Title: Late Night Stumbling

Spoilers: None really, takes place after the other two "Late Night" stories

Rating: PG-13 for a few swear words and some alcohol use

Summary: It was supposed to be an easy mission. But when has Sakura's luck ever been that good? Once again, student and teacher battle boring conversations, embarrassing situations and would be attackers

Disclaimer: Don't own it, wish I did

Authors Notes: I'm giving in to the sporking. Big thanks to my beta Poetsoul (go read her stuff at under the name Poetsoul). As always, thoughts are in italics. Taste the rainbow.

Feedback: Do I have to beg? I will

Sakura wasn't sure just how it was that she ended up in this situation. She didn't want to be here, if she had a choice she would rather be back in the hot spring situation, or any of the other embarrassing situations that seemed to plague her.

" 'Come on, it'll be a fun and easy mission' he says. Easy maybe, but the last thing this is, is fun," Sakura thought, recalling what Kakashi had said before the team had departed for their latest hired task.

"How come I'm the one who has to do this?" She asked herself, looking at herself in the mirror that was on the wall. Normally she would have been pleased with her appearance, but now, she felt like she was being shafted in her role for this mission.

She was pulled from her musings by a knock at the door; she turned and faced it but did not cross to open it. She had a feeling that she knew who was behind it, and at the moment she wasn't to happy with him. And since she currently wasn't in a position to threaten anyone (it just wouldn't work with the way she was dressed) she settled for just calling out.

"Yes, what?" Sakura said, raising her voice from its normal volume.

"Sakura, are you finished in there?" Kakashi asked from the other side of the door.

"No, not yet. I still have to put on my make-up," a somewhat sarcastic response filtered out from the small bedroom where Sakura was housed.

Kakashi sighed slightly, she was not happy at the moment. And she had no qualms about letting him know it. He was happy that he had taken away her sword before giving her the outfit she was supposed to wear for the night. Otherwise the garment in question may not have made it. He decided it would be best to let her finish up in there, it least for another few minutes. Then he would make her come out, so instead he decided to turn around and deal with the other two disgruntled members of the team.

"Kakashi-sensei, why does Sakura get to go to the party and we don't?" Naruto asked.

"You get to go," he answered.

"No, we get to go and try our best not to be seen," pouted Naruto "We don't even get to eat the food."

"And thus we get to the heart of the matter," Kakashi thought.

"It won't be that bad," he said out lout, trying to placate his two male charges "It least you don't have to get dressed up and pretend to enjoy stuffy society."

"These masks suck, how do you put up with it?" Sasuke finally decided to join in the conversation.

"Yeah, what was wrong with our normal clothes?" Naruto said pulling irritably at the thin cloth mask that both boys had on over the lower half of their faces.

"You can almost see them pout through those things. I suppose it's the only way Sasuke would actually pout in public though," Kakashi thought, taking in the sight of the boys who had been dressed in black from head to toe, including face masks almost identical to the one Kakashi always wore. Naruto hadn't been too happy about the wardrobe change, he liked his normal outfit. Kakashi on the other hand thought it was an improvement for the standard orange clad genin. And Sasuke couldn't stop from pulling at the material covering his noise and mouth.

"You're not to be seen, this is the best way. The guests aren't supposed to know that there are ninja's present," Kakashi said, he too had put aside his jounin uniform and was wearing all black, similar to an ANBU uniform "And I put up with the masks through years of practice."

The boys didn't know if he was being serious or not. But they still weren't happy. The mission was supposed to be a walk in the park, security for a nobleman's daughter's engagement. He wanted some extra assurances in addition to his normal protection forces. Naruto, Kakashi and Sasuke would be watching unseen while Sakura got the part of surveying from the thick of the crowd. In other words: undercover. As the boys complained, their team mate was in her small room putting on an assortment of fancy clothing and jewelry.

She hadn't been happy, and when Kakashi had tried to smooth her over by saying that she got to keep the dress, she had thrown a kunai at him. He had been so impressed at not only the throw, but the fact that she had the nerve to hurl a weapon at him he hadn't retaliated or scolded her. Instead he just caught it and handed it back to her and told her to make sure to pack her make up kit.

"You'd think that they'd be happy with the fact that they were getting another C-rank mission," the jounin thought. In fact, after the way they had handled the other missions that were supposedly beyond the capabilities of a genin the Hokage had been giving them more advanced missions "But no, they just gripe about the clothes. I hope I wasn't as much of a handful when I was a genin." Even though he knew that he had been, if not more so.

"So how long is this party supposed to last?" asked Sasuke.

"Late, most likely real late knowing these society types. There'll be a lot of drinking, so watch out for drunken fist fights. Just because they're rich doesn't mean they won't get wasted and start insulting someone they don't like. Also, keep eyes out for people trying to sneak into the party. It's common for it to happen. And lastly, keep your attention on everyone, not just the family."

Kakashi vaguely wondered if he should tell them not to spend all night staring at the girls either, but seeing that he had never seen either boy show any interest in a girl he decided that it was safe to leave that part out.

"Now, are you ready?" He asked.

Both boys nodded at him, "Okay then, head on over and get into position before all the guests start arriving. I'm going to make sure that Sakura had everything she needs before I get there." Kakashi finished and watched two of his students turn and leave the small suite that had been given to the team during their stay in the massive compound of one of the Fire country's noble families.

Now that they were gone, it might me easier to get his female student out of her room. "Sakura, you need to come out now."

"Don't I have time?" She asked.

"Yes, but we need to go over a few things," Kakashi said patiently, "It's your first time undercover after all."

"There is no way that any respectable ninja could be taken seriously dressed like this," Sakura thought.

"All right, I'll be right out," she called to her teacher. She stepped back a few paces and took in her appearance reflected in the full length mirror that was fastened to the wall. As satisfied as she was going to get with her present attire she sighed and turned to leave the room.

Kakashi looked up and focused on the door way as Sakura came out. He honestly hadn't been prepared for how she was going to look.

"She barely looks like my student, and she certainly doesn't look thirteen," Kakashi thought.

Sakura had been given an almost ball gown like dress. It was white with a full skirt and an almost corset-like bodice that had thick straps in place of sleeves. Pink blossoms were embroidered along the hem and crawled around the bodice. The flowers matched her hair color perfectly, if he hadn't know for a fact that the family had only been given her size he would have thought that the dress was selected for that fact alone. Jewelry had also been provided, although that was going to be retuned at the completion of the mission. Small silver hoops were in her ears and there were delicate bracelets on both of her wrists. Some kind of pink stone was woven into silver roping to make a necklace that lay a fraction below her collar bone.

Her hair was in several braids and twisted up and around her head in a complicated pattern that was held in place with silver hair sticks. Well, it least to the untrained eye they looked like hair sticks. Upon closer inspection, Kakashi saw that they were actually a lesser used ninja weapon disguised by some dangling charms at the wider end of each stick. Not quite as sharp as one would normally expect but when thrown or just jabbed correctly they could cause a lot of damage. She had also managed to get a hold of several of the smaller versions of the senbon needles and was using them to fasten her hair in place as well.

