Falls Apart

Chapter 1

Falling Apart

'When did things get like this?' she thought to herself. 'Did I miss something? Have I done something to cause this?' She collapsed on the couch and felt the warm and salty liquid roll down her cheeks and into her parted lips.

This should have been a happy day for her. She had gone straight home after a long shift and couldn't wait to tell him. He had been away on a mission for the last 4 weeks, but she had heard from one of the gate guards that he'd returned this morning. According to them he was even uninjured. 'That's a first,' she thought.

They had moved in together three months ago, after dating for six months, when he explained to her that it made more sense to do so, since he spent most of his time there anyway. She had agreed without any pretense and soon they were living together. This had been the happiest time of her life. She had finally found someone that she loved whole-heartedly whom she supposed, in his own way, loved her back.

It had been difficult to get to know the elusive Copy Nin, but as time passed he gave more of himself and for that she was happy. She had no idea that she would learn so much about him. She had been in charge of his care when he'd fallen into a coma six years ago from the attack on Konoha by Pein. Pein had very nearly succeeded in his plans to destroy Naruto and Konoha. Many beloved leaf ninja fell, but in the end, the Will of Fire prevailed. During his extended hospital stay, she began to learn more about the man that she once knew as Sensei. After waking from his extended slumber, Kakashi was placed on a rehabilitation program to help him learn how to re-use the muscles that had been dormant for so long. Kakashi had actually requested that Sakura be his medic for rehab, stating that he couldn't stand the thought of someone he didn't know being allowed to touch him or be around him for extended periods of time. She soon realized that for all of his faults, he was still a very intelligent man and someone she respected. She decided it was time she learned more about her former teacher. They began to spend more time together-not quite dating, but an easy friendship where they could communicate on a more intellectual level. They shared many of the same political views and he seemed to enjoy picking her brain. It turned out that he loved to analyze her every opinion, wanted or not. He also had a wonderful, but slightly lame sense of humor. Spending so much time with him also made Sakura realize that he had been a constant in her life and that she'd felt close to him even before they embarked on a relationship.

The relationship had progressed very slowly. They would find themselves amongst the same group of people who, by the end of the evening, would generally pair off and leave them to their own devices. They would end up sharing drinks, laughter and talking about their lives. It was during one of these outings that she had begun to see him not as a teacher or colleague but as a man and a very virile one at that.

She had, on occasion, seen a seductive playful side of him. She had caught him, once or twice, flirting suggestively with some of the local civilian women that frequented the local pub who were in search of a shinobi companion for the evening. Most of the time though, Kakashi kept his nocturnal activities private. It seemed that tonight he wasn't worried about propriety.

She had noticed a very beautiful woman had been watching him all evening. Sakura didn't think she was a kunoichi, but she couldn't be sure. Most likely civilian. She appeared to be approaching them, slinking her way through the bar with the confidence of a predator who had just found her evening meal. Her long, black curls were cascading over her shoulders and down her alabaster back like an evening waterfall. She was tall and lean and had the smooth sinewy grace of a panther. But what stood out the most were her icy blue eyes and the object they were focused on. Kakashi. This was going to be interesting, Sakura thought as she appraised the situation. The slinky black dress swayed with every move of the beauty's hips and Sakura could say that she was a little jealous at all of the attention that the woman received just walking through the establishment. Her shoulders were bare, except for the thin straps holding the dress in place and the neckline plunged so low that it was barely decent.

When she reached the bar where they were perched, she disregarded Sakura's presence entirely and went in for the kill. Little did she know, she had met her match.

"Hi, I'm Miyako" she purred seductively. "I noticed you noticing me."

If she thought she could get to Kakashi so easily, she was sorely mistaken-wasn't she?

"Mmm, did you now?" he replies as he crooked his index finger motioning her closer to him.

She sidled up beside him and flashed her beautiful arctic eyes and a flirtatiously coy smile, and teasingly responded, "Yes?"

Kakashi leaned toward the beautiful vixen and in the most seductive voice Sakura had ever heard, said "Miyako, I just made you come with one finger, imagine what I could do with my whole hand."

