My First Story, enjoy!
Title: "Hot Springs and Nightmares"
Disclaimer:I own none of the characters!
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Have you ever had a secret?
I was always horrible at keeping secrets… but he wasn't.
Nobody saw it coming… well, almost 'nobody'.
I guess we weren't completely obvious.
I always felt like it was impossible for people not to see through our secret, it should have been impossible not to see every glance, every chance graze, every smile, every kiss…. How could we have really stayed a secret for this long?
I know secrets are bad because they hurt the people who figure them out, but nobody ever talked about how much it hurts to keep them.
… ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Not so long ago:
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
I loved late summer afternoons. The air was so warm, but the wind still had a chill.
"Aah! It's finally over with!" Naruto shouted ahead of me with a tone of accomplishment and relief, scratching his head happily. I still couldn't feel quite as relaxed as him. The latest mission really took a toll on all of us, physically and mentally… there was nothing worse than a pack of genjutsu-ninjas who were also skilled with giant swords.
But, of course, Naruto's energy was already at full capacity again.
I really wanted to get home and rest, but I knew as soon as we got back Tsunade-sama would have to send us on another mission straight away due to the shortage of shinobi at Konoha.
Lately, the Hokage has been sending more and more teams in search for any trace of the Akatsuki members, even Yamato-taichou was sent off with another group, everyone's pretty much looking for the Akatsuki… except us, Team Kakashi.
She says she thinks we're over-doing it.
But she really just doesn't want Naruto getting too involved when we're still unsure of the Akatsuki's true intentions.
Well, I guess I should be thankful for the two day voyage before we get back to Konoha.
A flash of orange ran off into the horizon, leaving me and the rest of the team behind him.
"Naruto, you need to slow down!" I called after him firmly.
He was already dozens of feet away.
I didn't mind him running off, in fact it would probably help me relax, but I knew Sai and Kakashi-sensei couldn't handle much more excitement.
He'd really pushed his Sharingan Mangekyo too far this time; he might have to stay at the hospital again. But without his sharingan, we'd probably still be trapped in those horrific nightmares.
I shuddered at the memory.
"He's already too far off in his own world to hear you." A cool voice explained from my left, cutting my painful memories short.
"I guess so." I looked over to Kakashi-sensei, smiling a little.
He always seemed so composed, so calm.
He stared at me for a second, I could tell he smiled back… even if I could only see a fraction of his face.
Besides the smile, I saw something else.
I think something was bothering him.
But he looked away too soon for me to really look.
He must still be tired or something… or it was just my imagination.
"Oi! You guys are too slow!" Naruto shouted from at least a half-mile away.
He's really too much at times, but that's what made him Naruto.
I heard Kakashi's chuckle from my left, and I couldn't help looking back to his face just to see him smile again.
I always found myself trying to imagine what was behind that thin mask of his… besides the mask underneath it, of course.
"All right, we'll set up camp here." Kakashi decided once we reached a small opening in the woods that allowed enough space for us to lay down without being too open for easy pickings.
I really liked the place we stopped at. The sun was just barely setting through the thicket of tree branches, which made the yellowing leaves on the ground glow warmly against the thick grass. And the smell of Japanese Maples was always very soothing to me.
"Hey, hey! Guess what I found!" Naruto busted through the foliage to announce his discovery, disrupting my moment of nature-appreciation with a shock.
Kakashi and Sai quickly turned away from him before he could drag them into his craziness.
But it was too late for me... I already made eye contact.
"What?" I asked with clear annoyance in my voice.
It really bugged me when he was really hyper right after a big mission, us normal people were still sore.
"There are some hot springs over there!" He whispered excitedly as I was unpacking the cooking materials.
Well, that is pretty cool.
"I'm gonna go take a dip now!"
And the flash of orange was off again, not helping with setting up camp.
"Jeez." I whispered to myself, feeling a little envious.
"Sakura." That smooth voice called me. I couldn't help a shiver. It was just the way he said my name. I wasn't really used to adults calling me by my first name so… casually. He's started to call me by my name more often now, it's almost like he considers me an equal.
I couldn't help a rush of pride when I thought about that.
