Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I am not making any money by writing this.
One Christmas Night
No one should be alone on Christmas or on any other special occasion for that matter. It defeats the whole purpose of the event, the one of sharing and being around the ones who mean the most to you. When you're alone during the holidays, it only makes the loneliness stronger and the depression greater. No one should ever be alone on Christmas.
Kakashi walked with his hands stuffed in his pockets like he usually did, but this time it wasn't because he was simply being aloof, it was because he was cold. Coming back from a simple (for him) A-rank mission, he was now trudging back through the gates of Konoha on this dark and cold Christmas Eve.
As tired as he was, it wasn't enough to push away the pang of despair that clutched at his chest. Another Christmas. Alone.
On previous Christmases, he had either spent it with his fellow Jounins at the local bar or more depressingly, standing in front of the memorial spending it with those who were no longer with him. Either way, whatever fulfillment those encounters gave him were only fleeting and he'd still come home to an empty house and an empty heart.
Slowly making his way through the streets of Konoha, Kakashi saw a warm, bright light up ahead and a flash of pink hair from the window as it disappeared into the next room. For just a second, Kakashi's heart skipped a beat, but just as quickly he pushed the idea out of his head. She was with her family, as was everyone else. Even Naruto had found someone to spend Christmas with now that he was with Hinata. Kakashi was positive that Sakura wouldn't want to be bothered. This was a time for family, not lonely ex-senseis. But he was her friend, right? And Christmas was meant for family and friends. Besides, he had something to give her and that was a good enough excuse to knock on her door on Christmas Eve, wasn't it?
Hurrying to her door and quickly rapping on it before he changed his mind, Kakashi stood in front of Sakura's door and waited. He was just about to turn around and leave when the door slowly opened and a pair of bright green eyes met his one obsidian one.
"Uh, Sakura, Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas to you, too! Did you just come back from a mission?" Sakura asked, taking in the backpack on his shoulders.
"Yeah, just came through the gates a couple of minutes ago."
"Oh, you must be freezing then! Come in!" she said, gesturing with her hand.
"Are you sure? Your parents won't mind?"
"They're already upstairs sleeping. Besides, I don't think they'd mind. They know who you are, so please, come in." Sakura smiled warmly at him and opened the front door wider for him.
Kakashi simply smiled and nodded, then walked past her and into her house.
It really was a stark contrast from the dark, chilly streets outside. In here, everything seemed to be enveloped in a warm, gold hue which emitted from the crackling fire in the fireplace and the dim lamp lights spread throughout the room. Even the twinkling white lights on the Christmas tree, decorated a classic silver and gold, and the faint scent of cinnamon in the air contributed to the room's warmth. This was a home. This is what it should look like and feel like on Christmas Eve. Not the cold, empty apartment he was just about to go home to, thought Kakashi. At that moment, Kakashi was relieved that he had decided upon his little detour.
"Would you like some hot chocolate?" Sakura kindly offered.
"I'd love some." Kakashi smiled gratefully at her.
"And some marshmallows?"
"Even better. Thank you, Sakura."
"No problem, sensei. Make yourself comfortable." Sakura said, waving towards the living room sofa while she hurried into the kitchen to make his drink.
Kakashi slowly walked into the living room, taking in all the family photos framed in little silver frames, the three Christmas stockings hanging from the mantle marked "Mom," "Dad," and "Sakura," and the many presents wrapped neatly under the large Christmas tree. Kakashi had just put his backpack down on the floor by the sofa and sunk himself comfortably into the seat when Sakura came around the corner holding up two, steaming hot mugs of hot cocoa in her hands, one for him and one for her.
"Thank you." Kakashi said, taking his cup from Sakura as she sat down on the sofa close to him.
"So, coming back home I was the first person you thought of seeing, was I?" Sakura smiled into her cup of cocoa as she took a sip.
Kakashi nearly choked on his own drink and his face suddenly felt several degrees warmer.
"Well, I was on my way home when I saw a flash of pink..."
"Kaka-sensei, why does this sound like one of your lame excuses when you're late for something?" Sakura smiled knowingly at him.
"I...Well I saw...I brought something for you." Kakashi finished lamely. What the hell is wrong with me?! thought Kakashi unable to look her in the eyes.
"You did?! Oh, sensei, thank you! I got you something, too!"
"Don't act so surprised. I haven't missed a birthday or a holiday yet."
"True." Kakashi replied, thinking back to all the thoughtful gifts Sakura had given him since she was a Genin. "But don't you want to wait until it's officially Christmas?"
"Kaka-sensei, it is Christmas!"
Kakashi looked at the mantelpiece clock and sure enough it was 12:03.
"Fine, but you open mine up first." Kakashi said.
Kakashi carefully placed both their cups on the coffee table and then stooped down to dig deep into his backpack, pulling out a brown, paper-wrapped package tied up with white string. He couldn't help but smile at Sakura's already beaming face as he handed it to her. Tugging at the string and carefully unwrapping the paper, Sakura stared breathlessly at the small, alabaster jewelry box with cherry blossoms carefully painted on its lid.