Sakura was dumbstruck. She had never seen or heard this slightly lame but naughty side of Kakashi. However, this apparently worked on Miyako because before she knew what was happening, he had draped his arm around Miyako and said "Sakura, duty calls. Will you be able to get home on your own?" She stood there with her mouth gaping open and stupidly nodded her head in the positive.

He was out the door before she even realized what had just happened.

It was on this night that she had noticed the change in the way she saw her former sensei.

Over the next couple of weeks, Sakura made it a point to seek him out. It really wasn't that hard to find him. In the evenings, he could be found at his favorite bar "The Whizzing Kunai". . She couldn't stop herself from coming here. She started to realize that when she was around him that her heart beat a little quicker when he looked at her. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that their relationship was shifting. They routinely met for drinks a few times a week and she found that she really looked forward to seeing him. He would even walk her home from her hospital shift on occasion and make the tattered excuse that he happened to be in the area at that precise moment.

Their once friendly teasing had become more personal, bolder, hinting at something more sensual.

One evening at the "Kunai" she was even graced with the honor of one of the lamely smooth lines that he would usually use to ensnare a warm bedfellow for the evening.

As usual, Sakura noticed him immediately when he walked into the room. Everyone did. Everything about this man screamed "Alpha". He moved with graceful fluidity, almost as if his feet hadn't touched the floor. His presence commanded attention. And he got it. She noticed the men sit up straighter when he entered the room, and the women….were waiting. For what she didn't know. Maybe to see if he was already taken for the evening. If it was possible, she thought maybe he emitted some sort of high frequency wave that only women could hear.

The moment Kakashi noticed her at the bar, he made his way towards her and Sakura swore that she could visibly see every female in the establishment sigh in disappointment.

"I was just checking you out from across the room with my Sharingan. I came over because I notice your chakra use is limited, and well let's just say I really know how to get your chakra flowing."

She almost choked on the drink she had previously ordered. Sakura didn't know whether to laugh or gape. So she decided on the obvious and laughed.

He gave her his standard-issue eye crease and turned his head toward the bartender who had appeared when he arrived,"Asahi Super Dry."

She realized two things this evening. One-Kakashi finally viewed her as a woman, if that lame pick up line was any indication. Two-tonight their relationship had shifted and she was sure that he had felt the shift too.

---------

When she told Naruto, he rooted for them. He'd always wanted her to be happy and said that if Kakashi did it for her, then more power to them. Of course, not before he asked Sakura what was under Kakashi's mask. She proceeded to tell Naruto that Kakashi had a very disgusting hairy mole that he was hiding under his treasured mask. Naruto was utterly repulsed and told her that he would never again ask to see under Kakashi's mask.

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Over the next two months, they spent more and more time together. Mostly they would just happen to cross each other's path and end up in the same place. He would be walking by the exact same tea shop that she happened to be having tea in. He would stop in and ask to join her. They would talk about their day or last mission while enjoying each other's company. The tea would flow continuously until it grew dark and they would eventually leave…separately.

One evening was different. She happened to be in the Kunai having a drink with Naruto, Sasuke, and Sai. The boys were in a heated argument about how much wind resistance affected throwing shuriken, when he walked into the bar.

Was it just her or did it just get really hot in here?

He must have notice them when he entered as he immediately made his way to their booth, tucked away in the back corner of the bar.

As he approached, she noticed that the only spot available for him to sit was conveniently right beside her. '

Tonight must be her lucky night

Kakashi stopped in front of the table and looked over the rowdy bunch before he took his seat.

'God, he smells good.' She inhaled him as covertly as possible.

Kakashi exchanged greetings with guys and they went back to their discussion. He must have noticed that she was just a spectator and took pity on her.

She was just finishing her drink when he called the waitress over to their table.

"Hey hon, what can I get you?" croaked the gravelly voice of the copper-haired, weathered waitress. It was obvious that she'd had one too many cigarettes in her lifetime.

He leaned into Sakura and whispered, "Will you let me buy you a drink?" His voice was breathy and hot against her ear. She was so overcome by his closeness that she just nodded her head dumbly in the positive. Her body was still reeling from his proximity, his smell, his breath…everything, when he began to speak.

"I'll have an Asahi Super Dry and she will have a Peach Chuhai."

"Sure thing hon" she replied as she headed to the bar to retrieve their order.

