. A/N-Hey Minna! I know this is a little later than Christmas, however, I was away in some far distant land that didn't have an Internet connection (ie, my grandparents.) so this is a late Christmas present. To my regular readers, DO NOT EXPECT THIS TO BECOME THE NORM!!! I COULDN'T REPLICATE THIS FEAT OF WRITING IF I WANTED TO!!! THAT BEING SAID REVIEW!!!!!!
Disclaimer-I don't own Naruto. I also don't own the song upon which this is LOSELY based on the song (IE, the line 'With a big red bow') 'Santa Can You Hear Me' which is a song i heard way too much over the holidays at work.
Sakura sat at the table, balancing her pen on the tip of her finger, looking at the blank sheet of paper ahead of her. Well, it wasn't exactly blank…
So far she had the following.
My name is Haruno Sakura and I am a Jounin of Konoha... but you know that. Anyways it's around 9:00 PM on Christmas Eve and I've sort of put off writing this letter until now. I know that I normally ask for the same thing year after year, but this year what I want is different…I no longer want Uchiha Sasuke for Christmas…
Sakura sighed and put the pen down, getting up to go over to the window, adjusting her nightgown as she went. The snow was lightly falling over a dark city adding to the thick layer of white cold stuff that already had Konoha tucked into a blanket. It had been awhile since the city had known a white Christmas (out of Sakura's memories anyways) and the whole experience was pleasant.
In the distance, Sakura could hear some bells ringing. The Jounin Santa was starting, on the other side of the city. Good, she still had time. She took one last glance out the window and saw a figure on a distant roof. Her eyes crinkled with laughter as she watched him (female Jounin were exempt from playing Santa) leap high into the air and slip down through a chimney, far in the distance across the village. Turning back to the table, she scooped up the pen and continued to write.
It happened about half a year or so ago. My ex-sensei and I were on a mission, and it was one where we had to pretend to be a couple. Kakashi seemed much more at ease with this task than I did. Since we were 'newlyweds', (I wanted to kill Tsunade after this mission was over) Kakashi made sure I knew that we would have to act all touchy feely. I haven't felt like being touchy feely with anyone (not even Sasuke) since I was 17, two years ago. But, Santa, this was different.
When Kakashi wrapped an arm around my waist as we were presented to the Daimyo and his wife, I didn't even notice, it was so natural. But when I did notice… Santa, it felt so good to be held by Kakashi-this isn't wrong is it? For a student to want an ex teacher this way?
She paused in writing and tried to recall exactly how she had felt when his arm was gripped possessively around her.
My waist tingled for hours before it finally went away. Then, later that night, there was a dance at the Daimyo's hall, and as we whirled around the dance floor, there were no other people in the world, let alone in the hall. I forgot the mission at that moment and there was no other place that I would've rather been than in Hatake Kakashi's arms, not even Konoha. And while there were other girls in the hall, better attired than I (only wearing a pale blue kimono and not a revealing one at that), he seemed to have the same problem I was having, the complete inability to focus on anyone else…why is that Santa?
Oh, and another thing. I'm sure it was just for show, but should it feel as though he's kissing you because he cherishes you…in that way? And should it be right for you to kiss back (merely for show of course) and love every second of it?
I feel as though I'm writing to 'Dear Abby' instead of Santa but it feels so good to finally be able to tell someone else. I trust you, Santa; you're the only one who knows my little secret.When Sasuke actually asked me to this dance in town (only because I'm the only female he can tolerate and to escape his fan girls), dancing with him, being in his arms, never ever felt like being held by Kakashi felt like. That was when I finally realized… the way I felt about Sasuke-Kun absolutely pales in comparison to how, I now realize, I love Kakashi.
Sakura sighed, bit her pen tip and continued to write furiously, pink hair cascading over her face. Somewhere in the back of her mind she was reminded that it was a letter to Santa, not a novel to Santa, but she was almost done so she ignored it.
So Santa, I no longer want Sasuke-Kun for Christmas. Now…I want Hatake Kakashi. Because I realize now, especially after that last mission that it's probably been two years that I've loved him. I just kept asking for Sasuke to keep up consistency. But if you've read between the lines…I've been asking for him.
