Rebirth

Chapter 8

Kakashi placed the paper down on the coffee table next to him and knelt to Sakura's eye level. It was obvious that she was completely lost in thought, unaware that he was even there. He waved his hand in front of her face again, receiving no response. Snapping his fingers at her did nothing, and neither did whistling a random tune or trying to call her name. He stared at her faraway emerald orbs a few moments longer before reaching up to his mask and pulling it down around his neck, hoping the shock of seeing his face might help.

He squat in front of her for the next couple of minutes, attempting his process of trying for her attention through everything except physical touch. He would have tried to literally shake her out of her daze, but that seemed like a really bad idea to do to somebody who could crush a hundred yards of earth with her bare fists… in a single punch.

He sighed as he stood. He rubbed a hand on his chin in thought and looked around the room for something to throw at her. His eyes landed on a few throw pillows by her side and on a recliner, and he grinned to himself. Kakashi picked up the pillows and walked to the side of the room shrouded in shadow, taking care to leave most of his body in the moonlight so she wouldn't mistake him for a real attacker with oddly soft kunai, or some kind of strange down feather kekkei genkai.

Organizing the pillows from smallest to largest, he took aim and prepared his assault.

Thunk.

The small pillow hit its target right on the forehead, but the woman merely screwed her features into one of disgust and swatted at the air in front of her face.

Kakashi narrowed his eyes at her in disbelief – she was so far gone that she thought that was an insect?

"You're kidding," he said aloud, hoping that maybe she'd actually snapped out of it already and was trying to see him maskless for as long as possible before ending her charade. He didn't particularly care if she saw him without his mask. He trusted her. He just enjoyed keeping up the mystery around his former students.

He sensed no recognition from her at his words. He rolled his eyes upwards to stare at the ceiling and sighed overdramatically.

"Alright, Sakura. You asked for this."

Thunk. Thunk thunk. THUNK THUNK THU-

"Wha- WHAT THE FUCK?!"

"Oh good, you're back," Kakashi said, mask in place once again and eyes creased with mocking glee. He would look perfectly innocent, if she didn't know that he was usually the exact opposite.

"Were you… throwing pillows at me?!" she screeched.

"Hmm," he said, glancing around at the evidence scattered about the floor. "Well you see, there's this really strange contest going on nearby. People are trying to see how far they can arc various pillows, and some of the contestants evidently have very strong arms. You really shouldn't leave windows open when such dangerous events are happening, Sakura-chan. Why, if I was a second later, old lady Kiki's embroidery may have knocked you out cold."

Sakura felt her eyelid twitch momentarily as she stared at her ex-sensei, her frustration and anger building higher with every second that he continued to give her what she assumed was a shit-eating grin. She growled lowly and stood up to go sock him over the head, but her eyes crossed over the paper on her coffee table as she did. Immediately she was lost again, and she furrowed her brow to stare at the paper as she flopped back down onto the couch.

Kakashi shook his head. This just wouldn't do. He moved to stand in front of her, blocking her view of the pregnancy results.

"Get up," he said in the tone he reserved for when he thought she was being particularly petulant.

She glanced up at him dully, not caring what might happen if she ignored him. She had too much on her mind.

"Get. Up."

Sakura rolled her eyes at him and tucked her feet under her body. "Leave me alone," she said softly, having lost all will to argue over something petty like a pillow fight and horribly lame excuses.

He stood still for a few seconds, and Sakura thought briefly that he'd do as she asked. Then suddenly the world was turning around her before everything went bla- no… dark grey?

It had been a long time, but she'd seen the world from this vantage before. And right now, she was staring at the back of Kakashi's grey flak jacket after having been slung unceremoniously over the tall man's shoulder, his arm holding her securely to his body by her waist.

The return of her ire was immediate, and she fumed at the audacity of her silver-haired captor. He started moving towards the door, and she wriggled in his grasp. He frowned and tightened his grip.

"Stop."

Sakura spluttered at him.

"Me? You want ME to stop? Oh how funny, I want YOU to stop too!" She pounded her fists on his back a few times, trying to get her point across. He sighed and opened the front door, prompting her to thrash about a bit more, even as she tried not to hurt him too badly.

