A Sakura's Scent

Chapter 1 - Daily Interruptions

Leaning back against the rough trunk of a looming oak, Sakura reveled in the peaceful afternoon. It was her first day off in three weeks; between missions with Naruto, Sai, and Kakashi, training with Tsunade, and working at the hospital she had very little time for herself.

Hearing a number of gruff barks, Sakura sighed.

There goes my peace…

"Akamaru? What is it? Hey, where are you going, boy?"

Oh yeah, peace is right out the door…

Honing in on the approaching pair with her ears, she waited for them to come bounding into the clearing. Instead she heard a crash still quite a distance from her location and saw the burly white Akamaru walk calmly from the bushes. Both were quickly followed by Kiba's cursing.

"What the hell, Akamaru? Son of a… aw, aw, Akamaru! That's disgusting! And what's with the wire? Were you trying to make me fall? Why you… come back here, Akamaru!"

Meanwhile Akamaru had, quite unobtrusively, placed his head on Sakura's upper thighs and nuzzled her flat stomach.

A slight giggle slipped past her lips. "What are you doing, Akamaru? I'm ticklish."

Responding in his usual cheerful way, "You smell good. I could smell you all the way back at the training grounds."

She managed a full laugh this time, and then proceeded to scratch behind Akamaru's ears, tangling her fingers deeply into his fur. "Well, I guess it's good to know I don't smell bad…"

"Damnit, Akamaru. Did you really have to come here?" Still concealed by the foliage, Kiba nearly moaned, and from his tone Sakura could guess it was more to do with the who than where factor.

Sakura huffed. If he disliked her that much he shouldn't have come. His sense of smell was nearly as keen as Akamaru's so he had to have known she was there long before he arrived at her place of relaxation. Kiba hesitantly approached her, rubbing the back of his head.

"Seems like he's fond of you, Sakura."

Another laugh, although slightly nervous now, spilled from her lips. "He said I smell good."

Turning away, and speaking unconsciously Kiba remarked, "You do."

"What?" Sakura asked in surprise, her right eyebrow cocking upwards. "What did you say?"

Predictably, Kiba refused to answer. Akamaru, on the other hand, was quite willing. "He said you do. That's why he avoids you when he can. He's more like a dog than you know." Laughing all the while, the large animal continued to suck up the attention she was giving him with her blunt, yet suitable, nails scratching through his fur.

"Traitor," Kiba nearly barked, his cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

So what if her smell was more than appealing, it didn't mean he liked her, at least that's what he'd told himself since first being introduced to the girl at the age of twelve. It didn't help matters that they had both grown, delving into adulthood more quickly than Kiba was ready for. Especially since she was now more alluring in both scent and appearance.

And so what if this was usually the age that members of his family married at. He was only nineteen; he still had plenty of time left to find somebody. Kiba doubted he'd ever find anyone that smelled near as good as Sakura did, but her affections went in other directions. It went to her teammates, even that traitorous and still missing Sasuke. But everyone knew where she spent her days and the occasional night; either with Naruto, Sai, or even her former sensei, Hatake Kakashi.

The only one Kiba could even fathom Sakura with was Naruto, after all, Sai seemed to be a bit shifty in sexual preference and Hatake was far too old for her, close to the age of his own former sensei, Kurenai. And, while Kiba would openly admit Kurenai was rather attractive, she was just too old for him.

"Kiba?" Sakura's concerned voice breached his thoughts.

"Eh? Yeah, sorry. What?" Kiba replied, glancing towards Sakura, only to find her face a mere inch or two from his own.

"Are you alright?" She asked, lips pouting as she spoke.

Does she have to smell this good? Kiba questioned inwardly, while whining outwardly.

"You're acting strangely. Why don't you let me take a look at you? See if you're sick or anything?"

At this point, Kiba wasn't surprised by her concern. He was breathing heavily now, and, even though it wasn't for the reason she suspected, he could still understand why.

Placing her palm against his forehead, she gauged his temperature. "Hm, you don't feel too terribly warm. Did you eat something spoiled?"

"No. It's nothing; I'm fine, thanks," Kiba grumbled, twisting away from the cool hand still settled on his skin.

"Are you sure-"

Interrupting her worried interrogation, he said, "Yeah. Sorry, but I really should get back to training. Akamaru, come on." Before leaping into the trees to follow Kiba, Akamaru butted his head against Sakura's leg and said, "Don't worry, he just doesn't know how to deal with your specific scent very well."

And as quickly as her relaxing afternoon was interrupted, they were both gone, leaving Sakura with a perplexed expression and sudden spurt of energy.

