This Is Our Sordid Love Affair – A Collection of KakaSaku One-Shots
Live Your Life
Word Count: 3526
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, so don't sue me.
Summary: "Rule 101 of the Shinobi code: 'Spar today like there's no tomorrow'." "You know, there were only 100 rules the last time I checked."… Can the pink-haired kunoichi teach her sensei what it means to live?
A/N: Wheeew. After 11 days of revising, Live Your Life transformed from a double-drabble to a full 3,500+ one-shot. =) Enjoy!
"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."
The lack of light on this chilly, December night wasn't enough to stop the kunoichi from finding her target –Sakura had recognized Kakashi from miles away. And just as she predicted, said man was squatted in front of the memorial stone, staring intently at the engraved names of the deceased.
"Kaka-sensei!" Sakura yelled as she was nearing the site. "Naruto and I have been waiting for you forever! You're going to miss the countdown and the fireworks."
"Sorry." He muttered. "I'll be there later…"
The copy ninja didn't bother to turn his head.
Sakura frowned. Later? We've already been waiting for four hours! I predicted he'd be around two hours late, so I told him to be at the bar by 7. When it turned 11', that's when everybody started to worry. It's not like him to be that late…that's why I volunteered to come find him.
He's so annoyingly predictable! Rain or shine, you're guaranteed to find Kakashi here.
She hesitated, but voiced her thoughts in the end. "You're a creature of habit, sensei."
Kakashi raised his brow, still facing the memorial stone.
Sakura continued. "When you're not away on a mission, you're always here. You're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! And I suspect you'd be here more if it was possible!"
He said nothing.
Sakura's blood began to boil. Her voice boomed loud enough to wake the dead. "While waiting for you to show up, Naruto and I have done some calculating: The average time we waited for you every day in the last 12 missions together was 87 minutes! That's almost one-and-a-half more hours of sleep, or in Naruto's case, 8 more bowls of ramen. Do you realize how inconsiderate it is to keep people waiting for you hours on end? Do you even realize that you're damaging your friends' trust and wasting their time?"
Sakura didn't stop there. She was on a roll. "A-and by coming here, you're wasting your own time. I bet you could have read ten thousand Icha Icha's by now if you stopped wasting time here! You know the saying "Time waits for no man"? Well, time doesn't wait for shinobi either -even for one as talented as you!"
Kakashi finally turned to look at her with his lazy eye. The kunoichi regretted her outburst immediately. Sakura had great respect and admiration for this man, and she was afraid she crossed the line this time.
"I'm sorry. I lost track of time." He said sincerely.
For the first time tonight, Sakura took a good look at her ex-sensei. He was as handsome as usual, but tonight, he looked weary, tired, and emotionally-beaten. It was evident that the scars of his psychological injuries ran much deeper than the physical. He still had that lackadaisical look, but even with the mask, Sakura could see the sadness lurking inside.
"Nevermind... I'm sorry too." Sakura said in a hushed whisper. It pained her so much to see him in distress.
"It's not your fault he's dead, you know?" 'He' referring to her sensei's ex-best friend, Uchiha Obito. In the 14 years of knowing Kakashi, Sakura had learned to avoid the topic of her sensei's first team -Team Minato. After learning about their tragic deaths from Tsunade-shisho (and swearing secrecy), the subject became more or less a taboo. Even the loudmouth Naruto stopped pressing him with questions. Tonight, though, was different. Sakura wasn't going to reside in silence and witness Kakashi's suffering. And besides, the boundaries have already been pushed.
"It is." Kakashi answered bluntly. "He died because of my poor judgement."
"I know I sound corny," Sakura shifted her feet awkwardly. "…but the past is behind us. No matter how hard you wish and regret, the past is never going to change. Obito's death was an accident –which means nobody is at fault. Blaming yourself for his accidental death is as pointless as it is oxymoronic. I've never known Obito personally, but from what I've heard about him, I think he would be rolling in his grave if he knew his best friend is still mourning his death after twenty-something years."
He looked up at her again. He looked into her eyes, and she felt the pain he was feeling.
"It should be my name on this," He chuckled coldly and gestured to the stone with his hand. "I didn't see it coming. I was so careless that I didn't even notice the goddamn boarder that was coming to crush me. I should have been the one squashed to death that day–It should have been me…"
Sakura hadn't expected him to give more than one-worded answers (and even one at all). This was probably the first and only time Kakashi has ever commented on the incident. Sakura was beyond grateful. I guess this means Kakashi trusts me enough to show this side of himself.