"Kakashi!" she shouted as he stepped outside the comfort of her home. Her stomach dropped and she felt the air rush around them as he jumped onto the roof. Yamato appeared next to them within a second, kunai held in front of him as he prepared to attack. Kakashi merely tilted his head at his long-time friend.

"We'll be back later. Don't follow us," he declared with a certain finality.

Yamato narrowed his eyes at the silver-haired man. "And how do I know you're really Kakashi-senpai?"

Kakashi leveled a glare at Yamato that any lesser man would have ran from. "I can go into detail about what happened the night of your 22nd birthday, if you'd like."

Yamato said nothing, but also made no moves to let them pass. Meanwhile, Sakura continued her screaming and beating of Kakashi's back.

Kakashi sighed again, ignoring the ball of fury on his shoulder. "You remember, don't you? When you ended up in bed with Genma and that really nasty kunoichi fro-"

Yamato twitched and dropped his hand to his side quickly. "You may go."

Without another word, Kakashi took off across the rooftops towards the training grounds at break-neck speed, his pink-haired prisoner never ceasing in her angry tirade.

They arrived within minutes. Kakashi could already feel his back throbbing with what he was sure would be new bruises, but he didn't care. He'd come to a decision that he wouldn't let her wallow in her own misery any longer, regardless of the price his body might have to pay for it. Doing nothing as she dwelt on her pain seemed tantamount to watching her die before his very eyes because this was Sakura – she was supposed to have a temper and attack people that made her angry. She'd already died physically once, and he refused to let it happen emotionally while he could do something about it.

He dumped her onto the ground and took a quick step back as she leaped up to swing at his face.

"YOU STUPID ASSHOLE!" she yelled as she rushed him. "I am not some doll you can pick up and cart around whenever you DAMN WELL FEEL LIKE IT!"

He dodged and ducked her fists, and she matched him step for step. Her rage fueled her forward, but made her blind and clumsy in comparison to the currently calm seasoned veteran that had made his name as 'Copy Nin Kakashi.' He felt his back coming up against a tree and, having no option other than running, grabbed each of her fists the next time they came barreling towards his face.

Sakura bared her teeth in frustration and funneled chakra to her feet before using it to push him back into the tree roughly. He grunted in pain as his body hit the solid object, but he didn't release her. He stared back at her instead, meeting the fire in her eyes with one of his own. She glared at him a few moments longer before rumbling low in her throat. She didn't know what he was doing, and frankly didn't care right now. She was pissed.

Sakura twisted her body as she threw a knee to his side. Her frustration grew as she heard a poof. A cloud of smoke and falling log appeared before her just as she her knee made connection. Strong arms wrapped around her torso, and she felt herself being pulled firmly against his chest.

"You and I are going to be here all night," he whispered into her ear. His warm breath caused a shiver down her spine as it slid over her skin. She grit her teeth and slammed her heel down onto his foot, feeling satisfied as he grunted in pain and loosened his grip slightly. She took advantage of the distraction and quickly shifted herself around until she was facing him.

"That was low," he said huskily, his eyes glassy with pain as he stared at her. Sakura felt her lip twitch as she glared up at Kakashi.

"Don't talk you to me about low. I'm not the one who abducted somebody!" She jabbed her finger into his chest as she made her point. She then shoved him away and crossed her arms to look at him pointedly. "Why the hell are we here?!"

The haze of pain slowly lifted from Kakashi's dark eyes but he remained steadfast, boring into her with his gaze. Her cheeks grew red as he stared. It felt like he was trying to read her soul, which was more than a little embarrassing for the pinkette. She was conflicted with so many thoughts right now, and she wasn't sure she wanted him to know them all.

Sakura sighed after it was clear that he wouldn't be speaking next, feeling some of her anger drain out of her.

"Kakashi, why are we here?" she asked again, much more calmly this time.

A light eyebrow arched at her question, as though he thought the answer was obvious and she was simple for being confused. She felt her eye twitch as she grew angry yet again. Kakashi had a fantastic way of giving her mood swings.