"Um.. thank you for the drink." Man, she was pathetic. She couldn't even talk around him anymore. She was just absolutely high on him.

"You're welcome" he leaned in so close that she thought he would nuzzle her neck. She could feel his breath on her throat. "Mmm, you smell so good." His masked lips were grazing her ear.

Her head jolted up to see if anyone was watching them. No one was.

She slowly turned her head and her lips where a hairs breadth from his. Sakura looked from his lips to his eye and noted that it held a look that she had never seen in him before. What was it? She wasn't very experienced when it came to men, but the way he looked at her was as if she was the only woman in the world for him in that moment.

Then as if sensing her thoughts, he leaned in and pressed his masked lips to her own. Of course the waitress returned at that precise moment with their drinks, and he pulled away, ending their brief kiss.

She was stunned, to say the least, but Kakashi was so nonchalant about it that she wasn't sure it had even happened.

They spent the rest of the evening sharing mission stories and camaraderie that only the members of team 7 could share.

Many, many drinks later, the evening was coming to a close. Sai was the first one to leave stating that he had an early mission. Naruto was next, "Well Sakura-chan, I'm off. I 'm meeting Hinata in the morning for breakfast." Then turning to look at his two male teammates," Someone make sure Sakura-chan makes it home safe, okay?" He had already turned and was making his way to the front of the bar before the last word was out of his mouth.

Sasuke peered over at his last two teammates left at the booth. He could sense something going on between them. He knew that they wanted to be alone. Bro-code dictated that he leave, and he knew that Kakashi would make sure she made it home safely. Standing up on slightly unsteady feet, he turned to his male team mate and leveled a look that said 'Take care of her'. Kakashi nodded his head to reassure him that he would.

"Good evening Sakura" was heard as he was strolling his way out into the night.

" 'Night Sasuke!" she shouted back.

So here they were. By themselves. Alone. He cocked his head to the side and chanced a glance," Shall we?"

"Yep. We shall."

They walked into the evening fog in companionable silence. Their pace was leisurely and he was so close that she could feel the heat from his body. The night air was chilly and she almost caught herself leaning into him. As if sensing her need to ward off the chill, he gently wrapped his right arm around her bare shoulder and pulled her closer.

Inhaling him made her heady. He smelled of sandalwood and alcohol. The mixture was surprisingly intoxicating and it was doing funny things to her insides.

When they rounded the corner and her apartment had come into view, she was disappointed that the evening had ended.

For the first time in her life, she was overwhelmed with the sentiment to invite him in. Of course he had been in her apartment on several occasions, for different reasons, but only as a friend or comrade. Tonight, she wanted more.

Mustering up every ounce of her courage she timidly turned to him, and in a voice that she wasn't sure was her own spoke," Would you like to come in?"

If Kakashi was surprised that she had asked him in, he certainly didn't show it. He kept his unruffled frontage and answered, "I'd love to."

The alcohol had warmed their blood and before they knew it they were inside.

This night would be one of many firsts for her. For the first time Kakashi revealed his face to her. Beautiful was the only word she could use to describe him. His skin was lightly tanned and upon it were 2 striking eyes. One a steely grey, and one deep wine. Below them was a perfectly angular nose and two of the most beautifully full and captivating lips she had ever seen.

It was a beautiful night, one she would never forget. She had given him her first time and in return he gave her the most wonderful sexual experience of her young life. Of course, she didn't have anything to compare it to, but he was patient and gentle and had made it beautiful for her.

Sakura had never felt so special in her life.

----------

So how did she end up here? Sobbing on the couch in their home?

She had made her way home after a very long day at the hospital and then her late appointment with Tsunade; excited about the news she'd been given. She knew that this was something he would want to hear. By the time she had exited the hospital, night had fallen and she guessed it to be a little after eight in the evening. She was starving so she stopped at the market to pick up a few things to make for dinner. She had a craving for gyudon. After selecting the beef, she headed to the aisle that contained the dashi and after selecting what she wanted, she swung by the produce area to pick up some benishoga. She had the rest of the ingredients at home. She knew Kakashi would be hungry after eating nothing but dehydrated mission rations for the last four weeks. She made her way to the front of the market with her selections and made her purchase. With bags in hand, she started off towards home.

