AN: wow, bet you weren't expecting a second chapter were you? XD hope you enjoy it!

Young Enough

"What were you doing, shopping in that condition?" she asked you, green eyes flashing with exasperation.

It was silly really, for you to feel so intimidated, so vulnerable in the presence of an 18 year old girl. You, an elite jounin, a man of 32, renowned as the formidable Copy ninja, Konoha's youngest ninja academy graduate and longest serving ANBU member, possessor of the Sharingan, with 38 successfully completed S rank missions under your belt, a number unrivalled among your peers.

Yet none of it seemed to matter, when this girl looked at you as she did then, with the professionally affronted gaze of a medic to an unruly patient, which, on her features, is easily interchangeable with the scowl of an outraged genin at her tardy, perverted sensei.

You laid on her couch, eating food that she prepared, while she stood over you, arms akimbo and green eyes narrowed to make sure that you ate all of it, because, according to her, 'You obviously need some nutrition. I can't believe you were just going to go home and drink milk!'

Which was a patently absurd statement. Of course you weren't going to just drink milk, your kitchen was stocked with nutritious food, and your fridge contained plenty of juice and milk…

So why were you out shopping for milk?

You stopped to puzzle out that one, and she came over to you and snatched your bowl, returning with it in a few minutes, filled with some steaming, savoury concoction. You smiled up at her, grateful, but you still waited until she left the room before you would slip down your mask.

No one had seen your face in a very long time, and sometimes you wondered idly if anyone ever would. Maybe after you were dead, you thought. Death was something that used to pre-occupy you a lot, probably because it had taken all of your precious people away from you without mercy, leaving you alone.

But now, even on a mission, caught in a life-threatening situation, death is actually the last thing on your mind, overwhelmed by your thoughts of her and how you'll be damned if you'll leave her standing in front of that memorial stone, tracing your name with her tears.

Why did you stop to buy milk that day?

Because after you had finished reporting to the Hokage on your mission, when you were wandering homeward, still drained and numb from the things you had done in

the name of duty to this village, a head of petal-pink hair disappearing through the doors of the supermarket had caught your eye amid the dullness of your surroundings.

And you had followed that pink head, watching the girl, chuckling inwardly at the sight of a skilled chuunin stretching and jumping futilely, trying to reach the bottle of soy sauce on the top shelf.

Even as you watched her, admiring the sheen of her hair, the scrunching of her delicate features as she glared up at the elusive soy sauce, you could feel warmth permeating your entire body.

It was nice to watch her, you thought then. And even nicer to see the blush on her cheeks, to feel her small white hand in yours as you took down the sauce for her. Bending down to her was really an excuse to get a better look at her face, to sniff the fragrance of her hair. So what if Pakkun used the same shampoo; it still smelled good.

Her reaction to your goodbye was wholly unexpected. You remember being surprised at the strength with which she dragged you down to face her, and being struck by the light of desperation in her clear green eyes as she paused, before lunging forward and kissing you.

For the first time in twenty years, the mask felt like an obstruction, rather than a protection.

It was one of the most terrifying things you'd ever done, following her into the park, catching her, asking her 'why?' Terrifying because you knew, you just knew that the reason would be no more than teenage rebellion or a twisted cry for acknowledgement and that if that was the case, then you wouldn't take it very well.

And then…then, when she leaned into you, gazing up with those huge eyes, whispering those soft words, "But old enough to know what I want, Kakashi," your heart seemed to stop, and you knew you never wanted her to call you sensei again.

And for a moment, so strongly, you felt very young. Young enough to be foolish, which was something you had had to leave behind when you were five years old and impressing the academy teachers with your precocity. Young enough and foolish enough to crush her to you, casting all caution to the wind, taking greedily with both hands whatever she would offer you, before the moment passed.

You also felt light-headed, but that was just the fatigue catching up with you. If you had been awake, you might have been embarrassed that an 18 year old girl and former student was half-dragging you through the streets of Konoha.

She had been so young and stubborn.

So beautiful, so full of life.

And so full of love; love that you did not deserve, that you would not accept.

At least, that was what your idea had been.

She, however, had had other ideas.


You turn at the sound of her whisper and catch your breath at the sight of her, standing patiently at your side, looking up at you expectantly.

You turn back to the Hokage, who is standing before you both, dressed in her official robes, waiting for you to answer the question she has just read from the great book opened before her.

You open your mouth. It takes two tries to get an audible sound out of your suddenly dry throat, and from somewhere behind you, there are a few snickers and whispers of "cold feet!"

No, I can do this!

"I will."

Applause breaks out behind you and you barely hear the Hokage pronouncing you as husband and wife before Haruno Sakura, your wife, is in your arms, veil thrown back and lips pressed to yours.

There had been a moment, a moment when you had felt so young and so foolish. And you knew then that really, all along, you were young enough.

Young enough to love, young enough to open your heart, to bare yourself once more to the risk of losing a precious person, young enough to give of yourself all that she will take.

This time, there is no black silk mask.