Summary: Devastated by Sasuke's proposal for Sakura to be his first wife of many, Sakura joins Kakashi for drinks. Just how much more does her old sensei have to teach his favorite student? He needs a new partner for his S-class missions and Sakura is the perfect choice. Kakashi x Sakura

Naruto is the work of the brilliant Masashi Kishimoto.

Life Lessons

Lesson Number One: Dreams Change

It had been three months since the Fourth Great Ninja War drew to a conclusion. Konoha had suffered loss of lives and loss of homes. Homes were being rebuilt, families reunited, and the Memorial Stone visited frequently by those paying their respects. And according to Ino Yamanka romance was abound throughout the Village of the Hidden Leaf.

"I've had to cut my hours here at the hospital to run the flower shop," Ino confessed. She sat across from Sakura during their lunch break at the hospital. Sakura would return to hospital work afterwards, while Ino would be leaving to return to her family's shop. "Business is booming! Luckily, Sai started working there and he's been a real life saver! Thank you so much for suggesting him to me. His art extends beyond his drawings. His flower arrangements are the best I've ever seen!"

Sakura smiled at her long-time friend, glad she wasn't the sullen, sad, woman of two months ago when the loss of her father was still so fresh. While Ino's hours at the hospital had drastically been reduced, Sakura's had increased three fold. Everyone wanted the Heroine of Konoha to fix their various wounds and maladies. In fact, she suspected several of the young men injured themselves purposely in hopes of meeting her.

She wasn't interested in them. There was only one man that interested her and now that he'd demonstrated such great behavior his house arrest was finally over. Shortly after the final fight, Sasuke had asked Sakura to marry him. She'd turned him down politely, saying that while she cared for him deeply, they needed to date one another and become familiar with who they had become. Sasuke had agreed to this and they'd had many dates at his house for the past many weeks.

"Speaking of romance, are you and Sasuke finally going on a real date outside of his house?" Ino asked. Her blue eyes were bright in excitement.

Sakura grinned. "Yeah! I haven't been able to be too nervous. I'm too busy trying to keep up with my patient load."

"Any other news you want to share?" Ino probed.

Sakura laughed. "You already know! I know you were ease dropping when Master Tsunade called me to her office earlier!"

"I still want to hear it!" Ino protested with a grin.

"I was promoted to jounin," Sakura confessed.

"Sakura Haruno, your assistance is needed in room four fifteen," the loud-speaker announced.

"We'll have to finish this conversation later," Ino promised. "I have to run anyway. Sai sent one of his little messenger birds to warn me of a huge order this afternoon. See you later, Forehead!"

"Bye, Pig," Sakura said, shaking her head. She deposited her tray and headed towards the fourth floor, opting for the stairs to save time.

She stopped by her office to pick up her lab coat and washed her hands thoroughly. Outside of room four fifteen she scrubbed her hands a second time and then pushed open the door. She shouldn't have been surprised by the identity of her patient. He'd been out on a S-ranked mission and was expected to return. "Sensei, what did you do to yourself?" she asked.

Kakashi lounged in his hospital bed and lifted his hand in a casual wave. "If it's not my favorite student!" he greeted with his dark eyes crinkled. "I heard you were being promoted to jounin so I had to hurry home," he explained. His lower abdomen was covered in old bandages, soaked with blood both fresh and old.

"And that's why you took a couple of kunai to the abdomen?" Sakura asked. The wound care kit sat ready on the tray next to the bed. "And I suppose you wouldn't allow Megumi to clean the wound?"

"I cleaned it myself two days ago," Kakashi protested. "I used boiled water and some of that icky green salve you packed up for me before my last mission."

Sakura shook her head, knowing she wouldn't get a straight answer from her old teacher. "I packed you that icky green salve because I knew you'd do something foolish — like wait until you see me to have your wounds healed."

She unraveled the old bandages and cringed at the inflamed skin around the lacerations. "If you hadn't used that green icky salve you'd be septic by now," Sakura scolded. She snapped on a pair of gloves and dropped some gauze into the bowl of warm antiseptic water to soak. She used a water jutsu to flush the wound, much like she did went cleaning poison from the bloodstream. After removing the worse of the infection she picked up the sponge and gently cleaned the wound further.

