Disclaimer: I do not own "Naruto."

Keeping Your Nerve

"Kakashi, what are you looking at?" Asuma asked.

"Huh? Oh, nothing." Kakashi answered guiltly and quickly turned his head back around.

"Nothing my ass. You've been staring in that direction for the past 5 minutes with that lovesick look in your eye. Could it be? Our designated bachelor has found a love interest?" Asuma teased, slapping Kakashi playfully on the back. "So who's the lucky girl...or guy?" Asuma smirked.

Kakashi shot him the nastiest look he could muster beneath his mask and raised up his "Icha Icha" book. "First off, I'm straight as an arrow. And secondly, just drop it." Kakashi sneered.

"Whoa-ho! There's no way I'm dropping it now that you've taken that tone. This girl must be really something! Why don't we just take a look at who this mystery girl is shall we?" Asuma said as he shoved a resisting Kakashi out of the way and looked down the street Kakashi had been staring at. The street was empty except for a pink-haired kunoichi picking through flowers displayed outside of Ino's parents' flowershop.

"Haruno Sakura? Oh, Kakashi! Are you ogling your own student!" Asuma asked grinning widely.

"I wasn't 'ogling' her and she's no longer my student, so just drop it Asuma!" Kakashi said through gritted teeth.

"Drop what?" Kurenai asked as she walked up to the pair of Jounins.

"Great." Kakashi said, throwing his hands up in the air and tilting his head up to the sky as if asking the gods to have mercy on him.

"Kakashi here..." Asuma began as he put an arm around Kakashi's shoulders and Kakashi quickly pulled it off of him in anger. "Has a thing for his student." Asuma smiled.

Kakashi glared at him.

"What?" Kurenai asked, her eyes going wide.

"Don't listen to him, Kurenai. He's just goofing off." Kakashi warned.

"Am not! You should've seen him! He was so distracted he couldn't even pay attention to that book of his and you know what a feat that is!" Asuma laughed.

Kurenai looked down the street where Sakura was standing. "Well, she has grown beautifully. I can see why she's caught Kakashi's eye."

"Sakura has NOT caught my eye and SHUT UP ASUMA!" Kakashi roared.

"I didn't say anything!" Asuma raised his hands up in front of him and shook his head innocently.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of, you do know that right, Kakashi?" Kurenai asked. "You're both adults, she's no longer your student, and you're both single. I say go for it." Kurenai said with a shrug of her shoulders.

Kakashi knew that he should still be trying to deny even looking at Sakura, but Kurenai's words seemed to ease his worries and his expression and body visibly relaxed. When his eyes met hers, she was sure that he was trying to tell her "Thank you."

"Good morning, senseis! Were you guys talking about me? I thought I heard my name called out." Sakura smiled at the three of them and then took her place close to Kakashi's side. Asuma's eyes were shining with glee and it took all of Kakashi's self control to keep from smacking him.

Kakashi cleared his throat. "Um, I was just saying that we should have an impromptu training session before the mission tomorrow and I was wondering if I should look for you, but since you're here, I might as well ask…Are you available, Sakura?" Asuma choked down a laugh and unsuccessfully tried to hide it with a cough. Kakashi ignored him, Kurenai looked like she was going to kill him, and Sakura just looked back at him confused.

"Uh, yes, absolutely!" Sakura turned her attention back to Kakashi. "Do you wanna do it right now?" Sakura asked brightly. Asuma covered his face with his hands and was visibly shaking from laughter. Kurenai frowned and gave him a sharp jab in the ribs with her elbow.

"Asuma-sensei, are you okay?" Sakura asked in concern.

"I'm…fine…" Asuma said trying to get a hold of himself. He brought his hands down from his face and it was bright red from laughing. "Why don't you two crazy kids just go off and 'train'." Asuma said waving them off.

"Yes, we'll do that." Kakashi replied through gritted teeth. Kakashi placed a hand on Sakura's lower back and began to lead her away, then turned his head to give Asuma one last glaring look.