Santa, if you can hear me…all I want for Christmas this year is Hatake Kakashi, under my tree in a big red bow. I know this is as impossible as asking for Uchiha Sasuke (I can't ask for a person…I'm a realist). But while we're dreaming here, how about we make color of the bow trivial? And, if Kakashi isn't too much to ask for a new set of kunai would be nice.
Asuma, Gai, Genma, or any other male Jounin who might be Santa, don't you EVER DARE tell Kakashi how I feel. You WILL pay the consequences if you do.
Kakashi, if you're Santa this year, kill me before I can face you again.
Sakura folded the paper and wrote 'Santa' on the cover, putting it out with milk and, instead of cookies, because it was so cold out, she set out a covered bowl of hot Miso soup that any ninja could warm in a moment's notice by just touching the bowl with the tips of their fingers.
Yanking the plug out and plunging her tree into darkness, she crept her way across the room and slipped into her bedroom, beneath the covers and into bed. After fretting about whether she should go and change her letter, she slipped into a quiet sleep.
The Jounin, wearing the red suit and more padding than he thought was possible swung the sack onto his back, unbalancing himself. Skittering dangerously close to the edge of the roof, he immediately thrust some chakra into his feet and managed to maintain his self-esteem. "I am one of the most skilled ANBU in Konoha," he muttered. "And yet, here I am struggling with this stupid sack and I've gotta get every house done before midnight. I thought I asked Tsunade to take my name out of the draw for this." He shivered despite his warm outfit, hoping that someone had thought to put out something warm for Santa to eat or drink.
Each gift had a label on it-who it was for and what was inside.
Putting a little more chakra into his feet he leapt from the one rooftop to the next. Stabilizing himself, he dropped the sack to the roof and fished around. "So this is…Naruto's place…" his voice trailed off as the Santa hat fell askance on his silver head while he dug into the bag (the good thing about him being Santa is that wearing a wig was a moot point). Finding some wrapped instant ramen and about 200 dollars in Ichiraku gift certificates, as well as a wrapped painted carving of the Fourth Hokage; he abandoned the heavy bag on the roof and leapt into the chimney.
The blonde was lying on the bed, covers a mess. His special Christmas bed hat was akin to the one on top of the man's own head. Beside the bed, there was a plate with one cookie and crumbs as well as a half drunk thing of milk. "Naruto…." he growled under his breath. The whiskered blonde had eaten most of Santa's snack (would he never change?). After placing the presents under the fake tree, making sure not to trip over any of the various mounds placed all over the floor, he cautiously made his way back to the chimney and scuttled back up. "It's a pity I don't get paid for this…I could probably get compensation if I tripped over anything in Naruto's house," he muttered to himself.
Several hundred stops later, it was Sasuke's turn. 'Santa' found, in his bag, labeled, a wrapped silver Uchiha fan wall hanging as well as a wrapped new forehead protector along with a warning from Tsunade that 'this one better not get scratched along the middle.' 'Santa' couldn't help but smile at this. After a long year and a half, Sasuke had evidently gotten the Hokage's trust back.
Slipping down the elaborate chimney of the main Uchiha Manor, he was very careful at the bottom, where a fire still burned brightly and merrily. 'Okay, better make this quick. It might be Christmas, but Sasuke's still so sensitive… gotta get out before he detects my chakra pattern.' The Santa winced as he recalled what had happened to Gai the previous year when he hadn't gotten out of the Uchiha manor quick enough.
With lightning speed, he placed the presents beneath the tree and was up the chimney in half a breath-but not with enough speed. Just before he clambered out the top, he heard a voice from the bottom. "Hey, what are you doing??!" Sasuke's voice.
He rolled his eyes, one half hidden beneath his floppy hat. To warn Sasuke of whom, exactly, it was (he really hadn't wanted to do this…) he took a deep breath and let out a "HO HO HO!!!!" Sasuke evidently took the hint and nothing more was heard from the room below.
Taking a deep breath and putting more chakra into his feet, he leapt up to the roof.
In another couple hours he came to the last house on his list. "Sakura…" he murmured quietly. His sack felt practically empty, meaning that Sakura had asked for precious little.
