Disclaimer: Naruto and its characters are created by Masashi Kishimoto, but the new plots (meaning the ones you don't recognize!) are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.

Title: The Temptation

50-shinobi: Theme No: 2. Deep Fried Vegetables

Author: elle6778
Rating: T/PG-13
Genre: General/Humor

Summary: Sequel to The Reunion. Kakashi had been called a dirty-old man before, not that he paid much attention to it. But this time, his own reaction to Sakura made him wonder if there was some truth in that label. Kakashi/Sakura.


The Temptation by elle6778

Sakura smiled as she caught sight of Kakashi lounging casually on the steps in front of the ANBU headquarters. It brought back the memories of what had occurred inside not so long ago.

A few months back, Kakashi had returned to Konoha after a prolonged absence. He had been on an ANBU mission, having left just after Naruto had gone off on one of his training sessions. She still remembered how disappointed she had felt when she realized that he had not even bothered to say goodbye to her.

Whilst Naruto had returned a year afterwards, Kakashi had been gone for almost six years without a single word. At least to her. He was probably in contact with Tsunade in all that time, as required by protocol. Either way, she would not know, since she had been posted in the field for a while.

When Kakashi had returned, he not only neglected to visit her, but the first thing he had done was to piss her off by insulting her abilities in that careless manner of his when Tsunade assigned her as his mission partner. Now, looking back, she still felt justified in feeling rather sore when she had overheard him telling Tsunade that she would only slow him down.

As if, she snorted inwardly. Kakashi had no clue that she was no longer the girl he knew. A few years after he had left, she had made it into the ANBU ranks, and had been a field agent for a couple of years before circumstances brought her back to remain stationed in Konoha one year ago.

Fortunately, ever since they took the mission together, things had improved. Being ordered by Tsunade to work together meant that Kakashi had the opportunity to see what she could do. At the end of the mission, they had come to some sort of understanding, and she thought that maybe, just maybe… Kakashi finally saw her as an equal of sorts.

Much to her surprise, they had kept in contact fairly regularly ever since then. They had not been on another mission together, but they had trained a few times and had a number of meals together. She supposed she could say that they were friends.

Well, she kind of missed this friend of hers, since he had been away for the last two weeks on some mission. With that thought, she left her spot at the window to make her way downstairs.

"I'll be back after lunch," she called out at the receptionist as she pushed the door open and stepped out.

Sakura could tell by the way he looked up that Kakashi had spotted her the moment she left the hospital. Smiling widely, she waved at him and watched as he stood up from the steps of the ANBU headquarters.

When she reached him, he greeted her with an eye-crinkle. "Yo!"

"Care to join me for lunch?"

000


000

Kakashi smiled at her question. Sakura's invitation to lunch was nothing new. And it did not escape him that he had begun to anticipate similar invitations each time she approached him. He even missed it the last two weeks when he had been away on a mission.

"Kakashi?" she prompted, tilting her head in that adorable way of hers.

"Of course."

Still smiling, she wagged a finger at him. "Your turn to pay this time. I've picked up the bill the last two times we went out."

It was his turn? Widening his eyes innocently, he said, "Surely you don't begrudge your old sensei such-" He broke off abruptly when her smile died and her eyes narrowed threateningly.

Alright, perhaps this was not the right approach. Clearing his throat, he said instead, "Good thing I just got paid this morning."

All signs of danger disappeared as Sakura beamed. "Good. Now let's go."

Grabbing his elbow, she all but dragged him into a side-street, no doubt heading for her favorite restaurant. He simply allowed himself to be led to their destination, all the while trying to ignore the warmth of her slender fingers against his arm. Even though he would gnaw his arms off before he would admit it, he was a little unnerved each time she touched him like this. Her intent was innocent, he was sure, but it still reminded him of the time he had felt the curves of her body against his when she had been attempting to keep him from freezing during that terrible mission. It brought back thoughts that he should not entertain, not that such thoughts were far from his mind in the first place.

He cast her a sideway glance, hardly able to relate this girl with the one he had taken on in his genin team so many years ago. To put it mildly, that one had been hopeless, even though she was academically sound. He had not been certain that she was suited to be a kunoichi in the first place.

When Kakashi realized what he was thinking, he almost cringed. It was these sorts of thoughts that had gotten him into trouble with the fiery kunoichi not so long ago. Stupidly, he had declined to have her as his mission partner, citing the reason that she would slow him down. The Hokage had insisted that she went with him anyway, and it was just as well because without Sakura, he would have been in serious trouble. She had been the one to literally carry him out of the dire situation with that monstrous strength of hers. And that had been when she kept him warm with that body of hers.

