A/N: Wrote this a while ago, but only just proofread it. Be warned: it contains very mature themes that will no doubt make some people uncomfortable, but it's hardly the first of its kind. XD Enjoy (or don't?).
Two and a half years is a long time.
Time enough for a blossom tree to bloom three times. Time enough for a child to become a girl, but not enough to become an adult. Time for a heart to crack in loneliness, but not enough time for it to heal.
Sakura cries when Naruto leaves. She sits alone beneath the cherry trees and weeps out the pent up pain and misery that has been building steadily since that time in the forest. The time when she could do nothing more than stand back and watch the boy she loved writhing in agony on the forest floor. What could she do then? What can she do now?
She seeks the guidance of the hokage herself. Not just for herself, but for her team. For Sasuke, so she can be of use to him. For Naruto, so she can pick him up every time he falls down in their search for Sasuke. For Kakashi, so she can literally pick him up when he falls down. He's no featherweight when he's on a stretcher.
But she has other reasons.
It's so she can finally prove to Ino that she's not just another tagalong.
It's so she can show Lee that she too can overcome her handicaps.
It's so that Kakashi will finally look at her and see her, rather than whatever lies behind her. She wants to prove she can be every bit as special and monstrous as her male team mates. She wants him to notice her. Acknowledge her. Anything.
They're still a team. He's still her teacher, but he never comments on the fact they don't train together. He sees her in Tsunade's office, pouring over medical theories and scribbling down the treatments for any number of sicknesses, but he doesn't comment. He waves sometimes. He might smile.
He doesn't seem to recall she was ever his student.
Does he even care?
She sometimes sees him at the cenotaph near the training grounds. She shatters trees, just like Tsunade taught her, but he never looks over. She'll turn her back for a moment and then he'll be gone. To her, he's just as far away as Naruto and Sasuke.
There is a gaping hole opening in her life. It's a hole she fills with training and meditation and equations enough to make even Shikamaru's head spin. She sits on Tsunade's balcony and looks over Konoha as she focuses her energies and chakra, learning her body better than ever before. Learning her own limitations, which seem to be stretching every day.
But two people are missing below her. The third is there, but he doesn't see her. He never did. Even with those two gone, he still has better things to watch and spend his time on than her.
She lacks concentration. She shifts her hands against the balcony floor and sends a crack racing across it. Tsunade bundles out of her office to reprimand her loudly.
She sees him one night in Ichiraku. Why he's there, she doesn't know. She's not even sure he likes ramen that much. But then again, she doesn't either, but she still finds herself drawn there. It's too late to turn and run because he's already seen her and he offers her the empty stool next to his.
In a moment of pain she wants to refuse and walk away. Give him a little taste of the way he's made her feel over the last few months. But he's seen her, for once, and she can't deny that it's what she wanted.
He asks her about the training. She tells him it's going well, but neither of them elaborate. She asks him how his missions are. He says they're tiring, but doesn't explain. They eat in silence, and when Sakura can eat no more, she lays down her chopsticks.
"It doesn't taste as nice as I remember," she says softly.
Kakashi grunts, but carries on eating. His face is exposed and open to her gaze, but she doesn't care. It almost feels like she's looking at a different person than her teacher. She wishes she hadn't met him tonight.
Then he looks at her and gives her a smile. "I'm sure it'll taste better next time," he says.
Underneath the underneath, he's telling her it will be alright. That Naruto will return in good time and when that happens they will all go search for their lost team mate.
Sakura doesn't believe him. He once told her, before Sasuke left, that things would get better. That they would go back to normal. He promised.
Maybe one day they'll be a team again, but that day isn't today. Sakura feels selfish. The future is too far away. She wants them back now. Back where she can see them and know they're ok. And she's just as useless as before, waiting for her team mates to take action before she can.
All she can do is wait.
Kakashi turns away again and he stops seeing her.
Sakura returns to Tsunade.
The second time Sakura cries, the cherry trees are in bloom again. She's a chunin, but it feels like a hollow victory because he promised to be there, and he wasn't. She's traveled all the way to Suna, cheered by the notion that her sensei would be amongst the spectators to see her try for her promotion. She stands by Ino and Chouji as they fight their way through the dunes of the first test and tunnel traps of the second. She bests her own best friend/best rival, Ino, with superior strength and control.
