A/N: Hi everyone, the ever diverse P.O.J.A here writing her first ever kakasaku fic all inspired by great kakasaku authors such as moodiful819 and ShipperTrish and one mellow Christmas tune. Enjoy.
Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring,
Soon it would be Christmas day.
"Meri-kurisumasu," sang the young medic as she entered the community halls for another traditional Christmas affair.
"Merry Christmas Sakura," chanted back those who weren't too busy or too drunk to hear her salutations of the season.
"Sakura-chan!" cried out the blonde shinobi as she embraced her pink-haired comrade. "I thought you'd never make it forehead," emphasizing her point by poking Sakura on the exposed portion of her temple.
"Ino-chan, of course I'd never miss out on the opportunity to see you pig out," she ridiculed all in good fun as she returned the hug.
"A glass my dear?"
"Arigato Gaara-sama," Sakura replied sweetly as she took the eggnog from his gracious hand. She thought she'd seen just a flicker of a smile as he left; he'd come so far after finding peace from his inner demons, and he'd humbled himself to such an extent you'd never think that he was once a man to be feared, a man that concluded he existed to kill all existence but himself, a man that loved no one but he.
Sipping her milky cognac and bourbon mélange Sakura also drunk in the sight of the festivities. The place was brilliantly lit with all the standard Christmas colours, the tree beautifully decorated by Iruka-sensei's class with their handmade ornaments, and there were lots of children running all around the place amidst the adults, some lined up to tell Santa Choji of their Christmas list.
Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city
"…and I want a bike, and a skateboard…oh and I want a shuriken and kunai just like my dad!" beamed a young brunette with brilliantly blue eyes.
"Well I hear that you've been a very naughty boy, calling your sister names and what not. Unless you start behaving good from now I don't know if I can promise any gifts in the morning," replied 'Santa', earning the youth in his lap a 'nah nee nah nee boo boo' from his sister behind him.
"I told you daddy would tell Santa on you!"
"Only 'cause you lied and told him I called you names!" the boy retorted.
"But you did!" the girl screamed back with equal venom in her voice.
"Uh, Ino, our—your children…please contain them!" cried out Santa from his high chair as he tried his best to stop the chubby little blonde in his hands from tearing apart her brother.
"Oh jeez, what's that elf up there for anyway? One minute Sakura," and Ino scurried over to collect her bundles of joy whilst reprimanding the elf, earning her a pathetic excuse of "that would be too troublesome" and a shrug as he resumed his 'post'.
Sakura smiled at the scenery of the agitated mother lovingly scolding her brood with promises of better behaviour and hugs shared amongst the group. Soon enough her attention was drawn to an inebriated Jiraiya holding mistletoe above his head, busily chasing the Godaime clearly ignoring his request.
"Oh c'mon Tsunade, just a peck if you may?" he said barely forming the words in his puckered mouth, but his gesture was greeted with a fist to the head producing a mole-sized bump for all to see.
"Only those two, ne?" Ino asked her companion when she returned, the girls sharing a small laugh at the incident.
"Meri-kurisumasu Ino-chan and Sakura-chan," a shy voice from behind them could be heard say.
"Hinata-chan!" they cried in unison as they welcomed the missing part of their trio.
"Ino, I think we owe her a special greeting," Sakura asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"Why yes Sakura! Many congrats to you and your husband, how far along are you?"
"About three months," the Hyuuga heiress replied amiably flushed from head to toe.
"But where is Naruto? I want to congratulate him personally." Sakura's answer soon came from the raucous laughs and cheers from the circle of men across the room, all reaching forth to give the vociferous blonde a congratulatory punch on the shoulder or ruffle of his hair.
"A special glass for you Hinata-san," the self-designated waiter for the night said as he handed her the non-alcoholic version of the milky beverage.
"Arigato Gaara-san," and she gave a small nod of curtsey to the Kazekage.
"So where is your other half Sakura?" a concerned Ino asked. Sakura looked at her watch, 11.30 pm and he still hadn't arrived.
