Disclaimer: I do not own "Naruto."
Maybe it's just my imagination…No, I'm positive he's been trying to get close to me every chance he gets. We've just been brushing up against each other too much. That's why I noticed the cologne. When did Kakashi-sensei start wearing cologne anyway? He never seemed to care to wear it before because we get all sweaty and dirty from flying through the trees during our missions. But it's unmistakable, lately he's been putting a great deal of effort to be near me…and to smell good. Goodness, does he smell good! The cologne suits him, crisp and clean…
Focus, Sakura. What are you thinking! He's your sensei, your teacher. Alright, he might not be my teacher anymore and we're equals now, but he's still way too old for me. Well, he's not that old. He's not even old enough to be my father.
He was old enough to be your teacher.
Yeah, well I'm older now and the gap doesn't seem so big anymore.
Why am I even over-thinking this? He has no interest in me. I may be older now, but I'm sure he still thinks of me as that little kid he first began to train. That'll probably never change. But I wonder…Is he starting to notice me? My body's definitely different now. I'm taller and my curves are more prominent. I definitely look more like a woman than a girl. Is he noticing?
Why should I even care if he notices or not?! I love Sasuke! I've loved him forever and always will. That will never change. But Sasuke's not here and Sasuke was always so cold. He called me annoying…twice. "After all this time, you're still annoying." Even now, those words still break my heart. I told him I loved him more than anything, to take me with him, and he just brushed me away like I was nothing. But I care for him. I don't want anything bad to happen to him. No matter how badly he's treated me, I still love him and long for him. If I can just see him again! Oh, Sasuke!…
Naruto's here, and Rock Lee, and Kakashi…
But Naruto is too loud and obnoxious! I can't take that! He's a good friend, and always so protective of me, and I can't help but admire him for his persistence and determination, but I just don't feel that way for him! Besides, he's meant to be with Hinata even if the damn fool hasn't realized it yet!
Rock Lee…He's wonderful. He has the same qualities I like about Naruto, but I'm just not attracted to him either.
Kakashi…Kakashi has been a wonderful sensei. I've learned so much from him. If it weren't for him, I don't think I'd value my friends and teammates the way I do now. But that's all our relationship is…Teacher and student. It doesn't matter that I'm no longer his student. He will always just see me that way.
…But I am attracted to him. In comparison to the others…As attracted as I was to Sasuke, Sasuke was always cold and sometimes hurtful. But Kakashi was always kind and comforting. Unlike Naruto, he's much more mature and laid back. And unlike Rock Lee, I am physically attracted to him…He's tall, and lean, and strong. At first I passed him off as a slacker with him wearing his forehead protector over his eye like that, but now that I know it's to hold back his Sharingan and just how powerful he is, it's actually kind of sexy. And that mask…I'm obsessed to see what he looks like under that mask!…He can't have fish lips, or beaver's teeth, or a strange kissy face the way Naruto suggested because at Ichiraku Ramen the old man and his daughter made it obvious that Kakashi is actually really good looking. I wonder?…
Oh, God. Why is he looking at me that way? Like he's trying to read my mind and all the thoughts that have been going through it. What if he can? Crap! I know Sharingan isn't supposed to have that ability, but what if it actually does? And if not that, he is a Jounin. He's good at reading people. Am I being that obvious? Is he seeing right through me? Shit! But there's something else in his eyes, like he wants something more from me, a longing…He's smiling at me now. Shit! I just stopped breathing! Easy, Sakura, just smile back. Yeah, there you go. He's turning around and tending to the campfire again. Thank goodness...
If you don't have feelings for him, then why are you all tense?
I'm imagining things. That's it. I'm noticing things that I wouldn't otherwise notice because I want to twist things to my liking.
…And what's to your liking is him liking you.
SHIT! "Uh, yes Kakashi-sensei?"
"Can you give me a hand here?"
"Sure. I'll be right there!" Hehe, Sakura! You get to be near him! SHUT UP!
"Ahh, Sakura. I just need you to get the bottle of spice in my backpack. I'd do it myself, but I can't let this pot in my hand off the fire right now and I can't reach."
"No problem….Here you go."
Kakashi blindly reached out for the spice and ended up grabbing Sakura's hand as well. In slow motion it seemed to Sakura, Kakashi turned his head, looked at their clasped hands, then raised his eyes to meet hers. And there it was again…That look.
"Um, am I interrupting something?"
"NARUTO!!" Kakashi and Sakura both said in a louder than usual voice, simultaneously letting go of each others hand.
"What's going on?" Naurto asked, a quizzical look on his face.
"Nothing, just cooking dinner!" Kakashi said, flushing in spite of his mask and turning a little too quickly back to his cooking.
"I was just helping out," Sakura said, but her face felt warm. She smiled at Naruto and quickly walked past him even though he still had a puzzled look on his face. Sakura hurried back to where she was sitting under a tree and began unnecessarily reorganizing her backpack. She could feel Naruto's eyes on her back, but after a minute or two, she heard him walking away and putting the logs he had in his arms next to the fire. He gave Kakashi one more questioning look as he squatted down to his level, but Kakashi ignored Naruto by keeping his own eyes down and continuing to turn the food inside the pot with a spoon. Naruto gave up and went to where his backpack was and began rummaging through his things as well.
Dinner was unusually tense. Both Kakashi and Sakura had taken places on either side of Naruto, and both hardly spoke a word. They'd laugh and open up a bit at something Naruto said and then just as quickly clam up again. Every now and then Naruto would catch Kakashi and Sakura give each other nervous looks and then quickly duck their heads back down to their dinner. What is going on?! thought Naruto. Am I missing something?!
