: Point of Grace :
Summary: "Why can't you just leave me be?" A muffled sigh answered her question, and she found her gaze suddenly riveted to Kakashi's cloth-covered mouth. "That's a very good question, Sakura."
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Naruto. Or the series. Or the seriously wicked weapons. The last part I'm hoping to change.
WARNING!: Mild language usage. And fluff. Like mega-sugary fluff--you know, the kind that rots your teeth out.
Brief A/N: I felt like writing fluff, and this idea kept circling in my head--so for my sanity's (whatever's left of it) sake, I wrote it down. :) Oh, and the title really has nothing (much) to do with the story... it's kind of a credit for one of the muses that aided me in staying awake long enough to jot this down. Point of Grace is a Christian group, and their music is simply wonderful to listen to. Perfect aid in writing--for me at least. 'Nyways, please enjoy!
(Two weeks ago)
She shivered, a quick, involuntary flexion of muscles, as the night wind wrapped itself about her slender form, a chilling cape that rendered her immobile for just a moment. A thin smile twisted her lips, a mockery of a smile. Times like these just did it in for her, and she was tired, so tired of it.
Everyone had seemed to want to talk about him tonight. Why? Honestly, she couldn't say, but it had grated her nerves to the point where she felt frazzled, enraged, and why couldn't they just stop rubbing salt in her poor heart's semi-healed wound? Perhaps it was time to recount their memories. To try to savor the lives that were still in existence.
She rubbed at her arm, warding off the chill for a second as the friction required her blood to rise to the aggravated area. The pain was minimal, she hardly noticed the bruise beginning to bloom beneath the none-too-gentle pressure of her fingers.
A large hand grabbed her wrist, gently, too gently—she was not made of porcelain—and forced her gaze to rove over the bluish-brown tinges that now marred her arm. Maybe she was a little more agitated than she had thought.
"Sakura." She hated that reproving tone. He was not her father, dammit, so why did he always take that tone with her when he believed himself to be in the right?
Biting back another twisted mockery of a grin at his recoil, she wondered if perhaps she shouldn't have snapped at him so quickly. At the parental look crossing his visible eye once more, she decided she should have snarled more.
"Why don't you come back in. It's cold out here."
"Shut up, Kakashi. One dad's enough," she muttered, calmly removing his hand from her person, using only a fraction of the monstrous strength she had become renowned for. He ignored her blatant refusal, ignored the fact that she thought he was being fatherly, and pressed again, trying another tack.
"Ino's been asking where you went."
She hated when he used her friends. Hated when he began to use that half-wheedling, half-cajoling tone. "I'm fine."
Kakashi grunted, letting her know that he obviously wasn't going to believe that.
Tilting her face up to let the moonlight wash over it, she exhaled loudly. "Is there any particular reason you're bugging me? Or is it the fact that I can't escape the 'party' if you can't?"
"Partly," he agreed to her minute surprise, turning to look at the same scenery she was feasting her emerald gaze upon, and found nothing of any real interest.
"Well, you're now free of any social demands, so don't let me stop you from leaving."
He hummed at her, a non-committal parlance that allowed him to remain. Pulling out his trade-mark "Icha Icha" whatever book he was on, Sakura watched him in unveiled aggravation as he casually flipped to a page that had been carefully dog-eared. "It's a crime to do that to books, you know."
She glared down her nose at him, "The pages, Kakashi. You should have more respect for them."
The older ninja shrugged, allowing her venomous tones to roll off of his person without taking offence. "How else would I know where I left off?"
Kami. This man was irritating. "Whatever, you know what? Don't care. Mess up your smutty book."
Another hum was all the reply she received for her effort. Clenching a fist, she idly wondered how much strength she would need to send him careening into the neighbor's wall. Not much, she guessed, all things considered. Playing back the last few minutes of conversation that hadn't been so obnoxious, she stumbled mentally over the word he had used earlier: partly. "So, why are you really here?"
Kakashi looked up from his book, innocence smeared thickly across his visible features, moonlight glinting in a similar virtuous sheen on his forehead protector. "To keep my beloved team-mate company?"
