura swallowed, feeling her eyes grow as round as saucers. Had Anko just put her hand on … Kakashi Sensei’s ass? She couldn't believe this! How shameless could you get? Quickly, she turned her head away. She really did not want to be caught staring.

“Can’t keep her hands off him. She’s on an oxytocin high,” Ino whispered to her and giggled again. “I know the feeling. And if you train them well, they get so proficient, don’t they?”

Sakura’s mood, already tottering on the brink of foulness since the moment a certain somebody had walked in, took a definite nosedive.

“He was always by far the most good-looking among the jonin’s that taught us.” Ino observed. “I’d say he’s in the top three of good-looking men in this town to this day.”

“Huh?” Sakura pressed out.

“Not that I realized such things when I was twelve,” Ino laughed, “but during the time you trained with Tsunade, I developed a massive crush on him.”

“What?” Hinata and Sakura said at the same time.

“Are you two blind? Oh sorry, Hinata. You only ever had eyes for one guy. Oh, I forgot… you too, Sakura. Ohhhhhh, do you think she’s seen him without mask?! You ask her, Sakura!”

“What? No! What do I care whether she’s seen his face.”

“Don’t tell me you’re no longer curious. I bet you he is extremely handsome. He just has to be, with a body like his!”

What did Ino know of Kakashi’s body? Sakura thought angrily. But true, the black turtleneck he was wearing was tight enough to reveal the contours of that body in question, one had to be really blind not to see it. The rock-hard abs. The well sculpted back. The muscular arms. The neck. She was starting to feel a little warm.

“Are you drooling?” Ino asked suspiciously, “Sasuke will take your eyes out if he catches you!”

Drooling? Yes, maybe she was. She had touched all this, that was why. Should she tell Ino about it just to shut her up? A vicious part of her was dying to see her friend's mouth hang open. The less vicious part knew it was not a good idea.

“Are you two together, Anko?” Ino asked bluntly after Anko had returned with her second serving.

“Ack, you know,” Anko replied with an impish smile, “you can’t tie down the wind. Hatake Kakashi is not one to keep still, never was. I take what I can get, it has always been my philosophy. At the moment… he is a little bored,” Anko giggled, “but I won’t complain if you know what I mean.”

No, I don’t know what you mean, Sakura thought angrily. Bored? Why is he bored? And why has he not come to see me if he’s bored?

“So… have you seen him without mask?”

“Haha,” Anko laughed, “I won’t tell you that.”

“Oh, come on!” Ino pouted.

“I know you kids always plotted to unmask him. Even if I knew what he looks like I would never spoil the mystery.”

“So you don’t?”

“I didn’t say that!” Anko winked.

“I guess he has to take off his mask for some activities,” Ino smirked.

“Haha, you little smartypants,” Anko grinned. “I have no idea what you are referring to.”

And on they went with this lame joke and the insinuation, on and on! Sakura pulled a disgusted face. When she felt Hinata’s disturbed gaze on her, Sakura realized Naruto’s girlfriend had seen her facial expression.

“You don’t like it that they talk about him like this, don’t you?” Hinata said gently. “I understand. Our teachers are like parents to us.”

A parent? The thought actually sobered her a little, but upon a short reflection, Sakura could be certain that she wasn’t angry because she thought of Kakashi as a father. No, she was put off because she had expected… more dignity from him. Yes, that had to be it. Or maybe others to respect the dignity? Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t sure what ticked her off.

“Girls!” Naruto screamed, “we’re going somewhere else!”

“A bar,” Sai smiled, stepping behind Ino and putting his hands on her shoulders, “there’s a new one, Naruto says, they have a glass roof through which you can see the stars! Tonight is almost a full moon, it should be very pretty.”

“Oh really?” Ino clapped her hands, “that’s great! Are the Senseis coming too?”

“Of course they are,” Naruto cried, “are you not Kakashi Sensei?”

“I guess you’re all at drinking age by now,” Kakashi mused, “you don’t need a chaperone.”

“Very funny,” Naruto grinned.

“I don’t think I can take Bull to a bar. So... no. It was nice seeing you all again but...”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take big doggie home,” Anko said and took the leash from Kakashi's hand, “I am terribly tired from this week. There’s always so much to do before the Chunin exams! I’d prefer an early night.”

“I bet you he is going to offer to go with her now,” Ino whispered to Sakura.

“I’ll walk you home,” Kakashi said.

“Told you so,” Ino smirked, “he has good manners.”

“Feeling too old to go with the kids?” Anko laughed. “I have your dog with me, believe me, I will be safe. Go with your Team 7, Kakashi!”