All this combined with the make up that she was wearing made her look like some kind of princess or socialite. The last thing anyone would think looking at her would be 'ninja', which was exactly what they had been going for, he just wasn't prepared for his student to look quite so beautiful, and while intellectually he knew that Sakura was pretty. But it had never really been hammered home until now.

"In a year or two, this one is going to have half the single men of Konoha chasing her," He thought of his student fondly, when he had met her he had noticed the fact that she was pretty, but when she looked like this he was stuck with a distinctly protective feeling for her, to keep an eye out for guys. He knew that she could take care of herself. And since she had acquired her katana, most would think twice about crossing her. "I didn't think that they'd grow up so fast. And I've known them for less than a year. I finally think that I understand Iruka."

"Well?" Sakura asked shrilly, breaking into his thoughts.

"What?" He countered.

"Why are you staring at me like that? Is there something wrong with the dress?" She said her head down and letting her eyes and hands roam over the dress, trying to see if there was something out of place.

"No, I've just wasn't quite prepared for how you would look," Kakashi said honestly.

"I knew it, I look like an idiot," Sakura thought.

"That or he's just being perverted," Inner Sakura countered.

"Hey, just because we think he's hot doesn't mean he's going to repay the complement. He's twice our age," Sakura scolded her other self.

"I look stupid don't I?" She asked, hoping to keep the nervousness out of her voice.

It didn't work, he heard it loud and clear. "No, far from it. You look," he searched for an appropriate word, "stunning. I was just thinking that this must be what its like to be a parent and realize that your child isn't a child anymore."

Sakura grinned widely before trying to cover it to keep her mask of displeasure about her situation on her face. However, she didn't have to pretend at her teacher's next statement.

"You need to take off your weapons pouch."

"What?!" Sakura most definitely did not like that.

"I can tell you have it on, every time the dress moves you can see it strapped to your leg. The second you start walking it will be obvious," he replied.

"But, Kakashi-sensei, I need weapons," she complained as she hitched the skirt of her dress up on one side and unstrapping the pouch before tossing it onto a nearby chair.

"Need? Are you forgetting all the ninjutsu, genjutsu and hand to hand that you know?" Kakashi asked

"My hand to hand works better with a kunai," she mumbled "I miss my katana."

"Be careful not to get too attached to that sword. You never know when you'll have to do without it," he warned.

"I know that, I just really like it. And you have to admit that I'm good with it."

She was, in fact, Sakura was good with most weapons. There were times Kakashi considered the fact that she could just as easy become a weapons specialist as she could a medic nin. And since she had been studying both since the fateful night when she had acquired the sword (and a large scar courtesy of it) he was often stuck by a healthy sense irony that she was as good as cutting people up as she was putting them back together. But her proficiency for medical ninjutsu was greater due to her near perfect chakra control so he was glad that she focused more on that than she did steal.

"Besides, Gai's only girl student is a weapons specialist. I don't want to give him any more ways to compare us. Last thing I need is constantly hearing about how his weapons student far surpasses mine," he thought, although in truth he knew that he had decent bragging material with his own group of genin. "Besides," he allowed himself to think smugly, "That girl of his can only fight. Sakura is the smartest in her class can fight and she can heal others."

There really was no contest, although Kakashi would never voice that thought aloud.

"Yes, in fact you've gotten kind of scary with it. I don't think Naruto will ever try and take a part of your lunch again," he said, allowing a tiny measure of disapproval to slip into his voice as he recalled the incident when Sakura had slung her blade out across the top of her team mates head when he had tried to steal something out of her lunch box. He had been fine; the only thing lost was a few strands of his blonde hair. While it had been a bit of an over reaction it had also been very funny. If not for the fact that he was skilled in hiding his emotions he would have laughed.

"Hey, I said I was sorry for that," she said allowing herself a blush as she recalled her rash actions.

"Hey, that wasn't our fault. It was totally PMS; you'd think that they'd recognize the warning signs of it by now," Inner Sakura said.

"I know you did, and if I hadn't thought you were sincere about it, you'd still be running laps around the village for willingly endangering one of your teammates," Kakashi said, letting his eyes drift over her again, scanning a second time for obvious weapons. There were several cleverly concealed on her, but unless there was another highly skilled undercover ninja at the party or she was groped by some serious wandering hands no one else would be able to suspect anything out of the ordinary.

Sakura reached down to adjust the waist band of the dress; shifting it back after it she had pulled it askew to remove the weapons. After all, she still had many others she could draw upon should the need arise. He hair style alone held a small arsenal and there were kunai, shuriken and senbon at strategic places. Not to mention a few other things she thought may come in handy.

"If only they had given me some decent shoes," she thought, Sakura had dismayed at the sight of the heels that had come delivered with the dress. They were shiny and pink. And if that weren't bad enough, they were to ridiculously high with ribbons for ties. There was no way she'd be able to run in them without using chakra for balance.

"Well, anything else?" She asked her teacher when she noticed that he was still searching for visible instruments of pain.

"Well nothing to the naked eye. But come here," he said.


"I need to touch you."

"EXCUSE ME?!" She shrieked.

"That's it, find your sword and cut off his hands." Inner Sakura was raging inside her head and even though Sakura knew that there was no way she would have a chance against her teacher, she was tempted to follow the advice of her inner self.

"Well, that came out wrong," he thought.

"I'm going to dance with you."

Sakura calmed down with her teachers last statement, even if she didn't follow it. "Huh?"

"You're going to have to dance, which means that men are going to be placing their hands at certain places on you. I'm going to do the same to see if there are any obvious bumps that anyone would be able to tell are weapons," Kakashi explained.

"Do you really think that I'm going to have to dance? I mean, wouldn't I have to be asked first?" She asked naively.

"Yes, trust me. There will be several people that will want to dance with you," he said, her constant rebuttals from Sasuke most likely had put a damper on how she saw herself. He was happy to see her eyes light up even though she kept the rest of her face neutral.

"If you say so," she sighed and moved forward to dance with her teacher. But before he could reach out to take her hand she stopped. "Kakashi-sensei, just tell me why I'm the one who got this part." In reality, she was stalling somewhat. She had never been that good at dancing and she didn't want to make a fool out of herself in front of someone who saw her on a regular basis.

"To late for that, or do I have to remind you of the hot springs, the hidden tattoos or the shopping debacle," Inner Sakura said sharply.

"No, but it'd be nice if you kept your mouth shut. I'm nervous already," Sakura shot back just as sharply.

"Didn't I already explain this?" Kakashi asked.

"Actually, you didn't. You just gave me the box with the dress and said that the hosts had given it to you," Sakura answered.

"Well, that certainly explains why they kept asking me why they got assigned to their various duties," Kakashi said to himself. But he took a big breath to explain.

"You were the obvious choice. Out of the three, you know how to best behave in that sort of environment. Neither of the boys has had much experience with parties. Naruto never had the opportunity to go and Sasuke wouldn't go even if he was invited. And if we put Naruto in your place, he'd just be waylaid by the buffet table and he doesn't know the meaning of modulating your voice. If we sent Sasuke, he'd spend most of the night fighting off girls and I'm pretty sure that his less than warm attitude would just insult the hosts," Kakashi explained.