But he doesn't see her victory.
He doesn't see her fail against Neji. One, two, three taps to the arms and she's lost her control. He throws her to the ground and she bleeds, but he doesn't see it.
He's there when she returns to Konoha with her new title in tow. He pats her on the head and calls her a good girl and apologizes for being held up by work. She wants to hit him. She wants to hit him with all the strength Tsunade has given her, just to wake him up and make him look at her. She wants him to see what she has accomplished for herself. For him. For all of them.
He walks away.
That night, Sakura tears Training Ground 3 apart. She shatters the ground and pulls up the trees. She scorches the earth with her chakra and she relieves the bushes of their leaves. She screams and she cries as cherry blossom petals float away on the night breeze.
The hole is still there and it will not close. The more time and effort she pours into it, the wider it gets. Why is she still so invalid? How can she still be nothing more than 'the other one'? Why doesn't he care that Tsunade has taught her more than he could ever dream of? Why isn't he hurt that she too chose someone else over him? Why can't she compete with two boys that aren't even there?
The next day, the local newspaper speaks of a freak hurricane that swept unnoticed through the training grounds. Kakashi doesn't read newspapers.
She's surprised to find him sitting alone on a bench one evening. He's without his book and simply staring off into space and thought. She approaches him tentatively and asks what those thoughts are about.
"I feel like I've failed," he says wearily. "I couldn't save Sasuke. I couldn't help Naruto. And now you've advanced so far you could probably teach me a thing or two about medicine and control." Then he laughs because it's funny. And it's funny because he didn't believe it could happen. He didn't see her potential until someone else had.
Sakura knows she should be hurt by this judgment, but at the same time it warms her heart.
He's acknowledged her.
"All the pieces seem to be spreading further away, getting harder to reach," he says quietly. "And I'm so tired."
Sakura stands next to him and for the first time she sees his weakness. His own conscience. So she pulls his head against her, letting it rest against her chest, and strokes her hands through his hair. He's too tired to think about it, so he simply lets her. And it's ridiculous for a grown man to be comforted by a child who barely stands taller than him when he's seated and whose budding breasts offer little cushion, but it doesn't matter.
They're both in the same boat. They're both 'the other one's. The ones left behind. The ones who must wait for someone else's move. The ones who failed before and can only hope that they don't make the same mistakes in the future.
She thinks that perhaps he understands what it's like to be the true dead last. That maybe he'll finally acknowledge and talk to her like they used to before everything shattered and drifted away. But he doesn't.
The next day he's seeing straight through her again and it hurts more than ever. It hurts more than watching Sasuke walk away from her. It kills more than seeing Naruto lying broken in a bed because he made the mistake of loving his best friend. Her perception is fickle. It's too late to rectify the pain in her past. But the pain Kakashi inflicts without realizing it is just one step more than she can bear.
She gets desperate.
She asks him to train her again. She says Tsunade is too busy with paperwork to help her, and so he agrees and takes her to Training Ground 4, because 3 is still under construction from the last freak hurricane.
She wants to show him the skills she's learnt. She wants to make him proud of her and realize that she is a chunin and that the other two are trailing behind as genins. But he tells her that it's taijutsu only. Her bare fists and no chakra or jutsu.
He doesn't want to see her skills.
Taijutsu is still not her strongest suit. She stumbles and overshoots her target. Every blow is blocked, and she would be taking many devastating blows if he'd just take her seriously and aim them at her. She's wide open all the time.
But she plays by his imposed rules, even though it's no good. She grows tired with each passing hour as the sun sinks lower and closer to the horizon. She staggers more and she can barely see her opponent, let alone hit him.
He catches her hands to end the session and she falls against him, head leaning heavily against his chest. Neither of them move. In her mind she's whispering and praying. She's so close. How can he ignore her? How can he just tell her to go home? Please see me, please don't ignore me anymore. I can't take it. Please.
