A/N: Yay! Last chapter!
Send Me An Angel: Chapter 10
A week passed. A horrible, stressed, cuss-filled week. Sakura didn't know where anyone was. Kakashi was "busy" and her teammates hadn't returned. It was like being a Gennin all over again. And it sucked.
She lay on her couch staring up at the white ceiling. At least her parents had taken the news well. Or as well as could be hoped. Her father strongly disapproved of her relationship, but her mother hushed him as much as possible. It was safe to say she wasn't going to be taking Kakashi to any family dinners any time soon. She couldn't really picture him comfortable in that kind of environment, even though she knew that he would look pleasant and be well-spoken and polite. It was simply in his nature to deceive people.
Her doorbell rang, loud and annoying. "Come in," she called. "It's unlocked."
A serious-looking man stepped through her doorway, dressed in full Anbu attire. He wasn't one she recognized -- definitely not one who had come to retrieve her when Kakashi had had his gut blown out. But the rush was still in his eyes. "Your presence is requested," he stated formally. "Hokage-sama is announcing a temporary replacement, and all Jounin are to attend the meeting."
Sakura stood up, and nodded. "When?"
Well, Anbu was known for not wasting time. The man made a gesture for her to follow him, and then quickly exited her apartment. As she trailed him, she thought of how strange it was that the meeting had been held secret until the last minute. She also wondered why she was having a personal escort. Sakura hoped that some of her questions would be answered before the end of the night.
The streets were still alive with people, most of who were probably returning home. Sakura caught a glimpse of a group of Anbu dispersing on the roof of a nearby building, but her eyes were too slow to see which direction any of them had went. Her own Anbu remained silent, but started to cut through narrow streets, leading her towards a more rural part of Konoha. The sky darkened quickly. He finally stopped when they had arrived at a forest with a few shacks built surrounded by trees. He led her to one of them, and then rushed her inside quietly. There were stairs that led downward, disappearing into darkness. He urged her forward, keeping her in front of him. Sakura kept her hand pressed to the wall to give her comfort and balance, although she was sure that her escort did not.
At least now she understood the need for an escort. She would not have been able to find this place on her own.
The stairs ended at a regular wooden door. Sakura paused, waiting on her Anbu. He slid past her, producing a key she wasn't able to see, and opened the door. The room inside spread across a wide expanse. Sakura was fully aware that they were underground, and the lights hanging from the ceiling did nothing but confirm that. There were wires across the rocks and pipes which she didn't know the function of. A good deal of people were crowded into the space, but Sakura could see that in the front was a platform. A warm golden light lit that corner, contrasting with the dim, sickly yellow lighting the rest of the room. That was where the speech was to be held, no doubt.
The Anbu nudged her elbow and pulled her alongside the crowd, keeping close to the outer wall. When they had crossed most the room, nearly to the other side, he turned and led her through the crowd towards the front. In a moment, she was able to see a small tent set up next to the platform. It almost reminded her of the Chunin exams, when the contestants had gotten their scrolls.
"Hokage-sama requested that you be close," her Anbu whispered in explanation. "So did her replacement."
Sakura bit her cheek. "It's Kakashi, isn't it?"
The Anbu nodded a stiff, respectful nod. "Of course."
"Figures," Sakura mumbled, looking at the ground and preparing for the wait. "When's it to start?"
"Any moment now."
Oh. "Thank you."
Sure enough, a few people came onstage, but they seemed to be setting up things. As they finished, the lighting around the stage got brighter. Sakura stayed put, even when her Anbu left. She wondered for a moment if she would regret not asking his name, but then she figured that it would have been a code name anyway. No loss.
Ibiki and Anko came up, Anko toying with the microphone. Ibiki pushed both her and the technology aside. "You all know what has been going on," he said in his deep, commanding voice. "There are no secrets there. What you aren't aware of is that our Hokage has fallen ill, and a new replacement must be chosen. Not a new Hokage, but someone to overlook her position until a suitable successor is found. Because of the elders and other councils, it's been decided that a vote will take place. Your choices are Danzo and Hatake Kakashi. Be under no prejudices. Choose who think would best represent and care for this village and all off its people."
He turned away and left, jumping down from the stage into the dark beneath it. Anko's mouth twitched in annoyance. Sakura could only guess that Ibiki had said everything, and that she was left with nothing of importance to announce. But she rolled her eyes and held the microphone up to her mouth. "In the southeast corner of the room, there is a voting box. Tsunade is in there to make sure no one…cheats. When your name is called, please report to the tent to cast your vote." She grinned and waved before hopping down.
Sakura would be lying if she said she wasn't surprised that Anko made a beeline straight for her. For some reason, Sakura found herself very aware of the woman's cleavage. Even in the dimly lit room, she could see as perfectly as if she were holding a flashlight to them. Anko threw her arm around Sakura's shoulder and ducked her head low. "Kakashi's in the tent, too. I could go get him, see if you two want to have some more fun?"
Sakura's back stiffened and her cheeks burned. "How do you know about that?" she whispered, her voice harsh. "Did he tell you?"
