AN- prepare for some good, ole fashioned angst this chapter.
It was late, but she didn't know the exact time. Far too late for her to be awake and sitting on the edge of the bathtub, having a mild panic attack behind the closed door. But she couldn't risk Sasuke waking up to her hyperventilating and in tears. He wouldn't understand and her lack of an explanation would only upset him.
Because there was no way in hell she could tell him why she was panicking.
She could barely even admit it to herself. It was ridiculous and the complete opposite of what she should be freaking out about. But all Sakura could think about was Kakashi coming back from his mission, knocking on her door, and finding Sasuke in her home. She was terrified of hurting him, terrified that he would take one look at the guilt on her face and walk out of her life forever.
Sakura dropped her head into her shaking fingers and pushed them through her hair, keeping her groans low enough to not wake Sasuke sleeping in her bed down the hall. She slid off the edge of the tub and sat on the fluffy white rug on the floor. The fibers sank between her toes and she leaned forward to rest her forehead on her knees.
Why did he have to come back now?
He had said a year in his last letter!
Frustratingly, he hadn't given her much of an explanation either. He had only apologized for being gone and kissed her. And that kiss had turned into touching and eventually, they made their way to her bed and Sakura got the one thing she had been wanting from the moment he left last year. Except…it was all wrong now.
Every time she had closed her eyes, she saw Kakashi's face and every kiss across her neck and breasts, she expected to look down and see that cheeky smirk she had grown to love. It had made her nearly sob in the middle of sex and she was thankful that Sasuke took her sounds as pleasure and not frustration and misery.
And she felt so guilty for all the wrong reasons. She should be thrilled Sasuke is back, if not to continue their relationship then at the very least to talk about it. But she didn't talk to him at all. She slept with him instead because it was easier than to fess up and face all of the problems they had. She didn't know if he even received her message or not.
If he didn't, why was he here?
And if the message was why he was back so soon, did he think having sex with her would fix everything? Sakura sighed and sat up, blinking into the light above the vanity. For the past hour that she had been sitting on the floor of her bathroom, she had been avoiding the one thing she was now sure of. And the one thing that added so much more to this situation.
She wasn't in love with Sasuke anymore.
She was in love with Kakashi…and she may have ruined her chances with him forever.
Just as she suspected, the next day at work was a living nightmare. From the moment she walked into the doors of the hospital, she had been running back and forth from floor to floor. A breech birth on the second floor, kunai to the face in the emergency department, and a summons to meet with the Hokage by lunch. It was too much for her to deal with on only a few hours of sleep.
And she suspected the meeting with Naruto would include the one person she had been hoping to avoid. Thankfully, she had managed to sneak out of the house bright and early that morning, before Sasuke was fully awake. He had sleepily told her goodbye and kissed her cheek, but all Sakura could think was please, get out of my bed and out of my house.
Which made her feel like complete shit. Not like she didn't already feel like that with little to no sleep.
She shed her lab coat, now sprinkled with drops of blood from the kunai wound and tossed it into the laundry cart. Though she knew Naruto would send another low level shinobi to summon her again soon, she needed a minute to collect her thoughts. She put her hands down on the edge of the cart and ducked her head, closing her eyes.
She wanted to call Ino, to confess her feelings about Kakashi and ask her what the hell she was supposed to do now. Would she even have the answer? Sure, Ino would tell her to follow her heart and do what makes her happy, but how could she be happy when either way, someone was going to have their heart broken?
Oh, she had been so stupid to let things go this far with Kakashi. She should have known he would bring her nothing but heartache the day he had walked her to the theater. And she had known it then. But true to typical Sakura fashion, she had ignored the warnings from her sensible side and followed her body's wants.
But it was more than her body now. It was her heart telling her to be with him and gods, she wanted to follow it.
Sakura sighed and stood up straight, brushing the hair from her face and smoothing the wrinkles from her top. There was no way she could avoid this meeting all day. Naruto would hunt her down himself if she tried to lock herself in her office and with the kind of day she had so far, that just wasn't going to be possible.
She made her way out of the housekeeping area and shut the door quietly behind her. Her eyes stayed on the tile floor beneath her and by the time she made it to her office, she hadn't noticed the two figures standing at her door.
"There she is!" A cheerful voice called, making her snap her head up in surprise. Naruto beamed happily to her and beside him, Sasuke had a faint trace of a smile on his lips. Seeing him there, so close to her and so…there, made her stomach clench tight with anxiety. "C'mon, we're going to have lunch together like old times!"
