A/N: I'm not much for pairings, but Kakasaku is my guilty pleasure. Hope you like it.
The Cabinet Door
The war was over.
It had not lasted long, the longs wars of the past had left an imprint on all of the nations, and they were loathed to stretch it out. It was almost over before it had begun, Naruto's growth as a ninja fueled Konaha's victory.
Shortly before the war, Sakura had fallen in love.
He was a chunin, and unremarkable compared to many of the people she was acquainted with. He had no bloodline, no family tradition, no hidden jutsus, or a nickname in the Bingo book. He wasn't terribly handsome, and women weren't falling at his feet when he passed by. Ino had gone so far to calm him bland, but it did not matter to Sakura. Because he had done something that no other man had done, he had asked her out on a date in front of Naruto.
Sakura was already gaining notoriety for her fists of fury, her temper, and her kindness. People admired her from afar, and some ogled her up close, but none had summoned the courage to ask her. But he did, and he did so with a smile on his face, and a flower in his hand. What's more, he asked her in front of Naruto, whose repeated proclamation that he would never let a sleazy jerk break her heart, lead to her being watched instead of asked on dates. And while Naruto choked on his ramen, she took the flower and said yes.
What Ino called bland, was what Sakura called refreshing.
He had no large dreams, no large ambitions, just his dedication and hope for the future. She had enough friends risking their lives everyday with dangerous missions, coming back slashed and pale. But he was stable and warm, and he could make her laugh at the drop of a pin. Not a smile, not a chuckle, but a full-blown laughter that could make her forget that she was angry just seconds before. Sakura knew that he would never leave the village because it was his world, and she relished the idea of building their life in Konoha. Perhaps he would become a teacher, and she could work at the hospital and raise a family.
And then he died.
She finds him in a field with several others, his face down on the ground. She had done a quick check on the others first, there were some unconscious, but still alive and she patched their wounds to make them stable before sending them off with a transportation scroll, and then she moved on to identify the dead. He was the last one she found, and her hands shook from the surprise as she flipped him over.
Sakura didn't know how long she sat there on the damp ground, nor can she remember what was the exact cause of his death. When she feels pressure at her ankle that she looks around her surroundings. She sees a small dog nipping at her ankle and a pair of muddy worn sandals.
"Hello, Pakkun," she says, her voice soft but steady.
"Hey there, are you okay?" the dog asks, looking at her with concern.
"I'm alive," Sakura replies, and looks once more at the cold body before her. She feels a large hand on her shoulder squeezing, and hears Kakashi's mutter.
"Sakura, we need to leave."
"Okay," she responds, and she dusts off her skirt as she rises to her feet.
Two days later the war is over.
There is a large funeral for the fallen ninja; her husband-that-never-was had not died alone. It could have been much worse, she hears the villagers whisper down the street, and it is little consolation. The day is clear and beautiful, and she wishes that it were pouring down rain. Perhaps then, it would be easier to lie to herself, and pretend that she has cried for him. But she has not, and in the bright sunlight all can see her dry eyes. She's uncomfortable during the service; numb to all of the misery that surrounds her.
His mother and father have invited her to their home after the service along with various members of his family and friends. She keeps her head low to hide her face and mentions that she will try to make it.
"The poor dear is stricken with grief, I doubt she'll come. Remind me to send someone to check up on her later on the day," Sakura hears the mother say as she walks away. She is relieved that she won't be expected there, but now is in a bit of panic. She imagines his parent's faces when they find out she hasn't cried for him, and she cringes
She walks down the streets of the village trying to find someplace to hide. But where? The first place they will look is her apartment, and she's been given a mandatory break from the hospital. After that they will go to Naruto, and he'll multiply himself five hundred times and offer to help find her. She's been known to frequent teahouses, and the Narutos will search all of her favorite haunts to find her. The only way will be to go somewhere new and unlikely. She passes by an old junk store, and pauses at the next building. It's a porn store.
She nibbles her lip, and considers the pros and cons. No one would look for her in there. On the other hand, she would have to spend an embarrassing amount of time there. She hesitates, and then reaches for the handle, before the door opens on its own.
Kakashi is standing there, same as ever, although his eyes is wider than normal as he catches sight of her out stretched hand.