In the past year and a half since Sasuke had come back, Kakashi (in case you somehow hadn't realized who, exactly, the Santa was) had noticed a subtle difference and yet still a difference in his little Kunoichi student. When she had been younger, as a Genin, she would always be freaking over Sasuke-Kun. Quite frankly, after awhile it had gotten on his nerves. Especially in the later years, when she was 16, 17, 18 and now 19…. when he had began to notice just how much of an attractive young woman she had grown into.
After a few years (in other words, after Sasuke had left and come back) Sakura seemed to realize that the Sasuke she was in love with, was a Sasuke created entirely in her imaginations and that Sasuke himself would never see her as anything more than a friend, if not a sister.
He had heard from some other Jounin's, about a year ago, that she had fallen for someone else but was stubbornly withholding the name from anyone. Not even Ino knew who the cherry blossom's current paramour was.
Reaching into the large velvet bag, he pulled out the last two items that were absconded within. A package of extremely well forged, razor sharp Kunai with S.H engraved on each hilt in a fine scroll-he drew in a sharp breath. These were even finer than the ones he had found for Tsunade within the bag.
The other item was a plush Sasuke doll, designed especially for Sakura. Kakashi's brow furrowed-why had Tsunade put this item in particular in the bag, especially when Sakura had made no secret that her affections no longer lay with the Uchiha. There was, however, a note attached to the doll.K-
She asks for this every year, no matter what she might say. Unless her note states otherwise, just put it under the tree.
His eyes tensed and he looked away from the small plushy in his hand. Sighing, he abandoned the empty bag on her roof and leapt down the last chimney.
The first thing he saw was, illuminated by a small lamp, was Santa's snack (he'd have to work out for a long time to erase all the poundage that tonight was going to put on his waist), but he smiled gratefully under his beard. Sitting next to a tall glass of milk was a (albeit now cold) bowl of Miso soup. That was easily reconciled, however, and as soon he had set down the Sasuke plushy and the kunai on the table, he was drinking the substance, warmed by chakra flowing from his fingertips, inhaling as he did. "Sakura must know her house is at the end of the run…" he muttered. After taking a long swig of the milk, he noticed the sheet sitting under the bowl.
Unfolding the two pages of written paper, he read her fine scrawl, his brow wrinkling as his black eye skittered across the words 'I no longer want Uchiha Sasuke for Christmas.' And what he read next made Hatake Kakashi need to sit down.
He had wondered for a while-ever since that mission-what her reaction had been to his actions. She had been a Kunoichi in all things, acting to a tee…
He hadn't been acting.
It had been so long since this mission that the fine details were lost to him. One thing he did remember, however was this- when Tsunade had given him this mission, and heard about them having to be 'newlyweds' he had almost lost his cool, calm façade right there in the Hokage's office. He had, of course, added several of his own details to the mission that Tsunade hadn't mentioned (and Sakura didn't know that Tsunade hadn't mentioned because she wasn't in the office at the time of the briefing). For one, that they were more 'physical' newlyweds. He put this stipulation in so that he could try holding her close and see how that felt. (It felt like stepping into paradise, by the way).
He insisted they attend the dance to 'scope out the castle' when, in reality, he wanted to see her in that dress she bought from a market in the village. She had been the most beautiful girl in attendance.
He had kissed her when he felt the lecherous Daimyo's son keeping his eyes on her for much longer than was required and proper-and had whispered such to her before his lips made contact with hers (even though he was fairly confidant that she hadn't heard him). Her lips tasted like no other flavor he had ever tasted in his life…and he was almost positive that she had actually kissed him back, not just acting.
But he had never had time to judge her reaction to what had happened on the mission. After the two 'newlyweds' successfully thwarted the planned assassination attempt on the Daimyo, he and his former student had already been headed out towards home. Sakura had set the pace at one too fast for any communication, probably on purpose. Once back home (back in reality), after a great effort, they managed to get everything back to how it had been between them.
And then, of course, Kakashi had to go and discover that she felt the same way. That her…(he consulted the letter) waist tingled after his arm had been around it.
