Warnings: Graphic contents ahead. Mature subject matter. Not at all fluffy. Kakashi/Sakura on jaded with a touch of cream.

Note: Sakura is currently a professional Medic-Nin, passed Chuunin status. I'm not going to speculate if she's Jounin or a part of ANBU. She's much, much older than you might imagine her to be or maybe younger than you think... or both.

And She Smiles
by Blue Jeans

Have you ever fucked a man while he was wearing a mask?

Sakura has. Many times. Then again, ninjas are people who are good at doing things that are distasteful, awkward or just plain strange to others. Anyway, it's not like she wants to see his expression or try to figure out his feelings for her. They are ninjas after all. They're all messed up already. They kill and maim others for a living and mark their own betrayers - even if once beloved - for traitors that are fit to kill...

She doesn't mind not seeing his face. In fact, it's a blessing. It makes the pretending and the disassociation easier for the both of them. He doesn't have to try to hide what he feels and she doesn't have to pretend that it's him she's fucking. And it's not like he's alone in this or that she's the only one playing at escape. She is, after all, wearing a mask too. Unlike Kakashi though, she's far better at hiding her feelings. She doesn't need clothes and masks or even words to form the lies. She smiles her smile and plays naive, and all the questions will turn to ashes before her clear green gaze.

He is old enough to be her father and he is her former teacher, but she's not so picky nowadays, not when it comes to men. This way it will be easier to let go, she thinks. First Sasuke, and that had been hard. Then Naruto, and that had been harder - and she was more surprised than anybody else at how hard the second time was. Wasn't it supposed to get easier? But things never did work out the way she planned. And now that it's Kakashi's turn... Sakura won't make the same mistakes three times. Not in a row or, at least, that's what she tells herself.

That's what it means to be a shinobi, and she had to learn it the hard way.

Ino says, This way we won't forget such an important lesson in life. With such a stiff and unnatural smile that she was given when the blonde declared it, it was obvious that her friend hadn't learned her lesson well enough. Tsunada-shishou can only look at her now with pitiful, sad eyes that makes her puke into the toilet until acid burns at her throat. It only happens on days when she's being weak again. Those are the only moments that Sakura feels regret for what she's had to become, but most days, she's just too damn busy being glad that she's still alive to care. But she doesn't look back and wonder, not unless she's being stupid again or wanting to walk the same path her Shishou has. Such things will only hurt her more, and only a fool would do so for punishment or pleasure or both.

She is stronger than they think she is. She will make it no matter what!

Women are inherently weaker than men and with far less stamina, that will always be true. It is a curse for the shinobi, what nature bestowed upon her, but it still took Sakura years to understand what that had truly implied. You can't really train a woman to have more chakra or strength or muscles than her body can produce. Medically it's dangerous to even try, and naturally, impossible. But with every weakness there will be a strength that will compensate for it. For example, women are usually better at controlling chakra than men. Women do not need masks as much as men. It is more advantageous for them, at times, to use their looks to get what they wanted.

Sakura would only wear hers when she has calculated that the risk of discovery if her enemy knew her face is not in her favor (in other words, she will fail to kill them). Seduction and deceit, after all, is a woman's job and her second nature. Stealth is only really born and intuitive in those who had always had to rely on things other than strength, just like controlling chakra was a must for Sakura who never had enough of it. So it's all very easy for Sakura to look Kakashi in the eye and not feel an ounce of shame for deceiving them both. In this moment, all that she has is enough, even if in life it has never been the case.

She's not alone. He wants it this way even if he doesn't understand passed what his dick wants. He just likes to think he knows why he likes the Icha Icha series so much or why he allows this to continue on between the two of them, though he doesn't. Men are like that. They suffer like women do but tend to fail in understanding the emotions in their heads passed the basics. That's their weakness. Action and reaction, enough to strategize but not sympathize.

So Sakura gives him what he needs though all he understands is that this is what he wants. No guilt and no strings, it's perfect for the both of them she tells him, and he believes her with a shrug because he's too tired and broken to think she's lying to him too. There is, after all, only so much that you would want to see, underneath the underneath. There are only lonely nights between them now. Nights when the pains are too intense or the killings are to gruesome or the memories are too alive. That's when he'd come or she'd go, and then they would mesh their flesh together until they are no more than animals that act more than think, and feel more than live. She understands and he thinks he does, and it's good enough for the both of them the way things are.

