Please enjoy a First person POV, past tense from me… :D

High School was survived by me as it has been and will ever be by all the students who go through it even though most think they'll die before they ever reach their adult years we have all mostly survived intact. Like most people experiences, my first three years were a hell I won't ever wish on another person, but that last year, my senior year was the best time of my life only equaled but never topped by some of my more recent college years; but even those years are missing the one thing that made that year I turned eighteen the best.

I grew up in a medium sized rural town, not too small but big enough to warrant a separate Jr. High and High school. Summers were spent on my mother's aunt's farm a few hours away from our house in town. The fields she owned grew massive amounts of strawberries and other tiny, tart fruits. My mother refused to allow me to wear any good clothes near the end of the summer as she never knew which of the ripened berries would be staining my cheeks, hands, and shirts that day. My young self would follow the hired pickers around and occasionally help pick or eat the tiny leftover berries that just weren't ripe yet. Those were my favorites. I remember many stomach aches every summer once the picking started, I'm sure my auntie does too.

The school year was spent in town and again with auntie during the winter as she moved in with us citing old bones and needed companionship while her farmstead got snowed in yearly. It was an enjoyable way to grow up.

Of course there were bad times, any kid will have them. For most of the years my bad times eclipsed everybody else's; offering me a sort of unwelcome celebrity that thankfully everyone avoided talking about. It started when I was ten with a school report for history.

I had come home whining about a report on immigration that I was given to do that I would have to stand up in front of everybody for. My father had immediately smiled wide and sat me down. It turned into a whole family affair; my mother brought dinner into the living room, unusual for us while auntie sat with her evening drink and added snippets. Father began the story with his own childhood in Greece. He and his parents had come over to America with the intention of staying, but grandfather hadn't been pleased and the family had decided to move back home. My father, having been fifteen at the time, had decided that he loved the US more than Greece and literally jumped ship. His parents weren't flying back home, but taking advantage of a cruise offered by some friends. My father left them a nice note and went to make his own future.

He wound up making his way into the migrant workers that roamed around helping whatever farm was in need of hand pickers or other help at the time. That was how he met my mother at my auntie's farm. It took three years and a day of illegal immigrant amnesty for my mother to finally give in to her feelings for him. My father proudly told me of the day he stood in front of the judge and gave his vows of citizenship; my mother had tears in her eyes. They had been married for six years by then. Father was twenty-six, mother was twenty-one, and I was about to be born in three months.

My teacher had been surprised at my report and commended me for it. At the end of the school year I was asked to stand up in front of the entire high school auditorium full of families and give my report again as an example of the outstanding schoolwork even the elementary students of our small town could do. I did so in a strained if even voice with my auntie's hand on my shoulder after having been just released from the hospital two weeks before. At that time my parents had been dead for three months. I couldn't see the audience as they listened to my father's story, but I could hear the sniffles.

That was what caused my celebrity, that and a few other things; my ability to pull off awesome pranks and the school's allowance for me to grow my hair longer. Due to the car accident where I lost my parents I had several thick scars on my scalp and one very noticeable one across my nose. My auntie spoke to my school counselor and was able to get a pass on their rules for boy's haircuts. I was allowed to grow my hair long enough to pull back in a tail which would hide those shiny stripes of skin thereby eliminating some awkwardness and possible teasing, It was a ruling easily passed to my High School counselor who accepted it without question. To everybody's eyes except my auntie's I was an exemplary student with strong friends and an easy laugh. Little did they know.

As everyone will while they grow up, I had friends come and go. Some didn't work out; some moved out of town, others just grew apart. Through all my years in school I found and kept two good friends, Anko and Hayate. We plagued our schools like any click of too smart for their own good kids will do. Anko's physical prowess on any sports field gained her the domination of the high school as she took the women's volleyball, soccer and track teams to victory starting in her sophomore year. Hayate ran the school paper and actively fought for both our state and our town to give more to the schools; successfully gaining an upgraded computer lab for the high school who passed down their older computers to the junior high and theirs to the local library succeeding in offering up to ten people in town at a time free internet access. I, myself was just the all around good student who could do no wrong. I was the defender of the underdogs, always giving two hundred percent and showing those smart kids that even average kids could succeed. I was also the school's soccer team's star goalie. Our team had the highest rate of games won in overtime due to a fantastic kicker on our side who couldn't run and an even better goalie, me, keeping anything and everything from flying between our posts.

