A/N: Well, here it is, my first JiraSaku. And it is turning into the world's longest one-shot haha. Actually it was so long I had to break it into two parts so here is part one.

As I said it is a JiraSaku with just a little wee bit of KakaSaku. It is not supposed to be a joke pairing, I seriously like this couple and I wanted to write a realistic fic about them, so I hope you enjoy.

And if you enjoy it PLEASE do review, because I honestly am not expecting much response for this because it is a very unappreciated pairing, and I would love to hear from anyone who does enjoy it.

Also, all Naruto characters within belong to Masashi Kishimoto.

Now on with the story.

Part One - A Series of Unfortunate Events

The burning Konoha sun hung low in the purple-blue sky.

A warm summer breeze lazily stroked the dust covered stone walls of houses that lined the narrow streets, and tickled the faces of laughing children as they raced to their mother's call for supper. The humble cottages in the distance shimmered in the heat waves still rising off the baking earth, and the red-orange light of the dying day blanketed the village below in an iridescent glow.

High on the earthen cliffs surrounding one side of the serene town, five immense stone faces watched over the citizens below, as they had all once done from the regal tower at the cliff's base - some long ago, some in times more recent. And as four of those five would never do again, though their spirits lived on high above, smiling down fondly and proudly over their progeny below.

Bordering the other side of the modest village was a vast expanse of the living green giants which gave the oasis town its name, 'the village hidden in the leaves'. And it was surely that, for the mass of abundant perennials nearly engulfed the hidden sanctuary, like an enormous lake of viridian green, undulating in the gentle breeze.

Suddenly, some of the great trees broke out of their gentle dance, as a strong gale forced its way through their masses and bucked and swayed their boughs. It broke free of the forest with a gasp and raced toward the village below, collecting dust and leaves on the way and carrying them with it on its back as it skimmed the ochre streets. It sent hanging clothes and curtains in a flurry as it raced past uncaring, then abruptly halted as it reached the cliffs, as half threw itself up the surface of the faces carved there and over the top, carrying on to places unknown; and the other half washed against the giant glass expanse of the window that dominated the upper portion of the great Hokage tower, where a tiny pink-crowned figure stood, peering out over the village below.

Sakura sighed with relief as she pressed her tired forehead to the cool glass that looked out over her peaceful town.

It had been a long day.

She had completed many long and taxing shifts at the hospital, and been sent on even more physically demanding, dangerous and lengthy missions in her twenty-two years, but this was something completely different.

She reluctantly pulled her face away from the glass, missing its soothing coolness against her skin almost immediately, and turned back to face the large, sparsely decorated room which was to be her temporary office for the next few days.

Her fiery shishou, and fifth Hokage of the proud shinobi village spread out beneath her, had been sent by the elders on official state business with their sister village Suna. It was a rare occurrence for any Hokage to leave their village and, understandably, Tsunade couldn't have got out of there quickly enough.

In fact, she had left a whole day early, giving the excuse that she wanted to make sure she got there in plenty of time as she wouldn't want to insult their allies by being late, and even stooping so low as to admit (very quietly, and only to Sakura of course) that she wasn't getting any younger and that she couldn't quite move like she used to you know. Sakura baulked at that, and, knowing how difficult it must have been for her shishou to admit anything detrimental about her true age - even if she was only trying to wile her way out of an extra day of work and probably only going early to get drunk anyway - was too stunned to protest and just let her leave.

So now, as the officially appointed Vice-Hokage, Sakura was in charge.

And she could never have been prepared for how difficult it was going to be.

She had spent the majority of her first day, as she frantically poured over scrolls and official looking documents, and debated how best to assign the 200 or so ninja that resided in the village to each and every mission that continued to pile higher and higher on her desk no matter how quickly she got through them, trying to figure out how the hell her lazy drunk of a sensei managed to do it.

She certainly couldn't figure out why on earth Naruto would ever want to do this full time, she had a feeling that if he knew the true extent of the Hokage's responsibilities he wouldn't be quite so keen. However it was inevitable that he was to eventually shoulder the immense responsibility one day, as after all these years Tsunade still held a soft spot for the loveable lout, who had impressed her all those years ago with his determined and unwavering spirit, when he and his then new sensei Jiraiya had tracked her down to offer her the position herself.

Sakura knew already that Tsunade had decided finally to make Naruto's lifelong dream come true and offer him the job as her successor, she was just waiting for the right time to announce it, and taking things slowly to gauge the possible reactions from the village elders at her proclaiming the vessel for the demon kyuubi - which had once threatened all that their village held dear - as their sixth Hokage.

Sakura was not in the least jealous and on the contrary was ecstatic for her long time friend. She had had many late night discussions with her shishou about her decision, as Tsunade had been adamant about offering Sakura the position first - since she had come to think of her as a surrogate daughter, and knew that her highly gifted apprentice who was so like herself would do the job justice - but Sakura had politely declined.

