And, here I am again... inspiration hit. This is the second of thirty, but I'm feeling happy. Enjoy!

Special thanks to my Betas: SecretBox & Misaki Ami! I love you, always!

Pesanteur

30Kisses #20 The Road Home

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You hold me without touch.

You keep me without chains.

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After the darkness of betrayal had faded away into echoes of the past… the prodigal son returned, his youthful face stained with the crimson tears of regret. He returned into the open arms of his abandoned teammates.

The night ended, and the morning came; bright, full of promises, free of the pain that lingered in every footstep. It was a dream come true, in the truest way.

But, gravity always has a way of keeping our feet planted on steady ground.

The light of dawn stretched slowly across periwinkle skies. Casting shades of gold over the village hidden in the leaves, bringing with it the songs of skylarks perched on rooftops, greeting the rising sun with their lilting songs.

It was this sight that Sakura awoke to, her emerald eyes fluttering open to face the radiant streams of sunlight that flowed in through her open blinds. Pulling herself from her tangled sheets, she stood before her window on the third floor, lifting the blinds to look upon the empty streets.

Save for a lone man, standing quietly beneath the cover of the freshly planted trees that lined the street, his grey eye watching her, a small smile decorating his lips, unseen.

Sakura leaned on the windowsill, resting her chin on her upturned palm as she called down to him, a gentle smile gracing her features, her voice soft.

"Kakashi, what are you doing here?"

Nevertheless, he heard her; a whisper on the wind that left him feeling warm, in spite of the early morning chill in the air. Shaking his head, he tucked his book away… turning to face her fully, his hitai-ate caught the glare of the sun and reflected it onto the moss-covered and faded brick of her apartment building.

"Who else is going to give you away, Sakura-hime?"

Kakashi's eye creased happily, and he chuckled, fully aware of how she blushed at the honorific while trying to stifle the staggering feeling of sadness that came with the thought of letting her go.

She'd always been there. First, the girl who needed his constant protection when she was young, her eyes caught on blue and white. She was the girl who needed his reassurance in times of desperation, her chin quivering as she fought tears.

Then, she was the young woman, left behind by those she cared about, but standing strong in the face of her losses. She was the young woman that showed up on his doorstep, her hands alight with sea green tones; her eyes glimmering with sympathy as she looked upon his open wounds.

She was his companion in the face of danger on the battlefield; a companion in the overflow of loneliness and pain that occupied the empty corners of their minds and hearts.

And, he would have to give her away, to a man unable to return the love she deserved.

There was no one that deserved her.

Shaking her head, Sakura leaned further out of the window, her arms holding her steady as she studied him intently. A thought entered her mind, and spilled from her lips unbidden with a smile.

"If I'm the princess… Then you're the knight."

Something she couldn't identify flickered in Kakashi's visible eye as he pushed his hands further into his pockets, before he smiled up at her. And, took a step back to allow a passing group of genin by, the faces of the coherent ones filled with curiosity.

"Of course I am."

His tone was teasing.

Tilting her head, Sakura regarded the man that stood on the street before her with his masked face, familiar slouch, and brightly colored book peeking from his back pocket.

This was the man she'd known for ten years; her ex-sensei, her teammate, her friend and confidant. The man she'd never taken care to know in her childhood, who was always ready to put himself in the line of fire, to save her. He had taught her the value of caring for others more than oneself.

He was the man who'd pinned a letter to her door with a kunai before he left on a S-class mission, congratulating her on making jonin; his scrawl barely legible, written the day before the exam. He returned from his mission, severely wounded, and hid in his apartment until she came to his door.

Kakashi was her sanctuary, the only remaining piece of the puzzle when all the other pieces had been swept away. He always had faith in her, even when she didn't. He was the reason she kept going when the pain wouldn't stop.

And, he didn't know she'd meant every word. He was her knight.

"Kakashi…"

From the corner of her eye, Sakura saw Ino and Hinata walking up the street, the shy young woman holding bags of varying sizes, while Ino cradled a rather large covered package in her arms. And, without another glance she knew what it was.

It was her wedding dress.

Glancing back at Kakashi, she watched as he stared at the bundle that Ino held delicately, his gray eye carefully void of any discernable emotion. He stepped back once more as the women passed, lifting his hand in greeting.

After returning his greeting, they looked up to Sakura; Hinata smiling happily at her while Ino told her not to fall and break her face, before asking if the elevator was still broken; It was. They disappeared from view, having walked into the building.

Kakashi's voice called her gently.

"Sakura, I have to go. I'll see you…"

For a moment, his eyes held a look of unrepressed pain. He turned away then, beginning to walk down the road that led him home. But, the feeling that he was walking in the wrong direction was as strong as his desire to turn around and see her face once again.

For the last time, it felt like. Because the next time he saw her, he'd be giving her away.

Sakura watched him for a moment, her breath frozen in her lungs and her hand clutching the front of her tank top tightly. His quiet departure tore at her for reasons she didn't know, her eyes tearing as she watched his feet lead him away from her.

The feeling that he was leaving her, while taking an important part of her with him persisted.

"Hey."

Kakashi turned slightly at her slightly strained voice, to find Sakura beckoning to him, her hand outstretched toward him. Without a word, he drew chakra to his feet and jumped effortlessly to the fire escape outside her window.

"Hmmm?"

He came to stand before her, his gaze inquiring at the glimmering teardrops that danced on her lashes. She shook her head, sending her loose rosette strands swaying in the light breeze. Lifting her hands to the navy mask that covered the lower half of his face, Sakura pulled it down, taking his silence as permission to continue while she fought against the knot that had formed in her throat.

He was beautiful. His eye glowed with warmth, his lips were parted, but they were curved in a small smile that was a little confused. Without another thought, Sakura leaned forward, her eyes fluttering shut as she pressed her lips to the corner of his in a chaste kiss that lasted a moment.

Pulling back slightly, Sakura pressed her forehead against his hitai-ate.

"You are the knight. My knight."

Kakashi nodded, his grey eye studying her face.

"Okay, then…"

Rising to his full height, he smiled as he pulled his mask back up, ignoring the shade of sadness that entered her eyes, and the heavy feeling in his chest.

"I'll see you there, Sakura."

Kakashi turned away then, jumping from the balcony. He began the lonely walk home down the empty road, without another look back.

The thought of giving her away was one that left his lungs burning.

But, compared to the young misguided Prince, who was the jaded and damaged knight?

No one deserved her.

Especially not him.


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