Well, it is finally here. I have to say, this little project was incredibly fun. My dark side has been positively giddy since the first posting of this oneshot-turned-story. I don't know what to say other than thanks for all the support. Couldn't have done it without you. I mean 8 communities and almost a hundred faves! Give yourself a hand, people! You've managed to make an emo teen into a giddy schoolgirl. :D
And without further ado, the conclusion of Tempation. Hope you like it!
The sound of an alarm clock echoed through the quiet apartment. In the streets below, a car alarm went off as morning traffic whizzed by in indiscernible zephyrs of air. Smog rose to the cloudy skies above, floating over the cityscape, but despite that, his nostrils were filled with the sweet breeze of jasmine flowers.
Kakashi turned to the sleeping person in his bed, watching as Sakura inhaled and exhaled in calm, even breaths. She had still been asleep when he woke up a few hours ago and not much had changed in the hours since then. The clock ticked on the wall.
A yawn and he tiredly blinked his eyes. He had been right in his assumption that the next time he woke up, he would be disgusted with himself. He just didn't know how soon that time would come, only having gotten half an hour of sleep before waking up again from the musings of his own mind. It couldn't be helped. Not many things could soothe a conscience after having knowingly had sex with an underage girl, never mind his own student.
Fingers skated across his skin as she shifted in her sleep to rest her head on his arm and softly sighed. A strange feeling of warmth crept through his body at the touch and he found himself content once more with tangling his fingers in her pink hair before a frown crossed his lips and his mouth opened on a tired sigh.
It was strange how normal he felt. He just had sex with a minor. Shouldn't he have burst into flames by the power of some omniscient being? But he hadn't. Even his conscience seemed to have taken a back seat, content on watching him squirm with little disregard as warm pools of strange feelings burst and bloomed inside him like fireworks. Maybe normal wasn't the right word after all, but he did feel normal.
A sigh and he looked down as he placed his hand on her shoulder, bringing her closer to him. A smile painted her lips and she happily settled against him, blissfully unaware of the feelings crossing his eyes.
Another sigh—his this time as he felt regret curl deep in the pit of his stomach. Maybe now the guilt was kicking in.
No, that wasn't why he was feeling this way. He didn't regret last night with her. In fact, it was probably one of the few times in his life that he was truly happy. What he regretted was the fact that she probably didn't feel the same way he did. He cared for Sakura, cared for her well-being, cared for her happiness. It might have been love, and it probably was, but he would never admit it to himself because admitting meant accepting and Hatake Kakashi was a coward before anything else.
It scared him how she could evoke such emotions in him. He never felt these things. He was cool, calm, collected. He had never lost control before. He never had to bow to anyone or anything and there she was, the chit of a girl that made everything change. Change was normal, change was good, but it was too much, too soon. It was strange, scary, and exhilarating to the point where he believed it would reach up and swallow him whole.
Staring down at her sleeping visage, it had never been clearer that what he felt was different from what she felt. It was a startling and disheartening realization, but maybe he was wrong? He never could read her fully. Maybe she did love him, but it was less likely that she did because maybe she only thought she loved him. It was the bane of parents the world over for a reason because honestly, what did teenagers know about love? They didn't know what they were doing. It was just impulse to say that they loved a person when it was just a hormonal phase.
But maybe Sakura was different. Maybe it wasn't just hormones. She had proved time and time again that she was much more mature than people gave her credit for. Maybe it was the same in that area, but he didn't know, didn't want to know because the idea of her truly being in love with him scared him just as much as her not being in love with him.
He had felt these things before, he realized. Long, long ago, he felt these same strange twinges of ecstasy and guilt; joy and sorrow, for another girl. Rin was her name. She was bright, beautiful, and the girlfriend of his best friend. She was dead now, of course, but he couldn't help thinking of how much Sakura reminded her of him. He had never told her how he felt, not only because what he had felt scared the shit out of him, but because he had no right to. He had thought of doing it when they all graduated high school, but decided against it. Not only would it be unfair to Obito, it would have been unfair to Rin as well.
