"Jesus," Anko started, leaning against the doorframe, "You look like HELL."

At a desk in the room, with his fingers rubbing his temples and surrounded by a mountain of paperwork, Gekkou Hayate simply replied with an exhausted groan.

Anko closed the door and crossed the room towards him, setting herself casually in the chair in front of his desk. He ignored her very plainly as she picked up some of the paperwork off his desk and examined it. He pulled his face away from his hands and went back to his work.

"Chuunin exam shit," she rolled her eyes, and all but threw the paper away. "I can't wait until all this is over. You workin' tonight?"

Hayate opened his mouth to reply, but what came out was a violent coughing fit, which he quickly covered with his fist.

"Yeah," he finally replied weakly, "I'm on watch tonight."

Anko shook her head sadly. "That's bull. You shouldn't be working in your condition. You don't look ANY better since the Chuunin preliminary matches. Have you had any time since then to see the doctor? I hope you aren't contagious."

"If I am, I promise you'll be the first to know," he impassively replied, buried once again in his paperwork.

"Well I hope you have cough drops, or you'll give your position away when your lungs explode."

"I can hold it in when I have to," he tiredly responded, still not raising his eyes towards her.

"And that's precisely when your lungs will explode," Anko smirked. "I don't think I feel safe with you on watch tonight. Your illness will end up being the death of us all."

"I doubt it. Nothing worthwhile ever happens while I'm on watch, anyways."

"Then I think you should call in sick."

"That's ridiculous," Hayate rolled his eyes towards her, finally raising his head. Again, he coughed, but only once his time. "Ninjas don't get sick days. Unless my intestines are splayed across the city, there's no need to decline my mission."

"But if you work with your senses all foggy, you'll end UP with your intestines splayed, as you described." Anko shifted in her seat, facing him very seriously now, trying to win him over with logic. "You can't possibly operate at your maximum potential feeling like Death Warmed Up."

"I have DayQuil. I'm fine." Again he wasn't bothering to look at her, beginning to wonder when she would let him finish his paperwork before he had to set out for work.

"When was the last time you got a full night's sleep?" She raised a questioning eyebrow, interrogating him.

"Full night? I'm confident I had at least one of those this week."

"No WONDER you're ill!" she was almost laughing at him. Hayate had the worst personal hygiene of any ninja she knew, hands down. "Your girlfriend must be ready to KILL you!"

Hayate sighed, and finally raised his dark, shadowed eyes to her, a pained and tired look visible on his features. Anko could now plainly see the sickly yellow hue of his skin, the hollowed out look in his eyes, the ragged threads of brown hair hanging loosely around his face. She couldn't help but to feel genuinely sorry for him at that moment.

"Anko," he said very plainly, startling her with his serious tone. Recognizing that she was about to get a lecture, Anko gave him a sheepish look as he continued.

"I know I'm not in any condition to take missions. I would love to stay home and sleep, for at least one day. But because of the Chuunin exams, and more than that- because of Orochimaru…." He paused, allowing Anko to consider his words. She frowned darkly, resisting the urge to touch the permanent seal on her shoulder just at the sound of his name. Hayate knew that she, more than anyone else, understood the threat that he presented. She sighed agitatedly, averting her eyes from him, now sorry to have ever brought the subject up. It was painful, the number of people Orochimaru made to suffer simply by existing.

Hayate sighed and shook his head, observing the sorry look on her face. He knew she was only looking out for him. It was actually a very kind gesture, sort of like Anko's way of letting him know she cared.

"Besides," he finished, letting his previous argument drop, "I need the money." He faced his paperwork again, but found he was now unable to concentrate. Anko nodded astutely, and stood up.

"I understand. You're very dedicated to your work. That's admirable. I suppose we need more ninja like you." She smiled pleasantly, and turned towards the door. "Good luck tonight, Hayate. Take care of yourself."

"Can you keep a secret?"

Anko froze dead in her tracks. The sudden change of subject was alarming, but more than that, nothing could have captured her attention to thoroughly as those words. She quickly turned back to him, a grin on her face.

"I'm a shinobi," she smiled mischievously. "I can keep the best secrets."

He smiled weakly in response, and reached into his pocket. Anko loomed curiously over his desk, as he pulled out of his jacket a small, velvet box. Her mouth fell open in amazement as he opened the box to reveal a gold ring with a small, sparkling diamond.

"I'm going to ask her to marry me."

She was absolutely speechless. It took all the strength of will she possessed not to start squealing with girlish glee. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, until she finally smiled broadly, crossing her arms over her chest.

"…You gonna wait till after you get over that cold?"

"Of course I am," he replied with a smirk, closing the box and replacing it in his vest pocket. 'That wouldn't be very romantic."

"How are you gonna do it?" She asked excitedly, the female within her quickly taking control of her actions at the prospect of a future wedding, "Do you have a plan?"

"I thought I'd ask her over a nice dinner or something," he replied proudly, a slight blush tinting his sickly cheeks.

"BORING!" Anko scolded his teasingly with her hands on her hips. "You can do better than that. She may not seem like the type, but I bet she'd adore a flashy proposal." She grinned and winked at him. Hayate laughed lightly.

"I don't know if I'm the 'flashy' type but I'll think about it tonight." He started to gather up his paperwork, and coughed again. Anko couldn't help but to smile affectionately.

"The last stage of the Chuunin exam is tomorrow, it's gonna be busy as Hell," she began, sort of distantly. "Everyone available is on guard duty for that, with all the lords and nobles and who have you coming to watch the Uchiha/Sand Kid fight."

She put her hand assuredly on his shoulder and smiled genuinely.

"It'll be over after that, though. You can take a day off to get better, and plan your wedding. Hang in there, and take care of yourself, Hayate."

He smiled and patted her hand, and she turned to leave the room. As she closed the door, she heard him coughing behind her. Anko smiled a little. She knew that Hayate would be okay.