Author Notes: My entry for livejournal's kakasaku comm's Shakespeare contest, adapting William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing to the Narutoverse and the Kakashi/Sakura pairing. While there are mixes of various dramatis personae in each of the Naruto characters instead of everyone simply sliding into a single role, Kakashi is mostly Benedick and Sakura mostly Beatrice. For everyone else, it may not be as clear, so I can provide a "cast of characters" comparison list if anyone's curious. This should be considered an AU from canon, because... I don't want to deal with the train wreck that is the current chapters, and it's just easier that way. Sakura is 18, Kakashi is 32 and Tsunade is still Hokage because Kakashi would hate the job anyway and it made more sense for the adaptation lol. Lastly, I ask for your forgiveness in advance if you hate what I've done with the original play, since I'm nowhere near as witty as Shakespeare and I have cut several subplots in the interest of time and keeping my sanity during midterms.

Pairings or Characters: Kakashi/Sakura, Naruto/Hinata, and a very large supporting cast
Warnings: possible butchering of one of the Bard's comedies
Word Count: 6,144
Summary: Kakashi and Sakura have been at odds for a while now, but their friends devise a way to trick them into finally realizing what they've likely been too stubborn to admit.
Disclaimer: Neither the original work nor the universe to which I have adapted it belong to me, but to Shakespeare and Kishimoto respectively.

No More Than Reason

Sakura let out a loud sigh over her hospital paperwork and was hit in the face with an unfinished mission report in response. She squawked in surprise and glared across the table at Ino, crumpling the paper in her fist.

"Hey, I need that," Ino frowned.

"Then don't go tossing it at people," Sakura grunted.

"You're the one sighing for no good reason. I'm sick of paperwork, too, y'know."

"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled with a roll of her eyes, tossing the wrinkled document back at her blond friend. She let out an exaggerated sigh, this time getting an irritated stare from Ino over her forms, but before she could assault Sakura with them again, they heard someone shouting for them from down the hallway. Looking around, they saw Hinata running toward them before finally skidding to a halt at their table.

"Hey, Hinata," Sakura blinked as the Hyuuga leaned over to catch her breath, Ino staring on in quiet curiosity.

"They're back," she panted eventually, looking up at them through her dark bangs. Ino and Sakura exchanged glances before wide smiles spread on their faces. Grabbing Hinata and their paperwork, they rushed out of the hospital cafeteria and headed for the hokage tower.

Sakura had forgotten, somewhere between the all-nighters at the hospital and the mountains of forms and files she had to somehow keep track of, that her best friend, and many other close friends, were due back today from a mission in Sound that had been expected to not end very well. It wasn't a resurgence of an Akatsuki plot or the return of Madara, but it was still dangerous. But Hinata hadn't sounded particularly panicked, and Sakura was pretty sure the team would be returning more-or-less in one piece.

They reached the top of the tower in record time, breathing hard as they got to the top of the stairs, only to get the briefest glimpse of someone's back as the door to Tsunade's office closed with a dull thud. One of Tsunade's secretaries looked up at the three girls with a smile on his face and nodded at some of the chairs scattered about the lobby. Sakura gave a dismissive wave of her hand and headed straight for the door, pushing her ear up against it.

"Sakura-san..." Hinata mumbled in weak protest, glancing awkwardly between the secretary, Sakura and one of the rows of seats.

"Damn. Can't hear anything," she frowned.

"It's the Hokage's office, Sakura. You shouldn't be surprised that it's sound-proofed," Ino scoffed, taking a seat beside a relieved Hinata. Sakura scuffed her shoe and joined them.

"So how'd you know they were back, Hinata?" Sakura asked over Ino.

"I was just getting off gate duty when I saw them coming into village."

"How many were there? Was everyone there?"

