Chapter 20: A Wedding
Haruno Yukika beamed as cheerfully as she could as she bowed and greeted the guests that came in. It was not really that difficult to be happy actually, what with the upbeat and boisterous atmosphere surrounding her that was incredibly infectious. Everyone who came in were absolutely delighted that they had made it to the jubilant celebration, and thanked her profusely for having invited them to join in. She merely waved off such show of appreciation with giggles and motioned for the other ushers to lead them to their seats.
She had been waiting for such a momentous occasion all her life. The day she would see her daughter marry off to a very respected man, who will provide for her and the family they will have. Well, since her daughter had chosen to live the life of a respectable shinobi she never thought she would ever see such a day whereby everyone would gather together, talk delightedly of the stars of the evening and she would know that her fate as a grandmo-
"Okaa-san," Sakura called out to her, snapping the older woman out of her reverie.
"Sakura!" She laughed, a hand covering her mouth as she cast her eyes slightly downwards in embarrassment.
Sakura narrowed her eyes. "You were daydreaming again, weren't you?"
She recomposed herself. "Define daydreaming, dear."
Her daughter merely rolled her eyes. "Okaa-chan, this is not my wedding." She put her hands on her hips. "How many times do I have to remind you?"
It was her mother's turn to roll her eyes. "Yes, yes, I know. You're not ready." She frowned slightly. "What are you doing here anyway? Shouldn't you be helping Hatsumi to get ready?"
"She's done." She waved towards the crowd. "I'll just join my friends over there if you don't need me."
"Ah, friends," her mother's eyes lit up briefly – Sakura's suspicions were raised a notch – as she continued on her normal tone (though there was now a very mysterious smile on her face) "Of course, my dear, run along now. I can take care of matters here."
Knowing that she was likelier going to get information out of a mute than her mother when the older woman was in one of her moods, Sakura cast one questioning glance at her mother before walking off to find her friends.
At the same time, in a different area of the dining hall, a very familiar slouched figure with a famous orange book in one hand and another hand in the pocket walked to the table where he was to be seated. He had slipped past unnoticed by the overeager ushers amidst the throng of crowd who bustled in and out. He normally would not have attended such a wedding even when invited, but Sakura had managed to coax him into going.
It was Inoue Hatsumi's wedding (Sakura's mother's best friend's daughter's wedding – he had absorbed that information rather giddily when Sakura rattled off) – and because they were a famous family with fortune and reputation, the shinobi counterpart of the hidden village was invited as they had engaged shinobi assistance in business matters in previous occasions. No doubt that they had also made a very generous contribution to the Fifth Hokage as well, considering that they were the largest and the best sake manufacturers in the country.
Probably that was the main reason why Tsunade had given him the proverbial kick in the ass into attending the celebration – although he had already half the mind to go, thanks to Sakura's methods of persuasion. He grinned widely at the thought, remembering the promises she was going to shower him with after attending the wedding reception. All was good on cloud number nine so far – for Kakashi.
He gave the huge hall a brief scan, his hearing catching bits and pieces of conversations from the other guests who had nothing better to do than to gossip. He shrugged inwardly, not bothering at all to contribute to the various mindless conversations regarding such trivial matters such as the so-and-so's wedding was better, why on earth did they cater from the wrong caterer, referrals to better erhu player, and the likes. His book was a much better company than the likes of them.
Unfortunately, in another corner however, another person certainly had not the privilege of the book that he did. In fact, she did not have the time to wistfully wish for a better companion as she fended off the aggressive interrogation by her group of friends.
"Oh geez, Sakura, it's only a question!" Ino grumbled; a little annoyed that her last question was brushed off rather vehemently.
"Ino, it's not just a question." Sakura rolled her eyes. "It's a barrage of meaningless, pointless assumptions you came up with when you had nothing better to do."
Her blonde friend scrunched up her nose and pursed her lips as Sakura turned her gaze to stare at the crowd. Really, why on earth was Sakura avoiding the topic? Normally she would have entertained them with the first few questions or at least answer some when they did not prove to be a double-edged sword that could be used against her some day. But today, of all the days, she had given them no leeway whatsoever and brushed them off with little gentleness. She certainly could not blame Ino or TenTen for being a little suspicious about her. The funny thing was, all this while they had never actually asked Sakura directly whether she had any feelings for Kakashi. It was only referred to on all the occasions that it was brought up, but never, never ever put forth as a direct question. Well, perhaps it was time to go all out and done with it.