She had been given the job of Vice-Hokage because she knew the day to day runnings of the hospital and the Hokage's Administration inside out; as she was already head-medic and worked closely with Tsunade day in and out, and could therefore take over the role swiftly at a moment's notice without much ado.

But that was the extent of how far she was willing to go. She did not want the position of Hokage, and this one day's glimpse into the responsibilities of the title just solidified her decision. Naruto could have the job, and he was welcome to it.

She smiled fondly thinking of her excitable best friend. The past ten years of trials and tribulations, and the heavy burden of the loses of comrades, including his beloved first sensei Iruka who had been killed in the great ninja war of four years ago, had not faded his undying determination in the face of any adversity.

Even after their dear wayward friend and ex-team mate, whom they had tried so hard and for so many long years to bring back to his home safely, had fallen to his own fanatical desire for revenge in an all out battle with his psychotic older brother that had left both of them dead - thus ending the long and proud existence of the Uchiha clan – Naruto had somehow managed to pick himself up again. It had taken many months for both of them to get over the initial shock of course, and many a fond memory had been drowned at the bottom of a bottle of sake, but eventually with a lot of help from each other they had pulled themselves out of their intense depression, and had grown closer than ever to each other as a result.

She didn't get to see an awful lot of him these days though. He had progressed through the ranks of course, as had she, they had both finally made jounin, but while her skills and intelligence had kept her in the hospital and always close to home, the enormous power of the kyuubi inside of him combined with his determination in battle had seen him join the ANBU ranks, and meant he now spent a longer portion of his time away from Konoha on one mission or another.

And so it was that Sakura now felt quite alone in the world. Her parents had both been gone for some time now, and although she had many people - mostly other shinobi - that she considered friends, her long hours at the hospital meant that she didn't have a lot of time for socializing, and most days ended up just crashing out at her apartment after another exhausting day's work.

Which was exactly what she intended to do this evening. Her mood improved a little as she thought of sinking into a nice warm bubble bath and enjoying the small pleasure of a much deserved, not to mention large glass of red wine, and soaking the days worries away.

Unfortunately, judging by the still intimidating looking pile on her provisional desk, that wasn't about to happen any time soon.

She walked over to the large mirror that hung on the far wall. Sakura smirked as she remembered vividly the day Tsunade had moved in to the office and had insisted that the enormous looking-glass be hung immediately, by a very nervous looking Kotetsu and his ever present comrade Izumo. For all of her admirable qualities her shishou had one major flaw; she was incredibly vain - as was highlighted by the fact that she was in her mid fifties (no one but the fifth herself knew her exact age) and still didn't look a day older than twenty.

Sakura looked herself wearily over in the reflective glass. She was wearing a pale green yukata almost identical to the one Tsunade usually wore. Of course hers was distinctly smaller in the bust region, but Sakura was more than happy about that. Tsunade had had it made for her to her own measurements before she left, saying that she couldn't wear her usual medic uniform if she was going to be doing the duties of the Hokage. Sakura didn't mind, she found it quite comfortable actually, and wondered if she should get a few more made for her. The pale green went rather nicely with her pink hair. Not that she would have many occasions to wear one though.

Her long hair was all tied up in a high ponytail except for a few pale pink tresses which hung down either side framing her face. Where the ponytail was secured close to her head with a hair band was aching from the pressure of being bound tightly all day, and she tugged the tie from her hair, ruffled her hands through her silky locks and rubbed at her tired scalp.

She brought her hands out of her hair and dragged them down the sides of her face as she stared at her complexion in the mirror. Her naturally pale skin looked more pallid than usual and her face was drawn and tired looking. Her usually bright jade eyes were dulled and cloudy with fatigue.

She turned away from her unpleasing reflection, and walked back over to her temporary desk. She flopped herself down into her shishou's comfortable leather chair, closed her eyes and, with her elbows resting on their respective arm rests raised her hands to her pounding head and pressed her fingertips to her temples, allowing soothing green chakra to flow through them to relieve her over-worked brain.

She rested like that for a few minutes, allowing herself to recharge before she tackled her next task, and found that she could very easily just stay like that forever. In fact, she suddenly felt her head beginning to fall forward on to her chest and the blackness of sleep closing in around her as her fatigued body fought to shut her down to get the rest that it needed.

She had just finished arguing with herself that it would be ok to just rest here for a few moments, when a loud thud jolted her out of her tranquil state, and her head shot up and jade eyes snapped open to see through her sleep hazed vision an orange-clad blur tumbling into a crumpled heap on the floor at the foot of the now open side window.

"Owwww . . ."

She blinked hard several times before the prone figure of her now grumbling best friend came into focus. She rushed over to his side.

"Naruto! What on earth . . .?" She trailed off as she reached down to help haul him to his feet.

Naruto stood shakily, rubbing furiously at his now swelling forehead. "Sorry Sakura-chan. I was in such a hurry to get here . . . not much chakra left . . . exhausted . . . thought it was open . . . ahhghhh . . stupid window . . ."