He scratched the back of his head with the hand not occupied with a small orange book, sending the silver spikes into even further disarray. Sakura's fingers itched to at least try to create some order in the mess that masqueraded as his hair, but quickly stomped down on that impulse with savage disgruntlement. "To get some fresh air. You know how stuffy it gets in there, with all those people trying to cram themselves into such a small space."
"Uh-huh," she crossed her arms over her—still small but big enough to declare her to be a woman—chest, glaring at her ex-sensei.
Something crossed his eye, darker even than the onyx shade, and passed with lightning speed. Sakura felt shaken, confused, and wary. When she felt any one of the before-mentioned emotions, she would be in a foul mood. All at once was just asking for hell.
"Spit it out."
He hesitated, seeming almost frozen in place. Sakura knew she was downright scary when she was infuriated, but really! Marching up to Kakashi, she stood nose-to-chest and glared up at him, all five feet and five inches of feminine wrath. "Why can't you just leave me be?"
A muffled sigh answered her question, and she found her gaze suddenly riveted to Kakashi's cloth-covered mouth. "That's a very good question, Sakura." It sounded as though it were a spoken thought, a smattering of a thought that he himself had puzzled over for a while. Her heart beat faster for some odd reason, and she didn't quite care to take the time to reason it out.
Sakura turned her gaze back up to him, to the one visible eye that was dark and unreadable and full of everything she would never understand and probably already did. "You didn't answer," she pointed out, struggling to keep her voice from sounding breathy. That was Ino's job, and Ino was very, outrageously, good at it.
Another hum, another dodged answer, and Sakura was beginning to seriously tire of it. "Whatever." She turned on her heel and stalked off, soft pink tresses whirling about her face. "Call me when you got an answer." With that, she jumped off the roof, spiraling into a graceful arc before she landed, light as a cat, on the road below. Dusting her palms on her short skirt, she effortlessly blended with the shadows, disappearing from sight.
Kakashi watched her depart in silence, and tried to seek solace in the non-judgmental pages of his book. He snapped it shut after a few minutes and growled lightly, frustration taking its toll. Without another word, he too disappeared into the gloom, leaving nothing behind to prove he had ever been standing on the balcony.
(Ten days ago)
It was raining. Not the pleasant kind of rain that made you want to run out of doors and jump in puddles like you were five kind of rain, but the nasty gray stuff that seemed to ruin your day with its mere presence.
She sighed, gloved hand supporting her face as she stared with unseeing green eyes out the hospital window. Her reflection stared back at her in pensive boredom.
She nearly jumped, but patted herself on the back inwardly for not having given in to the inane urge. Opting instead to frown at his reflection that had so recently joined hers in the non-descript window, she allowed her gaze to flicker to his.
"Got an answer yet?"
"Hn." Too much like Sasuke, yet not enough. A knot of tangled emotions settled heavily within her stomach, and she exhaled loudly. "It's been long enough to figure out something."
"Perhaps," he agreed, the tone placating. Her eyes roved over his slouching form in the mirror-like reflection and narrowed in annoyance "Then what's your excuse now? Spent too much time helping some poor old people cross the street, or maybe it was that stray cat again?"
"Neither," Kakashi beamed cheerfully, "In fact, there was this grouchy medic that needed an immediate pick-me-up, and I, being the chivalrous gentleman that I am," he paused at Sakura's snort, "scoured the village looking for the perfect thing to cheer her up. Besides, grouchy medics are never good medics, and I had to do all in my power to help Konoha's health system by making sure that all our healing staff are in excellent shape."
"You hate hospitals," she pointed out ungratefully.
"Actually, I abhor them, but that's a different matter altogether."
Despite her current mood, she couldn't help but cave under Curiosity's insistent pressure. "So?"
Pulling out a mildly squashed present from the safety of his standard issued vest, he adjusted the crooked wrapping a little more before offering it to her with a lazy flourish that belied the avid look of interest in his eye. She couldn't help but grin at the paper, odd little disproportioned caricatures of dogs—that violated any laws of natural symmetry—covering a baby blue backdrop.
She tore it open, ignoring the older shinobi's wince of protest, and stared at the contents. A piercing shriek emanated from her open mouth as she hugged the items to her chest, eliciting a jealous glare from the jounin. "They're adorable, Kakashi!" Sometimes, it was good to be a female. Such outbursts could be blamed on the nature of her gender without anyone being able to say much about it, other than a shake of the head and a muttered, "Women...!" "Where'd you get them?"