College separated them—different dreams, different paths—and time came and went, taking with it Rin and Obito. The cause was a car accident; a five-car collision caused by some idiot who decided it was a good idea to drive drunk and closing his eyes, he could almost see the broken headlights flash and flicker like fireflies and smell the gasoline leaking onto the streets.
The funeral was a small, quiet affair. Everyone was dressed in black and above them, snow drifted gently to the ground. The only reason he remembered this was because as he sat down for the traditional meal to forget the sorrows of death, he realized how much he had changed. He lived on liquor, thrived on sex, and it was only with the death of his closest friends that he realized he had changed in the short few years between that moment and high school. He had been nothing like that in high school, but then again, he never had to nurse a broken heart before.
That was probably how his need for sex occurred, nothing more than a short-lived venture to cover up a problem deeper than he would like to believe. Even now, it was the same. It was a habit, a drug, a lovely wonderful vice that he liked to keep at his side because he could forget everything, but Sakura changed that. It was no longer just a salve. He had something he wanted to give, something to prove. The days spent watching her were the beginnings of something bigger and he brushed it off as nothing more than a quick infatuation with a fantasy. He had wanted her, but his need ran deeper than either of them knew. He wanted her, all of her, to the point that seeing her with anyone else was absurd. It was wishful thinking on his part and he knew that. She could never be with him and he could never allow it. He cared too much for her to do that. She had a bright future ahead of her and he couldn't allow himself to stop her from that just because he couldn't keep his hands to himself and his dick in his pants because she deserved more than a jaded thirty-year-old pervert.
And so, he would stay away, ignore his feelings like he did with Rin for his sake as well as hers and pray for her happiness as he watched her from afar. It was cheesy. It was masochistic. It was sappy, but it was the closest you would ever get to a confession that he loved her.
As if sensing his decision, she clung tighter to him. His senses became filled with her; how she smelled, how beautiful she looked, even asleep. Her hair was splayed out like a fan, lips parted slightly as her lashes rested lightly on her cheeks. A strand was caught at the edge of her lip and he brushed it aside, a sigh of contentment escaping her lips.
It would be hard to leave her, especially after how deep she had crawled under his skin and he chuckled as he mused at how much of a wreck he would be afterwards. No one would notice because no one would see. He would look perfectly normal for society to see during the day and live in fitful dreams filled with her at night. He would fall back into his old habits, fucking women any and everywhere while playing the patron saint during school hours because he could and everyone would love the lie he had laid out for them while he glared, spat, and despised them all as the creatures he knew them to be.
A knock sounded and dimly, he realized someone was at the door. Turning his head, he saw that she was still asleep and slowly disentangled their limbs, savoring every brush and touch as he freed his limbs and she slept. Inwardly, he winced at the blood staining his sheets and thighs and swallowed the lump in his throat. It was what he wanted. He was her first and he would own her for all eternity. It was a bittersweet victory to say the least, but at least he had last night as a memory.
The knocks sounded more urgently. He tugged on his discarded pair of boxers and shirt, cursing under his breath. "Coming!" he called in the hallway.
He opened the door. "Sasuke?"
"You bastard! He's dead! He's dead!" Sasuke seethed, eyes wild as he gripped Kakashi's shirt collar so tight, his knuckles turned white. Kakashi shook his head to dispel his shock. He couldn't have heard that right.
"What? Wait, Sasuke; slow down. Who's dead?"
"He's dead. He's dead, and it's your fucking fault!" he screamed, wild eyes flashing red in anger and rage as he blinked back the tears. Memories began flashing before his eyes; images of the car, the blood pools. Bullet casings littered the area by the open car door and all Sasuke could think of at that moment was the chalk outline staring at him from the cement.
Movement. Another image was trying to edge in, but he pushed it away before he could see it. He already knew what it was anyway; the scene when they wheeled the body away. When he passed by that street this morning and saw the car, he had tried to brush it off. He couldn't be the only one who had that model car, but that was before the stretcher hit a bump and an arm flopped out. His arm. His body. His car. That was his car with the broken windshield. That was his blood splattered on the leather interior; his body being carted off, never to breathe nor smile again.