He gave himself a mental shake when he realized where his mind had drifted off again. Sakura would kill him if she knew what he was thinking. She sure had the ability to pull off a good assassination attempt should she choose to do so.

When they had finally made it back to Konoha, he had probed around subtly, trying to find out more about the kunoichi he no longer knew. He had been mortified when he found out that Sakura had not only gotten into ANBU, she had been made a captain one year after that. The respect she had gained from the other operatives was clear from the way they spoke about her. She was that good. And yet, no one knew why she had chosen to stop taking ANBU missions.

Their arrival at the simple restaurant broke Kakashi's train of thought.

Or perhaps it was the loss of the warmth of her fingers against his skin that had broken his train of thought. Of course she had to let go. He did not really expect her to keep holding on to him, did he?

Kakashi groaned inwardly. He was a sad, sad man if the mere touch of Sakura's fingers against such a non-erogenous part of his anatomy could distract him. Come to think of it, it was rather worrying that he spent so much time thinking about her. When had she become such an enticement to him?

"Kakashi?"

"Hm?"

His rather absent tone must have alerted her, for Sakura frowned. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Sniffing exaggeratedly as he took a step into the restaurant, he remarked, "Smells good."

A waitress approached them. "Lunch for two?" she asked with a smile, obviously recognizing them from the last few times they had been there.

He nodded.

"Follow me," the waitress said, grabbing a couple of menus before she walked further into the restaurant.

"Let's go, Kakashi," Sakura said enthusiastically.

When she grabbed his wrist to hurry him onwards, Kakashi could not help but smile at the contact. It was just another small, innocent touch, but as pathetic as it was, he liked it.

He really should be ashamed of himself.

000


000

Sakura sighed in contentment as she placed her chopsticks down beside her empty bento tray. It might be a little heavy for lunch, but it was worth the inevitable drowsiness she would experience later due to an overfilled stomach.

Opposite her, Kakashi retrieved his wallet from his vest pocket to pay for their meal. As always, he had managed to eat without revealing his face. She supposed she could actually manage to catch him in the act if she really tried, but after all this time, she did not feel like doing it. Somehow, it seemed wrong to do it, almost like she was breaking his trust. Kakashi would reveal his face to her if he chose to, and she respected that.

After the enjoyable lunch, they went their separate ways. She went back to the hospital, while Kakashi went to wherever he usually disappeared to when he was not with her or on a mission.

Come to think of it, she did not know what he did apart from missions, despite all the times they had been out, she thought with a frown. And there she was, thinking that they were growing closer.

Perhaps that was only on her side. She had certainly been chattering non-stop about things that interested her, and whilst Kakashi paid her more attention that she'd thought he was capable of, he barely volunteered any information about himself. He knew much more about her than the other way round, she thought with a scowl.

Well, she would not let that continue, she vowed as she strode down the hospital corridor. When they next went out, she would make sure that he talked.

"Sakura-chan! SAKURA!"

She spun around at the sound of Naruto's voice, only to see him barreling down the corridor of the administration wing. The last time she had seen him was about two months ago, when he had left on another mission. She frowned as she took in his appearance. He looked like he had been through a grinder, even though he seemingly not bothered by it, judging by his grin.

The fool must have overdone it again. Shaking her head in exasperation, she planted her hands on her hips.

"Slow down, Naruto," she cautioned when he narrowly missed knocking over a nervous trainee medic. "What's the rush?"

He skidded to a halt before her, his blue eyes shining brightly in happiness as he gulped in much-needed air. "You wouldn't believe what happened!"

"What?" Why was he looking so… ecstatic?

"I found him."

Found who?

"Him!"

Then Sakura's eyes widened. Could Naruto be saying what she thought he was saying? Could it be that after all these years, he had finally…

"You found Sasuke?" she whispered tremulously.

Naruto's grin was so wide that it almost split his face. "I kept my promise, Sakura-chan. He's back." He clamped his hands on her shoulders, squeezing her affectionately. "He's finally back with us."

Sasuke…

Sasuke was back in Konoha.

"Where is he?"

000


000

Now this was unexpected, Kakashi thought as he eyed the figure on the hospital bed.