Kakashi looked undecided and Sakura thought it opportune to stomp out since she really did not want to hear any more innuendo from Ino. But it didn’t take long for everybody to come out too, their cheerful voices echoing from the walls of the houses as they began following Naruto who took the lead. Sasuke took her hand again and even pressed it briefly, making some of her good mood come back.

The bar wasn’t far and because it was relatively early, there was sufficient space for them in a nice little booth at the back with several small, round tables. The entire interior was very dark like the night sky, with sprinkles of tiny lights like stars. Soon, Sakura was sipping a sweet drink that had appeared in front of her without her having to do anything, surrounded by her friends and their lively conversation like a comfortable cocoon.

Kakashi hadn’t come after all. Part of her was relieved, she had had the opportunity to see with her own eyes that he was well… really well even and that he seemed happy. The other part of her would have liked to talk to him, at least briefly, just to… to… what? Maybe to tell him how worried she had been and that she would hope that in the future… but no. Silly and selfish again, he was under no obligation whatsoever to report to her.

There was another drink from Naruto and then another from someone else and then, a silver-haired shinobi walked into the bar with his usual, leisurely gait, stopping conversations all around as people recognized him. In the short silence that descended, he looked around unfazed, saw them and came in their direction, excited conversations starting up behind him as he made his way towards them.

“It’s nice here,” he commented and sat down next to Sai.

“Sensei!” Naruto asked, “we were just wondering, will you be at the Chunin exams?”

“Hmmm,” Kakashi said, “if I’m invited?”

“Of course you are, Senpai!” Sai cried, “we would be honored to have you!”

“I do not like this Senpai business one bit,” Ino told Sakura in a low voice, a deep frown showing on her lovely forehead, “you know how long it took me to turn Sai into a normal human being? I really don’t want a run-away husband like yours.”

Sakura pressed her lips together. “Sasuke is staying this time,” she lied, even though she couldn’t be sure, they hadn’t talked about it.

“Good for you,” Ino pouted. “But it must be true what they say: Kakashi is back in Anbu! In all honesty, I know they’re doing a lot for the village but I’ve never liked them one bit. Especially not for how they turned Sai into an emotional cripple.”

“Sai is doing great,” Sakura tried to reassure her friend, “he’s got you now,” but Ino seemed to grow increasingly unhappy as she watched Sai’s enraptured face.

“You can’t make them stop thinking they need to be heroes. All of them, only waiting for the opportunity to sacrifice themselves for the village. I must intervene,” Ino said and got up.

“Sai,” she smiled sweetly, “care to dance?”

There was a space in the middle of the room where three closely embracing couples were dancing to a slow and mournful song.

“Oh,” Sai said, interrupting his conversation with Kakashi, “Ino, I don’t know how.”

“Nonsense!” Into laughed, “I know you’ll be very good at it. I’ll show you!”

And off they went.

“Hinata, do you want to dance too?” Naruto asked with a grin. “I have no clue how to do it, but I’m sure I can figure it out!”

“I’d love to!” Hinata said happily.

Fine, Sakura thought looking at Sasuke, I am glad he does not ask me to dance, I know I’m really bad at it. Besides, I’d rather talk with h…

“Excuse me,” Sasuke said and got up rather abruptly. He looked pale, Sakura realized, but before she could ask what ailed him, he had already hurried away. To the bathroom? Should she follow? He wouldn’t appreciate it, probably.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine,” Kakashi said and when she turned her head, he was looking straight at her for the first time this evening. His dark eyes were like pools of liquid darkness, sparkling mysteriously in the low light of this room and his silver hair shimmered with the light of the rising moon that was just now becoming visible in the sky above them.

All Sakura felt was a wave of anger at his words. The breath-stopping good looks he was flaunting in her face did not help one bit.

“Not worry?” she pressed out, “you don’t tell me whether to worry or not.”

“You’re angry?” Kakashi asked cautiously, “because of something I did?”

Well, perceptive.

“You look very pretty tonight,” he added with a small smile, “the color of your dress brings out your eyes in the most remarkable way.”

And bam, he had disarmed her completely, just like that. How dare he use such underhanded tricks! How dare he be this nice after ignoring her for hours, days, how dare he…

“Where have you been?” she exclaimed, “I was worried!”

“Oh?” he shrugged. “Here and there, nothing special.”

“Why did you not come see me!”

“It’s… no longer urgent,” Kakashi said lightly, but she saw something flicker across his face that belied his easy tone. “The problem with the enemy seems solved for the moment.”

“I promised I’d remove the seals, I will do it!”

“Don’t worry about me,” he said, “you have better and more important things to do.”

“That is for me to decide,” she said angrily, “you are no longer my teacher, you have no say in my life.”