"Late, as usual," she sighed when she caught glimpse of a mysterious figure watching her from the shadows.
It had been a year since his return, and a couple of months before things could go back to being relatively normal with him and the people of Konoha, as far a normal can get, but it still didn't change the fact that he betrayed them, and no matter how much he reconciled and was forgiven he would always feel like an outsider, no better than his missing-nin bastard of a brother.
She walked over to him, the path between the two seemingly paved for that moment. Their eyes locked when they first met across the room, but now that she was coming towards him his gaze diverted to its empty self.
"Sasuke-kun, why are you so sullen on such a celebratory day?" Sakura gently asked the Uchiha progeny, watching him swivel the wine in his hands thoughtfully.
"Feh, the only merriment around here would come the day I'm finally six feet under," he fluidly replied, taking a sip as though toasting the morbid event.
"Sasuke, you can't say something like that! If the people didn't want you back do you think you'll be here today standing as you are amongst your peers? We all wanted you back so dearly." She was fighting the urge to cry again, she promised herself she'd dried those tears years ago, but seeing him in this state pained her more than it did him.
"Did you want me back?" he asked after a brief moment of silence had loomed over them.
"You ask with such doubt. You clearly don't know me anymore Sasuke-kun." Shaking her head she proceeded to converse once again with Ino when a firm grip held her to him. Now his gaze was piercing into her very depths as he spoke again.
"Obviously I don't. I came back with one motive…that I could finally return the love and affection Sakura has so relentlessly given me from since childhood, the love that saved me from being fully consumed by the darkness of Orochimaru. But I guess I wasn't the Sharingan holder you wanted all along was I?" he callously said releasing his clutch and allowing the shadows to engulf him once more.
She hadn't known that he'd harboured even a drop of love for her in his heart, never expected that the day when he'd return he'd be running into her arms pleading for her forgiveness in particular, praying that she didn't abandon him like everyone else. And when that day came Sasuke never expected to see the figure of their ex-sensei perusing her apartment like his own, clad only in his training hakamas. It was he she'd always loved, he whom she'd fought to protect no matter how helpless she felt, not that porn reading copy-nin bastard!
"Sasuke-kun…it was never like that, I…" To tell him she'd still loved him was a lie. She learnt to deal with the reality that he may never come home all those years ago, and she had Ino and most importantly Kakashi to thank for that, but Sasuke seemed so shattered inside at that moment; Sakura never felt feebler in her entire life than she did then.
"Hey forehead, I have a gift for you, won't you come see?" Ino cried out providing her with the perfect excuse to leave the awkward moment.
"I'm sorry Sasuke, excuse me please."
"You have nothing to be sorry about Sakura. Merry fucking Christmas," and he left her to stew in her thoughts as he barged the bartender for another glass of wine.
"What was that all about?"
"He wanted to talk to me, wish me a Merry Christmas that's all," Sakura weakly shrugged off. "Oh Ino I can't open this now, it's not Christmas yet."
"For crying out loud Sakura it'll be Christmas next fifteen minutes!" whined the young blonde medic.
And he's still not here…
Upon seeing her gloomy demeanour Ino understood how she felt at not having him here.
"He'll come Sakura, he always has and he always will." A reassuring hand rested on her shoulder, but comfort couldn't bring him to her arms now can it?
Just then the tingling of tiny bells could be faintly heard. Sakura recalled when her okaasan used to tell her as an infant that whenever she heard the small ringing of bells when she was downcast, an angel was coming to make her feel better.
Fairytale endings made for fairytales only mother, and I most certainly am no princess.
It was the instant beaming of Ino's face that caught her off guard at first, but when the resounding of the bells became lucid behind her did Sakura understand why her best friend shone more than the community Christmas tree.
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
"Merry Christmas Sakura-chan," the voice said sensually in her ear, but whatever pleasure the greeting brought to her body it was brushed aside for the anger that seeped in.