But she knew that something was off as soon as she arrived at their building. She noticed that the lights to their small apartment were not on. 'Strange' she thought. She trudged the last few steps and reached the landing. She sat down the two paper bags containing her groceries and reached up to remove the key that they had kept on the ledge above the door. She inserted the key and unlocked the door and turned the knob. She entered the apartment and all of the lights were off. She reached out to her left to the switch and flicked it on. Light illuminated the living area and it appeared as though the house was empty. But as a kunoichi, she knew better, because she could sense his familiar chakra coming from the bedroom.

She turned around and picked up the bags and went back through the door. Balancing one grocery bag on each hip, she quietly kicked the door shut and then equally silently slid out of her shoes. Sakura then headed to the kitchen to deposit her burden. After placing her perishables in the refrigerator, she padded through the house quietly. This was strange. Considering that he'd been gone for 4 weeks, she knew that he would wait up to see her. It was a routine for them, one she'd grown to cherish. After a long mission they would enjoy dinner together and then pleasures of the flesh until the sun came up.

She entered the dark room and could sense her lover in bed. Maybe he'd been injured after all. This was so unlike Kakashi. She waited for her eyes to adjust so she could see him properly as a sliver of moonlight entered the room through the slightly opened curtains of the bedroom window. There in their bed lay the most beautiful man she'd ever laid eyes on. He was in a supine position with his right arm thrown over his forehead in a display of utter comfort. His beautiful naked torso was on display with all the dips and contours that she knew like a well studied map. The slight scarring on his left pectoral where he had taken a kunai trying to protect a teammate and the smooth hairless texture of his skin, as well as his lean and sculpted abdominal muscles that rose and fell with each breath he took, made him a vision of perfection in her eyes. The dark silken sheet was draped loosely around his hips. Apparently he had already showered, because his silvery hair was still damp as it touched the dark pillow. This made his pale features stand out like an ethereal light in a shadowy sky. He was breath taking.

He appeared to be asleep. This puzzled her. He never came home from a mission and went to sleep before seeing her, even after the particularly bad ones. She crept closer and prepared her chakra enhanced hands to scan his body for injuries. The closer she moved to him the more she realized that he in fact was not asleep, but feigning sleep. He wanted her to think that he was sleeping. Was he trying to avoid her? This train of thought stung. She pushed this feeling aside and placed softly glowing hands above his chest to do a thorough scan on his body for the injuries she was sure he was hiding.

Surely she had made a mistake, she thought. Sakura was baffled beyond belief. He was not injured. In fact, he appeared to be in perfect health. So why was he feigning sleep? Why was he avoiding her?

Well if Sakura was anything, it was stubborn. So she did the only thing she could do. She pulled aside the sheet and slid into the warmth of the bed next to him. She turned to face him and draped an arm over his naked form. Immediately she felt him tense. Maybe she had startled just him. She craned her neck to give him a chaste kiss on the cheek. She then placed her head in the crook of his neck to breathe in his comforting scent of sandalwood and spice and whispered, "I'm glad you're back. I've missed you."

No response.

These words usually triggered something like "Why don't you show me how much you missed me."

Sakura was completely dumbstruck. Kakashi had never been like this before.

'Maybe he hadn't heard her' she thought and tried again. "Kakashi, I've really missed you."

With a move so sudden that she was sure she would've been thrown from the bed had it not been for her wonderful balance, Kakashi turned on his side , away from her and dislodged his body from hers while leaving her laying on her side in shock.

In her younger days, Sakura had had her fair share of rejection, but this was the first time that Kakashi had ever rejected her affections. She was stunned. And utterly confused.

"I'm trying to sleep, Sakura" an apathetic Kakashi droned.

"Are you injured?" a very confused and hurt Sakura inquired.

"No."

"Are you sure Kakashi-something's wrong." A slightly panicked Sakura intoned.

"I said I'm not injured, now let me sleep." he replied. She reached for his arm and the moment she'd made contact, he jerked from her touch as if he was repulsed. Had her touch repulsed him? It never had before. Startled, she withdrew her hand quickly and pushed up to her knees. She crawled down to the edge of the bed and dropped one foot after another onto the soft plush carpeting in preparation to leave. She glanced over her shoulder and proceeded to stand up and quickly leave the room. She reached the door and slipped through it and closed it behind her with a light "click".