"Sakura, what are you doing here?" his voice doesn't hide his puzzlement. "I thought today was the funeral." She doesn't know how to reply, so she stays silent, and turns to allow him onto the street. He doesn't move, but tilts his head to the side, and observes her. Sakura continues to keep her head low, noticing that gash in his sandals is still present.
"You know, I'm about to give the dogs a bath. I could use some help," Kakashi says. It's another lame excuse, from a perpetually late man who never gets lost on the road of life, Sakura thinks. His words are transparent as glass; it is an unspoken offer of company and escape. But she's desperate for a hiding place, and it is a better idea than she's able to come up with. And it is possible that she won't be found at his apartment. If she is, at least people will be relived she's not huddled in her bed under the covers alone. So she accepts his offer.
She's only been to his apartment a few times, all times when Tsunade sends her with a message. But it's Kakashi, so promptly makes herself comfortable as he goes to his bedroom and drops off whatever he bought. Sakura washes the dogs with care, making small castles on their backs with the bubbles, and lets the thumps of their tails, yips and yaps cover her silence.
Pakkun is the last dog she washes, his little body wiggling as she rubs his belly. And when all of the dogs are washed and dried, she picks up Pakkun and begins to cry.
The sobs come heavy and deep and not a single tear is for the man she loved. It's all shame and embarrassment, and so much confusion. Where had she lost herself? She feels numb, and certain that she would be able to able to wake up the next morning and move on with her life. Sakura had placed much of her pride in her ability to care. When she was young, Sasuke's departure made her miserable for weeks. But now that the man she loved was dead, and she couldn't muster a tear for him. She couldn't even go to his parent's house to mourn him. Instead she's hiding in her old sensei's apartment, washing a dog with the shampoo she used at age twelve. She felt like she betrayed herself and him. Or perhaps when he died he took her heart with him.
And now her thoughts are bursting out of her mouth, most of it sounding like gibberish and self-pity, and maybe it is. But Kakashi listens to every word, and when she stops, he brings her a napkin to dry her face and a cup of water for her dry mouth. And when he places his hand on her shoulder, she takes a deep breath and feels ready to face the world again.
The next day she goes with his parents to the cenotaph and sets bouquet of flowers in front of it, the same type he first gave her. As they leave, she sees Kakashi approaching, a large bag strapped to his back. She's not surprised that he's leaving for another mission already. Konoha needs money, and he's always been one of the better-paid ninja.
She moves back to her old apartment, and his parents come and pick up his old things. She keeps the pictures of him, and a mug. One of the pictures is placed on a frame next to her couch, and the rest are placed on a shelf in her closet. She places the mug in a kitchen cabinet, the one with a squeaky door. He used that squeaky cabinet door to persuade her to move into his apartment, although she can't remember how. Sakura supposes that she should have it fixed, but her heart isn't into it.
Her heart isn't into anything anymore.
Avoidance has become a new hobby of hers. Everyone expects her to mourn, to drag her feet in misery, instead of the numbness she feels. When she leaves the hospital everyone thinks she is sobbing her heart out over him, but the truth is that she goes to bookstores. One day, she finds a romance novel, and is hooked and buys the whole set in one go. The time races faster this way, its easier to ignore her missing heart, and the glances of pity.
She's nearly late to appointments more than once.
One day after work, she goes to the store, and picks up some food for the week. It is only when Sakura walks out the door does she realize her mistake. She bought a set of sausages that he liked, but he wasn't here to eat them anymore. She stands there frozen on the sidewalk; the plastic handle feels unnaturally tight on her wrist. Her other hand pressed against the window of the butcher's shop, and she squeezed her eyes tight, her body trembling. She forgot he was gone…what did this say of her?
She was a heartless, shallow person who couldn't remember him because he was ordinary.
Even now she was forgetting the things that she loved about him.
He used to make her laugh so much.
But what did he say?
There's a nudge at her ankle, and Pakkun is there. She is astonished to find herself leaning against the wall of he butcher shop, and the sun is about to set. It says something about her, she thinks, that the only thing that tying her to sanity was a talking dog.
"Did you buy some sausages?" The pug asks, his eyes wide and hopeful.