"I guess that makes sense, I'm the most likely to not stand out and not to be bothered by adoring men," Sakura agreed, even thought it was a slight sting in the ego to admit it.

"Well, that was before you put on that dress," he said.

"Now you're just being nice."

"No, I'm not that nice. Believe me when I say that you will not be blending in. You really do look amazing. And if any less than ten people ask you to dance, I owe you lunch."

"Wait, you mean you'd actually pay?" Sakura asked, well aware of how many times he had disappeared leaving his students to pick up the check.

"Yes, I'd actually pay. But remember, if you get asked by more than ten people you get nothing," he agreed. "Now quit stalling and come here so we can dance. I still need to get over there before people start arriving."

Sakura just sighed heavily and closed the gap between her and her teacher. He held one hand out and she put her much smaller one into it. He guided her other hand to his shoulder before placing his free hand at her waist. The light touch found nothing and he gripped a bit tighter and stretched his fingers out, spanning the surrounding area before feeling around a little only to have her giggle in a small way.

"Okay, slightly ticklish there. Now switch hands," he said smiling down at his student as she recomposed her face before she acquiesced and changed her hands so that they were opposite of what they had been before and Kakashi began to feel along the other side of her waist to have her giggle again.

"Well do I check out okay? Or were you able to tell just how many senbon needles I have under my dress?" Sakura asked cheekily.

"Yes, I can't detect anything on your waist. And as to the needles I can only count the ones in your hair, and it's so thick that I may have missed a few," he responded. "However, if someone there decides to get fresh and tries to feel you up, they may find something I'm reluctant to try and feel for." He let his eyes travel over her one more time, this time having the benefit of being in close proximity. This time, he managed to see something.

"Uh, Kakashi-sensei, why are you staring at my chest?" Sakura's voice broke into his trying to figure out what she had hidden.

When he didn't respond right away and only tilted his head to give his uncovered eye a better angle Sakura felt her entire body flush red.

"I know that normally when he sees me they're bound down for training to keep them out of the way, but for crying out loud it's not like they're that impressive," Inner Sakura said.


It was the first time she had ever addressed him without adding 'sensei', it caught it attention and he focused on her face.

"Okay, are you going to tell me what you're trying to hide down the front of your dress or not?" He asked.

"You can tell?" Sakura asked and sighed when he nodded. Instead of giving him a verbal response she took her hand from his shoulder and slipped a few slender fingers into the cleavage that was normally not there and extracted a pair of the wicked looking silver sticks that she was passing off as hair ornaments, only these had a much sharper point. The only reason she hadn't be stabbed herself was they had been shoved down the front of the bodice with the points up so they wouldn't be driven into her midsection if she bent over.

"Very daring, but don't you think that's a bit much?" Kakashi asked.

"I thought it'd be the last place anyone would be looking for a weapon," Sakura replied.

"True, but it's also a place where men to stare."

"I guess you're right. I forgot that when I don't have them strapped down they tend to grow a bit."

"Damnit! Can you ever stop saying embarrassing stuff around him or are you just stupid?" Her inner self frantically screamed at her. Sakura could only guess why her mouth had a tendency to run away from her when she was around her teacher.

Inside his head, Kakashi was laughing loudly at his young students off hand remark. The way she said it, it was like she forgot that she even had a chest. "I guess that's one of the consequences of being surrounded by men most of the time. Most women ninjas have a tendency to loose a bit of their femininity the first several months or so with their genin team. Unconsciously changing to fit in, it'll stop soon enough."

Out loud he only said, "Hazard of the job. You should talk to Kurenai sometime about some of her misadventures when she was with her team."

"Well, it happens when your outnumbered two to one by boys. Genin teams are almost always two boys to one girl. I guess somewhere along the line someone figured it was fair to keep the teams even that way," Sakura said, remembering some of the things she had read when she was first deciding to enter into the academy.

"Would you really want to be on a team with nothing but girls?" Kakashi asked.

Sakura thought for a moment about the girls that had managed to become genin in her class: Hinata and Ino. Somehow she couldn't see the three of them being an effective unit the way she was with Sasuke and Naruto. "You may have a point there," she said.

"Okay, I think you're about ready to go. Few pieces of advice: Feel free to lie about your age, just keep yourself under the drinking age. Remember don't give your real last name, first name is fine. And if anyone asks where you're from, remember your back story. And lastly; if anyone asks if you're attached say yes but that your boyfriend is away on business. Trust me it's the best way to get away from an over attentive dance partner," Kakashi spoke as he pulled on his gloves and tugging his forehead protector more securely into place. "Got it all?"

Sakura nodded and put one hand tentatively up to her hair to check the up do, staying mindful of the assortment of sharp implements she and woven into the tresses. "I think I can remember all that."

"I'm just not sure if I'm going to be able to handle the looks the boys are going to give me after they see me like this," She said to herself and turned one last time to a small mirror on the wall to give her appearance on last check before she left for the party.

"Oh, and Sakura?" Kakashi's voice broke into her thoughts.

"Yes?" She replied and turned from the mirror to face him only to have a flash pop in her eyes and then she was seeing spots. "What the hell?!"

"Sorry, couldn't resist," Her teacher said sheepishly bringing a camera down from his eye and giving Sakura a grin that she could plainly see through the mask "Who knows when the next time that you'll be dressed like this."

"My wedding," Sakura responded dryly.

"Oh come now, that's a bit far off isn't it?"

"Okay then, my engagement party."

Kakashi sighed and decided to keep the camera under his pillow when he slept, that way there would be zero chance of his disgruntled student getting it from him before he had a chance to get the film developed and possibly give a copy to her mother. He slipped the small camera into one of his emptier pockets and scanned the room one last time to make sure that nothing was forgotten.

"Ready to go?" He asked.

"Ready as I'll ever be," Sakura responded sounding resigned to her fate.

He nodded, "Good, I'm going over now to get into position. Wait about twenty minutes then head on over, people will be arriving by then, and remember: you're supposed to be having fun."

With that he was gone before she had a chance to throw a sarcastic response back at him.

"Fun? I never thought I'd have a mission that had me pretending to have fun. I don't know how anyone could enjoy these stuffy parties," Sakura thought.

"Not to long ago, you would have been ecstatic at the thought of dressing up like this," Inner Sakura reminded her cruelly.

"That was before I had to be saved one too many times and before I started to get real training," Sakura argued back even though she knew that it was true. It hadn't been until Naruto had pulled her back from a potentially fatal fall on a simple delivery mission that she had gotten more serious about training and less about getting Sasuke's attention. And once Kakashi had taken a larger role in supervising her progress she had practically stopped trying so hard with her appearance. It helped that both of her male counterparts had taken notice of her growth and remarked favorably upon it.

"Good thing too, if Ino ever managed to get another hit in on you like that mark on your shoulder we'd never hear the end of it," Inner Sakura said.

Sakura glanced down to see the silvery line that interrupted the smooth skin on her shoulder, "Huh, you know, I'm pretty sure that it's this mark that made Kakashi-sensei decide to start spending more time training with me," Sakura responded.