He had always come back to tell her of his missions, omitting certain details deemed classified. This was the first time he had been so closed off. Something was definitely wrong. It worried her.

'Maybe,' she thought to herself, 'maybe he's just really tired. Or maybe it was a bad mission. Yeah that has to be it. Things will be better in the morning.'

She pulled the brick colored throw that Ino had made for her from the back of the very cozy , slightly lumpy couch and draped it over herself as she reclined her head on the black throw pillow. She then felt the tears well up in her eyes and make twin paths down her porcelain cheeks.

She only hoped that these were the possible causes-- that it was nothing more. He had really hurt her with his actions.

But despite this, she couldn't stand the idea of him not wanting her anymore.

----------

Kakashi awoke the next morning surround by the scent that had become a comfort to him. Somehow this morning though, it disconcerted him. He recalled the previous evening and the event, or lack of, that had transpired.

When he arrived home he had absolutely no desire to see Sakura. He couldn't put his finger on why but his feelings for her had started to change. He couldn't explain why he reacted the way that he did, but just that he had. It was somewhere between the second and third week his mission that he started to feel the sensation that his life was strangling him. It wasn't that she repulsed him—far from it. Sakura was one of the sexiest women he had ever met, but her touch no longer held any comfort to him. He couldn't describe it. He just no longer felt in control of his life. Not just his private life, but his professional as well. Recently he had opted to taking the more lengthy and dangerous missions. Why? He had nothing to prove-or did he?

Sakura had always been open in her feelings for him and showered him with affection whenever possible. The weird thing was that it usually didn't bother him, but the thought of that affection now was disquieting. Being away from her on this mission had caused him to rethink their relationship and he came to the conclusion that he just couldn't continue it.

She was everything that a man would ever want; he just didn't want it anymore. How could he not love the strength and beauty that she displayed? She had used that strength on many occasions to keep her team safe. Granted she was beautiful to the eye, but she had an inner beauty that radiated from her and warmed all of those around her. She was also intelligent enough to land the spot of one of the top medics in Fire Country. She was trusted by her comrade's whole heartedly. She loved her friends unconditionally and was a passionate lover. She had been the first woman who was wholly open to his more carnal desires. She really was the perfect woman. She had the whole package. So why didn't he want her anymore? He just didn't know.

He slid out from under the comforting sheets that smelled faintly of jasmine and quietly padded to the bathroom to go about his morning ablutions.

Once he felt refreshed, he quickly scrambled his way back to the room to grab his book and hitai-ate from the night stand. He needed to be gone before she woke up. He had no explanation for his actions but he did know that he really couldn't discuss this with her yet. He still wasn't sure what was happening.

He stepped over to the door leading out of the bedroom and into the rest of their home. He opened it swiftly, and stealthily made his way into the living room. He could feel her in this room. Her cool green energy was usually so comforting, but today it didn't offer the comfort that he usually felt. It felt constricting. He could also feel that she was sleeping. He passed the couch and regarded her. She really was beautiful. He also noticed that she had most likely cried herself to sleep.

'Shit' he thought, 'I really am a bastard'. But this thought didn't keep him from turning around, grabbing his keys from the small table beside the door and swiftly but silently leaving the apartment.

----------

The minute she heard the door shut, her eyes shot open. She had actually been awake when he made his way through the apartment. She could also feign sleep and she had felt him hesitate before leaving. Had he been watching her before he left? Why hadn't he awoken her?

It was as she had feared, it wasn't better this morning. In fact, she now knew something was wrong and she felt an unsettling feeling that she was losing him.

Pushing these thoughts aside for the moment, Sakura stretched her tired limbs. Sleeping on the couch that she once thought comfortable had proved to be a bad idea. Her whole body ached and she was exhausted. Unfortunately she really didn't have time to ponder her ailments. She had to work today and no matter how tired she felt, she had a responsibility to her Hokage and to her village.

She rose from the couch and turned to go down the hall for her morning routine. The moment her right foot stepped out to move, she lost her balance and had to reach her right hand out to steady herself on the arm of the couch. The feeling of dizziness washed over her as she tried to regain her composure. It was then that she realized that her head ached. Feeling that it must've been a combination of the lack of sleep and crying herself to sleep, she started slowly down the hall towards the bathroom with her right hand sweeping the wall in case the dizziness returned. Regardless of how she felt, she still had work to do.