“That is true,” Kakashi said, “and I thank you for the reminder, Sakura.”

It was said in a neutral tone, but Sakura could still hear a hint of displeasure.

“I didn’t mean to…,” she began haltingly, realizing she would hate him to get the impression she wasn’t extremely grateful for what he had done for her or for this conversation to end with a disagreement between them.

“I understand,” he said and smiled a little. “You are absolutely right to put me in my place. I have a tendency to meddle and it doesn’t often turn out well.”

What was he saying? Sakura squinted at his face. The conversation was not at all going where she had thought it would go.

“You are using clever word tricks on me,” she murmured, “I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve had quite a few drinks and you? None. I notice these things. Who even goes to a bar and drinks nothing?”

“I’m not in the mood,” he answered lightly.

“Then why did you come?” she asked.

“For the company, of course,” he said.

He was a very smooth talker, had he always been?

“Maybe it's silly, but I am angry because you should have realized I would be worried and could at least have sent me a note saying that you’re fine. Instead, you disappeared again without a trace. I don’t want to worry, I hate worrying.”

“I am sorry,” he said, even managing to sound it, “I really did not think you would find time to worry about me.”

Why did he stress the me? Whom else should she worry about? Did he mean Sasuke? Well, she would have liked to worry about Sasuke, but Mr. Uchiha was even better at keeping everything to himself than Kakashi.

“Why do I get the feeling that you are avoiding me?” she continued bravely, “Why did you not speak to me in front of the others? Is it because I…,” well, out with it, “because I hugged you? I am sorry about it, okay, very sorry. Let’s pretend it never happened.”

His eyes softened. “Ah. That… I know I’m a bad liar, so I won’t even try. Yes, it’s because you hugged me. Or rather, because I hugged you back even though I know you are married to Sasuke. There are hugs and there are hugs, Sakura, and this hug… was not the kind of hug I am allowed to give you.”

Sakura squinted and frowned, trying to stop a shiver that wanted to crawl up her spine, trying to decide whether what he had just said meant what she thought it meant.

“What kind of a hug are you allowed to give me?”

“Sakura…” he sighed. “What is it you want to hear from me? I should have known better and I am sorry.”

“No hugs then?”

“No hugs,” he said grimly. “It’s best if you forget that night entirely, there is no good in asking questions.”

“I’m thinking about it a lot though,” she stubbornly said, “all aspects of it.”

“That is understandable. Hey!” he lifted his hand and moved closer to put it on her head, “do not worry. It will be…”

Before he could put it down and student-zone her again, she had already grabbed it tightly between her own and pulled it into her lap.

He stared at her. “What is it you want?” he asked quietly.

“To make sure you’re alright. Come to the hospital, I have consultation hours. My schedule is full, but I will make time for you, every day at six o'clock in the evening if I can.”

“I don’t think I should, Sakura,” Kakashi said slowly.


“Because…,” he looked at her face, suddenly looking a little lost. “Dammit, Sakura. You know why.”

Maybe she did. But maybe she wanted him to say it.

“I don’t know why,” she lied.

“Where there’s a spark, there will be a fire,” he said, starting a massive fluttering in her stomach, “and I know this one would be devastating.”

“Do you think me so weak?” she protested, sounding much more confident than she felt. “Do you think I cannot control a mere spark? I am not suggesting we start an affair. I want to see you purely professionally. Because I care about Konoha. And Konoha needs you, Kakashi.”

So there. She could say his name without adding the Sensei and neither did her tongue fall off nor the sky collapse.

He exhaled slowly. Then, he lifted his free hand and gently moved a strand of her hair behind her ear.

“I do not think you weak, Sakura. You are very strong.” He pulled his other hand from hers and stood up. “It is myself I don’t trust to control this spark. Not because I think I am weak myself, but because...” his voice trailed off but his eyes rested on hers.

She stood up as well, finding it hard to breathe.

“'s because I do not really want to,” he said very quietly.

"I'll just bring lots and lots of water," she heard herself say, "we should be able to make sure the fire does not get out of control."

"Oh?" he chuckled. "Well then we won't have an issue, won't we."

"Will you come?" Sakura begged. "Please, Kakashi. Six o'clock on Monday. I think I know just the Genjutsu that will help. I did a little research."

Sakura saw that Sasuke was coming back from wherever he had gone off to. His hair looked wet as if he had doused it in water to cool himself down. Kakashi noticed him too.

"I will," he said a little surprisingly. "But now I need a word with her husband. Will you excuse me?"

What else could she do but nod? Kakashi went to meet Sasuke half-way, took his arm and together, the two men exited the bar, leaving her alone and wondering what the heck was going on.

Chapter 9