"Akamaru," Kiba said, landing smoothly after throwing several kunai at the targets that littered the training grounds. "Don't make me chase you again… especially not to where she is."

"Baka!" Roughly Akamaru growled, "she's not mated; you can smell that much, just like me. So what's the problem?"

"Wha-what's the problem? The problem is that she and I hardly know each other, she's too friendly with her teammates, and-and-"

"And what? She's too smart for you?" A familiar voice uttered from the bushes. Kiba spun about, moving so quickly the heel of his sandal tore a clump of grass from the ground. He sniffed the air for a moment, but couldn't detect anything abnormal.

"Shino, why can't I smell you?" Kiba asked, quirking his head to the side.

He heard Shino laugh slightly, before his friend revealed himself. "It's a new technique I'm working on with the insects. Basically, they cloak sound and smell. I think it will come in use. You?" Shino could clearly tell the idea of being unable to detect something by scent irked Kiba. Deciding to change the subject before the rather quick-tempered shinobi could react, Shino said, "So, who exactly are you talking about?"

Scratching the back of his head in a mannerism much like Naruto, he stumbled for an answer. "Um, well, it's no one really, just a woman."

"Ah," Shino said, feigning agreement, "and what is this woman's name, Kiba?" Shino's amusement, had he not been wearing his ever-present sunglasses, would have been obvious to the flustered nin; a single brow was lifted and his lips had settled into a small smirk.

Biting his lip, Kiba mumbled, "Really, she's no one…"

"You're going to make this difficult? Alright then. Hinata-san? Ino-san? Hmm. Sakura-san?" and at that he paused. The whiteness around Kiba's mouth was a positive indicator that the last name was the 'who.'

Kiba noticed Shino's silence and knew he'd been found out.

"Just go away; I'm training, Shino." Kiba snapped, irate and only longing to throw himself so deeply into work that he would forget her damned scent that seemed to have attached itself to Akamaru since their encounter.

"What is it that attracts you to her?" Shino calmly asked, effectively ignoring Kiba's demand that he go away. "Her appearance? Personality?"

Kiba couldn't believe his luck, or lack thereof. There was an understood bond between the two. They were friends and both relied upon the other during missions, would give their lives for each other, but it had always been a silent agreement that the two wouldn't question the other, nor had either really tried. So why was Shino pushing it so hard this time?

"Or is it," at this point Shino couldn't keep the slight snort hidden, "mating seasons?" Shino didn't laugh at the term per se, but more at the idea of Sakura being 'in heat' and the agony Kiba would be going through due to that. He himself had the ability to smell insect pheromones and knew how uncomfortable that could be.

"Shut up, baka," Kiba snarled, his temper finally getting the better of him. "It's not that, damnit; she always smells good!" Flinging more kunai into a target, Kiba debated on fleeing. He hadn't meant to let that slip. But the damage was done and he couldn't take those words back no matter how badly he wanted to.

"Ah, so this has been so for awhile now? Not just a recent attraction-"

"Shino, just- I'm leaving. I'm being assigned a mission today. Bye." Kiba, followed closely by Akamaru, leapt to the nearest roof and began the trek to Hokage tower.


"Mm, Tsunade-shishou? What is it?" Replying to her sensei and friend, Sakura barely glanced up from the medical scroll she was studying.

"I'm sending you on a mission," the Godaime answered simply.

"With? Naruto? Kakashi-sensei? Sai? Yamato-sensei?"

Tsunade sighed in slight frustration; sometimes her apprentice was a bit too much like Naruto in her eagerness anymore. "No, Sakura. This isn't a normal mission. It's actually a special mission for a single person, but I don't quite trust him to not act recklessly on it and I want you there to help him. The mission will suit you well, since I've trained you to avoid attacks, and I'm hoping you can get his compliance in that. I'd rather not have him killed because of my lack of foresight."

"Well," Sakura interjected, "who am I going with?" For some reason, Sakura had a bad feeling about this. Her senses were tingling, and she couldn't count how many times those same senses had saved her life.

So it came as no surprise when Tsunade, lackadaisically said, "Oh, well, that would be Inuzuka Kiba. You'll travel to the Kumogakure, delivering a message to the Raikage. The scroll's contents are to only be known by myself and the Raikage, under no circumstances are you two to let it fall into the hands of Grass or Water. If it comes down to it, destroy the document, but do not let its contents be known to anyone."

Sakura had never known her shishou to be quite this adamant about the secrecy of a document to be exchanged between hidden villages. Meaning it was something much more important that monetary exchange or a small agreement of peaceful engagements.