She's so tired. Her arms and legs burn and her head is weighing on her neck. She rolls her forehead against his collar, rubbing her nose against his clothes and inhaling deeply, taking in his scent. He's in her throat. In her lungs. How can he not see her?
Why can't he set her apart?
Something is happening beneath her ribs. Her breathing is harsh – too harsh to be simple fatigue. She wants to move her arms and touch him, if only he'd let them go. She wants to run her hands over his face, around his neck, between his legs…
She needs to feel his hip against her inner thigh. She needs him. She needs him to see her. She wants it so desperately.
She doesn't understand why she feels these things. She doesn't know why she takes his shirt between her teeth and tugs at it gently. Perhaps because he's holding her arms so tightly that it's the only way she can reach him? His grip hurts.
The shirt slips from between her teeth and she's sent stumbling back a few feet with a firm shove. She reels both mentally and physically, trying to understand what's happening.
"Go home, Sakura," he warns her harshly. But he's not looking at her.
The contact is gone but the feelings remain. So confusing. Sakura calms her breathing and nods in submission before she turns around and walks home on shaky legs. She's so tired, but she doesn't sleep that night. She rolls around on her mattress, throwing her covers away and groaning in frustration into her pillow. Her mother enters. She thinks her daughter has pushed herself too hard and given herself a fever.
She sees him again at Ichiraku a week later. He doesn't see her or invite her next to him this time, so she simply invites herself. He's pleasant and smiling. It's like nothing happened and he doesn't remember or care about what took place on the training field.
He talks more. They joke together about Naruto's awful table manners and carefully talk around Sasuke. It's almost like old times again and she can forget that she's alone when he makes it sound like Naruto is just an absent friend who is already on his way home.
"How does it taste tonight?" he asks her.
She smiles and pushes the noodles around the bowls but doesn't eat. "Better, I think. Still not the way I like it though."
A month later she finds him in the hospital. She's asleep when he arrives, and by the time she makes her way to his room, the cleaners have already washed away the bloody tracks leading to his doorway. Tsunade has healed him. There's nothing she can do other than watch over him.
She feels as useless as ever before. The most she can do for him is heal the shallow, superficial cuts on his hands that he inflicted upon himself. It scars, adding another broken line to thousands of others than run across his thumb, bisecting his fingerprint. There's hardly a fingerprint left for all the scars and broken lines.
When his eyes open she starts.
His sharingan has changed.
But then he shuts his left eye and doesn't explain. She's not a part of this history. It's not her place nor her business to ask. Instead he complains about itchy bed sheets and boring walls while she gives him water a sip at a time.
But he doesn't really need her.
He's out the next day and hobbling around on crutches, reading dirty books on rooftops. She sees him from Tsunade's balcony and she watches him for almost a full hour as he does nothing but turn pages. When he reaches the end he simply flips to the middle and starts reading again.
She doesn't understand it.
She doesn't understand much of what happens around Kakashi. And she still doesn't understand the strange, foreign urges that grip her whenever he walks past her without saying "Yo." Urges that make her want to scream at him, slap him and pull his hair, and to just touch him and feel a living body against her own.
The next time she sits down next to him at the Ichiraku, his crutches are gone. He's smiling and talking at her. Through her. Probably wishing she were someone else. Someone male. Someone blonde or dark eyed.
Her knee bumps against his, but he doesn't seem to notice, even though she's acutely aware of the contact. She's too busy listening to her thundering heart to hear his voice. Her foot drops off the spokes of her stool and move to rest against the bar next to his. Her leg rubs up against him, and he pauses speaking for a moment, as if he's found something unsavory amongst his noodles. It seems he's remembered he has a check up appointment with Tsunade that he's forgotten. He excuses himself and leaves Ichiraku and his half eaten bowl of ramen.
She asks Tsunade the next day how Kakashi was doing. Tsunade scoffed. "Like I should know. Last time I saw him was last week, so he could be dead now - he never bothers to check in. Now ask if I care."
He's avoiding her. She knows it.
While she respects this, it still hurts. To be ignored is one thing, but to be avoided is completely differently. But at least he's aware of her. At least he's thinking about her.
