Of Damsels and Knights

A/N: I was lurking the other night and realized that a lot of summaries and themes spin around the kunoichi (particularly Hinata for some reason) finding a prince or a knight in shining armor – or just being rescued in general.

Kakashi. He's complex and smexy and oh so mysterious. In my mind and in my world, him and Ten make an awesome pair. He's not the rescuing type, but more like the "here, I'll teach you this so you can rescue yourself." His affections and concerns manifest in a different physical action. And it's not like TenTen is completely helpless and would ask to be rescued, you know?

Pairings: Canon is not love.

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Thrust. Parry. Swipe. Dodge. Kick. Punch.

She was glad she was only wearing a t-shirt, as she was soaked in her own sweat. Her lungs were aching and burning, lips cracking and dry from panting. Even though her calves were cramping and her thighs were screaming for her to stop and rest, TenTen didn't want to think about the prospect of losing to her opponent.

Hatake Kakashi. Son of the White Fang. Copy Cat Nin. Lone non-Uchiha to possess the Sharingan. The best of the best. Cream of the crop. A legend.

He was hardly breaking a sweat as he continued his close-range taijutsu attack on her. She wanted to scream aloud as she was heaving and about to die of asphyxiation and his sharingan eye wasn't even exposed. She wasn't even worth his time, he was saying, not worth the respect of a full on, full fledged fight. And for that she wanted to pound his handsome face into the ground.

She was furious, he saw as she tried to close in on his face with her elbow, furious at the thought of losing. The lone kunoichi of Team Gai wasn't different at all from her teammates and sensei, he noted. None of them liked losing, and all of them had an insatiable competitive drive that fueled them to almost masochistically seek out those with different abilities and strengths, those who could almost always beat them. All had something to prove. The poster kids of success through hard work rather than natural talent. Passionate. Funny though, Kakashi noted to himself as he grabbed her elbow and spun her around, locking her against his torso, she wasn't the one who initiated this spar. He had.

Tenten grunted as the breath was squeezed out of her. Her arms were pinned to her chest and one of his legs was hooked around hers, ready to topple her to the ground if she tried to kick free. She swore viciously under her breath as she tried to free herself but his hands tightened their grip on her wrists, bending the slender bones almost dangerously in two. He hadn't said a word since the spar began, didn't break out into any words of encouragement or bait, or even taunts. Just silently tried to close in on her and corner her. Even with her pinned against him in a rather odd lock, he wasn't saying anything. Giving up on forcing her way out of her confines, Tenten decided maybe a more childish method - like squirming - might work. She wriggled, scooting down his chest and trying to wriggle her leg free, brushing her hips against his pelvis. And that's when she noticed that something was off.

Kakashi had been staring at her the entire time.

She was a lot smaller than she looked, Kakashi noticed when he wrapped his arms around her. When she was with her team or in her Jounin gear, she looked somewhat imposing and unapproachable, but the soft girl he had trapped against his chest was very frail. Young, soft, and frail. He didn't mind that she was sweaty and dirty from their spar. Sure she smelled like sweat, but he could still smell her soap and laundry detergent. Clean.

He had always wondered about her. All the Jounin instructors had something to say about their kunoichis. Asuma groused endlessly about how Ino was extremely talented and how far she could go, if only she'd stop being so childish and fixated on superficial things, like Sasuke. Hinata was too fragile and lacked proper self confidence, Kurenai worried. Kakashi himself had chimed in now and then about Sakura's lack of focus on her priorities, wondered out loud if she was becoming a shinobi for the wrong reasons.

Only Gai had never badmouthed his female student. He had worried aloud during his team's first exam, and he would occasionally comment on her improvement, but most of the time he discussed Lee. But Lee was the one with no natural chakra and on the verge of never being a shinobi; naturally he'd take up his time and attention.

Kakashi rarely saw TenTen with the other kunoichi, or at the places they frequented. She was always either training or on a mission, she rarely frequented the shinobi bars, and hardly showed at get-togethers. She was practically a ghost. All he knew about her was her goal to be the best kunoichi in the world, her deadly accuracy, and her endless arsenal. He wanted to know more then just the technical stuff.