There would be talk, of course, of the ex teacher being with the ex student in that way but talk is talk. If both of the parties in question didn't care about being together, why should they care if people spoke about them? Tsunade had told him long ago, once his attraction to the pink haired Kunoichi became evident, (to everyone except the woman in question that is) that there would be no objection from the office of the Hokage, as long as the two of them kept their minds on their missions when necessary.
Similarly, when the male teammates of his cherry blossom had picked up on the attraction, they hadn't voiced any objections-in fact, Kakashi had been hesitant to tell them in the first place, scared (scared!) that they would disprove of his feelings. He finally got around to telling them after Sasuke had taken her to the dance. Not that he had much choice after displaying such jealously towards the Uchiha. But, much to his delight, there was nothing but support from their end either.
Reading the last line, he grinned under the Santa beard and promptly decided to disregard her directions before folding the papers and placing them in his vest pocket, underneath his Santa coat.
Kakashi pushed himself up from the chair he sat in and he crept soundlessly into Sakura's bedroom. The snow was beginning to ease up and a small sliver of moonlight was falling on her face.
In the silvery light, she seemed to glow in a way he hadn't seen anyone glow before. Her hair was splayed across her pillow and she was curled up in a tight ball, covers tucked under her chin and held in a tight grasp. Her room, he noted, smelled like her hair had, that dance at the Lord's castle.
She did, however, have an odd expression on her face-she almost looked angry. Suddenly, without warning, her face went red and she abruptly flipped in her sleep, one arm shooting out and punching the mattress beside her. "NARUTO SHUT UP!!!!" she yelled, still asleep. By the time she was done beating up the mattress, she was on her back, with covers pulled down a little exposing her worn plaid nightgown that she obviously slept in.
Even as he stood beside her bed, a hint plan was forming in his head. Quietly, he left the room and, closing the door behind him, went back to where he had left the two presents on her table. Picking up the Sasuke plushy, he considered it for a minute, all the while considering that 'this is no longer important. What do I do now?' A smile slowly crossed his face as the hint of a plan he had had before began to develop further.
Placing two fingers in front of his face, he preformed a quick transformation Jutsu on the doll. After a small poof, he was staring at an exact replica of himself, only plushified. The forehead protector was pulled up to expose his Sharingan eye, and, well, it looked like he was getting ready for a battle. Reaching into the pocket of the Santa suit, he pulled out a small bow from the stash that was hidden within. It wasn't red, but the silver went with the hair of the plushy.
Taking a piece of paper from the pile left in the cupboard, he picked up her pen from where she had abandoned it on the table. He tried to disguise his normal messy scrawl as best he could and jotted down a quick note for Sakura and attached it to the doll, all the while hoping she wouldn't recognize his familiar writing.
Placing that, as well as the kunai set each in a box marked 'from Santa' and placing it under the tree, he was gone after a one last lingering glace at the slumbering Kunoichi.
He went back to his own house and lay in bed, but took a few minutes to get to sleep, wondering what her face would look like as she read his note. But before long the exhaustion of his enormous task set in and he fell fast asleep.
Sakura stirred, a bright light piercing through her eyelids. Finally cracking one eye open, she looked over to the window, from which a bright light streamed mercilessly in. There was an added quality to the light, an sparkly look. Getting up and going to the window, she looked out over Konoha-a city completely buried in snow. Rubbing the rest of the sleep as well as the harsh snow glitter from her eyes, she turned her back to her window and went into the next room after throwing on a plush housecoat.
The first thing she noticed was that the Miso soup was gone. The bowl still felt reheated, meaning that it hadn't been that long ago that 'Santa' had come through. She smiled to herself, knowing how much the hot soup would've been appreciated. The second thing she noticed was that the letter was gone. Biting her lip, she uttered a quick prayer that it would end up in someone's garbage before anyone else had a chance to read it.
Before looking under the tree, she picked up the bowl and the milk glass and took them to the sink, in her kitchen. Turning back to the other room she set the CD player to play softly, all her favorite Christmas songs somewhere on there. That being said, she sat down with the book she was in the middle of, to wait.