"Well in that case, make sure to thank her for it next time we fight with her. Otherwise she'll be really surprised when you kick her ass three ways from Sunday," Inner Sakura said.

Sakura could only smirk at the thought of finally beating Ino completely once and for all. Only a little while ago Sakura was sure that the two of them were evenly matched, but now that she was getting one on one attention from the famous 'Copy Ninja' she was confident that she had far surpassed her rival. Ino had never been overly fond of training and wasn't too interested in learning new techniques and methods. She had always thought that the jutsus that were passed through her family were enough, and she hated strength and endurance workouts.

Were as, Sakura had embraced them. More strength and endurance meant more chakra available to work the chakra that came from the spirit. And because her family had never had any special jutsus that were handed down she simply tried to learn as many as she was able to perform. Having a teacher with Sharingan came in handy for that, he knew more techniques than she could lean in five years.

Glancing at the mounted clock, Sakura saw that the twenty minutes had passed. Running her hands down over her dress one last time to recheck everything and with one final glance in the mirror she left the room, closing the door behind her.

Thirty minutes into the party, Sakura decided that the next time she heard the words 'undercover mission' she would double check the details. If it was ever something like this again she was going to come down with a sudden fever before the team was scheduled to leave. She couldn't remember the last time she had been so bored.

"If this is what it's like to be wealthy and privileged I'll pass," Sakura thought as she did her best to pay attention to the group of girls that had cornered her to gush over her dress while she tried to discreetly scan the room for trouble. As the girls chatter about who was wearing what drifted into her ears she wondered if Hinata had been forced to endure many things like this, she knew that the shy girl came from a prominent family.

"Really, you must tell us where you managed to get that dress. It matches your hair completely. It's stunning," a voice broke into Sakura's musings and she focused her attention on the girl who had spoken. Although what her name was escaped the young ninja's mind at the moment.

Sakura smiled her 'I'm so flattered' smile she had perfected while she was in the academy, "I'm honestly not sure where it came from. It was a gift from my older brother."

"Well, it's wonderful. It must be such fun to have hair that's such a rare color," another pretty party guest said.

"Oh yeah, tons of fun. Once everyone got bored with teasing me about it that is," Sakura thought.

"Thank you," she said as graciously as she could, "Could you tell me where the refreshment table is? I simply must get something to drink."

"It's entirely too easy for you to slip into this snobby act," Inner Sakura was almost gagging at the flowery way that everyone at the party was speaking.

"All those historical romance novels are finally paying off," She replied, glad that all the time she had spent reading the frivolous novels had paid off in some small way.

One of the smiling girls pointed her into the main ballroom and she bobbed slightly in a bow before wandering off to the larger room, taking her time to survey the guests as she went. It hadn't been necessary for her to ask directions, she had been given a print-out of the floor plan and a description of where things would be set up for the evening. But pretending that she didn't know was the perfect way to weave in and out of conversations. As she passed through the threshold into the main ballroom, she swore that she could hear Naruto snickering at her from his hiding place.

"Man, you think that he'd be so impressed with how I look that he wouldn't be able to from coherent thoughts. Let alone laugh at me," Sakura thought and quickly shot an annoyed look at the ceiling and the massive lighting fixture that hid her team mate from view. She squashed the sudden and immature desire to stick her tongue out at him.

She made her way into the elaborately decorated room intending to make her way to the table where the drinks were set up. She had never been more tempted to sneak some alcohol then she was at that moment. The shoes that she was wearing were killing her feet and beginning to send sharp pains up her back. But before she was halfway across the room she was tapped on the shoulder and had to remind herself not to grab the offending arm by the wrist and fling whoever it was over her shoulder.

Plastering a forced smile onto her face she turned to face a young man, who was probably around eighteen and a good deal taller than her.

"And he's cute too," Inner Sakura noted, she could only agree with her inner self.

"I was wondering if you'd like to dance?" He asked, and Inner Sakura started a running tally wondering if her teacher would owe her lunch or not.

"It would be my pleasure," she responded placing one of her hands into his outstretched one and letting him led her deeper into the center of the room where several couples were taking places for the next number. The band stuck an opening cord and she prayed that she wouldn't embarrass herself to much. Sakura had never been too adept at dancing saving what grace she did have for battle.

"I don't think I've ever seen you before, are you here just for the party?" Her dancing partner asked.

Sakura nodded while counting off steps in her head and trying to appear that she was paying attention to the young man in front of her, "I'm staying with my family for awhile and I just happened to be here for the party."

"Really? Tell me, what is your name?" He asked.

"Sakura, I'm staying with my Uncle Kei."

"I know him; he's a very nice man."

"And you are?" She asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Kiba," he replied.

Sakura stomped out the impulse to laugh when the mental comparison between her loud and rambunctious former classmate and the cultured young man that she was currently dancing with. Same name, completely different person from what she could tell. She managed to keep her composure and instead just smiled and said, "Really, I have a friend with the same name."

As the dance wore on she managed to keep up the flow of meaningless small talk and dipped into a slight bow when the music paused and tried to make her way towards the refreshment table once again. She didn't make it more than a few steps before she was stopped yet again by yet another young man who wanted to dance.

"I wonder if more than ten guys ask me to dance I'll somehow get conned into paying for Kakashi-sensei's lunch," She thought as she allowed herself to be led around in another dance and made polite chatter with her newest dance partner.

Forty minutes and ten dance partners later Sakura was ready to tear her hair out.

"I have never been so bored on a mission. You'd think that out of all the people that I've talked with that one of them would have something interesting to say. But that seems to be asking too much," Sakura thought as she did her best to appear interested as the man she had been dancing with prattled on about the new building his company was building and how it would increase his profit margins.

"Why the hell this man jabbering on? In fact, why is he here talking to me? There have to be plenty of women here who are his age," Inner Sakura scowled at the man who was most likely older than Sakura's own father. She found that she couldn't argue with her inner self.

He paused for a second and Sakura took the opportunity to break into his ramble, "Would you please excuse me? I'm terribly thirsty; I must get something to drink."

"Well then, allow me to accompany you. I could use something myself," he said.

Sakura fought to keep the smile on her face while Inner Sakura let loose a stream of cursing that would have made her teacher blush. Fighting the urge to stab her eyes out as an excuse to leave she allowed the older gentleman to lead her by the elbow to the refreshment table that had been set up on the far side of the ballroom.

"I'm going to get something from the bar, would you like anything?" Her unwanted companion asked.

"No, thank you. I'm not old enough to drink," Sakura said, stressing the phrase slightly in hopes that he would get the fact that she was much younger than him and leave her alone.

It didn't work.

"Well then, if you'll just excuse me for one moment. I'll return shortly."

This time Sakura joined her inner self in mentally shouting every curse that she knew to express her displeasure at the situation. On the visible surface the only sign of her unhappiness the brittle smile falling off her face she allowed a sour look to sweep her expression for a brief moment before she schooled her pretty face back into a pleasant expression.

Hidden from the eyes of the party guests, Kakashi had a good view of his only female student being on the receiving end of some rather unwanted attention. He was forced to choke back laughter as the much older man did his best to impress the young girl.