Kakashi eyed the small stuffed replicas of himself, Sasuke, and Naruto with mild resentment. "I had them custom made," he finally offered in the way of a reply, but Sakura was too busy admiring the stitching and tiny details to listen. "These are so awesome!" she squealed again, ignoring the way her team-mate winced at her high decibels.
"Guess it worked."
"Huh?" She glanced up from her new treasures to stare in confusion at him. Red stained her cheeks as she finally caught up, "Yeah, thanks."
"You're welcome." If he had been offended at her lackluster 'thank you,' he didn't bother to show it. With a wave of his hand he 'poofed' out of the hospital, leaving behind a slightly embarrassed woman who certainly couldn't say that she was a 'grouchy' medic any longer.
"Wait, you still didn't answer!" Her yell echoed down the wide hallways, ricocheting into every room and corridor on that floor. Nurses either grinned behind their clipboards or dropped whatever item they had been holding as the noise startled them. It seemed Sakura Haruno was flustered by one Kakashi Hatake, and that particular bit of gossip traversed the entirety of the hospital within a few hours, shortly heading the "Things That Absolutely Must Be Spoken Of" list. Considering whom it featured, the news was absolutely shocking and therefore all the more appealing.
Tsunade nearly spewed her entire mouthful of sake, a really excellent brew, after hearing Shizune's fourth-hand rendition of Sakura's conversation with Hatake. "No... way!" The Hokage slumped back in her seat, amber-gold eyes wide and amused, "Amazing, the brat still has an ounce of emotion left in him."
Shizune grinned slightly at the term, apparently Kakashi's earlier dismissal of the Fifth's lecture about the importance of being on time to a meeting didn't go over so well. "Perhaps this would be a good thing for Sakura-chan?"
"Maybe," the blonde downed another gulp of sake, "Maybe not." Her eyes gleamed with an impulsive speculating expression that immediately warned Shizune of the woman's next suggestion. "How about we bet—."
"Come on, Shizune...!"
"Sorry, Hokage-sama, but it doesn't seem fair to bet on either Sakura or Hatake-san." The dark-haired woman frowned down at her seated leader, eyes dark as her hair clearly disapproving the proposition.
Tsunade sighed, but let it drop. "Fine. We'll see how my apprentice handles it." Another swig from the ceramic vessel added a light pink flush to her falsely young peaches-and-cream complexion. "Next year we'll probably see Hatake juniors running around." With that ominous thought, the Fifth decided to drown the following notions with the rest of her sake, much to Shizune's chagrin.
(Four days ago)
Three stuffed dolls currently held a place of honor on her nightstand, their cheery button eyes of many colors staring at the opposite wall in silent contemplation. Sakura ran a light finger over the tufts of black, yellow, and gray, silently musing that the last one should have been a little lighter. Kakashi's doll looked more like an old man dressed up as a ninja.
She grinned at the thought, but let it slip away as she turned to get ready for her next hospital shift. Slipping into her most comfortable pair of sandals, she raked her fingers through her wild strands of pink hair, looking for her hairbrush which currently believed that she and it were playing hide-and-seek.
Muttering a rather unintelligible curse as the hairbrush won the game for that morning, she ran her fingers through the tangles again, trying to smooth the locks down enough to appear presentable. If she didn't hurry up, she would be late, and then she'd have to listen to Shishou rant on and on about punctuality—though heavens knew that woman was almost as bad as Kakashi, especially after a night of drinking. The leaning towers of paperwork on her desk were testimony enough.
Somewhat satisfied at the results of her labor, Sakura turned to leave. The forlorn tuft of gray stood out, however, in a sad show of abandonment. Sighing, the woman turned back to the stand and picked up the small object, eyes roving the tiny embellishments. With the exception of the hair color, whoever had crafted this item had done a wonderful job, picking up on the tiny quirks. A tiny orange scrap, made to resemble a book, peeping out from the back pocket of its baggy pants made her smile fondly at it. "You know, if you stopped reading all that porn in public, you might actually be seen as someone hot instead of coming across as just plain weird."
"I think my fan club would disagree with that statement." Kakashi's voice mused thoughtfully from the direction of her (now) open window. He leaned forward to rest his arms on the windowsill, smiling in her general direction. "Yo."
