Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I just wish I owned Kakashi ….cackle….

Chapter 17: Healing Anger

5 hours later:

Kiba and Akamaru sat on a bench against the wall while Genma and Raidou sat across from them. A set of double doors marked "Treatment Room 35" stood between the four.

Each man, along with the huge white canine, already had their turn under the scrutinizing eye of a healer. Each man and dog sported a fresh set of bandages. Although their gathering had not been prearranged, their reasoning was roughly the same.

Beyond those swinging double doors lay an unconscious Haruno Sakura who previously had only a fraction of a chance to live when she was brought in five hours ago. Her progress was yet to be known at this point. Not a single doctor had emerged the entire time the three men had been sitting there.

Needless to say the mood was tense and the air was thick in that unnaturally bright hallway. Neither of the men spared a glance at the other, too afraid to let slip what might be reflected in their own eyes. The shinobi just continued to sit quietly as healers and patients hustled and bustled around them.

Akamaru's ears perked up as a familiar loud and angry voice rose above the din. The three men looked up and simultaneously got to their feet. Naruto rounded the corner with an auburn haired female medic in tow.

They all recognized the voice immediately and knew what was coming before the words were shouted out at the top of his very robust set of lungs.

"What do you mean I can't see her?"

Naruto's louder than usual voice bounced off the walls of the small corridor and Akamaru lowered his head. The poor woman looked haggard and highly disgruntled as she tried to get in front of the irate shinobi.

Naruto's nostrils flared as he angrily stomped toward the treatment room's doors, completely ignoring the three men and the dog. The alarmed woman rushed forward and stood her ground firmly in front of the stainless steel entrance.

"Your friend is under going an extremely delicate procedure at the moment! No one is allowed behind those doors except highly qualified personnel and seeing as how you are not a certified healer you will not enter!"

Naruto looked like he was going to barrel right through the small woman to get to his destination and so the three men took it upon themselves to jump into action.

Naruto struggled against his human like shackles in the busy hallway of the florescent lit hospital corridor. He stood outside the room where his second favorite Kunoichi was being worked on. Kiba had a hold on Naruto's left arm while Genma had a hold of his right. Raidou had both arms wrapped around the irate blonde ninja's waist from behind.

Neji had been the one to tell Naruto of his best friend's admittance into the hospital. He had carried Hinata through the doors the same time Kiba and Gai had carried in the half dead Kunoichi.

The Anbu clad ninja continued to struggle forward with his newly added weight. Naruto pointed a pointer finger over the woman's shoulder as he was ground to a halt once Akamaru grabbed a hold of his right pant leg.

"That's my best friend in there damn it! I'm not going to stand out here while she could be dying in there! You better move before I make you lady!"

The white unformed medic ninja sighed in exasperation. This wasn't the first individual who demanded to see their friends or family members and unfortunately she knew he wouldn't be the last.

But it wasn't like she didn't sympathize with the many people she had already told this speech to. Her heart went out to each and every one of them, but they had to understand that interfering would not help the patient's recovery.

Her voice was less sharp this time when she spoke.

"Sir, I realize that you are worried about your friend, but please understand that her treatment will go much faster if you do not interfere. I promise you that our people are doing everything that can possibly be done for her. Please be patient and you will see her again soon. "

Naruto was highly disgruntled but he would do or in this case not do anything to help Sakura pull through. The blonde let out a low growl but remained where he stood.

The three men sighed as their friend finally came to his senses. Naruto's head dropped to his chest in defeat as the woman patted his shoulder. Her voice was much gentler as she spoke.

"Come now dear, have a seat. I'm sure Kami still has a use for your friend in this world…"

Kiba, Genma, Raidou and Akamaru let go and then Naruto sat down heavily. The fanged man resumed his seat next to the depressed young man. Genma and Raidou retook their seats as well as the older woman took her leave.

Naruto continued to stare at the floor as he snarled out to no one in particular.

"What happened?"

Naruto felt somewhat disgusted with himself as he had forgotten his pink haired friend in his worry over his wife and child. While it turned out that his son had been relatively safe from harm due to the combined efforts of Ten-Ten and Lee and his wife had just collapsed and needed rest; his best friend and new teammate was hovering in between life and death.

All Naruto knew was that he had not been there for her or his other teammates and it ate him up inside. It was true that he was the only one who could have fought the battle against the Cloud leader but nothing would erase the fact that as a Captain and friend he was not there for his team. In his absence, two team members were now dead and his third was close to it.