Anko snorted. "Kakashi doesn't talk about his sex life. Ever. Not with me at least."
Sakura couldn't say that surprised her either. "Then how do you know?"
Anko's mouth turned up in a sharp, creepy smirk. "There are times when a woman just knows things."
Sakura forcefully stopped herself from shivering. She didn't want everyone to find out from Anko. She would no doubt make it sound so dirty that there would be no chance of redemption for her or Kakashi. She bit her cheek. "Keep quiet about it, okay? I've got some things I need to handle before the gossip mill gets started."
Anko's eyes sparkled with mischief. Sakura glared at her.
"What's all the fuss?" Asuma asked, walking towards them with one hand in his pocket, his other holding his cigarette. "Is Anko teasing you for sleeping with Kakashi?"
Sakura growled. Did everyone know?
Asuma held his hands in front of him defensively. "Sorry, sorry. I know he's not that good, but, man, he must've really sucked to put you in this bad of a mood."
Sakura smiled tightly, wickedly. "Kakashi is an excellent lover. There's no need to refer to that."
Asuma sighed. "I thought him being drunk would help make us look a little better."
Sakura shook her head. "How do you two know?"
Asuma stared at her for a long time. He sighed and put his hand on her shoulder. "Sakura, we were there. When we left, we kind of had to shut off the radio, you know? And I don't think there was any other thing you could have been doing to make those kinds of noises."
Sakura hid her face in her hands. This embarrassment would fade, right? It would go away in time. She had to tell herself that.
"Your name was just called," Anko told her, grinning. "You'd better get going. I hear Kakashi doesn't like to be kept waiting."
Sakura slapped the woman's arm before marching towards the tent, satisfied that Anko would bruise. She stepped in, trying desperately to relax her rigid muscles. She saw Tsunade and Kakashi, sitting side by side in front of a table next to a plain gray box with a small circle shaped hole in the top. Kakashi was leaning forward, his cheek in his hand. "Did you hear that?" she asked, still angry.
"Every word," he said, laughing quietly.
"Do you think that's funny?"
"Just your reaction to it," he clarified. "Sakura, did you honestly think they wouldn't know? It would be kind of hard to hide something like that from nosy, capable elite shinobi. It's best that they already know, and that they aren't making a big deal out of it."
Sakura huffed and stomped up to the binder lying open on the table. She tore off her slit of paper and scribbled Kakashi's name down on its yellowed front. She heard Kakashi sigh. "No prejudices, remember?"
Sakura grunted. "Danzo would run us straight into the ground, the radical old bastard. You're not much better, but you'll do. I can keep an eye on you at least."
Kakashi shrugged but let it be. Sakura folded the paper and slipped it into the box. "What are you doing in here, anyway?"
"In order for this to be fair," he explained, "people have to know what I've done. They need to know my mistakes and my faults. It was part of the councils' agreement to this."
"Everything?" Sakura asked.
Kakashi smiled at her. "Absolutely."
Sakura shut her eyes tightly.
"You should go speak to your parents. I wouldn't want something like this to ruin my chances with them."
Sakura sighed heavily. "I already have."
Kakashi grinned. Sakura shook her head and stomped away.
"I'll see you tonight," he called, a little too loudly in her opinion.
It was impossible how smoothly things went after that. Despite the knowledge that Kakashi had slept with his student, he still won with over sixty percent of the votes. His honor and respect for him was too deep rooted to be torn by something so insignificant. It wasn't the first time it had happened in the profession, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. Everyone was just glad that she was of age. If she hadn't been…the votes would have been tipped in a different direction. Luckily, that wasn't the case, and Kakashi took over the responsibilities quickly. His efficiency was astounding even to Sakura, who was working as his assistant to train him for the job. He seemed to know more than she did. She asked him about it about halfway through the second day.
"Yondaime was my sensei," was his only reply.
"And what does that have to do with anything?"
He set down his pen and looked up at her. "Do you really think that your teacher is the only one who makes her students work?"
After that it all made sense. Kakashi had always had a natural talent for anything that he did, but experience helped everybody.
It wasn't until an uproar at the entrance gates that things really came crashing down around them. Naruto and Sasuke were back, and the villagers weren't happy. Sasuke was arrested and thrown in jail before Kakashi had even caught word of their arrival, and Naruto was immediately taken to the hospital. That was where they parted. Kakashi went to the prison and Sakura to the medical headquarters.
Kakashi was quite happy with what he found. Sasuke was sitting in the corner of a cell. His shit was ragged and his face was dirty, but he had a content look in his eyes. Kakashi demanded that the guards leave, and then he turned back to Sasuke. He dragged a seat up and sat opposite of him. "So, are you home for good, or is it right that I keep you in here?"
"I'm not leaving," Sasuke said quietly. "I always intended to come back. I just didn't know if it were ever going to be a possibility."
Kakashi smiled. "You do know that you have to prove yourself just a bit more before I can let you out, right?"
Sasuke didn't answer. He knew it.