"Sakura," she began.
Sakura gave her a wary glance as TenTen sighed – she ignored both their reactions.
"Sakura, do you have any feelings for Kakashi?"
Sakura looked at her blankly, stunned to silence as she could not think of a way to throw the question aside. Ino sounded so innocent, so … weary that she was inclined to think that this could well be the last question Ino would ask her regarding the topic. For today, at least. That gave her at least some motivation to answer the question. At least she would have some peace of mind and be rid of pestering about the man.
"I'm comfortable with him – he's a very understanding friend," she replied slowly, gauging Ino's reaction, "and he's an exceptional partner during missions." Ino and TenTen narrowed their eyes at her.
"I wouldn't trade him for the world," she added hastily, with a beaming smile for good measure.
"Most likely because he sleeps topless," TenTen sneered.
Sakura could not stop the blush creeping up her cheeks and shook her head in denial. "No, he doesn't do that!"
Ino on the other hand was still skeptical, but conceded and accepted the answer anyway. She noticed the deliberate slowness on Sakura's behalf and wondered slightly just how was her friend going to break the wall of denial. Really, the woman was no less stubborn when it came to the matters of the heart. Just as Temari appeared by her side, Ino was just about to greet her when she saw the Hokage beckoning to her. With a brief nod to the Sand official and a slight wave to her friends, she went off to see what Tsunade needed her for.
The pink-haired woman, now very relieved that she was left by her friend, could not help but let a huge sigh of contentment escape her. Her other two companions gave her a knowing look, but quickly changed it to neutral expressions before she noticed.
"What brings you here, Temari-san?" TenTen asked.
"Invited for the festivities," Temari answered casually. "We only want to strengthen our diplomatic ties with Konoha."
"As well as promote your services, I suppose," Sakura added with a sly smile.
Temari grinned. "Well, that is inevitable, of course." She waggled her eyebrows as she posed the seemingly innocent question, "How's your partnership with Kakashi going?"
TenTen laughed out loud, her mind already interpreting the question in various ways. The older woman was certainly known for her euphemisms nowadays, since she became the ambassador to Konoha. It would not sit well with either village's elder council to have an ambassador who was brash and too straightforward.
Sakura was quite apprehensive, to say the least. She knew Temari meant something more than just the question, but chose to ignore the possible meanings.
"It's very amiable and conducive," she replied with a small smile, knowing that Kakashi was going to have a good laugh later on when she would tell him, "he's a very good mentor."
Instead of replying, Temari smirked and gave her a knowing smile. TenTen only laughed harder.
Knowing just what they were thinking – and it was far from innocent – Sakura could not help herself and blushed. It was the right moment for her to make her move – on the basis that her stomach growling, which was true. She would have to regain her composure soon, before she made a fool out of herself.
As for the said man and also known as the recent cause of embarrassment to Sakura, he too had been joined by his friends – although he was off on a better start than she did. Kakashi found himself more relaxed, though he still kept his guard up just in case, as he need not field off questions about Sakura whatsoever. Not that he did not like her or any of that, but he just did not want to play the situation way too cool to raise their suspicions. They were prone to arriving at preposterous conclusions. It was a much a better situation now – they were all having a good time catching up gossip with each other and telling crazy funny stories that made even Kakashi listen and smile to himself.
His fortunate streak lasted only until they were joined by two other respected shinobi – the two of three Legendary Sannin. The moment he saw them approaching he had already resumed his attention to his book, knowing that he was going to be an open target if he looked like he was enjoying himself (remotely). Then again, since when had they left him alone when they had discovered the festering gossip regarding Sakura and himself? He knew the answer to that – never with a capital N. He was getting the dig whether or not he paid any attention to them.
"Ah. Kakashi!" Jiraiya sounded almost too gleeful.