Once she glanced up to look under the tree, half expecting to see her sensei curled up under there, a bow on her head, as per her stipulation. Disappointment spread through her limbs as she took in the two boxes that lay under her tree. There was the unfortunate fact that the letter, however, was gone, meaning that the Santa had taken it. Now there was nothing left for her to do, only hope (as she had before, and stronger) that whoever 'he' was, her innermost thoughts would never be revealed to the person they centered on. Sakura turned back to her book.
Within several minutes of patient waiting, there came a knock at her door. Smiling knowingly, she walked over and cracked it… "MERRY CHRISTMAS SAKURA-CHAN!!!" "Quiet down dobe, bet you people are still sleeping. Merry Christmas Sakura." "Merry Christmas to the both of you too. You both didn't open your presents did you?" Both obediently produced two wrapped parcels each, as well as a parcel for her from them. "Good. Come on!!"
Before long they were sitting on the couches around Sakura's tree, music playing softly. Sasuke had unwrapped his silver Uchiha fan hanging, with a 'Hn', but Sakura could tell he really appreciated the gift. Naruto had unwrapped his instant Ramen and 200 dollar gift certificate to Ichiraku and (after Naruto had given an appropriately…Naruto…reaction,) Sakura had unwrapped her engraved kunai set. Made from high-grade carbon steel, she took one and twirled it between her fingers-the balance was right on. Setting one point to her fingertip, she felt the sharpness with some degree of satisfaction and traced the engraving on the hilt. "Very nice," was her only comment.
Next they unwrapped their gifts to each other. After learning of the Uchiha's love of tomatoes, Naruto had gotten him '101 ways to cook with tomatoes.' Sakura had gotten him a new windmill shuriken, one with special counter weights that would make it fly straighter and more accurate as well as made it easier to twirl and throw. Naruto received a new engraved kunai case from Sasuke and a little gold fox key chain from Sakura. Sakura had received, from Sasuke a new pair of fighting gloves with little cherry blossoms for the clasps and from Naruto, a new sweater designed especially for missions to the north-with compartments for senbon needles and kunai, etcetera.
Then it was time for the second round of Santa presents. Naruto uncovered his first, reverent fingers touching the wooden statuette of his father. Sakura had to admit, the workmanship was fine. For a brief moment, she thought she saw tears in Naruto's eyes as he looked into the painted eyes of the Fourth Hokage (blue eyes so similar to his own).
Sasuke let out a rare smile (genuine) as he uncovered his new forehead protector. Taking off his old scratched one he had received upon returning to Konoha, he let it drop to the ground as he tied the new one at the nape of his neck. Sakura felt her own eyes mist over at the sight of her friend restored to what he had once been. "Hey teme, nice to see you're a real ninja of Konoha again," said Naruto, giving his friend a pat on the back. "Hn…Sakura your turn."
Sakura reached for the last parcel that was under the tree. It felt rather light, and her curiosity ate away at her as she carefully peeled back the wrapping and opened the box. Her stunned silence caused her boys to look at her oddly. "What did you get Sakura-Chan?" asked Naruto, getting up from where he sat to come over and check it out. Sakura, however, slammed the lid back on the box and let her hair cover her face to hide her blush. "It's nothing…I think it's a gag gift… come on, let's eat breakfast."
Sakura set the box to one side and getting up, went into the kitchen, the two following. Naruto kept badgering Sakura to tell him what was in the box. "Come on, it's a gag gift…what does it matter if we know? Come on Sakura-Chan, please tell us…" "Shut up dobe…" Sakura was grateful to Sasuke; he could obviously tell that Naruto was getting on her nerves. The Kunoichi angrily stabbed her flipper under a half finished pancake.
But when Naruto wouldn't shut up, Sakura finally couldn't take it and exploded. "SHUT UP NARUTO!!!!" she yelled, giving him a hit on his head. "If I don't want to tell you, it's not your business." Her mood swing had caused her eyes to abruptly fill with tears, which she swiped away angrily. "Now can we please leave this topic alone?"
Naruto, nursing a large bump on his head, complied and dug into the pancakes and blueberries that she plopped in front of him. Sakura continued to cook, her brain still on the package under the tree.
Within an hour, her boys were on their way to visit the rest of their friends but Sakura declined to join them as she was (still) in her housecoat and nightgown. "I'll join you in about an hour," she said, as she sent them on their way.