"It hurts less when you do it," Kakashi said quietly.

Sakura considered scrubbing more briskly than necessary, but this was the man that took a chance on her as a boy-crazy adolescent and started her training. She removed the gloves and tossed them in the waste receptacle. Her hands glowed green as she poured healing chakra into Kakashi, causing his body to create new cells to replace the damaged ones and knit back up his injuries. Kakashi had a very nice, lithe body that Sakura appreciated very much. Sure, he was her former teacher, but that didn't mean she was blind to his good looks and impressive muscle tone. Part of her felt special that he requested her to treat his wounds. He complained that the other medics were too busy ogling him to heal him properly. Apparently, she was better at hiding her attraction.

"Any luck learning Naruto's trick on re-growing eyes?" Kakashi asked.

Sakura smiled in amusement. "You know how good he is at explaining things." During the last battle, Kakashi had his Sharingan eye snatched away. Naruto in his full sage mode had laid his hand over Kakashi and he healed him by growing a fully functional onyx colored eye to match his original one.

"So what plans do you have in celebration of making jounin?" Kakashi asked. "If you want to visit the Shinobi Lounge this evening I'll buy your first round of drinks."

Sakura laughed. "Master Tsunade already gifted me with a huge jug of sake earlier today. Maybe I should invite Team Seven over to my apartment for a small celebration. But not tonight, tonight I promised Sasuke I'd go on a date with him. He's no longer under house arrest."

"Ah, so you two have been dating?" Kakashi asked, his eyes narrowed in concern. "Be careful, Sakura, I know you have a good heart, but that boy is still troubled."

"I know what I'm doing, but I'll be careful anyway," Sakura promised. She finished up healing Kakashi's wounds. "You almost lost your spleen and hacked a good portion of your liver. If you'd been a day later you wouldn't have been so lucky. Please, be careful."

Kakashi looked down at his perfectly healed abdomen, not a trace of injury. "Now that you're a jounin maybe I'll see if you want to come with me on my next mission. Keep me from getting too injured."

"Master Tsunade was very wise when she decided that every team should have a medic," Sakura said. "Enjoy the Shinobi Lounge!"

Kakashi grabbed his shirt, tossed his long legs over the side of the bed, and beat Sakura to the door. He opened it for her and then shoved his black sleeveless shirt over his torso. "Congratulations, Sakura." He reached out and ruffled her hair, Sakura squealed in laughter as she ducked away from him.


At the end of her hospital shift, Sakura had been summoned to Lady Tsunade's office. She was on forced vacation from the hospital — two weeks! Supposedly, it wasn't a punishment, but a reward for her promotion. Though, Shizune had pointed out that with all the extra hours she'd been working to meet the demand for patient requests that she needed time to herself to recover.

Sakura hurried home to her apartment to drop off the sake from Tsunade and change for her date with Sasuke. They'd agreed to meet at the sushi restaurant across the street from Ichiraku Ramen. At her doorstop was a vase of brightly colored lilies. She leaned over to read the tag, only slightly disappointed to see that they weren't from Sasuke.

Congrats on the promotion, Forehead! Love, Ino.

Sakura smiled at her friend's thoughtfulness. She unlocked her door, arranged the flowers on the dining room table and set the jug of sake next to it. After a quick shower and a change of clothes into a cute pale lavender dress she'd picked up on a trip to the dress shop with Hinata two weeks ago, she was ready to meet Sasuke on their date.

She couldn't help but feel nervous. He'd asked her to marry him and she'd asked for more time and requested that they date. So they had been. Their time together showed her that he was a quiet, thoughtful young man. He still had a tendency to brood, but she was confident she'd be able to help him fight his ghosts. Many of their conversations involved biology and genetics. He was curious about whether she thought his kekkei genkai would pass down to his children. She'd assured him that it would, but then he discussed his children marrying amongst themselves and after getting over her shock Sakura explained to him the side effects of inbreeding.