It was our senior year where we truly shined as the 'future leaders of the community' that the local newspaper painted us and a few other of our classmates. It was also that year where we gained a few new teachers that changed all of our lives forever.

That year we were all taking specialty courses that Hayate had worked on getting introduced to our small school. On an intern program with several teaching colleges our school gained some new and interesting faces.

Anko fell head over heels in a high school crush with her ethics professor, Mr. Sannin. He was from a big city, had grown his hair much longer than my shoulder length locks and could argue Hayate to a standstill on both politics and morality. Hayate hated him, but neither of us were able to keep Anko from attaching herself to him. It wasn't until later that we found out just how dangerous that attachment would be and how far away from us it would take her.

Hayate shined his senior year for a different reason. The papers held him up as the bravest young man our town had known in a long time as he began a serious battle against a childhood disease that had never truly gone away. He was in and out of the hospital that year, but always coming back to school as soon as possible whether his lungs were working properly yet or not. He brought his own city specialists into town for speeches in the auditorium on the importance of vaccination and prevention, and began working tirelessly to get more funding for our own small hospital. When we lost him a few years later, the entire town mourned together. He was escorted to his final resting place in the ambulance he had gotten donated to our town by our nearest and largest neighbor. My senior year was subdued compared to theirs, but I shone in a different way that Hayate would continuously tease me about. I fell in love.

After confessing to Hayate and Anko I was given more advice then I ever thought I would require, but it was Hayate's that struck a fearful chord. Sometimes even small town communities couldn't forgive foibles that were against the law, as close to the line as they might have been. He recommended that I wait to reveal my crush until all possibility of either of us gaining legal censure for a relationship would be gone. It was around Christmas that I agreed to wait until after graduation to confess.

Throughout school I'd always been a popular one with the ladies. I'd experienced the crushes, the stalking, the notes and sly glances. I'd even given in to some of these and had enjoyed the title of 'best kisser' that I seemed to keep even into high school. I'd never felt the need to go all the way to a full blown relationship with any of these girls, but also seemed to be blessed with the ability to put them off in such a way that none of them minded. I look back now and consider myself to be very lucky. It wasn't until I finally felt that same heavy beat of my heart that I understood how some of the girls might have felt for me.

It was one of the intern teachers, one specializing in the higher sciences. Mr. Hatake was in his second year of teaching and was able to do so without a more experienced teacher present. He offered two different college level sciences, one each semester. Having excelled in chemistry since I was old enough to make a paper mache volcano I naturally signed up when I saw the Chemistry Course listed as one of his two. That would mean I would also be taking physics, but I relished the idea of some easy grades my last semester.

He was tall and lean, always wore proper pants and nice shirts unlike us locals in our daily jeans and t-shirts. His hair was what drew my attention first. I'd seen silver hair before, my auntie was well on her way to 70, but I'd neither seen that shade on as young a man as Mr. Hatake seemed to be, nor had I ever seen it lay around in messy spikes the way his did. We later learned that he was only twenty-three and that his hair was hereditary. His father had looked exactly the same.

The only thing that ever eclipsed my attention to how amazing his body looked was his eyes. He had a pair of piercing blue eyes, dark enough to remind me of the sky at twilight, but I'd seen them sparkle just as I saw the first stars sparkle in the summer. He could see through lies and weak excuses as easily as through a pane of glass. Mr. Hatake was smart. I even tentatively labeled him a genius as later in the year his mind came upon the realization of just why I was so good in chemistry once he noted some of my favorite mixes.