Sakura doesn't seek him out. She carries on through her days, simply waiting to come across him. But he never shows. She starts asking the people she comes across. Have they seen Kakashi? Sometimes they have. They often tell her that he's just left.
The pain in her chest intensifies and even though she's surrounded by happy, content people – Ino, Tsunade, her parents – she's never felt so lonely. Tsunade understands. When Sakura stares off out her office window, not listening to her teaching, she doesn't get angry. She puts a hand on the girl's shoulder and gives her a warm, understanding smile. She knows what it's like to lose the people you love. But she's not there to teach Sakura sympathy – only knowledge. The compassion is always fleeting.
When the snow starts to fall, covering Konoha in a thick blanket of pristine white, Sakura decides to take action. She's sick of waiting for him to come to her, so she goes to him.
How she found him so easily, she'll never know. Perhaps he's given up hiding himself? Perhaps the cold has dulled his sense? Or perhaps he knows that if she doesn't find him, she'll just stumble around in the icy streets until she collapses with hypothermia? Whatever the reason, she finds him at the cenotaph.
He's just standing there, so she moves to stand at his side and lets her eyes run over the names etches into the stone before her. They're just names to Sakura. She knows none of the people or faces behind the written characters, but she knows that his best friend is on there, so she pays her respects. She knows perfectly well how hard it is to lose a friend.
The snow falls softly, muting the normally quiet plateau into complete silence. Into this silence she murmurs. "I'm sorry… please don't avoid me anymore…"
He doesn't respond for a long time. To acknowledge her apology would be admitting that something odd has transpired between them. This is the last thing he wants to accept. So he says, "I don't know what you're talking about," and then drifts off into the night like a shadow.
The next night he's in Ichiraku's.
Sakura doesn't know how to respond, knowing perfectly well that this is a kind form of rejection. But this is better than before, so she doesn't say anything. Things return to normal that night. They talk about everything and nothing and once again he's managed to put her back in her place.
Her place as his least interesting student.
But at least he's talking to her… so she accepts. He's all she has.
The snow is melting, and so are the clouds. Rain falls as the season gives way to spring and the grass begins to grow again. It's been so long, and there can't be much further to go… yet the wound in her heart refuses to heal.
She moves out of her home and into a small apartment, away from her increasingly overbearing parents. She's not a child, she thinks. She doesn't want to be treated like one. Not by them. Especially not by him. She sits in the hokage's office, pen poised over a thesis on the effects and causes of Black Fever. She can't concentrate. Her mind is too occupied with other more important matters.
The distraction is becoming more obvious to those around her. Ino decides she needs cheering up and takes her to a bar with Chouji, Shikamaru and three other boys she's managed to pick up. Sakura doesn't want to socialize, but forces herself to go along. It could be just what she needs. After all, when she's ill, eating is the last thing she wants to do, even though she always feels better afterwards. Perhaps this is what it will take to bring her out of the gauche mood she's put herself in?
The bar is cramped and crowded. The music is too loud and the drinks aren't cold enough. Ino has to shout her jokes for her punch lines to be heard. Sakura sits beside them all, keeping even more quiet than Shikamaru. Without realizing, she's downing drink after drink to pass the time.
One of the boys is talking to her. She doesn't remember his name, nor can she really see his face through the dim light and smoke. He's telling lame jokes and she's laughing like he's the funniest person she's ever met. When he puts his hand on her leg, she doesn't care, and lets him move it in slow absent circles as they keep talking.
Shikamaru is leaving. His mother wants him back before midnight, and it would be too troublesome to disobey. Chouji's leaving because he has to show one of the other boys the new jutsu he learned. Ino stays with the other boy, but they're too busy kissing to pay attention to Sakura and her boy.
Sakura doesn't know why she isn't going home. The boy isn't that great a conversationalist, but she enjoys the attention. She's never had someone look at her and ignore everyone else in the room just for her. Someone who isn't Naruto – a boy too stupid to realize he could do better.
So when he strokes her arm and leans over to whisper in her ear, should we go somewhere quieter? She consents with a blush and a peal of excitement in her belly. She doesn't know who he is. She doesn't want to know.
