Nature of the Game
By Leafygirl

Chapter 20: Still Here (Final)

You see everything
You see every part
You see all my light
And you love my dark

You dig everything
Of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything
To which you can't relate

And you're still here.
(Everything – Alanis Morissette)

Slowly, Sakura opened her eyes to still feel the warmth of the chest against her back, the muscular arm draped over her waist. What a wonderful feeling, to wake here, next to him...wrapped up in him. Her morning vision clearing enough to see the clock, she realized it was 5:39 AM. The alarm would go off in six minutes and she knew she had to get up for her mission.

Suddenly, in slow realization, she looked at her shoulder. I forgot the tattoo, she thought in a small panic. Managing to pull out of his warm grasp, she sat up on the side of the bed, her feet touched the soft black bathrobe she had worn over and she dug her toes under it.

She turned to watch him sleeping peacefully making sure he did not wake up. His breath was soft and serene, his eyes closed to the world, the most calm expression on his face. She smiled softly at him.

Today was the day...she was going to tell him when she returned... she wanted to.

She stretched lazily and quietly and leaned down to pick up the bathrobe when she saw the other pile of crumpled articles on the floor. The red swirl of his Jounin shirt called out to her, so she swept it up in her arms, smelling his scent on it. Smiling devilishly, she slipped it on, before pulling on the black bathrobe and silently heading for the door.

With a soft click a moment later, she was gone.

Sitting up on his bed, feeling the warm spot that she previously occupied, Kakashi felt the large, unmistakable grin cross his lips. When she had sat up and got dressed, he watched her, silently following the curve of her back with his eyes, and to his final enlightenment he saw it. A small black tattoo was revealed to him, in the light of the stereo that still played and adorning her beautiful skin...mikomi. Every piece fell into place.

He watched her pause briefly at the kitchen table, her head tipped, pink hair dangling down in front of her face. She was looking at her headband, trying to decide whether to take it or not, and in the end she had left it.

He lay back down, knowing he had nothing he had to get up for today and fell back into blissful sleep, the smile still on his lips.

"Ah, nothing like the smell of black coffee." Sakura mused as she finished getting dressed and strapped the black katana to her back. It was her favorite, lighter than the white one and sleeker looking, it was a new part of her uniform. She sighed softly, just a short mission and then she could be with him.

Standing in her kitchen, she ran her fingers under the strap holding the katana on her. Perhaps it was too precious to her now to use, if she ever broke it she would regret it. Some small thoughts of what to do with it now ran through her sleepy mind. She was ready now and she picked up the steaming coffee that sat upon her table, leaving a heat mark under it. Drinking it in a few quick gulps, she headed for the door. Upon opening it she found a man standing there and she jumped slightly.

"Sasuke?" she felt the shock of seeing him at 6:15 in the morning. He also wore an ANBU outfit and she began to understand why he was there.

"I'll walk you." he said softly, "I actually didn't think you'd be here." His words were cautious and she knew he was wondering how things went last night.

She smiled a calm and contented smile thinking of what had transpired.

"I just got in actually." A smirk crossed both their lips as they moved down the dusty road towards the meeting point for their mission.

"Did you tell him?" Sasuke continued their light conversation.

"No, but I will...tonight. We didn't do much talking last night." She laughed at her admisson and Sasuke's face, as he looked vaguely shocked.

"I'm glad, then we can all put it behind us and get on with our lives." He smiled as they approached the rest of their escort group. He turned to her as everyone nodded that they were there. "Alright, lead the way."

Sakura and Sasuke spent a lot of the day talking along the escort; it wasn't a dangerous one. It turned out that the client was just a big shot and liked everyone to see him with such capable and expensive protection. It was the easiest mission she'd ever had, including babysitting and weeding as a genin.

As they made their way back to Konoha, the trees made sweet rustling sounds and the cool air kept them from sweating in the high sun. Sakura loved October.

They finally arrived back in the hidden village and the group began to leave, having had one of the simplest days in a long time. Sasuke stood with Sakura for a few minutes on the high wall as they were getting ready to cross over. The light breeze blew through them as they stood in silence for a few moments, just enjoying each other's presence.