Once the door was closed, she was right beside the box, on her knees, opening it up and staring at the contents. A shaking hand reached in and withdrew the plushy, her slender calloused hand wrapped around the waist of the doll. She picked the silver bow off of his hair and stroked the silky silver threads that made up the figurine…
Of Kakashi. She shook her head slightly, smiling. Whoever 'Santa' had been, had obviously been a quick thinker when she had asked for Kakashi in her letter.
Underneath where Kakashi had been lying, a note caught her eye. Picking up the folded piece of paper (she recognized her own stationary) she flipped it open and read the words written in an untidy scrawl.Haruno Sakura
Thank you for that lovely letter, I enjoyed reading it (and I don't mind that it was written as if to Dear Abby, you have no idea how many of those I actually get.) So you want your sensei for Christmas? It's quite a relief, I must say to read something other than 'Uchiha Sasuke' in that letter, you really have no idea.
I know that the doll is hardly the real thing and I apologize for this, however, as you said in your own letter, it is hard to give someone a person for Christmas so I did my best.
Also, I hope you don't mind me intruding on your Christmas day plans, however, I've made some arrangements for an extra gift to make up for the Kakashi gaffe and, tomorrow at around 7 PM if you could be a good little girl and make your way to that bridge you always go too, there will be an extra gift waiting there for you.
P.S- Forgive the coloring of the bow, but I figured the silver went better. That, and you said that bow color was…trivial is the word you used, I believe.
Sakura stared, stunned at the note, feeling the blush spread through her cheeks. The untidy scrawl was slightly more messy than normal, and it was leaning slightly to the right, however…
She recognized it instantly. This was Kakashi's writing, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
She crumpled the note into a ball and buried her face into her hands. Of all people to be Santa this year, it just had to be him didn't it? Picking up a pillow from her chair, she hurtled it to the opposite side of the room, and crumbled once again. "I NEVER should have written that letter to Santa…" she screamed…loudly.
What if it was a joke? Some sort of cruel prank wherein he would lure her to the site and then proceed to…. do something cruel with which to toy with her emotions (however horribly out of character that might be for him).
But what if it wasn't a joke? What if Kakashi was summoning her there to tell him that… he felt the same way? A small kernel of hope rose within her body, however, it died quickly. No, that was impossible. The odds against him loving her were greater than the odds that he loved her and she didn't want to be hurt. "It'll be better if I don't go…" she decided. She opened up the crumpled ball of paper and smoothed it out to read it again. "Yes, much better if I don't go."
She folded the paper, placed it under the Kakashi doll and abruptly got up to dress.
Later that day, Sakura slowly found her way to Ino's for the annual (even though they no longer fit these distinctions) Rookie 9/Team Gai Christmas party (Sensei's included, much to her embarrassment). She was wearing a long sleeved black cotton dress, that went down to her knees and flared out when she spun, accompanied by neat silver jewelry and a girdle belt that had three beautiful silver bells on it, jingling when she walked. All the while, she contemplated whether or not she should slip out of the party and make her way to the bridge. Even thought she had decided that she wasn't, the distinct possibility that he actually felt the same way lingered and created the indecision.
She was glad when she finally arrived at Ino's house, at around 6 PM about to go out of her head with indecision. The blonde girl gave her a quick glomp and said in a loud voice, "Merry Christmas Forehead-Chan!!!" in a slightly slurred voice, indicating she had definitely already partaken of the Christmas wine. Sakura smiled and gave her friend a hug back, saying "Merry Christmas Ino-Pig."
The first thing she did was head straight for the food and devour several appetizers quickly, right off the platters before placing some on a paper plate. So far she hadn't seen Kakashi, so she made good her escape, finding a wall that was relatively incased in shadow, familiar from her childhood.
She leaned against a wall, half hidden from the party and exhaled slowly before eating. She hadn't bothered to eat since breakfast, caught up in trying to figure out if Kakashi was going to trick her tonight. She placed a mozzarella stick in her mouth and bit down. Kakashi wouldn't do something like that…would he? She allowed several minutes to pass, keep herself hidden in the shadows just in case Kakashi was in the house. Not that it would take him too long to find her but she wanted to make sure all her bases were covered.