"To spar," he said finally.

"So you steal me away from my home and bring me out here to, what, have me beat you up?"

He shrugged.

"I doubt you could do that, but I'm willing to let you try."

It was a complete fib, of course, only said in the hopes of riling her up some more. He was well aware that she could kick his ass if he let his guard down for even a moment. But he could also kick hers if he got the same advantage, so he wasn't terribly worried. He wouldn't, considering she was pregnant now, but the fact remained that he could.

Her jaw clenched at his statement. "You think I'm weak, then?"

He tilted his head at her in confusion. Of course he didn't – he hadn't thought that of her in nearly a decade. But in her anger, Sakura saw the motion as less the confused one it was and more of a mocking one. Instantly she dashed forward and threw a right jab, only for it to hit air as he disappeared. She scanned her surroundings carefully, looking for a glint of silver in the pale moonlight.

There.

She tossed a kunai up into a tree a few yards away, but heard only a dull thunk as it hit and embedded itself into the bark. She knew he was there, though. Sakura jumped into the branches behind the trunk where he was perched and threw a roundhouse kick to it. That part of the tree exploded into a shower of splinters, and the remainder of the wood fell down to the ground with a loud thud.

Kakashi stood on the opposite tree branch, eyes wide as he stared across the now empty space at an angry kunoichi. It had been a few years, but the rule of their spars had always been that she would refrain from using her crazy strength, and for the most part she followed it. She only broke it when she was truly pissed, which usually resulted in him having some broken bones after the fact.

Shit, he thought.

He was momentarily stunned, and she took the opportunity to rush him again. He recovered just in time to duck as her fist was centimeters from his face, and used her momentum to unbalance her by knocking her feet out from under her with a sweeping kick. She fell from the branch, doing a flip mid-air to land on her feet before jumping up at him again, new kunai in hand. The sound of steel hitting steel rang through the air as she chased him through the branches of the forest.

She hardly remembered why she was attacking him at all anymore. All she knew was that the anger flowing through her now felt so much better than the sorrow she'd found herself burdened with over the last three days. She let it to overtake her and push away the sadness of her loss and the fear of being a single mother of two.

They sparred for hours, the moon above slowly shifting in the sky as the time passed. It was nearing midnight now, and they had abandoned their weapons in favor of hand-to-hand combat. Well, more like hand-to-air. Though she wasn't using her full strength, it was obvious that there was some chakra behind her blows. The few hits Kakashi had received cracked a couple of ribs and both arms, prompting him to dodge more than block.

Eventually, they wound down and stood across from one another. Sakura was breathing harshly and soaked in sweat, and was pleased to find Kakashi in a similar state. She held her hands up in defeat before laying down on the dirt to stare up at the night sky. She was surprised to find her mind wasn't running away with her any longer, most likely thanks to her exhaustion.

She sensed him coming nearer and turned her head to look at him as he settled himself cross-legged by her side. She grunted before crossing her hands behind her head and looking back up at the clouds above.

Kakashi instead stared at Sakura, thinking to himself of how she had nearly been taken from this world just a few days ago. He hated how weak it made him feel to lose comrades. He pulled his copy of Icha-Icha from his back pocket and opened it to a random page. He found himself reading the same sentences over and over as he mulled on the events of the last few days, including the piece of paper he'd torn from her hands just a couple of hours ago.

Sasuke was gone, but he'd left her a second child. She'd have to raise both alone. It was no wonder she had been as distressed as she was when he found her. What was a wonder was how much it had bothered him to see her that anguished. It didn't suit her at all to be so stuck in her head like that. She wasn't the brooding type. Pulling her off to spar had been a spur of the moment decision and he was quite happy with the outcome, even if he'd walk away sporting a few nasty bruises and a couple of hairline fractures.

"Kakashi?"

"Hm?"

"What was that for?"

He lowered his book just enough to peek at her over the top of it and gave her a quizzical look.

"What was what for?"

Sakura pushed herself up to a sitting position and met his gaze.

"Pulling me out of my home and making me angry so that I'd try to hurt you for it."

He looked at her impassively.

"It's fairly obvious."