He didn't know how it happened, he just knew that he wasn't there and he wished like hell that he had been.

'I'm sorry Sakura...I let you down….'

Kiba turned his head to the doors. He wasn't aware of all the details so he left the story telling up to the other two. Genma continued to suck on the toothpick he was given since his senbon had been previously confiscated by his examiner. Raidou sighed, leaned back into the wall, and lifted his eyes to the ceiling as he spoke.

"Apparently she sucked herself dry trying to heal Kakashi…"

Naruto's head snapped up and stared wide eyed at the scarred man across from him. He had no idea his silver haired friend had been hurt. His voice reflected his surprise as he spoke.

"What! Neji didn't say anything about Kakashi… Is he ok! Is he alive? Where the hell is he?"

"He was conscious the last time we seen him, thanks entirely to Sakura. Asuma, Kurenai, Anko and that ANBU woman is downstairs waiting on some news. That purple haired lady said she'd come up and tell us once they hear anything…I believe Gai went to find Lee…"

Genma spoke up for the first time next to Raidou.

"Anyway, I suppose you've seen what's left of the Jounin Building eh?"

Naruto nodded his head while still staring curiously at the two men. He had seen the remnants of their HQ and had heard the alarm. Naruto was beginning to get impatient. He wanted answers and he wanted them now.

"So tell me what the hell happened already!"

Raidou continued as Kiba too took in his every word.

"It's like this…the enemy overran the HQ and Kakashi sent out his alarm. Well the next thing we know here comes that purple haired ANBU lady I was telling you about…"

"Long story short, she blows the building with Kakashi still inside…"


Kiba rolls his eyes as Genma points his soggy toothpick at the younger man.

"Hey, it's not like she did it on purpose. It looked like it was against her will or something…."

Raidou spoke up again.

"Yeah, apparently he was forced to use his Mangekyo or… at least that's what I think I heard Sakura say…."

His voiced trailed off and then he shook his head to clear it.

"Anyway, as I was saying…we all thought Kakashi had kicked the bucket right? Well, Sakura wouldn't hear it see, so she takes off running like a mad woman through the crowd…"

Genma spoke up excitedly, trying to demonstrate exactly what the desperate woman had done.

"It was amazing…stupid…but amazing. She did this thing with her hands…"

Radiou bopped his friend upside his brown head for interrupting him.

"… we lost track of her once we started fighting, but apparently she found him in the rubble and he must've been close to death because when we found 'em, the poor bastard looked like hell…"

Genma put in his two cents yet again.

"More like death warmed over…times two..."

Raidou picked up his hand like he was going to hit him and Genma quickly shut up.

"… anyway, like I said she completely drained herself and we all thought she was dead…."

This was the part Kiba was familiar with and he decided to wrap things up.

"Yeah, it wasn't until my Sis felt a slight thump from her heart that we changed our minds. We brought 'em both here and now here we are."

Naruto shook his head like a wet dog. He couldn't believe it. He knew for a fact that he was the sort of person who would lose their cool and run through a crowd of enemy ninja to get to their ex-sensei… but… Sakura…?

Naruto had always thought of himself to be closer to the silver haired shinobi than his female best friend. Naruto argued that Sakura and the Copy Ninja hardly exchanged more than the usual pleasantries between ex-teacher and student before she joined ANBU.

Besides that, hadn't he found her crying in her apartment because Kakashi had transferred her to his squad due to insubordination or something? Then again Naruto reasoned that during the heat of war petty grudges were always forgotten amongst allies.

Still, Naruto couldn't get over the fact that his best friend had tried to give her life for the man she had scolded a thousand times over for being eternally late and reading perverted books in public.

Then again he couldn't discount the fact that the three of them had spent a rather large chunk of their lives together tracking down Sasuke. They even share in the same horrible nightmare of that night. The pieces seemed to fit as he sat there silently among the chaos of the hospital.

'Like me, he's a link to her past. He's become a part of her, probably the same way the both of them have become a part of me. It makes sense now. I should have known, even though she may yell and scream, it doesn't mean she doesn't care…'

Genma mistook Naruto's look of comprehension and opened his mouth and unknowingly inserted his foot.

"Yeah, who would have thought my little cherry blossom would have fallen for old one eye, huh?"

Kiba scowled as Genma crossed his arms and leaned back into the wall. Naruto's eyebrow rose confusedly. Raidou saw this and elbowed his brown haired friend in the ribs. Naruto couldn't help the slight stutter when he spoke.