"Right, well, here's what I propose," Kakashi continued. "First, we submit your case of bringing Naruto back alive. Barely, but still. Next, we keep you in here for a minimum of two months. You have to have exceptional behavior, of course, and then we may be able to release you. You'll have to stay under house arrest, I'm guessing, but it's a start."
"Did you just think up all of that crap?"
Kakashi shrugged. "It seemed as good a plan as any."
Sasuke sighed. "Guess so." He smirked. "I heard you're the new Hokage. I haven't gotten a chance to congratulate you yet."
"I'm the temporary Hokage. I'm just in until Naruto gets up and running. We're going to send him over to each of the nations after some office training, and then we'll see how soon we can commission him."
"That sounds about right."
"We thought so."
"So this is how it's going to be?"
"I think this is how it's going to have to be." Kakashi got up. "I'll convince them that there's no need to send you to lockdown."
"Just don't screw this up."
After that pleasant visit, he went straight to the hospital. The lady behind the desk in the front told him immediately upon his entrance what room Naruto and Sakura were located in. On the way up he wondered if that would have been the case had he not been named 'Hokage.' He supposed it would.
Naruto was in bed. He was conscious though, and showing all the signs of his upbeat spirit. Kakashi smiled. "You'd better recover quickly. We have a lot to do."
Naruto seemed to comprehend. "Yeah, I figured. You don't like your new position much, do you?"
Kakashi shut the door behind him and leaned against the wall. "It's all right. The money's good, even if I do get arthritis from all these--"
"Important documents and treaties," Sakura finished, cutting him off. He had taken to down talking almost everything about his job in her presence. She hadn't yet figured out why. She turned back to Naruto. "Are you sure that you're feeling well? It's just so soon."
"Yeah, Sakura quit worrying so much. I've always healed fast."
"But that was when you had the Kyuubi in you," she pointed out.
"And you think I'm not as strong as I was before?" he challenged.
"No, that's not what she meant," Kakashi said softly. "The Kyuubi's power is what healed you so quickly before, but it's not what made you strong. You got that way on your own, far before you were capable of tapping into the fox's chakra."
Naruto nodded, grinning and proud. "I've still got the sage-mode, you know. I'll be back to full throttle in no time."
Sakura smiled at him and gently bid him to lie back down and rest.
Since his father's death, he had never truly felt human. It was always hard, pushing and striving and proving himself. There was never time to rest, and when there was a false moment, it ended in some tragedy that he would never forget. It was unfair in that sense. So unfair. So cruel. Still he could not back down, could not retreat. There was always a dark cloud around him, always a mask to conceal the pain and anger. But what if that cloud disappeared? What if there was no longer a reason to hate his existence?
And she was here.
He ran his fingers across her smooth cheek, his touch ever so light. His eyes could not leave hers. They had no wish to view anything outside of that emerald complexity. She captivated him as no woman had ever done before, and he felt himself crumbling to her will. Whether she realized it or wanted it, he didn't know. All he knew was that there was no one whose company he craved more, or whose voice he longed to hear, or whose touch could soothe him so easily. She was as perfect as any one being could be. At least to him. But in his mind the rest of the world didn't matter. He kissed her softly, listening for that sigh that always came. He smiled. "I want to ask you something."
"What is it?" she asked distractedly, her fingers tangled in his shirt and her eyes closed.
He was quiet for a moment before kissing her again, this time much more deeply, with a passion that was familiar. "Marry me," he whispered to her.
It took a second for Sakura to realize that she had stopped breathing.
He pulled away and cupped her face. His eyes were earnest. "Not right now, of course, just…someday. I have to know that that's a possibility."
Sakura felt her chest shake.
"Sakura, I love you, you know that."
Her lips trembled with the effort to speak.
Kakashi leaned his forehead against hers. "I just can't imagine living my life with anyone else. I can't even imagine trying. You have to know that. If nothing else, you have to know that. I don't think I could live without you. Not now, not ever. And I--"
Sakura's fingers lay lightly on his lips. She looked up at him. "I know," she said softly.
His eyes looked at her pleadingly. He needed some answer.
"We still have time?" she asked.
"Of course," he answered tenderly, slowly.
She smiled at his uneasiness. "And you're not going anywhere?"
"There's nothing interesting enough to ever take me away from you."
"Kakashi, you don't have you say things like that. This isn't the way you normally talk."
He sighed and pulled away, running his hand through his hair in frustration. "It's just…I've never…"
"I've never wanted something so badly. I don't know exactly what to do or say, but I know what I want. It's you. It's always been you."
Sakura wrapped her arms around his wait. "Yes."
"I want to marry you."
In second Kakashi's face went from confusion to comprehension. It lit up. His eyes shone and a smile of pureness played at the edges of his lips. "Really?"
"Don't make me say it again." Sakura frowned. "I don't want to marry young. In a few years we'll go for it. Until then, let's keep things the way they are. It had better last that long," she warned.
Kakashi grinned. "It'll last forever."
Kakashi kissed the edge of her mouth. "But you do realize that we're engaged, right?"
I sincerely hope that you were satisfied reading this story.