Kakashi suppressed a sigh of contempt. The man was after all, his utmost favorite author – without him, there would not be the book (and its predecessors and follow-ups) that he was reading at the moment. He had better show some respect – at least some acknowledgement. He grunted in response.
"Well, my man! Do I have just the best proposition for you!"
"You and Sakura can be my latest muses and inspiration as well as models for my next upcoming Icha Icha Shinobi!"
The book dropped out of his hand limply. Too shocked to say a word. Lips parched, throat unable to produce the slightest sound. Even Kakashi was caught very off-guard, if the bookless hand was any indicator. His fellow colleagues who heard the outburst stopped their chatter. Their eyes settled a wary stare on him, anticipating some sort of violent retaliation.
"Kakashi?" He peered at the younger man. He had expected some further suggestions from the Copy Nin, not this.
"I don't think that's possible, Jiraiya." They had to commend him – his composure was well kept.
"Sakura would be furious."
"Oh, come on, she'll love it!"
"And why is that?"
"Look," his expression turned very serious, as though explaining a war strategy to an army, "you have all the perks you could possibly want."
"And they are?" His tone just turned a shade cooler.
"Kinky scenes getting reenacted… hey, the whole idea's kinky and it'll improve your sex lives with each other!"
The onlookers cringed.
"You mean it is actually possible to improve a nonexistent sex life?"
"What do you mean nonexistent?"
"I don't beat around the bush."
Silence grew between them.
"You're not seeing each other?" He asked quietly, trying to keep the tremor in his voice to a bare minimum.
"Oh." He suppressed a gulp.
That was his cue to start laughing nervously as he retreated slowly to disappear within the crowd. Crossing a line with Kakashi was equivalent to invoking Tsunade's anger. Both of which made him a pretty lucked out loser. He had better get started on the novel soon, to pacify the unknown amount of anger Kakashi must be feeling at the moment.
Kakashi let the older man on his way, deciding that the awkward confrontation was not a major embarrassment to him as it had been for Jiraiya. His hand made a motion to pick up the book he had dropped – but another hand beat him to it. He looked up the slender arm, vexed that he was being kept from his reading.
"Kakashi." The harsh voice was all too familiar.
He sighed audibly.
"I'm glad that you rejected him on that offer."
His fingers gripped the spine of the book.
"It's good that you thought of Sakura."
He tried to pull, she kept it where it was with a finger. He looked up at her. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"I'm talking to you, Kakashi."
"It'll save you from my wrath if you'd listen."
She frowned at him.
"Kakashi…" Her voice dropped into a menacing whisper. "If you cross the line," she paused for some effect – none at all coming from him, "I will make sure you learn your lesson thoroughly."
She released the book and straightened up. He quickly pulled the book toward himself.
"Then again," now her voice sounded smug – he resisted the urge to roll his visible eye, "even if you did cross the line, Sakura wouldn't have you harmed anyways."
He kept his tongue from uttering some witty remark at her. He had a higher chance of receiving measly D-class missions because of this… powerful woman. He had better watch his words.
"Well, it takes two to tango," Genma commented lightly.
Tsunade turned to him.
"What do you mean?"
"They're hardly together nowadays," Naruto piped up.
"Busy maybe?" Genma suggested.
"I think not," Naruto replied conspiratorially.
"Why not?" Genma was grinning now.
"They could have had a fight."
"Trouble in paradise?"
"Possible." They turned to look at Kakashi, who arched an eyebrow. "Don't you have anything to say?"
"We are on good terms."
"Are you really?" Tsunade asked him, her interest piqued.
"I don't think so," Genma quipped, just as Naruto slipped away.
"I was busy."
"No, you're not."
"She's not," Tsunade replied him. "What-"
"Naruto! What are you doing?" They turned their eyes to the pink-haired speaker. She was trying to pry Naruto's firm grip off her upper arm.
"Sakura!" Genma called to her.
She turned to him, now distracted from her predicament. "What?"
"So good of you to come, we were just talking about you."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "So?"
"Spill it," Naruto demanded cryptically, his hand still on her arm though the grip had slackened.
"Spill what?" There was an edgy tone in her voice now.
"Tell us the truth."
