I felt the urge to post something. I know I should have been working on homework (one week into my first semester going back to college for my masters and i'm already slacking off) and not on fanfics but maybe, in an attempt to avoid homework, I'll actually be able to start writing again after months of writers block. I'm not sure if that's good or bad considering what I'm paying for these classes…

But anyway, I see 3 chaps with a lemon. I'm warning you now, there will be adult content in the last chap but this part is relatively clean.

The fingers of Sakura's left hand drummed the countertop while her right doodled with a pen on a blank medical chart. While it was good no one was injured seriously enough to need medical attention today, the lack of patients visiting the clinic left Sakura bored out of her mind. She could be studying new jutsus or catching up on her reading, but she just didn't feel like it. No matter how hard she tried, her mind kept returning to Kakashi. As her mind wandered, her hand started filling in all the little spaces between words with red ink.

Kakashi had been on a mission for three weeks and as of today, he was two days overdue. It wasn't like it was a terribly risky mission, ranked as a low A class, and it definitely wasn't out of the ordinary for him to be late, even from a mission, but it still had her worried. Sometimes she felt that was what she did best: worry.

Sakura, the worrying kunoichi.

She worried about all her friends when they were on missions - she couldn't help it. As the Hokage's student, she had access to a number of the mission files that weren't classified top secret. She knew of the dangers they faced and on higher ranked missions, if they didn't have a good medic on their team, it greatly reduced the chance of survival. She worried the most about her teammates when they went on solo or team missions without her; Naruto, Sasuke, Sai, Yamato. And, of course, Kakashi. Out of everyone she knew, he was probably the most adaptable and competent ninja, yet his devotion to his teammates and his village caused him to occasionally risk his life unnecessarily, making him the one that scared her the most. Well, that and…

No, she really had to stop thinking about him.

She hadn't been able to get the man out of her head for the past year; what made her think she could do so now? Maybe because she'd poured her heart out to him and he'd thrown it into the dirt at her feet.

Okay, maybe she was exaggerating a little. He hadn't been malicious about it. She had merely admitted she had a crush on him and he…

3 weeks ago

Sakura stood on the bridge, leaning on the handrail and watching the stream flowing underneath her. She had a fistful of leaves in her hand and slowly dropped them into the water one by one and watched as they floated away out of sight. It had been a really long day at the hospital and she really should be getting home because tomorrow promised to be just as long, but the moving water had her mesmerized. It was so pretty and calm, only disturbed by the occasional large rock.

Until a few minutes ago, she'd been at the bar, dragged there by Ino with the declaration she needed to get out more. She'd had a perfectly good reason not to want to go; she was tired of seeing all her friends out with their significant others. It only reinforced to her that she could never have the man she wanted to be with. And most likely, he would be at the same bar Ino insisted on going to. She always planned things like that.

Sakura had had this crush on Kakashi, her former teacher, for more than a year now and while she continuously tried to stop herself from thinking about him romantically (or lustfully), it didn't quite seem to work. They'd been friends for a few years, no longer student and teacher, but team leader and team member or fellow jounins, whatever you wanted to call it, and according to Ino, they flirted quite a bit. But Sakura had never seen it as flirting, it was more like teasing or merely sharp, quick comments exchanged between good friends and she was certain it had no meaning to him.

Ino, of course, disagreed. This evening, Sakura had, yet again, been on the receiving end of the "You have to tell him" lecture. For added enjoyment and/or torture, Ino had also thrown in some of the "Shinobi must live for the day" speech as well. If nothing else, Sakura was ready to broach the subject with Kakashi if it would just shut her friend up. Almost.

It wasn't that Kakashi was dating someone else; actually she'd never seen him with a real girlfriend. He seemed to be more of the type for a one night stand – god knows he never had a shortage of women watching and following him wherever he went. It was that he was out of her reach, something she wanted but could never quite touch.

And god did she want him. His every movement during sparring practices or missions, made her think of sex. Watching his lithe form bend and stretch and his graceful actions during a fight left her practically drooling. When she was close to him, like when she sat by him at the bar or walked next to him, his scent was intoxicating. It wasn't as if he wore cologne – no ninja would intentionally wear a scent that might give them away – it was the clear, clean scent of him with just a touch of the soap he used. And she loved it.

Even when not around him, her inner personality would imagine what he would say when strange things happened around her (and they always did), the quick humorous comment to make her smile or just a raised eyebrow. They'd been on so many missions together recently; it felt a little lonely to not have him around.

Sakura sighed, dropping another leaf from her hand and watching it float downstream. She could already guess what his answer would be, and she felt she could handle the rejection – in fact, it might just make her feel better to be told straight to her face that he didn't see her that way. What she was afraid of was ruining their comfortable friendship.