"W-wait….just what the hell are you…?"

Kiba crossed his arms as well but continued to stare hard at the metal doors as he spoke.

"He was holding her hand when we found them…and… he wouldn't let go."

Genma grunted before adding more fuel to the fire.

"Hmph, not to mention she told me they spent the night together…"

Raidou slid his hand down his face as Naruto's eye's almost popped out of his head. Low growls were coming from the corner where the Inuzuka clansman resided. Akamaru rubbed his head on Kiba's pant leg soothingly.

Raidou came to the injured woman's defense. He turned to his friend in exasperation.

"Hey you hit on her and all she said was that you wouldn't compare! I wouldn't say that was admitting that she slept with him per say…"

Genma glanced at his friend out of the corner of his eye as he scoffed.

"Psht, please. She said the words "not after last night" and that clearly implies that she and Kakashi were together…because she sure wasn't with me."

The growls from the corner increased in volume slightly. Naruto's eyes and ears bounced from between the two quarreling friends. Raidou rebuked his friend calmly.

"Yes, but how do we know it was him?"

Genma scoffed again.

"Come off it, that hot ANBU chick said that they meant more to each other than we all had thought. I'm telling you, she knows something..."

Raidou sighed.


Genma wasn't through.

"…besides we all know Sakura isn't the type of woman to go sleeping around with just any man…believe me… I've tried."

Kiba hold on his sanity wavered as he spoke through gritted teeth to the men across from him.

"Will you two just shut up already?"

Genma gave him a suit-your-self type of look while Raidou gave Naruto a questioning gaze. The blonde man was staring at the floor with his face a deathly shade of white. Raidou waved a hand in front of Naruto's face.

"Hey man, are you alright?"

Naruto's voice grew with every word he uttered.

"Would…you…be alright if you just found out your best friend is in love with an old pervert!"

Kiba grunted his agreement as Genma nodded his. Raidou rolled his eyes and shook his head. His voice held the slightest edge as he spoke.

"So the man enjoys a little light reading now and then. Come on! It's not like Kakashi is Jiraiya or... Genma here."

All three men seemed to think over his words. Genma finally caught on to his friend's dig as the elevator chimed and out stepped Sasaki. He was in mid-rebuke when he changed his mind.

Genma spoke before the new arrival could even begin to form words.

"How is he?"

Genma patted the seat next to him, but Sasaki chose the one on the other side of the russet haired man. Genma sighed as Sasaki spoke to the group.

"He's just been taken out of the treatment room. They said not to worry, but not to expect him up and walking around for at least a couple of weeks."

Sasaki rubbed the heels of her hands into her eyes, sleep beckoned but like the others she was not ready to answer its call. Her voice grew serious as she spoke.

"They said if he had not received the care he was given before he was brought in that he could have…."

All eyes turned to the metal doors that led inside treatment room 35. Raidou knew the woman blamed herself for his friend's injuries. He pat her shoulder in a friendly comforting way and was rewarded with a slight smile.

The bandaged woman asked the question that had been burning in her throat since she had stepped out of the elevator.

"What's the news on Sakura?"

Kiba spoke up with a low growl.

"Still no word…"

Sasaki leaned her head back against the stark white wall as she closed her eyes; no doubt they were in for a long wait. Her eyes opened as her fellow ANBU member addressed her.

"Sasaki, did you know about Kakashi and Sakura?"

Sasaki sighed as Raidou rolled his eyes. It was going to be a long night in deed…


Two Days Later:

Consciousness was slowly creeping its way over a certain silver haired shinobi. His body no longer ached but it was still a struggle to move. As his dark orb adjusted to the light he noticed that his right arm and left leg were covered in casts.

He also noticed that his headband had been replaced with surgical bandages. Whoever had done the job had thankfully wrapped some of the white cloth over his scarred eye. His head dully throbbed as he turned to the side and he noticed that his neck felt stiff.

He no longer felt nauseous but he still felt exhausted and weak just the same. It was no doubt residual effects from his over use of the Mangekyo Sharingan. When Kakashi finally got a rein on his senses, he noticed he wasn't alone. He felt an all too familiar chakra signature.

"About damn time you woke up. How're you feeling?"

Kakashi turned his head slightly the other way and took in the image of Asuma standing next to the little stand to the left of his bed. He was just in the process of placing some "Get Well" flowers onto its surface.