"Oh, yes," Sakura replies with a steady voice. She walks down the street and he follows. She reaches Kakashi's apartment and enters in the unlocked door. The window shades are down, and it's obvious he is still gone on his mission. She reaches in the bag and with withdraws the package and places the sausages down. She originally bought the sausages for Pakkun; she lies to herself, they were never meant for anyone else. And as she watches the dog snack happily, she begins to believe it.
"So what were you doing around?" she asks, and she bends down to pick him up.
"Kakashi told me to keep an eye on you," he replied contently. Sakura blinks.
"Why?" she asks in bewilderment. The statement is a surprise and for a moment the numbness is missing, replaced with curiosity.
"Well, Kakashi cares about you an awful lot," Pakkun says, raising a paw to scratch his ears.
"What?" Sakura is astonished to hear this. "What makes you say that?" The pug gave her a droopy stare, and then sighed.
"Well, you're the first woman he's brought over to his apartment." Sakura gapes at the dog, and sputters, before picking up her groceries and leaving.
The next day, she is eating lunch with her friends. As Kiba goes on about a recent mission, her mind wanders to Pakkun's statement. She doesn't remember Kakashi placing an extra amount of attention to her; in her mind he's always been the same slightly aloof man he's been since her genin days.
"Sakura!" Ino says in a loud voice. She looks back at the table, and she realizes they've been calling her name for a while. Naruto is looking at her with wide eyes, and Hinata and Ino share a look, and Sakura knows it's a pity glance.
No longer hungry, she leaves soon after. At least the books won't judge her. And as she opens the cabinet door, it creaks loudly. And she hates it.
Her friends continue to invite her to meals that the company will help her move on. But Sakura grows weary of the constant company, and so to stop their nagging, she fakes her enjoyment. She smiles, and laughs, and they feel proud, but the truth is that she feels as numb as ever. But one night, she catches her reflection in a bar mirror. Perhaps it's the ways her eyes are scrunched, or the false laughter coming out of her mouth, but she suddenly feels exhausted with the act. And so she leaves the bar, her coat left on the rack and she races back home, leaping on rooftops. She relishes the feeling of the crisp air on her skin, and the silence in the air, and in five minutes, she will be home with her books.
Sakura has always felt epiphanies were overrated, she the sort of person who learned through constant study and practice. But she has one right then, for the first time she feels like she understands Kakashi.
The thought consumes her that night, and she remembers all of his traits and quirks. It's odd that she's picked up some of his habits on her own volition. Some of the is actions makes senses now, while others are as mystifying as ever. But it comforting that even if she's lost herself, and least she's beginning to understand someone else.
The next day she goes to Tsunade's office.
"Where's Kakashi?" Sakura demands, hoping that he's in the village. Her newfound understanding is something that she wants to share with him.
"Gone on a mission. Why?" Tsunade's eyes narrow in suspicion at her sudden interest.
"I…He owes me money for some sausages," the words trip over Sakura's tongue as she tries to find something to say. Tsunade leans back and raises her eyebrow.
"He owes you money… for sausages," she says with skepticism. Sakura flushes as she hears the tone in Tsunade's voice, but continues on.
"Yes," she confirms stubbornly.
"I don't believe you, that's an excuse that Kakashi would be proud of. Not that it matters if I tell you. He's currently on a mission guarding a large caravan on it's way to Snow Country."
"Oh, okay. Um.. thank you," Sakura says, and leaves the room.
She would wait.
Sakura is sitting under a tree reading a romance novel when he comes back. She's not certain if she chose this specific tree if because it's the most likely route he'll take when he comes back, or if the shade really is that fantastic. She hears the scuff of his feet first before she looks up.
"Oh!" Sakura rises to her feet as he approaches. He comes to a stop as she rises to her feet. The words of her grand epiphany die in her throat. A week ago in felt all so important, but seeing him here now, she feels as if the words were best left unspoken.
So instead she gives him a smile and a wave. "Hello."
"Sakura," he replies with a nod. He doesn't ask her how she feels, and it's refreshing. She gets up and walks with him in silence back to his apartment. It's clear Kakashi is confused of why she's doing this, and gains some satisfaction in leaving him in the dark. He's done it plenty of times to her before.
They reach his apartment she reaches for his arm. He pauses, his head tilting ever so slightly to the side. Then Sakura gives him a hug, wrapping her arms around him tightly. He smells strange, of the forest and the wind with the unpleasant scent of a few days journey underneath it all. His arms don't follow her example, but one hand comes up and rests on her shoulder and gives her a reassuring squeeze.