She felt at ease with Kakashi in a way unlike anyone else. He was a shoulder to lean on when a patient died, or a lap to rest her head on when exhausted from training. She'd go bother him when she was hungry and wanted some company to grab a bite to eat with. When he returned injured from a mission and came to her for healing, oftentimes he would fix her dinner in thanks. She liked sparing with him; he was fast and smart and was always willing to give advice when asked. She didn't want any of these things to change just because she told him she had a crush on him.

Maybe telling him flat out wouldn't be the best method. Except, he was The Copy Ninja, after all. He could fight several opponents at the same time while he thumbed through his favorite dirty novel. He had to be one of the most observant people she knew, surely if she changed her behavior slightly, he would notice and figure it out on his own.

Like he's noticed the changes in her during the past year? If he was so observant why hadn't he noticed how different she'd acted around him recently? She knew that, while unintentional, her behavior had changed and she just wasn't a good enough actress to fool Kakashi.

Maybe he had noticed but didn't want to embarrass her by saying anything unless she came on to him.

Besides, what made her think she was even his type? Why would he want a girl so much younger than himself? Especially when there always seemed to be beautiful women practically throwing themselves at his feet. Women who didn't want a long-term relationship with him or to have their loving affections returned.

Damn it. This was so complicated and the bottle or two of sake she'd emptied at the bar hadn't helped her clear her thoughts. She really shouldn't make any rash decisions like telling him how she felt before sobering up a little.

Eyes watching as the leaf she'd dropped float away, she thought about seeing him at the bar earlier. She'd been most of the way through her second bottle of sake before, to both her combined sorrow and joy, he showed up with Genma. Mmmm… Kakashi had looked so good earlier tonight, good enough to eat and just thinking about him almost made her moan out loud.

What would he have done if she had gone up to him and licked the visible part of his face? That would definitely be one of the more interesting ways to tell him she wanted him. Now she was giggling a little, imagining the surprised expression on his face.

"So what are you doing here, Sakura, and is there some reason you're laughing out here all alone?" Kakashi's voice startled her and she whipped her head around to look at the man now standing next to her.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people like that!" she scolded him. "I could have had a heart attack."

"You're a leaf kunoichi so you should have noticed me earlier and you're only 23, Sakura. I don't think surprise could give someone as healthy as you a heart attack at 23."

"And who's the medic here?"

"I bow to your superior knowledge, oh great and wise Dr. Haruno." He tipped his head in a small gesture of his subservience.

"That's more like it." She said with a satisfied grin.

"So what brings you out here? You weren't chased away by Genma hitting on you again, were you?"

"No, I can handle Genma. The day I can't brush him off is the day I'm no longer able to call myself Tsunade-shishou's apprentice."

"Well, Genma is known for being incredibly dense when it comes to hitting on women. How many walls have you punched him through for his rude comments and unwanted advances?"

"Let's see… fourteen walls… nine trees… and more than a dozen doors… Oh, and a few windows, too."

"Well, I'm glad it wasn't us who ran you off."

"No, it wasn't you. I'm just cooling off. I think I might have had a drink or two too many." She snuck a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. The moonlight made his hair gleam, giving it the appearance of spun silver threads. He was hunched over like she was, his upper body resting on the wooden rail with one arm folded under his chest and the other hanging down over the water, his gaze on his own fistful of leaves.

"Something's bothering you." He stated, dropping a leaf. He didn't ask, she noted, but he still made it sound like a question.

"I've just been thinking too much." She continued.


"Yeah. It seems like every time I go out with Ino to the bars or, well to anything social, I always seem to be alone, watching from a distance as other people enjoy themselves. I see all those happy couples – well, I suppose there are a fair share of them that are miserable couples too, but at least they have someone to share it with."

"There is something to be said for company. There's also something to be said about being single."

"Has it ever bothered you? I mean, I've never seen you with a girlfriend. I guess you could be dating someone for all I know."

"No, I'm not dating anyone, Sakura. Relationships are difficult and I'm not sure I'm exactly suited for them."

"Have you ever been serious about someone?"

He sighed and turned his head to look at her. "Not really. As I said, to me relationships are more trouble than they're worth and I have enough difficulty with my friends staying alive much less someone even more important to me."

"Didn't you ever want a family?"

"I can't say I've ever thought much about it. As a dedicated shinobi, it would be a difficult thing to have while continuing to take missions."

"But it's not unheard of. Or you could retire."

"Do I really look that old, Sakura-chan?" The black eye staring at her fixed her in place but she could see the hint of a smile under his mask.

"Of course not," she said hastily. "I just…"

"I know what you meant. I've been doing this a long time and retirement isn't completely out of the question. I suppose it would all depend on if I could ever find a woman who'd make me want to." They stood in silence for a few moments until he started to speak again.