Kakashi found his throat was too dry to speak and shakily reached out a trembling hand to the glass of water from the table where the flowers now rested. Asuma sighed while watching his pathetic attempt then grunted and handed Kakashi the glass. The Copy Ninja shakily brought it to his lips. After a few sips Asuma took it back and placed it in its previous spot.

Kakashi tried again to speak and decided to get straight to the point.

"Like shit. How is she?"

Asuma didn't need his friend to elaborate; he knew exactly who Kakashi was talking about. Kurenai had been checking in on the girl at least twice a day and had been forcing him to do the same for Kakashi. Asuma inwardly laughed as he thought about how similar his ruby eyed Kunoichi was to Naruto when it came to promises.

Kakashi didn't like the fact that his question wasn't being answered. His heart was hammering in his chest every second that Asuma kept quiet. He asked again with an edge to his voice.

"I said how is she."

Asuma put up his hands in front of him in defense as he spoke with slight amusement.

"Hey now, don't go getting all cranky on me."

Asuma pulled up a stool as Kakashi glared and clenched his jaw. The man who trailed the smell of tobacco wherever he went decided he had better elaborate. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully as he started his explanation.

"Relax old man, she's alive. Doc says it's a miracle she survived, but then again she's always been stubborn…kind of like someone else I know."

Kakashi closed his eyes and let out a long loud sigh in relief.

'Thank the gods.'

It was like an invisible hand suddenly stopped squeezing his battered heart. A calm smile broke out underneath his newly masked face.

Asuma continued in his update as Kakashi basked in relief.

"Kurenai said Sakura woke up earlier this morning. Oh, those flowers are from Kurenai. You know a funny thing happened when our favorite pink haired kunoichi woke up. She immediately tried to get out of her bed. Mind you, she's in no condition yet to be up and walking around, doctors orders you know."

Asuma tried to hold in his smirk as he continued.

"Kurenai asked her where she was going. Want to know what she said?"

Kakashi had a very good idea where this was going and said nothing as he tried to sit up. Asuma continued as his friend kept his stony silence.

"It's hilarious really. She said she was coming to see you! Hm, she even tried to sacrifice her life for you too didn't she? Now, why would that be, huh? You're not exactly the warm and fuzzy type my friend."

Kakashi all but growled at his older friend who was obviously messing with him. Kakashi refused to say a word as he struggled to turn to the side.

Asuma laughed as he watched Kakashi struggle to move a leg off the edge of his bed. The bearded man knew he wouldn't get an answer from the tight lipped Copy Ninja and he also knew he should have seen this coming as well. His voice was filled with amusement as he spoke.

"What in the hell do you think your doing?"

Kakashi grunted as he struggled to say in an upright sitting position.

"I'm…going…to see her."

Asuma shook his head while he wore a pure shit eating grin.

"Uh, huh…and just how exactly are you going to do that?"

The great Copy Ninja Hatake Kakashi was going to say something Asuma never thought he would ever hear. In the next moment Asuma's eyebrows rose to his hairline as Kakashi gritted out his reply.

"I… need your help…."


Sakura had just fallen back asleep when Kurenai turned off the light and moved to exit the room. She and Asuma were almost due back at the new makeshift HQ. It was really just an old unused classroom that used to be used as a storeroom. Screens were utilized to separate the different departments and only vital personnel were to be taking up its small space.

Everyone else was helping to rebuild or off on missions.

Missions were pouring in like crazy since word that Fire Country survived an onslaught from two opposing Hidden Villages. Kurenai and Asuma were supposed to contact the Hokage for a mission assignment once they left the hospital.

Being the village's greatest healer and having the village's second greatest healer as her assistant helped significantly in Tsunade's recovery. Other than a few bandages she was in perfect working condition or in perfect condition to work as Shizune put it.

The Leaf's greatest shinobi was now currently working out of her spacious living quarters and it seemed to suit the blonde woman just fine.

Kurenai quietly laughed as she remembered a highly disgruntled Shizune marching out of the Hokage's front gates with a truckload of sake bottles in tow. Kurenai opened the door and was met with Asuma half dragging a weak, pale, and sweaty Hatake Kakashi.

Asuma hurriedly pushed past her and into the room where he unceremoniously discarded his burden onto the chair Kurenai had just vacated. Kurenai half whispered, half shouted at the man she had spent the past eleven years secretly loving.

"What the hell were you thinking bringing him here?"