Sakura needs to think of it this way, needs to think no one will ever understand her again and least of all the last man to know her this long in the business. She isn't so vulnerable this way, or not anymore, which is her favorite euphism. She can pretend she's successful for once at keeping the door locked on the things that can never be and wanting nothing at all. I have nothing to lose with this, she says, and hoped for once it is true.

She doesn't want him to understand anyway. Doesn't want anyone to understand or get so close again. So she'll just wrap her legs around his slim waist and make all the right noises and watch his eye - the only eye that matters - and pretend he's someone else and that everything turned out like a fairytale. He'll make those quirky little movements beneath his mask that tells her something else, while she memorizes his unfamiliar features, the stranger in her bed pretending to be a prince. In that moment, he can live in the past again. For him, for a brief time, the past becomes unclouded from hurts and if-onlys that are now set in stone. For her, she pretends he can rescue her, that she can be saved by the white-haired stranger and that the future can be rewritten anew, populated with the things she can no longer do.

As a woman she knows all too well the medicine required to cure them of this ill. Scared as she is though, it's too bitter and pricy for her to want to save herself, much less to save them both from. So she stays close to the light with him and his shadows, and pray that hers won't catch up to her like his has.

Ninjas are good at pretend. All actors on a stage. Pretend can save one's life and sanity. Pretend makes the pain less real and life less harsh. A shinobi who is gifted in genjutsu understands this best. Illusions are her skill and her weapon. In this moment, she lays them down before her former sensei and smiles as she uses them as a double edged sword that cuts them both. After all, aren't they the same? In the end, aren't they all the same?

We are both cowards. She tells him without words in the dark, with her glittering eyes as she blows out the light. What is strength but that we will never have enough of it? What are comrades except that we will never be strong enough to save but ourselves?

He tries to see her with his black-red eye and doesn't understand the truth beneath her curving lips and her soft, knowing touches. In that moment, all his skills fail to make him live past the life she's given him and the illusion she creates for them both. She lets him do it again and again because he's the only one left and so is she. She lets him pretend because she'll never tell him that his mask fails to hide the most important things, so used to relying on a layer of clothes to hide what needs skill to deceive. She knows the truth after all, or is alive to believe it so - and in this business that's just the same. She just doesn't have what it takes to share it with him. Not yet, and maybe never.

We will never be strong enough to be happy. She wants to tell him honestly, for once. Not ever again. Not unless the Earth is moved by the blood that we spill and brings back what is already gone.

But he still believes that this can save them. Even if only for an hour, a day, or a week...

And as she looks into his two mismatched, Sharingan eyes, she'll smile until he understands.

The End.

Guess what happened to Naruto and Sasuke? Just guess. Hehehe. No, I am not going to confirm to you whether or not they're both dead. I am not going to say it.

Yes, you read eyes in the end. It is not a grammatical error. It's plural in the end for a reason. It's mismatched for a very obvious reason and Sakura says the only one that matters for a reason too. Nope, not much things in here are there by coinkidinks.

Feel blue's brains melt into the goo of retardation. It's a catching disease. Oh, and yes, I made a few revisions due to the fact that Sakura was a bit OOC and I went over it and was like, nope, that won't do. So I changed it a little and now she's more IC.. in a futuristic sense... umu... right.

I was a little bit sick of Saku/Kaka fluff and this is what came of it. I don't really see that relationship going down any non-messed up road. I doubt I'll write another Saku/Kaka, being the Saku/Naru fan that I am. But hey, maybe I'm just not into fluffy relationships, because I don't see non-messed up Saku/Naru relationship either.. hell, Saku/Sasu is messed up enough as is and that's canon and I haven't even tried to mess with that yet! Oh-ho!

Right. Right. Anywho! I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for the feedbacks!

Oh, and for those that missed it, this is a one-shot. There is no sequel. No other chapter. The End means it's ending there and that's the end of that. It's over. Dead. In the ground!

Ah. The post-story angst.