He turned around and kicked the window closed angrily.

Sakura just shook her head and smiled at him incredulously. "How is it that after all these years you are still as much of a klutz as you were when we were twelve, hmm?" She crossed her arms over her chest and raised one eyebrow at him.

Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head and grinned at her endearingly.

"Eheh . . . It's not my fault! Honestly, that bloody Kakashi . . . he bet me three bottles of sake that he could get back to Konoha before me . . . and you know I can't turn down a challenge like that Sakura, well-"

"-So you agreed to it?"

"Yeah . . ."


She smacked him hard on the side of his head. "Missions are not the time for stupid bets between you and Kakashi! I swear to Kami you are getting as bad as Tsunade with your stupid gambles Naruto! I should beat the two of you to a bloody pulp for being so irresponsible, and, and, so reckless!"

Naruto cowered before her with his eyes clenched shut, fully expecting the beating that he had endured so many times before from his feisty team mate.

Sakura's face softened as she saw her friend flinching in front her. She reneged. "Well . . . I won't. This time."

He hesitantly opened his eyes to see her standing there looking at him with a cheeky grin on her face, her eyes full of warmth.

"Come here, you." She reached forward and pulled him into her embrace.

Naruto relaxed when he realized she wasn't going to hit him, and he squeezed her tightly, raising her tiny frame off the floor a little as he did so. "Oh, thank Kami for that. 'Cos I'm exhausted and I don't think I could handle any more of your beatings."

She giggled, and pressed her face into his broad shoulder and breathed in his familiar scent. "How have you been?" She spoke into his neck.

"Better now that I've seen you. How 'bout you?"

"Me too." She squeezed him more tightly. "I've missed you."

"Yeah, me too," he said quietly. "It's not fair we get to see so little of each other now."

"Hah! Don't worry, it won't be long before your dream will come true and you'll be Hokage. And then you'll see so much of me you'll be absolutely sick of the sight of me."

He set her back down on the floor and took a step back so that he could look at her properly. "I could never get sick of the sight of you." He looked at her intensely and she saw his face was set with seriousness.

She blushed, then smiled shyly and looked away. He had never admitted it to her, but she had a feeling his childhood crush on her had not faded with time as she had expected it to.

He reached up and gently brushed a silky strand of her pink hair back behind her ear. "Are you ok?" He considered her tired features as she looked back up at him. "You look pretty exhausted yourself."

She sighed. "Yeah, I'll be fine. I think I'm gonna call it a day soon anyway."

"Good. You work too hard Sakura-chan." He scolded her, as an idea came to him. "Hey, I'm having a few post-mission drinks with some of the Rookies tonight. You should come join us. It'd do you good to get out and socialise a bit."

Sakura smiled fondly at how they still referred to the old rookie nine as the "Rookies" after all these years, but then cringed inwardly as she realized from his last comment how painfully obvious her lack of a life must be to everyone she knew. "Oh, I don't know, Naruto, I kind of just want to go home to bed . . . it really has been a hell of a day."

"Oh come on Sakura-chan! We're going out to that new club that's opened just down from Ichiraku. It's the grand opening tonight so it'll be packed out, plenty of fresh young chuunin to feast your eyes on." He wiggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

"You mean plenty of fresh young kunoichi for you to feast your eyes on!" She emphasised by prodding him in the chest with her forefinger.

"Hey! Well sorry, can I help it if they're all drawn like moths to the flame to the future, amazingly-powerful, not to mention incredibly handsome sixth Hokage?" He smirked at her and she thought to herself, not for the first time, how true his little description of himself really was. Not that she would ever risk inflating his already swelling ego further by admitting that to him of course.

"Come on," He pleaded. "Say you'll come."

She thought for a moment to herself. She probably could use a few good stiff drinks after her taxing day, but the thought of going out on the town sort of turned her stomach.

She used to enjoy going out and having a few drinks and a dance, but that quickly got old when she realised that it always ended the same way. They would go out, and she would just be getting tipsy and relaxing and starting to have fun, when she would start getting hit on by every young, available (and some decidedly unavailable) guy in the vicinity.

At first she enjoyed all the attention. She did get rather lonely, and despite some people's opinions she craved physical intimacy as much as the next woman, so when she came across a man who seemed perfectly acceptable in every sense, she would ultimately end up back at his apartment or hers, with the intention of quenching that burning desire that had begun to nest within her.

But that was when the disappointment hit home. No matter how drunk she got, and no matter how heart-stoppingly gorgeous the man that she found herself with was, she had never found someone who could satisfy her. Never found someone who could make her ache with need from the top of her head all the way down to the very tips of her toes. Never found someone who could bring her to the brink of desire and then topple her head first over the edge.

She had never had an orgasm.

