Naruto and all associated characters are not mine!

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Gossip

It would have been so easy for things to turn out differently. If only the straightest path to the Hokage's hadn't been by that particular café. If only he had been a little more absorbed in his book and oblivious to the world around him. If only the weather hadn't been so nice and the two gossiping kunoichi had opted to eat inside. However, it would appear that the whole world was against Kakashi Hatake that particular day, he just didn't know it yet.

Everything seemed peaceful in Konoha that morning. The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing and the great Copy Ninja had the latest volume of Icha Icha Paradise. All seemed right in the world as Kakashi made his way towards the Hokage's office, his nose buried in his book as he walked. He was so adept at reading and walking that maneuvering his way through crowds was second nature now, hardly ever loosing his place no matter what obstacles lay before him.

The crowds finally began to thin out a little bit as he made through the marketplace and into one of Konoha's quieter districts filled with shops and eateries.

Despite his engrossment in the current romance novel, Kakashi couldn't help but be aware of his surroundings, his reactions as a ninja engrained a little too deeply to repress. Anyone else would have missed the faint sound of his name coming from down the street but the sharingan user's ears instantly pricked as he heard a female voice talking about him, a voice that was strangely familiar.

Curious as to who was speaking and why he was the topic of conversation, he nimbly leapt to the rooftops so he could get closer while still remaining unseen, repressing his chakra to make himself all but invisible.

He jumped from roof to roof, following the speaker's voice until she came into view.

Even from the back he recognized her immediately. The long blonde ponytail and purple attire made her identity easy to guess, and if that weren't enough, her obnoxious voice was unmistakable. He didn't know how the pink haired woman sitting across from her managed to deal with it all day long.

Sakura shared a table with her friend in front of a little café where they had decided to spend their lunch break, needing to escape the sterile interior of the hospital they worked in, even if it was just for an hour.

However, it seemed the more experienced medical ninja was having trouble leaving work at work. In her hand she held a medical journal which she perused as she ate. Kakashi wondered if she was really that serious about her job or if it was a way to cope with her friend's overbearing company.

Ino chatted away anyway, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sakura's attentions were directed elsewhere.

"…and seriously what is up with that mask? Is he really that ugly? I mean, what could be so bad that he has to hide his face from the world?"

"I've been wondering the same thing for years." Sakura replied absently as she flipped a page before pausing to stuff a bite of salad in her mouth.

Kakashi chuckled quietly form his perch. It had always amused him to no end when his students had tried countless times to see under the black cloth covering his face, and each try had been more creative than the last. Very few people had actually seen his face and he planned to keep it that way. He had his reasons but he has to admit a sadistic side of him took pleasure in the curiosity it seemed to stir in those around him.

"And those books? Honestly, how can he go around reading those in public? I mean, think of what is written in them!"

"I try not to." Sakura replied, pausing in her reading to drink water from her glass.

"I know the author is supposed to be some legendary sennin but seriously, the stuff he writes is just plain disgusting. I personally wouldn't be caught dead reading it."

At this Kakashi frowned. Now wait just a minute. What gave her the right to insult his precious Icha Icha? It was true that some people found it unbecoming but what he read was his business and if he wanted to read it in public then he had every right to.

The Copy Ninja huffed in annoyance as he crossed his arms, his prized book dangling from his fingers. Some people just couldn't appreciate good literature and it came as no surprise that Ino was such a person. She struck him as the kind that appreciated little except her own face in the mirror, vain and shallow.

"And the plots are so unrealistic." The blonde continued. "The main character always ends up with a girl in his bed no matter what. You think that if these women were experienced ninjas, they would see him for what he really was, a pig and a womanizer."

"The only pig around here is you and for someone so disgusted by these books, you seem to know an awful lot about them." Sakura said, her bored tone betraying nothing.

Kakashi however nearly laughed out loud, the corner of his mouth twitching with mirth as the long haired woman below him turned three shades pinker and frantically tried to back peddle. He felt pride swell in his chest for his former student, even though that pride had nothing to do with his teachings. Sakura sometimes had a sharp tongue to go with her sharper mind and he liked that, especially when she used it to call out annoying blonde women.

But Kakashi had to give the girl some credit. It appeared she read Icha Icha after all, even if she denied it. He could appreciate a woman with hidden passions. Maybe the busty blonde wasn't so bad after all.

"But like I was saying," Ino continued, obviously trying to change the subject. "I don't understand how he got the reputation of being so good with women. Sakura, you spent years with the man. Have you ever actually SEEN him with a woman?"

"Watching my teacher seduce someone is hardly something I kept an eye out for. I don't go around asking you about Azuma's love life do I?"

"Man, Azuma had girls around him ALL the time, well, at least until he settled down with Kurenai." Ino gushed. "But I can't say the same for your sensei. You know what I think?"

"No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me." Sakura said without shifting her eyes from her medical journal.

"I think that the books are all the action he's getting and that's why he reads them so much. He's beyond deprived!"

Ok, scratch that last thought. The blonde was bad, definitely bad. Kakashi's brow furrowed in anger. How the hell had she come up with a hypothesis like that? Just because he was subtle about his flings didn't mean they didn't exist. She had no right to go sticking her nose in his business anyways.

"You can totally tell just by looking at him. He depends on those books like the air he breathes. It's like he's never experienced the real thing for himself, or he's experienced far too little to be satisfied. Maybe that's how he gets a sexual fix just so he can function."

"Ino, please stop talking about my sensei's sex life. I'm trying to eat." Sakura said evenly, all too used to her friend's gossiping, but slightly disgusted all the same.

"Ok, ok. You're no fun anymore Sakura, you realize that? I remember when it took so little to get you riled up. It was so much more fun that way."

"Well some of us just learned how to act mature."

"Acting mature hasn't made you're forehead any smaller though. It's still as big as ever."

"Ino," Sakura growled warningly as her patience grew thin, a vein popping out on said forehead.

Kakashi tore his vision away from the young women to glance at the sun. Damn, he hadn't meant to stay here so long. Tsunade would chew him out good when he finally got to his office.

Replacing the orange jacketed book safely in his kunai pouch, the Jounin took off along the roof tops towards his destination, trying to clear the annoying blonde's voice from his head but for some reason, her words kept repeating. Did he really look like someone who was so sex starved he resorted to books for fulfillment? He read them because they were well written and about a topic he could relate to: the life of a shinobi. While he certainly didn't mind the plentiful, graphic erotica scenes, he didn't buy the books because of them. He had certainly had enough real life sexual escapades to keep him occupied and doubted he would have much trouble engaging in more. Yet he couldn't clear his head of Ino's words that irritated and scratched at his brain like a splinter.

Growling in annoyance, he pushed the visage of the purple clothed woman from his mind, telling himself that he never previously cared what people thought of him and starting now would be silly, especially if someone like Ino was the root of his insecurities.

Yes, the logic made sense in his head, but as he bounded towards the Hokage's office, he couldn't help but wonder why the conversation he had overheard was still bothering him…