Asuma lowered his head as he spoke quietly.

"I told you she'd be mad."

"He's supposed to be…"

Then she turned to the silver haired lump of flesh pooled in the chair.

"You're supposed to be resting, not talking this fool into dragging you around the hospital!"

Kakashi continued to pant heavily in his seat, thankful that the two of them had successfully dodged being seen on the way. Luckily he was saved from answering as a small tired voice spoke up.

"What's going on?"

All three pairs of eyes turned toward the pink haired woman who had just opened her eyes. She slowly scooted herself up her pillow and tried to sit up. When she finally situated herself the best she could; she looked from Kurenai who still stood by the door, to Asuma who stood at the foot of her bed, and then finally to the man half sitting, half lying in the chair beside her.

Their eyes locked and Sakura's eyes went wide as she slightly shrank back into her pillow. The look she gave him made that invisible hand return to squeeze around his heart.

It was the kind of look a child would give an adult who had come to rescue them from the boogieman. She was too frightened to believe in the truth and too shocked to reach out to her rescuer.

Kakashi's chest tightened as silent tears rolled down the corners of Sakura's eyes. Her bottom lip began to quiver which made her voice tremble as she spoke. Her voice and words betrayed her current state of mind.

"Please… let this be real…cause if it's not …I'll just die."


The situation pulled at Kurenai's heartstrings. She knew this was their queue to leave.

As the two continued to stare into each other's eyes, lost in their own little world, the clever woman dragged her other half out the door. She softly shut the door with an almost inaudible click, so as to not break the current mood the two had set.

Asuma broke their silence once they were halfway down the hallway with the snap of his vest pocket. He tapped his trusty pack of cigarettes and withdrew one to put between his lips. He spoke with the unlit white rolled paper dangling from his mouth. His voice held more wonderment than anything else when he spoke as he shook his head.

"Who would have thought?"

Kurenai looped her arm around his own as she said pointedly with laughter.

"Yes, who would have thought indeed?"

Asuma turned to her and just shook his head with a smile as they continued on their way.



The timid woman squeezed her eyes shut at hearing her name said by that familiar voice.

'What if this isn't real…? What if I'm just dreaming and he's really d…?'

Her thoughts were abruptly interrupted as she felt a hand entwine with her own. That hand was lifted as her wet lashes fluttered open. He had removed his mask and he slowly brought the back of her hand to his soft lips.

His touch was real. His kiss was real. Sakura now knew that this wasn't some dream conjured up by her troubled mind. He was alive and he was here with her. His thumb was rubbing gentle circles over the pale skin where he had kissed.

Sakura used every ounce of her weakened strength to sit up and pull him to her. The top half of her body dangerously leaned over the side of the bed. She desperately clung to the man she thought she would only see on the other side. Kurenai had told her his condition, but she had been too hesitant to truly believe.

Sobs wracked her body as she weakly fisted her shaking hands into the material of his long sleeved shirt. Kakashi felt the wetness on his shoulder from Sakura's tears but he didn't care.

He gently rocked her as his hand slipped through her short mussed hair soothingly. His voice was gentle and low as he spoke.

"Don't cry Sakura. Please, I'm not worth your tears."

Sakura jerked her head away from him to look into his dark eye. Kakashi was more than surprised to see angry eyes boring a hole through him. Sakura growled.

"Don't you dare, don't you dare say such a thing!"

Sakura struggled to return her self to a proper sitting position on the hospital bed. She glowered at him and Kakashi just sat there stunned. After everything she had been through, she couldn't believe he would tell her that.

'Doesn't he realize…?'

The words seemed so much easier to say now for some reason. There was no hesitation as she spoke.

"Kakashi, you are worth more than just my tears damn it!"

Her eyes softened as her brows knitted together. Her lip trembled as her emotions burst forth through her trembling voice.

"I love you."

Kakashi lowered his eyes as he hung his head slightly. There she had said it again. This made it three times already while he had said it none. His pained voice tore at her heart. His old insecurities of a future together with her returned.

"I don't deserve your love Sakura…"

She wanted to strangle him, how could one of the greatest shinobi she knew be so hard on himself. The answer came to her as she thought about her last moments among the rubble.


Sakura leaned over and tilted his head up to meet her eyes. She looked firmly into his droopy dark orb and spoke with a clear voice.

"You deserve happiness Hatake Kakashi. Uchiha Obito did not sacrifice his life so that you could spend your days punishing your self wallowing in your guilt."