"You're late! You're almost always late, but this time takes the cake. Do you know what time it is Kakashi? Kami if I don't beat myself up for not buying you that watch for Christmas instead of—" her sentence cut short by a pair of slightly chilled lips crushing against her nicely warm ones which slowly grew hotter as the kiss intensified. He'd always make her melt in is arms with his kisses, no matter how upset at him she was, his tongue would say it all, 'I'm sorry, really sorry', and despite all reasoning Sakura would find herself forgiving him with her lips as well.
"I see that's a Merry Merry Christmas there Sakura," Ino teased as she silently excused herself and Hinata from the loving couple. Taking a second to recover from the minor tongue wrestle, a newly flushed Sakura finally found her words.
"For a second there I thought you weren't coming, but why do you have on your jounin flask jacket?" she asked rather baffled as she poked him in his chest, hearing once more the jingling of bells.
The bells. The same pair of silver bells he'd used those 12 years ago to test Team 7's ability to, well, work as a team. He still kept them after all those years, probably to test his other students the way he'd tested them, tested her time and time again. It was still a nifty trick to determine the crème de la crème, but somehow Sakura felt he kept them more for sentimental reasons than anything.
He held her hand in his, and with a deep sigh he needed not to respond right away for Sakura knew the answer already.
"You're going on a mission aren't you," she said solemnly, a sudden feeling of disgust for the jounin etching the back of her mind.
"Sakura…I had to."
"On Christmas eve? Kami Kakashi…do you see anyone else working on the freaking holiday?" she flared yanking her hand free from his tender grip.
"My point exactly. Tsunade asked despite the season if I would do the simple escort mission. The governor is to meet his family on Christmas and his train departs at 12.00 am sharp. After his appointment into office much to the dislike of many, he asked to be escorted by at least one of us top shinobi at all times, whatever the cost. It has to be done Sakura, whether I chose to do it or not."
"So you chose now of all times to do so?" She bit down on her lip hard, the saline waterworks burning her eyes madly as she inwardly cursed her mentor for giving her lover the mission, and her clenching fist wanting so desperately to clobber him for having a conscience and taking the mission. But he made a point, it had to be done. How would Ino feel if Choji was chosen for it? Or the pregnant Hinata, how was she supposed to feel letting her husband leave her in such a critical state?
"I'm sorry, I'm being overly selfish right now," she said ruefully. "You took the mission with a good heart; I'm proud of you," and she held the rugged jaw with her contrastingly tender fingers.
"Sakura," he hissed caressing her hair, wanting to draw her into his mouth once more, into his arms and his bed where he'd love her endlessly till he successfully numbed the twinge of his departure, but his time was running out and what he had to do now was more important than his lovemaking.
"Sakura, before I leave I need to give you your Christmas present," and from his pants pocket he produced a black velvet box tied with a pastel-pink ribbon. "Please, open it now."
Her heart was racing when her eyes made contact with the box. There was only one thing it could possibly contain, jewellery, but the question of 'what piece of jewellery' spun around her mind aimlessly as she fought to seek the answer.
Now would be a good time to have the Byakugan. It's probably nothing Sakura, after all how many gifts has he given you in a black velvet box during your two year courtship? Well, none, but still. Could it be…?
Inner Sakura was frantic as to the contents, but there was only one way to find out. Gently taking her gift she delicately untied the small bow and opened it.
"It's…earings, pink diamonds…arigato Kakashi-kun," she finally said after the initial shock wore off and her heart resumed to a steady rate. She wouldn't allow her disappointment of not receiving an engagement ring show on her face as she was quite gratefully for her gift and the studs were beautiful.
"Things aren't always as they seem Sakura-chan," he said taking the box from her hand. "Take these diamonds for instance. They each endured their own hardships to become what they are now; one probably took more of a beating than the other before it could shine. Their value may differ, one may be centuries older than the next, but it doesn't change how well they compliment each other. I say these two make a pretty fine pair."
"Sorry to seem so naïve but what are you getting at Kakashi?" asked the more than baffled medic.