"At night, I have a recurring nightmare that I met her, a beautiful yet faceless woman. One night she was the enemy and I fought and killed her, another night she was my teammate and I was unable to save her during a battle, and on other nights it's completely different but in all of them, she always dies."

"A person could read quite a bit into that…"

"I'm sure I do a lot of things people could read into if they wanted to. I've always believed it just meant there was no one out there for me and if there was, I would only end up hurting her. But what about you Sakura? You used to have your sights set on only Sasuke."

"Things change. We both grew up and he's not what I always made him out to be. He's a good friend and teammate now, but I don't love him. I don't think he ever saw me the way I saw him."

"Did you ever imagine what your life would be like if you were together?

"Of course. When I was little, I imagined us married with a house full of kids that I'd stay home with and take care of the house while he became the best shinobi in the village, too skilled to ever get injured and always coming home to me and our children."

"And now?"

"The dream changed; I changed. I know life with Sasuke would never be like that. I really like my job and have a hard time imagining giving it up. I like being able to save people, to fix what's broken and keep them alive. Especially since some people I know are constantly injured and refuse to go to the hospital to be healed." She gave a pointed glance at the man next to her but he ignored her, his eyes still focused on the water below. "And I enjoy going on missions. I don't think I could be happy staying at home all the time and being the baby factory like Sasuke wants. I like what I do and I'm happy where I'm at."

"Except for the loneliness."

"I didn't say my life couldn't be better, I just said I have a good life."

"And children?"

"I suppose I wouldn't mind having one or two, but not yet. Kind of like you, it all hinges on finding the right person. Seeing how difficult Kuranai's life is, single parenthood isn't something I want to try and even if I'm with someone, I'd have to give up going on missions for at least a couple of years."

"Have anyone in mind?"

"In a way, I suppose I do…" She concentrated on the few remaining leaves in her hand.

"I hope he deserves you." He said softly, still looking down at the water and not at her.

"He's too good for me." She replied, her voice just as soft as his. She didn't want to even look at him until she felt more in control. Somewhere this conversation had gotten onto shaky ground and she was afraid her big, drunk mouth might say something it shouldn't.

"No one's too good for you, Sakura-chan." His voice was still soft. "Anyone I might know?" His voice held a smile and a light teasing tone that told her he was only asking out of courtesy.

She hesitated. This could be the best time to tell him how she felt, or at least hint to him that she had a slight crush on him. But no, that was a very bad idea as she'd had too much to drink. A very, very bad idea. Now was not a good time to make major decisions like that.

"You should. He's standing right next to me." Kakashi's head turned rapidly to look at her, his usually droopy eye wide with surprise. Sakura turned to look at him as her heart jumped up into her throat, her mouth covered by her hands and her eyes large and filled with panic. Her obvious shock struck him silent. "Oh my god, I said that out loud, didn't I?"

What have I done? She screamed inside her head.

'You just told him you have a crush on him,' her inner voice replied.

Oh, god! Too much to drink, way, waaay too much to drink. She squeezed her eyes closed and, covering them with her hands, she turned away from him to rest her elbows on the railing and waited for the crushing words she knew were coming. She had SO screwed this up.

"Sakura… I don't think that something like that… would work…" He said slowly, his confusion apparent in his expression.

Sakura turned her head to glance up at him and bit her lip before nodding her head in agreement with him. "I know, it's silly. I shouldn't have said anything. I'm sorry. Don't worry, it's not like I expected you to feel like that too…." she whispered rapidly, her mouth rambling on without consulting her brain. The only thing she could think of was the odd look on his face, the expression that could be seen in his single black eye that told her everything she needed to know. It was that look that broke her heart. That look of confusion that told her he had never even thought of her that way. The words she had expected, but it was the disappointed way he looked at her that made her feel ashamed, like she'd violated their friendship.

"It's just a silly little crush…" her voice was soft and she knew she must be sporting a blush darker than her hair as she told her lie. She might have said to him it was only a little crush, but it was really much more than that. Even as she said the words, she knew it was a lie; she had fallen for him, and fallen hard. But she would continue to tell him it was nothing, she didn't want to see his horrified expression if he knew how much she really wanted to be with him. She couldn't let him know how close she wanted to be to him, how she craved his touch and imagined what his hands would feel like as he caressed her body, imagining him next to her as she fell asleep at night.

"Don't worry; it'll go away with time." She said, trying to dismiss her little admission. "And things can go back to the way they were. I don't want anything to change between us. Will you promise me? We can still be friends and teammates?"

"Of course, Sakura-chan. I promise." His hand raised and moved as if he was going to ruffle her hair but he stopped, his fingers hovering over her hand.