She lets him go.
The numbness faded.
It's was easier to laugh, and she enjoyed Ino's gossip of who is dating who, and she could visit the cenotaph with his parents and she missed him.
One day, she walked into Tsunade's office to drop off some files. Kakashi was there, delivering a report from Suna.
…the Kazakage delivered the rest of his intentions in this letter to you." He finished.
Sakura sets the files on a large stack on the table, but some of them fall to the ground. Sakura huffed, and bent over to pick them up
"Kakashi, stop staring at Sakura's ass," Tsunade said in a bored tone. Sakura was under the impression that it was a frequent request, but the statement caused her to jerk clumsily. She didn't say anything though, and left quietly.
Pakkun said Kakashi cared for her, but never said how much.
When one becomes an elite ninja, it was rare to be injured badly. If you were an elite ninja, you did most of the injuring. And so it was with Kakashi. Sakura went with him and ten other ninja on a mission to find a group of thieves on the edge of Fire Country. It wasn't a difficult mission, but it was time consuming to find all of the items they had stashed.
There were a few injuries, the worst on a newly instated chunnin who managed to get a large gash down his arm. It wasn't until they gathered around the campfire that evening that she noticed the small cut in the palm of Kakashi's hand.
"Kakashi, let me see that," Sakura said, as she held out her own. Kakashi gave her a look of disbelief, but he relented when he saw her determined face. She held his hand in hers, and focused her chakra onto the cut. It didn't take long to heal, and when she finished she gave him a small smile. He said nothing in response, his dark eye looked at her with interest. It then that she realized that she was still holding onto his hand, far longer that was typical for these situations.
And she thought of Pakkun's statement, and she was curious how much Kakashi's liked her and for how long he felt this way. His heart beat steadily under her fingertips, and part of her knew that she should let go. But she did not want to, because she didn't really mind Kakashi's hands in hers. But someone was bound to notice if she didn't move them soon. And as her hands are about to drift back into her lap, Kakashi reached out to grab her wrist and gave a gentle pinch just below her thumb.
Her entire arm tingled the rest of the night.
When they got back, he began to court her. There was no other way that she could describe it. It wasn't dating. The idea of Kakashi standing on her doorstep with a bunch of flowers in his arms, and calling her a sugary nickname was laughable. In fact, a few months ago, she didn't think that courting was such a thing was possible, much less from him.
As far as she knew, Kakashi operated in five ways. His default mode was Lazy, from his slouch to his tardiness. The second was Courteous; it was the way he acted with the old biddies and strangers in the village. There was his Stern attitude during a fight. When he managed to outwit his friends/ strangers/ enemies, he was Smug. And of course, there was Perverted, which was always.
But this was new.
Which in a way, proved that Kakashi had to be exceptional in everything he did
The next morning she showered, dressed, and prepared for another day at the hospital. But when she walked out the door of her apartment, she saw Kakashi walking down the street. He gave her a small nod, and then waited by the street as she locked the door. He murmured a good morning, and she responded the same. She did not ask him why he was there, lest she get one more of his odd explanations.
(Well, there's a type of flower in a nearby field that's harvested for it's spectacular healing qualities. Unfortunately, it grows in the moonlight, and there is one particular plant that is growing under the shade of a tree. And I, the caring person that I am, spent the entire night holding back the branches so the plant will grow so that little Hana in the hospital will be able to walk again.)
Instead, she enjoyed the company of his presence and walked down the street. A few blocks before they arrived, Sakura entered a busy cafe. Tea was the drink of choice on normal occasions, but in the morning, coffee ruled supreme. Sakura stood in the busy line, and patiently waited for it to be served, as she struggled with the rest of the crowd to keep her eyes open.
When she left the shop, she was surprised to find Kakashi still there. They parted ways when she arrived at the hospital. He told her to have a good day; she wished him the same, at that was it. She didn't think much of it until the next day, when he showed up again. And the next day. And the day after that.
On the fifth day, he held her door open for her. She was so stunned; she nearly dropped her coffee.
On the eighth day, he brought her coffee with him.
On the eleventh day, his hand brushed her back ever so slightly that she thought perhaps she had imagined it.
And the trend continued.