"…Kakashi, I haven't seen him tonight?" Sakura's emerald eyes widened as she heard Kurenai say Kakashi's name. Her attention suddenly diverted from her food she leaned her head back against the wall in order to remain inconspicuous and listened to the female Sensei converse with Asuma.
"Neither have I…he was picked for Santa duty you know, he's probably exhausted." Sakura lowered her eyes, blushing furiously. 'So it was him…' "I've seen Kakashi today…" boomed Gai's voice. "When I passed him he was at that bridge he always went with his Genin team to, just staring at the frozen river." Sakura could hear his hair ruffle as he shook his head. "Such a waste of youth I must say."
Sakura froze. He was waiting for her at the bridge…. what time was it? She stepped out of the shadows by the wall and looked towards the clock. Ten minutes to seven.
Ino's house was on the other side of town than the bridge.
She could make it if she ran.
She felt the stares of the adult Shinobi following her as she raced out of the house.
Kakashi sighed, his folded arms resting on the wood of the bridge as he looked over the frozen river. He checked the watch that he wore only on special occasions (not that it helped his chronic lateness much). Five minutes to seven.
She wasn't going to come.
Because she would've been there already.
He knew his ex student that well, at least, to predict her patterns. A letter like that would've definitely piqued her curiosity enough to get her to show up early. However, if she had recognized his writing (and the odds were good that she had) there could be several possibilities for why she had failed to show.
One possibility was that she had never felt that way about him in the first place (unlikely, considering the letter) but there was the possibility within the possibility that she had never meant that letter, that it had been a joke she had written for the 'Santa' to find and she simply hadn't expected it to be him. He pulled it out of his Jounin vest and re read the thing from start to finish-he almost had it memorized by now. It didn't sound like it was written by someone as a joke… or maybe he was just hoping.
Another possibility was that she had gotten his note, and felt the same way…but was too afraid of what people would say to meet him. Unlikely, considering that she never seemed to care what people would say before, when she wanted Sasuke, but when it came to matters of the heart, Kakashi knew that women could be very strange indeed.
The last possibility was an ugly one. The possibility that she thought he was playing some sort of cruel and unusual joke on her. He dearly hoped that this was not the case, that if Sakura truly loved him…she would know that he would never do anything like that, least of all to her.
He was too caught up in mulling these possibilities that he didn't notice the faint chakra spike from behind him accompanied by the faint sound of beautiful sounding bells.
Sakura stood there, at the edge of the bridge, panting from the exertion required to run that far in that short a time. He stood there, just where Gai had said, leaning over the river, staring into its frozen depths. He seemed so absorbed with seeing something that she couldn't, that he hadn't even noticed her presence.
Seeing his shock of silver was a sight for sore eyes, the green of his Jounin vest a breath of fresh air. There was just one problem. His face looked so sad. Like it did whenever he spoke about Obito and Rin. And his posture looked so incredibly…defeated. Like he was positive that she wasn't going to come. As she caught her breath, she sputtered out "Ka-Kakashi…"
He looked up sharply, his black eye making contact with her emerald ones, silver hair ruffling in a passing breeze. Even though his face was masked (naturally) she could see shock registering that she had even come at all. A tense silence rose between them, broken, finally when he said, "You came…"
She came back with a quick response. "I wasn't going to." She tentatively stepped closer, leaning on the bridge herself, several feet away from him. "I thought…" her voice trailed off. "What?" he asked, softly but urgently, wanting to hear exactly which possibility was right. "I thought you were going to play some kind of joke on me." She stared down into the depths of the frozen river as he had been recently doing, her voice dropping into a whisper.
Without her noticing, he had slowly made his way towards her, bridging the gap between them in a few short seconds. When he heard her response, his heart hurt, as though someone were stepping on his chest. "Sakura…" he said under his breath, watching as color rose in her cheeks while he said her name.