It had taken him a few discussions to understand that while it's true that within his clan cousins tended to marry, it was never siblings or first cousins. There needed to be a certain amount of genetic differentiation. She tried not to judge him for his obsession, after all his second goal in life was to revive his clan, and if she married him she'd play a very important role in that goal.

A short while later, with a spring in her step Sakura stepped inside the sushi restaurant. Sasuke waited for her on the bench up front. He stood upon seeing her and enveloped her into a warm hug. Sakura relaxed against his muscular frame and enjoyed the warm cinnamon scent of his aftershave. She angled her face to look up and meet his dark eyes. "Miss me?"

"Always," Sasuke said. He leaned down and pressed his lips softly against hers. He reached for her hand. "Come on, the others are waiting." He began to lead her towards the back of the restaurant.

"Wait? What do you mean others? I thought this was just a date between the two of us," Sakura said.

Sasuke gripped her hand firmly. "You'll see," he said with a soft smile.

Sakura followed after the boy she'd loved since she was a child. She noticed two blonde heads of hair at the table and grinned. So he'd invited Naruto and Ino — her two best friends. Then she noticed Hinata and Sai. Alright, a triple date. She didn't mind. She'd even considered suggesting their first date be a double or triple date anyway so it wouldn't be too awkward for Sasuke.

It was the last person that she noticed that caused her to pause. Sasuke's former Hawk teammate, Karin, sat at the table and she looked quite happy. "What's going on, Sasuke?" Sakura asked.

He didn't answer, but continued to pull Sakura to the table. Sasuke pulled out a chair next to Naruto for Sakura and after she sat, he sat between her and Karin. A quick survey around the table showed Hinata's cheeks were blood red, Sai looked extremely confused, Naruto was in a panic, and Ino was pissed.

"Hi guys," Sakura greeted.

Ino reached across the table for Sakura's hand. "I'm so sorry, call me later, Sakura. But I can't be here another moment." She stormed away from the table and Sai offered Sakura an apologetic smile before he took off after her.

"Okay," Sakura said. She looked at Naruto. "What happened?"

Naruto's face paled and he swallowed thickly.

"Sakura," Sasuke said, reaching for her hand and holding it between his. "I wanted everyone here when I asked you a second time."

"Sasuke, I told you it was important to take things slow. We needed to date before I could give you my answer," Sakura whispered.

"I thought greatly about our conversations and have spoken with the elder council. They have given me permission. I wanted to ask you to be my first wife, Sakura," Sasuke said. "I wish for you to be the matriarch of the Uchiha clan."

"What do you mean, first wife?" Sakura asked suspiciously. Ino's earlier display of anger triggered warning bells through her mind.

"I understand what you meant about incest and birth defects. The council agrees that it's imperative that the Sharingan be preserved. So, they have agreed that I may have multiple wives so that my children — as half-siblings won't be as likely to have the birth defects you described," Sasuke explained.

Sakura glanced around the table at Karin's smug expression, Hinata's shock, and Naruto's worry. "You're asking me to be part of a polygamous marriage?" Sakura asked quietly, trying her best to contain her anger.

"Yes, as reward for your loyalty I wish for you to be my first wife. Karin has already agreed to serve as second wife. Her Uzumaki genes would make a great contribution to the bloodline. And I've asked Ino to serve as a third wife. You understand I must marry all the women who birth my children. I cannot have any bastards," Sasuke explained.

Sakura yanked her hand out of Sasuke's grasp. Her excitement on sharing her news about her promotion to jounin or her first official date with Sasuke ruined. Was the man so troubled that he truly didn't understand how great an insult he'd presented her with? "If you'll excuse me," Sakura said pushing away from the table.

She hurried out of the restaurant, only pausing just outside of the door when Naruto grasped hold of her shoulders. "Sakura-chan, I'm so sorry. I don't know what's wrong with him. I had no idea he was going to do this. He asked me and Hinata to come tonight because it was your first official date and he was going to propose again," Naruto explained, worriedly. "We were shocked by this all too. I'll talk to him, okay?"