I had always wanted Kakashi-sensei's recognition… but he was always more involved in training Naruto… and Sasuke…
Urgh… I couldn't think about that name right now.
"Yes?" I answered, walking over to Kakashi-sensei, trying to act as casually as he treated me, but I bet I still sounded as eager as that little know-it-all student I used to be.
I cringed at the memory of the old me…
"There's something I need to discuss with you later." He explained vaguely, rummaging together the firewood that Sai collected. Something was off about him… he wouldn't look at me.
He just looked at his hands.
"Okay." I said softly, trying to decipher his expression, but he walked away.
Something was bothering him.
It was strange for him to be so secretive… unless he was hiding something that the rest of the team couldn't find out.
It was probably something about Naruto…. Every time there was any secretive news, it was always about Naruto.
Well, I can worry about that later.
For now I'll finish preparing the rations and then sleep. Then I'll sneak over to the hot springs later tonight.
The digits on my watch glowed a little, but it wasn't bright enough to disrupt anyone's sleep, if anything was going to wake people up, it was Naruto's sleep-talking.
I think he was dreaming about fighting pork slices in a giant bowl of ramen again tonight.
"Po-rk..." He growled in his sleep as I got out from under my covers.
It was a little scary how well I knew him.
I kinda wanted to kick him awake as he droolingly chewed and punched at his backpack, but I figured… let sleeping ninjas lie.
At least he took his bath earlier, so it should be okay for me to go take a quick soak right now.
I grabbed my towel (which I always packed just in case I had an opportunity to bathe during a mission), and set off into the direction Naruto was shouting about earlier today.
I knew I could've gone sooner, right after we had eaten, but I really didn't want anyone or anything crashing into my bathing time and ruining my relaxation.
Specifically that orange-clad pork-fighter back at camp.
I had a sneaking suspicion that he would try to peek or something... just like a certain Sannin that spent three years training him, not only in fighting, but probably in ways to peep, too.
But, now I'll finally be able to relax without worrying about drama.
What am I thinking?
What could I possibly be thinking?
There are some things that are allowed, and others that can't ever be accepted….
This is so troublesome… not to mention, risky…
A deep sigh escaped him as he undid the knot behind his head, allowing his forehead protector to gently fall away from his face.
He wouldn't usually take off his forehead protector and mask, even at a bath house, but he seriously needed some air in order to get any peace of mind.
He opened his eyes.
The cold night wind seemed to clean away his fatigue.
It felt so strange to have both eyes open at the same time, not because he wasn't used to it anymore, but because the left side of his vision was so sharp and precise that it made his head hurt every time he tried to focus his eyes together properly. Not to mention that his sharingan eye was still in a lot of pain from using it too much. He'd have to close his left eye again.
Well, he was used to it.
His mind didn't stray from its original taboo topic for long as he proceeded to pull down the zipper of his Jounin vest. He shrugged it off impatiently.
He was truly grateful that the hot springs were here. It was why he picked this location, after all.
He really needed to relax in some steaming hot water, all of his muscles ached, as they usually did after these sorts of intense missions.
But all that aside, who didn't like a good soak every so often?
I love taking baths!
I thought cheerfully to myself, as I walked through the forest. I loved walking through forests during night, too.
It was so peaceful and so mysterious, but I was genuinely impatient for those hot springs.
I hadn't taken a warm bath in so long.
This was exactly what I needed.
Just further up, I saw moonlit steam rising through the gaps of branches.
"Yes!" I whispered to myself with the excitement of a five year old who just caught sight of a candy jar.
I hurriedly walked over to the edge of the bushes. I was in such a hurry that I was already undoing the zipper of my shirt and squirming out of my skirt. But I heard something.
I stopped short a few paces from the rocky surroundings of my awaiting hot springs just to make sure it was all clear.
It wasn't clear.
Just through the bushes I could see someone in the blurry moonlight near the water, it looked like they were about to get in.
They were tall, and muscular… a man.
Who could be so near to our camp site and go unnoticed by us?
I could barely see anything through the mist and shadow. I inched closer into the bushes to get a better look.
But then I saw a pile of clothes on a large rock next to my bushes.