Once she reached the door, she reached out and turned the bronzed knob. She entered the room and reached to her right to turn on the switch. Warm yellow light flooded the small room and if she hadn't had such a headache it would have been pleasant. The only evidence that someone had been in here previous was the residual moisture that remained from Kakashi's earlier shower.

"At least he picked up after himself," she murmured to herself.

Sakura stepped forward towards the shower stall and reached for the faucet to turn on the warm water. All she wanted to do was wash away the previous nights worry and a shower sounded like a good start. Once the water had reached a suitable temperature, she stepped in and felt the warmth encase her like a wet cocoon.

For the first time since she had awoken yesterday, she was content in the moment. She reached for her jasmine body wash and a puffy sponge and poured the liquid into the sponge to lather it up. As she began to bathe, her mind drifted to Kakashi. She really had wanted to tell him the news that she had received yesterday, but she couldn't if he was avoiding her. Deciding that she would deal with him later, she rinsed the white foam from her body and then reached for the shampoo. Pouring a quarter sized dollop into her hand she applied it to the top of her head and began to work it into a thick lather, scraping her scalp occasionally with her fingernails. She sighed loudly, 'Mmm, this feels nice.'

Rinsing the suds from her foam-covered mane, Sakura squeezed the excess water from her hair then reached for the faucet and turned it off. She mentally reprimanded herself for her moment of pampering as she grabbed her favorite fluffy towel and began to dry herself hastily. The small tranquil reprieve had already wasted enough of her time. She needed to get ready for her shift at the hospital.

After hurrying through her morning routine, she quickly dressed and made her way to the kitchen. With no time for coffee she plucked an apple from the bin to eat on the way, lest she be late. She grabbed her keys and tote bag that were on the table while sliding her feet into her shoes. She had really wanted to talk to Kakashi, but it would have to wait for now. Besides, she knew that he couldn't avoid her forever.

----------

Kakashi found himself on a leisurely early morning stroll through the village. It really was pleasant out. With book in one hand and the other fiddling around in his pocket, he noticed that the aromas wafting through his nose from the bakeries at this time were utterly delightful. He peered up from his page and also caught site of the vendors in the open air markets getting their wares ready for trade. This was his favorite time of day; he could be alone in his thoughts.

Today, his thoughts seemed to drift to Sakura and how he left her. It was obvious that she'd been crying the night before, but he couldn't find it in himself to apologize for his actions. Sure, he cared for her. He hated to see her sad, especially if he was the cause. But as of lately, he found that he had an itch that she just couldn't scratch anymore. He didn't like the idea that she was the only available pasture that he was able to graze in.

This was why, in the past, that Kakashi had really never been in a monogamous relationship. He had preferred strings of effortless one-night stands to the complex workings of a commitment. Sex was almost religion for him. He was very well practiced and he prided himself in his knowledge and abilities to worship the female temple. It was a shame to think that she would be the only one to share his vast sexual knowledge with. Maybe that was an arrogant way to think, but it was how he felt. He had always taken delight in the way he could make a woman cry out in bliss. To know that she was in the throes of passion because of what he was doing to her.

Sakura was indeed a fine partner; she had been very open -minded when it came to sex. This was somewhat surprising to him. She had always been very reserved when it came to her personal life and he was pleased that she allowed him so much inventiveness when it came to their bedroom activities. He was able to do things with her that he probably wouldn't have with another woman. She had become his playground. He was by no means a deviant but he could get very kinky if the mood arose. He came to realize that she allowed him this control because she trusted him with all of her being. Of course she'd had her time in the spotlight too. She had learned just the right way to touch him to make him sigh in contentment or to groan in pleasure. And her stamina was becoming something that rivaled his own.