Sakura shook her head, tears brimmed at the corner of her eyes. She angrily dashed them away with a knuckle. "Don't bother, Naruto. I had wanted to share some good news. I was just promoted to jounin. Maybe if you and Hinata would like to join me at my apartment tomorrow evening we can celebrate? I'll ask Ino and Sai too. And Kakashi-sensei if he's still around."

"Please, just let me talk to him," Naruto begged. "I know I can make this right. Sasuke just has some problems understanding certain things." His eyes grew big. "Wait, jounin! Congratulations!" He swooped Sakura up into his arms and spun her around in a circle. "I won't even be a chunin until after the Promotion Exams next month!"

"Thank you," Sakura said a laugh bubbling out of her throat in spite of her tears.

The door to the restaurant opened and Sasuke stood there, a dark expression on his face as he watched Sakura and Naruto hug. Naruto set her back on her feet. "Why did you run out?" Sasuke demanded.

"I can't deal with him right now," Sakura said to Naruto. "If he doesn't give me some space I might knock his head off." Her fist clenched at her side and it took all her willpower not to punch Sasuke in the middle of his handsome face.

"Sakura was called to the hospital for an emergency," Naruto explained. "Why don't we go back inside and talk a little about this ruling of the council."

"Are you sure you're okay?" Sasuke asked, trying to push past Naruto to get to Sakura. "You look like you've been crying. Who hurt you? I'll kill him," he vowed, his dark eyes flashing into Sharingan.

"Allergies," Sakura said, waving her hand dismissively. "I really must return to the hospital. Bye," she called out and hurried away down the street. She couldn't believe that Naruto just lied for her. It was almost more unbelievable than what Sasuke had asked.

She wiped the back of her hand under her eye as another tear tracked down unbidden. She was about to turn the corner to go to Ino's house when she read the sign on the bar across the street. The Shinobi Lounge was right there. She remembered Kakashi's invitation and with a determined set of her jaw she marched inside.

The bar was poorly lit, but she spotted the familiar white hair of her old teacher sitting at a booth in the back nursing a bottle. He wore all black and his mask was firmly in place. He looked up in mild surprise when Sakura sat across from him. "I'll have that first drink you promised me now," Sakura said by way of greeting.

Kakashi signaled for the waitress and ordered Sakura a bottle of sake to be delivered to their table. "Have you eaten yet?" Kakashi asked. Sakura shook her head, not trusting herself to speak lest she might cry some more. "And some calamari," he added to the waitress.

Sakura drummed her short nails across the tabletop and stared at the sweat beads running down the neck of Kakashi's bottle of whiskey. He picked up the bottle and offered it to her. "It's imported. It's a bit strong, but you might like it."

Sakura yanked it from his hand and downed half the bottle, the liquid burned down her throat, before she set it back on the table. She looked up and met Kakashi's wide-eyed dark gaze. "You're supposed to take it slow on that."

"I can neutralize the effects of alcohol as soon as it starts to make me feel bad," Sakura explained.

"That's a handy trick. Maybe you can teach me," Kakashi joked.

"I'm not sure your chakra control is good enough," Sakura said smiling for the first time.

They sat there quietly until the calamari arrived. The sake joined it soon afterwards. Kakashi poured them each a cup. He held his cup out to her. "To my favorite former student becoming a jounin," he said clinking their cups together.

"Salud," Sakura said before draining her cup. It was a strong blend of sake, but it didn't hold a candle to Tsunade's preferred brand.

"Now, are you going to tell me what happened?" Kakashi asked. He managed to both drink and eat without his mask revealing the lower half of his face. A dark haired, voluptuous woman began to approach their table, but Kakashi waved her away. "I didn't expect you to join me tonight."

Sakura started to laugh, the sound dark and deep-throated. More tears began to slide down her cheeks, but this time she let them. "Well, Master Tsunade placed me on forced vacation, said I'd been working too hard. But now, that means I don't have a refuge to hide out at," she explained shaking her head.

"So you're upset about being on vacation?" Kakashi asked with an arched eyebrow. "Somehow, I doubt that's the real problem." He reached across the table and brushed the calloused pad of his thumb across her cheeks and wiped away the tears. "Who made my brave cherry blossom cry?"