His strength left him at that moment, arms feeling tired and body weary beyond his years. His eyes were glazed, staring into a past and future that no longer existed and the taste of bile began to rise on his tongue. Darkness was creeping at the edge of his mind, and for the first time in his life, he felt lost and agonizingly alone.
He was choking on gasps and sobs, unable to stop them now. The vomit was trying to rise and tears were blinding him with his rage and guilt. He couldn't stand to look at Kakashi anymore, couldn't stand to look at himself when he was here breathing and his best friend wasn't. Why did it have to be him?
He felt eyes on him and realized Kakashi was staring at him with a pitying gaze, awkward sorrow coloring the air around them. The way he was looking at him said he understood, but how could he? How could he understand what he was going through? Not only had he lost his best friend, he lost the only person who understood him.
Anger coursed through his body. Kakashi did not understand. He didn't understand at all, couldn't. The fact he was trying to was unbelievable because it was unthinkable, audacious. He would never be able to know this type of devastation and his hands were once more buried in his shirt, gripping the man there with strength he never knew he had. Through his anger, he dimly realized that a door had opened and he turned his gaze to the intruder, knowing Kakashi had done the same, and what he saw made his anger dissipate and disgust coil in his stomach.
When Sakura woke up, the first thing she realized was that this was not her room. Her room was a soft pink color and the walls around her were white. Her window opened to a residential neighborhood, unlike the shadows of skyscrapers she saw now. The sun was peeking through the clouds; its golden rays cast on the wooden floor and discarded clothes. She felt cold, and realized she was naked beneath the blue sheets that did not belong to her.
Her mind began to move, the cogs clicking and whirring as it processed this new information. Around her, the scent of sandalwood and something else filled the air and a pleasured sigh escaped her lips, sparking memories of the night before. So it hadn't been a dream.
'It really did happen.'
Autopilot kicked on at this moment. It was a school day and she had to get ready; brush her teeth, wash her face, shower. Her shirt was torn and blood-stained, but she'd worry about that later. The shower came first.
She moved her legs, getting ready to cast off the sheets and throw her legs onto the floor when a sharp ache stopped her. Slowly, she began feeling other things as well; the stickiness of her skin, the dry tickle in her throat, the slowly awakening aches in her back and between her thighs.
Casting off the sheets, she stared down at her body. Her face was flushed with embarrassment and she winced at the bruises on her thighs, the dried blood down there as well. A strange sensation reached her fingertips and she realized she was fingering a dried blood stain on the sheets.
A crash, a clatter. Something was going on outside in the dining room and she quickly grabbed the white shirt on the floor, putting it on as shouts reached her in the bedroom. Someone was dead? Who? Who was dead? When? Where? Questions rocketed in her mind as she buttoned the shirt. Throwing her legs over the side of the bed, she stood and cried out in pain as her legs wobbled and collapsed under her. Outside, a chair clattered onto the floor and she pulled herself up, moving alongside the walls as she moved past the door.
And he turned towards her, but someone else was there. Sasuke. Sasuke was there. Why was he there? His face twisted with disgust.
"First, he's dead and now you're sleeping with our teacher?!" he screamed, mind reeling with the telltale signs; the shirt, the hickeys, the awkward leg position—the blood. Nausea curled in his stomach, adding to his exhaustion and he threw himself away from them, too frustrated to want anything to do with them and too tired to do it.
"Who's dead?" she asked calmly, softly, easily as if it were a normal day's occurrence. It was sick, twisted, and if not for the flicker in her eyes and the slight tremor in her voice, he probably would've done something to her.
"Naruto. Naruto's dead. He was shot. They found the car this morning." And at first, there was nothing, but slowly, things began coming to her—he could see it in her face.
It started as a flicker, the slow steady processing of words as her eyes stared at something yet nothing at all before changing. Her eyes flared bright with recognition and slowly grew wider as the information hit her until it overwhelmed her. Her legs became unsteady and her body shook. Her hand covered her mouth and she looked like she was going to be sick.
