a/n: Wai! Wai! A big THANK YOU for all the reviews. Now, I'd like to settle some things straight... (clears throat) I apologize for the timeline. When Sasuke left, he was already thirteen, so at the present time of the fic (after four years), they are already seventeen. Sakura recognized Sasuke on the roof because, as we all know, her observation skills are quite good. And consider this, Kakashi helped her train. Speaking of which, Sakura was not able to fight back in Scene IV because of her whole-day training with her sensei. Hey, even a ninja has limitations, you know. Why Sasuke tried to kill Tsunade, you ask? Well... he's just hungry for power. It's an ego-based problem. Not even I can understand. heehee..
I appreciate all your criticisms, really! Thanks so much. :) Mendori-chan will strive to improve on her writing.
The second chapter of Humanity will now begin. :D
Kakashi was sitting by the window, watching the rainwater flow against the stained glass, his view of the bleak skies being abstructed by the ripples created by the drops. It was nearly dawn when he finally found her sobbing frantically on the grass, clothes all torn out. He could have caught up with Sasuke, could have killed him with every ounce of his strength, could have tortured him for what he did. And as much as his pride as one of the best shinobis in Konoha stood, he had to accept the fact that the avenger had escaped.
Now he could only watch his former student sleep on the hospital bed, and regret being unable to be there for her when she needed him the most. He hated it so much, the feeling of uselessness.
His gloved fists clenched tightly.
And with frustration.
He couldn't do anything now. What has happened has already transpired. All they could do was anticipate the unexpected future that lies ahead of them, and wait for the results whether or not she was pregnant. But for the meantime, the silver-haired man stared out the window with something huge to ponder on.
"They've sent seven ANBUs already, Kakashi. I assure you, he will be caught in no time."
"He's not human. Not even all the ANBUs can find him that easily. You know what happened four yers ago…"
Maito Gai exhaled sharply as he rested his back againt a sturdy chair. There was just no way he could reassure his rival to even relax and leave the job to the hunter-nins. If he were an ANBU himself, he would find a way to stun Kakashi just so the stress from three days ago would wear off a bit. Really, the silver-haired man had been at it non-stop, trying to find ways to make sure Sasuke would get caught.
"Kakashi… does her mother know about this?"
The somewhat hesitant twitch in his eye was clear. "Ah…"
"Then…what?" Gai found himself asking, eyes narrowed expectantly at the Jounin before him. "Even you weren't able to stop him then. It was a good thing that Tsunade-sama handled him quite well… but I still can't understand how he escaped." He cupped his chin to ponder on some thoughts. "Even the ANBU team wasn't able to find him."
Kakashi's gaze focused onto the green-suited Jounin. "Her mother implored for me to take care of her daughter. If he came back, then I'm not going to let him slip away anymore." Though it was just a faint hint, his rival sensed it. The hiss, the blood boiling within him… he sensed it all.
What brought him to the Haruno doorstep was an issue he tackled and contemplated on for quite a while. Three knocks was all it took for him to meet the gaze of Sakura's mother.
"Gai-sensei… I assume?"
"Hai." He bowed deeply before continuing, "Haruno-san… my utmost sorry for what had happened."
The woman merely shrugged. "The past cannot be undone."
"I suppose so." He was now invited to their living room, and then took a seat on one of the couches pushed to the walls. He understood the depressing atmosphere surrounding their home and was almost too guilty to pay her mother a visit. But he came for a reason…
She stepped in the room with a cup of tea for the teacher, then took a seat opposite to him after being greeted by a thankful nod. "I always told Sakura to make tea for the guests. But she stopped doing that when she turned sixteen." And Gai could pick up the sorrowful tone evident in her voice. "You know… she never really liked being ordered around." Her swollen emerald eyes were fixed onto Gai's gaze with an expression he understood greatly. "She's growing…and we had plans for her future."
"Haruno-san… the child-"
"It hasn't been confirmed yet."
"Yes, I understand. But there is a possibility…"
"She would bicker with me often." Her eyes began to well up with tears. "But I loved her so much. I don't want her to have a hard time with her life."
Gai cleared his throat, making her gaze fix onto him once again. "Which brings me here, Haruno-san." And with every ounce of courage and reassurance he could surface before her, he uttered, "I know who can father the child."
He snapped out of his trance and immediately, his gaze fell onto her sleeping position. With a bruised arm, she gestured for her teacher to come closer, and as she wished, he came to her side. Though the faint sounds of her breathing were somehow labored and were hurting her chest, she covered them impeccably.
"Sakura. Go back to sleep."
