Deadlines

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

--

The cake had been baked and eaten; the song had been sung; the gifts had been opened and the candles had been blown out. The apartment now lay in disarray, streamers and balloons strewn everywhere.

Kakashi hated parties. Unless you somehow managed to get someone else to throw a party for you at their own home, chances were that you would end up with a mess like this to clean up. The largest and most expensive gift you got would probably be the pinkish-tinged stain on your squeaky-clean carpet; you could never be sure whether it was a soda or vomit. On top of that you got to deal with at least an hour of rambunctious party-goers prior to the clean-up, which went against everything that Kakashi loved and enjoyed; that is, quiet and solitude. These reasons were more than enough to try avoiding parties.

But this particular party was different. This was Haruno Sakura's eighteenth birthday party, and he wasn't exactly allowed to miss it. Although Sakura didn't have nearly as much raw talent as his other two students, she was rather more intelligent and had quickly become his favorite after the boys had left Konoha. Despite their age difference, he could actually say that they were friends, as she had grown into a smart and witty young woman.

"Woman" was where the trouble started.

Because Kakashi would not have normally shown up at a party, even for his favorite student. It was even more unlikely that he would have stayed for the cleanup, when everyone else had rapidly vacated the premises. There was a reason behind all of this, and it was one that Kakashi planned on hiding at all costs. It would likely be better if Sakura never knew that he was falling for her.

"Thanks for helping out with this, I really do appreciate it."

Kakashi hummed in acknowledgment, making sure not to look at her backside as she bent over in front of him to pick up a piece of trash. This didn't stop him from wondering how appreciative she really was, burning an image into his mind of a certain naughty nurse thanking him for helping her out with her housecleaning. He was suddenly thankful for the dim light and the mask covering his face, hiding the brick red color that was about to flood his skin. His eyes snapped open to get rid of the nurse, falling on Sakura's perfect ass instead, and in spite of his efforts to look in a different direction, they stayed glued to the same spot.

When she turned around he quickly averted his gaze, standing up awkwardly and leaning on the trash can. She stared at him quizically and then slowly shook her head and continued cleaning, making sure to walk a little farther away.

Honestly, he was surprised that she hadn't caught on yet. All the missions they'd been on - all of the "accidental" touches - and she was still completely clueless as to just how much of the time he was either checking her out or attempting to feel her up. At first, he'd tried to make himself believe that it was just a passing phase of their relationship, being very bold about his advances in an attempt to get it out of his system, but he soon realized that what he was feeling for her was much, much more. Because it wasn't just a simple feeling - it was a deep emotion, and he couldn't shake it.

A whimpering sound distracted him and he glanced up and around the room. He could barely see Sakura's silhouette now, her shoulders hunched forward as she looked at something she held in her hand. Cautiously, he put down his garbage bag and walked towards her. Sakura didn't like to show her own weakness since Sasuke left, and she most likely wouldn't want him to know that she was crying, if she was.

However, she normally would have tried harder to hide it. He put a hand gently on her shoulder, testing the waters. "Are you okay?"

She sniffled, her arms moving up just slightly and putting the object in a dim beam of light: a picture of Sasuke, the glass freshly cracked. It felt like one of the shards from the picture frame had just stabbed Kakashi in the chest when he realized what it was that she was crying over, that she still shed tears over her lost love. "There were so many things I wanted to do," she said quietly, her voice cracking.

Kakashi frowned. "What?"

"I wanted to -" She spun around to look at him, still clutching the photograph in both hands but giving him a sad smile. "-oh, you don't want to know."

He shrugged, trying to look like he really didn't care. "Try me."

When she walked over to the couch, he followed, choosing to sit down at a safe distance away from her. She wouldn't put down that damn picture, holding it tightly in one hand. A small sneeze burst from her lips before she started talking, looking away from him. "There were so many things I wanted to do..." she started.

Kakashi snorted. "You have plenty of time, Sakura. I don't know why you're behaving as if you're at death's door..."

"I set deadlines for myself, you asshole," she said, glaring at him, "You know, you were the one who wanted to talk."

He hadn't really been the one who wanted to talk, he thought sullenly, but he needed to stop being a smartass or she wouldn't open up to him again. He cleared his throat. "Sorry. Go on."

Sakura gave him another glare before continuing. "Well, see...I set deadlines for myself. I wanted to do this and that before I turned eighteen...you know...like...lose my virginity."

She choked back a sob. Kakashi would have strangled Sasuke at that very moment, had he had the chance. That boy had caused her so much pain and heartache over the years, and he was still getting in Kakashi's way. Not to mention that Sakura talking about her virginity made Kakashi's head spin with inappropriate thoughts and suggestions, none of which he planned on saying out loud. "Well, it's not too late to lose your virginity."

That earned a sarcastic grin from Sakura. "I know that, baka." Tears continued to fall. "I just...I haven't even had my first kiss."

Kakashi had to admit that he wasn't sure if that was possible. Sakura was far too beautiful of a woman to not have even kissed a boy...of course, she was only eighteen today.

Oh Kami...eighteen...

"Well, are you saving it for someone in particular?" he asked.

She started to say no, but then her eyes flitted to the photograph. "I...was. I was."

"And you're not anymore?"

She shook her head firmly. The photograph found a new home on the table. "No."

Naturally, he wanted to suggest that he give her her first kiss. But that would have been entirely inappropriate.

"I'm sure you could find someone to give you your first kiss. There are probably more than a few men in the village who would be willing to do that."

Sakura shrugged, nodding half-heartedly. She was disappointed; Kakashi had no doubt she still wanted Sasuke.

--

As the last cup went into the garbage can, the clock struck two. Kakashi rubbed his eyes, walking towards the door. His chest was still aching over Sasuke, and Sakura's unwillingness to let go of the missing nin, "Well, I guess I'll be going then..."

Sakura followed him quietly, making no sound of acknowledgement.

And when he put his hand on the door, she hastily stepped in front of him.

He looked at her questioningly and she looked down at the floor in response, chewing her lip anxiously. "What?" he said finally, realizing that she wasn't going to let him through.

"You didn't get me a gift."

Kakashi thought about it. No, he hadn't gotten her a gift. It had been a mostly spur-of-the-moment decision to show up in the first place, and he hadn't thought to buy her something. What did she expect anyway? "Anything you really want?"

Her lip popped out from behind her teeth, pink and shiny. "A first kiss."

It would have made more sense if this was a dream. If he'd just heard correctly, she had told him that he wanted him to kiss her...unless of course she meant someone else... "You mean from me?"

She nodded in agreement and he just stared at her dumbly as her hopeful smile began to falter. "Uh...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked..."

He caught her face in his hand as she tried to turn away, leaning over to press his lips against hers.

Sakura sighed, relaxing against the door and drawing him closer, but he pulled away quickly, trying his best not to look at her.

"Well, that didn't count," she said quietly. He raised his eyebrows; she wanted more? This opened up so many possibilities... "Your mask," she explained.

He frowned. "This is just a ploy to see my face, isn't it?" he said, agitated.

She placed her fingertips cautiously on the edge of his mask, smiling, "Not really. I...want you to kiss me."

Kakashi didn't give her much of a chance to look at his face again, going in for another kiss. This time she opened up to him, letting his tongue explore her lips and her mouth. She hooked a leg around the back of his knee, pulling him against her and letting out a long sigh. That was warning enough that it was time to stop this.

He pushed her shoulders against the door, making sure that she wasn't close enough to try kissing him again. "This is completely inappropriate."

She shrugged. "Not anymore. I'm eighteen now."

Who was he kidding? This was like every man's dream, and Kakashi would have to be insane - or extraordinarily honorable - to pass up this chance.

He sighed, shaking his head. "I...I respect you far too much to take advantage of you."

Sakura snorted and he looked at her quizzically. "'Taking advantage of me'...Kakashi, I may be inexperienced, but I'm not naive."

"Wait. You-"

"I like you, okay?"

"Then why were you crying earlier?"

She looked down at the floor. "Because nobody ever wanted me enough to even kiss me, and I didn't think you would even do it until...well, until just now." She put a hand on his face, running her fingers over the five o'clock shadow on his jaw. "You're not taking advantage of me."

He kissed her once more, and she wove her fingers into his hair, forcing him to hunch over and grab her hips for support. She was more aggressive this time, wrapping her legs around his waist so that he would have to push her against the door and then going for the hem of his shirt -

"Wait!" he mumbled, yanking his face away from hers.

"What?"

"What are you doing?"

"Taking off your shirt."

He backed up, dropping her unceremoniously to the floor. "I think it's time for me to go."

Sakura stared at him. "You really do respect me, don't you?"

His eyes found a spot on the ceiling and he stared at it resolutely. "Yes."

She leaned against the door and he glanced at her before ripping his gaze away again. She looked too beautiful right now for him to keep looking at her without granting her other wish...

And then she was right next to him, kissing him on the cheek. He stood still, letting her turn his face towards her.

"Thanks for the gift...it was worth waiting for."

She was starting to walk away; it was his last chance to say something, and he needed to let her know that the feelings were mutual.

"Let's do this right."

She turned around.

"I'm bad at this. But let's have dinner or something. I'm not okay with treating you like a one-night stand. You're worth more than that."

A large smile lit up her face. "So...goodnight, I guess?"

He grabbed her hand, kissing it lightly, and then pulled up his mask again, his eye crinkled in joy.

"Happy birthday, Sakura."

--

A/N: A birthday story for my birthday. ^^ If they're OOC, I apologize. This was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing. Hope you enjoyed!

--kat