"It's all my fault," she whispered as tears leaked from her eyes, "It's all my fault."
Her body trembled violently and Kakashi moved to catch her, but she drew away, too disgusted with herself to let anyone touch her lest they become dirty as well. "It's all my fault..."
It was her fault; her fault that Naruto was dead. She hadn't gone back for him. She hadn't done anything to help him. There were so many things she should've done. She should've stayed. She should've fought. She should've called for help. Why didn't she call for help once she got to the apartment?!
"Sakura, there was nothing you could've done."
"How do you know, Kakashi? You weren't there. He told me to run, but I could've stayed. I should've stayed. I could've ignored him. Maybe I could've grabbed the gun. If I had stayed, things could be different right now. He could still be alive."
"The only thing that would've been different is that you would've died too!"
His breaths were coming out in harsh pants. Across the room, Sakura was staring at him in shock and he knew Sasuke was doing the same behind him. There was a knock at the door and he went to answer it, too sick of playing referee in a game of make-believe to deal with it any longer.
"Kakashi, you're here. It's about Naruto. He's…" Tsunade trailed off, eyes absorbing the scene. Sasuke, Kakashi, Sakura...
"You bastard—you were sleeping with her the entire time!" Tsunade screamed angrily as she entered the apartment. Sakura continued to tremble with her guilt. Kakashi would not meet her gaze.
"I can't believe this. You told me that there was nothing between you two. You promised me that nothing would happen to her. You gave me your word! Were you that bored with your women that you had to go after her?"
Kakashi remained silent.
"Did you force her?" she asked before a crazed laugh escaped her. "Of course you did. How long has this been going on?"
"Only last night," he answered quietly.
"Liar," she spat, ignoring the visible flinch in his hanged head. "The authorities will be involved in this. Her parents are going to kill you. I'm surprised I haven't already. You're going to jail. At best, you'll only lose your job, but I'll make sure that no one ever hires you again. And—"
A piercing scream interrupted them. Shocked, Tsunade and Kakashi turned to Sakura who held Tsunade's gaze pleadingly. "It wasn't his fault. It was mine and it was only last night, I swear. Please Tsunade, don't do this to him!" The hands holding Tsunade's trembled. Her eyes were red and leaking tears, her throat raw from screaming. She was a stone's throw away from collapsing in the tense air. The clock ticked in the bedroom.
Tsunade began to draw her hand away. Sakura felt her heart catch in her throat. Tsunade didn't believe her. Kakashi was going to lose his job, his reputation—everything—and it was all her fault. The tears began to flow more steadily down her face. A sigh caught her attention.
"Alright. Tell me what happened from the beginning—the both of you."
Kakashi looked to Sakura who nodded firmly, giving him permission to tell. Sighing heavily, he began. "It started a few months ago…"
Wind blew through the trees. It was June and the skies were painted a pale grey, the clouds blocking out the sun. Grass rippled with the breeze and aside from their faint rustle and the low hum of bees, it was quiet on the hilltop.
"Do you think he'll like it here?"
"I'm sure he will, Sakura," Kakashi answered truthfully as they gazed at the grey headstone. It was small and unoffending, the calligraphy carved neatly into the stone. Flowers and incense stood at the foot of it and out of the corner of his eye, he watched Sasuke's reaction as the smoke curled over the carved name of Uzumaki Naruto.
The funeral had been a small affair. Despite school letting out days ago, not many students appeared with frivolous excuses of being busy and already having plans. It was a funeral for God's sake! Surely they could've made time for it, but they didn't. The only students that came were Sakura, Sasuke, and the shy quiet girl who liked him. Her cousin and his girlfriend were there as well and awkward apologetic glances were exchanged through the entire ceremony. As soon as the offering of incense was done, Hinata and Tenten left, leaving a bitter taste in all their mouths.
"I'll be waiting in the car," Sasuke said suddenly, walking down the hill. Kakashi and Sakura watched his leave and quietly turned back to the headstone.