It was an order, but she refused to listen. Her once cheerful emerald eyes were now shrouded with doubt and pain, mixed greatly with the fear of what may lie ahead of them. She tried to sit up, but only coughed and fell back to the bed again.
"Oi, you're not supposed to move yet!" It was clear in his unmasked eye that concern was overflowing within him.
"You have to forgive yourself for this, Sensei," she said softly, and slowly, she rubbed her palm on her face, perhaps trying to get rid of the emotions that flooded inside of her. "It's not your fault…"
"Sakura, I wasn't able to-"
"Sasuke-kun will return…" She sounded so sure. Her eyes met his, and within that fleeting second, she smiled. "But I know I am safe with you."
He didn't know where she hurled the courage and strength to smile that way in a situation like this. Ever since she was young, he always thought she was strong emotionally, even if there were times when she could not hold back tears. But as of now, he realized how much she had matured over the years. She faced it all with a smile, and knew everything was going to be alright.
Truly contradictory to what he was feeling at that moment.
He was afraid that he might not be there for her again.
She watched him struggle with his emotions, ultimately understanding of the state he was tied up in. His right eye was shaking, and she could see his fists clench tightly. It was the first time she had ever seen her teacher so unsure… And so, she chose to rise her bruised arm and stroke his masked cheek, causing Kakashi to look at her in surprise.
"How many years has it been since you took this off?"
He watched her pale hand for a moment, then overlapped it with his. "I only take it off at night."
Sakura was now staring at the dark atmosphere outside where the rainstorm continued to rage on. She smiled once her eyes returned to him. "Now?"
He had to chuckle… and before he knew it, the pressure building up in his chest began to loosen. "Iie, not now."
"Kakashi-sensei… Sasuke-kun once told me you had fishlips. That's why you were hiding your face under that mask." She managed a grin. "Baka na… even I believed him then."
"Maybe you should have."
Her eyes grew expectant. "Y-You mean-?"
"Jodan yo." His eye crinkled up into a smile. And as he gathered himself to his feet to stand up, he uttered, "If it's the right time, then maybe I can give you a peek."
Though something as simple as conversing about his face made her mind relax, as well as his, it was all it took to reassure them that everything was going to be alright. The silver-haired Jounin walked towards his seat and snatched his Icha Icha Paradise, book five pocketbook to begin where he had left off. Apparetly, since Sakura was hospitalized three days ago, he was not able to carry on with the story he meant to finish.
Then finally, she reveals the inevitable, "Why are you smiling, sensei?"
"Hmm?" He had become so absorbed in it within a matter of seconds that he could no longer hear her with his right mind. And just as she observed, even amidst the dimly lit room, she could see the mischievous and impish smile he used to display whenever his eyes were on the pages of that book.
"Jiraiya-sama authored it, ne?"
"Sensei… why do you find porn so entertaining?"
Then finally, his attention was grabbed. "Porn is not a word, Sakura-kun. It is a sin."
She made a face. "Since when and where did I hear that before?"
He faced her, eyes smiling. "Since…"
"What is paradise, sensei?"
Her innocent question was delivered in a wistful tone, perhaps quite curious about knowing what her teacher thought. The silver-haired Jounin lowered his orange pocketbook to look at the prompting gaze of his pink-haired student. She sat opposite to him that lazy afternoon, doing merely nothing but repetitively reading the characters imprinted on his book, "Icha Icha Paradise."
"Ne, sensei. What is paradise?" She asked again. His eye slowly crinkled up into a smile as he put aside the book that distracted him throughout the day, and in reply, he said nothing.
"Sensei!" she demanded an answer now. "Otherwise, I will be convinced that that book is..." Her words suddenly trailed off. The somewhat forbidden word that she intended to end her sentence with was suddenly lost in her voice. She then chose to whisper,"...porn."
He chuckled. "Sakura-kun, porn is not a word. It is a sin."
Her eyebrow shot up. "So you're admitting you're a sinner?"
"No, I'm just lecturing you."
"Sensei, if you're reading porn, then you'd have to consider yourself as a sinner ne?"
The older man cupped his chin. A hint of interest was shown greatly by his right eye as a smile tickled his lips beneath the mask. "Hmm… sometimes, I wonder why you're growing so curious about this."
And his student could not hold back the flushing of her cheeks. "B-Baka. I'm not perverted like you." She stuck out her tongue and teased, "I guess your paradise is full of sin then…"
Kakashi chuckled once more and set aside his book for today. In return, he drew out one of the scrolls buried deep in his jacket pockets, which was the cause of Sakura's preplexed stare. She asked him what it was for, but he chose to remain silent until he opened it wholly, revealing an empty patch of paper.