"Uh…" It was all her brain could think to say at that moment. Her eyes darted from Sasuke to Naruto, to the door of her office. "I-I have work to do."
"So do I. But nothing is more important than having Team Seven back together." Naruto reached out and draped his good arm over Sasuke's shoulder and barely noticed when he stepped away, making it fall back to his side. With a nod toward the doors at the end of the hallway, he turned. "C'mon, let's go."
Sakura glanced toward the man still facing her and wondered if he could tell how pale she was. Could she blame it on the lack of sleep? He had kept her up to almost eleven the night before…Sasuke started to turn away but hesitated, making her freeze in place.
His eyes met hers and narrowed only slightly before sweeping across her face. He turned away to follow Naruto and Sakura let out a slow, trembling breath. There was no doubt about it in her mind.
He knew something was wrong and she figured she had until the end of her day before he would bring it up. She was going to have to admit everything to him and tell him the truth. For now, though, she was going to have to sit through an awkward lunch with a suspicious Sasuke and oblivious Naruto. Just like old times.
Ichiraku was packed for lunchtime but Teuchi always had seats at the counter reserved for Naruto and guests. He greeted them happily and Sakura slid into an empty stool. The muscles along her back tensed as Sasuke did the same beside her, his hand coming to rest at the small of her back. If he noticed how stiff she was, he didn't mention it.
Naruto landed on the stool on the other side of her and she tried to hold in her sigh. Being caught in the middle of them wasn't ideal. It made it hard for her to make up an excuse to leave quickly. This way, they could both try to keep her from leaving, though she wasn't sure Sasuke would.
He was understanding when she needed her space, though that had been a rare occasion in the past. And by rare, she meant it hadn't happened since before they made their relationship official. Of course, why would she need her space from him when he was gone ten months out of the year?
At her left, Naruto nudged her in the ribs, and she jumped with a quick shriek. She blinked up at Teuchi who was staring at her with wide eyes, his notepad and pen ready to take her order. Oh yeah…food… Clearing her throat, she glanced to the board hanging to the right of the counter and read the special of the day.
"I'll just take the Tsukemen."
"Pork broth or vegetarian?"
She wasn't going to eat much of it anyway. Her appetite was completely out the window and she hoped she could take as few bites as possible to convince them she was okay. Once Teuchi finished their orders and stepped away to prepare them, Naruto leaned forward with a grin.
Any other time, she would ignore it, but there was something in his eyes, a glint that he only had when he was truly happy and moved by something. It made her instantly nervous and she forced a weak smile.
"What?" She asked him.
"Nothing. I'm just glad to have us back together again." Oh, if only he knew how badly Sakura was wanting to get away. Before she could respond, Naruto cleared his throat and looked down at his hands fidgeting with the napkin in front of him. "Actually, I did want to tell you both something. And I'm glad Sasuke is here to hear it in person."
He took a deep breath and sat up straight, the corners of his lips lifting in a smile that touched his eye and Sakura could see a tear welling up. She was almost nervous to ask. "What is it?"
She felt the air leave her lungs and her hands gripped the counter to keep her from toppling off the stool. Pregnant? They were only in their thirties! They weren't ready for babies yet! Oh god, was she supposed to be ready to have a baby? Sakura risked a glance to Sasuke and nearly choked on air to find him staring at her.
Thankfully, he spoke up so she could have a moment to recover. "Congratulations."
"H-how far along is she?"
Naruto reached up to wipe the teardrop from the corner of his eye and sniffed. "We only found out last week."
Sakura's stomach clenched and she put a hand to her belly. No wonder Hinata had been so emotional when she had bumped into her a few days ago. If she had known she was pregnant, she would have never upset her as she had. Yet another thing to add to the list of things to feel miserable about.
"I'm happy for you," she managed to finally say. Her tone made her wince, but she couldn't muster anything happier at the moment. Lucky for her, Naruto was oblivious, and he took a deep breath and grinned at her.
The lunch was a quiet one. Well, for her part it was. The two men on either side of her kept the small talk going as she occupied her mouth with her food. She ate more than she had planned, filling any awkward silence with mouthfuls of noodles. It worked for the most part but eventually, the bowl had to end, and she stared down it as Naruto finished his own meal.
He patted his satisfied belly and stretched his arms over his head. "Ichiraku for lunch is delicious but I always want to take a nap afterward!"