Their relationship was not of tawdry encounters in bathroom bars, nor romantic dates in pricey restaurants. It was a relationship of shared smiles, secret glances, and simple moments. And Sakura knew that if she told anyone about it, they would scoff and laugh and tell her that it wasn't a relationship at all, that was a normal friendship.
And she would agree, except that the person who was doing this was Kakashi.
He told her to look underneath the underneath, and he was always one to pick up on nuances.
The open door was a courtesy he paid to her. Sakura wasn't an idiot, she knew she was perfectly capable of opening her own door, and she would probably bristle if anyone else did it for her. But he already knew that, and what's more, he never opened doors for just anyone.
He paid for the coffee and she got to sleep in an extra half an hour. A no-fuss, practical way to show that he cared. And a light squeeze of his hand on her shoulder, and an absentminded touch on her back sent a message as well. She could tell him to stop at anytime, that she wasn't ready for another relationship, or that she didn't like him.
But she stayed silent and he kept coming.
The next time he went on a long mission, he left her a note to remind her to set her clock early. And when she went into the café, she found that Kakashi had already paid for her coffee for the next month.
Sakura saw Pakkun around the village more than once. And one day, when she went to Kakashi's apartment she found him home.
"Sakura?" Kakashi asked in puzzlement.
"Don't mind me, I just came to feed Pakkun," she replied, holding up the bag from the butcher's shop. He looked at her in bemusement as she went over to the small dog standing in the kitchen.
"Mmmm…Kakashi, you need to keep this one, she mmphrffgr…" The rest of the pug's words descended into gibberish as he stuffed his mouth.
Sakura let out a small laugh, and purposely bent over. She pretended that she was giving Pakkun a scratch behind the ears, but really she hoped that Kakashi was staring at her ass. She glanced over her shoulder, then smiled in triumph.
They went on a mission together with three other ninja a few months later. Nothing particularly exciting happened until they were on their way back. Sakura didn't know the other three very well, she had only been on a mission with one of them before. The night before they arrived back, the five of them were sitting around the campfire. The other three ninja were laughing, sharing their own private jokes about someone's younger sister. Sakura did not have anything to say, so she sat down silently next to Kakashi, who was reading.
And as the night progressed, the two of them got closer and closer. Eventually it dawned on her that the space between them had disappeared. Sakura's knee would occasionally knock against is thigh, and his elbow would occasionally brush against her ribs when he turned the page. And that's how they spent the evening, three ninja laughed, one read a porn book, and one obsessed with shared body heat.
The next week, they accidentally have sex.
Not accidentally in the, "I didn't mean to put that there," sense, but Sakura's original plans for the night included a tub of ice cream. She had stayed late at the hospital, and there were only a few stores open at that time of night by the time she was done. It wasn't much of a detour, but it was enough of a walk that she met up with Kakashi on her way out of the store.
Kakashi was in many ways, a deceptive drunk. It was easy to have an entire conversation with him in nothing but murmurs, and hums. So when he was drunk, communication didn't change much. And he knew the village so well, that he could easily close his eyes and walk home. But when he was really bad off, he tilted his headband, and exposed the Sharingan.
Apparently, it worked pretty well even with alcohol in his system, and he would use it to walk in a precise and straight path home, before collapsing in his bed.
"Hello, Kakashi," Sakura said when she caught sight of him on the street. He turned to her, and ambled over.
"Sakura," he murmured, his voice deeper than usual. "Have I ever told you that you have wonderful boots?"
"I.. um… well, no." Sakura suppressed the smile on her face, and giving him a poke in the shoulder. However, Kakashi was more inebriated than she thought, and her touch nearly tumbled him over. The dizziness proved too much for him.
"Excuse me," Kakashi said, before he expertly vomited in a nearby trashcan.
"There's some water over in the canal, you can wash your face in there." Kakashi's response was a half-hearted groan. Sakura helped hoist him up, and dragged him over to the water. She was referring to the same place that she used to meet with him in the glory days of Team Seven.
He nearly tumbled in the water when he leaned over, so he crouched on his knees to splash some water onto his face.
She patted his head affectionately, and gave a giggle. "Careful now. If you keep up with that sort of behavior people will stop calling you a pervert and start calling you a drunk."
