Authors Notes: The title of this story is a reference to the Hippocratic Oath, which is a set of rules on medical ethics that was (probably) written by Hippocrates and mostly has to do with the treatment of patients. I was inspired by an article I read in The New York Times about assaults on health care workers, and I thought it would be interesting to apply to Sakura.
It was supposed to be gen-fic, but then a passing thought that Kakashi being all protective and smitten would be cute hit me, and I couldn't stop that bit from being written, and now it's integral to the plot. Sigh. I'll write another Sakura gen-fic, I guess. I love KakaSaku though, so I'm not too upset. XD
I don't know how well in character these guys are (Sakura comes a bit from myself and Kakashi is hard to write), but hopefully they're not glaringly off. Please feel free to point out any improvements I can make.
Anyway, shutting up now. Enjoy!
But What Of The Physician, Hippocrates?
Kakashi liked to tell himself that he was the first person who noticed it. Having the Sharingan had its advantages, but he'd been keenly observant even before he'd gained this singular advantage. Besides, wasn't he the one always telling his students to look underneath the underneath? But if he was honest with himself—and he usually tried to be, although he was a shameless liar to everyone else—he would admit that the first person who really noticed was Sai.
It had been a mission of little significance, otherwise. It was a standard escort mission, and B-ranked only because the politician was involved with some delicate political negotiations between two of the lesser nations. Kakashi didn't bother finding out what those negotiations were—he didn't really have the patience for politics that didn't pertain to avoiding getting his ass kicked—but they'd seemed rather bland in comparison to what Fire had to deal with normally. Hell, the guy hadn't even been attacked. The mission was boring as sin, of course, but it paid the bills and Kakashi of all people knew when to take small measures of peace when he could get them.
The same could not be said for younger, less patient members of his team.
Naruto's mouth dropped open into an exaggerated yawn, and the first part of his statement was distorted in the back of his throat as he tried to speak through it. "Man, what a waste of a mission scroll." He curled his arms behind his head from his sprawled position in the ground and stomped his heel impatiently in the dirt. "That old woman did this on purpose. We're way better than this dumb mission, and she knows it."
Sakura twitched instinctively at Naruto's blatant disrespect for her master, and Kakashi recognized the coming explosion like he recognized his own hand. Best to nip that one in the bud before things got out of hand. "Hokage-sama—" he emphasized the honorific from behind his book—"probably didn't appreciate having to replace her desk," he observed placidly. "I told you you were pounding on it too hard."
Here he turned a page as Naruto's mouth opened and then shut sulkily when he couldn't come up with a good retort. Sakura's black mood lifted instantly—she had a hard time staying mad at Naruto anyway—and she gave him a grateful look. Kakashi tried very hard to ignore the fact that her small, appreciative smile seemed to cause a startled arrhythmia in his heartbeat.
He fought the sigh that threatened to slip out. This is getting ridiculous, he reminded himself sternly even as his blood pounded just a little bit louder than usual.
He almost missed Naruto's own frustrated huff. "It's just such a waste of our time. It's going to take us three days to get home," he whined petulantly.
Sakura rolled her eyes at her friend and stretched her arms above her head, her back arching off the tree she was sitting against (Kakashi stubbornly ignored the creeping urge that trickled up his back). "Well, you're not going to catch me complaining. It's nice to be out of the hospital for once."
There was a shift from the other side of camp as the last member of their group set down his drawing pad and pencil neatly in his lap. Kakashi didn't appear outwardly changed, but he was definitely paying attention now. Sai was usually content to remain on the edges of interaction between their team, but when he did it was hard to predict what might happen. Kakashi tried to prepare for any eventuality, but Sai's question took even him by surprise.
The artist stared at Sakura for a second before asking, "why do you dislike working at the hospital?"
Naruto stopped plucking at the grass around him and shot Sai a curious look, but Sakura looked absolutely baffled. She dropped her arms to the ground and gaped at their teammate. It took her several tries—opening and closing her mouth as she tried to find words—before she managed to stutter, "I-I… what?" She paused for a moment, and then seemed to breath her surprise back into herself. "I don't know what you mean. I like the hospital just fine."
Kakashi's eyes narrowed at this. On the surface, of course, nothing was odd about her statement. But the way she'd said it—so calm and flat, like she was reciting the rulebook—had Kakashi instantly suspicious.
"It doesn't seem that way," Sai commented speculatively. "You're very quick to anger at training after you've finished a shift."
"What's your basis for comparison? You're pretty much universally guaranteed to find a way to piss me off," she retorted waspishly.
Now she was being defensive. Kakashi laid his book face down on his knee, abandoning his pretense of disinterest. He smelled blood. Even Naruto sensed it, and the blond sat up to regard the interaction with a frown.
Sai plowed blithely on. "If we train after you have been working at the hospital, you are always in a much worse disposition than if you haven't. I read the word "grouchy" in a book once—it seems to accurately describe your demeanor. Your mood also seems greatly improved after you have been away for a while."
Sakura shifted nervously, because now all of her teammate's attentions were directed at her. She fixed Sai with a withering glare. "It's not an easy job and I have a lot of responsibility. I have to do incredibly complicated procedures all the time. I suppose you never considered that I might be stressed from trying to save people's lives," she snapped.
"I was merely asking a question, Ugly."
"Well, I like working at the hospital. There's nothing wrong with it. I love my job," she told him in a tone that clearly indicated that she thought the subject was closed. Sai nodded and shifted his attention from her, casting it about absently.
Kakashi hoped that would be the end of it, but of course he had forgotten Sai's complete and utter lack of tact. "I wonder what the cause could be, then?" the artist mused, as though working out a difficult puzzle. Oh, God, Kakashi thought. The boy did not know when to shut up. "It occurs too frequently to be related to your mens—"
"Sai," Kakashi warned at the same moment Naruto hissed "Shut up, you idiot!" Every alarm bell in the team leader's head was clanging as Sakura's eyes narrowed in calculated fury. If he had finished that sentence Kakashi was certain the landscape would immediately thereafter be decorated with Sai's imprint. And really. They were trying to maintain a low profile.
He was worried for a second that Sakura might still pound her teammate's ass, but after a tense moment her fists unclenched. She stood with cold dignity and grabbed her pack. "I'm going to go to the stream to wash up," she announced. She fixed them all with a glare that would probably have had lesser men quaking in their boots, pink hair or not. "Follow me and I'm going to remove something you'd prefer remained attached to your person." With that, she stalked out of the clearing, leaving them all to imagine exactly which body part she might choose to take.
Really. As though any of them would be stupid enough to follow her in such a black mood. And there were some fine examples of stupidity on Team Kakashi.
Kakashi was too busy contemplating what had been revealed to him during the previous conversation to notice how cute the self-righteous lengthening of her stride made her ass look.
Well, okay. Almost too busy to notice. But mostly he watched her because he was concerned and he was thinking. Yes.
Naruto turned to glare at Sai. "Great job. Now she's gonna be pissy the whole rest of the way home."
Sai, for his part, looked a little bewildered. "I was simply curious. I didn't know that she would react in such a manner."
"That's because you're a total dumb-ass."
Sai may have responded with an insult in kind, and Naruto may have begun yelling, but at that point Kakashi tuned them both out. He thought about what he'd learned.
First, something was up with Sakura.
Second, it had to do with her work at the hospital.
Third, (and this one was significant) she felt that she had to hide it from her teammates, to whom she usually went when she had a problem.
So no, Kakashi wasn't the first person to notice that something was wrong with Team Kakashi's sole kunoichi. But now that he had, he was going to get to the bottom of it.
A/N: Please let me know what you think :)