"Hold your horses, let me finish. This pair, individually they're beautiful. But when they come together, and join as one…" He briefly closed the box and reopened it before her as he concluded his story, "They make one hell of a rock, ne?" and he creased his exposed eye flashing a delightful mask-free smile.
Sakura's eyes brightened instantly when Kakashi revealed a four karat pink diamond. It was a ring all along. And as his story danced about in her head she soon caught onto its hidden meaning. He spoke of them all along, their individual suffering, their success academically as jounin as well as relationship wise, the unforgettable age difference, yet when they come as one…the tears she held the entire night flew freely as she saw him lower on one knee and utter his final sentence, gaining the attention of almost the entire community with that simple motion.
"Haruno Sakura, will you grant an old jounin his wish of spending the rest of his life in the arms of Konoha's most beautiful medic?"
"Hai Hatake Kakashi, of course I'll marry you!" she beamed and he rose taking her in his arms, drowning her in the most passionate of kisses. Everyone around them cheered merrily and a "drinks all around for the happy couple" could be heard by a not so sober Naruto. Placing her back on her feet Kakashi carefully slipped the ring onto its rightful finger.
"It fits," she said still choking on a few tears. "I love you so much Kakashi." Fingers running through a few locks of silver she pulled herself onto his lips once more, never wanting her euphoria to end.
"And I love you Sakura-chan." Then, his watch beeped and begrudgingly he pulled away from her to check the time.
"Sakura, I'm sorry but I have to go." His words puzzled her at first until she recalled his reason for wearing his jounin jacket.
"Please Kakashi, don't leave me on the happiest night ever," she plead with beady eyes that looked like a beryl sea. Damn if he didn't regret taking the mission now, but this was the night he planned months ago and he refused to let anything get in the way of declaring his love to the only woman that meant something in his life.
"I'll be home for Christmas, I promise," and with that he kissed her long and hard, savouring her taste before a variety of hand signals and a puff of smoke was seen taking the place of the silver-haired ninja.
"It's almost Christmas everybody," Ino exclaimed on the stage next to Santa as she began the countdown to Christmas day. "Everyone take a glass of champagne being handed out and get ready to count!"
"Ten, nine, eight…"
'I'll be home for Christmas…' Kakashi, please come back soon…
"Seven, six, five, four…"
The perfect moment ruined by the stupid governor. No wonder people have it out for him. No Sakura, don't be bitter, he did it with a good heart. Besides, he proposed to you on one of the most romantic night ever. You're going to be married soon when he returns…he'll come back…
"Three, two, one, Meri-kurisumasu everyone!" and briefly the lights went out and confetti was thrown about as happy couples around the ballroom shared their first kiss of Christmas. With no one to share the moment with Sakura toasted herself a 'Merry fucking Christmas' as Sasuke rightfully put it and proceeded to down her drink when a velvety warmth brushed her lips for what seemed like the supplest of kisses she'd ever received.
The moment the lights went on Sakura whipped around to see who the pervert was, thinking along the lines of Jiraiya, but he'd never disrespect Kakashi like that. Everyone within her perimeter was coupled with someone, no singles around unless someone was being blatantly infidel. Giving up on the anonymous perv Sakura finished her drink and after gifts were exchanged she went home to a cold bed that night, wondering how long this forsaken mission would take so she could make love to Kakashi like never before.
"Moshi moshi, Sakura speaking," answered a groggy cherry blossom pissed out of her mind for being disturbed from her well deserved sleep.
"Sakura-chan, it's Ino. Are you…won't you come to the party tonight?" her blonde friend asked very delicately.
"Ino, my answer remains the same from last year. Besides, I pulled a 30 hour shift and I'd really like to catch up on my rest ok?"
"But, it's tradition."
"Like everything else in this damn town. It's the same year after year, so I'm not missing out on much. Oyasminasai Ino-chan."
"Goodnight then Sakura," and with a click of the receiver the transmission was broken.