Sasuke was propped up against a pile of white pillows, looking as if he could do with a lot more blood in his body. But he seemed alert, listening to Naruto ramble on about ANBU and stuff that had been happening in Konoha in the last decade. Yes, ten years had gone by since Sasuke left the village he had been born in. And Naruto was no doubt breaking a number of major rules by talking so freely to his long-lost friend.

From what Kakashi had heard from the Hokage, Naruto had stumbled upon the Uchiha by chance. Sasuke had been overpowered by a handful of new Akatsuki members, and was about to be captured. Naruto, who was on a mission, had defied his ANBU captain's orders, rushing headlong into the fray to assist Sasuke. It resulted in the deaths of two Akatsuki members, while the third one escaped, and the retrieval of Sasuke.

Kakashi let his eyes sweep over the pale face of the Uchiha, trying to discern if the dark-haired shinobi was truly there to remain, or he had some ulterior motive for wanting to be in Konoha. After all, Sasuke had once affiliated himself with Konoha's enemies. Trust would be an issue.

"It will be like old times again. Don't you think so, Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto enthused.

Evidently, Naruto trusted Sasuke just fine.

A pair of onyx eyes met his, and Kakashi kept his expression bland. Without looking at Naruto, he evaded the question smoothly. "You don't have to address me that way. I haven't been your sensei for a very long time, Naruto."

Grinning, Naruto rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Oh, that's right."

Kakashi did not bother to respond to Naruto, keeping his attention on Sasuke instead. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Fine." Sasuke's tone was flat.

"Planning to stay for good?" Kakashi asked point-blank.

The Uchiha's eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. "It depends."

"Of course he'll stay!" Naruto interjected.

Kakashi swallowed a groan. Naruto would never have it in him to be suspicious of Sasuke, even though he should. No one knew if he was a friend or a foe.

At that moment, the door to the room opened and a familiar figure walked in. He did not know if the other two had noticed it, but there was an unmistakable stiffness to Sakura's usually graceful strides. Other than that, she was a welcome sight with those enticing long legs peeking out teasingly beneath her white medic's coat. Coupled with those platforms…

Kakashi dragged his eyes away from her, not wanting to complete the thought. Not that this was the first time his mind wandered to such an inappropriate direction, but it was still wrong enough to make him wish that he would stop doing it. Alas, such a thing was as likely as him losing interest in his Icha Icha series.

Perhaps he should be concerned that he seemed to be growing more and more infatuated with his ex-student. Still, if it remained safely in his mind, it should be okay, right?

"Sakura!"

"You're not disturbing my patient's rest, are you?" she asked Naruto pointedly as she placed a small basket on the side table. Turning to Sasuke, she said, "Another gift from one of your fan girls. Nanami, I believe she is called."

"I don't know her," came Sasuke's disinterested reply, but his eyes were sharp and assessing as he looked at Sakura.

Once again, Kakashi could tell from the way she shifted her body that Sakura was still wary of Sasuke. She was a smart girl, he thought approvingly. Obviously, she was no longer as gullible as she had been.

He was proud of her.

Smacking his lips, Naruto exclaimed, "Can't you smell that? It's tempura!"

Kakashi's eyes went to the basket. Now that Naruto had mentioned it, it did smell like the deep fried dish. Perhaps if Sasuke was not interested in it, this could be his lunch?

"Haven't had tempura for a while," Kakashi remarked casually, hoping that their sense of respect for their seniors would lead them to offer the basket to him.

"Nanami said that it is vegetable tempura," Sakura supplied.

"Smells great, doesn't it?" Naruto exclaimed, eyeing the basket unabashedly.

Kakashi pinched the bridge of his nose. Now where was the respect? Surely they could tell that he needed it more? Perhaps he should simply snatch the basket. If he was quick enough…

"You can have it, Dobe," Sasuke muttered.

In a flash, the basket was in Naruto's hands. Before Kakashi could say a word, the blonde had already emptied the content of the basket into his mouth. Kakashi suppressed the urge to sigh in disappointment as his shoulders slumped. Gone. It was all gone, he thought, mourning the loss of his lunch.

"Naruto!" Sakura scolded, frowning as she did so. "You're going to choke one day."

"No way," her blonde friend replied. "Besides, I need all the food to make sure I have enough energy for training."

Kakashi almost rolled his eyes. Naruto had the most energy out of anyone he had ever met. Being the container to the kyuubi did that, he supposed.

"And when Teme's all healed, we'll train together, okay?" Naruto declared with a wide grin.

"Yeah, sure."

