TIMELINE/SPOILERS: After time-skip. Sakura is 18 already.
WARNINGS: None (yet, lol)
SUMMARY: Kakashi had only wanted to settle things between them as teacher and student, but it seems bad karma is after his hide.
DISCLAIMER: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto and all related characters, etc etc etc.
Last Edited: April 20, 2009
CHAPTER 01 – Cold Water
'Sakura-chan, don't worry, I will be back.'
'I know, Naruto, so shut up already.'
'B-but Sakura-chan, y-you're—'
Naruto didn't say anything afterwards and Sakura had preferred it that way. She had done her best to stop herself from crying, but tears still came. Even when she had told herself that she would have to start getting stronger by first stopping her tears from falling, her emotions still had gotten a hold of her.
Taking a deep breath, she gave one last smile at Naruto. She knew he would be gone the next day, and seeing him packing his clothes only made her even more emotionally unstable.
'Sakura-chan, you're leaving already?'
Sakura looked back at Naruto, who seemed a bit crestfallen. She tried to pull back her grin earlier, but it died halfway through.
'Alright, I'll help you pack.' She said, settling infront of Naruto and his large backpack. 'But you'll have to treat me to dinner.'
'S-Sakura-chan, you mean like a d-d-date?!'
Sakura grinned fully— and this time it was real. At the back of her mind she wondered just when Naruto would grow out of his crush.
'Make sure you bring a lot of money, though, because I'm really hungry now.'
O O O
Sakura adjusted her backpack as she leapt from one tree branch to another. Somewhere beside her was Kakashi, moving just as swiftly. They had been traveling from Konoha to the Fire Country's shared borders with Grass, and they had been running for a full day since they left. Not much had been spoken, as there were only two of them on a mission, thus requiring them to be more alert than during missions with a complete team.
Sakura's feet had started to express their strain an hour after sunset, but she bit down the urge to ask for a break. She knew it was inhuman to race from Konoha to their destination at the Fire Country's border with Grass', but Tsunade-shishou had expressed that the messenger they would meet would be at the border until three days from that day. Kakashi was supposed to go on the mission alone, since it was possible for him to get to the border in only two days, but the injury he received from his last mission was still on its way to healing completely, and so the Godaime asked Sakura to accompany him.
Sakura had been glad to have a mission outside of the hospital. It had been almost two weeks since she had been to one, and the change of scenery and situations was more than welcome.
What didn't settle her, though, a few hours after they have taken off, was the fact that she was possibly slowing Kakashi down. She had trained day and night to improve on her speed, but there was really no contest on who was faster than the two of them. When dawn was near approaching and she estimated that they were still quite a ways from the half mark, she could taste the bitterness in her tongue.
"Sakura, we're taking a break."
Sakura didn't look back at her former sensei and only leapt harder, her legs trembling in protest. If Naruto or Sai had been chosen for the mission, they would definitely have reached past the half mark by now, even with breaks, and the mission would be less hard even with the time constraint.
She would ask someone to help her train in terms of speed when she got back to Konoha. Perhaps Lee would be free by the time she got back—
Sakura clearly expressed her disgruntlement as her momentum was stilled by Kakashi with just an arm blocking her torso. It had taken a breath out of her, but a split-second later she realized that Kakashi might have sensed something. He wouldn't have to resort to stopping her run directly if there was no threat.
Keeping still, with Kakashi still at her side, his arm blocking her torso, Sakura quietly reached on her weapons pack and extracted a single kunai, her eyes scanning the forest for any intruders. The sky was already a mixed haze of violet, pink, and orange, but the light wasn't enough to penetrate the forest and provide ample lighting.
"How many are there, Kakashi?" She asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Sakura looked back at the jounin beside her and frowned at his perplexed expression. So they weren't under any attack?
"Why the hell are we stopping?" Sakura asked, gritting her teeth. They couldn't waste any time. If they got attacked later on and ultimately delayed, then they would fail in their mission.
Kakashi straightened from his half crouch and settled his hands in his pockets. Sakura wanted to punch his perpetually masked face for giving her another of those creased-eye smiles.
"We've been traveling non-stop for almost 24 hours." Kakashi said, scanning the area. "It wouldn't hurt to take some break."
"Kakashi, we're at a time limit here."
"We still have two days left, and we're nearing the half mark. That's enough time to reach our contact."
Sakura wanted to go on with the mission, but as her legs reminded her how tired they already were, she quietly followed the Copy-nin as he leapt down the tree they were on and strolled over somewhere to their left, ending up near a small river.
It was when traps were laid down and their perimeter was secured that Sakura realized that she shouldn't be pushing herself too hard, as she had to be ready to defend herself from attacks and possibly use more chakra to heal her mission partner and herself.
"Don't be too hard on yourself." Sakura heard, and she turned to see Kakashi reading one of his favorite books as he stoked the fire that he had started. "ANBU are required speed and endurance that no ordinary shinobi could attain without specialized training. That's why I could travel fast without any breaks for long periods of time."
Sakura nodded dejectedly and settled her backpack at the base of a tree not far from Kakashi and the fire. She knew about ANBU's basic skills, but she also knew of shinobi who could travel faster than her. Maybe if Shizune-sempai wasn't so busy, Tsunade-shishou would have assigned her in this mission instead.
She really needed to allot more time for training as soon as she got back to Konoha.
"You could go take a bath on the river." Kakashi said, his eyes still on the book. "I'll keep watch here."
Sakura looked at her former sensei warily, but a bath was one of the things she needed most now, as well as a decent meal and a few minutes of nap.
After making sure that the bushes indeed covered her from view, and reminding herself that Kakashi was Kakashi and he would never peek at her just like how Naruto would even though the man was known as a pervert, Sakura took off her weapons pack, boots, and clothes and dipped in the river. The water felt nice on her weary body, although it could use some warming up, since it was still quite cold and the early morning mist hadn't lifted yet.
Pushing back her complaints, Sakura reached for her odorless soap and began cleansing herself. She didn't like using the soap, as it was quite harsh on the skin and it didn't smell nice like the one she usually used, but it was effective in washing out dirt, grime, and blood from a ninja's body, and the lack of odor was quite helpful against enemies who relied on distinct scents to track down their targets.
The faint smell of cooked rice and strips of meat reached her nose, and Sakura quickly dried herself and changed back into a new set of clothes.
"That was fast."
Sakura only shrugged as she left her used clothes on the bushes to air them out. There was no way she was going to let them smell in her pack.
"It shouldn't take too long for a person to take a bath during missions."
Sakura settled before the cooking pot and started to dig in for the food, feeling Kakashi's gaze before he started eating as well.
"Is there anything wrong, Sakura?"
Sakura gave her former sensei a tired grin before going back to her food.
"I may have stretched it a little bit."
Kakashi only nodded, and their breakfast resumed in silence. Usually Sakura talked, but oftentimes it was with Naruto, Sai, or Yamato. She spoke to Kakashi, too, but only when necessary. She would greet him if ever she passed by him, and made small talk, but there was really no real communication between them.
It had always been like that since Team 7 became inactive.
: to be continued :
Author's Notes: Yes, I'll still work on Torikoshi Kurou. But I don't think I'll be publishing any chapter soon, so you'll have to make do with this. Sorry..
This actually was started a few months back, but I only remembered writing it when I checked my fanfiction stuff. OTL And as always: Reviews, comments, corrections, and bursts of fangirling squee are most welcome XD