He knew that she was uncommonly smart; he wondered how much longer it would take her to shake off the older man.

Sakura wondered if she could manage to slip away while her last dance partner was at the bar. Once again she scanned the room and was ready to make an escape when out of nowhere; she was ambushed by the same group of girls that had been talking to her in the smaller room.

"What the hell? Why can't we catch a break?" Inner Sakura ranted about rotten luck while Sakura did her best to ignore her rather vocal inner self and instead let a smile grace her features.

"There you are! We were all wondering if we'd lost you for the rest of the night," one of the girls said.

Sakura wondered how they could be so excited to see someone they had only met a short while ago, "I've been here, and actually it's taken this long to make it to the table."

"Really? I guess you just got ambushed by dance offers," another one said.

Sakura just nodded, "Really, I can't understand why. I'm not that much of a dancer."

"Well, that hardly matters. You're very pretty. And you're a new face. We rarely get that here," was the reply that was given.

Sakura understood why she hadn't been left along since she had entered the ballroom. She was an unknown person in the rather small world of the wealthy and privileged. Something told her that new people didn't make it onto the scene very often. Especially while they were still with in easy travel of Fire county's ninja arsenal, most in this social class preferred to keep a safer distance from a hidden village.

"Well then, I'll certainly have some good stories to tell when I return home," Sakura said pleasantly, she could understand the interest. No one came in to Konoha without news of the arrival circulating within hours.

"Is yours a quiet town too?" One of the girls asked.

Sakura inwardly laughed at the idea of Konoha being quiet. Naruto by himself could make enough noise to make half the village sit up and take notice. But decided to agree anyway, "Yes, I suppose that you could say that."

With that, Sakura managed to turn slightly and reach the massive punch bowl that was filled with some kind of pink liquid. Taking the ladle she got herself a cup and then brought it up to her lips and swallowed a small sip.

And somehow managed to not make a face at the taste

"All that hard work for a drink and this is what I get," Sakura thought.

"You'd think that with all this hired help; one of the waiters would know not to put so much raw sugar into the punch. There's so much in there that it's almost gritty. Much more of that and you'll get cavities," Inner Sakura agreed with the grim assessment of the refreshments.

Sakura was wondering if she could leave her glass of punch on the table or if she'd have to give it directly to one of the waiters that had been milling about. Deciding to just abandon the cup and make as much of a run for it as she could in her shoes she was about to make a break for it when out of nowhere (or it least it seemed) the older gentlemen that had been dominating her for the past several dances appeared right at her elbow and tapped her slightly on her shoulder.

She turned to face him, and fought to stop her smile from slipping off her face when she saw that he had no intention of finding anyone his own age to bore.

"I'm sorry that it took so long at the bar," he said and held up a pink cocktail as evidence of his excursion, "but there was such a line. I trust you managed to find something to refresh yourself with?"

Sakura nodded and forced herself to take another drink of the sugary liquid.

"Something tells me that even if we don't say anything he'll just keep rattling on and on about his business," Sakura thought.

She was right; he started talking again without any encouragement from the young woman standing in front of him. The other girls that had been standing with Sakura looked fascinated by his rambling speech, she on the other hand was once again scanning the large room for possible threats and for the waiters that were circulating, carrying trays of finger foods.

As the conversation continued on next to her without any contribution from the pink haired girl Sakura wondered if she could slip away even with the over attentive man standing right next to her. She slid one of her feet and shifted her weight to move away, but just as she was about to move the man next to her placed his hand on her back between her shoulder blades and asked her to dance once again.

Not having too much of a say in the matter she allowed herself to be steered back onto the dance floor and focused her attention on keeping up with the music so she wouldn't fall and embarrass herself in front of the entire party. When the number had ended Sakura was discouraged when her dancing partner didn't move from the spot where they had stopped and instead just continued to dance as the next musical piece started. As the dancing continued, Sakura's attention span left her and she was being to loose her patience as well.

"How much longer can this last? I didn't think anyone could talk so long about nothing," She thought to herself.

She was about to interrupt, and make an excuse to leave for the restroom when one of the musicians stood up and announced that the band would be taking a thirty minute break. Despite the fact that she had been forced to dance for quite some time now, she had the sudden urge to skip around in celebration when she heard the announcement.

"I wonder if I can get a hold of one of those waiters now," she thought idly, "Or maybe I can still escape to the bathroom and just never come back."

She smiled up her older dancing partner and was ready to speak up and make her excuses for her escape, but he beat her too it and spoke up before she could.

"Let me lead you back to the table, we can pick up our drinks again," and with that he put a hand on her back and led her back to the table situated at the far end of the room. The only upside to this was the fact that on the way Sakura managed to snag one of the roaming waiters and grab a napkin and fill it with a few of the small snacks before she found herself at the table with the drinks again. The drinks that she had left sitting on the table were still there, but she was less thrilled about that as she recalled the granulated quality of the punch. The girls that Sakura had met earlier were still lingering were she had left them and they seemed thrilled at the undercover ninja's return and once again began to chatter, doing their best to engage Sakura and her partner in conversation. The older man that had been occupying much of the ninja's time seemed delighted at the attention, Sakura on the other hand was happy that the other girls were talking to him, giving her a chance to get some food into her system.

"Yummm, thank god that the finger foods make up for everything else," Sakura thought to herself. While the conversation whirled on around her, Sakura scanned the room again keeping an eye out for anyone who looked like they may have had too much to drink.

Sakura should have paid more attention to the group of girls that were crowded at the table with her. When one of them reached for a glass that was resting on the table she lost her balance and collided with the undercover ninja. And while this normally wouldn't have been a problem, it happened just as Sakura was putting a piece of food into her mouth. The jarring motion caused the morsel to shoot down her throat and Sakura began to chough and choke on the snack pastry.

"Don't you dare choke to death on that," Inner Sakura railed at her other half, "You'd never live it down."

"Oh shut up!" Sakura snapped at her inner self and grabbed her glass of pink punch and downed the entire contents in one go.

"Oh, shit," Sakura thought. It wasn't her punch, it was her dancing partner's cocktail and whatever it was, tasted pretty strong.

"Well, that was a move for the ages," Inner Sakura said sarcastically and knew that they were in for trouble.

Sakura had never had a drink before. Not once. Unlike other kids who were allowed to sip sake or wine on special occasions, Sakura's mother put her foot down and insisted that her daughter being a ninja was enough and she could wait until she was old enough if she wanted to drink. Sakura had never felt the need to argue this, she really saw no reason to drink, she had seen too many people act way too stupidly under the influence of alcohol to cause her any desire to try it herself. Her sense of dignity was too important.

"I wonder how long it will take this stuff to kick in?" Sakura mused while doing her best to hold still, as if she could back the effects of the booze.

"Apparently, not long," Inner Sakura replied as a warm feeling began to spread out from her stomach.

"Okay, you have to find Kakashi-sensei and then get out of here," Sakura said to herself and took a deep breath.

She turned slowly, but she still had to wait for the room to catch up with her as she faced the small group of people that had been standing by her. She grinned to the gaggle of girls and her older dance partner and said, "You'll have to excuse me, I really must find the powder room."