She shook her head back at him.

"No, it isn't."

Kakashi sighed and put his beloved orange novel back in his pocket to show that he was giving her his full attention now.

"You needed it," he stated simply, as though that explained everything. He carefully left out the fact that he had needed it as well, unable to handle seeing her in such a worried state. She furrowed her brow at him.

"I just lost my husband, and discovered that I'm still pregnant with his second child... And you thought I needed to get angry and spar?" she asked incredulously.

He remained as poker-faced as ever. The mask certainly helped. "It worked, didn't it?"

"That's not the p-"

"It is," he interrupted her, the look in his eyes daring her to challenge him on it further.

Sakura's jaw snapped shut as she felt her argument die on her tongue. She sighed. He was right, as usual. She had been telling herself for days now that she needed a proper distraction, she just hadn't thought that she'd find the solution in anger. And she certainly hadn't anticipated Kakashi being the one to help her realize that.

She stood and he followed shortly after, wincing lightly as the motion caused him pain. Sakura 'tsk'ed at him before moving to his side, her hands glowing with healing chakra.

"Where is it?"

"Ribs. Arms."

She held her hands over the spots he pointed to and began to mend the slight fractures.

"You deserved this."

He grunted in agreement.

"It was worth it."

Sakura looked up at him in shock to find him staring at her with an odd look in his eyes. Unbeknownst to her, he was also surprised at his admission. Though he was very happy that she no longer appeared to be so haunted, he didn't intend to let her know that he'd gladly let her beat him up for it.

A devilish grin crossed her face. Well, if he was willing to be her distraction, she was happy to let him.

"Say, Kakashi, would you like to spar again soon?"

He cringed. "Can't. Hokage duties," he said dismissively.

Sakura decided to try and use his ego and sense of duty against him. She pouted at him.

"But you were right like always! Sparring really did help. Please?"

He narrowed his eyes at her puppy-dog look.

"You're too obvious. Go find someone else to beat up."

"But you're the only one who can take it! Naruto wouldn't take me seriously if I asked him, and everyone else is too scared I'm going to crack their skulls."

He said nothing, but continued to glare at her.

"Oh come on, 'kashi. I promise I won't use chakra again."

"…fine."

She flashed him a bright smile, and he couldn't help but smile back.

"Oh! We still have to talk about tomorrow's…" she trailed off, her thoughts once again heading down a dark path.

Sensing this, Kakashi placed a hand on her shoulder to bring her attention back to him. She looked up at him, confused, and he crinkled his eyes upwards in his usual manner.

"C'mon. Back to your place then."

She gave him a small, grateful smile, and he reached the hand on her shoulder up to ruffle her hair before dashing out of the training grounds. Sakura frowned and combed her pink strands back into their proper place with her fingers before following him.

They arrived a short time later and sat at the dining room table, Kakashi and Sakura both wanting to avoid the paper in the living room. Sakura discussed with him what was planned; who would be speaking, and how they might portray the late Uchiha. The crimes of his past were no secret, but she desperately wanted him to be remembered for more than that. Thankfully, it seemed Kakashi and the rest of the Leaf shinobi did as well.

Once they had finished, Kakashi courteously picked up the pillows that were still strewn about the living room while Sakura stooped over the coffee table to pick up her HCG results. She no longer felt the blind terror she had earlier, but she was still understandably nervous.

When Kakashi was done, he was happy to find that Sakura was already folding the paper up and putting it into her pocket. It was a marked improvement from earlier. She walked him to the door and said goodbye before heading back to her bathroom.

She wanted to shower quickly to remove the dirt and grime from her body, but found herself unwilling to leave the warm stream of water once she was finished. Her mind drifted back and forth over the events of the last few days, and now the newest one as well. It had been awhile since she had spent any considerable amount of time with her ex-sensei, and she found herself greatly enjoying his company – even when he was intentionally trying to piss her off.

Maybe that was why she enjoyed it? He didn't mollycoddle her like so many others, and it was incredibly refreshing. Reluctantly, she turned off the shower and dressed into her pajamas.

That evening, she drifted off into a sound sleep devoid of nightmares.