It had finally gotten to the point where she had had so many disappointing experiences that she had just given up trying. Yes, she was sick of the likes of Ino and Tenten going on and on about their latest amazing sexual escapades, and she diligently smiled and smirked and nodded in all the right places, and when they said, "You know what I'm talking about" she said, yes, she knew . . . but she really had absolutely no idea what they were talking about or just what was so damn wonderful about it.

So she had decided to put her heart and soul into her work, and, after night after lonely night with only herself for company had finally managed to convince herself that it was never going to happen for her and she wasn't really missing out on much anyway.

Still, some days she would walk through the streets and it seemed that everywhere she looked were couples holding hands, wives kissing their husbands goodbye as they left for work, or young lovers embracing in what they thought was a dark unnoticed corner, and she felt that pang of loneliness once again.

Sometimes it was almost enough to make her want to accept one of the numerous offers - from the few young men that she had been with - to start a relationship, and she would just have to bite the bullet and put up with the hurried, sometimes painful fumblings of inexperienced hands and mostly selfish intentions.

But no. She refused to settle for second best. She had grown into a proud young woman, and she would be damned if she would sacrifice that hard won pride for just the comfort of a man to call her own. She would rather die an old spinster than allow that to happen.

She offered her own consolation by telling herself that she didn't need a man to feel fulfilled. She wasn't like Ino. She didn't need some male to feel complete.

And besides, if she ever needed sexual satisfaction, she could always do it herself.

As her energetic best friend looked pleadingly at her in anticipation of her answer, she already knew what that would be. The answer was always the same.

"I'm sorry Naruto, not tonight." She saw the disappointment cross his face and she felt the need to offer an acceptable excuse, other than the fact that she 'just didn't want to'. "You know, I really should stay and get the rest of this paperwork done for Tsunade. It is my responsibility you know." Lies. She had absolutely no intention of staying.

Naruto's face fell, and she felt a small stone of guilt drop into her stomach. "But, I'll meet you for breakfast tomorrow morning, and we can catch up then, how's that?" She quickly added, wanting to see that sunny smile on his face once again.

He beamed at her. The guilt stone dissolved.

"Ok Sakura-chan! Better make it 10 o'clock though, because I know it's gonna be a rough night." He smirked at her slyly.

She rolled her eyes and turned to move back towards the crowded desk. "I'll see you at Ichiraku at ten then." She raised her hand in a stationary wave goodbye as Naruto moved back out of the same window he had collided with earlier.

"How did you guess!" She heard him yell back as he took off into the rapidly darkening evening.

Sakura walked around to the back of the large desk that sat before the main window overlooking her village and sighed loudly now that she was alone again. She flopped back down into her shishou's comfortable chair.

She eyed the intimidating pile of scrolls on the desk before her.

Well, might as well get at least some of this done before I go.

On impulse she closed her eyes and thrust her hand forward into the large heap waiting to be dealt with. She felt around for a while then grasped hold of the thinnest scroll she could find. Hopefully it would be a minor issue that could be dealt with swiftly. As in, with as little effort from her as possible.

She was beginning to see why her shishou tried to skive off constantly.

She opened her eyes and tugged open the scroll that she had plucked. Her keen jade eyes skimmed over the contents within.

Request for the assistance of Konoha shinobi from Daimyo Haruna of the Vegetable Country

Mission Rank: Expected to be C Rank, possibly up to A Rank but unlikely.

No. of Shinobi Required: 2. One Shinobi & accompanying Medic-nin.

Likely Duration of Mission: One week exactly. Required only for the period of the Flower Festival.

Mission Objectives:

Shinobi are required to spend the week at the Daimyo's Palace to offer bodyguard services to the Daimyo Haruna during the period of the Annual Flower Festival. Confrontation is unlikely, however as the Daimyo is exposed to the public for the entirety of the Festival and many foreign citizens will be present, preventative security measures are necessary. Shinobi are required to escort the Daimyo from her quarters each morning, protect the Daimyo at all times during the day's festivities then return the Daimyo safely to her room each night where the Daimyo's own guards shall keep the night watch, at which time the Konoha Shinobi shall be on call. Shinobi quarters shall be located in a close vicinity of the . . . yadayadayada . . . required to report any security weaknesses . . . blah blah blah . . .

"Jeez, where will I find a shinobi who wants to take on such a holiday mission?" She mused aloud.

"I'll take it."

Sakura squeaked in fright and her heart leapt in her chest as the smooth deep voice broke into her thoughts, and she spun around gasping and clutching her chest with the shock she had been given.

"Kakashi!" She stared up at her enigmatic ex-sensei, and she could see him smirking beneath his mask in amusement at her distress.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" she screeched at him as she saw the same window that Naruto had come through now swung wide open out of the corner of her eye. "Don't sneak up on people like that - you could've given me a heart attack!"

He chuckled quietly. "I'm sorry Sakura, but I thought I taught you to be a bit more perceptive than that," He stated in his usual slow, nonchalant manner, "I'm ashamed of my own teaching if you can't even detect a slow old man like me."