"The whole group came back, I'm pretty sure. N-Naruto-kun was the one I was looking for, though," she admitted with a blush and faint smile. Sakura glanced down at Hinata's hands as she poked two fingers together, taking immediate note of the large ring on her finger. She smiled as she remembered the look on Naruto's face when he'd burst through her door -- unannounced and at quarter to midnight, though she didn't have the heart to scold him -- to make sure she was the first to know he was getting married.

"What about our Great White Idiot-sama? I'm sure you caught a glimpse of him," Sakura asked nonchalantly. Ino snorted, but Hinata just looked confused.


"She means Kakashi-sensei," Ino clarified.

"Oh! Yes, I believe I saw him, too. Gai-sensei was carrying him."

"Gai-sensei? Ha, he must have gotten his ass handed to him pretty good, then," Sakura smirked, expecting another laugh from Ino, but she only got a stifled giggle and a finger pointing somewhere behind her while Hinata seemed determined to stare the paint off the wall across from her.

"What? What is it?"

Turning around, she was greeted with the sight of the crotch of someone's slacks. Looking upward, she realized it was Kakashi's.

"Chuckling at my misfortune again, are you?" he asked, sounding bored as he stared down at her with one eye.

"Oh, relax. I'm sure you were splendid on the mission and did not, in fact, need to have your butt saved multiple times because you were too busy reading your porn to actually pay attention to the fight," Sakura shrugged, standing up. She still only came up to his chest, but it was better than being eye-level with his crotch.

"I'll have you know, that was one time. And I actually did most of the butt-saving these past few weeks. Gai was carrying me because I'd used up my chakra using my sharingan and needed to recuperate on the return home. That's all," he explained.

"If you say so," Sakura smiled calmly. Kakashi grunted down at her, but before he could say anything else, the office door slammed open behind them. All eyes turned to see a beaming Naruto as his eyes landed on Hinata, who was smiling just as brightly back.

"Hinata-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" he crowed, practically leaping across the room and swooping her into a hug. Hinata let out a soft, "Naruto-kun," and giggled as he started pressing kisses all over her face. Ino rolled her eyes, but Sakura couldn't hide her smile. They really were cute together, even if she'd never really thought about it before it actually happened. Kakashi beside her made a disapproving noise.

"What?" she asked flatly. He had a knack for ruining her mood in seconds flat.

"I'm happy for him, but marriage... Even if she wasn't the Hyuuga house's heir, it still isn't that great an idea," he mumbled.

"You're just bitter that no one would ever be willing to put up with you long enough to get married," Sakura teased.

"Ha. I'd rather die a bachelor than deal with a wife."

"Only lonely people say that."

"What about you?" he asked, glancing down at her, "I don't see you taking any great pains to find yourself a husband."

"That's different. I don't have time to date, and I'm not in any rush to get married. I'm still young, while you, on the other hand, are getting on in years, old man," she smirked.

"Oh, ouch. Now you're just bullying your old sensei," he pouted.

"Yeah, well, it's not like you don't deserve it."

"... I suppose."

"Sakura!" Tsunade barked, and the two whipped around to see the Hokage leaning against the door frame of her office. "I want you to take everyone back to the hospital and get them taken care of. Most of them are fine, but Kakashi and Kiba are pretty worn down."

"Yes, shishou," Sakura nodded. But, when she turned to start ushering her soon-to-be patients toward the stairs, all that was left of Kakashi beside her was a wisp of smoke. Clenching her jaw, she forcibly shoved all of the remaining shinobi to the exit.

"I'm kind of sick of them," Ino groused, chin in her hands as she leaned over the counter. Sakura glanced over her shoulder and laughed.

"They're getting married in two days, Ino, give them a break."

"But do they have to kiss in public like that? I mean, I'm not surprised by Naruto's lack of common courtesy for the rest of us, but he's obviously a bad influence on Hinata if she doesn't even try to drag him off somewhere private anymore."

"Hey, at least they aren't making loud noises while someone's trying to treat a four-year old girl with her parents standing right there," Sakura replied, glancing up from her chart to give Ino a significant look. She at least had the decency to duck her head and cough, but no apology was forthcoming.