"I guess it's time then. Is he waiting for you?" he asked, feeling the calmness she was giving off.

"No, but I'll find him. I think I'm going to go and sit for a bit, work out what I'm going to say. I think he'll be happy, but I just want to be prepared." Her face drew a little and he wondered if she was truly happy to give up her secret.

"I'll see you tomorrow then, we should have breakfast with Naruto. What do you say?"

"Sounds good, Sasuke. I'll see you around 10?"

He nodded, then jumped from the wall, Sakura remained there thinking of what she was going to say to Kakashi. She would have to explain her lie, her reasoning, and she was sure now that he would want more detail in what transpired with Kanrei. It would be a long and difficult conversation. Slowly she pulled her mask down and jumped from the high wall towards the soft ground.

Traipsing towards the tree filled edge of Konoha, she stumbled into his favorite clearing, watching the stream as it ebbed softly on the small sandy bank. She finally slipped up into the tree, the same one she had fallen from on her birthday, and sat down, swinging a leg leisurely under her. So many things ran through her mind as she just sat there, thinking of how to begin and how to end the conversation that they had to have.

It had only been a few minutes and she felt the pressure in her chest and the movement in her stomach of those damn butterflies again. Once she cleared everything for them, they could carry on, moving forward together, it had to be done...but how to start?

Her reverie and thoughts were interrupted suddenly, as she felt a presence...a wonderfully familiar one. And then she heard it, her own precious words thrown at her.

"Kunoichi....give me what I want."

She closed her eyes briefly feeling her chest swell strangely, wanting to laugh and cry at the same time. He knew, she wasn't sure how but he knew. She stood slowly and looked down to the clearing to see the handsome silver haired man with mismatched eyes pull his mask away from his face. The gauntlet was down; it was time to play.

"I have given you everything, Kakashi. There is nothing left for me to give." She sighed, it was true, everything she had was his now, every part of her belonged only to him whether she wanted it to or not.

"Then let me give something back." He said softly as he took a step forward.

She jerked slightly with his movement and noticed him crouch a little. She laughed, fully, under the cat mask. She could feel the tears filling in her eyes as happiness spread throughout her, feeling the desperation of how much she had missed this.

They would play their game now, one last time.

"And what if I win, what do I get?" she lit.

"You only have to name it." he said softly.

"Then it's you. If I win I get you."

"You already have me." He smiled as he crouched low and disappeared.

He started and she felt the tickle of adrenaline through her body and the giddy excitement that they would do this, play together.

She leapt down to the clearing and stood still, trying to sense him. He was so good at hiding; she had forgotten his skill. There! He appeared behind her grasping at her shoulders. She had progressed beyond that though as she burst into leaves in his hands.

Immediately she was behind him, holding a kunai at his neck.

"You've gotten slow, Jounin." She laughed.

"Have I?" A voice said behind her as her kunai was pulled to her own throat, the man in front vanishing. She curled into his chest holding out the blade, sweeping his arm around her and rolling him down to the grass. He kicked her off as she pressed a knee onto his leg. They split apart, and dropping her weapon, she threw some kicks at him.

He smiled as he blocked and looked for an opening. She had improved so much and he was enjoying this beyond comprehension. It was almost as if nothing had changed.

She laughed behind her mask as their hands knocked each other away and as she landed a strong kick in his stomach, he disappeared. Her legs were suddenly swept out from under her as she landed hard on the ground, his strong, warm body pressed on top of her.

"I win." He smiled

"You always win."

"I think you could have stopped me now, if you really wanted to."

He looked at her eyes through the mask, and she could feel the build up of everything that they had waited for coming clear in this moment.

"Claim your prize then." She whispered.

For a moment Kakashi just looked at her mask, and then ran his finger over the blue teardrop. Ever so slowly, he began to raise it revealing a quivering chin, soft pink lips, red tinged cheeks and the green eyes that took his breath away.

He pushed the hood away from her head, revealing her pink tresses, and carefully, with his face so close to hers he let his fingers slide through it. His eyes perused her face slowly, a tender look on his own.