He takes her hand and leads her outside and down the street. It's Friday night so they have to travel past three buildings before they find an unoccupied alley. There, he leans her against the wall and kisses her before she can take in her surroundings. It's her first kiss. She's always wanted it to be Sasuke who gave it to her, but these days she can't be too sure. He scares her now. This boy is safe and normal and so utterly average that she's already beginning to forget his face for having closed her eyes to kiss him.
It's different than she thought it would be. His lips are softer than she imagined, and the slide of his tongue against hers is more wet than pleasurable. But she's getting carried away. She's drunk and she knows it and she's glad she is too, because inhibition would never let her get away with this. This act of ultimate unwinding amongst old fish heads and throw away boxes.
He's touching her bare arms, running his hands down her ribs to squeeze her bottom. He breaks away from her first kiss to press his forehead to hers. "How far?" he asks her.
Sakura shakes her head. She doesn't want to talk, she just wants to forget it all. "All the way," she tells him, and he starts kissing her even harder and sloppier than before.
His hands only just beginning to inch under her skirt when he's suddenly tugged away from her. She gives a soft cry at the loss and looks around in bewilderment. There's a third presence in the alley.
"Go home," he says to the boy he's holding by the back of the neck. It's a simple, threatening command that is obeyed instantly. The boy stumbles out of the alley and disappears from sight, leaving Sakura panting against the wall beneath the gaze of her teacher.
They look at each other for a long time as the implications sink into both of them. Sakura slides further down the wall, her head spinning and her body alive with nerves that had only just been teased into awakening. He's followed her from the bar, she realizes.
"You should go too," he says eventually. His voice is unusually flat. He's disappointed in her. "I'll walk you."
Sakura's head rolls on her neck, as if she can barely stand its weight. "I can't… I can't remember where I live…" She barely remembers her own last name.
"Where does Ino live?" he asks patiently.
She sees him pinch the bridge of his nose and close his eyes with a sigh. He can't leave her on the street. She watches the arguments tearing back and forth in his head before he reaches down and pulls her to her feet. "You'll have to come home with me then," he says. "You can have the sofa. And in the morning we're going to have a serious talk."
His voice is harsh and dangerous, but she can only giggle lightly as he drags her away with a steadying arm around her shoulder. She leans into him, taking advantage of their unavoidable closeness. She remembers this smell. So masculine and warm. She wants to bury her nose into his side and breathe him in for hours, but his arm is holding her too tightly. He knows her confused thoughts, even though he won't ever admit it.
His apartment his small – just as small as hers, but ten times as messy. There are unopened letters and junk mail everywhere she steps and glasses of water lining every available surface. It's so bizarrely like Naruto's apartment that she laughs.
He sets her down on the sofa and tells her to make herself comfortable while he fetches a blanket. She does this by stretching out provocatively along the cushions and pouting at him when he returns. If he notices her lewd posture, he does not show it. He covers her with a blanket and orders her to sleep before taking off to his own bedroom and shutting the door.
Sakura lies there in silence. She stares at the ceiling and tries to bring order to the chaos in her head that was there long before alcohol was ever introduced into the equation. She's in Kakashi's apartment, but he doesn't want her there. A few misguided touches and she's succeeded in pushing her last team mate away.
She lies there and cries. He can probably hear her, because the walls aren't that thick and she heard him pissing in the toilet earlier. But she doesn't want him to take pity on her, so she muffles them in the blanket he gave her. It smells of him, and it's this scent that lulls her to sleep.
When she awakens, it's still dark outside and she's thrown for a full minute trying to figure out where she is. There's no visible clock to tell the time, even though she can hear it. Everything feels wrong. She's disorientated, pushing away her blanket to stagger around the room, trying to locate a light so she can illuminate the confusion in her mind.
She never does find a light. She realizes where she is straight away when she finds a door and hears a gentle snort on the other side. His bedroom. She slides inside without thinking and makes her way through the dark to the foot of his bed.
He too must have been enjoying drinks at the bar a little too much, as she's making enough noise to wake any ninja worth his jonin rank. Kakashi carries on sleeping, snoring gently into his pillow. If he was awake, he would have told her to leave already. As he hasn't, she feels almost entitled to crawl across his bed and slip into the covers beside him. He stirs a little as her small hand wanders up his night shirt to stroke his chest, brushing curiously against the coarse hairs she feels. She doesn't know any boys her own age with chest hair. Kiba might have, but she hasn't thought to ask.