"Well, lucky you're Hokage and can take a nap anytime you want," Sakura mumbled, reaching for the cash in her pocket. A hand touched her thigh and she froze. She stared down at Sasuke's hand, unable to even breathe. It felt wrong and inappropriate but what was she supposed to do? Slap it away? Forcing a small smile, she pushed the money back into her pocket and nodded to him.
He stood from the stool and paid for their meals and Sakura took the moment his attention was occupied elsewhere to step away and take a breath. A couple came in through the door and the bell chiming above them made Sakura look up. The two were snuggled close and blushing, obviously in the beginning stages of their relationship and she thought back to the date she had with Kakashi last week.
Had they looked the same as they were led to their quiet, dimly lit booth in the back of the restaurant? She knew the answer to that. She was always flushed and doe-eyed around him and as she thought to the way he had whispered so many delicious and dirty things in her ear the last night she had seen him. Even now, with the added tension of Sasuke being back in the village, she couldn't help the way her body reacted to just the memory of Kakashi.
She took her bottom lip between her teeth and felt bad for hoping his mission would keep him away for the next week or so. Just until Sasuke left again. Until after she could officially end things with him.
Her thoughts were interrupted by Naruto stepping up to her with a soft smile. "Hinata wants us all to have dinner together tonight. I know it's short notice, but do you two have plans?"
She opened her mouth to tell him, yes, they definitely had plans to have a long talk about their future—or lack thereof—but no words could form. There wasn't a single coherent excuse in her brain to give to him. As she stammered, Sasuke moved behind her and let out a small sigh, barely noticeable but it echoed in her ears.
"We'd love to."
What was happening?
Why, after months, and months, and years, was he finally being the boyfriend she had needed him to be? Was this some sort of punishment for taking this as far as she had with Kakashi? And though she still felt it was too little too late, she couldn't do a damn thing about it! Her body was refusing to do anything productive like step in and tell him that they couldn't make it to dinner.
She just stood there, staring between the two of them like she was brain dead. Even as Naruto told her goodbye and Sasuke led her out the doors and into the afternoon sunshine, she couldn't say a thing. She was on autopilot and if she wanted to fix things, she had to snap out of it soon!
"Are you alright?"
Sakura blinked up at Sasuke's face and searched the one eye not obscured by his hair. He could see right through all of her bullshit, knew she was hiding something and even still, she couldn't bring herself to do what she needed to do. A lump pressed hard against the back of her throat and she ducked her head, trying to buy her enough time to swallow it down.
"Yeah," she croaked. "It's just been a bad day at work. I should probably get back before the entire building burns down without me."
He didn't appreciate her humor and stared at her as impassive as ever. He reached up and brushed the hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear and she had to bite her tongue to keep from flinching away from him.
"I'll see you tonight," he said quietly, searching her eyes for a few seconds more before turning away from her. She was so used to him walking away that it didn't bother her anymore. Despite telling him she had to return to work, Sakura stayed where she was and watched him leave, letting all of the anger and frustration and loneliness he had forced upon her in the last year build-up.
Now that the initial shock of seeing him again was starting to wear off, she had to do what she needed to do. It was time to tell Sasuke goodbye. She just wished they wouldn't have to sit through an awkward dinner beforehand.
Kakashi landed without a sound on the roof of the Hokage Tower. He stood to his full height and looked out at the village through the eyes of his mask. Somewhere out there, quite possibly at the hospital, was the one person he hadn't been able to stop thinking about for the past four days. Wondering what she had been doing with herself, what she would say when she saw him again, Kakashi felt the corner of his lips lift in a small smile.
With a soft step on the roof tiles, his teammate landed at his side and he turned toward the wide window behind him. The glass panes caught the evening sun and with a quick glance inside to see if the Hokage was free, Kakashi slipped inside soundlessly.
Naruto kept his head bent over the paperwork he was currently scribbling through, but he was instantly aware of their presence. He signed his name to the bottom of one of the pages and looked up at the two of them. The chair hinges creaked as he sat back and rubbed a hand over his eyes.
"The target was eliminated," Itachi spoke first, stepping closer to the Hokage's desk. "We ran into some resistance near the border of Kusagakure. A group of local bandits."
The Hokage's eyebrow lifted and Kakashi stepped forward. "They were taken care of, but a few were in the Bingo Book." He reached into the pocket of his vest and pulled out the book. The pages with the now deceased bandit's faces were opened and Naruto leaned forward to assess the entries.
"Both wanted for rape and murder," he said quietly to himself. "Good job. I'll send the information to the villages and you two can report your injuries to the hospital if need be."