"I don't think that will ever happen," Kakashi said, his voice a little clearer now that some of the poison had left his system. He leaned his head against her thigh, an arm wrapped around her legs with a finger tucked inside one of the boots. Sakura bit her lip, but it was not enough to stop the words she wanted to say.
"Prove it," she challenged. Kakashi's head snapped up in shock, the moonlight made his red eye glow eerily.
The next thing she knew her legs were wrapped around his waist, and she was balanced delicately on the railing. She moaned as he moved inside of her, and when she tilted her head back, she could see the exact spot where he appeared every morning to teach her when she was twelve.
They parted without a word, but a squeeze of his hand on her shoulder and her smile. It's only when she gets home that she realizes that her ice cream has melted. When she poured it down the drain, she noticed that it looked a little bit like vomit.
The full weight of the ridiculous situation caught up with her. She had sex with her old sensei where he used to teach her. He hadn't even kissed her because his breath was still tainted from his earlier sickness. He ruined her dessert. He smelled like alcohol. She would probably wake up with bruises on her ass from the railing and his hands. And she was okay with that.
Sakura laughed in joy, because she found her heart again.
When she stopped by Tsunade's office the next afternoon she can tell that something is wrong. Everyone was avoiding her office like the plague.
"Can you believe it?" Tsunade grumped. "I received a mission from a very rich client, and it's a gold mine for the village, but it has to be postponed for a couple of days."
"Why is that?" Sakura said obediently, she knew that it was best to get the rant out of the way.
"Because of Kakashi. Not only did that idiot get blind drunk last night, he also suffered some chakra depletion. What on earth was that man doing last night that required him to use his Sharingan?" Sakura raised her hand her mouth, but it wasn't enough to stop her mirth, and she burst out in hysterics. When she was done she went to Kakashi's apartment.
That night they purposely had sex.
She was sent on another mission before he came back. Sakura trudged to her apartment in annoyance, and longed for a hot shower. When she entered her home, she immediately noticed there was something different. It felt more crowded. As she glanced around the room, her eye caught sight of new items. There was an extra plant on the window frame, a set a bright covers on her bookshelf, and a pair of worn gloves on her coffee table.
Plus there's a body on her couch.
Kakashi looked up from the cover of his book, and gave her a wave.
"My apartment had leaky pipes, and I needed someplace to stay. I figured that you wouldn't mind," he said, rubbing his head with his hand. Sakura gave him a smile as she slipped out of her shoes.
"No, I don't mind," Sakura replied. She took a shower and leaves the door half-open. She's a bit disappointed that he doesn't come in, opting to laze about on her couch. After delivering her report to Tsunade, she was struck with curiosity, and walks over to Kakashi's apartment.
"Excuse me, I was wondering what's the status with the plumbing," she asked.
The apartment supervisor looked at her curiously. "I'm sorry, I don't know what you are talking about. As far as I know, there isn't any issue with our plumbing."
"I must have the wrong building," Sakura apologized even though she knew it wasn't true. As she walked away, she pondered this new revelation, Kakashi had moved to her apartment because he wanted to. A small, devious smile crossed her face.
Kakashi was attempting to level her crooked coffee table when she arrived. "I spoke to the building supervisor Kakashi. He said the pipes were fixed now. You can go home."
There was a long pause, before he responded back. "Oh, thank you for checking Sakura. I suppose I'll be on my way."
Sakura let out a small laugh and motioned for him to stay seated. "You don't have to leave now, I'll make you some tea." She rummaged through the cupboard to pull out her supplies and told him about her mission. Then she reached for the mugs and the cupboard door squeaked loudly.
Sakura swung it back and forth.
"You know, before I moved in to the apartment with Mitsuo I was mad at him. I can't remember what the argument was about, but I had changed my mind when I was about to move my things over to his apartment. And do you know how he convinced me? He gave me tea. (Squeak) And when he was opening the cabinet door, it made this loud noise and he told me it could drive a person insane, especially if they were alone." (Creak)
"Ah," he responded. Kakashi appeared to be catching on. After all, looking underneath the underneath was something he did very well. He was always one for bizarre excuses anyway.
"Well, I suppose I could stay here for a few extra days. I think it would be a pity if you were driven insane by a cabinet door," he replied. It was a transparent lie, but Sakura didn't care.
The cabinet door was never fixed.