The girls all nodded and her partner bowed to her, looking disappointed that she was leaving. Sakura didn't waste any time as she turned and began to make her way out of her ballroom and towards one of the small patio areas that had been arranged for the party. She knew that if she went there, her teacher would follow knowing that something was wrong if she was leaving the party all together.

From his vantage point, Kakashi had seen the entire thing. It was lucky that he had chosen that moment to check up on his only girl student before inspecting one of the other rooms. He had watched her begin to cough and accidentally gulp the wrong drink.

He knew that the cocktail, whatever it was, would most likely hit his student hard and fast. She was young and very small. With her lack of drinking experience and her small body mass he was sure that the effects of the alcohol would come quickly. Kakashi was wondering what he should do when he saw Sakura make an excuse to her overzealous company and slowly begin to make her way towards one of the small outdoor areas.

At times like this, he was very very glad that she was so smart. Even on the verge of becoming intoxicated, she still had a measure of common sense.

Sakura made her way to the railing that surrounded the small outdoor area. She was thankful that it was dark and that no one else and come out to this particular spot.

With a small cloud of smoke her perpetually late teacher appeared next to her, staying hidden in the shadows so it would look as if Sakura was still by herself.

"I'd ask how you are, but something tells me that it'd be a stupid question," he said.

"You got that right," Sakura answered, "I'm sorry, I should have been paying more attention."

"It's not your fault," Kakashi said, his tone of voice telling her that he was being genuine; "It's hard to notice things like that when you can't breathe. Besides, the drinks were the same color and in the same type of glasses. Most would have made the same mistake."

"I don't think that I should stay here," she said, turning her head slightly and letting her teacher see the fact that her eyes were becoming slightly unfocused.

"I have to agree," Kakashi said, "Stay here and take some deep breaths. I'm going to inform the boys that I have to leave for a bit. I'll take you back to the main house and then I'll come back here."

With that he was gone and Sakura took his advice and leaned heavily against the stone railing. Groaning softy she realized that she was in for a long night. She moved slightly so that she was in the shadows where her teacher had been. She wanted to minimize the change of being seen. Sakura shut her eyes and began to breathe deeply and slowly, her head already feeling pleasantly floaty.

"I hope he gets back soon," she thought, "I hope I don't do anything too humiliating."

"Well, there's little chance of that," Inner Sakura said, "Something tells me that tonight you'll be setting new records in personal embarrassment."

Sakura didn't argue, she knew it was pointless. Besides, she had the same feeling herself. There was no way that she could make it through the rest of the night without doing or saying something stupid.

A small disturbance next to her caused her to open her eyes and tilt her head to see her teacher.

"Ready to go?" He asked.

"You have no idea," she replied.

"Okay then, I don't want to have you go back through the party. To much going on and you'll most likely be stopped by one of you admirers," Kakashi said.

Sakura shot him a dark look, "Very funny," she said dryly, "And how do you propose we get out of here?"

Kakashi didn't respond and instead just leaned over the side of the railing slightly. Relieved to see that it was a very short distance to the ground, he then turned to his small student.

"You've got to be kidding me," she said.

"Sorry, but it's only about ten feet," he replied.

"I don't think I could handle even that. I'm feeling a little wobbly," Sakura admitted.

"Don't worry, you're not going to have to jump," Kakashi said and he gripped one of her wrists and tugged to stand behind him.

"You can't-" Sakura said.

Kakashi cut her off, "You'd rather jump and have me catch you?" He asked.

"No, no that's quite all right," Sakura said and resigned herself to her fate. Gathering her shreds of pride she placed her hands on Kakashi's shoulders and climbed onto his back.

He reached back and hooked his arms under her legs, wrapping them around his midsection and making sure she was on securely.

"Ready to go?" He asked.

Sakura just mumbled something and he chuckled slightly, he could only imagine how embarrassing this was for her.

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that," Kakashi said.

"I haven't done this since I was six," she said and tightened her arms around him as he began to move towards the railing.

"Don't worry, I won't tell anyone," he said, "Hold on, I'm jumping off now."

Sakura braced herself and her teacher hopped over the railing and landed lightly on the ground below it. She was surprised, he moved as if she weighed nothing at all.

"I can get down now," she said lightly.

"Okay, let me know if you need someone to lean on," he said, releasing his hold on her legs and allowing her to slide off his back and onto her own two feet. She stumbled a bit, putting her arms out to steady herself.

"Stupid high heels," Sakura mumbled, debating on wither or not to just take the annoying shoes off and walk back to their rooms barefoot.

"Try using your chakra for balance," Kakashi said.

She nodded and brought her hands together a little clumsily and concentrated for a moment, focusing the chakra into her feet and legs. She ventured a few steps, but the thin heels of her footwear proved to be too much and she once again wavered on her feet.

"Hang on, give me your foot," Kakashi said. Sakura looked puzzled but nonetheless tried to lift one of her feet out to him. It didn't work, she started to flail and Kakashi had to dart forward and catch her. "Okay, why don't you just sit for a minute."

Sakura nodded and sunk ungracefully to the ground, stretching her legs out in front of her to give Kakashi access to her feet. Kakashi knelt down in front of her and grasped on of her feet and pushed the dress up slightly, grasping the arch top of her small foot in one hand and the heal of her shoe in the other he flexed his wrist and snapped the heel off the shoe in one crisp movement. He repeated the action on her other foot and then stood up and reached hand out to the young girl.

Sakura looked on as her teacher broke the stiff heels off her shoes without any effort, "Wow, that was kind of impressive," she said, thinking it was to herself.

"Thanks, now let me help you up," he said, unable to keep the smile out of his voice.

"Did I just say that out loud?" Sakura asked.

"I'm afraid you did," Kakashi replied.


She didn't say anything else as she put her hand into his and let him pull her up onto her feet. She wobbled a bit before regaining her balance, finding it much easier to stay upright with the shoes now flat.

"Ready to try and walk now?" He asked.

"No promises," she said and ran her hands lightly down her sides and tugging her dress back from where it had twisted from sitting on the ground.

"Okay, we need to hurry a bit, I don't want to leave the boys alone for too long," he said.

"Why?" She asked, stumbling a little when she turned her head to look at her teacher.

"On the off chance that something happens to disrupt an otherwise boring party," he replied, "I need to be there in case they need help handling it."

"Makes sense," Sakura agreed, visions of Sasuke and Naruto jumping in to save the day an offending half the partygoers running through her head. The idea was funny and she found herself laughing out loud as she pictured the boys accidentally insulting the girls by saying something off-handed about how pointless they saw the entire evening.

"Something funny?" Her teacher asked.

She stifled her giggles and had to stop, she was in danger of falling over due her laughter, "I was just picturing Sasuke blowing off all the girls that would swarm all over him and Naruto attacking the buffet after the threat had passed."

In spite of himself, he chuckled a bit at his two students offending large portions of Fire Country's high society in one go.

"Are you laughing at me?" Sakura demanded shrilly, and then promptly lost her precarious balance and landed on her backside.

"I wasn't, but I am now," he said allowing a little more laughter to slip out as he took in the chilly glare that Sakura was shooting at him. "Need help up?"