It's amazing what fun you can have with salt and dyes and different alcohols. The amount of trouble I could cause by rifling through my auntie's under the sink collection was enormous and often taken advantage of. As my Junior High graduation project she even allowed me to blow up an old, rundown shed out on the farm. When she realized where I had gained the information to make a pipe-bomb she almost became one of the most avid speakers against the internet being free at our local library. I remember having to call Hayate in to calm her down and bring it all to a rational closure after promising her I would win the town's science fair hands down and present her the ribbon in front of everybody along with mentioning search censors on the public computers as a requirement to keep all of our children safe during my thank you speech

It was early in the school year when I noticed something different about Mr. Hatake, or Mr. Kakashi as he wanted to be known to us students. It wasn't anything stupendous or even immediately alarming, but had it been directed towards anyone but me I would have either spoken to him personally or reported it. Since it was myself that I would notice his eyes lingering on occasionally I didn't mind at all. It wasn't until that Christmas that I fully realized why I didn't mind.

We'd sat near each other at the football games for the first few games. Anko, being the cheerful and outgoing person she was, had invited him to scoot over and join our small cheering section. Mr. Kakashi forced Hayate to explain all the rules to him and within a few games was yelling at the referees as loud as the rest of the students. Our friendship began then, in the autumn when I realized that even if he had watchful eyes he was still a very controlled individual. It wasn't until we saw him crack that stoic mask at the games that he actually began to become our favorite teacher. The older girls would flock to our bleacher seats to sit next to him and flirt. After Christmas that stopped completely when Hayate and I began running enough interference to allow him to sit unmolested by anyone other than myself, and my molestation was filled only with wide smiles and meeting thighs when I slid over a bit too far as I made room for more people.

I also saw him at my soccer games with Hayate and Anko cheering just as loudly as them whenever I nosedived into the ground with the ball securely flying away from my goal. They always seemed to get a kick out of me bleeding or being in pain. After the games Anko would jump through the crowd to administer whatever type of first aid my knees and elbows might have needed, but she always slyly let Mr. Kakashi wipe my face. Once she gave me a great excuse to 'accidentally' get a good armful of his shoulders, my chest flush with his and our noses nearly bumping after she spiked my lower back like a volleyball in an attempt to 'administer first aid to what looked like a bad scrape on my lower back.' I took the small bandage off later that night at home to see that the area underneath was perfectly fine. When I confronted her with my almost kiss she punched my shoulder and accused me of not taking advantage of the situation.

Even Hayate, as full of warnings as he was, would get in on the fun. Once he knew that I didn't mind the attention that he'd also noticed, and that I was actually planning on welcoming the attention as soon as it wouldn't get either of us in trouble; getting us innocently together became a high priority. My senior year in high school I sat for two detentions which were two more than I'd had the entire three years before that. Hayate had used his secret ways to find out when Mr. Kakashi was watching over the wayward students then rearranged a few schedules and pardoned a few students to make sure that I was the only student in the room. Unfortunately his ways of getting me detention opened the school's eyes to my not such a good boy ways. I was never allowed alone in the unlocked chemistry lab again. Hayate stayed home with very green skin for three days after that one and I proudly walked around school with my right hand dyed just as dark a green after having held him under the water in the bathtub. The second time took a few weeks to arrange as he made me late to my first class three times a week for three weeks straight. He had no problems as the newspaper took up his first period, but my trigonometry teacher wasn't as forgiving. To his dismay nothing ever happened during the detentions. I sat at the desk and wrote the essay Mr. Kakashi assigned me and then designed elaborate plans to torture Hayate.

The first few months after Christmas were torturous to me. I would blush and stammer when he was around, not wanting to look him in the eye at all. I'd always imagined what it would be like to be in love, but never with a guy. It was only my two friends taking the idea that I liked him so easily that helped me overcome the sudden shyness. It wasn't until spring break in late march that I became completely comfortable with the idea, and that was only after I got my first look at the real Kakashi, not Mr. Kakashi the teacher.

We'd spent our time befriending him during the school year enough to feel no guilt at dragging him to my auntie's farm for a few days to camp. Hayate had brought the idea up after finding out that Mr. Kakashi had done some backpacking during his own high school summers and earlier. It was our annual outing, just the three of us braving whatever weather the week long break would bring and camping under the stars without tents. It also usually involved whatever types of alcohol we could pilfer from home without getting caught.