Normally, she would beat her boys over the head (more or less literally) for barging into or in anywise invading her much-needed privacy, but this time she chose to let it slide after her heartbeat slowed to a more normal pace. Not that she was giving him any special treatment, mind you, but her clock stated that she would be late if she didn't get moving within the next five minutes—and pulverizing the man followed by a healing session would guarantee a lengthy sermon from Tsunade-sama.
However, he had yet to answer her question, and she couldn't yet figure out why he would want to evade it this badly. He would typically give in within a week, and as he hadn't, Sakura's ninja sense was telling her something was up. "So, finally going to answer the question now?"
Kakashi looked at her, silent and unreadable. She groaned inwardly as his gaze left hers to travel downwards, resting on the small Kakashi replica nested securely in her hands. If a masked man could convey a smirk, convey he did. "Miss me?"
Oh, she was going to shove that arrogance right where it belonged. "Actually, I was just thinking that it looked out of place beside the other two. It looks like a little old man playing dress up, and those two look more like ninja."
He frowned, a brief flash of was he offended?, before his face became tranquil once more. "Hm," he acquiesced. Feeling slightly guilty, even though she couldn't quite say why, the pink-haired medic sought to make amends. "It's probably because the doll-maker didn't get your hair color right. I mean, yours is much lighter and more silvery and this really does look like an old man's." She knew she was rambling now, but it was worth it to see his expression lighten. Her stomach erupted in a tight burst of butterflies, and for the life of her, she couldn't explain why.
Kakashi hummed again, but this time she sensed he was in a better frame of mind. She glanced at her clock again and howled in dismay. "I'm-gonna-be-late!!" Tearing out of her room, past the dining room/kitchen of her apartment, she yanked open the door and slammed it shut behind her, not bothering to lock it. If anyone was stupid enough to rob a shinobi, they deserved what would come to them, namely an angry two-man squad bent on revenge. She'd never have to lift a finger.
As she dashed off to the hospital, she didn't have the chance to look back, to watch as Kakashi slipped into her bedroom in a single unhurried movement. She wouldn't see him taking up the small doll and placing it with a measure of care beside her pillow. She wouldn't find her bed's new occupant until later that night.
That mattered little to her, as at the moment her thoughts were frenziedly scrambling to come up with a plausible excuse as to why she was late. Maybe she would just blame Kakashi, it was his fault after all.
Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Sakura blinked owlishly as the morning sun sneaked through the window blind's cracks to assault her vision. She yawned widely before flopping over onto her other side in an effective movement that blocked the sun's attempts to rouse her. A smile stumbled onto her lips, nearly as sleepy as she was, as she glanced up to see her current favorite bedmate. The doll stared unblinkingly down at her from its perch on her headboard, dark button eye glinting in the golden beams.
"Good morning," she managed to say around a yawn, the 'o' sound and the 'r' nearly being swallowed by the copious intake of oxygen.
"Good morning," a male voice greeted pleasantly in reply, a voice that sounded suspiciously like a certain silver-haired jounin.
Sakura sat up, eyes narrowed as a glare rapidly took over the sleepy smile's domain. "What-are-you-doing-in-my-room?" she ground out, every syllable admirably distinct in the morning's tranquil stillness.
A wounded look met her smoldering gaze, "But Sakura, I'm not in your room."
"That window was locked for a reason."
Kakashi studied it, as if taking the object in for a first time. "I'm sure it served whatever purpose you had for it," he finally responded, mirth weaving its way thickly through his words.
"Obviously it didn't," she stressed the phrase pointedly, as if by saying it in such a way he'd be a good boy and go on home to let her sleep a few more hours. This was her day off after all!
He hummed in reply, setting Sakura's temper into a conniption. Grinding her teeth together, she growled at him. "It's too early, what the hell do you want?"
"Breakfast would be good," he replied smartly, knowing he could make a break for it as he was completely out of her range.
"Too bad. I'm sleeping in."
"It's already noon, Sakura," Kakashi drawled, "How much more do you need to sleep?"
Sinking back down into her welcoming mattress and soft cotton sheets, the pink-haired ninja tossed her coverlet back over her face. "Hours more, at least," she muttered into the thick depths of her blanket. Taking a deep breath, she hollered at him through the comforting material. "Don't talk to me until you answer my question!"