But it wasn't purely sexual when it came to Sakura. She was one of his precious people. He had her feelings to consider and he had to admit that he'd never been good at feelings. Hell, he couldn't even understand his own half of the time. He knew that she loved him. She had made that quite clear as soon as she realized it. He was unsure what he felt for her though. He knew that he wanted to protect her and he wanted to see her happy, but he wasn't sure that he saw himself as the one for the job. Kakashi knew that she wanted the typical fairytale life that most women wanted, but being a shinobi, she should've realized that that those things were unrealistic. She wanted the dream house and the perfect husband. She also wanted children, and that was not something that he ever wanted. The idea of having the responsibility to mold a young life in your hands was too much like teaching. This was why he didn't teach anymore. He'd already messed up the lives of the only team he'd ever trained. Why would he want to try and mess up the life of a child of his own? Things were becoming too complicated. It was time for him to move on. He was so thankful that she'd never become pregnant. He couldn't even imagine what his life would become if that had happened. It would've only made things difficult when it was time to let her go.

----------

Sakura was making her way to the Hokage tower to pick up her daily schedule as she passed the flower shop that was owned by Ino's family. She peered in and noticed her closest female friend talking animatedly on the phone. Since the attack on the village 6 year ago, she reported directly to the Hokage for her daily assignments. The loss of Shizune had put her in charge of the hospital and she had to admit, Shizune had left some very big shoes to fill. Her death had been hard on her. She had been a close friend and they worked side by side for many years. She still had a hollow feeling in her chest when she thought about her, but it was nothing compared to the anguish felt by her Shishou. Shizune had been Tsunade's closest friend and confidant. She was also her right hand. When Shizune passed on, her responsibilities fell to Sakura. It had taken a while to get a hold on all of the duties that Shizune was in charge of, but Sakura had finally fallen into a comfortable routine and tried her best to help the woman that had mentored her. This loss was something that she didn't think her Shishou would ever get over.

Deciding that she would see Ino another time, she continued on her way to the tower to start her day.

She bolted up the stairs and headed towards the end of the hall. When she reached the door she rapped on the door twice to make her presence known.

"Enter!!" boomed the voice from behind the thick mahogany door. Taking that as her cue to enter, Sakura grabbed the handle, pushed down and made her entrance.

"Morning Shishou," Sakura chirped as she walked over to the desk in the corner to retrieve her schedule.

"Morning," Tsunade laconically replied.

"Well?" Tsnuade inquired while lazily raising her left brow.

"Well what?" a somewhat confused Sakura replied as she pulled out the desk chair and took her seat.

"How did he take it?" Tsunade was really getting irritated with her lack of details. She began drumming her beautifully polished nails on her slightly chipped desk, a habit that she had picked up while waiting for explanations from one too many indolent shinobi.

"Who?" Sakura replied as she glanced up for a moment from the thick pad of paper that was her schedule.

"Hatake. How did he take the news?" she was really getting aggravated. The once drumming nails stopped all together as she interlaced her fingers together and placed them under her chin.

" Um… We didn't actually talk." Sakura murmured as she continued to thumb through what appeared to be at least two shifts worth of patients.

"Sly dog. I wouldn't put it past him to keep you up all night scre…"

"I wish. We didn't speak at all," Sakura interrupted. Now putting down the thick pad of paper and leveling a look at her mentor.

"Shishou? Did anything unusual happen on Kakashi's last mission?" her scintillating jade eyes searching her mentor for any clue that would lead her to what was troubling Kakashi.

"You know that's classified Sakura." She spoke seriously." I will say that nothing out of the ordinary happened, but that is all I can declare." She didn't know what this was about, but she was sure that Sakura would let her know what was bothering her when she was ready. "I'm sure that everything is fine. Don't worry."

"You have to tell me his reaction when he finds out," she spoke excitedly as she returned to drumming her fingernails.

"Um…Shishou? Please don't say anything yet, okay? If anyone tells him, I want it to be me." She had sounded so timid that she hardly recognized her own voice.

"I wouldn't dream of it Sakura. Now you'd better get to the hospital, it doesn't run itself."

"Sure thing Shishou " Sakura quipped as she proceeded to pick up her schedule, push in her chair and hastened her way over to the door leading out into the hall. Once outside, she moved at a brisk pace to the hospital to begin her day.

----------

"Kakashi, you'd better not screw this up," Tsunade mumbled as she turned herself around in her swivel chair to peer out of her scenic window and look upon her beautiful village.

She had a feeling that things were about to get very complicated.


Thanks so much to sakuraharu. Without her wonderful guidance I would never have posted this.