Something pretty conceptual, inspired by a writing prompt. I like this, although I'm a bit shaky on the ending. Slight angst, not really though. When the person who says she'd beta for me does, I'll repost or something. I like the general descriptiveness.

Update #1: Reviewer pointed out I didn't cite the Shakespeare. I'm sorry! Italicized comments made m Kakashi are from a Shakespeare sonnet, and the other are quotes. One I think is from Midsummer Night's Dream, but I didn't check and the speech I know from that is the ending speech made by Puck. So. Shakespeare owns that.

They have nothing to say to each other.

She is older. She is stronger. She is prettier, for sure, although it has only been six months. Her eyes have a fierce spark in them. Her clothing is a little tighter fitting, and he can detect several weapons hidden on her person (although anyone who is not a ninja most likely wouldn't) including the very sharp pins holding her pink hair up in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She is an accomplished kunoichi, both with and without his help.

He is very much the same as he was the last time he had seen her.

She smiles, a tight, controlled smile. He recognizes it as her fake smile, one that is also designed to sometimes scare people away in certain situations. He nods slightly. His visible eyebrow is raised almost to the beginning of his hairline and he knows that she is well aware of this. She actually, unbeknownst to him, is wondering what the rest of the expression on his face currently looks like beneath his mask.

She gives a haughty toss of her admittedly well-coiffed head, deadly weapons poking out of it aside, pivots smartly on her heel (she is wearing ankle boots, not strappy high-heeled sandals) and walks away. He spots a fan dangling from her corded hips. The silver chain around her middle is no doubt also made to be used as a strangling cord. And he would bet that the fan hanging from it, besides it being a pretty object (she has always loved those sorts of things) could be used as a weapon. In fact, he recognizes that fan as a gift from Temari when she had been sent to Sunagakure on a mission. She had gotten to be friends with the girl and that had been her parting gift to Sakura. He knows that the spokes holding it together, are sharp steel, and a blade is tucked into the heavy base of the fan.

He watches her leave, just like he has before.

He sees a small open cut on the back of her neck. As she had turned, her necklace had swung around and hit her. He knows that necklace too- he had given it to her one day. It has a switchblade in it and he recalls that the knife also has a tendency to become loose. Nevertheless she had kept it: it is useful in a fight and not many people realized the pretty pendant hanging around her pretty neck held a sharp blade.

Although she isn't a weapons mistress like Tenten, she still has her hidden knives. Especially since he can tell that she's just returned from a mission. She usually doesn't wear the fan out unless it is necessary, she prizes it too much. He had previously thought she must have thrown the necklace away in a fit of fury. Apparently, he is wrong. She wears the hair pins that are not only pins a lot. But the kunai tucked strategically all over her body and the absence of her leg holster convinces him that she isn't just kitted out for a night on the town, although now she is going out- it takes a while to take out all of the weapons and she looks quite nice, anyways, so why would she even bother with changing?

He will check the rosters tomorrow to see if it was an assassination. If it was, it had obviously been successful.

She returns to where their friends are standing. Her best friend, Ino, is wearing slightly looser clothing than normal. He knows that she is almost eight weeks pregnant. Although she goes out with their group still, he sees her just drinking water or fruit juice. Ino has been married to Shikamaru for eight months and she still has a certain glow around her.

Naruto and Hinata are in each other's arms. Newlyweds, they seem to not let go of each other. He thinks that it is sweet even though they are teased about it daily. Neji and Tenten are together, engaged. Lee isn't currently with anyone (and nor, for that matter, is Gai) and Choji's with his civilian girlfriend. Genma's on the prowl as usual. Sasuke's alone- he wonders whatever happened to all of his rebuilding clan Uchiha yammer- and everyone is accounted for since Temari and Gaara are in Suna. He starts walking towards them..

"You don't mind?" He hears Ino whisper. "I mean, he is part of our group, even though he hasn't been coming out with us a lot recently." Sakura shrugs carelessly.

"Why should I care?" She replies. "I just got back from a nice successful A-rank mission. The party was a bit boring, but that's okay. And I got to talk to a nice boy named Ibuki. After I killed the person that was trying to kill him he was all over me in awe and fascination."