"Kakashi...I...I wanted to tell you but I was so angry at how you left. I understand now that it was wrong to get upset with you but it was so hard with you gone. I was so lonely and nothing felt good anymore. When I came to get you...there were so many reasons that I didn't want you to know it was me. But right now, I can't think of any that made sense. All I wanted was you here and safe, I couldn't let you die, I couldn't let you go.

I just....I wanted...." the tears were streaming down her as she cried for him and for her, for the months of separation and the relief that it was over and they could go on. She looked at his serene expression and the large smile on his lips. She was puzzled by it, she was sure he'd be angry. "Wh...why are you smiling like that...say something..." she said almost pleadingly.

"I wanted it to be badly." He whispered, and without hesitation he pressed his soft lips to hers as she cried harder. They lay in the grassy field, their bodies entwined in a heated kiss as her arms slipped tightly around him, she could kiss him forever, she would never let him go.

The Jounin headquarters were quiet that morning as Sakura sat scratching away at some paper, writing the boring report for the previous days mission. Her focus was gone, she just couldn't stop staring at the silver haired Ninja writing his own report on the other side of the room.

Sitting in a blue swiveling office chair with one leg up on it, she used her other foot to turn her back and forth slightly, the black sword still strapped to the back of her ANBU outfit. She no longer wore the hood, but still kept that sword, her mask was laid on the top of her head holding her hair back. The cracked and chewed pen end she was using was continuously in her mouth as her far away, dreamy look focused on him.

Looking up at her, Kakashi couldn't help but smile. Things were back to normal, with a few added perks. The two months since he had returned had become some of the happiest for him in such a long time. They shared so much now, their pasts, their interests, their beds. He couldn't get enough of her and obviously she felt the same.

Did she even know he had looked up at her, her eyes were so dazed and focused on him, he had to laugh. He pointed at her and she blinked and pulled out of her reverie. His finger pointed down to the paper in front of him and she looked down at her own paper.

It didn't take long for her to look up again, wanting to drink the sight of him with her eyes but was shocked at what she saw. She jerked her head around noticing he was gone. Looking back and forth, she suddenly felt the swift spin of the chair around to the back to see the green vest directly in front of her. She smiled as he leaned on the arms of the chair moving his face close to hers.

"I'll never get finished if you don't stop looking at me like that."

"Like what?" she smirked

"Like you want me to grab you and throw you on this table."

"Thank god, I worried it wouldn't be clear enough." She smiled so playfully at him.

"I'm going to be done in ten minutes. I doubt you will." He smirked. "It's too bad, I don't have any plans for this afternoon."

"Oh, I'll be done, and you can be damn sure you've got plans." She looked at his masked lips.

"Well then, meet me at my place." And with that he disappeared and reappeared at the table he was working on. She could tell by his exposed eye that he was still smiling.

As they worked, she noticed Genma walk over and sit at Kakashi's table. They talked for a moment and then Kakashi got up and wandered back over to Sakura's table.

"Sorry, we'll have to break our plans. Tsunade wants to see me." He said sounding very disappointed.

"Um, alright. Hi Genma."

Genma nodded at her but did not look happy. The two men left and her mind began to spin as she continued to work on her report. If it was hard to concentrate before, it was impossible now. What could she want. Sakura thought that if he got sent on another mission like the last one she would be doing some serious Hokage ass kicking.

The minutes ticked by. Finally by the time she had finished, a half hour had passed and she sighed continually wondering why Kakashi was with Tsunade. Standing slowly, she passed in the report and headed for the door. It was a dismal day, raining and dark. Just the sort of day she would have loved to crawl under the covers with Kakashi and stay there, sharing their warmth between passionate lovemaking sessions.


Sakura spun to see Shizune standing there, she held Tsunade's pink pig and looked somewhat calmer and more professional than she usually did.

"Sakura, Tsunade wants to see you. You can go right up to her office."


"You should go see her about that." Shizune turned and with tiny steps almost jogged away.

"Crap." Sakura walked the short way to the Hokages office and stood outside the door wondering what had happened. She never got called there, and Kakashi had been called first. Sounded like bad news to her and her fingers quivered slightly as she knocked.

