I know this oneshot is going to be weird to read, but bear with me. If no one understands the order – well, it's complicated. The first and fourth sections are connected, and they're the only two that are. The second and fifth are in the past, and the rest of the fic is more present. Also, the tenses are weird, but I kind of just did what sounded best, in my head.
Of course, the real explanation is a lot more complicated and long, so if anyone's confused, I'll be happy to clear it up.
So enjoy the fic, because this pairing needs more love.
For the blanket, who prompted me to write this. Her prompts were: champagne bubbles; so surround yourself with anomalies; faded pictures on glass walls; three steps after the end; and so, this is the after; flashing lights and masquerades; and monochrome in December, if you're curious. I quite like how they came out.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything someone else does.
"I'm Kakashi," he said, and he took her breath away.
And then he took her heart.
And then her life.
Take it all.
Her lip gloss kept smearing, sticking to the rim of her champagne glass.
Kurenai set down her glass with a sigh and stood up, pretending she didn't feel Kakashi's gaze on her as she walked away from the table, not bothering with an excuse. She couldn't resist the extra swing in her hips, however. There was something exhilarating about having a lazy (but so fire-hot-intense) gaze on your retreating form, knowing what he was thinking.
He was always such an enigma.
She didn't even make it to the door of the restroom before he caught her—and it isn't really catching up to her, because he's so far ahead, always, and it's ridiculous when she tries so hard to be mature because it isn't working. (When will you learn, Kurenai?)—and he was holding her hand and pulling her back, and saying so dispassionately, into the curve of her shoulder, "Well, if you're already going to re-touch your make-up…" and then he pulled her into a shadowed corner of pleasure and misery and she couldn't ever explain how much she welcomed it, even when she was left broken and alone.
Asuma was her first love (No, Kakashi says, looking at her and looking through her, He was your second.) (Shut up, she says.) and he was right. He brought her flowers and blushed around her before they became a them and when he put his arm around her, he fit just right.
But there were times when, waiting for Asuma at his office, or outside her house, Kakashi would appear, as if summoned, looking as if he hadn't a care in the world – but he did (and it was her.) – and he would strike up conversation. ("How're you doing, Kurenai?") (too formal.) (now he's overstepped all boundaries.)
But she knew, even then, that Asuma wasn't Kakashi, the way she wasn't the girls that hung off his arms, the way that the way she loved him wasn't the way any girl should have to love.
When Asuma left her alone, she cried and raged and hurt and broke and Kakashi appeared (as if summoned), to touch her shoulder.
"Stop it," he breathed into her mouth, breathing life and some return for years well-wasted and God, her heart burned.
He wore a mask and she always wondered why. "I'm too good-looking to be seen by the human eye," he told her when she tried to pull it off, but she couldn't kiss him through cloth, so he didn't let her kiss him at all, but he pulled at the shoulder of her shirt and trailed his fingers against it, the intimacy shocking her to the core.
("Could I love you?") ("I know you do.)
Every day is a masquerade, she writes, her y's looping at the ends. But not in the festive sense. There are no flashing lights, there are only sleepless nights.
Kakashi comes up behind her, and she flips the paper over (not casually enough), but he doesn't even look twice at her, only stretches, leans over her and says, "There's a party tonight. Will I see you there?"
His gaze is lazy, uncaring (no, it's not), and sets her on fire, so she forgets her responsibilities, the bags under her eyes, and says, "Maybe."
(Can't look too eager now, even if she is.)
And he smiles her behind his disguise – Masquerade! – "Do me a favor." (Anything.) "Wear red." And he straightens, saunters off without a backwards glance, already another prettylittledame has caught his eye, and she stabs at her paper, ink blotting in angry black stains.
Red is passion, but passion never became me.
Her first act of defiance, and she wears black.
(Kakashi wears a red tie.)
(She pretends to not notice, and he doesn't point it out to her.)
When she came back to the table, he was chatting up another girl, but she didn't tell him that he made her heart hurt, so he didn't know.
("Look underneath the underneath," he always said.)
"Where have you been, Kurenai?" Anko asked, and even though she was distracted in the next moment, Kurenai answered for him.
(hurts, doesn't it.)
Kakashi didn't even look at her.
She rips his photographs every time she sees him with another woman, every time she sees him not seeing her. She tears down the pictures from her fragile glass walls and her fragile glass heart and somehow, somehow, he always finds her there, stopping the last picture from being torn down, puts his arm around her.
He breathes into her so she can't tell him to stop, and she kisses back, that much harder, pulls down his mask before he can stop her, but he doesn't notice, and she takes pride in it because she's returning the favor—Do I do things to your heart, Kakashi?—and he can't stop her now, because she's the one leading. And the picture stays, and she adds new ones, and she tears them down again, and again he's there, so the picture never really leaves, but it fades, like the hurt and love and everything fades. All that's left is him.
(And his breathing.)
The night was coming to a close, and she made it exactly three steps out the door when he caught her by the wrist.
"This comes before the declaration of love."
"You watch too many movies, Kurenai."
"You're not letting me go."
"You don't want me to."