His eyes met Kakashi's through the mask and though he hadn't received so much as a scratch, the hospital was the first place he was going to visit anyway. With a quick nod, Kakashi turned on his heel and moved toward the door. The Hokage's voice stopped him in his tracks.
"Sasuke's back in the village," he said softly, his words meant for Itachi but they made all of the air freeze in Kakashi's lungs. He couldn't help turning back around to face them, struggling to control the emotion in his eyes. "He'll be at Sakura's house if you'd like to see him."
Kakashi's jaw clenched and he turned back to the door, wrenching it open harder than he had meant to. In the shadows of the hallway beyond the Hokage's office, he pulled his mask off and unbuckled the straps of his vest. His heart was pounding harder than it had the four days he had been gone and a strange feeling of nausea and fear found its way into his stomach.
Thoughts raced through his mind too quickly for him to focus on one in particular and as he hurried into the barracks to change his clothes, he could only be sure of one thing; he had to see Sakura as soon as he could. He shoved his vest and mask into the locker space in the Anbu barracks, fingers both numb and trembling as he did so.
He didn't want to think about them together, but it was all he could see in his mind. It made him sick and angry and he had to get out of here before anyone stopped to question him. He rushed out of the barracks before Itachi had even made it down from the Hokage's office and though he dragged in deep, lungful's of air, it did little to help him.
It was nearing five o'clock and he knew Sakura's shift would be ending soon if she was even still there. He ran a hand through his tangled hair as he rushed through the streets, around a group of medics standing outside the hospital and Kakashi burst through the front doors barely two minutes after leaving the barracks. The receptionist behind the enormous, circular desk blinked up at him in surprise. Her magazine hit the floor as she jumped to her feet to greet him.
The words were barely out of her mouth by the time he passed by her. He passed a few closed office doors and once Sakura's came into view at the end of the hallway, he breathed a sigh of relief to see it cracked open and the light on. There was a voice speaking inside and he stopped just beside the doorframe with a sigh.
Again, he ran a hand through his hair and let his head fall back against the cool wall behind him. He glanced to his left, toward her door, and listened to the conversation.
"…shouldn't be too difficult. My only concern would be the waiting list for the procedure. We have several people who have been here for weeks already." The sound of Sakura's voice, even speaking about things he had no idea about, was enough to comfort him out of his momentary panic. The fear of missing her, of not talking to her about this whole thing faded and left him with nothing but the numbness.
How long had Sasuke been back in the village? Just today, or more? He didn't want to think about them together but in the ten minutes it had been alive in his mind, the mental image of Sasuke and Sakura together was a plague. It hurt to think about, made him sick to his stomach.
And he knew why it hurt so bad.
The thought of losing her to him was more than he could take. He didn't know how it had happened, but it was too late to stop the way he felt about her now. Maybe he was being stupid and reckless falling for her so fast. What was he supposed to do? From the first moment he saw her and spoke to her, she had been on his mind almost nonstop.
All he could think about the four days he was gone was how much he missed just being near her. The second day away, he was sure that if she had been with him, all he would have wanted to do was just hold her. And knowing that while he was gone, it might have been Sasuke holding her and talking to her and being near her made his throat feel tight and his fists clenched at his side.
From inside her office, the conversation was coming to a close and Kakashi stood up straighter. He was only just now aware that he was wearing nothing but a tank top, his mask, and the pants of his Anbu uniform. His hair was a mess and he knew he probably smelled of sweat, but he didn't have a minute to spare to shower.
The door swung open and a woman stepped out, older than Sakura but still pretty with dark hair and kind eyes. She spotted Kakashi with a look of surprise before turning back to Sakura. "You have a visitor," she told her.
"Oh, well, I have a few minutes. Send them in."
Kakashi didn't wait for the woman to relay the message. He slipped into the office and shut the door behind him, his was breath ragged and stomach clenched tight. She looked as pretty as she always did with her pink hair pulled up at the back of her head and a nice outfit beneath her lab coat. She took one look at him and leaped to her feet with a gasp that, on any other circumstance, would have driven him crazy.
"Kakashi," she whispered, circling the desk in two quick steps. Her heels made her a bit taller, but he still towered over her. "You're back."
Her hands reached for the front of his tank top and he let her pull him against her, though the millions of questions still jumbled in his mind begged for answers. He would get them soon. For now, he just wanted to kiss her, and he pulled his mask down with one quick tug.