She sensed him leaving and took a deep breath of relief. Sleep was calling her back into the welcoming darkness, into a world that didn't need her healing abilities, that didn't question her sanity or upheaving emotions that spiraled around her ex-sensei. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift away.
Sakura woke later, a deja vu of this morning's episode minus Kakashi (the live version). She peeked out from beneath the covers warily, wanting to make sure there was no silver haired man to wage verbal war with. Satisfied with her results, she started to peel back the covers and stopped. There, on the white expanse of her coverlet lay a tidy little package. Picking up the unassuming square of brown plastic, she pried the lid open with no small degree of curiosity. Inside, a pair of delectable looking pastries peeked out at her, nearly begging her to take a bite of their assuredly scrumptious selves. The lid was discarded with posthaste, and a note fluttered weakly to the ground near it.
Grumbling half-heartedly, as anyone who bought her breakfast was in her good books for at least the entire day, Sakura squirmed and wriggled herself to the edge of the bed. Reaching for the elusive paper, she finally scrabbled enough to catch a corner and caught it up with a victorious cry. Chicken-scratch heralded the writer, and the woman frowned down at the paper for a moment, trying to make sense of the inky blobs and lines.
'Still felt like breakfast. Hope you like these too.
Sakura grinned like an idiot while wolfing down the utterly amazing pastry. The rest of the day flew by without any signs of Kakashi's familiar slouched figure, but Sakura kept beaming. Naruto, curious at her oddly good mood, asked her what had happened. She merely told him that she had had the best breakfast ever. This only proceeded to confuse the blonde, but when he confided this to Tsunade-baa-chan in hopes that she'd shed some light on her student's atypical behavior, the woman only grinned in a very disturbing cheshire-cat-like manner and told him not to worry about it.
Shizune shook her head at the two of them and proceeded to dump more paperwork on Tsunade's desk in an effort to remove the attention from off Sakura's private business to matters that actually did need attending. This of course, proceeded to thoroughly enforce the two blonde's 'deep and meaningful' contemplation of Sakura's actions, much to the young woman's vexation.
He was sitting in a cherry tree, the pink petals surrounding him like an ethereal cloud that just so happened to almost exactly match her hair. A droll smile quirked up the corners of her mouth, oh the irony of it all.
Her steps were quiet, not a single twig snapped beneath her sandals, not a single minute crunch of a leaf as she stepped over them. Her goal was just in sight, and he appeared to still be far too absorbed in that dirty book for his own well-being. Another step, then another, each one eating up the distance between them.
Slithering up the side of the tree, wielding her expert chakra manipulation in order to keep up the soundlessness of her mission, Sakura peered upward at the wild shock of silver against the pink and brown of his perch.
Lithely swinging herself up, she slipped into a seat beside him, and peered over his shoulder at the surprisingly wordy pages in his hand. So much for Ino claiming she had never touched the books after finding adult-rated pictures in it. Of course, that had been many years ago, and Ino was never good at keeping books straight in her head—as she just wasn't the avid reader that Sakura was. She might have actually picked up something else instead. It was entirely possible.
With these thoughts circling in her head, the medic failed to pay attention to her surroundings. She nearly toppled over onto the ground below as Kakashi 'poofed' into nothing but a cloud of dark gray smoke. Coughing, she fanned the smoke away with one chakra enhanced sweep of her hand, sending the dark plumes hurling away to dissipate in the clear morning air.
"Can I help you, Sakura?" His tone was mild, but the way he snapped the book close made her pause for a moment.
She decided to ignore the possibility that he might not want her invading his space, after all, what had he been doing to her for the past few weeks? "Thanks for breakfast yesterday," a grin crossed her face. "It was excellent."
"It was nothing," he stated shortly, returning his nose to the book's interior.
Okay. "What's with you?"
He glanced up, dark eye unreadable, "My book, obviously."
Sakura grinned again, this time it was forced and didn't quite reach her eyes, "Don't be a smart-ass, Kakashi."
He didn't answer, and the silence stretched between them like an invisible line. Suddenly, it clicked in Sakura's mind. That bastard.