"Isn't Ibuki the thirteen year old son of the man you were assigned to protect?" Tenten asks. Sakura affirms this.

"Yes. Apparently my target decided that if his man had a ninja protecting him- he didn't suspect that the ninja was me- the next best person to kill would be his son. Anyways, Ibuki decided that I was good enough despite his earlier impression of me."

"What happened?" Naruto asks.

"When I introduced myself to Tetsuji-sama Ibuki was in the same room. Apparently the 'silly girl ninja' wouldn't work to protect his father. He was wrong. He asked me where I got my fan and necklace after I used them to kill the target. When I said that I got it from the sister of the Kazukage, his admiration knew no bounds." She laughs softly. He notices that she says nothing about the origins of the necklace knife.

"Nice to have boys falling all over you, huh, Forehead?" Ino jokes. Sakura laughs harder.

"Yeah, but it would be even nicer if they were about seven years older, yeah?"

"Don't be so picky," Ino teases, and then all of them laugh.

Yeah, he decides, it was definitely an assassination mission. But it must have been protection also, which was why it most likely hadn't been gives to an ANBU operative besides the fact that it was undercover and they needed someone slightly more inconspicuous.

"Kakashi, you coming?" Naruto asks, and he nods.

"Yeah," he says. Naruto kisses Hinata, and as Sakura smiles he sees something strange in that smile. He wonders at all if she is lonely, if still she thinks of him.

He resolves to ask her.

----

She's sipping from her drink. They are the only people left in the bar, now. Ino and Shikamaru were the first to leave, obviously (her pregnancy is most likely the worst-kept secret in all of Konohagakure) then Naruto and Hinata and Neji and Tenten. Sasuke wandered out looking sulky and broody, an expression that seems permanently affixed to his face, Genma left with some random blue-haired girl, Choji and his girlfriend Emina left, even Lee had left (but not before declaring his undying love for Sakura yet again).

He's sitting next to her. Even your ex-lover can be better company than simply sitting alone late at night. That screams desperation and she doesn't want to have to attack anyone looking for a random girl to pick up, not taking no for an answer and then trying to feel her up. She's already killed someone today, thank you very much.

He buys the next round as she had bought the last one.

"You alright?" he asks her. She nods.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I think my head will hurt like hell in the morning, though." He agrees.

"Mine too." This is the first time he's really talked to her in about six months, except for the very awkward mission in which they had to pretend to be a married couple. He had suctioned the bottles of alcohol to his face after they had returned.

"You okay?" He asks her. She looks confused.

"Didn't you just ask me that?"

"No, like, okay in general. Not just right now."

"I don't know," she replies. "I had a good mission."

"Yeah, I heard." He looks at her neck. "I didn't know that you kept that necklace."

"It's useful," she says. Her hands close protectively around the pendant. "And I like it."

"I thought you would have thrown it away after-"

"After we broke up?" she asks. His nod confirms this. She shakes her head no. "I'm not that destructive, I don't think. I didn't want to mindlessly lash out. Besides, I don't know. I was- I was the one who left. You weren't"

He decides to just do it.

"Why did you leave, Sakura? Why'd you leave me?"

Her head droops.

"I don't know."

I don't know.

"I had my reasons then," she says. "I think that I forgot those reasons, and I'm sure that most of them were untrue."

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

She smiles. "You remember."

"It's your favorite poem; how could I forget?" he asks.

Her smile deserts her face. "Then what do you mean by it?"

Maybe it is the fact hat he is finally talking to her, or maybe it is amount of drink that they've both had. Maybe it is something overtaking them both, a result of what he just found out. Or maybe it is the true meaning of Sakura's favorite poem.

Because he hasn't stopped loving her.

"Do you still love me?" he asks. "Even though you left- do you still love me?"

"Yes," she whispers.

Maybe it is because he loves her and she loves him that he leans over the counter top and kisses her.

Whatever it is, he relishes it. He knows that she does too, from the way she leans into him like she always used to, from the way that her arms wrap around his neck, from the way that she kisses him back.

"I'm sorry that I left," she says.

"I was too," he tells her. "But can you come back?"

"That I can do," she says.

---

They do not love that do not show their love. The course of true love never did run smooth. Love is a familiar. Love is a devil. There is no evil angel but love.


When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.