Chapter Two: Heat


So, let go, let go

Jump in

Oh well, what you waiting for?

It's all right

'Cause there's beauty in the breakdown


One month later.


It had been a month. 23 days and fourteen hours since the event, as she'd come to call it, had happened. It was still impossible to forget her lost lollipop, though it was mostly her heightened infatuation with the confusing and entirely entrancing boy next door that had further insinuated his way into her thoughts.

There wasn't an easy way to ignore it either.

Sakura lay sprawled across her carefully pressed bed sheets, wrinkling the bright canary yellow duvet that lay neatly folded at the foot of the twin size bed, her half-lidded eyes staring at the lights that danced across the ceiling in meaningless patterns of blue and gold.

As big as her infatuation with Kakashi was, the urge to kill him was just as strong. He loved to tease too much for her fragile teenage sanity. He had taken every opportunity after that rainy day to show up on her doorstep, with a crooked smile, innocuous words tumbling from his lips and something in his hands; like a watch that he had never used.

He was always late, so it was easy to tell.

It desperately needed fixing. Right. It looked like it had just been taken out of the box and stepped on a couple of times. She had to wonder how he'd found a watch that looked exactly like the one he'd dropped down his garbage disposal.

While her father toiled away at repairing the brand-new/newly-broken watch, he'd sat down right next to her on the couch and threw his arm across her shoulders. All the while smiling happily as he inquired on the complicated story of the soap opera that her mother loved to watch.

He honestly thought she was watching it. Why else would she know who little Johnny's father was?

The muscular arm he'd placed around her had jumbled her thoughts so badly she could hardly tell which way was up. When her admittedly balmy hands wouldn't stop shaking, his smile just grew.

He'd learned a secret that he intended to torture her over. He knew. Oh, he was no dummy, at least not the stupid type of dummy... She knew that he knew, and it annoyed her to no end.

A familiar laugh outside drew Sakura from her mind, and with a jump she crossed her bedroom to stand at her window. The laughter faded, followed by an even more familiar shout.

She turned away from the window, her steps echoing in the empty house as she pulled a simple baseball cap over her pink hair, took the stairs two steps at a time and crossed the living room to the back door.

Her emerald eyes widened at the sight before her.

There, in her own backyard, leaning over a football… was Kakashi and Uzumaki Naruto; the boy from down the block that she had crushed on for most of the 10th and 11th years of her life –blonde hair, blue eyes, dazzling smile-, and they were playing football.

In her backyard. Shirtless.

Seriously? Sure, she had helped someone string toilet paper in the pattern of a scarecrow across someone else's yard the week before…but, karma couldn't be this terrible. She didn't deserve this.

Sliding open the screen door silently, Sakura stepped outside into the stiflingly hot sun and put her hands on her hips as she eyed the trespassers with a narrowed gaze. Focusing closely on the tall male that called out commands with a sharp, clear voice that sent chills down her spine even in the mid-summer heat.

Precisely one second later, the teen found herself regretting her decision to focus on him.

Kakashi was directly underneath a conveniently placed spotlight created by the sun as its light almost lovingly gleamed off his slick skin, before vanishing behind orange cotton candy clouds as they floated in the sky lazily.

His sight appeared to be unfocused; just staring ahead at Naruto blankly, his grip on the ball loose; long fingers just barely holding it upright as sunlight glinted off a silver ring on his thumb. But, there was no mistaking the tenseness of his lean form and the almost well-hidden gleam in his eyes that he couldn't hide in the wavering shade, no matter what.

The small smirk upturning his lips was a dead giveaway.

His lips moved, and one word escaped them, called out loudly across the yard, before his smirk widened into an arrogant smile that displayed a row of white teeth and a chipped canine. Naruto charged instantly, his features filled with determination as he crossed the distance between them in mere seconds.

Yet Kakashi was already a few feet to Naruto's left and was dashing to the other side of the yard in a nearly inhuman display of speed that left Sakura's jaw hanging open as she watched sunlight bounce off the sinewy muscles that moved underneath his lightly tanned skin.

Naruto made to turn to go after him, but stopped upon noticing Sakura. He threw his hands up just as Kakashi crossed the marked touchdown line. "Why can't you lose for once, eh, Kakashi?" Shaking his head, he shouted again. "You're such a damn showoff!"

Kakashi placed the ball on the ground before turning and scratching his head, all the while smiling winningly; his disarmingly beautiful yet defined face etched with satisfaction.