Kakashi wondered if he was the only one who had detected the hint of reluctance in Sakura's tone.

000


000

Her smile felt forced and she could only hope that no one else noticed it. Well, as excited as Naruto was, he probably wouldn't notice something like that, anyway.

Sakura sighed inwardly. Sasuke's return was unexpected, not to mention his willingness to remain in the village after a decade of fighting them whenever they tried to get him to come back. What had changed this time round? Was it because Naruto had helped him? Somehow, she was not convinced that such was the case. It was no secret that Naruto would drop everything to help Sasuke, so why now? Sasuke was not the type to come back so obediently if he had something else to do outside Konoha.

So, perhaps he had achieved everything he had wanted to achieve, and was now content to remain?

No one knew for sure.

Glancing at the clock, and noticing the time, she announced, "Visiting time is over."

"Aw, Sakura-chan!" Naruto immediately complained.

She scowled at him, gesturing to the door. "You can come back at six in the evening. Right now, Sasuke needs to rest."

"I'm fine," her patient remarked blandly.

She shot Sasuke a disapproving look, and then noticed that he seemed rather taken aback by her expression. "Nevertheless, hospital rules apply to every patient," she said in a clipped tone.

"You heard her, Naruto. Let's go," Kakashi said, much to Sakura's relief.

"See you later, Teme," Naruto called out as he rushed out of the room, heading to goodness-knows-where.

When she and Kakashi walked out of Sasuke's hospital room at a more sedate pace, Sakura slanted a sideway glance at her ex-sensei. She noticed with a small smile that he was rubbing his stomach absently.

The poor man had looked positively crushed when Naruto had wolfed down the tempura in his usual greedy way. Kakashi must be really hungry, but that was nothing surprising. The guy must not have time to eat before he was called here.

Her brow scrunched as she thought about Kakashi's eating habits. As far as she knew, he lived alone. From her genin days, she had seen that he barely owned any cookware, which meant that he did not cook. Eating out all that time must be rather depressing.

Perhaps she should make him some home-cooked food. She usually did not have much to do in the evenings anyway and it would be nice to have some company instead of spending it alone with her medical books.

Mind made up, she reached out to tap Kakashi on the shoulder. He instantly halted, casting her a sideway glance.

It occurred to her that what she was about to say might be taken wrongly. They had only ever gone out for lunch. Dinner seemed rather… intimate. And then she remembered that this was Kakashi. There was no way he would think that she, his ex-student, would have amorous intentions towards him, right?

Right.

"Sakura?"

Even though almost the entirety of his face was covered, she could tell that he was puzzled. Giving herself an inward shake, she smiled at him.

"I was wondering if you would like to join me for dinner tomorrow night," she said casually.

His single visible eye widened slightly. "Dinner?"

She nodded. Gesturing at his body, she added, "I think you could do with some homemade food, especially after that incident in Sasuke's room."

"You're making vegetable tempura?"

She could have sworn that he was about to accept, so imagine her surprise when he shook his head regretfully.

"Thanks for the offer, Sakura. But no."

"Oh, you're busy?" she asked, trying to ignore the odd pang of disappointment at his refusal. It was only a dinner invitation, for goodness's sakes!

Averting his eyes, he hesitated before replying, "Ah, not really."

She frowned at his response, wondering what exactly he meant. Was his reluctance due to the fact that she was inviting him into her home? This was the first time she had done something like this, after all.

Testing the waters, she asked, "If there was a decent tempura place in Konoha, I would suggest it. But since there are none, I just thought you'd like some home-cooked version."

"Hm."

This time, she could see a guilty light in his eyes. Aha, that must be it then, her inner self exclaimed. Relaxing slightly, she smiled at him.

"It's only a casual dinner, Kakashi."

"I know." His eye crinkled. "But you might decide to seduce my mask off," he joked.

Chuckling, even though at the back of her mind, she thought that such a thing might be quite tempting, she said, "I promise to keep my hand to myself. So, what do you say?"

"Well, the tempura is tempting…"

000


000

When Kakashi saw how she ate the first mouthful of the dinner, he realized that he should have declined the invitation.

It was the worst kind of torture, sitting here opposite the pink-haired kunoichi. He did not even know why he had agreed in the first place. It was not as if he could not travel to the next village for some decent tempura.

Perhaps it was because of the look in those emerald eyes when Sakura had asked. His initial refusal had disappointed her, and he did not like it. So he had relented. It had nothing to do with the fact that he had not tasted homemade food for a long time.