Mr. Kakashi was hesitant until Anko jumped on his back and choked him into agreeing. She'd always been the best at getting him to do anything. It was her dare that had him wearing casual clothes to school for a week. I'll always remember how his teacher face turned a pretty pink when I gave him a good look up from his run down sneaker, and over those low slung jeans with obvious and comfortable looking worn spots, and then across that nicely muscled chest being shown off by a shirt that was just a bit too tight across the shoulders. Hayate had to step on my foot to keep me from drooling. Mr. Kakashi had acted as embarrassed as I normally did when I looked him straight in the eye and said he looked 'yummy.' Anko had dared me to say that and I won twenty bucks off of her that day.

The annual spring break camping trip that year was comprised of eight people total. To ease Mr. Kakashi's mind Hayate had me invite two friends from my soccer team, Izumo and Kotetsu. They brought their girlfriends and a cooler full of fun with both of their father's blessings. That year we allowed tents having two females of a more delicate nature than Anko had ever been along with us. The girls immediately bonded as girls do leaving us guys to gather enough firewood to last the two nights we planned to stay. Mr. Kakashi was just Kakashi for those days at his own request and continued to be so even when we went back to school. He laughed and ate with us, but only had one beer those entire three days. Izumo had shrugged as his offers for more were turned down and threw them my way. Nobody got crazily drunk, though Izumo's girl did fall asleep after two bottles. She missed out on the fun that night as she slept through the moonlight swim. Normally Hayate, Anko and I would have been drunk off our gourds and naked as the day we were born when we went for our ceremonial first swim, but we had scheduled more demure activities that year. We saved our yearly endurance swim in the still chilly waters for the night before we went back to school and wound up missing four days of that next week as my auntie nursed us all back to health in the farmhouse after catching cold.

Kakashi used the excuse that he hadn't brought anything to swim in that night in an attempt to get away from our plans, but Hayate had seen it coming. Knowing we were close in size he had ordered me to bring an extra pair of trunks which were duly pulled out and flung in our teacher's face. He kept a t-shirt on, but that first glimpse of him rising wet from the lake with the thin cloth clinging to him and I was glad the water was as cold as it was. It was that weekend, that night even that helped me realize this wasn't just a crush or even just normal teenage lust. I was easily able to complement Kotetsu on his nice catch and not feel a thing for the busty girl, even Anko attempted to show off her new two piece and I just laughed. My heart was set on Kakashi and him alone. I did give in to my body for a short time when I started a dunking fight. I treated him the same as I would any other friend I had plans against. I talked the girls into getting his attention and attacked from behind throwing myself entirely against him as we went down together. It was only in the dark water that I allowed my hands to linger, my finger tips to touch just a bit but not enough that I couldn't brush it off if he mentioned something. The girls were laughing hard when we both emerged from the water. Hayate immediately joined in and threw Anko like a sack of potatoes; Kotetsu claimed manly revenge for their duplicity and punished his girl the same way. I grinned and dared Kakashi to wreak his own havoc.

He did wreak havoc and nearly drowned me in the bargain, but I got to cling to his back while I drew in great breaths of air, maybe a few more than I needed to see properly again, but I wasn't going to complain about a good excuse to hold on to those shoulders.

After I dared him he had only looked at me with superiority in his eyes until he disappeared underneath the water with only a few small ripples to show where he'd been. It was only seconds before I felt his hands on my ankles. I'd been tricked by Hayate like that plenty of times and made my normal evasive maneuvers, but he had foreseen these and used them against me. As I dove under the water he wrapped an arm around my knees and spun me like an alligator does their prey then used what momentum he had left to push us both to the bottom. I was more concerned with the cold lake mud seeping into my shorts at the time than the fact that we were finally pressed chest to chest again, but later I remembered the flashes of touches, his cheek against mine, a hand on my thigh, possibly even a caress to my stomach, but I was flailing like any well trapped prey would have been so they might have been accidental. Later, in my dreams they definitely weren't. Later in my dreams that smile he'd given me afterwards had stayed there permanently as he dragged me back to a more shallow portion of the lake.