"What will you do now?" Sakura asked. Her voice was a bare whisper; a small, sad lilting song that floated on the breeze. She was referring to his recent unemployment. He wasn't surprised. Though the students and faculty had been told that Kakashi quit his job, Tsunade had forced him to resign as part of a deal they made. If he resigned, no one would ever hear of the real reason for his leave. The only people who knew were Sakura, her parents, Tsunade, Sasuke, and him.
When the school first heard of Kakashi's resignation, there had been a sort of surprise that washed over the school. It was like a spell. Suddenly, everyone was sorry, as if they never expected a teacher to leave because of their words. The students were gloomy and the teachers remorseful. In the last month of school, he found his mailbox filled with gifts and the teachers offering trips to the bar on them and Kakashi would've found the whole thing touching if he wasn't so disgusted with them. It was only now that everyone was making such a big deal about his leaving and though he wanted to laugh in their faces for how wrong they were about him then and now, he didn't want anything to do with them now. They could keep their half-assed apologies.
Standing on that hill, he wondered for the briefest second how they would sleep at night, knowing what they had done before waving it off. He would be forgotten with the school year—just look at Naruto. Oh well, at least Sakura would be safe now.
"I think I'll travel for a while. See the world a little bit; visit some people I haven't spoken to in a while. After that, I guess I'll find a job. Teaching will be a bust though," he joked, turning his head and smiling as Sakura chuckled and he drank in the sound. It was soft and delicate—almost ethereal, much like her voice and as it faded, the sadness became more tangible. Looking closely at her, he could see things he hadn't seen before. She had dark circles and lines around her eyes. She looked tired and her eyes were pleading with him for a direction, a sign—anything. He did not say a word and resignedly, she began her way to Sasuke's car before pausing to look over her shoulder.
"Will…will I ever see you again?" Her tone was firm, but slightly unsure. Her eyes held his. She felt weak inside, but held herself high, strong. She was demanding an answer from him and in that moment, he could see who she was—who she would be. She would become quite the woman and the man who managed to get her would be very lucky indeed. Even as he looked at her, jealousy and regret began to gnaw at his insides, but he ignored it. This was for the best. Leaving her was for the best. Even if she didn't understand it and neither did he. She had a future and deserved better, so this was the best thing he could do for her, or at least…that was what he kept telling himself.
He stared at the ground. His hands were buried deep in his pockets, fumbling, fidgeting as he searched for an answer that would placate her fears of him leaving her. She wanted to know that he would not disappear from her forever. She wanted to know everything was okay—would be okay when it wasn't and never would be. He was leaving her forever because he knew if he saw her once more, the dams would break and they would be exactly where they had started.
"I'll drop you a line," he answered at last. It wasn't the truth, but it wasn't a complete lie. Who knows? Maybe he would call her one day. Even if he kept telling himself that he would cut ties with her forever, he didn't know if he could hold himself to that. The future was unpredictable, forever shifting and changing with the sands and tides. He could make all the promises and oaths in the world, but he knew he would never be able to keep them because she had changed something in him. There would always be that temptation to see her, be with her again. It could be days, it could be years, but maybe they would meet again. If they did, he would not mind it at all. They would talk, they would laugh. Maybe they would date, get married, or maybe she would already be married. He had no problems being the other man if it was her. As long as it was her, he would not mind.
His answer seemed to satisfy her because she smiled mysteriously. It made him wonder if she knew something he didn't, making him wary and excited at the same time, but before he could ask, she was already halfway down the hill. Pausing, she turned around to smile and laugh brightly. "Bye Kakashi-sensei!"
And before he could correct her, she was gone, zooming down the winding path in Sasuke's car with the wind blowing through her hair and her laugh echoing in his mind. Memories of them flickered in his mind. Small, menial things like how she always helped him in grading papers and all the times she brought him his coffee and briefly, a small wistful smile crossed his lips before he swallowed it down with his regret. Sighing to himself, he looked to Naruto's grave once more before going down the opposite side of the hill, the silhouette of Sakura walking away dancing before his eyes, haunting his mind.