Hello! Here's the latest - with a lil something something for some of you - hope you enjoy!

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Sakura sat in that tiny room clutching Hidan's head for as long as she could, until she knew she had to leave to prevent Danzou's suspicions. She didn't like the thought that someone could be tailing her at every moment, watching every move, and didn't want to draw them into this room.

Not that they could enter without her scent glands.

She departed with one last lingering kiss and made her way back home, aching every step of the way to turn back around.

With each turn she worried she would find Katsuyu.

She passed the next week trying to behave normally, as though her body wasn't trying to strain towards the lower levels of the Hokage tower, as though she wasn't filled with rage at so much as the mention of Uchiha Sasuke.

As though the name Uchiha didn't make her think of another Uchiha, or the other alphas she hadn't seen in such a long time.

And yet the next time she happened upon Sasuke while shopping, he turned on his heel at the sight of her and walked the other direction with a scowl on his face. Something had happened. She didn't know what, but it had to be something major to turn him right around and send him running.

She soon discovered why.

Sakura scampered through a puddle, splashing her way home with haste and an armful of groceries in soaked brown bags. Rain pounded across the rooftops like a thousand shinobi, heavy thuds that made her want to curl up in the corner of her bedroom.

She cursed and turned the corner onto her street, trying to keep her footing in the slippery mud before whacking into a hard body. The bags slipped from her grasp.

"Oops."

Deft hands in fingerless gloves caught the bags before they could hit the ground. Her head turned up in shock and she glared at Kakashi-sensei.

"You scared me!" She accused over the sound of the rain.

The rainfall must have dampened everyone's scent, because she should have smelled him before she saw him.

"No harm done, right?" He asked, hefting up the bags and turning on his heel.

She dashed after him as he took long strides towards her house, protesting that she could take the bags, really sensei!

He paused long enough for her to fumble with the key, silver hair matted against his head with the rain - matching her own charming 'wet dog' look. They entered, her former teacher placing the bags on her countertops as she scurried into the closet for a towel-

And turned to find him shaking himself off like an actual wet dog.

The rain outside blocked all sunlight, casting darkness across the inside of her house. She could make out a little of her former sensei, but not too much else.

"Kakashi-sensei!" She exclaimed, hurling the towel at him like a kunai. "I have towels, you know!"

His eye crinkled with a grin. "Huh. You do."

She toweled off her own hair, huffing at him. He's just trying to wind you up.

"You know you'll get sick if you leave that wet mask on. You should probably take it-"

She looked up to find it dry, somehow, against all laws of nature.

"-off." She finished lamely. "Not that I mind the help or the company, but is something up?"

He shrugged, flinging his soaked body onto her sofa. She cringed.

She couldn't see terribly much aside from the figure of her sensei on the sofa, his shape a lumpy shadow on her now damp furniture. She padded into the kitchen, feeling around for the light switch.

"Leave it." He said.

Her hand froze.

"It's nice to enjoy the rain right? We're so reliant on our technology these days…"

She squinted at his back, suddenly nervous. Was he usually this weird?

"What's going on?" She asked suspiciously, slowly approaching.

"I just want to talk." He said.

"In the dark?"

"Mahhh Sakura-chan, the dark illuminates what the light hides…"

He caught the apple she threw at him without even looking.

"You're weird, sensei." She told him.

"You're one to talk. I saw your groceries. Who eats oatmeal anymore…"

She came around and sat on the arm of the sofa opposite, staring him down across the empty expanse of the cushions. It was like a standoff, her perched on the arm with her eyes narrowed at him, while Kakashi lounged on the opposite side turning the apple over in his hands. Her eyes were slowly adjusting, but she couldn't see much aside from him.

His head dropped back onto the cushion, a loud sigh exhaled into the air above. He seemed tired, as though he carried an exhaustion that went deeper than physical. His shoulders slumped, visible eye with dark circles beneath.

"Are you sleeping?" She asked.

"The body sleeps, but the mind runs free, right?" He answered.

Did he always talk in riddles?