He pleaded out of the activity at the same time as me and we enjoyed getting warm and dry while the remaining four swimmers rediscovered their childhood in the form of a tire-swing that dropped them into the deepest part of the lake. I puttered around the fire stoking it back into a full flame while he took some dry clothes into the trees to change. Some careful maneuvering got me a good glimpse of pale skin just before he pulled on a dry shirt, but his pants had already been replaced by then. After he was done I took my own dry outfit and went not as far into the trees as he had. When I returned I managed not to look at him and instead just casually sat beside him on one of the logs we had nearby for seating purposes and flipped my head between my legs to towel my hair dry. It was only after I had draped the small towel over my shoulders that I felt some questing fingers on my scalp touching my old scars from the accident. I'll always remember the pain I saw in his eyes as I briefly told him what had happened. I knew then that his feelings for me were definitely something more than simple lust also.

After that he got chapter and verse on my life story with little prompting; that was also the only night he actually accepted the bottle of beer I held out to him. I occasionally managed to manipulate the conversation around to his own story even after the cold frozen swimmers returned. That was our last night out and Hayate, Anko and I stayed up to greet the sun after the pairs had settled into their own tents and Kakashi had wrapped up in his sleeping bag. It was only after Hayate was sure our teacher had gone to sleep that he mentioned the 'swimming accident' as it came to be known. I, being a gentlemen and not one to tell tales, had only laughed low and grinned as I opened another beer and started pointing out the spring constellations. Anko laughed and called me many names while Hayate accused me of being stingy and not offering him any succor from his own lack of a love life.

Three mornings after we three greeted the sun everyone returned to school without us. When I finally saw Kakashi again on Friday after a severe overdosing on cold medicine I immediately noticed a change in his behavior. He seemed more natural around me, even around all three of us. He laughed more often, smiled easier and began to throw harder assignments my way. It was also around this time that my college application letters began coming back. I enjoyed sharing them with him, the starkness of the denials or the warmth of an acceptance letter. He was pleased to find out that I had decided to become a teacher and talked to me often in warning about what to expect of the next few years. I just laughed and told him I wanted to teach younger kids, not the crazy, hormone driven teenagers he had decided to look after.

When all of my letters were finally accounted for I was amazed that I had been accepted to the teaching college I had only dreamed of. It was in a big city out of the state, a major university with an excellent course for us 'future sculptors of the world's future' as the letter had described us teachers in training. Auntie had shouted with joy as I paraded around the house like a three year old with his first finger painting. I showed the refrigerator, my auntie, the stove; I went into the next room and almost cried as I displayed my letter to the one picture of my parents proudly displayed in the parlor; it was of them on their wedding day. In my mind that day the gorgeous and mysterious smile that twitched on my mom's lips was for me and what she was imagining I would do when I finally graduated, and the pride shining in my dad's eyes was all for the son that would graduate from high school and then college; something he never gave himself a chance to do.

It was right there in the parlor that I told them all about Kakashi in my emotional state and wound up crying on my short auntie's shoulder as she hugged me with the acceptance I didn't know I was craving from her. She blamed her own tears on being an old woman then promptly sat me down with some tea and began grilling me on everything about my favorite teacher that I could possibly reveal, from how his pale skin looked like when wet and moonlit to the gleam in his eye as I continuously turned in his ever lengthening essay requests with a smirk on my face. My auntie finally met my dream man at graduation and shook his hand heartily with a twinkle in her eye. Afterwards she had nudged me in my ribs and congratulated me on my choice saying she would have gone after him herself if she'd been younger and that it was too bad I couldn't catch him by getting accidentally pregnant and carrying the gorgeous babies she was sure that man and I could have made if it was possible. I had laughed and loudly called my auntie a pervert in the middle of the group of hugging families.

Graduation turned out perfect for many of our class, but for a few more and most of the parents it was marred by recent happenings. For me, who those happenings touched deeply it was ruined by more than the fact that Anko had run off with her own favorite teacher without a word to any of us. Even as I stepped up on the platform to shake the principal's hand and received my diploma I was unable to forget what would happen that next morning. I remember glancing quickly at Kakashi as I passed him along with all the other teachers sitting in their assigned seats and clapping loudly. He had smiled proudly, but his eyes were sad.