She rouses another stir and a mumble as her hand continues to explore her teacher's body. He's all hard muscle and rough skin. She follows the path of hairs leading down from his belly button to below the waistband of his pants. Her fingers have only just touched against the material when a hand snaps over hers with alarming speed. He's awake.
Neither of them move.
She's glad she can't see his face in the dark, glad that he's turned away from her. If she looks into his eyes she'll lose her nerve – and possibly her consciousness too with that exposed sharingan.
She pulls her hand away gently, taking his with it. She can feel his resistance, and he's strong. But she's stronger. She unzips her vest with a free hand and firmly places his open palm against a soft, warm breast. She feels him freeze, but he doesn't pull away. He can probably feel her heart racing beneath her ribs. Feel the drag of her shallow breaths.
Ever so slowly, he turns till he lies on his back and he regards her with a deathly silence. His hand is tense against her breast, neither pulling away nor pressing closer.
Sakura feels she might cry. "Please, sensei…" she whispers raggedly.
"You're drunk," he whispers back.
"Not as much as you think." Her hand closes tightly over his, forcing a caress. "Please…"
"I have to report this to the hokage, Sakura… you'll be transferred into another team. Is that what you want?"
If he plans to report her, he would have done so already. Why he hasn't, she doesn't know. Perhaps he knows it will kill her if she's taken away from Naruto and Sasuke?
Sakura shakes her head. "Please, Kakashi-sensei…!"
"You don't even know what you're asking for," he whispers harshly.
"Then please show me, sensei," she begs. "Just show me…"
With painstaking deliberation, he removes his hand from her breast and zips her vest back up. She tries not to feel too hurt as he rolls away from her and resumes the position he held when she arrived. "Just go to sleep, Sakura," he tells her wearily.
His back is to her, cold and unforgiving. He's not telling her to leave, but he's ignoring her again. All those times she's tried to fire off her most impressive jutsus and strengths when he's around, just to catch his eye… they've come to nothing. He still doesn't see her. Before, perhaps, it was unintentional. But now it is very deliberate.
She rolls onto her back and tugs the blanket around her tightly, not caring that she's stealing most off her teacher. He doesn't care either. She tries to settle, but she's restless. She's tired, but the burning that started in the pit of her stomach when the boy had pushed her against the alley wall is still there, keeping her awake.
The warmth of the bed lulls her into a stupor. She forgets the body next to her, as he's keeping unnaturally still. Once more she forgets where she is; the alcohol is still coursing through her body. She thinks she's back home in her lonely apartment.
Barely awake, she trails a hand under her vest and begins to roll a nipple between her fingers. The other hand slips under her skirt and begins to rub herself in slow, gentle circles. She doesn't make a sound other than the shift in her breathing as arousal grips her body. The touch isn't enough between her legs, so she haphazardly wriggles around on the mattress until her shorts are lost under the duvet, along with her underwear. She restarts her act with no barriers in the way.
A small groan tears from her lips.
Before she realizes, a hand has snapped out of nowhere, seizing her arm so tightly it's painful. His mouth is right next to her ear and his breath is doing more delicious things to her body than her hand ever could. She can read his intention loud and clear. Stop that, he's telling her silently. It's improper to do this kind of thing in the company of others. It's improper because it's turning him on.
Sakura throws his hand off and promptly rolls on top of him, straddling his waist with her knees. He immediately tries to push her away, but his strength can't compete with her chakra control. He could throw her off if he really tries, but he doesn't want to hurt her. She's seated against him and feels everything. He's aroused.
But Sakura can't find the point in gloating and smirking. She just wants to rock against him and ease the ache in her chest and kindle the one between her legs. She wants to run her hands along his shoulders and weep because everything is so beyond her control, but she knows she can't stop now. It will break her.
She moves to kiss him, but he twists his head away. She attacks his throat instead, noticing that his hands have stopped pushing her away. If anything, he's pulling her closer. He can't seem to decide. She tries to help him by rubbing herself a little closer and groaning into his ear in surprise when the friction between her legs ignites further.