A little voice in her answered yes he does. Sensei is strange.

She didn't respond to him.

He threw the apple back to her. "You should eat. Keep up your strength."

Now that her eyes had adjusted, Sakura could see that his gaze darted between her neck and face, distracted. He looked like he wanted to scent her again, like something on her neck was bothering him.

He looked like his instincts were driving him crazy. But Sakura knew better than to repeat last time-

Although she wasn't coming up from a preheat this time, was she?

Shaking off the thought, she took a bite out of the apple and crunched away. Let him start the conversation. If he wants to talk, then he can bring it up.

"I saw your fight with Sasuke." He said at length.

Her heart skipped a beat. She flushed a helpless, angry blush. She was mortified.

"I should have stepped in to save you-"

"Save me? What are you smoking, sensei?" She demanded. "I'm not the one who ended up in the hospital. Didn't you see the crater in his-"

"He didn't predict your move because he was distracted," He leaned forward, shoulders tense. "By exactly what I should have put to an end. You were both in danger-"

"Then why didn't you interfere?" She grit out, apple forgotten in her hand. "If I was in such danger despite the hole I punched in him, then why did you stand by?"

That black eye flickered to her.

"I could smell Sasuke in the clearing. But the killing intent was all you, Sakura. That fist would've found me instead."

With dread in her gut she realized he was right. She'd been lost to her instinct, her rage, the shared pain of her alpha being beheaded… She didn't respond, knowing there was nothing she could say to disagree.

"I've dealt with Sasuke."

Her head snapped up.

"What?"

"I dealt with him. And I will continue to do so as long as it takes-"

"What does 'dealt with' mean?" She demanded.

He sighed once more, eye closing. The silence lasted for so long, with her sensei unmoving, that she wondered if he had fallen asleep. His chest rose and fell, and-

She tore her gaze away.

"Young alphas are a lot like dogs, Sakura." He finally said. "They don't respond to authority - even if their brains understand the status quo. Their instincts drive them insane, force them to act in ways that their conscious minds may not follow. They have to be socialized like dogs in order to learn how to behave and they will only take that kind of instruction from another alpha who's established dominance over them."

"What do you mean by that?" She asked.

"Sasuke's family was gone by the time he matured, so he likely didn't have any older alphas to fill that slot for him. No socialization - so he's the equivalent of an overgrown puppy who was never housetrained. I highly doubt Orochimaru cared to do any of those things, so-"

He cut off his words.

Sakura didn't like the sound of 'establishing dominance.' Before she might have laughed at the idea, thinking of idiotic alphas and their stupid habits. But after watching grown alphas taking chunks of flesh out of each other… She didn't particularly want to know what that meant in the context of her sensei finally dealing with Sasuke. It didn't sound pleasant. Part of her hoped it wasn't too terrible and a mean little part of her felt a surge of glee at it.

"But Sasuke isn't a dog. He's a person, and he should have known better. His instincts are no excuse for his behavior… I don't know when he'll be ready but he will apologize to you for what he's done. You don't have to accept it, but it's important that he does."

Sakura curled up tighter on the arm of the sofa, strands of pink falling across her face and the strap of her shirt slipping lower. She'd long since adjusted to the darkness in the room and the darkening storm outside, and she didn't miss the way her sensei kept glancing at her neck.

The mark he'd found before must be driving him crazy, she thought. She could understand feeling upset, but-

It was none of his business at this point. Her choice of alphas was just that: her choice.

"Sensei-"

"It smells like blood in here, Sakura."

How can you tell that with a mask over your nose?

She shrugged, tugging at the strap. She assumed it must be the iron scent from Hidan, lingering on her in the way that the scent of her alphas had for days after her separation from them.

"I don't know-"

"Sakura."

He was staring at her.

"I'm not an idiot. I could smell that mark on you before and it's the same. What are you doing?"

"It's none of your business-"

"Don't say that Sakura - your safety is my business. If you're seeing one of-"

"Take it up with shishou." She snapped, crossing her arms tightly and curling in further upon herself. "Because I haven't done anything wrong by her standards-"

"To hell with that - I'm more concerned about you seeing one of the alphas that kidnapped you and bit you than I am with Tsunade."