"Sasuke proposed," Sakura whispered.

Kakashi drew his hand away and leaned back against the booth. "And that made you cry?"

"He asked me to be his first wife. He intends to have at least three. The elders on the council gave him special permission, you see. He wants to revive the Uchiha clan and when I explained to him about birth defects from inbreeding he decided that having multiple wives was the logical solution," Sakura explained.

Kakashi groaned. "What an idiot," he said shaking his head. "Sakura, I'm not your teacher and I haven't been for a long time, but I am your friend. And as your friend, I'm telling you, you deserve someone that treasures you. You're the most wanted bachelorette in all of Konoha." He picked up his whiskey bottle and drained it dry, completely ignoring his warning to Sakura earlier. "Hell, during my mission I can't tell you how many times I was asked if I knew the lovely Sakura Haruno."

Sakura burst into laughter. "Yeah right," she muttered, helping herself to another cup of sake.

"The thing you have to realize, Sakura, is that dreams change. You're so much more than that annoying little twelve-year old girl that obsessed about Sasuke Uchiha. You've grown to be a fine woman — the Heroine of Konoha. Kurenai told me that she's spotted several young girls at the academy dying their hair pink."

"Really?" Sakura asked. The idea amused her. "How is Kurenai? How's the baby?"

"They're good," Kakashi said. "To be honest, I think she's secretly dating Genma Shiranui. He was on the same genin team as Guy when we were kids. He always liked Kurenai, but she only had eyes for Asuma."

Sakura remembered Genma, he was one of the elite Hokage bodyguards. He seemed a nice guy and she was glad that Kurenai wouldn't mourn forever. Realization dawned on Sakura at the reason for Kakashi's seemingly random subject change. If Kurenai could find love after Asuma, maybe Sakura could find love after Sasuke.

"I think we've both had enough for tonight," Kakashi said. "Let me walk you home."


"I should have paid closer attention to the weather report," Kakashi said. He and Sakura stood just outside the Shinobi Lounge's front doors. During the hours that had passed inside of the bar, a storm had blown over the whole of Konoha. To his side in her flimsy purple dress, Sakura shivered in the cold chilling breeze. He drew his arm over her shoulder and held her close to his side.

He glanced down at her strappy high-heeled shoes. While they made her legs look damn sexy, they were terrible running shoes. "You still at the same apartment?" Kakashi asked.

Sakura nodded, her teeth chattered. "I haven't moved," she answered.

"All right," Kakashi said. He scooped Sakura into his arms and held her close against his chest, her head tucked just under his chin, one arm under her knees and the other secured around her back. Before she could protest, he ran with chakra enhanced speed to his feet. He dashed through the rain soaked streets, narrowly avoiding the other people caught in the rain running for shelter.

By the time he reached Sakura's apartment building they were both soaked through. His eyes lingered on where her dress contoured to her curves and he set her back on her feet. She'd certainly grown up. A flash of lightning lit up the sky followed immediately by a rumble of thunder and the rain grew heavier. He started to leave, but Sakura grabbed his wrist.

"Come and wait inside, at least until the storm eases up," Sakura invited.

Kakashi knew it wasn't the smartest move on his part, but he found he didn't want to argue. He allowed Sakura to lead him upstairs to her apartment. He'd never been inside before, part of him suspected it was pink and frilly, but he was pleasantly surprised by the decor. He slipped off his shoes by the front door and waited while Sakura ran to the bathroom to bring them towels.

Her apartment was small, but it was painted in warm earth tones. There was a brown sofa in the middle of the living room with a cherry wood coffee table in front of it. There was no television, but a set of book cases aligned her wall across from the sofa. There was a fireplace in the corner and over the mantle a trio of pictures. One of Team Seven when they first formed, one of her with her parents, and another with her and Ino after they'd passed their Chunin Promotion Exam.

Sakura returned in a thick, fuzzy jade green bathrobe. She had two large charcoal gray towels in her hands that she offered Kakashi. He stood in front of her locked door and stripped out of his shirt and pants and stood in nothing but his damp navy boxers. He slipped one towel around his waist and used the other to dry off the rest of his body. He smirked as he caught Sakura ogling him, though she quickly turned away.