Her lower lip stuck out in an adorable pout (not that he'd ever admit it out loud) and she crossed her arms huffily over her chest, "Kakashi-senseiiiiii," she whined, "You should be nicer to me. This whole situation really…….sucks."

Kakashi bit down on the impulse to laugh loudly at his most mature student pouting like a three year old. He wondered how much she'd try and come after him if he took another snap shot of her.

"It'd be worth it," a small evil voice said in his mind. He decided to listen and before Sakura could change positions he had pulled the camera out of the pocket he had stashed it in and took another candid shot of the young girl.

"I'm so going to get you for that," she said, trying for a cold voice and not quite succeeding.

"Of course you are," he replied indulgently.

"I meant it! Some how, some day, when you least expect it-" she began.

"Okay, I get the picture, I will pay dearly. Let me help you up," he said and extended an arm out and helped her climb back onto her feet.

"You're mocking me aren't you?" She asked dryly.

"Wouldn't dream of it," he replied and slipped her arm through one of his and tugged lightly to start her walking again.

Sakura decided not to argue anymore and instead concentrated on walking, even with Kakashi's assistance, it was becoming a bit of a challenge. They stumbled along for a bit and Sakura wondered why anyone would actually enjoy drinking, if this was the result.

Kakashi shot a look over his shoulder; the main building of the compound was still visible. And the suite of rooms at the one of the local hotels were the team of ninjas was housed was a good distance away. They needed to move a little faster.

"Sakura, do you think that you can move a little faster?" He asked.

"I can try," she said, "Any tips?"

He searched his mind for something that would help her move faster while she was bordering on inebriation, "Nothing that really springs to mind."

"Well you're no help," she said, "You never had to deal with this?"

"Oh no, I've been just were you are plenty of times. I just was never forced to be anywhere anytime during or after. So I never had to hurry, I could take my time in hauling myself home," Kakashi said showing his smile with the tone of his voice.

"You are a horrible influence, you know that?" Sakura said.

"I've never claimed to be a decent role model, I'm just here to teach you how to be a ninja and to keep you alive," Kakashi replied.

"True," Sakura admitted, there weren't many ninja she would consider as a role model for anything other than techniques, "Very few of you have it together in life."

Kakashi was silent and thought for a moment, taking in what his unusually perceptive student had just said. Quickly he thought of the high level and advanced ninja he knew.

"You know something?" He asked.


"You're right. It just occurred to me, but it's true. Good careers, messy personal life," he said.

Sakura halted in her tracks and somewhat clumsily placed her hand on his upper arm, causing him to turn and look at her fully, "Doesn't mean that you're not good people."

He realized that was true too; there were very few ninja he knew that he would consider unsavory people. It least in Konoha. Other villages seemed to turn out more less-than-desirables.

"Thank you," he said sincerely, his student may have been tipsy but she was still one of the more intelligent and observant people he knew. "But we still need to move faster."

"I'm open to suggestions," she said.

He thought for a moment and then grabbed her by the arms again and swung her around to stand behind him.

"Oh, not again…." she groaned.

"Unless you have a better idea?" he countered.

It was apparent that she didn't, and with some barely mumbled curses and a few muffled jabs at his character she once again climbed onto his back and wound her limbs around him.

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," Kakashi said, letting her know that it really didn't matter anyway.

"Then next time I'll talk louder," Sakura said.


"Feel special, not many people get to see this side of me."

"I realize that."

"Promise not to tell?"

"Only if you promise not to any anyone about that flower tattooed on my butt."

"It's a deal."

Kakashi walked a bit with Sakura silent on his back so he kept quiet as well.


He should have known that it wouldn't last, "Yes?"

"Why a lily?" She asked.

He shifted her a bit on his back and she squirmed a bit at his jostling movements, "You know, you're one of the few people to actually identify it? I didn't think you'd gotten that good of a look."

"I spent a lot of time in the Yamanaka flower shop when I was younger and that didn't answer the question," she said.

"I know that," Kakashi said.

"You're not going to tell me are you?"

"Smart girl."

"Well, will you answer something else then?"

"Possibly. What?"

"How many tattoos do you have?"


She ran through the ones she had seen and came up with three, "Where are the others?"

"I have one on the top of each foot, one says 'Good journey' and the other says 'Many travels'" he said.

"And the last one?" She asked.

"Not telling."


"Because you are a teen age girl, and trust me, you really don't want to know," he said.

"That's what you think," she replied and then mentally smacked herself on the forehead.

Kakashi just laughed, "Too bad, but if it makes you feel any better, very very few people even know about it much less have seen it."

Another few moments passed before Sakura broke the silence once again, "You know, you're not."

He was honestly confused, "Not what?"

"Not like a parent," she said, referring to the statement he had made upon her emergence fully dressed, "You don't remind me of a parent."

"I don't? I take care of you," he said.

"Somewhat," she agreed, "But no parent would stand there and witness the things you've seen us do and then continue to carry on."

"I suppose you're right," Kakashi said thinking. It was true; even if you were the parent of a ninja it was always different when it was your child. "Then what am I?"

"That I don't know," Sakura mused, "Almost like a brother, but that's still not quite right either."

"Why is that?"

Sakura felt her face flush red as images of her teacher in various stages of undress ran through her head and clamped down the impulse to say anything. She couldn't trust her response and she wasn't about to tip the balance of their student-teacher dynamic.

"So are you going to be nice and let me sleep in tomorrow?" She asked.

She was dodging the question and Kakashi decided to not to press it, he pondered for a second, come morning she was bound to be feeling worse than she had in a long time.

"I suppose so, but I doubt that I'll be able to keep the boys too quiet," Kakashi said.

"Nothing can make the boys be quiet," she grumbled. Sasuke had always been so quiet when they were growing up, but his time with the team had pulled him away from his more silent behavior. Now, he not only talked, but argued. And usually very loudly. Once or twice he had even raised his voice to Kakashi.

Their teacher never minded, in fact he seemed to enjoy the fact that they would question him.

"And I remember worrying that Sasuke would never say anything of his own initiative," he said, causing Sakura to burst into giggles. She wondered what all of Sasuke's fan girls would say if they had to spend as much time with him as she did. The last Uchiha had lost a lot of his appeal in the past months. Now she wanted him to see her as a worthy member of the team, a valuable and skilled ninja instead of a potential date. She still harbored the remnants of her crush, but she now realized that girls were the absolute last thing on his mind and the fact that the mostly solitary boy counted her as a friend was enough. And the fact that he paid more attention to her now that she had become driven in her training spoke volumes to her about the teen boy's personality. He didn't want a girlfriend; he wanted people around that could help him get stronger.

"Yeah, now there are times when I wish he'd just shut up," Sakura said.

"The karaoke night springs to mind," Kakashi said.

"I thought we agreed never to talk about that again," Sakura said.

Kakashi smiled and continued to wander towards their hotel. They weren't far from their destination when Kakashi heard a crash in a nearby alley.

Sakura's head shot up from where it had been resting on his shoulder blade, "What was that?"

He frowned, "I'm not sure, someone could be hurt."

"Should we check it out?" She asked.