Navy blue turtleneck, navy blue pants, a couple of beige satchels, and a forest green Jounin vest…
Just as I realized who the person by the water must've been I hurriedly tried to stand up and run away, but battle-fatigue mixed with bush roots equaled a nasty fall onto the rock surface and out of the bushes' cover.
"Ow…" I blurted out. I smacked a hand to my mouth to shut myself up, but it was too late. I felt someone staring at me.
"Sakura?" The same smooth voice called my name again with a bewildered tone. But instead of getting shivers, I got the insane need to hide, the need to bury myself for the next five years before seeing him face to face again.
I didn't look up at first, I was trying to stand up, but my skirt was already around my thighs. I fell back to the ground with a big thud. So much for shinobi 'grace' and 'coordination'! I clumsily struggled for a few seconds before finally finding my footing on the ground, which I nearly lost again when I looked up at the man whose privacy I had deeply invaded.
He was only in a towel.
Which was normal for bathing, actually quite modest for lonesome bathing, but I couldn't help but feel like it was greatly unnatural.
It wasn't normal to see Kakashi-sensei in only a towel.
I could see his chest.
I could almost see his face, but the mist was in the way.
But I couldn't really care at the moment, I was in too much of a panic.
"What are yo-?" His voice found my ears again, which sent a rush of blood straight to my face.
"Excuse me!" I shouted with the most embarrassing tone, bowing a few feet before turning around and running into the bushes again, gripping at my clothes to keep them on. I ran as fast as I could for as long as I could maintain the speed before I felt like I was going to get out of breath.
Did that really just happen?
I really just fell, half-dressed, out of bushes, in front of a half-naked Kakashi-sensei.
And I couldn't even keep my cool!
I even blushed!
Well it was the first time I've seen a half-naked man!
… and it was Kakashi-sensei…
And he knows I saw him!
That's just too awkward!
This has got to be a nightmare.
I couldn't think straight.
I could only worry about what was going to happen when I saw him again.
He was probably going to make fun of me or something.
If he isn't upset, he'll make fun of me, and whenever our team goes to an onsen… he'll crack joke after joke.
And if Naruto and Sai found out, I won't ever hear the end of this.
Sai wouldn't be too bad, he'll only be confused, but Naruto would get angry and then he'd just laugh at me.
I can just imagine the horrors Naruto would make for me.
I stopped, tried to calm down... failed... and walked very quickly back to camp, zipping up my shirt and fixing my skirt, pulling the leaves out of my hair, and dusting off the mud from my hips.
I must've been a mess in front of him.
He's probably laughing at me right now.
And I didn't even get to take my bath…
I crashed onto my blanket, trying to forget this ever happened.
"RASEN-!" Naruto's sleepy voice yelled a battlecry before fading out…
He was so lucky he didn't have anything like this to worry about.
Well, that was… unexpected...
She was so embarrassed it was almost cut-Wait!
There are a number of other ways of describing what just happened.
'Embarrassing', 'awkward', 'inappropriate', a 'mistake', 'lucky'?…
… That last one wasn't right, was it?
…ah… I really shouldn't be thinking about how cute she was, tripping all over herself.
And thanks to my sharingan, I was even able to see the pink rush to her face just before she bowed.
And that her clothes were half-undone…
At that thought he stopped himself early, smacking a hand against his face.
He really couldn't think about that.
He brushed the hand back, through his hair, letting the water drag the silver locks down from their usual up-style.
No doubt, if he let himself think about her flushed expression or her rumpled clothing he would only fall quicker and faster into a mess he couldn't deal with…
A mess he had only recently realized he was mixed up in.
The mess of a teacher developing feelings for a student.
Something must be wrong with me... maybe I just read too many of those books...
He already knew that these feelings weren't so flimsy as to be caused by reading his lovesick novels.
Sinking further into the steaming water so that his nose was submerged, staring at the relaxed monkeys on the other side of the spring, he couldn't help but wonder what was going to happen the next morning.
I literally jumped out of my little blanket-bed.
Naruto was making a giant fuss over something, and so early, too.
The sun was barely rising over the treetops.