"Come in." the statuesque blonde's voice was stern as Sakura timidly opened the door.

"Sakura. Sit down." She barked as Sakura's eyes perused the other occupants of the room. Suddenly she understood what was going on as she watched the back of the blonde Hokage, turned completely away from her and staring out the window.

Her eyes met each of the others, Kakashi, Sasuke, Genma, Neji and Shikamaru all stood or sat around the room and looked calm and serious. Sakura took a place in a lone chair directly in front of the Hokage's desk.

"I figure by who you see in this room that you understand why you are here." She said sternly.

Sakura's throat was dry and she found it hard to speak. "Y..yes, Lady Hokage."

"You must be quite a woman to have these men wrapped around your finger. All willing to lie or keep quiet for you; denying everything! Such loyalty, I should punish you all!"

Kakashi turned from his leaning position at the side wall to look at the profile of Tsunade's face. She was smiling, but Sakura couldn't see it. Looking back at Sakura, Kakashi could see the fright in her face, she was terrified that she would lose one of her two great loves. ANBU.

"Running off and lying to the Hokage of your village. Risking your life and the entire operation. Stealing information for your own purposes. Going to retrieve a Jounin that we clearly indicated we would not be able to rescue and destroying an entire enemy complex in the process. What the hell where you thinking?" she turned and banged her hand on her desk, regaining her angry look. "I want an answer. I should kick you out of the Shinobi all together for this."

"I...I couldn't...I couldn't leave him." She said sitting up a little and suddenly finding some resolve. She wasn't ashamed of what she did. It was for love and she would never regret it. He was standing there because of her. "I'd do it again if I had to go back."

Tsunade sighed. She knew why she had done it. It was something Tsunade would have done herself it had been her deceased love Dan in that situation. She didn't blame Sakura at all and found herself incredibly impressed with the girl she didn't think was that capable.

"You almost got away with it, you know. Aren't you curious as to how I know? None of these five would say anything." She motioned to the men standing around the room.

"Yes Lady Hokage." She said, suddenly realizing she must have missed something in her plan.

Tsunade reached into the pocket of her long green coat and pulled out an object, tossing it to Sakura, who caught it easily.

"You made the bingo book." She said softly.

"Wh...what?" she whispered as she leafed through it, looking for whatever Tsunade was talking about.

"New additions on the last page." Tsunade turned and smiled at Kakashi, who looked impressed and pleased.

Sakura turned directly to it, her wide eyes running over the page.

Aliases: Pink Devil, Neko, Mikomi

Suspected to be Konoha ANBU.
Description: Female, Pink hair, green eyes, approx 5,6, approx 110 pds, tattoos

Weapons: Senbon, Explosives, Black Katana, Kunai, Jutsu

Allegations and Abilities:

Suspected to have destroyed former complex of Zetsumeikage.
Suspected to have killed Zetsumeikage, Kanrei
Suspected to have expert knowledge of fire explosives and jutsus
Suspected to have killed 3 S-class criminals
Suspected to have killed 18 ninjas in service of Zetsumeikage
Suspected to have attempted to kill Sand Physician linked to espionage

Motives: Unknown

There was more, but her fingers shook too much to finish reading it. She couldn't believe what she was seeing.

"" she whispered.

"Well Sakura, you understand what this means don't you? If you still want the Hunter-nin position it's yours." Tsunade smirked.

Sakura glanced over at Kakashi and smiled a little. He knew why she requested it, so did everyone else in the room but now the motive was no longer necessary.

"I'm not really interested in that anymore." She bowed her head a little and looked upwards at the beautiful Hokage.

"Just as I thought," Tsunade said as she sat down at her desk, "well the other alternative is the lead planner of the ANBU division. Shikamaru has just been promoted to head of intelligence for ANBU and his position is up for grabs. Interested?"

"YES! Um..oh..yes ma'am." Her excitement took over as she felt her fingers trembling around the bingo book.

"Alright Haruno, report tomorrow to Shikamaru for briefing on your new position and feel free to keep the book." Tsunade smiled. "Take the rest of the day off."