Kakashi rose, his shape a large shadow in the darkness. He stepped closer, his scent thickening and by instinct she leapt off the sofa and put it between them. He twitched at the motion, as though suppressing the urge to follow. He stopped himself and stood in a tall, taut line.

"You don't have to convince yourself that you want them just because of instinct, Sakura-"

"Instinct has nothing to do with it!" She bellowed.

"It does!" He retorted. "It has everything to do with it! No matter how well-behaved they seem to be, it's all because of instinct! And if you're feeling something then you cannot believe it, because it's a hormone-riddled lie!"

Her hands clenched into fists, stomach thrumming with a growing anger as that little ball of fire exhaled steam up and into her throat. She could feel the heat aggravating her further, could smell the spice of her sensei even more intensely as his own anger worked his scent glands overtime-

She hated the feeling of smelling something so good from the very person who had just made her so furious.

It was none of his business. He didn't know what he was talking about-

"That isn't true! Even when I can't smell anything of them, I-" She inhaled deeply to dampen her wrath, but cursed herself for the way it brought more of that scent into her, "I understand what instincts feel like, sensei - you don't know how I feel!"

"I do."

He stepped closer and she took a step back..

"How would you know?" She cried out.

"Because I experience it! It's you that doesn't understand, Sakura, and I'm trying to help you to-" Kakashi took in a sharp breath. "You know what omega instincts feel like but you've never felt alpha instincts! I'm telling you right now-"

She knew it was her former teacher, knew that she could trust him with her life, and yet when he took another step around the sofa Sakura couldn't dampen the knee-jerk reaction to leap backwards again. The air felt too stifling, too full of their irritation with one another and she couldn't filter out the smell of it.

"What then?" She demanded. "What is it that I'm just not getting, that you think is so terrible that you won't trust me to make my own choices-"

He stormed closer, feet padding silently across her floor and bringing him before her, his shoulders a tense line from the effort of-

Of what?

This isn't like him-

"It's not about trusting you-" He sounded pained. "I don't trust them because I know how it feels and I don't trust myself either."

Rain pounded on the roof, slapping across the windows in jagged slants of water. A distant grumble in the sky echoed outside the house, the shadow inside so heavy now that Sakura could hardly see the visible half of his face.

"I've known you since you were a kid, I've tried to protect you and to help you-" He jolted forwards again, catching himself with clenched fists. "And I have your best interests at heart, regardless of whether you're an omega or not - but I smell you and-"

Eyes wide, pupils blown in the darkness. Lips slack, eyebrows drawn together.

This was her sensei. Her sensei. He-

"I've had three doses of that injection this week alone and I still can hardly hold myself back, Sakura. I have a mask over my face and still smell you and I have to stop myself from doing the same foolish shit that I punished Sasuke for-"

He stepped closer, only inches away.

Sakura stumbled back, her back bumping against the kitchen counter. Her ears felt muffled, as though full of cotton. Her fingers scrabbled against the counter for a steady surface-

"No-" She said. "You don't have to say this, you-"

"I do."

A tormented edge to his voice. A rumble in his chest that she could feel even from the small distance. The large, threatening presence of an adult alpha. Heat leaping out from that tall shadow in the unlit room, blasting her like a furnace-

A step closer.

Millimeters, untouching and yet so close that it felt like touching-

"You need to hear this, you need to understand what they're feeling because you cannot trust them just because of physical compulsions-"

"No, it's not a physical compul-"

His hands slammed against the counter on either side of her, her stature dwarfed under the looming body-

"It is. You're a medic, you know what scent does."

She could feel the vibrations in his chest, that steady roll that an alpha's body produced in the presence of an omega. She felt lightheaded at the spice stinging her nostrils, at the warmth that surrounded her and tried to make her droop - felt like she'd taken one of the muscle relaxers they had at the hospital-

"They aren't voluntary reactions, Sakura, and they aren't limited to feral alphas-" He shifted and her heart jumped, "All it takes is a whiff"

"It's not"

"I smell you and my mouth waters."