When school had let out for the summer, we seniors immediately began celebrating. Anko had set up an elaborate camping trip with just the three of us again out by my auntie's lake. We celebrated that night with dreams of what we were going to do. It was only then that Hayate and I were finally able to realize just how deeply Anko had allowed her crush on Mr. Sannin to run. He was now just Orochimaru, and she knew he loved her the same way I knew Kakashi loved me. She had made plans to leave and find a job and an apartment in the same town he was returning to the next day. Mr. Sannin had pressing business that was forcing him home before the graduation ceremony. Hayate and I hadn't known how to take that, but it had prompted me to speak to Kakashi the next time I saw him when we went to pick up our robes from the school. I was glad we were alone in his room when he told me that it didn't surprise him Orochimaru was leaving so quickly, that the man had never been able to feel anything remotely human, and even Orochimaru's own cousin, Kakashi's mentor felt that his relative was a bit slimy. I told him about Anko's feelings and he had warned me to talk firmly to her, that Orochimaru was not a man to follow his heart and had always used people until they ran dry; then he tossed them aside like rubbish.

It was a week later, five days until the graduation ceremony that Anko disappeared with only a letter left on her pillow. I ran into Kakashi again at the school where both Hayate and I had been called to speak in front of the school board about Anko and Orochimaru's actions. We were able to truthfully tell them that we had no knowledge of any illicit actions between the two of them during the school year and that even though Anko had confessed to a crush earlier on in the school year she hadn't said a word about anything serious until after she had left the grounds for the last time. To our surprise we were asked to sit and wait while Kakashi was asked to stand up and also questioned. He verified that he did know Orochimaru before this and told them exactly what type of man he thought the teacher was, but expressed this was only his opinion and it was colored by a close relationship with Mr. Sannin's estranged cousin Jiraiya. It was after the council and attending parents took a few minutes to think over his revelations that my world began to collapse.

A mother stood up, not Anko's mother but the mother of one of next year's freshmen and a known troublemaker. She began speaking as if the town's thoughts were behind her completely and recommended the instant abolishment of the intern teaching program that Hayate had worked so hard to establish not wanting her little darling possibly abused by strange teachers who were brought in for only a year and not given a thorough background or personality check. After several minutes of ranting over the possible future danger she turned on Kakashi who had sat back down. He was accused by her of negligence in not warning the school what type of man Orochimaru had turned out to be. She spoke for a long time on how Mr. Sannin had led astray an innocent lamb of the town who now had her bright future ruined, and how it could have been prevented if Kakashi had only said a word. She demanded the school board terminate his contract immediately due to his relationship with the perpetrator of such a heinous misdeed. To my horror and the sound of my dream world crumbling around my ears I heard the council take a vote and agree knowing that they only did so to stop her from causing more problems.

Right in front of everybody Kakashi was informed that his contract, which was supposed to run for two years, was to be terminated early due to misconduct, and he was recommended to leave town as soon as possible so that any misdirected anger would not fall on him. Kakashi only nodded and said he could make arrangements to leave without any problem, but that he'd like to stay for graduation. The woman who had offered him an apartment here in town had bravely stood up and told him not to worry about the terms of his lease as he was being forced out of town by pompous asses who knew nothing about what a good man was. Kakashi had only stood, smiled and ceremoniously bowed in an old fashion towards the gathered parents. He said he would leave the morning after graduation, and I knew he would take my heart with him since there was no way for me to follow.

I had planned on asking him out to the farm that summer and offering him a room there. Most of the families in town did that same migration so the idea of him getting a part time job while waiting for the new school year to start was ridiculous even if he didn't know it yet. The town nearly shut down once the students were let out. My auntie had already approved the idea and even added some delicious ideas to my confession plan. I had wanted to bring him out to the lake again, this time just the two of us when the sun's heat warmed the waters well into the night. I had checked the calendar and circled the next full moon, three more weeks and my plans to confess would have happened out in the open under my favorite summer sky with not a single person around to hear other than the one I loved.