She snorted. "You? Slow? Yeah right. I won't argue with the old part though."

"Hey!" He feigned offence.

"You said it."

"Yeah, but you're supposed to stick up for your old sensei. After all those years of me being so good to you-"

"-Good to me?! You've got to be joking Kakashi. You basically ignored me the entire time!"

For some reason she couldn't fathom, Kakashi seemed hurt by her accusation.

He frowned slightly. "I didn't ignore you. It's just that you were my only normal student and you didn't need as much help." She saw him break into a cloth-covered grin. "I mean, come on, with the stress that Naruto and Sasuke were constantly causing me you were a sweet little blessing."

He gave her that familiar old eye-crinkle and she blushed slightly at his words. "Oh yeah? Nice save, Kakashi."

He raised an eyebrow at her and she suddenly got the feeling that he was scheming something. "Well, I know how I can make it up to you."

She narrowed her jade eyes at him questioningly. "Hn. How's that?"

"Well you see I've just been given this great mission in the Vegetable Country," Her shoulders relaxed and she looked at him at him impatiently with an unimpressed look on her face, "And I know the perfect sexy little pink-haired medic to take with me," She blushed again more fiercely and averted her eyes as he continued, "And I thought, with it being such an easy mission and all, why not mix a little business with pleasure have some fun at the same time?"

He had backed her against the desk as he spoke, and he now stood as close to her as he could get without actually touching her, with one hand planted on either side of her grasping the ledge of the desk.

Her mouth suddenly felt very dry, and her heart was hammering like a drill. She felt a strange tingle run through her body at having him so close, and speaking to her in that way. His voice was husky and low, and her stomach did flip flops when he spoke.

She already knew that he was only playing with her. This wasn't the first time he had spoken to her like this. They had become very close through all they had been through, and they were equals now, she was almost as close to him as she was to Naruto. In some ways more. And if they were to have a sexual relationship with one another no one would even bat an eyelid at them, they were both Jounin now, and since the war many of the old-fashioned ways of thinking had fallen by the wayside. Not to mention almost all of the Elders were gone now, and those who weren't were not far off. Tsunade was pretty much the be all and end all when it came to Konoha Law now, and everyone knew how liberal she was.

Still, she knew – at least in her own mind anyway – that that could never happen. It wasn't that she didn't think people would approve, or that Kakashi wouldn't want to (on the contrary, she had a feeling he would be more than happy to oblige), but she just couldn't get past the fact that he was once her sensei and he had known her since she was twelve and had been almost like a surrogate father to them all. Ok, so he wasn't quite old enough to feasibly be her father, but for some reason it still gave her the creeps to even consider having sex with Kakashi.

Not that she didn't think it would be good. Quite the opposite in fact. She knew that under that mask he was hiding the most knee-quiveringly gorgeous face she had ever seen in her life. She knew this because a few years ago they had gone on a mission together to deliver an important scroll to the Kazekage Gaara in Suna, and that night they had both gotten fall-down drunk in the local bar with Kankurou. Kakashi had really let himself go and eventually passed out in the hallway on the way back to their rooms. Of course he had forgotten that as a medic, Sakura had the ability to purge the alcohol from her system before the same happened to her, and so she had carried him the rest of the way and had been kindly tucking him into his bed when she had been overcome with the overwhelming desire to pull down his mask and finally get a look at the mysterious face that her team had made such a big deal over when they were younger.

So she did it.

When she pulled the last of the material down over his chin and had finally got a look at his face in its entirety for the first time she had almost passed out herself. She could now see why he hid it all the time. You could cause a lot of accidents with a face like that.

But she knew it wasn't only his looks that made her feel hot and explosive when he spoke to her in the manner which he was right now. Most of it was his maturity. He had seen so much more than her, lived much more life than her, and she couldn't help thinking that if she was to ever sleep with him, that he would make the boys that she had slept with seem like bumbling halfwits. It would be like comparing Egyptian silk and nylon.

Thinking along those lines she suddenly became very flustered at the position in which they were both standing right now, and her body's natural reaction was to turn away from him before she began blushing like a virgin in front of his intense gaze.

Of course, she didn't think her move through fully, and if she had she would have realised immediately that it was not her best idea.

For when she turned inside the circle of his arms to face the desk again her pert behind dragged inadvertently against the front of his trousers, and because of his proximity remained pressed firmly against his crotch when she stopped. Poor Kakashi couldn't help but let out a poorly-suppressed groan from the depths of his throat, and she heard it, no matter how hard he tried to hide it.

She blushed furiously and her whole face cringed up in humiliation as she simultaneously heard his sound of desire and realised in one horrific moment that he was desperately trying to prevent his rapidly approaching erection.

She was mortified.

But it was too late now. The damage had been done and she desperately looked for a way to cover up her embarrassment at the situation, and to not let on to Kakashi that she was really still just a naïve young woman who was in over her head.