Omega scent, check.

Overproduction of saliva, check.

Her jaw strained with the force of her clenching it-

His arms trembled like grass in a storm from the pressure of gripping her counter so hard she worried it might crack.

"I smell you and I can feel the venom in my mouth, even after the injection."

Teeth extend from mating compulsion, check.

Production of venom for the bite, check.

Her breaths stuttered too quickly to be of any use, too high for real relief, drowning her in the proof of his words.

"I have to bite my tongue until it bleeds just to distract myself, to keep myself from pinning you down-"

Dominance instincts, check.

Kakashi pressed himself against her, pushing her until the counter dug into her back, leaning over her.

She felt surrounded. Hemmed in, trapped in a cage on fire, tiny in comparison to the body that easily trapped her on all sides-

"I have to stop myself from choosing a spot, from-"

A high, reedy exhale darted out of her lips as a hand tangled into her hair. Its insistent force tugged her head back, craning her face skyward and baring her neck-

"-to stop myself from agonizing over the perfect places, like here-"

A long finger tapped near her pulse, high on her neck, just beneath the jaw.

She tensed, her body screaming at her to stay frozen in the grasp of something much larger and more dangerous, something that had a weak point bared to the world. She saw only the ceiling with her head pulled back.

"Or here-"

A tap at the crevice where neck met shoulder.

The hand in her hair tightened, nails scratching over her scalp as they dragged slowly along, achingly slow-

Her ankles shook. If she weren't pushed against the counter she expected that her legs might give out.

"You retreat and I want to advance-"

Predator instincts, check.

His hand lingered over her pulse.

"I feel that and I want to chase, want to press the advantage that your panic gives me-"

Sakura swallowed heavily, tense and still as a bowstring. Her narrow shoulders twitched with the effort of keeping from moving, long neck cold from the sensation of too open, too exposed.

"I see you keeping still for me-"

Omega danger instincts, check.

She felt the fabric of his mask trailing over her neck, his nose taking in her scent where it lay on her the thickest-

"-and I have to stop myself from the urge to reward you for it like some kind of-"

Alpha adoration instincts, check.

A face shoved into the crook of her neck, hair tickling her jaw as he caressed the skin with his nose. A faint sound akin to a purr, the rumbles traveling from his chest into hers-

Stillness.

The hand released her hair and cupped her shoulder, his head falling to the opposite side. Forehead pressed against the skin bared by the thin straps of her shirt, a long gust of air puffing against her.

She didn't move.

He remained where he was for a long, nerve-wracking moment.

"It isn't fun to hear." He said against her shoulder. "And you're not to blame for it, but you need to know. You have to be aware of what's happening to their bodies and you cannot let it trick you-"

But those weren't the things that had altered Sakura's viewpoint.

Her feelings had nothing to do with instinct, nothing to do with whether or not they reacted to her as an omega-

They were thoughtful enough to have given her a space of her own. For Itachi to say nothing after discovering her hiding in his closet. For Kakuzu to try to teach her to manage her own finances. For Hidan to lose his head simply to be near her.

For Kisame to send her far from them to keep her safe.

"I'm sorry to frighten you and I'm sorry to give you the information this way-" He said. "But you need to be frightened."

"I'm not, though." She whispered. "I don't think this is about my feelings at all, sensei. I think you're frightened - of yourself."

He released her in a heartbeat. A halting step backwards.

"I think helping Sasuke makes you feel like you're helping yourself. And I think you need to have more faith in yourself."

Kakashi stepped back again.

She couldn't see much of his face, couldn't see his eyes well enough to read what he felt-

He turned on his heel and fled out the door and back into the rain.

Sakura's heart thudded to life in double-time and her legs gave out. She couldn't have let her sensei think she was scared, couldn't have let him think of her as a child unable to take care of herself, but-

What the fuck was that?

She couldn't tell apart the scent of his arousal from hers, so heavily it fogged up the room.