"I-I'd better get home. I have to be at the hospital for work first thing in the morning." She tried to push away the disappointment that flowed through her body when he drew his hand back. The next few days were going to be extremely difficult for her, trying to act like nothing happened whenever they were together. It would be even worse if he started avoiding her. "I'm… I'm sorry I said anything. See you tomorrow at practice?" she asked hesitantly.

"I have a mission tomorrow." He said flatly.

"Oh… So I'll see you when you get back, right?" the hopeful tone of her voice sounded disgustingly pathetic in her ears.

"Right." He said with a small smile as she turned away and headed back to her apartment, leaving Kakashi staring over the edge of the bridge at the water that rushed past.

Present day

Every single day for the last three weeks she had chastised herself for telling him about her crush and just recalling his shocked expression hurt just as much now as it did when she first saw it. Was he going to start avoiding her when he came back? He may never want to see her again. As of this morning, she hadn't seen his name on the list of returned shinobi from the prior day so he couldn't have returned and just not contacted her yet.

She knew it had been pointless to hope for a return of her feelings. He was not meant to be with her and, until she'd stupidly opened her big mouth, he'd probably never even considered her in that light. To him, she was just the little girl he'd taught all those years ago. Her wishful dreams of coming home to him every night, of having him welcome her back from a mission with a deep and passionate kiss, of waking next to him every morning were just that; dreams and fantasies. And they should have stayed quietly inside her head where they belonged.

At least before she'd said anything to him, she'd still had that little flame of hope burning. His reaction that night had crushed it and all she could hope for now was to keep his friendship.

Slowly, when her mind returned to the present, she noticed she'd begun to sketch a bunny costume on the anatomical figure on the page. She was just about ready to look for another color of pen to fill it in when Tsunade stalked into the emergency ward, Hokage robe flapping behind her.

"Sakura!" The tall blond woman called out, making her way toward her student. Sakura inconspicuously slid her piece of doodle-paper into a drawer, not wanting to be caught wasting forms by drawing bunny pictures on them.

"Yes, Tsunade-shishou?" Sakura's eyes focused on the sake jug her mentor had securely grasped in a fist. Shizune had followed unseen behind her and was currently trying, unsuccessfully, to confiscate the bottle before Tsunade could finish it off. After all, it was only three in the afternoon and there was still a great deal of work to be done.

"Kakashi needs someone to make a house call. Seems he was injured on his latest mission but refuses to come to the hospital." Tusnade's words woke Sakura from her daze of self-reflection, a sharp spike of fear running through her body.

Something must have gone wrong on his mission if he had gotten injured and it must be serious if he'd called for help. Sakura usually made it a point to check up on him after every mission because he had the nasty habit of not reporting most of his wounds unless he was close to death and had been dragged into the hospital by his teammates. Or anyone else who found him passed out on the street.

"He's back? How bad is it?" Sakura asked, pulling her kit from under the desk. "Did he say what his injuries are?" She pulled open a drawer or two and tossed packages of medical supplies into her already well stocked emergency bag. Extra gauze, bandages, packets of dried medicinal plants, antiseptics, healing scrolls with jutsus… she wondered if she could find some restraints for when he tried to fight her treatments. Eh, she'd figure something out later if she needed them.

"It's Kakashi, the master of understatement; who can tell without seeing him? And remind him we don't make house calls anymore." Tsunade grumbled, her tone soon changing from one of annoyance to one of outrage as Shizune succeeded in prying the bottle of sake from her hand. "Shizune! Give that back! What do you think you are doing?!"

The dark haired woman turned with blazing eyes to the fifth hokage. "I've told you before, no more sake until you have those papers signed!" Shizune, with the bottle securely wrapped in both arms and small oinking pig following behind her, stormed back to the Hokage's office. Sakura, running from the hospital, didn't even notice as Tsunade followed Shizune, swearing at her the whole way.

That stupid man! Sakura was almost swearing out loud as she took to the rooftops. Why couldn't he suck it up and drag himself to the hospital? Maybe he was too injured to make it there? Maybe he's lying in a pool of his own blood right now, unable to move? Sakura put on a burst of speed, her mind racing with the possible life-threatening injuries he might have. Broken bones, punctured organs… torture? Oh, please no, torture could get ugly.

He'd better not die on me. What will I do if the dies? What will I do if I can't save him?

I need to keep calm. I can't panic. I need to keep my head until I know what's happened.

Please be okay, Kakashi. Please be okay.


I'm not even going to estimate when the next part will be out. Probably depends on when my next assignment is due. I always seem to write more/better when I'm avoiding things, and I'm a master at that. I actually put off opening any mail for 4 months. Did you know even if you don't open the envelopes you're still responsible for paying the bills? Just an FYI…

Anyway, let me know what you think, feedback is always appreciated.