The blonde scaled the five steps onto the porch to join Sakura, his cerulean eyes lit with mirth. "Like what you see, Sakura?" His voice was low, his smile bright and teasing as he poked her side with a single finger. "Huh?"

Snapping from her daze and closing her mouth, Sakura smiled at her friend, while smacking away his finger. "Shut up."

Naruto Uzumaki was fifteen –just hitting his growth spurt-, he towered over her by three whole inches, but for all intensive purposes, he acted like he was ten. He still slurped his ramen, he still whined when he didn't get his way, and he still slept with a teddy bear –named after his lost mother-; he was her best friend. And, she still crushed on him.

But, just a little.

It was his smile. His stop-the-world/outshine-the-sun smile, that left her helpless to do anything but echo it, no matter when she saw it. He was a handsome boy; his tanned skin, bright eyes and cut form sealed it, and she knew that he would make some girl truly happy.

"Sakura, what brings you out on this lovely day?" A familiar voice called her, a light sound that could be hardly be heard over the soft crunching of grass.

She heard him.

Without a glance at the man commanding her attention, Sakura crossed her arms over her chest and closed her eyes. "You're in my backyard, Kakashi. Why aren't you scuffing up your own lawn?"

After a moment, a heavy weight settled on her shoulder, and her hair swayed in the rare breeze that swept across the dry desert-like suburb. Cracking open one eye then another, she belatedly realized that the weight across her shoulders was his arm –the one that bore a peculiar swirled tattoo across his bicep-, and that he had stolen her hat.

"Well, you see… my yard isn't really big enough at all." Kakashi used his free arm to gesture to his yard next door, filled all the way around with a startling amount of perfectly kept bonsai. His father's hobby had apparently stretched past the back door again.

From the corner of her eye, Sakura watched the expressions come and go on Kakashi's face as he carefully explained his 'desperate' situation to her from underneath the shade of her freshly lifted cap.

"Oh, I see." She said simply, glaring at Naruto as he chuckled under his breath.

Kakashi paused, "You wouldn't happen to have any water, would you?" He stepped back; still shirtless, still wearing her cap and his second favorite pair of faded dark grey-bluish jeans. These had black stains on the thighs, where he had wiped his hands after repairing his motorcycles engine. The only reason she knew was because she had been playing assistant grease monkey that day.

The things he talked her into.

He pushed his hands into his pockets, and leaned forward slightly, until his eyes were almost completely hidden underneath the bill of the cap. "Please?"

And, there it was… the magic word; a word that wouldn't have been so magical had he not been saying it. Sakura sighed, as if it were all just a huge problem –when she really was caught been cursing fate and thanking it-, and gestured to the still open back door. "Come on, both of you."

Naruto rubbed his hands together conspiratorially, "So, what'd you have for dinner last night?"

She should've known her fridge was in danger of being raided.

Rolling her eyes as she crossed the doorway into the refreshing shade and cooler air, Sakura continued straight into the kitchen, pulling her well-worn red over shirt off and tossing it onto the back of a nearby chair.

"You don't want to know. It smelled like feet." She stated flippantly while opening the refrigerator and grabbing three water bottles, tossing two of them to her companions. Both young men uncapped their bottles and lifted them to their lips.

Silence reigned for roughly two minutes while they drank, before Naruto threw his empty bottle into the recycling bin and made a face. "Ewwww…"

Kakashi leaned against the counter on his hip. "The water?" He took a long look at the half-full bottle in his hand, seemingly contemplating the ingredient label and a suspicious asterisk that pointed to text too small to read without a magnifying glass.

Shaking his head, the blonde walked back to the adjacent dining room and flipped a chair around before straddling it. "No, the feet food," He visibly shuddered and rested his chin on his forearms. "It's not right. Food shouldn't smell like feet."

Sakura wondered if that was why Naruto had his eyes squeezed shut while he downed his water. He probably smelled 'phantom feet' or something equally ridiculous. "I know that, but don't let my mom hear it; she'll be devastated."

Giving up on reading the slightly dampened bottle label, Kakashi glanced up, his grey eyes examining the clock on the wall uninterestedly. "It's only three." He stated absently, his fingers tapping steadily on the kitchen counter.

Sakura's eyes fell to his hand, slightly mesmerized by the unconscious rhythm that sounded louder with each miniscule click of his short fingernails, accented by the clink of his thumb ring on the polished granite.