"So, found Kakashi yet?" Ino asked, not-so-subtly changing the subject. But any talk of Kakashi often served well to get Sakura's mind off everything else, so she knew she was in the clear. Sakura's fingers tightened and they heard a loud crack as she nearly snapped her pen in half. "I'll take that as a no."

"He always dodges post-mission check ups. He'll turn up when he realizes he probably shouldn't be bleeding from the ears and he'll be treated before any serious damage is done," Sakura said, trying her best to sound indifferent. The pen in her hand, bent out of shape and no longer working, betrayed her frustration.

Someone behind them cleared their throat, and the two looked over their shoulders to see one of the senior staff officers giving them funny looks.

"Ladies, is now really the time to be sitting around gossiping?"

"Um, I'm just gonna. Yeah. Leaving now, bye," Ino replied, quickly sprinting away.

"Sorry about that. We're just happy the squad came back in one piece," Sakura smiled, using her most practiced workplace smile. If he'd walked away, she probably wouldn't have figured it out, but he pressed up against the counter beside her, glancing at the twisted, discarded pen before staring at her, even as she tried to actually focus on the chart in front of her. "Uh, is there anything else?"

When she looked back at him, scrutinizing him without looking like she was interested at all, she realized that while the name on the badge matched the face, the chakra patterns did not. She was about to ask Kakashi why the hell he was disguising himself and bothering her when he finally spoke.

"Hatake-san hasn't come in yet?"

'Oh,' she thought, fighting back a smirk, 'So that's what he's playing at.'

"... No, I haven't seen him come in yet."

"I heard he was piggybacked back to the village."

"You heard right," she smiled, "Typical of a man like him."

"Oh? How so?"

"Have you ever met him?"

"Not while he was conscious, no."

"Well, we go way back, and let me tell you, Hatake Kakashi is a very talented shinobi. One of the best in Konoha. Could've been Hokage, too, but he turned the offer down." She spotted the twitch at the corner of his lips and nearly burst out laughing. If he was enjoying that bit of ego-swelling, she couldn't wait for him to ask the next question.

"I heard about that. Why would he turn it down?"

"As talented as he is, Kakashi is basically the most lazy, incompetent man on the planet, and he probably knew he'd be shit at the job." He visibly deflated at that, and even if the mask he was hiding behind was short and blond, she could practically see his real face turn sour. Even if it would normally be hidden behind a mask. "He's also a liar and an unrepentant jerk, sometimes sexist, more likely to spend money on porn than to help his dear students with the dinner bill, skips out on meetings and dates all the time, is incredibly uncultured, and -- though this is just a rumor -- I've heard he's absolutely awful in bed."

"What does that last one have to do with being Hokage?" he asked, somewhat snappily.

"Nothing, I suppose. Well, anyway, I'm going to finish these charts, and I'll let you know if I see Kakashi come in."

She smiled her most professional smile, grabbed her things, and walked away, leaving him with her words. His henge dissolved once she was out of sight, and he ran a hand over his face. When had her opinion of him fallen so low? Not that he didn't necessarily deserve it, but it was still rather hard to hear it said to his face.

"Oh, hey sensei," Naruto said suddenly from beside him. Hinata smiled politely at him when he glanced up and he noticed the two were holding hands. He fought back the urge to roll his eyes and merely nodded at them both. "Did Sakura know she was talking to you? Half the hospital has been looking for you, y'know. You're supposed to get a check up."

"Uh huh," he grunted unhelpfully.

"... Soooo, what were you talking about?" Naruto asked, not really sure what else to say since Kakashi was being difficult.

"Nothing important, but Naruto? Remind me to stop talking to women from now on. Nothing good comes of it." Naruto blinked at him, perplexed by the odd request.

"Uh, sure, sensei."

"Why hello there, Kakashi," Tsunade greeted, slapping a hand on his shoulder. He stiffened as he felt her dig fingers into him and realized he couldn't escape now without losing that arm. "I believe you owe me a check up."