Now that plan was just a dream that still sparkled as its shattered pieces glimmered up at me from the linoleum tile floor our folding chairs stood on. Hayate had his hand over mine having an idea of what I was thinking as everyone began talking once the session was ended with a loud bang of the ceremonial school ruler. I didn't look up from the floor, but let Hayate lead me out to the soccer field away from the parents who were exiting the school. We sat in the bleachers as I tried not to cry. Hayate later told me that Kakashi had followed us, but kept his distance when it was obvious that I had broken down. They had shared a look, a sad one by Hayate's word, and then Kakashi had turned around and walked away.

Hayate chose not to inform me of that shared look until the night before graduation when I was still so depressed that I hadn't left my bedroom for more than a few minutes at a time since then. My aunt had begged him to talk to me and even suggested a desperate plan. Hayate had sat beside me on the bed and told me to go after him even if it was only for one night. I had stared blankly at him without saying a word until he smacked my head and left with a laugh saying I had better not be a virgin the day after graduation or he would be severely disappointed in me and never believe another story of my prowess in any relationship. I learned later that my auntie had used much the same trick to grab her husband which somehow didn't surprise me.

That afternoon after the graduation ceremony we all attended the reception. Hayate and I laughed like normal and searched until we found Kakashi sitting on some opened gym bleachers. He had a napkin full of uneaten cookies beside him and a half full cup of punch. We stayed there as his self appointed guards and watched carefully as a few students came to say hello and fewer parents came to say goodbye. He never said a word until Hayate joked that he should have spiked the punch since at the rate I kept having to get Kakashi refills, he would have been happily plastered and telling those people who were happy to see him go exactly where they could stuff their faulty logic. Kakashi had cracked a grin at that and threatened Hayate with dire consequences if he actually did decide to spike the punch because it wasn't actually needed in his case. Then he lifted the edge of his jacket enough for us both to see a telltale silver flash peeking out of an inner pocket. We both laughed at the idea of our teacher having a flask of alcohol on school grounds which was explicitly against the rules. He had laughed and said it was one of the few ways he got through the entire year without strangling one or the both of us. Hayate had laughed uproariously at that, but I got quiet and began to think back to all the odd things Kakashi had done that might have been caused by a few sips here and there and what a few more sips at the right moment might have caused.

After a loud sigh at all the missed opportunities I shook my own almost empty cup of punch and demanded some assistance with all the headaches he had caused me. He just laughed and said it was already empty so I would have to rely on the sugar water to ease my pains. Hayate could only groan as we continued to flirt in ever broadening words, never mentioning anything straight out, but I knew Kakashi was answering on the same level.

It was evening when I set out from my house. My auntie had watched me leave with a smile and said she would leave the back door unlocked. I had only smiled and informed her I hoped she would have already woken up and unlocked the front door by the time I returned home. I left the house with her laughter in my ears and a smile on my face as I made my way on foot to the address Hayate had passed to me earlier. Kakashi had leased out a furnished garage apartment from one of the eccentric old biddies of the town. It was a bit of a walk, but the heavy air after a late afternoon storm seemed to calm me as I continued on my way. I arrived at his door on silent but mud covered feet and paused for a moment of contemplation before I knocked. I had all my words ready, all my excuses and reasons and questions lined up and ready to be brought out if he tried to dissuade me. It was only my own courage that kept me from knocking immediately as it seemed to be swiftly turning tail to go and hide in the bushes. After minutes of standing there in the dark listening to the locusts serenade each other I touched the wood of the door with my fingertips. On an impulse, a crazy, momentary urge I made a fist and knocked. The sound was loud in the quiet night and I could suddenly hear sounds from inside. It took only ten heartbeats for the door to begin opening and another five after that for me to see him standing there in front of me illuminated from behind by a dim lamp. We stared at each other with serious eyes asking unspoken questions until finally one of his own was answered to his approval and he stepped aside to let me in. He didn't say a thing as I stepped farther in and bent to remove my muddy sneakers. As I stood with sneakers in hand I smiled and finally spoke.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, just play with them.