"Kaka-sensei, it's beautiful! Thank you!" Sakura gushed.
"Don't thank me just yet! There's more to it! Open it!" Kakashi laughed.
Sakura opened up the hinged top and took out a necklace with a delicately carved, pink jade, cherry blossom shaped pendant.
"Where did you ever find this?" Sakura gasped.
"I collected them while I was out on my mission because they reminded me of you. They're actually from two different places: The box is from Water Country and the necklace is from Earth Country. I've been holding onto them for a few weeks now." Kakashi said offhandedly, but Sakura surprised him by throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a warm, heartfelt hug. Kakashi felt his body grow even warmer and a sense of relief washed over him when Sakura finally let him go.
Still blushing, Kakashi watched as Sakura tried to put the necklace around her neck.
"Here, let me." Kakashi offered, and Sakura turned around facing away from him, lifting her hair up so that he could attach the clasp. Once he was done, Kakashi couldn't resist and placed a chaste kiss on the back of her neck. Sakura's heart flip flopped and she turned around looking back at him wide-eyed. Kakashi smiled sheepishly back at her with a happy eye crease and rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly.
"Uh, so I take it that you like it?"
For a fleeting second, Sakura thought he meant the kiss, but it dawned on her that he meant the necklace.
"Y-Yes. Thank you!" Sakura stammered, lightly touching the pendent around her neck with her fingertips. "Uh, so now I guess I should get yours." Sakura said, still feeling a little hazy as she got off the sofa to pick up Kakashi's gift out from under the tree. As she turned around to make her way back to him on the sofa, she met his one exposed eye and realized that he had been watching her every move. Suddenly, she felt cautious of every step she took and where her hands were and was relieved that she had something to hold onto otherwise her hands would've been swinging awkwardly at her sides and how she hoped she wouldn't do something stupid like trip and fall on the rug because that would be really embarrassing, especially if she landed on him, and Oh, God! Why does he keep looking at me like that?! Sakura forced herself to take a deep breath and relax. What is wrong with me?! thought Sakura as she tried to keep her hands from shaking as she handed Kakashi his gift.
Kakashi admired the silver wrapping and pretty white bow before carefully, but quickly undoing each. Sakura had been blushing furiously even before he took his gift out of the box and he couldn't understand why...Until he looked at it himself.
"I'm sorry! I didn't know what else to get you! You already have all the latest Icha, Icha books, you have plenty of weapons already, and I didn't want to get you anything impersonal like a gift card or a sweater that I knew you'd never wear, so I saw this and thought 'Well, he has to wear these and it's not like anybody's going to see it in public anyway' So..."
"Sakura, it's okay. I love it. I'm just a little surprised. This is more like something you'd give a boyfriend because it's so personal."
"I know! But I didn't know what else to get you!" Sakura wailed, burying her face in her hands.
"Sakura, I love it, okay? I promise I'll wear it, alright?" Kakashi laughed, rubbing her back in comforting circles.
"Okay." Sakura sobbed, feeling a little bit better.
"Well, at least you got the size right." Kakashi said holding the bright orange Icha, Icha boxers with hundreds of small red circles with a slash through them against his waist.
"Oh, God..." Sakura felt her face burning up again.
"I'll always think of you when I'm wearing them." Kakashi said in a sing-song voice.
"Oh, God..." Sakura said, burying her face in her hands again. "What the hell was I thinking?!"
Kakashi wrapped his arm around Sakura's shoulders and embraced her tight against his side and Sakura wrapped an arm around his waist and buried her head against his chest.
"Thank you, honestly, for the thoughtful gift, Sakura." Kakashi said, kissing her on the crown of her head.
"You're welcome." Sakura hiccuped against his chest and she felt his body tremble beneath hers as he laughed again.
Together they sat in comfortable silence in each other's arms watching the warm, crackling flames of the fire until they both drifted off to sleep.
On Christmas morning, when Mr. and Mrs. Haruno came down the stairs to find their daughter still in her ex-sensei's embrace, they actually smiled. They wondered when their 22 year old daughter would finally see the way the silver-haired Jounin looked at her. She had been alone for far too long and deserved someone loving and caring and would protect her with his life, and they knew that Kakashi had done the latter at least several times already.
Mr. and Mrs. Haruno knew Hatake well. They knew his elite status in the ninja ranks. They knew he'd never hurt their precious daughter. So silently, they wrapped their arms around each other's waist and thought, Merry Christmas indeed.
Note: Sakura's jewelry box and necklace actually exist. I have them. Unfortunately, they're not from Water and Earth Country...They're from ebay. As for Kakashi's boxers, I got the idea from Ch. 20 of Caitiy's "Simple Things." I don't want to be accused of stealing, so I just wanted to make it clear where I borrowed the idea from. Anyway, Happy Holidays everybody!