She frowned, making an effort to look calm. Her heart was palpitating faster though. What truth? Did they -? Oh. NO. Kami, no!
Genma noticed the disturbed look on her face, though she made an effort to have it frowning or glowering. She certainly had something to hide from them.
"We know what you're hiding," he lied.
"What?" She snapped.
"You lied to Kakashi, too, right?"
Her eyes widened and she looked at Kakashi, who shrugged nonchalantly at her. She turned back to the jounin.
"No, of course not!"
"He says you've been busy lately, so what have you been doing?"
"I was running around healing people!" She replied vehemently. She did not like where the line of questioning was heading, and the sudden interest in her activities was puzzling to her.
"Yeah, right. The Hokage said you're not."
She averted her gaze to the floor, not quite sure how reply him after that. The hand on her arm was now gone, and she decided it was best to leave the company. Without another word or glance to anybody else, she stalked off to the other table.
As for her interrogators, they seemed rather satisfied (although a little guilty) that they had managed to gain some sort of reaction from her as opposed to none when they had gone to Kakashi instead. Genma sneered; Naruto smirked as they watch her avoid looking their way. As for the others, they had resumed to talking about other matters instead – with the exception of Tsunade and Kakashi of course.
Their attention shifted to the man on stage.
"I am Hideki," he paused, and the crowd laughed when they realized it was a play on his name. "Your emcee for the night." He looked around the room, taking note the various guests still not seated.
"Ah, we have our respected shinobi here, I see!" He motioned to the group.
"Let's give them our appreciation for the work they've done for us!" He clapped and the civilians followed suit, with some yelling encouraging words and some giving entertaining catcalls.
Naruto was seen snickering and grinning at the attention they received, until he received a slap on the back by Genma. He glared at the older man, who now basked in the adulation, and was amply ignored.
"So, our shinobi, I suppose you're probably too used to standing up and not sitting down during occasions like this," Hideki grinned, "So I'd like to invite you to take your seats, please."
Seeing as the clapping had stopped, the group quickly made their ways to their respective tables. It was not long until Sakura found herself sitting with the annoying ones – Naruto, Ino and Genma – but found comfort when Kakashi took a seat beside her.
Hideki watched them as they took their seats, his eyes flitting from one small group to the other until they caught sight of a flash of pink hair. His gaze rested on the attractive woman with pink-hair, and did nothing to hide the grin now spreading slowly on his face. Hatsumi had given him emphasized instructions to at least show some attention to Sakura and her partner, though he did not know the exact reason why. She had mentioned something about getting her to come out of her shell. He would not have any problems with that.
"Wow! We have Haruno Sakura-san here!" His gaze wandered slightly to the man next to her. "And Hatake Kakashi-san, as well!"
He turned back to the civilian crowd – most of them were at a lost on his enthusiasm.
"People, these two outstanding individuals are also one of the most outstanding Konoha shinobi!" He stepped down from the stage, and walked towards their table.
Sakura blushed and looked at the tablecloth instead. Kakashi shrugged when he caught Naruto and Genma's glares.
"Kakashi Sharingan – the elite jounin of Konoha," he introduced to the crowd as he rested a hand on Kakashi's slouched shoulder, "and this lovely lady here," he winked at Sakura when she turned around to see him – she blushed, whereas Ino and the rest around their table were apprehensive about it (they were already expecting Kakashi to throw a punch for that wink) "is Sakura, the reverent Godaime's apprentice!"
The crowd, which had murmured in delight at seeing Kakashi in the first place, now hushed. They had heard much of the Godaime's apprentice – that she too inherited the medical brilliance her mentor possessed, as well as included some of her own abilities – and some had only this opportunity to see her for the first time. At the same time, Tsunade smirked smugly and Shizune, who was seated beside her, sighed – her mentor's ego has just soared to new heights.
"It is no wonder that they make such a fantastic couple!"
The clueless Hideki was probably stacking up the punches he was about to get from the two said jounins – the same thought going through other shinobi's minds. Then again, that situation looked highly unlikely as they all had their eyes on Sakura – who was blushing madly and staring hard at the tabletop – and Kakashi seemed very relaxed as he laughed it off.