I almost let my head hit my pillow again, before I immediately filled in the blank of what could be freaking Naruto out so much.
Kakashi-sensei didn't, did he? He wouldn't just tell Naruto like that, right?
I could just imagine it:
"Hey, Naruto… did you know Sakura was a peeping-tom?"
Well, those probably weren't the words he would use… but I couldn't risk it.
I immediately stood up and wobbled, sleepy-legged, but fully-alert, over to Naruto's sleeping spot.
I was immediately shocked by what I found.
Under Naruto's blanket wasn't just one body, but two.
Naruto was already wiggling as he screamed louder. Sai was pleasantly asleep next to Naruto, clutching onto him like a hugging pillow.
"Wha-what's going on here?" I found my voice while trying to hold back laughter.
"THAT'S WHAT I WANNA KNOW!" Naruto shrieked, stirring awake the peaceful Sai with a couple punches.
Naruto finally dealt a heavy kick, and sent Sai shooting out from under the blanket.
Sai didn't seem too effected, just confused and groggy.
Naruto continued to shriek and cry with confusion and manly embarrassment.
Sai quickly recouped.
"WHAT WERE YOU DOING?"
"I was only trying to help you." Sai answered quietly, yawning towards the end, rubbing his eyes. Sitting up so that he could face Naruto.
"wi-WITH WHAT?" Naruto spat a little weakly, evidently feeling violated.
"In a book I was reading it showed a friend having a nightmare, and the other friend comforting them by sharing a bed."
I don't think fighting pork slices is what you call a nightmare.
Naruto only stared in horror for a few seconds before finally exploding.
"WHAT KIND OF BOOKS ARE YOU READING!"
"All right, all right." A cool voice interrupted Naruto's rant and Sai's explanation. "If you two want to continue your lovers' quarrel, do it after we're all ready to go."
Naruto grumbled loudly at that comment.
Kakashi looked down at Sai's bag, "Oh, I didn't know you read these, too." He said with mild surprise, picking up one of the orange Icha Icha novels…
. . . moment of awkward silence . . .
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHH!" Naruto woke up the entire forest.
Birds flew out of trees and squirrels ran for cover.
Sai merely looked at Naruto with a puzzled expression.
But I couldn't focus on any other drama when I saw Kakashi walking up to me, leaving the two teenage shinobi to their antics. I quickly looked away from his face, staring straight ahead at his eye-level navy blue shirt. I immediately noticed he wasn't wearing his vest… which reminded me of when he wasn't wearing pretty much anything…. except for that towel…
My eyes fell to his shoes as I felt heat radiate from my cheeks and forehead.
Why was I blushing?
I'm not a shy little school-girl!
A peach-colored fabric entered my vision.
I immediately forgot my inner-panic.
"You forgot this." His voice said as casually and as simply as I had ever heard it before.
He was returning the towel I dropped… the towel I dropped when I was practically snooping at him right before he was going to take a bath.
I hurriedly grabbed it from his hand without wanting to seem rude.
His fingers grazed my palm for a second.
Electricity seemed to invigorate the nerve endings in my hand.
That was new.
Though I haven't touched Sensei that much, ever, only when he needed help or healing (or when he used to save me whenever I was in too much danger), this definitely wasn't like before.
"Th-thank you." I said quietly, forcing myself to look up to his covered face.
But he still had that bothered look on his face.
Was he upset at me?
"Eh! What do you think you're doing now?" Naruto's harsh voice flooded my ears, stealing me away from this moment of awkward realization.
"I'm helping you pack." I heard Sai explain quietly.
"I don't need any more of your 'HELP'!" Naruto retorted.
Kakashi went over to break up the shouting once again.
I sighed with relief as I walked over to my own belongings.
Thank god Naruto didn't notice the embarrassing atmosphere just now, or he would've been curious.
Then again... Naruto was never good at sensing atmosphere...
I couldn't focus on packing… my eyes always seemed to drift towards Kakashi-sensei.
I don't know if I was checking on his mood, or checking to see if he was going to tell Naruto about last night… but every time I stole a glance at him, I only wanted to stare at his face some more...
I had no idea why.