Her words hit a raw nerve. No one had dared say such things to him before. They had all let him continue his daily ritual of reminding himself that he didn't belong in this world and that he didn't deserve whatever good fortune was sent his way.

Everyone knew he visited the monument early in the morning every day to punish himself, but no one dared try to stop him. No one dared try to talk to him about it. No one dared tell him of his worth. It was true he was told that he was a great shinobi and a valuable asset to the village. He believed he was a great tool, but nothing more. Sakura wanted to break that, she wanted to heal the holes in his heart.

Now that she had truly felt what it was like to lose him, she wasn't going to let a petty thing like his stubbornness get in the way of their happiness.

Kakashi jerked his face out of her grip and way from her eyes. He stared at the wall as Sakura forced down the urge to hit him, to try to smack some sense into him. She took a calming breath before she continued. He would hear her, even if he didn't like it, he would hear her.

He was going to see the light or by Kami she vowed that he would never leave her hospital room until he did.

"I'm not stupid Kakashi. I know why you try to push me away and let me tell you something. You're wrong."

Kakashi scowled as he continued to look away from her.

"You are not just a tool for the village. Your friends and family did not die because you failed them in whatever absurd way you've conjured up inside that thick head of yours! Your life means more than just a successful mission or a victorious battle…!"

Kakashi seemed to snap as he turned to her with fire blazing in his eye. Sakura jumped back slightly in her bed surprised by his sudden outburst.

"You have no idea what I think or feel! You couldn't even begin to understand my pain little girl!"

Words spewed out of her mouth without the slightest thought. His stubbornness and use of words had fanned the flames of her anger into a mighty blaze.

"I risked my life to bring you back damn it because I love you and want to be with you! If I had known you'd be such a fucking coward maybe I wouldn't have even tried!"

Kakashi seemed to have the same problem that Sakura did. His fevered words were forced past his lips by his own boiling anger. It was mostly misdirected anger, but Sakura was already aware of that fact even before the words tumbled from his lips.

"I never asked you to! Did you ever stop to think that maybe I didn't want you to do that! Did you or Obito or any of them ever stop to think that maybe I would rather have been the one who died instead!"

There it was the real problem. This was the problem that had festered in his heart all these years twisting and distorting his view, warping his sense of self. This was what kept him from getting too close, from getting involved. It was a deep rooted self hatred brought on by more than just one death. Sakura knew in some way Rin, his father and even Sasuke was part of this.

Kakashi's brow was sweating again and his chest was heaving as he sat there like a cornered wild animal.


His eye flashed.


Sakura shrank back from him and Kakashi felt truly ashamed.

His eyes softened as he turned away. His pain filled voice cut her to the bone.

"Don't you see? I was forced back into that dark place when I thought I had lost you. It's a place I never want to be in again."

"I can't lose you again Sakura…"

Her heart broke the moment she heard his voice break.

"…I'd rather die…"

Her anger disappeared as she watched a lone tear slide down his handsome features. She quickly learned over and gathered him into her arms. She pressed his head tenderly to her chest as her hand ran through his tuft of silver hair. Her voice was filled with emotion as she gently spoke above him.

"I too know what it feels like to lose someone they love and I know what it feels like to lose you as well."

Sakura continued to stroke his hair. She was about to tell him something that he had not known and she was sure no one had seen.

"Before I found you I came upon a body that was crushed beneath a huge slab of rock. The only thing I could see was his wrapped legs and sandaled feet. I was sure it was you. A part of me felt like it died there and I was in my own dark place…the same dark place I found myself in when…Sasuke died."

A lump formed in her throat again and hot tears ran down her cheeks and landed on his silvery locks. Kakashi felt this and moved his head a little ways away from her to look up. He frowned as she continued in a broken voice.

"..and I never…want to…feel that again…never…"

He pulled back, cupped her cheeks and used his thumbs to wipe away her tears as she finished her thought. Sakura's watery eyes looked deep into his own as she tried to convey all her feelings into her next words.

"…but you know…it hurts me even more when I have you sitting right here…and you're still too far out of my reach. I'd rather risk going back to that dark place a thousand times over then to never be with you like this. You're worth all the tears and all the pain in the world to me Kakashi. So you can keep pushing me away as much as you want…because…no matter what...I'll never stop loving you. "

Sakura burst into tears and sank her forehead into his chest. Kakashi wrapped his arms around her. She had just poured everything inside her rapidly beating little heart out to him.