Kakashi stole a glance at his pink-haired student. She was standing roughly two meters away, chewing on the insides of her bottom lip. Kakashi was close enough to smell the fragrance of her favorite coconut-lime shampoo. He was close enough to notice her uncomfortable stance. He was close enough to see the concern in her beautiful green eyes. Damn…too close. Kakashi found it impossible to look away.
Sakura held his gaze bravely. "Casualties are the perpetual parts in every mission –they're unavoidable. If it were Obito who was about to get crushed, no doubt, you would have done the same thing for him. I wish you could let somebody in to share your pain for once. I hate seeing you beat yourself up for a misstep you made in your childhood, Kaka-sensei."
"Some misstep that was… Killing a friend, accident or not." He sighed in disappointment -his own. "But that's not the point, Sakura. Obito would still be alive if I didn't let him rescue Rin by himself. We would have avoided the boarders if we worked together from the start.
He was only thirteen... And I was a heartless bastard for trading the success of a mission for my friends' lives."
Sakura suddenly found herself asphyxiated by the thick, gloomy atmosphere. Finding the right words to comfort the older man is becoming progressively more difficult -her plan to console him was backfiring. Frantic, Sakura tried to make light of the situation. "Better to die on a mission as a hero than to die by the hands of that sick Uchiha Itachi, right?"
Her weak smile disappeared as her joke conjured no reaction from the Copy-nin. Her face grew serious again.
"I-I forgive you, Kakashi."
Kakashi's mask concealed his shock. He was surprised –he certainly wasn't expecting this. For the last 20 years, people told him things like "It's okay. Those bastard Rock-nin are to blame", or "You tried your best". "I forgive you" was definitely the first.
"I forgive you for Obito's death. I know you were torn between wanting to save Rin and completing the mission. It must have been a very tough decision.
"On one hand, you wanted to rescue your teammates. But on the other, you didn't want to go down the same path as your father." Sakura sighed softly. "I forgive you…even though I'm not in the position do such a thing. It doesn't matter if anyone else forgives you or not, because in the end, you're the one who needs to forgive Hatake Kakashi."
The seconds ticked by. His silence was nerve-racking.
"Do you forgive Hatake Kakashi?" She asked.
From his squatting position, Kakashi moved to sit on the ground. He casually ran a hand through his hair and ignored the question.
"Go to the celebration, Sakura. Your friends are probably looking for you." Kakashi dismissed Sakura in his usually manor.
Sakura didn't listen to him. She hated how stubborn and oblivious his man can be. She wanted Kakashi to put away his self-loathing side and go back to his normal self. Sakura wanted to punch, beat, slap, and kick the Sharingan-user to make him see. She wanted him to look in the mirror and see the brave, marvelous shinobi that she –and the rest of Konoha- admired.
Above all, Sakura desperately wanted her former sensei to see the handsome and beguiling man she fell deeply in love with.
"You're not trash, Kakashi. You've just gotta learn to let go of the past, or else you'll waste your years rotting in this memorial. I understand that it's almost his death anniversary and everything, and I know people grieve in different ways, but you're worrying the crap out of your friends! You hardly do anything these days but train and complete missions! Genma-sempai tells me you've even stopped going to the bar with the others. I'm terribly afraid that one day, you'll wake up in heaven –or who-knows where elite shinobi go after death- and hate yourself for not doing things you could and should have done." Sakura was genuinely concerned for the man in front of her. "You know, Obito sacrificed his life because he wanted you to live yours."
A pregnant pause.
"I know, Sakura."
Sakura cleared her throat. "Rule 101 of the Shinobi code: 'Spar today like there's no tomorrow'."
"You know, there were only 100 rules the last time I checked."
"Well…" Sakura started. "Now you know. It's the unwritten code that every shinobi abides by –with the exception of a certain silver-haired mask-wearer."
He remained stoic. The tense air hung between them.
"… Life belongs to the living, Kakashi. And really, what you're doing with yours is putting the dead to shame."
Sakura decided she's had enough. She was gone with a gust of cherry blossoms.
Sakura sighed again. This is crazy! All that's left of the past 365 days are some 15 seconds. It seems like only yesterday when Sasuke came back to Konoha, when in fact it's been almost 10 years. His kids are turning 6 this year, aren't they? Ugh. God, I feel old!
Sakura was beginning to grow tired of waiting for inebriation to kick in. I shouldn't have become Tsunade's drinking buddy. It sucks when you actually want to get drunk! The bartender came back with her 11th bottle of sake. Sakura hastily poured it into a cup and chugged everything. She closed her eyes and felt the warm liquid burn her throat pleasantly. Her soft 'Ahhhh' was drowned out completely by the earsplitting music and chatter.