A snarl rolled out of her throat, surprising the jounin in front of her. She hauled herself up to where he leaned against the thick trunk and shoved an accusing finger in his face. "This is not how we're going to play this! Don't you dare start something like this and then get cold feet!" She did a jig of victory mentally as he winced. "You shouldn't make me like you and then try to backpedal, Kakashi! That's not how it works!"
Suddenly, the bark was at her back, digging into her skin and hair as she found herself pinned heavily to its surface. Her gaze met his, and she nearly froze at the look in his eye that she could and couldn't read. "How does it work then, Sakura?" he rasped out, book shoved back in his pocket sometime ago. He pressed closer, letting her know he was not someone to be toyed with, he was dangerous and she knew it.
Putting on a brave front she glared right back, emerald eyes burning with liquid fire. "You tell me," she rejoined, seething. She was a shinobi too, and there was no way she was going to let him forget that. Her fingers found his wrists and pressed, just pressed, until he backed off a little.
To her surprise, his anger seemed to disperse as quickly as the jutsu's smoke earlier. He closed his eye and leaned his forehead against hers. "I don't know," was his quiet response, and he almost sounded defeated.
"Aren't you supposed to?"
He opened his eye to shoot her a half-hearted glare. "Even I don't know everything."
Sakura snorted, "Arrogant, much?"
He hummed, and she nearly grinned in delight at the pleasant vibrations from his chest. She peered into his face and lost herself. Softly, shyly, she pressed her lips to his masked pair.
He stared at her, unable to string a coherent phrase together. The surprise melted away in a second, and before she could think of a way to save face, Kakashi had shifted the material on his face to hang about his neck before he returned her kiss.
Sparks flew, and Sakura swore she heard bells as her toes curled from the riveting sensation. Leaning back, she angled her head in order to see him better, and nearly gasped. A moan escaped her lips as she dropped her head heavily to his chest.
"Sakura?" His tone was worried, and Sakura couldn't blame him, but, "Why do I always have to fall for the guys that are prettier than me?"
Kakashi chuckled lightly at her petulant tone, relief and amusement coursing through his veins in a heady rush. He brushed his lips against the top of her head, "It's your bad luck."
"Maybe that's it," she acquiesced, voice still plaintive.
"Still think I look too old?"
"Hm?" Her gaze tipped up to rake his face, admiring the way the sunlight played against his fair skin. Thin lips quirked up at her pensive expression, "Do I pass?"
She sighed, mildly exasperated, "Idiot. I said the doll looked old, not you."
With a grin, he swooped in to claim another kiss. "Keep thinking that."
Sakura decided she might actually like her namesake tree after all.
(Three years later)
Tsunade's worst fears had come to life in the tiny, reckless form of Obito Hatake, who had inherited his parent's great wealth of intelligence and both of their retarded (in her opinion) quirks. That same lazy slouch of Kakashi's was beginning to show, and Sakura's physical violence was not far behind either, though both parents had made a fair attempt to curb both traits in their son.
Her golden eyes stared down at the miscreant who was currently playing with TonTon, and the pig was traitorously enjoying the attention, minus the moments when the boy's tiny fingers caught and tugged at the curly pink tail. Silvery hair coupled with bright green eyes, the boy was definitely cute... but... she growled and sank back into her seat. How on earth did she wind up playing babysitter? She was the Hokage, dammit! Everyone was forgetting their positions!
Obito looked up at her and rose to his feet, ignoring TonTon's protests. He toddled over to where the blonde woman sat moodily, and tugged at her pants. Raising his arms up in an obvious 'pick-me-up' gesture, he cooed as she resignedly settled him on her lap. "Pritty," he beamed up at her, all innocent wide jade eyes and wild silver hair.
Tsunade forgave him immediately. His parents, on the other hand, still had a lot of groveling to do. She caved into the urge to cuddle the little boy. After all, he was still cute and an exceptionally good flatterer.
So, whadd'ya think? Review to let me know! :) Any comment or critique (especially the latter) would be greatly appreciated. Also, this story is dedicated to those wonderful people who liked my other KakaSaku fic, namely: Goddess Pschye, JiraiyasGirl, Mateba, ShipperTrish, and TANick. Hopefully this story doesn't pale in comparison to the other.
Thanks for reading!