"Uh, bye." Sakura waved at Kurenai and Asuma, still unsure of what just happened.

"Bye, Sakura." Kurenai politely waved back. Next to her, Asuma shot a glance at Kakashi's hand on Sakura's back, shut his eyes tight, pinched the bridge of his nose, and silently chuckled to himself while waving goodbye to Sakura with his other hand.

When they were a good enough distance away, Sakura looked up at Kakashi. "What was THAT all about?" she asked.

"It's just Asuma being stupid. Don't mind him." Kakashi said off-handedly, but he was glaring hard into the distance.

"Okay…" Sakura said and allowed Kakashi to continue leading her towards the training grounds.

Behind them, Kurenai slapped Asuma upside the head.

"What?!" Asuma laughed.

"That was real smooth, you know that?" Kurenai crossed her arms across her chest in frustration.

"Come on, Kurenai. We're talking about Kakashi here, the all-time, number one bachelor. He spends practically his whole life void of any contact with the opposite sex, save for the ones in those dirty little books of his, and when he finally does fall for a real live one, it turns out to be a girl half his age and his student no less!" Asuma said hysterically.

"Which is the more reason we should respect his decision," Kurenai replied calmly.

"And how does that figure?!" Asuma tilted his head to one side, looking at Kurenai as if she was crazy.

"Like you said, Kakashi's kept to himself this whole time. Sakura must be someone really special if he's finally beginning to wear his heart on his sleeve, and if you think about it, it makes sense."

"How's that?" Asuma asked, still skeptical.

"Well, think about it." Kurenai said patiently. "They've spent all this time together first as Team 7 and now as Team Kakashi and for the most part, Sakura has been the only female Kasashi has really had the time to grow close to. He's grown comfortable with her in a way that he's never been able to with another person of the opposite sex, myself included, and without either of them knowing it, Sakura has wormed her way into his heart. Add the fact that Sakura has grown in confidence and beauty and it's easy to understand why Kakashi's going a little out of his mind right now. The least you can do is give the man a little understanding, Asuma!"

"Kurenai, it's not that I don't understand and it's not that I oppose it, I'm just, I don't know…Thrilled!"

Kurenai raised an eyebrow at him. "Thrilled? That juvenile act of yours earlier was you being thrilled?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, come on! How often do I get to tease Kakashi for something as juicy as this…NEVER!" Asuma smiled at her.

Kurenai smiled back in spite of herself. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Let's just hope he doesn't lose his nerve."

"Kakashi? Lose his nerve? Who do you think you're talking about here, Kurenai?"

"I don't know," Kurenai mused as she kept her gaze on the backs of the two ninjas walking just a little bit too close to each other. "It's one thing to have nerve when you're facing an enemy, it's another when you're facing someone you love."

"Love?!" Asuma exclaimed. "Who said anything about love?! All I know is that Kakashi has been eyeing his former…" Kurenai smiled at him in approval. "Student."

"Oh, come on, Asuma. Look at them!" Kurenai turned Asuma's bearded face with her hand and directed it in Kakashi's and Sakura's direction. "He hasn't even dropped his hand down from her back after all this time and she's obviously not protesting against it either. Call it a woman's intuition, but that my dear, is love."

"And what would you know about love?" Asuma slowly turned his face in Kurenai's hand so that his lips were a fraction of an inch from hers. Kurenai flushed and quickly pulled away from him. "I think I know a thing or two." Kurenai stammered, unable to meet his gaze.

"Hmm, yes, I guess you do." Asuma said vaguely, then returned his gaze at Kakashi's back. "Let's just hope he doesn't lose his nerve," he said quietly.

Relieved that his attention was no longer directed at her, Kurenai took her place back at Asuma's side and followed his gaze. "Yeah, let's hope not." The pair silently smiled, knowing that their words carried a double meaning.

The End