This felt somewhat reminiscent to her of all those years ago when she had tried to stop Sasuke from leaving the village, but this time she knew what true pain and loss was. She also knew what true love felt like and she was damn sure this was the real thing.

Sakura knew that just like that time before, she had said all that she could say. Her happiness was now placed in his hands. He could either pull her into the future or crush her where she sat.

Sakura held her breath as he lowered his lips next to her ear. She shut her eyes tightly as he sadly spoke.

"I don't deserve you Sakura…"

Sakura's heart sank as she desperately started to sob.

Kakashi wrapped his arms tighter around her as he finished what he was going to say.

"…but I can't live with out you either. You have no idea how much I love you, but I'm going to do everything I can to show you."

Sakura lifted her head and threw her arms around his neck as she cried joyful tears this time. The two leaned forward to share in their first kiss since their reunion upon being brought back into this world.

Just then the door burst open and in walked not only Naruto but the Hokage right behind him.

"Hey Sakura-chan, Kurenai said…!"

The village's two strongest shinobi were stopped in their tracks. One smirked while the other scowled. Kakashi and Sakura broke their kiss but didn't move away from each other.

"What the hell…!"

Sakura blushed as Kakashi nervously laughed and scratched the back of his bandaged head. Naruto was too irate and preoccupied to notice that Kakashi's mask was down. This little tidbit did not slip by the Hokage's notice however.

'Oh, so handsome...Jiraiya owes me a twenty when he gets back!'

Naruto's arms and legs flailed in the air as Tsunade wrapped an arm around his neck and covered his mouth with a hand. There had been enough death and despair, seeing her apprentice and her close friend's son together like this was like a breath of fresh air. She knew their tragic pasts and she knew that they deserved a little happiness as well.

The Hokage hoped that maybe, just maybe they could heal each other. They were no longer teacher and student and no longer teammates. Sakura had blossomed into a beautiful young woman under her watchful eye years ago. Who was she to say anything about age? Really, if word got out about her youthful exertions with a certain orally fixated shinobi…well, that was her business.

'What's the use of having this damn age defying jutsu if I can't reap the benefits a little?'

She winked at the two startled lovers as she dragged her 'little brother' kicking and screaming from the room.

"Oh, sorry didn't mean to intrude! We'll just come back later."

Tsunade closed the door behind her with her foot. Naruto's raised voice could be heard as the door knob started to turn.

"Like hell I'll just come back! There's no telling what that pervert might try to do to her!"

The door shut just as quickly as he opened it at Tsunade's angry outburst.

"If you so much as breathe on that door so help me Naruto, I'll close down Ichiraku for a month!"


Tsunade's ire calmed down as she took in his pale features.

"Naruto, you may have strength and guts but you're still lacking in the brains department son."

Naruto didn't seem to hear her. Their voices seemed to fade as Naruto twittered around Tsunade as she continued down the hall.

"B-B-Baa-chan, you wouldn't really close down the ramen shop would you!"

The distinctive smack upside the male's head was heard crystal clear to the two behind the closed door.


"I told you not to call me 'old lady' damn it!"

The two left alone in the room smiled into each other's eyes. Sakura reluctantly found her self asking the thought that had popped up in her head.

"So…are you going back to your room now?"

Sakura raised an eyebrow at the utterly fake set of laughs sent her way as she watch the man she loved scratch the back of his head nervously. The visible pink tinge to his cheeks matched the embarrassment in his voice.

"You see...It's actually kind of funny really…"

Sakura's eyes narrowed.

"You can't make it back can you?"

Kakashi lowered his head in shame.


Sakura scooted over and patted the small space beside her happily. Kakashi raised a silver eyebrow.


Sakura shrugged her shoulders.

"Hey, if the Hokage says that it's ok for you to be here then I say...O-k!"

Sakura gave him a thumbs up with a glimmering smile that Lee would be proud of. Kakashi rolled his droopy eye, but he started climbing in bed beside her all the same. His voice was low and sarcastic as he spoke.

"If I wanted my woman to be like Gai, I'd have fallen in love with Lee…"

A smack echoed off the walls of the small room. Sakura glared at Kakashi, whose eye began to water from the pain. She had smacked the bandaged portion of his skull.

"If I had wanted a smartass; I'd have fallen for Genma."

Kakashi lay back with his fingers laced behind his head as Sakura looked down from beside him. His voice was a low growl as his thoughts drifted to his friend.