She placed a few logs into the fireplace. She held a lighter in her hands, but then set it aside. "Would you like to start a fire?"

"Sure," Kakashi said. He reached under the towel around his waist and pulled off his wet boxers. He dumped his wet clothes into the second towel and handed it to Sakura.

"I'll just go stick these in the dryer," she said, hurrying away for the bathroom.

Kakashi crouched in front of the fireplace. "Fire Ball Jutsu," he said, forming the appropriate seals, and setting the logs on fire. He held his hands out to the flames and enjoyed the warmth. He grinned to himself, pleased at causing Sakura's hasty retreat.

She'd invited him upstairs and there would be consequences. Ever since their battle with Madara, and to be honest a little bit before then, he'd found himself looking at Sakura differently. Long gone was that annoying twelve-year old girl who's greatest skill was served sitting lotus style on his back while he did push-ups. Her chakra control and determination allowed her to become the Hokage's apprentice. His respect for her increased dramatically when she'd taken it upon herself to try and kill Sasuke. He'd intercepted a fatal blow, and later Naruto had done the same. He'd almost had a heart attack before Naruto arrived that time, afraid he was about to see his precious Sakura killed by his dark student. She'd saved his life several times now and he'd saved hers. They were no longer teacher and student, they were teammates, allies, and friends.

She was strong and he was honored to have his name associated with hers. She was there when he lost Obito for the last time. She understood the extent of his pain and he understood the extend of hers. He didn't have to explain why he hid behind a mask or always ran late — she knew. His emotions were raw and he hid them behind the mask. He was late because he spent long hours musing at the Memorial Stone. It wasn't until her and Naruto came back into his life after their training with the Sannin that he felt he had friends again, nay, not friends, but family.

"I'm going to make us some tea," Sakura called from the kitchen.

Kakashi pushed his hands upon his thighs and stood, his knees creaked in the process. He padded on his bare feet over the lush dark green rug that covered Sakura's wooden floor. His attention drawn to the colorful bouquet of daisies on her dining room table.

"Aren't those pretty?" Sakura asked. She set a porcelain teapot on the table and two cups beside it. The teapot and cups had dark purple plum trees painted upon them. "Ino had them sent to me when she found out about my promotion."

Kakashi didn't want to admit the relief he felt knowing the flowers came from Ino and not Sasuke. He accepted a tea cup and sipped the hot herbal tea. "Lavender and chamomile?"

"It's soothing," Sakura said. "I thought we could both use it. I'm glad you're back, Kakashi."

His eyes drifted towards the window, the panes shook at the sound of another rumble of thunder. The lights in the apartment flickered and then went off. The only light radiated from the fireplace. He rose from the table and glanced out the window. All the lights down the entire block were out. "Looks like electricity is out in this whole sector," he said.

"I better go hang your clothes to dry then," Sakura said. She ran her hand across the wall, guiding her way to the bathroom. "I'm going to hang them up in the bathroom," she called.

Kakashi stood in the doorway behind her. "Okay," he said quietly.

Sakura jumped at his unexpected proximity. "I didn't see you there."

"Well no, the lights are out," Kakashi pointed out teasingly. "Maybe I should leave." If he didn't leave now, things could get out of hand.

"No, please, don't," Sakura said, her voice pleading. She reached for his shoulder, drawing her hand away quickly once remembering that he was bare chested. "Sorry about that."

"It's okay," Kakashi reassured her with a shrug. "You've touched me plenty of times."

"Healing you," Sakura said, frowning.

"So, you want me to stay?" Kakashi asked.

"Yes," Sakura said, reaching for his shoulder again and this time touching her fingers to his flesh gently.

"Okay, Sakura," Kakashi said, stepping closer to her. He slipped his fingers past her robe where it gaped open in the front revealing she wore only a bra and panties underneath. He touched his fingers lightly on the swell of her hips. "I'll stay."

A/N: After reading some of the latest manga issues I'm seeing the possibility of Sakura x Kakashi and couldn't resist writing this number. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter! There will be more!