Their lips met in the middle and his fingers tangled through her hair, pulling strands from her ponytail until the band fell away. She kissed him with a desperation that matched the taste of his own and answered at least a few of those questions burning in his head. He could tell she had missed him just as much as he missed her.
Kakashi pushed her back until her legs hit her desk, sliding it a few inches back along the carpet. A pencil cup tipped over and spilled its contents, but they ignored it. Sakura slid back on the desk and brought him closer with her fingers still clenched around the fabric of his shirt. She reached up to his face and ran the tips of her fingernails over the stubble along his jaw, sending shivers down his spine.
When she pulled away from his lips, her breath was fast and warm, and he inhaled it into deep his lungs. Her eyes were shut tight and he could tell from the look on her face that she was struggling with her emotions. She ducked her head and he pulled her into his arms, letting her rest her head on his chest.
"I have to tell you something," she whispered, making him squeeze his own eyes shut. He didn't want to hear her say the words that he already knew, but he couldn't speak even if he wanted to. "Sasuke came back…last night."
She pulled away and looked up at him. "You do?"
He could only nod and his hands fell away from her arms. He rubbed his eyes and stepped away from her, not even sure how he could ask the questions he needed the answers for. Just thinking them made him want to throw up.
"Does he still think you're together?"
Sakura ducked her head and looked down at her fingers in her lap. "I'm not even sure. We haven't had time to talk about it." She let out a heavy sigh. "I got cornered into dinner with Naruto and Hinata tonight. They want it to be some double date thing and I couldn't say no. But, afterward, I'm going to sit Sasuke down and talk to him."
"What are you going to tell him?" This was one of the questions that he was afraid to hear the answer to. After all the time they had spent together, he knew there was still a part of her that was clinging to the hope that Sasuke would be different in the future.
Sakura shrugged and looked up, her eyes meeting his as she sighed. "I'm going to tell him the truth. That I've been lonely over the last year and when I thought he wasn't coming back, I fell for someone else."
He dragged in a deep breath that shuddered in his chest and he looked away from her, not wanting to look her in the eye when he asked his next question. He wanted to be happy to hear her say she fell for him. It's all he had been wanting to hear for the past few weeks. But he couldn't let himself be happy until he knew…
"Did you sleep with him?"
From the corner of his eye, he could see her jaw fall open in surprise and she quickly clamped it shut before ducking her head again. The silence was enough of an answer and he clenched his jaw tight, waiting for her to speak.
"That's not exactly any of your business, Kakashi."
He cut his eyes back to her. "How would you feel if I had slept with someone else while on my mission?" When she didn't answer him, he continued. "Would you think it's any of your business if I was fucking some random person while you were at home, thinking about me and missing me?"
"Sasuke isn't a random person—"
Kakashi rolled his eyes and paced the length of her office in front of her. "He may as well be a random person. You've only seen him, what, five times in the last four years?"
"Why are you being like this? I made my situation very clear with you from the beginning."
He stopped in front of her and shook his head, feeling that panic and fear starting to weave their cold fingers back through his chest. It blocked any rational part of his mind and he couldn't stop the words before they left his mouth.
"That was before I fell in love with you, Sakura. Back then, I wouldn't have even cared but for the past four days, all I could think about was you and all I wanted to do was just be close to you again and now…" he trailed off, shaking his head. Her eyes were wide and full of so many different emotions it made his throat tighten around his words. With a shrug, he pushed a hand through his hair. "When you figure out what you want, let me know."
He turned, not because he didn't care about what she had to say, but because he knew if he stayed, he wouldn't be able to control his words. It was best to just leave now and hope she chose him. By the time he reached her office door, he could hear her heels on the floor, hurrying after him. At the door, she hesitated and Kakashi dragged in a deep breath.
A part of him wanted her to follow him, to chase him down and tell him exactly what he wanted to hear. But if she couldn't tell him that she chose him, he wanted to get as far away from the hospital as possible. He pushed through the front doors, ignoring the cheery voice of the receptionist telling him to have a good day and didn't stop until he was back on the familiar street where his apartment sat.
Kakashi looked up at the building. It was exactly how he had left it four days ago and he almost didn't want to go inside. It would remind him too much of the day he had left, the day he realized he was in love with the one woman in all of Konoha who he could never have.
AN- Oh, Kakashi, you're such a drama queen. We ALL know I could never write a story where Sakura chooses Sasuke over you! And to prove that point, the next chapter will be rated E...for everyone who loves smut. :D