"Your legacy," he looked meaningfully at the both of them – Ino shut her eyes so she would not see him flying across the room, "will be one of excellence. Genius minds and excellent chakra control – two of the most important traits a shinobi must have." He turned back to the crowd. "And their children will have it." He paused. "Simply amazing."
By now, the rest of the ninjas were already preparing their condolences to him, knowing for sure that neither Kakashi nor Sakura liked their partnership (whatever its nature may be) to be under the public eye. At the slightest hint that such an event would occur, they would retaliate heavily (Naruto and Genma could attest to that). The man was suicidal and clueless, at the very least.
"So, what's it going to be?" He looked round at Kakashi and Sakura. They merely raised an eyebrow, both now wary of the man's next move. "When are you getting married?"
There was total silence now as they awaited an answer. Those who knew Kakashi well enough were wondering just how would he weasel his way out of this question. He was under public – civilian – scrutiny now, and not in the company of his own friends. He would not be able to punch the man like he would do to Genma or Naruto. Ino found herself praying hard that they would not kill Hideki. Not now.
Kakashi smiled – underneath the mask – and his visible eye crinkled. Genma shuddered, knowing just how eerie that smile can be. The man had probably turned the cogwheels in his mind to find various ways to kill Hideki.
"Soon," Kakashi replied.
Naruto's jaw dropped open. Ino let out an unlady-like snort. Genma dropped the glass water on the ground, just as he was about to take a sip. Tsunade's breath hitched. Jiraiya now had a huge ugly line on his manuscript as he stared at the couple. Hinata blushed; TenTen and Temari smirked. Yamato had a small smile on his face. Sasuke and Sai were unexpressive as always, but had an arched eyebrow on their faces.
Sakura looked up solemnly at Kakashi; the others held their breaths. She frowned slightly; Hideki found his voice stuck in his throat and looked away – a shinobi about to be rejected was not a sight to watch. Ino gripped the edge of the table, her knuckles turning white. Sakura's parents whispered in hushed tones to make plans to make up for their daughter's mistake.
Sakura just stared into his eye, her frown deepening. Kakashi tensed up, his mind now reeling. Had he just committed a fatal mistake?
"I don't care –" She began, and Kakashi had looked away. She made him turn back to her gently, with her finger on his chin. He stared at the space above her head; she settled for that.
"I don't care," she began again, "if you're a miserable miser," her tone was hard; his gaze wandered briefly to her then returned to stare at the wall, "I want the best tailor-made kimono."
He could not help but look at her, the shock evident in his visible eye.
She beamed at him and waggled her eyebrows.
The onlookers were still shocked from her reaction, but more relieved than before. Sakura's parents rolled their eyes heavenwards as they let out huge sighs of relief. Ino and the rest of their friends could only managed a tired smile on their faces, but it was not long before they exchange furious looks at each other – the couple had outwitted them this time!
Kakashi, on the other hand, did not reply but with a quick swoop, brought Sakura closer to him and kissed her through his mask.
As they pulled away, he smiled and nodded.
Boy, was he whipped.
To my lovely readers and reviewers... Thanks so much for bearing with me. I apologize that this last chapter had come way too long after the last one before. I've been having family problems, to say the least, as well as some friendship clashes so I couldn't very well write a fluffy fic with a horrid disposition. I'm so sorry, I really wish that I could've produced this during my time of trouble - but, it turned out like crap so I had to put it off.
So, after that lengthy speech, I am very, very grateful to all of you that reviewed during the course of the writing, as well as those that put me on alert, this baby on alert and us on favlist. Thank you so much for your support.
So, as a way to show my thanks, I will be releasing another multi-chapter fluff fic of KakaSaku after my timeout (starting Feb 2 until Feb 9) that will be another serious project. As of now, I will be writing mostly one-shots and drafting another different multi-chapter AU fic of KakaSaku. Three different things to look out for, and after this story... I think I definitely have a lot on my shoulders. I'm so sorry, but I will deliver on my promises. With that, please put me on alert if you haven't - and if you like the KakaSaku that I wrote.
I'm so sad that this ended... but I'm on the lookout for more fluff ideas... Please review, I'd really like to know what you think of this story here.