"That reminds me, I need to have a little talk with Genma."

Sakura smirked down at Kakashi.

"Why is that?"

"Nothing really, I just owe him something."

"Owe him what?"

"Nothing, forget it."

Sakura pursed her lips then lay down beside him.

"You don't have to worry about him. I put him in his place."

Kakashi laughed.

"Really, how so?"

It was Sakura's turn to laugh.

"Oh, nothing really, I just basically told him he's no comparison to you…in bed."

That made a Cheshire grin spread across the Copy Ninja's face. Then he turned to her suddenly quit alarmed with his droopy eye as wide as a saucer.

"Wait, does that mean that you…!"

Sakura did something she hadn't done in what seemed like a very long time. She giggled.


Kakashi sighed in relief. His voice was back to its usual calm aloofness.

"Good, because then…you know… I'd have to leave you."

Sakura scoffed.

"You couldn't leave me…"

He sighed.

"You're right."

Sakura smiled.

"…because you love me."

Kakashi smiled.

"You're right."

Sakura smirked.

"You love me so much that you'll get rid of all your perverted books for me!"

Kakashi's eye narrowed dangerously.


Sakura's eyes narrowed as well.


Sakura glared angrily at him.

"…if you loved me, you wouldn't make me do such a thing…"

Sakura growled.

"…if you loved me, you wouldn't need them…"

Kakashi looked scared for a moment as he sweat-dropped. After a solid minute he smiled.

"…I get to keep them for missions…"

Sakura thought it over and then answered him with a kiss.


It was the first of many decisions that the two would have to face now.


6 months later:

Sakura woke from her daze at the sound of loud barks nearby. The sound was actually closer than she thought. She looked down to see Pakkun panting next to her sandaled foot.

Sakura smiled as she felt the familiar presence approach. Pakkun stopped his barking as Kakashi walked up behind her and planted a mask covered kiss to her cheek.

Pakkun raised an eye at the display.

"Sakura, what are you doing here? I thought we were supposed to meet Naruto at the Ichiraku for dinner?"

Sakura looked apologetic as she turned to him.

"Sorry I kind of lost track of the time. Why did you summon Pakkun?"

Pakkun looked like he would like to hear his answer as well.

Kakashi rubbed the back of his head.

"You were late….I…got worried…."

Sakura rolled her eyes and smiled. Pakkun didn't look so amused.

"Kakashi, next time you lose your woman try looking a bit harder, eh?"

Pakkun disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Kakashi wrapped his arms around her from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder.

"Everything ok?"

Sakura traced Yajima's name on the stone monument.


Kakashi didn't seem so convinced.

"You sure?"

Sakura traced another name on the etched stone surface. Kakashi saw this.

Sakura smiled as she hugged the man she would never marry and who would never father any of their children. She smiled even wider as she realized that those things were alright with her. They were shinobi and elite one's at that. This was their life and this was the man she had chosen.

"Yeah, everythings just fine."

Kakashi's free hand traced the name of Uchiha Obito as well and he said the two words that he knew he should have said so many years before.

"Thank you my friend."

Neither knew what lay ahead in the path to their future, but they did know one thing. It was a journey that they would make together…for as long as Kami allowed.



Arthur's Footnote:

...blushes… for those of you who like to read smutty goodness, I've posted a link to a revised chapter 13 on my livejournal website on my profile. So if that's your bag baby just check out my profile and looked for "revised Chapter 13 for Respect & Understanding."

…Wipes brow…

Wow, my first FINISHED multi-chapter story! It was so much fun! Sadly now what's left of my brain hurts.

I plan to go back to my other story "Cha! Anger, Friendship & Love! Oh Yeah!". I also have three other stories that could be muti-chapters collecting dust on my hard drive. Although, a sequel sounds nice too. I would really like to elaborate more on not just Kakashi and Sakura's relationship, but I have a really good match for Sasaki as well that I could include in a sequel..hehehehehe Ah, the choices!

A huge thank you to every single person who has ever reviewed this story! Your comments helped shape my story…although I had who was going to live and die…except Hinata's sister…worked out from the beginning.

Alas poor Yajima, I knew ye well!

Well, it's been fun and I'm glad to know that there are actually people out there who have enjoyed this story! You have no idea how much that means to me...


Until inspiration hits me again my friends! ……..probably tomorrow….. LOL XD

KAKASAKU FOREVER BABY CHA!at least in my warped fragile little mind….