"Yes, Hokage-sama," he nodded solemnly as she directed two nurses to take him to a vacant room.

Turning to Naruto, she asked with a raised eyebrow, "Do you owe me one?"

"No, no, already finished," he shook his head quickly.

"Good then. I have a task for you two."

Kiba was still unconscious and on several different kinds of heavy drug medications, so he was out. Lee was annoying, so he was out, and Gai-sensei was kind of... terrifying, so he was out. Neji was still giving him a hard time because he was marrying his cousin, and Naruto didn't really want to deal with that right now when he was sure he would have to during the rehearsal dinner the next night, so Neji was out, too. Shino wasn't interested and Chouji would demand a meal in compensation, so they were both out. It had taken two months to get Sasuke to agree to come to the wedding, and another month of begging to get him to finally agree to be best man, so Naruto didn't want to push his luck any further.

All that left was Shikamaru, who wasn't all that enthusiastic at first, but was easily suckered in once Naruto started offering to take a few of his shifts of watch duty.

"So what am I doing again?"

"Tsunade'll explain, just c'mon."

Hinata wasn't really good at convincing anyone of anything, but all it took were a few words out of her mouth and Ino was sold. Tenten agreed to play along because she was on maternity leave and had little else to do otherwise. Shizune thought it was a bit unfair, but figured that since there were no bad intentions behind it, she could help out, too.

And so they set off to put Plan Gossip into action.

Kakashi's check up had been pretty thorough, and as it turned out, he had been bleeding internally for several hours, so he was instructed to stay in bed for the rest of the day and stay the night at the hospital. And while that was pretty bad itself, no one even bothered to come visit him aside from the nurses assigned his room. Though, when he woke up the next day, there was a flower on his bedside table. He was initially suspicious when it came without a note or card or anything, but he eventually appreciated it for the gift it was.

He knew he was supposed to sit around until the doctors said he could leave, but he was getting sick of laying around, so he sat up and made to pull out the various IVs in his arms when he heard voices. It was fairly early in the morning, so even though they were coming from down the hall, there was only the random nurse's footsteps to be heard, and once he pressed his ear up against the door, it was easy to listen in on their conversation.

"... Sakura's been a bit of a mess lately," one of the voices sighed loudly. He recognized it as one of Gai's students, Tenten.

"Really? She seemed fine before," a softer voice replied, and he was pretty sure that was Hinata. "Though now that you mentioned it, once everyone from the mission came back, she did start to look rather in low spirits."

"Tsunade offered to give her fewer hours over the weekend, for the wedding, but she wouldn't hear it," an older voice chimed in then, and he figured that was Shizune.

"I... I think I might know why," a fourth voice spoke up, and he could tell immediately that it was Ino. "She's been talking to me for a while now about being in love with someone that she is convinced she can't ever be with, but she absolutely refused to tell me who. But when the squad came back yesterday, I'm pretty sure I figured out who it is."

The other girls gasped surprise and demanded to know more, and if Kakashi hadn't been trying to make sure they didn't know he was eavesdropping, he would've demanded loudly for more, too.

"I think it's Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi reeled backwards, losing his balance and falling to the floor in an uncoordinated, flailing motion, finally landing with a loud thud. He froze, holding his breath in fear that the girls would stop talking and instead start investigating, but after a few moments they continued on as if nothing had interrupted them at all. He quietly pushed himself off the floor and pressed his ear to the door again, practically desperate to hear what they said next.

"Haven't you noticed, though? Whenever he's around, she acts really strange, and she's always insulting him, but if she really hated him, she wouldn't try so hard to bring him up in conversation all the time," Ino explained.

"And when he didn't come in to the hospital yesterday she was really moody, and that's not the first time it's happened," Hinata added, and Kakashi recalled the pen he'd seen her nearly snap in half at the mere mention of his name.

"If it's true, should we tell Kakashi?" Tenten asked.

"No, no, definitely not," Shizune answered immediately.