Whatever fragile self-control the drink has left Kakashi with is broken with that single sound. She's rolled onto her back and shoved down into the mattress with the weight of his body. He's smothering her, touching her roughly through her vest and between her legs. His fingers burn trails of anger as self-loathing twists his brow. Sakura thinks she should be alarmed, but in truth, she loves it.
He doesn't kiss her. Not once. Not even as he pushes her thighs apart and grinds against her does he grace her with a single tender press of lips. Because it's not about tenderness or affection, this thing that they're both caught up in.
When he reaches down to free himself, it's all the warning she has. A hot, burning prod and then pain as he thrusts once, hard and deep. She stiffens against the shock of intrusion and hears him grunt into the pillow beside her ear. He has one arm splayed against the mattress beneath her and another with his hand poised to her hip, but whether he's trying to guide her movements or stop them, she isn't sure.
The pain doesn't recede as he begins to thrust. He drives into her with enough force to shake the bed and Sakura has to bite her lip to contain her tears. It hurts, and he's too big, and she's not ready enough and it's still glorious because this is wrong and she has won.
Something small and insignificant is torn; the last scrap of flesh that testified her waning innocence. In a second it's gone and there's blood, but it doesn't matter. She doesn't care.
It's quick and it's hard. Rough. In moments the whole ordeal is over, almost before it's even begun. With a ragged gasp he snaps taut against her, hips jerking an unsteady rhythm and she can feel him filling her in short, hot spurts. Then it's truly over, and he sags, too exhausted to move off her.
He leaves her unfulfilled, but sated. Because it's not about tenderness or affection, or even about love or lust. It doesn't matter if he comes and she doesn't, because what she has is unique – something Naruto and Sasuke can never take away from her.
So as he rolls off her and presses his hands over his face in shame of what he's just done, Sakura gets up and gathers her clothing. Selfishly, she finds it hard to care how he feels. She's gotten what she wants and she knows he'll never look through her again; not ever. That's all her drunken mind can appreciate.
Hatake Kakashi will never forget Haruno Sakura.
And this night will haunt him for as long as he lives.
The third time Sakura cries, it is the morning. Blossom petals float past her window, catching on her sill. Her mind is full of startling clarity of what she has done and what she has destroyed. Of what can never be recovered.
He doesn't look through her. He can't look at her at all. She meets him exiting the Hokage's tower as she enters, and he explains to the ground near her feet that he was drunk, and she reassures the collar of his vest that she was drunk too and she doesn't remember much, even though the details are burned vivid in her mind. He hopes this won't affect their professional relationship, and she agrees. They both promise not to tell anyone else, but this goes unsaid.
The shattered dynamic of team 7 can't be fixed, and Sakura stops trying. Her last attempt to reforge the bonds has resulted in an ugly conglomeration of broken pieces that do not fit. She doesn't know what to do.
She stays away from him. When she sees him eating at Ichiraku, trying to find that bowl of ramen that tastes as good as he remembers, she walks by without stopping. When she meets him in the corridor and they are forced to exchange greetings and small, meaningless pleasantries, she looks through him, regretting what has happened and missing what was.
Burying herself in books takes her away from the cracks slowly creeping through her heart. She will go mad, she knows it, but there is nothing she can do to stop it. She doesn't know how.
And then she hears his rambunctious, enthusiastic voice calling her name and she turns , hardly daring to believe her own eyes and ears. He's different, but he's the same, and his familiar smile is the one that sends a warmth through her veins that has been missing for too long. She looks past him to see Kakashi wielding a new book and a new smile. His gaze meets hers and his smile widens. She can't help but smile in return.
When Naruto drags her out for ramen, he tells her that she's changed. But he doesn't grasp how much or how hard that change has been, and Sakura hopes he never does. She simply accepts the order of ramen and basks in his presence like a shriveled wheedling that has been out of the sun for too long.
"How does it taste?" he asks her, guzzling his noodles.
Sakura has not even picked up her chop sticks. She has been too busy smiling and watching him. "As good as ever."