She decided her best bet was to play along, and to pretend that it had been her intention all along to toy with him like this. She pressed herself harder against him and turned her face to the side to look back at him from hooded eyes beneath smouldering lashes.

"So, you want that mission do you?" She purred at him huskily. "And just what are you going to do for me in exchange?"

She almost laughed out loud and broke her façade as she saw his eyes widen and his prominent larynx bob up and down beneath his mask as he swallowed.

Within seconds though the small look of surprise had vanished and he had regained his usual arrogant confidence. There seemed something darker in his eyes now though, and although she wasn't sure what it was, it frightened her.

"What do you want me to do for you, Sakura?" His voice was thick and laced with intent.

Sakura's heart beat frantically in her chest. This had gone far enough. She needed to stop this before she really did get out of her depth.

She spun around quickly and pushed him back away from her with her hands on his chest. The surprise returned to his face as he saw her expression harden into her customary 'scolding face', and he suddenly knew he was in for a telling off of some description.

"You could start by giving me the three bottles of sake you bet Naruto for racing you back to Konoha!"

He cringed. So that big-mouthed idiot had been here already.

"Yes, Kakashi, he was here not 10 minutes ago telling me all about your little bet. So I guess you lost huh?"

"Actually I've been back for half an hour. But this huge bird flew down in my path and-"

"Oh shut up. Don't you think I've heard enough of your lame excuses over the years to know how full of shit you are? I bet you were just sitting under some tree reading Icha Icha."

He smiled. She knew him too well.

"Of course I was. I waited just inside the gates so I could rub it in Naruto's face when he finally got here, but the dobe must have crossed the wall somewhere else."

"Well, I guess it won't cost you then. You can just hand your winnings straight over to me, and we've got ourselves a deal. You can have the mission."

His one visible eye crinkled as he smiled, and his whole body seemed to relax at the thought of his new assignment, their previous tête-à-tête all but forgotten.

She frowned at him. "What do you want this one so badly for anyway? It's not like you to want to take on such a low-ranked mission."

"Are you kidding? Have you seen the fee they're paying?"

She picked up the scroll from the desk behind her and scanned down the page to where he was now indicating with his finger.

Mission Fee Payable: 10 Ryo

Her eyebrows raised in surprise and she looked back up at him.

"Five Ryo each? That's equivalent to two whole weeks doing hard labour. Getting paid that much to read Icha Icha all day in a beautiful, peaceful country on a mission that even a complete moron couldn't screw up is my idea of heaven, thank you very much."

She smiled and shook her head at him incredulously. Trust Kakashi to find a way to get a paid vacation.

"Very well then." She turned to the desk, picked up her pen and wrote Kakashi's name in the first line of the Shinobi Delegation box stamped onto the mission scroll. She then picked up the official seal of the Hokage and stamped it firmly at the bottom, signing her name over it after the ink had dried. She looked back up to the second line where the name of the accompanying medic was required.

"Who do you want to take as your medic?"

"I told you," He grinned at her, "You."

She shook her head at him. "You know I can't. I have no idea how long Tsunade is going to be. Knowing her she'll skive off as long as she can, and I'll still be stuck here with this mess in another week." She indicated to the mountain of scrolls before them. "And your mission starts tomorrow morning."

"Oh." She had a feeling that if she could see under his mask he would be pouting. Then suddenly his eye crinkled again. "Ok, how about that cute little blonde chuunin medic then, you know, the one who wears her skirt a whole three inches higher than-"

"-I don't think so Kakashi." she interrupted sternly. "There's no way in hell I'm sending some poor unsuspecting kunoichi on an easy mission in whole other country - where you will have way too much time on your hands - to be corrupted by the likes of you."

"See, now you're giving me ideas. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind"

"I'm sending a male medic, Kakashi and that's final." She ignored his loud sigh of disapproval. "Now that that's taken care of, aren't you supposed to be giving me your report of your last mission?"

"Well see that's what I came to talk to you about." She narrowed her eyes suspiciously at him and had a good idea of what was coming next. "See, I'm really beat after racing Naruto back and all, and I was wondering if it would be ok if I gave you my report in the morning?" He looked at her pleadingly with one puppy dog eye.

It was her turn to sigh. "Fine. But I want that report before you leave for Vegetable Country, Kakashi." She couldn't be bothered arguing with him anyway.

"Thanks, Sakura. I knew you were my favourite student for a reason." He winked at her.

She snorted cynically as he moved back toward the window. "Yeah, right."

He smiled back at her and raised his hand goodbye as he stepped through the window.

"Tomorrow morning Kakashi, I mean it!" She yelled after him.

She turned back to face the large room shaking her head to herself. She was all at once relieved and disappointed that Kakashi had gone.