But now, he was stuck watching her eat.

Completely out of his control, his eye was riveted to Sakura as she reached out with her chopsticks to snag another portion from the serving plate. From what he had seen the first time, he knew what to expect now. And yet, he was unable to remove his gaze from her.

He swallowed hard when the second piece of deep fried vegetable, drenched in sauce, was captured by her lips. And then slowly, as Kakashi felt a drop of cold sweat inching down the side of his face, her pink tongue flicked out to lick the excess sauce off the chopsticks.

As if that was not enough, she then closed her eyes, letting out a sound which was a heady mix of a groan and a sigh.

Kakashi felt himself sinking deeper and deeper under the spell. He could not stop himself from equating those sounds she was making to an entirely different sound, one which had less to do with food, and more to do with physical satisfaction of the carnal kind.

Why had he not noticed this all those times they had gone out to eat? Was it because she was more unrestrained in the privacy of her home? Or perhaps he was simply paying more attention to her today. Whatever the reason was, Kakashi was sure that this was not a good thing. It was bad enough that he was having inappropriate thoughts about her body. But now it was the way she ate? What next?

And it all began with that mission. If Sakura had not been assigned to go on that fateful mission with him, he would not be in this sorry state. So, ultimately, it was Tsunade's fault. And it would be Tsunade's fault if he was called out on a mission while he was this distracted and got himself killed in the process.

"Kakashi?"

Her voice broke him out of his thoughts, and Kakashi had to force out a smile. "Hm?"

"You don't like it?"

"Like it?" Like the way she ate her food? Of course he did, even though he should not.

Emerald eyes darted at his full plate and bowl before her gaze returned to him. "You barely touched anything."

Oh, she was referring to the food. "It looks almost too good to eat."

"Really?" she asked flatly. "Or you just don't want to risk exposing your face? You don't have to worry, you know. I won't try to look."

Her words surprised him, for that was not even on his mind. Why would she come to that conclusion? They had been out for meals so many times, and she had not tried to peek once.

"It's not that. Sakura. You know I trust you."

Her expression melted visibly. "So, eat!"

Keeping a smile on his face, Kakashi lifted a portion of his food and was assailed by the delicious scent.

"Go on, try it," she urged, her eyes shining. To make it worse, her tongue darted out to wet her own lip.

As if to tempt him.

"I'll look away," she added, promptly doing so.

Kakashi sighed as he quickly shifted his gaze back to the piece of vegetable. He would never look at deep fried vegetables in the same way again.

Pushing his wayward thoughts to the back of his mind, Kakashi picked up his chopsticks. When he took his first bite, he almost sighed out loud. Okay, perhaps this was worth the torture his mind was putting him through.

"Do you like it?" she asked.

"One of the best tempura I've ever eaten," he replied honestly.

She beamed.

The meal progressed smoothly after that, and Kakashi allowed himself to relax. Sakura was a good cook, and he was glad that he had accepted. When they finished, she cleared up.

Balancing the dirty dishes on her hands, she instructed, "Wait here. I'll bring out the dessert."

"You are spoiling me," he replied with a small smile.

Laughing, she disappeared into the kitchen. A few minutes later, she came back out with a steaming pot in one hand and a plate piled full with bananas and strawberries in the other. When she placed the pot on the table, a sweet, rich scent reached him.

"Melted chocolate?" he asked, eyeing their dessert curiously. Probably for dipping the fruits, he surmised.

She nodded with a grin. "Ino and I tried it on one of our trips. It's really good. Let me show you."

His eyes widened as she reached for the fruits. No, not the banana, he thought in dismay when her hand closed around the yellow fruit. Fate was definitely punishing him for all the Icha Icha he had read.

"I would chop them into pieces normally, but I'm feeling lazy today," she explained as she peeled the skin off, completely oblivious to his distress. "See? Just dip it in the pot."

She dipped the peeled banana into the melted white chocolate. Kakashi watched with mild horror when she brought the banana to her mouth. When her lips circled the chocolate-coated tip, Kakashi swallowed hard and averted his eyes for fear that his nose might begin to bleed. What had he done to deserve this kind of torture?

"Mmm…" came her satisfied sigh.

No, not those noises as well. With a loud groan, Kakashi slumped forward, letting his forehead hit the table.

"Kakashi? Are you okay?"

Kakashi decided there and then that dinner with Sakura was a very bad idea.

000


000

A/N: Hope you liked that. Please review if you could. Thanks!

:elle6778: