TITLE: Five Years
WARNINGS: none. a bit of drama LOL
SUMMARY: Five years. Four rejections. One free dinner. "Naruto and Tsunade are going to kill me."
DISCLAIMER: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto and all related characters, etc etc etc.
Last Edited: April 20, 2009
"Sakura-chan! You're late!"
Sakura pushed away the hyperactive blonde as he tried to give her one of his bone-crushing hugs.
"Maybe she tried to put some effort on improving her looks." Sai, the socially-inept member of their team, greeted. "Too bad you still look as hideous as always, Hag."
"Thank you, Sai." Sakura greeted back, followed by a quick bash to the artist's head. "And I was only late for a few minutes. Kakashi won't be here until an hour later, anyway."
"Actually, I was here before all of you."
Sakura nearly jumped in surprise as the jounin waved from his perch on the bridge's wooden rail.
"Alright," He said, his eyes never leaving the porn's pages. "Time to head to the training ground."
While the three followed Team 7's leader, Naruto leaned towards Sakura with a careful glance at Kakashi.
"Ne, Sakura-chan, isn't this really weird?" He whispered, and Sai looked at them curiously. "Kakashi has never been on time. What if that person over there is just a clone?"
Sakura looked at their leader's back, thinking. It was unusual for him to be on time. Maybe he finally realized that they were sick and tired of waiting?
"Gaah! Naruto, what are you doing?!"
Sakura quickly knocked away the large rock that Naruto had acquired from the ground.
"But Sakura-chan, what if he's just a clone? What if he's an enemy?" Naruto whined, clearly giving an excuse to do some trick on their superior, who hadn't bothered to check what was going on with his teammates.
"Shut up, Naruto. Even Sai doesn't think he's a fake. Right, Sai—"
Sakura gave a shriek and crumpled the scroll where Sai had already drawn several of his lions.
"Sakura-chaaaan," Naruto whined once more. "Kakashi's clearly out of it today. I'm sure we could land a decent hit on him without even trying too hard."
"Shut up, Naruto!"
Sakura stomped away from her scheming teammates, grumbling angrily to herself. If Kakashi got pissed off, it wasn't them who would wholly regret it. She was often paired with him to spar, and whenever Naruto and Sai would do something they shouldn't have, she would be affected with not only the more intense level of training that Kakashi would employ, but also she was the one who would have to spar with the inwardly sadistic man. It was not too long ago when Naruto accidentally dropped Kakashi's precious book in the river, and Kakashi had them running around Konoha 200 times, and her usual spar with him became a highly dangerous game of cat and mouse and she had to resort to using a soldier pill to match up to his speed.
Life was really unfair, at times.
"Alright," Kakashi finally said as they reached their usual training grounds. "We'll do something different today. Sai, you're sparring with Sakura. Naruto, you're going to fight me."
"Alright!" Naruto bounded, ready for a day of training. Sai faced Sakura, who looked back at him wearily.
"What?" She said, already expecting what was going to come out from the artist's mouth.
"I finally get to fight someone with a dick."
Sai moved a bit to his back as a kunai— courtesy of Naruto— sailed past him, barely missing his nose. Sakura gave him a wide grin as she snapped her black gloves on.
"Unfortunately, Sai, praises won't make me go easy on you."
* * *
Sakura stared miserably at the small bento that was to be her three hours late lunch. Naruto's clumsiness had attacked once more, and this time he made a large hole in the middle of Kakashi's Icha Icha Tactics when the jinchuriki dried to stab him from below, hitting Kakashi's pack instead, where he had always kept the damn book. Kakashi became ruthless once more, making them run four hundred laps around Konoha this time.
"Stupid Naruto, this is entirely your fault." Sakura grumbled, poking at the little octopus-shaped hotdog cutlets in her lunch box.
Not far from her, sporting a large lump on his head that she had given him oh so graciously, Naruto laid on his back, his own lunch pack finished. Sai, sitting on top of a large rock, was sketching as he always did after eating his food.
"ANBU training is much worse, don't worry." Sai said, giving them his usual grin. Sakura gave him a withering glare.
"I'll give you kage-level treatment if you don't shut up, you miserable sadist." She grumbled, resuming in poking her food once more before finally eating them.
Sakura had barely finished eating her food when Kakashi told them it was time to resume their training, only this time Sai was facing him while she sparred with Naruto, who started looking excited as if he had never ran four hundred laps around Konoha.
"Been a while since we sparred, ne, Sakura-chan?"
Sakura gave Naruto a wide grin. The jinchuriki flinched.
"Naruto-kun," She said, clenching her fists readily. "Looks like I'll get to punish you for making us run around Konoha like hell. Isn't that nice?"
* * *
After an hour and a half of sparring, Kakashi called out to his team members and announced that they had had enough training for that day. Sakura had barely registered what he said when everyone started to head out of the training grounds.
Normally when they shifted partners in sparring, they would make sure everyone had the chance to fight every member of the team. Why did he skip on another round?
"Ne, Kakashi," Sakura said, falling behind with their leader and leaving Naruto and Sai to bicker by themselves. "We didn't do the last round of sparring."
Kakashi gave Sakura his usual crinkled expression and resumed looking infront of him, focusing on nothing in particular.
"I thought running around Konoha six hundred times today was enough."
Sakura frowned. It made sense, but it still baffled her as to why they didn't stick to their usual rules. Trainings were meant to increase in difficulty with each session.
Maybe he was really just being considerate for once. Or he was already itching to go back to his apartment to read on his porn.
"Kakashi, one would think that you care for your porn more than your friends."
Sakura sighed. He was clearly not listening to her. He often did that ever since she was a genin.
"You'd probably say 'Hm' even when I tell you I really appreciate your treat last night, and when I tell you I have a copy of Icha Icha Tactics you'd only give me a surprised look."
Sakura glanced at Kakashi, and received an even more annoying response.
He wasn't there anymore.
O O O
The next day, the kunoichi was pissed. Rejected, ignored, left out. What else would the man do?
"I told you you're wrong, Ino-pig. There's no way he likes me the way you're implying."
Ino settled the newly cut tiger lilies in their container and headed back to her place behind the flower shop's counter.
"But he still had dinner with you." She said, now checking a list of flowers and their corresponding prices. "If we had that bet I'd won two full body spas already."
"You didn't win anything, Ino-pig, because that wasn't really a date."
"A man and a woman eating together at a café. How the hell could you not call that a date?"
"You're generalizing the concept too much."
"And besides, he didn't refuse you."
"That's because I didn't let go of his arm. I was really hungry that time."
"Kakashi, can't get away? Don't make me laugh, Forehead, even he could get away from your death-grip."
Sakura frowned. Well it was partly true, but he most likely didn't try to escape because at least he was only treating one person to dinner. And he didn't say he was doing anything else anyway.
"Have you tried kissing him?"
Sakura gave Ino a disapproving look.
"You expect me to go up to him and kiss him through his cloth for no reason whatsoever?"
"You already did that before, why not do it again?"
Sakura felt her face heating up.
"That was a different circumstance."
Ino gave an annoying tutting noise and kept the pricelist at the cabinet below the counter.
"Try surprising him. If you don't get a reaction from him then I won't bug you about it again."
Sakura didn't say anything, and just left the flower shop before Ino could say anything else.
'Stupid Ino, how could I kiss Kakashi all of a sudden?'
Kicking a small pebble infront of her, Sakura continued walking down the street. Perhaps her shishou's remedy for everything would help her relieve the stress she was subjecting herself into.
* * *
"And he's supposed to have rejected me FOUR times! Ne? Ne? So it's impossible, right?"
The barkeep only nodded as he poured the inebriated kunoichi another glass of drink. Sakura had a decent tolerance on alcohol, as her shishou had taught her to be strong enough to still be able to move and think decently even after several bottles of sake. Sakura was pretty good in holding alcohol, except she got louder and more confident, just like most people when imbibed with drinks.
"Stupid Kakashi," Sakura finally mumbled, resting her head on the bar's countertop. "Actually, it's me who's stupid. Ne? Ne?"
The barkeep only nodded at her once more. He was long used to depressed females shouting and mumbling their sorrows, and nothing got more decent— not to mention safe— reactions than a silent nod.
Sakura grinned lopsidedly. It was true. It was her who was being stupid. Ino had said some things, and she had actually taken it seriously. Maybe she really hadn't moved on like she expected…
"She's a friend, don't worry."
Sakura looked up at the barkeep, who was looking at someone behind her. Frowning at the hands that gripped her shoulders firmly, Sakura sat up and glared at the man behind her, and her expression changed when she saw that it was Kakashi.
Look at the devil, coming up behind her when she was talking about him.
"Put everything on my tab." She heard Kakashi say, and Sakura wanted to punch the man. She could pay for her own drinks, thank you very much.
Sakura stared at Kakashi, who had proceeded to carry her on his back. She should really exercise control on her mouth. She was slowly having the habit of thinking things aloud without even realizing it.
"Yes, you should. People would think there's something wrong with you when you're mumbling things to yourself."
Sakura inwardly cursed. Maybe she shouldn't think at all.
Recalling Ino's speculations, Sakura decided to ask the man. After all, it was most unlikely he would leave her all of a sudden just to avoid a question.
Sakura frowned. Maybe it would be better if she didn't ask.
"Ino-pig said something funny the other day. You know, the day when we ate at the café?"
"Yes, I know when the 'other day' was."
Sakura ignored the jibe and continued, her head lolling on Kakashi's shoulder. He actually smelled nice…
"Ino-pig ridiculously thought we were lovers. Could you believe that?"
Sakura gave a mocking laugh as Kakashi continued walking towards her apartment's direction.
"She said you were giving me some kind of look, and that you were sometimes standing near the flower shop, looking like you were going to buy flowers."
Sakura gave a bitter laugh, her forehead buried on Kakashi's shoulder.
"You never gave me any kind of look, except for that annoying grinning one." She mumbled, not caring that she was actually complaining to the person in topic already. "And you were just probably thinking of buying flowers for the memorial, right? Of course that's right. It's really impossible."
Sakura gripped on to the back of Kakashi's jounin vest tighter.
"It's really annoying, you know? I did my best, but you just dismissed me. It really hurt me back then. And now, right when I thought I didn't care anymore, right when I thought I wouldn't bother anymore—"
Sakura slapped a hand on her forehead, her face turning a bright shade of red. As Kakashi deposited her at her doorstep, she gave out a nervous laugh, and forced it out louder into the night. Ino-pig had a better sense of choice in men.
"Ne, Kakashi, I bet you wouldn't feel anything if I kissed you."
Sakura knew she could hold her alcohol well, but even she was susceptible to its dumbing effects, just like how her shishou was. Perhaps it was not only the medical and fighting skills that she had learned. Her shishou also had bad luck with men, and she grew old without even having a lover.
It really felt odd, kissing someone through a cloth, but nonetheless she could still feel his lips, and she had to hold on to Kakashi's vest to keep herself steady. The man had gone still, and when she was sure nothing else was going to happen, Sakura moved away.
Kakashi only looked back at her blankly.
"You should go and get some sleep." He said, and he was gone before she could take in what he had just said.
She really should stay away from alcohol. It made her think back on things that had happened, and it had always brought her to tears.
O O O
The next day, although she really didn't want to attend their scheduled training session, Naruto's begging and pleading had forced her to come. The absence of one made the remaining members' training ever excruciatingly harder, and Naruto, who had promised to take out Hinata for dinner, definitely wanted training to end on time.
Sakura sighed. There was still no sign of Kakashi at their meeting place, and Sakura didn't know whether to be glad or to feel worse. Being trained by her shishou to tolerate alcohol, she could clearly remember what had happened the night before, even the definitely mindless action that had made her a ball of depressed drunkard on her bed.
"He's really taking so long." Naruto grumbled, and at that same moment, the ever late team leader finally arrived.
Naruto resumed complaining about their leader's tardiness, while Sai made some off-hand comment the pissed the jinchuriki even more. No one noticed that they lacked the usual manpower to scold the oldest jounin, and Sakura was inwardly grateful for that. Perhaps she would spar with Sai and Naruto again that day and be ignored by Kakashi once more.
"You! Now I'm really pissed off!"
"Pretty surprising to see you move so enthusiastically when you have nothing dangling between your legs, Dickless."
Sakura looked up at her two teammates and frowned.
"Ne, Naruto," She said, trying to calm down her blonde teammate. "How about we start sparring together?"
"Sorry Sakura-chan, but I just have to teach this bastard a lesson!"
"From what I have gathered, you almost failed the Academy, didn't you, Naruto-kun?"
"That's it! You're dead!"
Sakura watched hopelessly as Naruto started with his ever-present Kage Bunshin and started all-out attacking Sai.
Plan B. Pretend nothing happened.
"Looks like we're stuck together again, ne, Kakashi-sensei?"
Sakura nearly flinched as Kakashi didn't respond with that eye crinkle and instead, just looked back at her quietly. She could feel her own gut sinking as she dolefully donned on her gloves, hoping against hope that Kakashi wouldn't bring up what happened the night before.
Their spar had started out the usual way— kunai thrown, then used in close combat, followed by taijutsu, and then some ninjutsu. No words were exchanged, and Sakura found it even harder to land a hit on Kakashi. It was starting to frustrate her, as he just kept on managing to evade and block her attacks, while she could barely dodge any that came from him. He was undoubtedly faster than her, but slowly it was beginning to look as if he was dead serious in the fight.
As they continued their sparring in the forest, with Sakura having no other choice but to fall back lest she wanted to get hit, she was reminded of the time when Kakashi had simulated an assassination ploy with her as the target. It was definitely not sitting well with her, especially with Kakashi having that determined look in his eyes.
It suddenly felt like a real battle zone.
Sakura grunted in pain as she landed bodily to the forest floor. She didn't expect the attack to come full-front, and before she could register that the Copy-nin was already above her, she was already hurtling down to the ground.
She was just recovering from the attack when she was suddenly pinned to the ground, an expressionless silver-haired jounin looking down at her with a kunai drawn to her neck.
"N-ne, K-Kakashi," Sakura started, clearly feeling uncomfortable and getting even more nervous by the second. "I fold, okay? Let's go back to Naruto and Sai, they must be done by now—"
"You can remember what happened."
Sakura inwardly winced. She tried to look confused, but she knew Kakashi would see through it. Only an idiot would think they could get away with lying at the infamous Copy-nin.
"I'm sorry." She finally said, sighing. She really shouldn't have listened to Ino. "I won't do it again. Just ignore it. I just got carried away—"
Sakura bit her lip. No. She shouldn't give in again. God knows how many times she had cried her heart out. She was older now, damnit, and she was supposed to have moved on.
Really, she shouldn't, but apparently, she had more to give.
"We really should go back." Sakura said, her voice breaking. She tried to wipe her tears away, but they were just as stubborn as she was. "Ne, Kakashi, would you mind moving away? I need to clear out my eyes and—"
So that's how bare lips felt. It was much more pleasant than with the thin cloth on, and much more demanding.
Maybe Kakashi had been drinking as well, and thought of doing stupid things, just like her.
"Naruto and Tsunade are going to kill me."
Sakura held on tightly to Kakashi's jounin vest, not minding his weight over her own body. She still hadn't seen his mask-less face, but it didn't matter much, as he was busy burying his face on her neck.
The man gave a low mumble on her skin, his chest rumbling though his vest.
"If you dare dismiss me again, I'll be the first in line to kill you."
Five years, four rejections.
Maybe Kakashi was a late bloomer, just like herself.
: END :
Author's Notes: I created 'Not Late' because I wanted to use the line "Naruto and Tsunade are going to kill me." I didn't get to use the line there, though, LOL
Thinking of titles is really hard... Anyway, I hope I didn't blow the ending again XD