TITLE: Not Late

PAIRING: kakashiXsakura

TIMELINE/SPOILERS: Shippuuden. Timeline not relevant to the story, though. (again)

WARNINGS: none. maybe a bit of drama. (again)

DISCLAIMER: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto and all related characters, etc etc etc.

O O O

He finally tasted her— sweet, soft, and gentle, very much in contrast to his actions— hard, rough, long, just like how a person in a desert would drink a glass of cool water— desperate, relieved, wanting more.

It had been a long, excruciating wait. He had ignored her, dismissed her, and broken her heart one too many times. She held fast, improving herself, trying to become a lady, proving to be more fatal and stronger than what she seemed.

He knew of her tears, he knew of her heartaches, even when she often lied, even when she would convince her teammates she was fine, even when she was obviously not.

Her jounin exam had been almost painful to watch. There was almost no mistake to her tactical and written exams, and she had been ruthless in the battle arena. He knew she turned all her concentrations there to pass. He knew, because she had said she had finally given up on him, and vowed to become stronger, to be able to stop her tears from falling again.

He was slowly being broken more and more inside, and when he had finally seen how other people— men— wanted her as well, he knew there was no chance for him. She was possibly the only one who could make him, for once, happy that he had lived, but he refused, and dismissed, and hurt.

Time had passed, and he felt more and more distant with his team. Everyone had found someone, even the socially-inept artist, and he was there, stuck alone in his own world, waiting for the day he would die to come.

And once, he had thought it came.

He had last thought of her face, looking down at him, shouting, crying, her rosette hair tied behind her head, green chakra flowing from her hands to his chest. He tried to speak, but nothing came out, just like how nothing came to his ears. There was no sound, just silence, and he believed he would be gone. He spoke some words he never thought he would say, but she didn't look back at him. Her blood-stained hands moved rapidly, performing medical jutsu, her lips moving, saying, whispering, mumbling. He closed his eyes, and had accepted he would never open them again.

When he did, however, as the bright light invaded his vision, as the sounds of people outside his room reached his ears, as he smelled the daffodils that were left in the glass vase by his bedside table, as he felt the rough sheets of the hospital bed he was resting upon, as he felt the air fill his lungs once more, he knew it was the biggest sign he could ever get in his entire life.

And now, as he held her close and told her things he didn't hesitate to say again, as he smelled her hair and tasted her skin, as he listened to her cries and reveled in her bliss, he thought of changing his habits, and being early from now on. He had been late all his life, but with finally someone to look forward with, there was no reason to hold back and think how life was boring, monotonous, colorless.

He grinned— relieved, grateful, contented— and held her hand tighter. There was no need for the mask anymore, and no need for the book.

But then again— he mused, thought, reconsidered— maybe it wouldn't hurt to read once in a while.

: END:

O O O

Author's Notes: Actually this is supposed to be the short version of a long one-shot fanfic I just made, but I think I like this one better. I hope no one got too confused while reading LOL.

I'm drowning in Kakashi/Sakura drama. I can't seem to be able to write a humorous fanfic about them... I'll try, though, one day LOL

To tell you the truth, I really like conflicted Kakashi. The one where he knows he very much wants something, but he couldn't dare get it because of all the complications *coughNarutoTsunadeAgeGapcough* I like seeing him struggle bwahahahaha

there's really something wrong with the single line breaks... D8

As always, reviews, comments, reactions, and bursts of fangirling squee are most welcome :D