Quietly clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth, Sakura watched as Tsunade rummaged in a desk drawer.

"You'll be leaving tomorrow evening, after dark. The less amount of attention you draw to yourselves, the better. Understood? Now, where is that insolent boy? If I didn't know any better, I'd say he was trying to become a Kakashi duplicate."

Almost as soon as the words had left her mouth, Shizune rapped on the door, swinging it open and allowing entrance to the tardy shinobi. Sakura unabashedly stared at Kiba, who quite nonchalantly stood before the Hokage's fierce gaze. Tardiness was never a good thing with her, unless you were Hatake Kakashi, a superior jounin and copy nin. Inuzuka Kiba was no copy nin and he was only a second year jounin.

And yet, for some reason unbeknownst to Sakura, Tsunade let the issue go, turning instead to the mission.

"As you're aware, Inuzuka, I need your tracking skills." Tsunade didn't feel it necessary to tell him that, had Kakashi been available, she would have called upon him instead of the younger and less experienced shinobi, so instead she just commended his skill, which was still rather impeccable, if not quite up to par with the older jounin's. Besides, calling on Kakashi for the task was rather difficult when the jounin was still missing in action; although this fact was unknown to nearly everyone, save herself and a few select higher-ups. And where had the copy nin disappeared? Kumogakure, of course. And why was she sending these two shinobi there? The Inuzuka boy was key to finding the hidden village, while she knew Sakura was more than capable in negotiations, she had after all, trained under Tsunade.

Now, if she could just decide whether or not she wanted to inform them of this fact or not. On one hand, if she didn't tell them, they could be walking into more trouble than they knew, but if she did let them know the full extent of this mission… well, she didn't want to think about her apprentices reaction to that fact.

Shoving her worries to the side in her mind, Tsunade, the Hokage, she had to remind herself, spoke. "I need to tell you the truth behind this mission, you-"

"Shouldn't this be kept to those involved in the mission only, Hokage-sama?" Kiba quipped, brow wrinkled.

Eyes snapping to his face, Tsunade exhaled, "It is kept between those involved in the mission; should you choose to keep quiet, I will tell you what exactly your mission entails, Inuzuka."

Sakura pinched her lips, keeping her laughter hidden. It wasn't that she took any sort of amusement in his chastisement, she was more often than not, the one on the receiving end of that, but his face had been quite comical.

"You two will be traveling to Kumogakure for a very special reason. Over a month ago, Hatake Kakashi himself traveled to Kumogakure, where, I believe, he was capture and is being confined."

"What!" Sakura nearly shouted, snapping to attention.

"Calm yourself Sakura," Tsunade warned before continuing. "Sakura, I'm sending you in my stead. You will act as my liaison; you will carry the scroll. The scroll itself is a teleportation scroll. When the Raikage returns Kakashi to you two, you will activate the scroll, which I will shortly bind to you both, enabling each of you to enact the teleportation."

"And what exactly will come through the teleportation scroll, shishou?" Sakura questioned, quick to the point, as Tsunade guessed she would be.

"Sakura, it might be difficult to understand, but after the defeat of Akatsuki, Konohagakure, being the most powerful and centrally located, was given the responsibility of the tailed beasts. The extracting statue they had, you remember, the one you saw? We destroyed it, but through many arguments and negotiations we agreed to keep the bijuu contained through other less damaging methods. But now, the hidden villages, despite their fear of the tailed beasts, are demanding their return. Some, like Kumogakure, are going to more extreme measures to get what they want."

"Wait. So you're saying we're going to be carrying a tailed beast in our packs?" Kiba blurted out, bewildered. Although the only contact he'd ever had with a tailed beast had been through Naruto and thusly very diluted, the thought of carrying something like that on him…

"Hypothetically, yes, but in all actuality, no. The scroll is only a teleportation scroll. If destroyed, the bridge between the scroll and object to be teleported will be destroyed as well. The scroll mustn't fall into anyone else's hands because they could find a way to bypass even the blood seal I'm going to place on the scroll. Which is also why, if it comes down to it, destroy the scroll, simple as that."

"I'm sure you have many questions but, I'm afraid that's the gist of what I know. Thus, my decision to send the two of you. Kiba, you're one of the best trackers the Inuzuka family has to offer; Sakura, you've got the medical and diplomatic skills needed to persuade the Raikage to hand over Kakashi. Mind you though, we aren't one hundred percent sure that Kumogakure is in fact holding Hatake, but it's our best bet."