Three Christmases had past since she last saw or heard of him. When midday came Christmas day and he hadn't returned Sakura demanded that Tsunade immediately uncover his whereabouts. Later that very evening did the Godaime receive news of the night.
"Sakura, please come into my office," a strangely sombre Tsunade requested of the young woman. "I don't know how to put this nicely—"
"Please Tsunade-sama, just tell me as it is." It was obvious that the feedback would be negative, and to butter it up would only make things worse on Sakura's behalf. She'd be brave, for Kakashi's sake she'd be brave.
"There was a attack on the train. Two missing-nin, one from our village, the other from the village of Sand, were said to be the cause of the assault. No one but the governor was left alive."
"How is that possible? He should have been the first one dead?"
"Yet he lived to tell the tale because of one special shinobi. Kakashi managed to carry the governor to safety much to the aversion of the missing-nin, but as for what happened to him after…we don't know. I'm sorry Sakura." Tsunade watched her apprentice digest the information, calmly rise from her seat with a 'thank you' and leave the building.
"Damn it why did I give him that mission?" the Godaime chastised herself as she tried to even comprehend the agony Sakura must be feeling.
She continually replayed the events in her mind after that night. Tsunade said his whereabouts were still unknown, but it didn't mean he wasn't alive out there.
He's an excellent ninja, almost legendary like his father, so there's no way in Kami-sama's name he could be killed by two mere missing-nin.
Work. It was supposed to be her solace; help those in need and forget about your own selfish desires. She'd half-buried herself in it so long as it took her mind off of him but it didn't always succeed. She'd go home at night and lull herself to sleep with the sounds of her soft sobbing. She still had hope; everyday she'd wait and pray that when a knock came to her door she'd open it to find him there bruised and in need of her care, physically and emotionally. And when she'd finish tending to his wounds they'd make love endlessly, stay home day in and out wrapped in each others warmth never letting go.
And then she'd wake up tangled in her bed sheets to find it was all a dream, the warmth she felt and the hands around her her own, no sign of her silver-haired shinobi. If Ino wasn't too busy she'd allow her friend to call her whatever time she woke up from the blissful fancy to cry her wells dry until fatigue seeped in again. And so it continued year after year as her fabric of faith grew wearier with time.
"Why don't you try to move on Sakura?" Ino asked her one day during their lunch break at the hospital. "It's been three years now, no word or sign from any of the villages about Kakashi. Maybe it's time we accept the truth that he may be—"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence," Sakura snarled as she fiddled with the ring around her fourth finger. Ino watched the action pitifully; she knew Sakura wasn't going to give up hope that easily; she was a fighter like that, but at the same time if she didn't learn to accept reality soon she'll be wasted away. She noticeably lost some weight, those beryl gems held a melancholy spark all the time and she was clearly overworking herself.
"You can't hold onto it forever Sakura. Why not…why not give Sasuke a chance? He always asks about you, and he's just as concerned about your well-being as I am. I know he loves you, and maybe you don't love him like before, but you can try. You need some happiness in your life," Ino said trying her best to cheer up her morose friend.
"When he comes back to me then I'll have happiness," and with that Sakura ended her lunch break to attend to an incoming patient.
"Someone has a secret admirer," Ino teased as she brought a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to the mourning medic one day.
"They smell lovely, arigato Ino-chan."
"No, no, no darling, these aren't from me. They're bought from my store, hai, but I'm just the messenger here." Sakura looked lovingly at the assortment of amaryllis, jasmine, and of course, cherry blossoms.
"My guess is Sasuke. Mom says he's been looming the shop for some time now just watching the variety of flowers, learning their meaning and what not. Sakura…" Ino paused in fear of being reprimanded again for suggesting that she give the Uchiha a chance.
"I'll get a vase for them," and with a minute smile to her face Sakura placed her dowry in some water and resumed her work ethic.
"I think we should call it a night." Thirteen hours had past since then and the two jounin doctors were starting to feel the blunt of the holidays. With the snowy roads and what not more people were prone to vehicular accidents, snow boarding or skiing mishaps, and the occasional contusions from shinobi assignments.