Her gaze unmoving, she distractedly asked, "Are you two waiting for something?"

Naruto answered, "Yeah, that guy across the street with the fancy car? He leaves for work at 3:30." A somewhat broken laugh escaped his throat, "He has a huge pool."

She nodded, her eyes still caught in the near silent beat of tic-tac-thump, until it was interrupted as Kakashi made a faux-coy beckoning gesture with his previously tapping hand. Caught in the act, Sakura's head snapped up before she turned to drop her bottle in the recycling bin, missing the genuine smile that the young man sent her. "So, you're going to invade our neighbor's pool while he's at work?"

"No," Kakashi cut in, his hand loosely grasping her arm as he said in a low voice next to her ear. "We are."

Naruto laughed harder.

Ignoring the heat that radiated from his skin and his calm breath on her cheek, Sakura cleared her throat noisily. "You're kidding."

He chuckled lightly, the sound sending butterflies fluttering through her. "Not at all."

It was half an hour later that Sakura was standing in the shade of her front porch, silently observing the man across the street get into his convertible, start the engine, and back into the empty trash cans, sending them flying five feet into the road and rolling the rest of the way straight into the gutter. Again.

At least they were empty.

"Ya know," Naruto began, sitting on the front steps with his forearms resting on his knees, "we could've been in the pool while he was still in the house. He's blind! There's no way in hell he'd spot us in the way back of his yard if he can't even see the damn trash cans at the curb!"

Kakashi scratched his head, before running his fingers through his disheveled silver hair. "Possibly," He said simply, his narrowed eyes watching the car speed off raptly. "But, I'd rather not risk being arrested… well, for trespassing."

Sakura's eyebrows rose as she looked to the darkest corner of the porch to see Kakashi sitting peacefully on a patio chair, his long legs stretched out before him. "And, what would you prefer to be arrested for?"

Without missing a beat, he grinned. "Disorderly conduct."

Nodding to herself, Sakura lowered her fisted hand into the outstretched palm of her other. "I see." She turned to face the house they were still watching -despite the owner's recent departure- to hide the upward twitch of her lips. "You're out of your mind."

The distinctive sound of someone clicking their tongue filled the silence for a split second, before Kakashi responded, "Maybe. But, it'd be hell if it were indecent exposure."

At this, Naruto's brows lifted for a moment before his head snapped up and he laughingly rubbed the back of his neck as he stood. "Hey, the old man is gone! Let's go!" He called, grabbing his bundled towel and dashing across the street to stand by a lightly dented mailbox.

Feeling a sudden wave of cool air to her side, Sakura turned to see Kakashi standing next to her, waving his recently discovered obsession; -It was called Icha Icha - in front of his face with his eyes closed. Apparently, brightly colored porn novels made great makeshift fans.

She let her gaze drift down his calm form for a minute, "You're not bringing a towel?" She asked, nonchalantly tugging her beach towel further onto her shoulder.

One charcoal eye cracked open, amusement in his gaze. "Do I really need one?" His hand paused in its repetitive motion as he looked from her to the towel strung over her shoulder, leaned toward her, then batted his eyelashes at her teasingly.

She could almost hear those twinkling sound effects in her head with every movement he made, and it was then that Sakura knew he'd been watching too much TV. There was also a familiarity to his gestures that echoed someone she saw on that damn soap opera he'd caught her watching.

This was no coincidence.

Choosing to ignore his antics for the time being, she sighed, her voice sounding slightly wistful. "I guess you don't." Then she calmly joined Naruto, who was already making his way around the house, all the while stifling a few giggles and further ignoring his low chuckle.

Her stomach fluttered once more. She was annoyed, but that didn't mean she was immune.

His footsteps on the pavement behind her captured her attention, even when Naruto turned to her at the fence line and kneeled, cupping his hands over his knee for her to step up onto. It wasn't until the blonde called her name with a laugh that she snapped to attention.

Sakura looked between his smiling face, his cupped hands, and the fence that was as tall as she was. "Why are we doing this again?"

Still fanning himself with his book, Kakashi chose that moment to step forward. "It's damn hot, Sa-ku-ra."

The heat pouring into the skin at the back of her neck and even through her clothing was enough to tell Sakura that he spoke the truth, so without another word, she placed her sandaled foot onto Naruto's hands and felt him lift her into the air with ease while her hands automatically sought the top edge that would steady her.

