Author Notes: I actually hate this story. Like, a lot. I have absolutely no freaking idea if I write either of these two well, let alone in character, so they're probably wildly OOC. I didn't want to write another fic about Kurenai mourning, but I probably should have, because I could've done that better. So this is fail and I hate it, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Pairings or Characters: Asuma/Kurenai
Warnings:
probably lots of OOCness
Word Count:
1197
Summary:
Prompt – L is for Love


Why

Kurenai was never a sentimental woman. She grew up in war, saw both friends and foes die before her eyes with regularity, and she worked in a profession where nothing would ever be able to get rid of the blood on her hands or the guilt in her heart for the atrocities she committed for her country. She never dreamed of getting married or having kids. She didn't date, and only occasionally when the itch just wouldn't go away, she'd nab someone cute enough for a quick romp and be done with it.

Asuma was a fairly laid back guy, and he had no reason to be, as far as Kurenai was concerned. He was in the same position as her, but his father was the Hokage, and the pressures he faced from his father even led him to leave Konoha for quite some time. She'd always considered him a bit of a fool, and wondered how he'd survived so long.

And then he asked her out on a date.

He smelled like cigarettes, showed up around ten o'clock, wore his typical jounin outfit after she'd taken the effort to dress up a little bit, told crappy jokes and took them to a cheap little restaurant she'd never been to before that smelled worse like cigarettes than he did. When she was served a plate of teriyaki that looked pitiful even when compared to meals she'd prepared herself, Kurenai was starting to wonder why she'd ever said yes.

Because you've nothing better to do.

Because he had the balls to ask.

Because you're lonely.

She stopped wondering immediately, not liking where that train of thought was leading. Asuma was still talking about something uninteresting when she took a bite of her meal, and the face she made was apparently shocked enough that he shut up and nearly asked if she was choking before she blurted out, "That is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten."

He blinked before bursting out laughing.

When he'd calmed down enough to speak properly again, as he wiped his eyes he leaned in towards her, smiling earnestly at her. She was a bit uncomfortable with the lack of distance between their faces and unconsciously leaned backwards a bit. He was staring at her over that grin of his, and she felt herself reddening slightly.

"Never judge a book by it's cover," was all he said on the matter before he pulled back, as if the moment hadn't happened, and dug into his own plate.

She still isn't sure where the rest of the night went. They never left the restaurant, but they finished their food fairly quickly and just sat around talking as she slowly warmed up to him and got used to the smell of cigarettes.

By the time they left, it was nearly three in the morning. If he had suggested they continue elsewhere, she would've agreed, but he told her he was walking her home. When they reached her apartment, she said the typical things most people usually said at the end of dates. "Thank you, I had fun." "I hope to do this again sometime." He was perfectly satisfied with that, and turned to leave when she finally said "Goodnight."

Before she could stop herself, she blurted out, "Why?"

He stopped, turned around, and raised an eyebrow at her. He didn't say anything, but the look on his face was egging her to finish her question.

She was growing slightly irritated that he seemed to read her so well, but continued anyway. "Why did you ask me out on a date? I mean, we've never worked together, I rarely see you around outside the Hokage's tower, and you made sure to ask me out when no one was around and take me someplace where no one would see us together. I'm not someone to mess around with, Sarutobi. Don't think you can play with me without me noticing."

He looked like he hadn't expected that, which made her a little bit smug. So he couldn't read her as well as he thought, she grinned. He began stepping towards her, and while she was tempted to step backwards, her pride kept her in place. She raised an eyebrow as he halted right in front of her and smiled again.

"I'm not playing with you. I just don't like to mix business with my personal life. It's not like you aren't private either," he added, which she furrowed her eyebrows at, "But I see you around, and I can't stop thinking about how much I'd like to take you on dates, get you gifts, pull you into one of those empty rooms in the tower and just make out with you like I'm a stupid teenager again. I want to come home from missions just to see you. Just to touch you."

She was pretty sure she was blushing hard by this point, but she had just enough pride and self-awareness left to keep her jaw from dropping open.

"So, I asked you out on a date 'cause I'm pretty damn sure I'm in love with you. Figured I'd give it a shot, though I think I sounded more creepy than anything," he mused with a chuckle.

It took her a moment to process what he'd just said, and even after she had, she remained silent and still. He seemed to take it as a rejection, and spun around to leave when a hand fell on his wrist and tugged him backwards into her apartment. He still wasn't sure what was going on until he was pushed back against the door until it closed and she placed an arm on either side of him.

"That, Sarutobi, was the sappiest, most random confession I think I've ever heard. Honestly, I've been a jounin for a month, and you're already in love with me?"

"Actually, I've seen you around since you were a chuunin. This isn't a sudden thing, y'know," he pointed out.

"You sure do know how to take your time. Well, whatever," she shrugged, still keeping him trapped between her arms. "So why haven't you started kissing me yet?" she asked, feigning boredom.

His mouth was on hers immediately, and she honestly didn't care that he tasted like cigarettes even though he hadn't smoked once since he picked her up. His beard felt rough against her smooth skin, and she was having a hard time catching her breath they way he was kissing so hard. There was a warmth pooling in her belly, the kind of heat she felt when the itch was there, begging her to find someone, anyone just to satisfy it. But there was another kind of warmth, too. A burning in her chest like her lungs were on fire that just hurt so good.

She knew that this was what it felt like to be loved.

Kurenai noted absently that this man was going to turn her into a sappy idiot the way he kept whispering in her ear how much he loved her, what he wanted to do to her, how long he dreamed of touching her like this. And she didn't really care.