What was it about her ex-sensei that made her feel a strange excitement whenever he was around her? As a medic she was more than aware that her heartbeat had been slightly elevated from normal the entire time Kakashi was in her office, and she realised her palms felt sweaty and hot. In fact, as she paid more attention to her physical state, her whole body's temperature was higher than usual.

She tried to block it out of her mind as she turned back to face the desk that was almost buckling with the burgeoning weight of the scrolls atop it.

Her shoulders fell as she looked at it. With all these interruptions there was no way she was going to get through all of this. Kakashi's visit had perked her up a bit though, and she now decided once and for all that she was going to call it a day. She needed a drink to drown out the sick thoughts about her ex-sensei. Badly.

She suddenly remembered that Tsunade had several bottles of various alcoholic beverages stashed around her office for if ever Shizune was being too stingy with the liquor dispensation, which was very frequently. In fact, Sakura knew for certain that there was a bottle of her favourite wine around here somewhere, as she had given it to her shishou one night to hide when she was younger and her father had shown up at her work unexpectedly when she had planned a night out with the girls. Her clueless father had thought that meant a slumber party or something and had come by on her equally clueless mother's insistence with a package to give to Ino's mother. Tsunade had told her later the bottle was stashed in the cupboard somewhere for her, as she wouldn't touch the stuff - not hard enough for her she said - and Sakura had never gotten around to fetching it back.

So . . .

If I were a bottle of delicious ruby red wine, where would I hide?

She scanned the room with her hands on her slim hips, and stopped when she saw the large main cupboards on the left side of the room.


She strode over to the double-door closet, pulled both doors open and began her treasure hunt. She searched over the document strewn shelves in her immediate line of vision briefly before abandoning that and rising on her tiptoes to rummage through the junk lining the highest ledge.

She huffed as her vertically challenged body impeded her search, and she lowered herself back onto the flat of her feet. She looked down at the floor of the closet where several large crap-filled boxes littered the floor. Tsunade was clearly a closet-hoarder. Literally.

She sighed and crouched forward thrusting her head and upper body deep into the dark confines of the spacious closet while her pale-green clad backside poked proudly into the air like a peacock's tail. It bobbed around in the air as she continued her frantic search through the numerous boxes.

She pulled random oddities from the box she was currently occupied with, setting them to the side to reduce the clutter so she could actually see its contents.

One broken lamp. Sakura raised an eyebrow and placed it in a half filled box to her left. One Leo mug with missing handle. She now raised both eyebrows and laughed. It had a cheesy cartoon picture of a dancing Lion on it. From the looks of it Tsunade had probably thrown it in here when some idiot had given it to her as a birthday present. She chucked it in the box with the lamp. She picked up a crumpled piece of paper and spread it open to see what it was. "Uhh. . ." One fine from the Konoha Police Station for operating a horse and cart under the influence. Unpaid. She giggled. It looked about ten years old, but nevertheless Sakura placed it on the next shelf up with the other neglected paperwork stashed there. She looked back into the box she was working on which was now decidedly less cluttered.

Her eyebrows knitted together in frustration when she couldn't see a wine bottle amongst the few remains, however . . .

She could see a rather large, shiny silver case at the very bottom of the box. She brushed the scattered playing cards and poker chips from the top of it, and tried to lift it out. She didn't charge her efforts with chakra though and she discovered that whatever it was, it was extremely heavy.

She decided to leave it where it was and instead looked to the front of the case and was pleased to find that the latch was unlocked.

She hauled the lid up and threw it back to fall against the rear of the box.

Her eyes lit up as she revealed the case's secrets.

There before her was Tsunade's own private alcohol stash.

Sakura couldn't believe how much booze was in there, Tsunade had either quit drinking (which she doubted very much) or she was topping this stash up very regularly. She could see several bottles of almost every type of liquor she could imagine. Only the hard stuff though, of course. There must have been about twenty five bottles in total.

And there beneath a very large bottle of gin Sakura could just see a narrow strip of the edge of the familiar label of her favourite bottle of wine.

Her eyes lit up in delight as she stretched forward to pull her bottle from its stuffy confines, and she had just clasped her fingers around the neck and pulled it to the top of the box, when she felt the decidedly unfamiliar feeling of a large hand groping her rear.

Sakura held her breath and froze for half a second as at the same time a husky voice broke through the quiet of the office.

"Hey sexy, how bout we go get drunk and play strip poker?"

Before the full sentence was even out of the perpetrator's mouth however Sakura was letting out a blood curdling scream as her head snapped back up, before her scream was cut off abruptly as she smacked her head hard on the shelf above her.

She spun around now rubbing her head furiously to face two wide surprised eyes plastered on an equally perplexed face surrounded by a shock of white hair.

Her body relaxed as she recognised Naruto's ex-sensei and legendary Toad-Sage, Jiraiya.

The shocked expression didn't leave his face as he looked her over. "You're not Tsunade . . ." He stated slowly in utter confusion as he looked around the office suspiciously.