The tiny bar was congested with civilians and shinobi alike, counting down the final seconds of the year. It is a Konoha tradition to spend the New Years with friends and fellow shinobi. Hardly anybody stayed home with their families because like herself, most shinobi have lost theirs in battle. Surprisingly, it's not as depressing as it sounds. In my line of work, people find their family in their friends, and their homes on the battlefields.
All the members of her 'family' were currently having a semi-drunken dance-off, started by the usual rivalry between the Uchiha and the Uzumaki. The latter invited Sakura to join in, but she refused, feigning a stomach ache. In truth, Sakura just wanted some time to think and drink her troubles away.
The green-eyed woman downed a cup of sake and scanned the room once more.
The miniscule population of singles had their attention turned to the temple ceremony (there were 97 sins erased; 11 more sins to go) on the only TV in the bar. Those who had somebody… Well, everywhere she looked, couples can be seen dancing, caressing each others' faces in affection or making-out.
"10..." The volume of the TV was turned up as the countdown neared its finale.
I have to hurry before all the nice guys are taken. I'm the about the only one in Konoha 11 who is single.
Shikamaru's with Ino. Neji proposed to Tenten last week. Sasuke's in a happy marriage with that Sound girl. Kiba found a nice dog…uh, girl. Even Lee's dating! Sakura fumed. But what about… Naruto?
Ewww!!! Even though he's good-looking, that'd be incest! …Not to mention Hinata would murder me.
In the New Year, Sakura wished to find a decent guy to spend the rest of her short life with. After all, the average shinobi never live to eat their 30th birthday cake. At age 26, Sakura was definitely getting there.
It wasn't as if Sakura was uptight or unattractive or anything. It's far from that, actually –with her remarkable strength and chakra control, youthful face and fantastic figure, the unusual-haired woman is considered to be the 'most eligible bachelorette' in Konoha. Sakura's had (more than) her share of fooling around, but not one of her relationships survived past the second monthaversary. Deep inside her heart, Sakura always knew it was because she was in love with an unattainable man -she would always find herself subconsciously comparing her date with that legendary shinobi. At the end of the night, Sakura would turn all of them down either because their hair was not silvery enough, their eyes didn't have that pleasant twinkle, or that their words weren't straightforward and genuine enough for her liking. It wasn't until Ino-pig called attention to her predicament that she finally realized that she had a grave problem –Sakura was evidently and unmistakably in love with her ex-sensei.
At first, it had been fairly easy to deny the truth, but things got increasingly more difficult as Tsunade began to pair the two for more and more missions together (she claims that it's because they're an efficient team, and denies the possibility of a bet with Jiraya). In the close proximity, it was even more impossible to stifle her feelings. It didn't help that she acted like her 12-year-old self in his presence. Even the smallest of gestures in his part would evoke stomach-turning emotions in hers. Sakura knows she should be grateful to even be acquainted with the Copy-Nin, but she couldn't help herself from wanting more from the man. It hurts beyond belief to be so close to the one you want and can't have! The days were torturous; nights endless. It was an impossible and hopeless dream –even if they were closer in age, a relationship was out of the question.
Sakura had long accepted the fact that she was just not his type. Granted, she didn't know what 'his type' entailed exactly, but she knew she wasn't it. He's probably into petite girls with gorgeous blue hair who are sex-goddesses in disguise…Much like the female protagonist in Icha Icha, that Misaki girl. Sakura's cheeks burned from the memories of reading her 'Happy 18th' birthday gift. If you get past the clichéd plot and the sappy introduction –not to mention the awkward and unrealistic sex positions-, Icha Icha is an interesting novel… Not that Sakura would ever admit that piece of information to anyone.
During Sakura and Kakashi's last espionage mission, they had to go undercover as man-and-wife. Alas, it wasn't as difficult as Sakura expected –and wanted- it to be. Surprise, surprise: it turned out that acting like she was in love with Kakashi didn't require much acting! Whenever the two had to display PDA (like holding hands in public and having the occasional hug), Sakura would fool her mind into thinking they were just a civilian couple in love. She will always relish those simple moments where she was in a perfect world –in a world where ninjas only existed in fairytales, where wars were fictional, where people didn't judge others for who they love, where a May-December relationship was not deemed 'sordid'… And where people you love love you back…
Ah! I'm setting myself up for heartbreak! I really need to forget about that stubborn man and find someone better! Cha! As if you can get better than Mr. Perfect! Shānnarō! Inner Sakura retorted.
Fine. I'll lower my standards. He doesn't need to have an attractive face, sexy body, mesmerizing voice, be a skillful shinobi, or be irresistible and… Choto! Where am I going with this? Sakura sighed again. I wish I'll find someone this year, before it's too late.