With a small grunt she pulled herself over the fence and landed at a crouch on the other side.

She felt her eyes widen as she glanced around the yard. "Damn."

"What is it?" She heard Kakashi call, before his head popped up over the top of the fence. "This is…" He trailed off, and then fell silent entirely.

Gazing at the scene for a moment longer, the teen shook her head and walked to the gate of the fence, unlocking it and letting a waiting Naruto in. Kakashi followed him, his face unreadable as he stared unabashedly.

Naruto jumped back, his eyes squinted as if he couldn't quite believe what he was seeing. "What the hell?"


Gnomes upon gnomes occupied every available corner of the yard, all in various poses, shapes, sizes and colors. Some were placed in neat groups, some alone, and a select few emulating familiar scenes from history stages on made of brick that peeked out from underneath covers of burgundy crushed velvet.

Sakura sighed, her hands pushed into the pockets of her shorts. "I knew he was a little weird… but, this is off the charts."

"Yeah…" Absently kicking a gnome over onto the perfectly manicured lawn, Kakashi gazed down with an expression of mild horror. "This is freaky."

Chuckling to himself, Naruto hopped the yard toward the pool while pulling his shoes off to drop them on the hot concrete that stretched out from the pool. "I forgot that you're scared of gnomes. What are the chances, eh?" He asked just before he cannon-balled into the cool water, sending a huge wave into the air to rain down and wet the grass at the very edges of the concrete.

A second later he surfaced, floating at the top; his eyes closed lazily, "C'mon already. We don't have forever, you know?"

Kakashi and Sakura stared for a moment longer before he reached down to take off his shoes, and she laughingly slipped out of her sandals. "This is one of the most delinquent things I've done… and weirdest."

"I'm not scared of gnomes." She heard the silver-haired young man murmur beneath his breath, his lips upturned slightly in spite of his denial. "They just haunt my nightmares, is all." With that, he scratched his head slightly, and headed to the pool.

While one part of her almost squealed with the relative cuteness of it, and another felt sympathy –clowns did still scare her, after all-, there was yet another part that was laughing hysterically within the confines of her mind.

Her lips twitched, and a stifled sob escaped, ending with a squeak as she cut off the sound abruptly. She failed spectacularly at trying to compose herself, so she settled for coughing lightly and joining Kakashi at the water's edge.

He dived in as soon as she got within two feet of him, his arms extended before him as they preceded him into the deep end, and began a fine spray of water that hit her almost exclusively without touching an inch of the concrete around her.

If she didn't know any better, she'd say that he planned it.

With a light gasp, Kakashi came to the surface, his dripping hair plastered across his face, a grin on his lips, and his charcoal grey eyes twinkling. "Well, now that you know the temperature… Jump in. I'll save you if you start to drown."

Naruto chose that moment to open his eyes, continuing to sunbathe while still in the pool. "Nice one, Kakashi." He frowned lightly.

Sakura looked at the water for a moment, then to the steps on the shallow end that she'd been planning to use. With a look to the sky, she took a step back, missing Kakashi's light sigh and Naruto's pout.

She couldn't say that she liked sudden changes.

Humming under her breath, Sakura stared at the sky for a moment more before closing her eyes to the sight and taking another step back while her heart pounded in her chest. After a moment, she nodded to the sky and turned her gaze once again to the pool. "Okay then."

Naruto's eyes snapped open and he dropped from lazily floating to stand in the shallow end where he'd wandered. "Seriously? You've never jumped in!"

Leaning forward slightly, she smiled, "It's about time, isn't it? Now move back."

Kakashi did so without a word, his rapidly growing smile saying everything that he wasn't.

Taking a deep breath, Sakura took a few more steps back before dashing as fast as she could to the water, letting her feet push her from the hot concrete into the warm air, and finally into the cool water that sent a refreshing shiver up her spine as she jumped in and sank deeper and deeper until her toes touched the bottom.

Looking around curiously, she saw a blur at one end of the pool, silvery in the perfect blue that surrounded her, and the silhouette of Naruto's legs as he stood at the shallow end. She considered swimming to him and grabbing his legs, but decided against it as she looked up to the sky through the cresting water and swam toward it before she came to the top with a sharp gasp, her heart still pounding as she stared up at the blue above.