"No." Her breath came out in little puffs before her. Winter was coming. "I don't. I want you to kiss me, right now. I want you to hold me and tell me you love me and—"
Kakashi let go of her hand. When she looked back at him, he was slipping back inside, leaving her out in the cold.
(I hate you.)
She tore down the last picture.
It's December 31st, a special day, and Kurenai is wearing black again. Her hair is black, her dress is black, her necklace is white. Pearls, so unfitting of her bare shoulders and stiletto heels.
(Today, she's monochrome.)
She refuses to speak to Kakashi, has refused him for months. Does he care? Probably not—But she's still hoping, stupid girl, stop hoping.
He's here. He's sitting at her table, and she curses Gai again for bringing her here.
"Long time no see, Kurenai," he says, waits for a response.
She gives it to him. (WHY?) "I've been busy."
"You're not returning my calls," he points out in front of a table full of people they both know.
She doesn't give him a reply.
And the countdown begins.
(Who will break first? Not me again.)
"Why are you ignoring me, Kurenai?"
He puts his hands on her hips, pulls her to him even though they don't fit together. (I hate symbolism, she decides bitterly.) But she sinks into him anyways, hooks a finger into his collar to pull him closer.
(Look me in the eyes and tell me I'm ignoring you.)
"Why are you so angry?"
"Because you don't want me."
He laughs, like she's being funny.
"If there's anything I want, Kurenai, it's you."
Even though it's not what she wants to hear, she'll take it, because how long has it been? (too long) And their last seconds blur together, because he's already whispering the New Year into her mouth, her skin, her senses.
This is what she's needed, and he knows this, she knows, because he slips a finger down the slope of her neck, and feels her pulse thrum.
(And then he pulls away, looking almost-afraid.)
That was how they ended. Kakashi got too close, Kurenai got too open, and neither could handle it.
She once thought there was something romantic about tragic love stories, but now she sees beneath that false glamour.
There is nothing beautiful about the After, which is always lonely and cold, sitting by herself at a party, examining the bubbles in her champagne and looking like Heartbreak.
Kakashi sits beside her.
(pause, but brief.)
"I need to talk to you."
"Can you think of someplace better?"
"I don't want to be alone with you, Kakashi."
He leans back casually in his seat, arms crossed loosely over his chest. She's stiff beside him, unmoving. (He belongs here, she doesn't.)
(But this is their domain.)
"Fine, Kurenai. Have it your way." He shrugs, like he doesn't-really-care, but takes a sip of champagne (where her lip gloss smeared). "How have you been?"
"Cut the crap, Kakashi."
Her voice is hard, her words stingingly harsh, but she doesn't care. If she drops her guard, he will swoop in and kiss her and make her and break her again, and she's not letting him.
(It was her New Year's resolution.)
"What do you want?"
"I want what every man wants," he says, not looking at her. "What do you want?"
"Where do we stand?"
Kakashi looks at her, long and slow and thoughtful. "At opposite ends of the world."
This is the After.
"Leave me alone, Kakashi."
And she wants no part of it.
Theirs isn't a dramatic climax. There are no fights or arguments. He doesn't stop looking at her, and she doesn't stop talking to him. But they are different, and everyone sees the subtle shift, even if only two people can pinpoint it.
He's still meeting new women, and she's still drinking champagne (leaving sticky stains on the rim of her glass), and he still holds her like he means it, but she still won't kiss him.
("The mask stays up," she says firmly.)
But she doesn't know how long she will last, aching and hollow and missing him, even if she doesn't want to admit it—ILoveYouILoveYouILoveYou. ("Stop it, Kurenai.")
She leaves, because she's about to need a fresh coat of eye make-up, and when she finds the ladies', he's there, waiting again, arms crossed over his chest, tension barely-hidden under a rumpled shirt.
Her heart is in her throat, and she's squeezing it, so she can't speak, only nod, and try to brush past him.
"Listen to me, Kurenai."
She doesn't, and she pulls away, heads for safety. But he follows her in (not really one for rules). It's empty, thankfully and suspiciously, but she's too busy trying to figure out where to run, when he pushes her onto the couch by the sinks (Such a fancy place, she thinks absently.), and pulls down his mask so he looks bare and tired and just like her.
She touches the straight, grim line of his mouth before she thinks to stop herself.
Kakashi runs his fingers through her hair, leaning her back against the arm of the couch. "I miss you."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do." He sounds frustrated. "I know I shouldn't. But I do. I want you to come back."
(I want you to let me kiss you again.)
"I'm not the one that ran away," she reminds him, voice uneven. She doesn't want to come back to the never-ending circle of hell.
Kakashi doesn't say anything. Finally he laughs, one short breath. "You're right."
She waits for him to go on, but he doesn't. He waits for her to cut in, so she does.
"You hurt me," she says for the first time.
Kakashi looks at her (long and slow and thoughtful). "I know."
It's a step towards healing, but she won't give in so easily, but she breathes into him for a heartbeat.
(Still love you.)
And then she is gone.
"I'm getting better," she told him. "I don't need you."
"But you can't kiss me, not just yet."
"And you can't have my heart."
This part's mine.