"Nothing, ne?" he cut in, and then drew a shuriken from its holster. "Define the word 'paradise' to me, Sakura-kun."
His question confused her. Where was he trying to lead her anyway? But despite her doubts, she chose to answer, "Erm… a place of perfection, beauty and contentment. A place where all satisfactions are given; Heaven."
The Jounin smiled. "Very good."
"But sensei, what is the connection of my definition to that empty scroll?"
He positioned his shuriken colser to the paper. "That is your own definition. However, my Paradise lies in the hearts of the people whom I cherish the most. Dakedo…" And in a quick, expertly maneuvered motion, he shredded the scroll into torn pieces, which became the object of Sakura's perplexed stare.
"As you know," he continued. "Those that I cherish the most have already gone. Therefore, I am left without a Paradise to be happy about." His hand reached in his pockets once more to dig out a roll of tape, which was something Sakura thought was weird, as his other hand busied itself by gathering the pieces of paper. "Sakura-kun, a paradise is something you want to protect with your life. I lost that paradise…" Slowly, he began to cut the tape and stick the pieces back together. "But I am gradually building a new one… a better one where I will be able to defend it with my existence." His gaze focused onto her, and a smile crept in his lips. "My paradise will be protected in the same way that I protect those who have become important to me. Happiness will only then be given in return when I see that those people are safe."
She was impressed. Who would have thought of such a thing? Perhaps she overestimated her sensei too much, that he was only fighting to defend his way of the ninja. There were a lot of people who doubted him in the past, but it was only now when she understood him fully.
The scroll was now back to its full self now. He held it up and smiled. "Scars will only remind us. But that won't stop us from healing, ne?"
As much as he liked lecturing her with visual aids, Sakura was awed by her teacher's gentleness. He was always nonchalant, trying his best to make her understand different situations through simple afternoon lectures like this. He spoke in a soft tone, truly hiding the fact that he was regarded as one of the best shiobis in their village.
And she liked him that way.
"I think you'll be out of the hospital by tomorrow," Kakashi broke her thoughts. He was already closing his book and had looked at her with a prompting gaze. It seems that she had allowed her thoughts to distract her that the silence between them bothered her teacher greatly. He smiled slowly. "After I speak with your doctor, I'm sure you'll be just fine."
But that sentece worried her to a great extent. Her emerald eyes were now resting on the tiled floor, shaking uncertainly. "Kakashi-sensei… am I-?"
"Mah… I wonder if it's a boy." The man was talking to himself as he cupped his chin thoughtfully. "In that case, what should you name him? Hmm… if it's a girl, then maybe Chidori would do, ne Sakura-kun?"
Although she would normally slap him in the face for giving such unwanted comments, she had to realize that it was his way of reassuring her that he would always be there for her. They wouldn't know for certain yet. But whatever happens, she had to accept it. So she chose to rest her back on the pillow behind her and a small, credulous smile crept its way to her lips. "Chidori… sounds nice."
He smiled as well. "Raikiri-kun sounds nice if ever it's a boy."
He chuckled softly. "What?"
"Doesn't naming children after your only original move sound… absurd?"
"I don't see why not."
She managed a childish pout in detest to his simple reply. "Baka na."
Maito Gai gathered himself to his feet and gave Sakura's mother a courteous bow. The silence took place and deafened their ears for a fleeting moment before he spoke, "Kakashi will not disappoint you, Haruno-san."
The rather plump and older version of the pink-haired kunoichi averted her eyes to the fading rain outside her window. It was late, and she planned to visit her daughter, that is, if not for the teacher's unexpected visit. But the somehow vindicated and firm conclusion the raven-haired Jounin announced echoed in her head incessantly. "Kakashi-san…?"
"He has grown fond of her since."
Her lips trembled. "He is…"
Gai turned to the door and his feet led him outside. "Haruno-san, your decision may take a while. But I assure you my utmost confidence that he will take good care of her."
The woman faced him with a small smile and replied, "I will talk with Sakura tomorrow morning. The results will be delivered by her doctor on that day as well." She clasped her hands as she escorted the Jounin outside. "Gai-sensei, would like to speak with Kakashi-san as well."
A/n: I decided to develop Kakashi and Sakura's relationship in this chapter. Don't worry, the next chapters will continue on with the plot as well as the zenith. Please find time to read the third installment of Humanity because in that part, the KakaSaku pairing will be put to its maximum. (hehe… I gave away a hint already:D)
I kept this chapter really short, in case you were wondering. All the main ideas will be jammed in the third part. :D I felt that releasing the pressure a bit would help our characters ease their stressed conditions.