"How was it?" She heard a familiar voice call, and she turned to see Kakashi still smiling, his face dripping as if he'd just come up with her.

Sakura returned his smile happily, still trying to catch her breath. "It was… amazing. Everything was blue."

The hours seemingly flew by after that, swimming and playing around while taking small breaks to toss some gnomes –and each other- into the deep end just to see how far they could fly while the sun fell beneath the distant horizon and the stars sparkled overhead.

It came to a slow while Sakura was glaring balefully at Kakashi when he grabbed her unguarded towel and used it without a word or question before laying it back down and sitting across from Naruto.

Sakura took a minute to cool down, her eyes watching the indigo sky above her. "Hey, it's getting late. He'll be back soon." Sakura called with a small smirk as Kakashi and Naruto played 'Gnome Battles' a few feet away. "We should go sooner."

Naruto laughed as he made his gnome whack Kakashi's over the head with a sharp thump. "What would we say if he came and we were still here?"

It was then that they heard the familiar hum of an engine pulling up the driveway at the front of the house.

"Time's up." Kakashi murmured, before he stood and walked to the poolside, grasping Sakura's hands as she rested at the edge of the pool and pulling her from the water easily. He placed her on her feet before moving back and picking up her towel, and held it out to her, snatching it back just as she reached for it.

Naruto was already to the fence, his cerulean eyes twinkling as he whispered loudly across the yard. "Let's go!" Then he unlocked the gate and stepped through, peeking around stealthily.

Sakura nodded, grabbing her used towel from the distracted young man and wrapping it around her tightly, "Like he isn't going to know that someone was here." She looked around at the gnomes that had been carelessly knocked over, and those that were still floating in the pool upside down. Shaking her head, she rushed toward the gate.

A hand on her wrist halted her, and she turned to see Kakashi standing behind her, grinning happily. Before she could ask, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to her cheek gently. "Thanks for coming with us, Sakura."

Her eyes fluttered closed, and her heart jumped in her chest. She could feel him smiling against her skin.

After just a moment, his hand on her wrist slipped down to her hand, "Come on." He said lightly as he pulled her to the gate while she attempted to fight down the blush that she knew had tinted her entire face red.

They sprinted past the fallen gnomes, and approached the gate where Naruto stood impatiently, nearly jumping up and down from the adrenaline running through him. "Someone has to lock the gate back." He said, running his hands quickly through his wet blonde locks.

A sigh escaped Kakashi and he pushed Sakura out of the gate. "Yeah, I've got it."

He shut the gate then and locked it, sealing himself within the yard. It was a moment before a thump sounded on the fence and a long leg swung over the top of it as he lifted himself to balance precariously on the thin line of wood in a crouch.

"He's coming out the back! Probably to check on his precious gnomes… He's so creepy!" Naruto called out; still somehow quiet in his boisterous laughter.

Kakashi jumped down with a smile, landing on his feet smoothly. "He is. Now, let's get out of here."

With that, they dashed across the street into the relative safety of Sakura's house, where Kakashi and Naruto said their goodnights and headed to their respective homes, with smiles on their lips and nightmares of vengeful gnomes in their minds.

Sakura chose not to think too much on the kiss that had flustered her for the second time in two months as she headed for dry clothes.

A second event. Just what she needed.

It was only getting worse.

Hah! Yeah…. I managed to finish it before the end of the month! ^^ It was really fun writing this, considering that I hadn't originally planned to write a second chapter. Or a third… but, they it's coming! This is my first real multi-chaptered fic… so, tell me what you think! Ahh, and check my profile for my disclaimer. Special thanks to my special bestie Sammie for giving me such awesome inspiration and for betaing this thing. Ja! Themes: 30Kisses #9. Dash, 30Kisses #15 Perfect Blue

Ahh... what lies beyond here is a rant. So, if you review then pay this no mind.

I'm really annoyed by people that fave and alert and DON'T REVIEW. I spend a lot of time writing these fics, and I don't really mind if I get no reviews. But, IF YOU ARE GOING TO FAVE ME, THEN AT LEAST SAY SOMETHING. Even if it's a simple sentence, or even a word. ANY INPUT HELPS ME BECOME A BETTER AUTHOR. I can't honestly believe that people do this, yet the proof is right in my stats. I firmly believe that if you're not going to review, then don't fave either. Anyone who writes should be able to understand this. There... end rant. ^^ Have a great day.