Sakura stood up and looked at the faces watching her, everyone smiled and as they moved over to her to congratulate her she felt like she would burst. Even Tsunade was excited for her.

They all began to walk out of the office after feeling the relief of having it over with, heading in their different directions. They all darted away splashing puddles through the rainy streets as the two remaining ninja stood looking at each other.

"So, about those plans?" Sakura looked up at the silver haired love of her life.

"Still up for it? I thought you might want to celebrate." He smirked.

"Oh, we are going to celebrate." She teased, "I already thought of what a perfect day this would be to just get into bed and never leave."

"Funny, that's what I had in mind."

Laughing, they walked quickly to Kakashi's apartment. As they slipped inside out of the rain, the pink haired Kunoichi sat down on the bed while unstrapping the beautiful sleek black katana from her back. Kakashi went to his kitchen area, getting the kettle ready for some tea as he turned to see her admiring the dark weapon in her hands.

Approaching her now, he stopped and leaned on the wall. "Have I told you how much I love that ANBU uniform on you?"

"Only every time you see me in it."

He kneeled in front of her and kissed her neck. "I'd rather peel it off you." he spoke against her.

"So what are you waiting for?" she laughed. He took hold of the black katana and felt it's weight and admired its beautiful sheath as he moved to sit on the bed beside her. "You know, it reminds me of you. Beautiful and unique, but underneath there is hidden strength."

She smiled at his analogy. "I really love it, but I think I want to hang it on my wall now. I'm going to give Tsunade the black shirt I took to be put away in the archives, but I want to keep the sword. I want to hang it over my fireplace to remember that I am capable and to never forget what happened... and why I did it all. I want to wake up everyday and see it." Her fingers grasped gently at the side of his pants, gripping slightly.

She turned towards him and he smiled as he set the sword down beside the bed, looking at her sideways.

"You know, I think it would look better over my fireplace." He smirked.

"What? You want me to give it to you?" she shook her head thinking he was joking.

"No." he smiled, still looking forwards.

The understanding dawned on her of what he was asking and she felt the sudden swell in her chest as butterflies fought in her stomach.

Turning to her, he placed a hand on her waist and another on her cheek as he lay her back on the bed, hovering above her. Her pink hair splayed out around her as his fingers touched her cheek, then slowly started undoing her ANBU uniform.

"Stay" he whispered as he looked in her eyes.

"I will" she smiled through her tears.

"Stay forever." He lowered and began to kiss her neck as she tipped her head back allowing him to have all of her.

"I will."

Damn I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

So, I broke into the world of Lemons in this one and I had someone say they liked the second one best. I'm inclined to agree that I liked that one best too as well as the chapter it was attached to. I may never do another with a story though. I still feel guilty that there are probably eyes reading it that shouldn't. Eventually they will be gone from my profile, so read them while you can.

I'd just like to say that this story may not be done. I had a little storyline pick at my brain today that would go along nicely where this one left off. I won't do it yet, but I am quite sure I will go back and continue, but for now consider this done.

At times I hated this story and times I loved it. I appreciate all the wonderful reviews I have gotten over the span of it and also all the wonderful people who followed it. I enjoy the new acquaintances and friends I have made over at the LJ Kakasaku community too. It's been a wonderful place to hang out because I can share this common interest with such interesting people. Kakasaku seems to be the itch I need to scratch.

I wish I could thank everyone personally for all the wonderful encouragement but I know I'd forget someone and feel guilty. Anyone who reviewed, please take this as a personal thank-you. I read each one and went back at times to check your input and remarks. I wish I could tell you how the story began and was supposed to go and how some of your fun reviews changed it. (Primarily Sasuke's character.) but it would take up another chapter, it really changed since I started.

I fully intend to do more Kakasaku and if you look on my profile, there is a little story called Inspiration that I posted over at another site. I'm going to do a nejisaku next but haven't started it yet, it's there, I just have to get it typed out. Very Soon. I do post snippets and one-shots from time to time on my journal too, if you're ever there.

I just loved when people told me I converted them to Kakasaku...heh heh -my job is done. I'll try to convert you to Neji/saku next. From the bottom of my heart, thanks again.

Love Leafygirl