"Clearly," she spat as she straightened and smoothed down her yukata. Across the room she saw the same window that Naruto and Kakashi had come through flung open yet again and she rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Doesn't anyone around here use the door like a normal person?!" She cried.

He cowered a little at her reaction. "I'm sorry, Sakura, I was expecting Tsunade, that's all. And when I saw that glorious ass poking out of the closet in the exact same yukata Tsunade usually wears I thought-"

"-I understand, it's quite alright, Jiraiya-sama." She interrupted, wanting to quickly cut off any further embarrassing appraisals of her physique. "I'm sorry for snapping at you, it's just been a long day, that's all." She finally remembered her manners.

"So, where is the old dragon anyway? I hardly ever see her out of this place anymore, I was beginning to think she was riveted to the floor."

"In Suna, on official Hokage business, she said she should only be a couple of days."

"Hah! That means a week at least, kid. Better get comfortable."

Sakura's face fell, and he felt a bit guilty for crushing any illusions she had that her ordeal would be over and done with quickly. "Hey, don't worry about it. I might be wrong. Maybe she's changed. What would an old coot like me know anyway?"

Somehow that didn't cheer Sakura up very much. If anyone knew Tsunade it was Jiraiya. They had known each other their whole lives after all. And that was a long time.

Jiraiya saw she was not convinced and he decided a change of subject was in order.

He eyed the bottle she was clasping appraisingly. "A woman after my own heart!" He grinned broadly at her as he placed his hand on her shoulder and began directing her back towards Tsunade's desk.

"Well, since I came here to get drunk with Tsunade, and the old battleaxe isn't even here, what do you say you join me for a drink?" He stood in front of the desk picking up random scrolls and scanning them over before tossing them back and picking up another one as he spoke. "We can go somewhere quiet where we can just talk and drink. Nowhere rowdy, I promise."

Sakura looked him over. She had always liked Jiraiya. Even though all anyone ever said about him was that he was Konoha's biggest pervert, and Naruto's own nickname for him was 'The Pervy Sage' she knew that he was really harmless. In all of her past experiences with him she had realised that he was like a gentle giant. He was such a big, strong, imposing man, yet he wouldn't hurt a fly unless said fly threatened something or someone that he held dear. He was quite like Naruto really, and she could see why Naruto and his ex-sensei had gotten on so well.

She considered his invitation. Why not? She really needed a drink, and if she turned him down all she was going to do was go home and drink on her own anyway, and how sad was that? At least this way she would have some company, and it might be nice to sit quietly and converse with someone new for a change who wasn't just looking to get into her panties.

She saw him look back at her sideways over his shoulder as he waited patiently for her response.

She made up her mind.

"Sure, why not?"

He dropped the scroll he was currently holding and turned to face her grinning like a little boy at Christmas.

"I'm afraid I might not be as good a drinking buddy as Tsunade, however." She informed him pre-emptively, not wanting to disappoint him later.

He held out his hand indicating to the bottle of wine she was holding. She passed it to him and he tucked it into the giant scroll on his back as they both turned and made their way toward the open window. "Well, just between you and me, the truth is I don't drink all that much either. I just pretend to keep up with her till she gets so drunk she doesn't even notice that I'm way behind her." He winked at her as he stepped up onto the window ledge and stood there with his back pressed hard against the side.

She giggled at his admission, and he leaned forward and offered her his hand to help her up onto the ledge.

She blushed as she slipped her dainty hand into his large warm one and he assisted her up. She wasn't used to such decorousness and propriety, especially as a kunoichi. Men tended to treat them as one of the boys, for fear of offending them, but she found it was rather nice to be treated like a lady for once.

He followed her through the window shutting it behind him, and they both leapt from ledge to ledge as they made their way to the ground at the base of the great tower. Jiraiya was first to reach the bottom and seconds later Sakura dropped silently and gracefully next to him.

She glanced up at him as he beamed his big cheeky grin down at her, then he raised his large elbow to his side regally holding it out for her to slip her hand through.

Again she blushed at his decorum.

She shyly slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow and they proceeded down the lamp-lit street towards the busier night region of Konoha. She was glad it was relatively dark because she felt like she had a silly grin plastered on her face.

He felt so warm next to her, and even though she didn't know him all that well she felt very comfortable in his presence. Her heart was beating a little faster again and she felt the thrill of doing something new and exciting. She had almost forgotten what that felt like.

She didn't think she would need much alcohol, she already felt giddy. She smiled into the rapidly cooling Konoha air against her face as she felt the building excitement of the unknown, approaching in the night to come.

End of Part One

A/N: Well I know there wasn't much JiraSaku in this first part, but I felt like this was the best place to end it, also part 2 will be entirely JiraSaku anyway, and I needed all the build up to make it more realistic when I get to the lemon!!

So I hope you are enjoying it so far, and if you are or even if you aren't please review, as I said I would really like to hear any and all opinions of how you think I am going with this fic. Part two shouldn't be far away!!