"Kakashi sensei" she called, rolling back a shoulder to get his attention. "Yea?" he replied, still not releasing her. "This is the part where you decide to either let me go or try to beat me," she challenged. He could feel her back straighten, and was suddenly aware of how snugly she fit against him, especially where her rump filled the cradle of his pelvis. "You know, you're the one who pestered me into this spar on my day off - it's really insulting that you don't pay attention throughout it," she continued, unknowing of what was going on in the Copy Nin's head. "Shall we?" she prompted, pushing back against him with her rear. His thigh muscle twitched.

"Don't be afraid to pull in close," he said in her ear, unconsciously squeezing her tighter to him, unaware that the deep vibrations rumbling against the kunoichi's back and the sweep of his breath against her neck were stirring an unusual reaction in her. "You've got to be able to fight at all ranges, with or without weapons." She snorted before turning her face to smirk at him, "duh, why else would I be sparring with you?" Kakashi didn't quite hear the rest of her sentence because he was taken aback at how close their faces were – she didn't seem to be aware that their mouths were only inches apart.

Tenten took advantage of Kakashi's lapse in attention. She stomped his foot to free herself, spun around and pulled Kakashi even closer by his vest to topple him onto the ground. She would have sprung away from him to gain some distance but he grabbed an ankle and swept her legs out from underneath her, rolling on top to trap her. Staring up at the Lazy Nin's one eye as he pinned her hands above her head, straddling her hips, Tenten felt the strangest of sensations course over her body.

She was blushing!

Kakashi thought as the kunoichi's face flushed rosy pink as she continued to stare up at him, an unreadable expression on her face. Whatever she was thinking, Kakashi thought, she looked oh so vulnerable and helpless. A damsel in distress that needed rescuing from this big, bad, wolf.

Too bad he wasn't a knight.

Tenten suddenly head butted Kakashi, smashing her forehead into his face. He let go and rolled onto his back, clamping a hand over his throbbing nose, biting his lip madly to keep himself from yelling. Wearing a mask came in handy, he thought as his eyes watered – people couldn't see your expression in the most embarrassing situations.

Tenten should have sprung back to put some distance between her adversary and her, should have declared victory, maybe crippled him even further. She wanted to laugh at the Copy Nin's pained expression, the tears leaking out of the corners of his eyes, but she suddenly became worried as the Sharingan user remained silent.

"Sempai?" she queried, stepping closer to him, bending down to try to look him in the face, "are you alright?" Worriedly, Tenten started shaking his shoulder, trying to roll him over so she could see if she had substantially injured him. She hadn't thought to watch for his free hand, cursing her foolishness when Kakashi grabbed her by the collar and threw her back on the ground, rolling atop her once more, this time an elbow effectively placed on her windpipe. However much she wheezed and gasped he continued to lean his weight on it, dispassionately gazing into her face as she turned blue.

"I think I have you beat, Tenten," he murmured, lowering his face, "but I'm not sure if I want to let go."

Maybe it was the triumph of having the Walking Arsenal flattened on her back underneath him, or maybe it was curiosity, but Kakashi waited just a bit longer to see what Tenten would do about her situation. She slammed the heels of her hands into his ribs.

Ten would have laughed had she not been busy trying to suck in as much air as possible, rolling onto her side and wheezing at the cold burning sensation in her chest. Kakashi on the other hand, lay on his back a few feet away, massaging his ribs and groaning softly to himself. She sat up, brushing the dirt off of her, "you're such an asshole, Hatake-san" Ten threw over her shoulder, "I have a mission tomorrow and now I'm going to be all sore, thanks to you."

She almost jumped out of her skin when she saw that the Copy Nin was squatting right behind her, one visible eye curved in a smile. "Think of it as preparation then – you never know what'll happen," he cooed at her, brushing the dirt off her back and helping her up.

"Thanks for the spar," she said, thumping his shoulder, "although I wouldn't necessarily say that you beat me." Kakashi grinned and caught her arm before she could turn away, "rematch when you get back from your mission?"

He had to admit, he felt pretty good when she readily agreed.

A/N: Sorry if the story seems a bit disconnected – I had written most of it and for some reason left it off and just found it again tonight, hence breaking the original train. If it's terrible I'll take it down and rework it.

Also, let's diversify Tenten's love pool, y'all! I love Neji and all, but I'm tired of all these Tenji fics :P