After dinner, they went through their routine of cleaning up and then spreading out their sleeping bags, but Naruto noticed something different even then. Normally on a non-threatening mission like this, Kakashi would give up his night watch in the trees and lay his own sleeping bag next to Naruto's with Sakura on Naruto's other side, but this time Naruto watched in amazement as Kakashi stepped over him, already nice and warm inside his own sleeping bag, and place his sleeping bag between him and Sakura. Because there was normally not a very big space between Sakura and Naruto, Kakashi really had to squeeze in-between them. Kakashi had left some room between Naruto and himself, but consequently Kakashi was practically right up against Sakura. Naruto figured that Sakura would just scoot over to give Kakashi more room, but in spite of the obvious shock in Sakura's eyes, she didn't move an inch. Instead, her face simply turned a bright shade of red and she quickly turned around so that her back was turned away from the two of them. Kakashi on the other hand, acted like this was nothing at all, laid down flat on his back, placed an arm over his eyes, and went straight to sleep. Seriously, WHAT is going on?! thought Naruto.
You're not very subtle for a shinobi are you, Kakashi-sensei? thought Sakura. Well, I guess that answers the question of whether you're interested in me or not, Sakura smiled. Uh, but why do you have to make it so obvious! Even Naruto is noticing that something is up! Sakura thought as she finally turned around to face the pair.
Naruto was obviously deep in sleep, snoring loudly and Kakashi seemed to be fast asleep as well. He was now on his side facing Sakura, his one unhidden eye closed shut, his breaths deep. Sakura took this opportunity to study him.
He sure is handsome, even with his face all covered up but for one eye. I can still see the outline of his clean-shaven face, narrow jaw, bridged nose, and thin mouth underneath that mask. Even with it on, I think I still know what he looks like. And the silver hair that I thought was just messy standing up to one side actually looks cool now. And I can never get over his body, how lean and strong…
At that moment, Kakashi opened his eyes and looked straight at Sakura. He heard Sakura take a deep intake of breath, embarrassed to be caught looking at him. Again, thoughts of him being able to read her mind ran through Sakura's head. She was at a loss at what to do. Quietly, Kakashi reached out and placed a hand on Sakura's cheek, his thumb gently caressing it. Then his thumb moved down, tracing the lips of her mouth. Sakura didn't know it, but she was scarcely breathing. Then, as close as he already was, Kakashi moved his body even closer to Sakura's, he slowly pulled down his mask (Sakura was right, she did already know what he looked like, but with the mask off he actually looked much younger than she had imagined), and softly brought his lips down to hers. It was a soft and gentle kiss at first, but then Sakura felt Kakashi put his hand on the back of her neck pulling her into a harder, deeper kiss. Slowly they parted, their eyes never leaving each other. In the background, Naruto's loud snores continued. Sakura didn't know what to say, neither did Kakashi. They continued to stare into each others eyes for a long time, then Kakashi's eyes strayed back down to Sakura's lips. Again, their lips met softly, and again it turned into a deeper, harder kiss. For the first time, Sakura couldn't hold onto a single thought in her mind. She was lost in her senses, the warmth, the wetness, and the softness of Kakashi's lips and tongue against hers, the clean, crisp smell of Kakashi's cologne, and thankfully, the sound of Naruto's continued loud snores off in the distance.
Kakashi and Sakura eventually parted, desperate for cool air. Slowly, the ability to think came back to Sakura, but this time she spoke her thoughts out loud.
"I was afraid you didn't want me," Sakura whispered so as not to wake up Naruto. "You'd never shown any interest in me before."
"You were too young then so I never considered the possibility," Kakashi whispered back. "And besides, you were so in love with Sasuke. Aren't you still?"
"Yes…And no," Sakura answered slowly. "There will always be a part of me that loves him, but now I see what it is to care and love for someone who doesn't feel the same way and what it is to care and love for someone who does. The last way is better, the other way is just too painful." Sakura could feel unwanted tears welling up in her eyes. Kakashi could tell that she didn't want him to see her cry and he could also tell how much she had matured.
"…So, does that mean you love me?" Kakashi asked boldly. The question caught Sakura completely off guard, as he had hoped, and she forgot all about her tears.
"It's too soon for that. Forget what I said…"
"What? No, wait!" Sakura replied urgently, "But the answer is yes, I do love you Kakashi-sensei!"
"You're wrong…It's not too soon! I know how I feel! Really, I do! We've been together for years!"
"But the relationship has changed and that's just barely happened, Sakura. How can you be so sure already? At least give it some time." Sakura couldn't answer back because she knew he was right. She still had a lot to learn, even though she was more mature than before. Again, silence took over with the exception of Naruto's snores.
"So I guess there's no turning back now is there?" Sakura whispered.
"No, I guess not," Kakashi whispered back, "But would you really want to?"
"No, of course not!"
"Me neither," Kakashi smiled and Sakura smiled back at him, then she turned on her other side so that Kakashi could spoon her.
"This is going to be hard to explain to Naruto," Sakura whispered.
"I know," Kakashi breathed into her ear, pulling Sakura tighter against him. The two of them stared at nothing in particular for a long time, lost in their own thoughts, at the same time enjoying the physical closeness that they'd been longing for for so long from one other. They were still longing for more, but they knew that that would have to wait for a later place and time. It just simply couldn't happen here, tonight, as much as they wanted it to. There would already be hell to raise if Naruto woke up and caught them in their tight embrace. It would happen soon enough, but for tonight, they would settle for the knowledge that they really did want each other and that they were going to see this change in their relationship through.