Above all, Sakura wishes the New Year could finally bring some closure and happiness for the man she loved.
The sound of the temple bell on the TV rung in the New Year. Everybody in the bar began clapping and screaming. The loud 'Whoot's and 'YEAAAHHH's were drowned out by the booming explosion of fireworks outside.
Sakura felt indescribably out-of-place.
Glossy green eyes scanned the crowed again for a certain jaded ninja. She knew he wouldn't come, but she checked in hopes of that odd chance. Disappointment filled her heart as she noticed his absence.
"Sakura-chan, Sakura-chan!" A loud blond yelled and pulled his friend into a tight hug. "AKEMASHITE OMEDETO!"
Sakura smiled. Naruto's still Naruto…despite how tall and skilled he's become.
"Hubby Nu Ears do yu doo, Narudo." Sakura muffled, trying to match his enthusiasm and gasp for breath at the same time. Sakura's face was smothered by her friend's broad chest. "Naw led m'go behore eye bunch yu!"
Naruto's head lifted slightly from her shoulders. "Oi! Kakashi-sensei! You're late again, but you came!"
Kakashi? As in the Sharingan-using, Copy-Ninja Hatake Kakashi? The Kakashi who had to be towed to social events because he dislikes crowds and making small-talk? The The same Kakashi who makes my heart palpitate with just a smile? Kakashi that I'm in 'the-L-word' with?!?
"Of course. And by the looks of it, everybody from Fire is here too."
Sakura recognized both his unique chakra signature and his low, pleasant voice, but she had to make sure.
Sakura pulled away from her friend to turn to look at their ex-sensei. He was still in his usual Jonin attire, but all traces of misery have been erased from his body. He was certainly putting on a good act –if he hadn't look in her eyes, Sakura would have been convinced that she dreamt up the whole encounter at the memorial site. From all the months of working with the man, Sakura became adept at reading him from his visible eye; one look at him told her he was emotionally-tired and sorry.
"Happy New year, Sensei." Naruto waved and started to walk away. "Hinata-chan must be looking for me. Well, Ja ne! I'll see you guys at the shrine in a few hours!"
Sakura muttered a "Mata, Naruto." and watching him leave. When she turned her attention back to the copy ninja, he was still staring at her.
The copy-nin opened his mouth to wish Sakura a happy new year- but she beat him to it.
"What are you doing here? Weren't you going to celebrate the new years with Rin and Obito?"
"Well… Obito convinced me to come. He told me he really liked that 'pretty Pink-haired chick', and that I would lose that precious someone tonight if I didn't show."
It took several moments to digest, but Sakura suddenly realized that he considered her to be one of his 'precious people'. Kakashi wasn't one to throw the 'P'-word around easily –he only says it when he truly means it. From her knowledge, only a handful of people have been graced with the title of 'Hatake Kakashi's Precious People'. His words made Sakura's heart pounded faster; she was ecstatic.
"Omedeto." He smiled.
I swear, this man smiles that smile just to enjoy having me flustered and blushing!
"…Omedeto-gozaimasu." She replied.
Swiftly and gracefully –not to mention suddenly-, Kakashi planted his hands on his student's waist and closed the gap between them. His soft but still masked lips met hers in a chaste kiss.
Oh god! Did Kakashi just… kiss me? Am I dreaming again? In that moment, the skilled kunoichi was not aware of anything but the supple lips on hers and the fast thumping of her heart at the base of her throat; and the loud racket in the bar fell deaf to her ears. Sakura felt intoxicated, and it wasn't the doing of the sake (because her personal limit was 28 bottles). Her head swirled, butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and she felt as if someone took out the ground beneath her feet. In all her years of A-Classed and S-Classed missions, Sakura only experienced the 'oh-shit-did-someone-replace-my-legs-with-jelly' feeling once. She didn't think it would happen for a second time.
…But then again, she didn't think she would be kissing the man that plagued her daydreams and fantasies.
Her legs began to give away, her heart beat shot through the roof, and momentarily, Sakura forgot how to breathe.
She pulled away –placing a tiny amount of space between them to suck in the air greedily. She was acutely aware of the soft hairs in between the fingers of her left hand, but was clueless to how and when her arm wrapped around his neck. Sakura's other hand was still on Kakashi's chest, feeling the faint thumping of his heart. The verdict: their two rapid heartbeats synchronized in perfect harmony.
"Wh-what do you think you're doing, Kakashi?"
"… Just living my life."
Sakura smiled and pulled him into another kiss.
A/N: I love feedbacks. As a writer, I appreciate readers who take the time to give me constructive criticism and tell me how I can improve. So, hit the review button, folks [=
Jan 18/09 - Jan 30/09