"I suppose that we should," he said, hoping that what ever it was wouldn't take to long.

"Okay, put me down, you may need your arms," she said and unhooked her arms and legs and slid off her teacher, taking a minute to steady herself.

"Ready?" He asked.

"As much as I can be," she replied.

Cautiously, they made their way to towards the alley, eyes searching for someone who was in need of assistance, "Anyone there?" Sakura called.

"Well look what we have here," a voice came from somewhere inside the dark and a group of young men and a few teenagers seemed to appear from out of nowhere.

"Damn it! Why can't I catch a break?" Sakura exclaimed.

Kakashi could understand how she felt, he scanned their surrounding area, there wasn't much space. And judging by the way the mangy group was dressed they were some kind of local street gang.

"Looks like we're in luck boys, time for the initiation," one of the thugs said.

"Great, we landed in the middle of a gang initiation. This could be troublesome," Kakashi thought, normally this small rabble of delinquents wouldn't be a problem. But with Sakura unable to function as a ninja he would have to deal with them by himself. "If I was by myself this wouldn't be a problem," he shot a quick look at his student, "But if even one manages to slip by me, Sakura could be hurt."

"Kakashi-sensei," Sakura wailed behind him, "I can't fight like this!"

He turned to face her, preparing to tell her to take cover. But instead he was temporally stunned as he watched his student produce a kunai from somewhere on her person and stab her dress at the knees, ripping the material and pulling off the entire lower half of the full skirt making the full length dress stop several inches above her knees.

"Okay, now I can fight," she said.

Kakashi honestly had no idea of what to say.

"Oh look, the little girl thinks she can fight," one of the boys in the gang said.

Sakura snarled, Kakashi shook his head. These people had no idea what they were in for; even slightly drunk Sakura was potently dangerous. Especially now that they had pissed her off.

"Okay, that one's mine," she said.

"Be careful," her teacher warned, still planning to work quickly through the thugs to try and get her out of this situation as fast as he could, "You're not at one-hundred percent."

"I'll find a way to compensate," she said and once again molded chakra into her limbs before she charged forward into the fray.

Kakashi sighed and yanked his forehead protector off of his sharingan eye, that way he could fight and keep Sakura in his vision at the same time. Then he followed his young student into the battle.

"That was pathetic," Sakura said, looking at the pile of unconscious bodies sprawled around the small area.

Kakashi agreed silently, the entire scuffle had taken less than five minutes. Apparently, the gang had been mostly talk and no skill. Nothing compared to the two ninjas, even with Sakura working at a fraction of her normal potential, "Well, we'll just leave them here for now. I'll tell the inn keeper to send out local law enforcement after I get you to your room."

"I think we should hurry," Sakura said.

He looked at her as she stepped away from their would-be attackers and under one of the street lights, she was looking a little green around the gills, "I agree." He took her by the arm again and steered her in the direction of the inn. With the adrenaline draining out of her system and no more chakra pulsing into her limbs, the effects of the alcohol were back in full force.

With help from her teacher, Sakura managed to stumble her way back into the hotel and make her way into her room where she collapsed onto her bed, still fully dressed.

"Uh, Sakura, maybe you should remove all the weapons," he said as he watched the young girl settle into the mattress.

"I so don't feel like it," she moaned from her position on the bed.

"It's dangerous to sleep like that, you could hurt yourself," he argued.

"Then take them off yourself, I'm not moving again until I'm sure that I won't get sick," Sakura said, moving her arms from their crossed position and let them fall to her sides.

Kakashi contemplated the actual act of stripping all the hidden weapons off his prone student and wondered just how much trouble it would cause down the road.

"I don't think that'd be a good idea," he said.

She opened her eyes and shot him a withering look, "Fine by me, can I sleep now?"

He was about to leave when he saw her raise one of her arms above her head, it caught on one of the hidden senbon needles and caused a small tear to appear on the smooth skin; a few drops of blood escaped and dropped onto the pillow case. That changed his mind.

"You're not going to bring this back to haunt me are you?" He asked.

She looked at him wearily, "I won't tell a soul," she said hoarsely, "Besides, Kakashi-sensei?"


"I trust you, I know you'd never do anything wrong."

He smiled at her, making sure she saw the expression through the mask. He was glad that she knew that he'd never do anything to hurt her, or for that matter any of his students.

"I'll just remove what I have to, and I'll be quick about it," he said.

Sakura just laughed and he decided not to question her giggles. He went to the side of the bed and quickly pulled the sharp implements out of her thick hair, he had to prop her up a bit to and run his had through her hair to make sure that he had uncovered all of them. Moving as quickly as he could he dipped two fingers into the bodice of her dress and extracted the lethal looking sticks. The action caused Sakura to break into giggles.

"That tickles," she said, her eyes beginning to drift shut.

"Sorry," he said, "I think that's the worst of them."

"It is," she complied sleepily, "Now get out of here and let me sleep."

"Okay, okay," he said compliantly and disappeared into one of the other rooms in the suite for a moment. He returned with a glass of water, some mild pain killers and a waste bin. "Sakura, you need to sit up for a second."

"Like hell I do," she shot at him.

He sighed and went to the side of the bed and sat. He pulled her into a sitting position and she gave him a rather scary look, "You have to take this, if you don't you'll be much much worse in the morning."

She grumbled a bit but took the pills out of his hand and popped them into her mouth and swallowed most of the water before flopping onto her back. Kakashi left once again and refilled the glass before returning and leaving it on the table next the bed and rolled her over onto her stomach.

"Okay, now you can sleep," he said.

"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura mumbled.


"Go away, now."

He grinned and turning off the light and finally left her alone and drifting off to sleep.

"God, I hope that everything is still okay at the party," he thought and hurried back to the mission.

Light was cracking through the slits on the blinds.

Sakura wanted to gouge her eyes out, "Maybe then they would stop throbbing," she thought.

She was lying on her stomach with one arm dangling over the side of the bed, her mouth felt like something had died in it and her head felt three sizes to big.

"I am never ever drinking again," she vowed and decided to stay exactly where she was until Kakashi-sensei came and told her that she had to move. And she didn't envy the reaction she knew she was going to throw at him, "He shouldn't have left my weapons within easy reach."

Sakura was ready to close her eyes again to go back to sleep when the door to her room burst open and her team mates tumbled through with tangled limbs and loud voices, shouting for her and at each other at the same time.

Kakashi's attention was grabbed by a loud thump and he turned his attention to the argument the boys were having that he had been doing his best to ignore. He looked at his charges just in time to see them burst into Sakura's room.

Ten seconds later, he heard high pitched screamed threats concerning castration coming from his female student and witnessed the boys flying out of the room, followed by a hail of sharp weapons, obviously thrown by Sakura.

Sasuke and Naruto looked vaguely frightened as they eyed her doorway.

Kakashi strolled to where the boys were and gently closed the door, leaving Sakura once again by herself so she could get some more sleep.

"I think it would be best if you went outside to train for awhile," he said to the rest of his team.

"I think you may be right," Sasuke said.

"Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto asked.

"Yes?" He replied.

"What's castration?"

Kakashi sighed heavily, he really couldn't win.