"I agree. I can only hope Choji made dinner tonight, I'll probably burn the house down the way I'm feeling," Ino sighed as she rubbed her throbbing feet before placing them in her horrid heels to return home.
"I think you'd burn the house down whether you were tired or not Ino-pig," Sakura chuckled as she too gathered her things to leave.
"Whatever. See you later forehead."
Jacket bound tightly around her Sakura stood by the hospital sidewalk eagerly awaiting a cab, watching despondently the winter wonderland before her. Children were making snowmen and snow angels, carollers were busily chiming out tunes, and she spotted a few familiar faces carrying what seemed to be the Christmas tree for the annual party, which she gave up on attending. It held too many disheartening memories. Just then a car pulled up to her and its occupant wound down his window.
"Need a lift Sakura-chan?" the raven-haired boy said with a handsome smile neatly placed across his lips. He always had striking features, and time made no attempt at hiding the scars of his demons which only added a darker, more mysterious façade to an already complex character.
"I'm taking a cab, thanks though Sasuke-kun."
"If you insist on freezing to death here." He proceeded to drive off when a waving hand halted his motion.
"Wait! I…thank you for the offer," she replied appreciatively as she hopped into his crisply warm car.
The drive was kept in moderate silence, the only noise being Christmas carols emanated from the radio. She arrived home in no time, and turning to Sasuke to thank him once again she was met with his mouth, hot and hungry for hers. The kiss was divine, but that made it all the more sinful. His tongue traced the contours of her bottom lip begging for entrance, but she couldn't comply. She was revolted at herself for even permitting the kiss to linger on the way it was, and her opposition to it all ended the affectionate feat.
"Sasuke, I'm sorry but I—"
"Sakura-chan please let me love you. Everyone else has accepted your loss and sympathize with you for Konoha has lost one of its best shinobi, so why can't you?" He was gently caressing her face, the way Kakashi use to, the same way he did before he left her that night. A rouge tear streamed down her weary face, her throat dry and constricted; she felt powerless. Here was a man she had loved as a child, who wants to love her like she loved him, and the barrier of their passion, a ghost of Christmas day.
She can't seem to answer him, but he doesn't give her a chance as he brushes his lips against her a final time before wishing her goodnight. Bemused and broken, Sakura exited the vehicle rushing to her room to have another good night's cry.
That kiss…it was Sasuke at the party, I could never forget the delicacy of it all. Is this just a game to him, or does he honestly love me?
Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the beeping of her cell phone signalling an incoming text message. It read,
I'm sure it comes 2 no surprise that it wz I that sent u those flowers 2day at wrk. I do hope u liked them. Sry if I put u on the spot 2nite, but my heart aches evrytime I c u Haruno, & I understand that ur still hurting, but let me be ur solace at nite, let me help ease ur pain. Sadly I'll be attending that wretched party 2nite, but if u'll like 2 join me 4 our own merry xmas celebration in the morning then u know where 2 find me. Goodnite Sakura-chan, sweet dreams.
Sakura lay in her bed that night watching the clock make its personal countdown to Christmas. She fiddled with her ring as it struck 11.58 pm, the last time she felt his lips on hers. Reflecting on Ino's words and Sasuke's proclamation Sakura alas came to same conclusion herself. It was time to move on. The clock struck 12, Merry Merry fucking Christmas Konoha…bastards…she thought as for the first time since it was worn, Sakura slipped off her engagement ring and placed it in a drawer of her bed stand. Quickly she sent a reply of 'see u in the morning' as she lulled herself to sleep with the sound of her grieving for the final time, the echo of heartache drowning the tiny jingling of bells resonating outside her apartment door.
Soon it will be Christmas day…
Author's note: FINALLY! I have been waiting so long to type this out but my fugly net was down for two weeks so instead of posting this on Christmas, I give u kakasaku fans a blessed New Years present from P.O.J.A. Hope u liked and once again, Happy New Year 2008 ;)