Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or plotlines from "Naruto." This is a romance story centered on Kakashi (34) and an older Sakura (21). It is rated "M" for language and sexual situations (as in giant, juicy lemons). If you don't enjoy stories about this pairing or are too young to read stories with mature content, please do not read this story.

Raking a hand through his messy silver hair, Kakashi sighed. He supposed the life of a shinobi hardly promoted a balanced mental state or normal relationships. Perhaps that was why he felt more comfortable stalking the object of his affections instead of wooing her.

He slowly eased the crick in his neck with movements that mimicked the shadows around him. From his perch in the tree outside Sakura's window, he could see her deep in sleep, her chakra flowing through her body in even (beautiful, sensual) waves.

He sighed again.

If only it was about sex. Sex was simple, animal, and tangible. A man had an itch, he scratched it, then he was done until he itched another day. True love was a little more pervasive than that. Demanding. Persistent. So maybe it bordered on obsession.

Sakura rolled over, murmuring something. Kakashi pricked his ears, but was unable to hear what she was saying. With painstaking stealth, he inched closer to her window from his position in the branches.

"Sasuke-kun…stop eating Kakashi-sensei's dango…"

When she said Sasuke's name, Kakashi was instantly filled with vile, coursing jealousy. The feeling abated as she finished her sentence. It had to be a good sign, right? She might still murmur Sasuke's name in her sleep, but no longer did she mutter nauseating things like "Sasuke-kun, come home," or "Sasuke-kun, don't leave me." Now she was muttering his name too – even defending his dango against "Sasuke-kun".

He remembered the intense relief he had felt when Sakura's crush on Sasuke finally dwindled to its end. Kakashi had always harbored a soft spot for Sakura. Even when she had tested his patience during their early days with her schoolgirl infatuation over Sasuke and frequent whining, he had been drawn to her sunny and generous nature. Sometimes when he gave extra attention to Sasuke during their training sessions, it was to have the pleasure of thumping the arrogant Uchiha for making Sakura cry.

At first he had felt protective of her, like a doting big brother…until what he'd thought of as mere protective instincts took a more possessive turn around the time Sakura turned seventeen. Sakura rarely cried these days, but Kakashi's surreptitious "protection" of the lovely kunoichi was as much of a 24/7 gig as his missions would allow. And his feelings were far from brotherly. Most doting brothers didn't know their sisters' daily schedules to the second, nor did they pass up the invitations of other attractive women because they were too busy following their sisters around town and staking out their bedroom windows.

Sakura herself had made it easy enough for him to keep close tabs on her. The two had developed a close friendship after Sasuke had left. At first, Kakashi had done what he had always done and simply comforted her as she cried. Slowly, they started spending more time together. With Sasuke gone, Kakashi had more time to work with Sakura on her training. His respect for her skills grew by leaps and bounds as he watched her find her own gifts, outside the shadow of her crush on the Uchiha. Even after he stopped being her sensei she continued to spar with him on a regular basis. Sakura was now apprenticed to Tsunade and had become one of the most accomplished medic nins in Konoha. Knowing his hatred of hospitals, she had started an informal arrangement of visiting him at home after every mission to tend to his hurts.

Somehow she always thought to tend to other things as well during her visits. Every time she knit his bones back together, he seemed to end up with drawers full of clean and folded laundry, or a batch of homemade cookies, or fresh flowers in his window. Kakashi also remembered the time she washed a month's worth of his dishes when his hand was too wounded to hold a sponge. One time she even bought him the two volumes of "Icha Icha" he'd missed out on while he was away. Her face had been bright red from the shame of purchasing them. He sighed, remembering how incredibly cute she had looked with her face blushing like a tomato under all that silky pink hair.

Sasuke did finally return to Konoha and Kakashi had spent any number of hours banging his head against the wall over the event. He'd thought that Sakura would once again pursue her childhood crush and abandon their friendship, which had become his own little piece of heaven. But Sakura had surprised him. She was friendly to Sasuke, but no more so than she was to Naruto or Sai. When Kakashi had screwed up the courage to ask her about Sasuke in his own subtle way, she'd actually laughed out loud.

"Kakashi-sensei, you've spoiled me! I don't think I can ever settle for conversations that center on the word 'hn' again. Now, here, let me take that dent out of your head. How on earth did you manage to do that to yourself anyway?"

Her playful reply had given Kakashi hope. Even if she did still refer to him as "sensei", he now had the tiniest inkling that he might be able to change the nature of his relationship with her. It was high time because Tsunade was starting to become suspicious of all of the young men who'd been forced into extended hospital stays after intense sparring sessions with Kakashi.

The question was how best to go about it. He'd been afraid to openly pursue Sakura for fear of her rejection and also Tsunade's wrath. He simply wasn't certain of Sakura's feelings for him. She never objected to spending time with him, but she'd never actually flirted with him either. More and more frequently, he'd caught her in a blush or trying to secretly observe him from under her long lashes. But that wasn't enough for him to be certain of any interest on her part.

Sakura shifted in her sleep again, drawing Kakashi away from his musings.

Sweet Kami.

The ties at the top of her semi-sheer nightshift had come undone and she was showing quite a bit of cleavage.

The citizens of Konoha might have labeled him a pervert because of his books, but this was the first time he had ever placed the label on himself. Should he leave now to preserve her honor and save his mask from the stains of a nosebleed? But if he left, then some other pervert could climb the tree outside her window and see the glorious sight that was Sakura's mostly naked chest.

Not in this lifetime would he allow that to happen.

How best to make her his and quickly? He didn't want to frighten her, but Kakashi wanted to make damn certain of securing his lovely kunoichi's presence by his side as his wedded wife without Tsunade killing him in the process.

As he mulled these thoughts over, Sakura shifted again and Kakashi fought the nearly overwhelming temptation to crawl through Sakura's window and take her then and there, consequences be hanged.

Well, what if he did?

And then an evil thought popped into his mind. Well…not quite evil…more like diabolical. He'd gain his bride and the Hokage's agreement to their wedding, with only a little entrapment. The trick then would be gaining Sakura's acceptance. He truly loved Sakura and didn't want her to be unwilling as his bride.

Kakashi watched outside of Sakura's window until nearly dawn, laying his plans, before silently disappearing with the jutsu not even Sakura knew he saved only for her.

Sakura woke to a flurry of leaves outside her window and smiled, noticing their shimmering silver color.

"How lovely! Must be the dawn's light…" she thought, before closing her curtains and starting her day.