Sakura stared at the river, her cheeks flushing slightly as he said her name…and flushing because of the way he said her name. "And I didn't…want…to be hurt. Not by you. Especially after what happened at the Daimyo's dance. When we had acted as newlyweds…" she was rattling now, trying to fill the silence between them with words. "When…" she flushed darker. "When you kissed me, I didn't know if you meant it or not, that's why I ran back to Konoha so fast, because I didn't want to hear you say you didn't and…"
Her voice trailed off as she noticed the proximity of his face. There was something dark and foreign in his eyes, something she had never seen in her ex teacher's face before. "Sakura, I've got something to tell you," he said, interrupting her ramble. He proceeded to tell her that the dance, and the kiss were parts of his own invention for the mission, not stipulated by the Hokage. "I was never acting, especially when I kissed you. I…"
He couldn't finish his sentence, her bright emerald eyes too distracting. There were traces of confusion present, mixed with comprehension making for a …different look, to say the least. Kakashi rubbed his forehead and decided to erase the last bit of confusion from her expression.
Carefully, with slow movements (as not to startle her) he lifted a hand and hooked his forefinger around the edge of his mask and pulled it down. Keeping her eyes transfixed in his own, he leaned over and slowly pressed his lips to hers.
Immediately she closed her eyes and felt her knees go weak. Quick as a striking snake, he twined his arm around her to keep her standing upright and to pull her tighter against his body. Applying just a little more pressure on her mouth, he savored the same taste he had tasted that day, at the dance.
Finally breaking away to breathe, he rested his forehead against hers, the metal of his forehead protector cool against hers. "Sakura…." he said huskily, trying to regain his breath. "I love you."
Sakura's breath caught in her throat as she stared into his eyes (or eye as the case were). Breaking her stare away from him, she looked down at his green vest, leaning into it for warmth, and simply because she had long wondered what it would feel like to rest her cheek on it. His arms enclosed her, his chin rested on her head. She felt at home. This was more powerful than anything she had ever felt for Sasuke. She could feel his hard muscles even underneath all the material he was wearing.
"I love you too Kakashi," she whispered into his shirtfront.
He closed his eyes and smiled, inhaling her scent-decisively apple-cinnamon, a very enticing scent.
"I thought…that you weren't going to come because of what people would say. I am fourteen years older than you Sakura, don't forget that." Sakura pulled away from his vest, his arm still around her waist. There was a peculiar look in her eyes and, if he didn't know better, the silver haired man would've thought that, well, she was mad at him.
"Kakashi…" oops, that one was right, she was mad. "If you ever thought, for one moment that I would care what the gossipmongers in this town have to say about me and who I date, then, clearly, you'll need to get to know me a little better." He smirked-his face still unmasked from kissing and said, "I didn't think so but when you're anxious about someone loving you back, well, you never think logically." Sakura chuckled and rested her head back onto his vest. For several more minutes, they simply stood there and enjoyed each other's company.
After another kiss-another piece of heaven to Kakashi (but he had all the pieces of heaven he needed now…and for the rest of his life-because he was sure he would never let her go,) the silver haired Jounin took her into an arm lock and they slowly made their way back across town to Ino's party. At first no one noticed when the copy nin came in with the cherry blossom on his arm until they were accidentally on purpose by Kakashi trapped underneath the mistletoe. He leaned in and claimed his kiss through his mask.
Ignoring the stunned silence of those around them, the two smiled at each other. Kakashi leaned down and placed a kiss on his Kunoichi's nose. "Merry Christmas Sakura…"
"Merry Christmas Kakashi…" she said back before pausing. "Wait. You're missing something. Wait here." Pulling him out from under the mistletoe, she left him and ran off in search of something.
He was immediately bombarded by questions from Asuma, Gai, Kurenai, Naruto, Sasuke…every single person in the room. He answered them as best he could until everyone backed off…and he felt something sticky being placed on his head.
"Sakura…" he said in a warning voice as he reached up to pat his hair, where he could feel a cellophane bow.
"You forgot the big red bow I wanted on your head Kakashi," she said teasingly, taking his hand and squeezing.
He looked faintly annoyed and then smiled squeezing back.
A/N-Seyann, don't you DARE get ticked at me for writing your Kakashi with someone else. I've wanted to write this paring for a while, it's become my new favorite, after Sakura/Gaara. REVIEW!!! I SPENT HOURS ON THIS STORY!!!
Paprika's Oka-San: It's true. For most of the time she was at my mother's she was on her computer, working on this.