"Now," Tsunade began, unlocking and removing a scroll from the top drawer of her desk along with a senbon. "Hands, both of you." She demanded, quickly pricking their fingertips with the sharp tip and unrolling the scroll, intricate lettering and symbols woven around an empty circle on the document. "Now, your blood, here," she said pushing Sakura's bleeding fingertip flush against a symbol and then repeated the action with Kiba's finger, only placing it diagonally from Sakura's and on a completely different character.

Slapping her palms onto the outer edges of the scroll, Tsunade's chakra trailed out, covering both Kiba and Sakura's hands and the entire parchment. Their hands tingled, almost stung, but they kept still. After all, if they couldn't trust their Hokage, who could they trust?

"There; done," the Godaime said matter-of-factly, plopping back into her seat and rolling the scroll back, then slipping it into a hard-shelled case. Tapping the case against her palm, Tsunade looked to Sakura. "You'll pick this up tomorrow before you leave. Now, you're both dismissed."

As Sakura walked quietly behind Kiba, exiting the Hokage's tower, she found it odd that the jounin was so silent. Quite unlike his usual boisterous and pompous self. Of course, she didn't figure he was too happy, not after their little encounter earlier and his obvious discomfort with her. Oh well, a mission was a mission and put food on the table as well as positive marks on her profile. Mentally she began to create a list of the things she'd need for traveling such a distance and across a mountain range nonetheless. That thought soured her mood quite quickly. She hated the cold, and if she knew any better, they were going through the mountains during one of the coldest seasons. Blankets, blankets would definitely be necessary. Her woolen cloak; snow boots; warm underclothes…

Unknown to Sakura, Kiba's thoughts were moving too quickly for even his mouth at that moment. So, not only did he have to deal with tracking down a village no one knew the whereabouts of, other than it was somewhere in the Country of Lightning, but he had to do it with a certain pink-haired kunoichi carrying around a tailed beast in her back pocket. How he got into these things he'd never know, but, what could be done for it? Nothing, that much he could already ascertain.

…spare kunai; toothpaste; toothbrush; a pot and pan…

First, with Sakura tagging along, he'd have to try to find some information. Maybe catch a shinobi from Kumogakure drunk and loose-lipped. Then, he'd have to investigate that tip and if it just so happened to be even minutely accurate, hopefully he'd catch onto some scent that wasn't necessarily where it belonged. Namely Hatake Kakashi's scent. After numerous years of working with Kakashi himself as well as others who frequently mingled with the copy nin, the scent wouldn't be hard to distinguish; at least not for his nose, or Akamaru's. At the thought of his canine companion, Kiba looked about. The mongrel was no where in site, something Kiba was not too happy to discover.

Usually Akamaru stuck to his side, but lately, that was definitely not the case. Mentally smacking himself as he caught two scents trailing along behind him; Kiba momentarily wondered why Sakura was following him. Of course, the answer came to him quickly enough. She did live in the town district next to his own. Naturally she was just taking the quickest route home. And of course… Akamaru, trotting along beside her, tail swishing and creating a mixture of scents. One scent, Akamaru's, already heavily laced with Kiba's odor, and then hers. That aroma so sweet and tangy that he couldn't decide whether or not it came from a bottle or was just her natural scent.

…chocolate; heating pad; tampons, because there was no way she was going to be unprepared should the trip take longer than a month; deodorant…

Halting at the end of Sakura's district, Kiba turned on his heal, facing the kunoichi and Akamaru. She was petting Akamaru again, tangling her fingers in his fur and scratching. Kiba could almost see a smile plastered across the canine's muzzle.

"Come on, Akamaru. We've got plenty of stuff to do before we leave tomorrow. Um, I'll be at the front gate tomorrow at sunset. You'll be ready by then?"

"Of course," she voiced quickly, noting that she'd completely walked past her house, busy with her list and taking comfort in Akamaru close to her side, his big burly form bumping gently against her thigh.

"Akamaru," Kiba said, expectant glare set on his friend. A growling whine issued from his throat, as he skulked over to Kiba. Merely rolling his eyes, he walked off, leaving Sakura to retrace her steps back to the flat she rented.

When they were out of earshot, Kiba grouched, "Stop hanging on her so much, you'll have the whole mission for that anyways, geez."

New story, new plot, thus I can actually think, haha... I should explain everything again... but I'm too lazy, if you really want to know the gist of what I'm working on now, check my profile... and now... I'm going to bed cause I have to go to work in seven and a half hours and haven't slept yet, haha... Night and enjoy guys!