"Why not?" Hinata wondered. Kakashi made a mental note to thank her later for asking the question he was dying to have answered.

"There's no way he feels the same way, right? And he's kind of a jerk himself, too. He'd probably just make fun of her if he ever found out, and seeing how hard she tries to hide her feelings, if that happened she'd probably be heartbroken for ages. Probably worse than with Sasuke," Ino explained.

"So... we don't tell him," Tenten said slowly, still sounding a bit confused.

"Absolutely not," Shizune provided.

Kakashi was at a loss. He stumbled back from the door until he hit his bed, unable to listen to anymore. Sakura was in love with him? After the verbal lashing he'd received yesterday, he had been convinced she hated him, but Ino did know more of her secrets than Kakashi could ever hope to know, and even if it was mostly wishful thinking on his part, what the girls were saying actually made a lot of sense.

But they weren't going to let him know? He was supposed to go on living in the dark when someone like Sakura -- smart, feisty, dangerous, strong, independent, beautiful Sakura -- was pining after him? He glanced over at the bedside table and the single, white flower laid there for him and shook his head.

"Well, to hell with that."

Sakura was early, but that's only because she'd had to stop by the hospital first. She had even beaten the secretary, which was unusual, but the office door was ajar so she would be able to tell on her own whether or not there was a meeting she'd have to wait for. However, when she got close, she got the distinct feeling that this was a meeting she was definitely not supposed to know about.

"Hokage-sama, what am I supposed to do with him?" Shikamaru asked in a rather flat, unenthusiastic tone, even for him. Through the crack in the doorway, Sakura saw Naruto give him a shove. "I mean, he's absolutely useless since he talked with Sakura yesterday, and I'm supposed to take him back out on mission after the weekend's over?"

Sakura had to clap a hand over her mouth to stop the gasp from escaping when she realized they were talking about Kakashi.

"I'm sure he'll cheer up and be good as new by the time you have to set out, don't you worry," Tsunade replied reassuringly, waving a hand dismissively.

"No, I don't think you get it. All he talked about in Sound was her. All he ever talks about is her, even if it's mostly complaining. The entire squad is pretty sure Kakashi-sensei is in love with her," Naruto mumbled.

If her hands weren't already clamped over her mouth, Sakura was sure her jaw would have hit the floor.

"... Is that so," Tsunade nodded contemplatively.

"Hokage-sama, should we just tell Sakura? Let her straighten this whole thing out?"

"I'm not so sure that's a good idea."

"What? Why?" Naruto squawked.

"This is Sakura, we're talking about. She's likely to either scorn him for it or mock him endlessly, neither of which would improve his mood much, don't you think?"

Sakura wanted to interrupt and protest -- why did Tsunade assume she'd react like that and make Kakashi even more miserable after learning what she's learned? -- but she refrained, knowing she couldn't. Luckily, Naruto was loud-mouthed enough for the both of them.

"I don't think she would," he said loudly, "I mean, sure she hasn't dated in a long time, and she spends most of her time working, and she loudly tells off those guys that approach her whenever she does get dragged out to a bar. But she looks really happy when I talk about getting married, and I think she wouldn't mind it either, and even if Kakashi is really old and used to be our teacher, I don't see anything wrong with it, so she probably wouldn't either."

From outside the door, Sakura could only see Tsunade's face, though she could easily imagine Naruto's, and saw a look of brief surprise before it coolly slid into one of impassiveness again.

"That may be so, but Kakashi needs to focus, and neither bad nor good news will help him with that. Shikamaru, tell him to suck it up or he's off active duty. Naruto, go get ready for your rehearsal dinner."

"Yes, Hokage-sama," Shikamaru bowed, though Naruto only grunted and shoved his hands in his pockets.

Somehow, Sakura managed to scramble away from the door and hide in the closet across the lobby before the boys walked out. She still had some time before Tsunade was expecting her, so she stayed hidden to try and process what she'd heard.

Could it really be possible? Kakashi was in love? With her of all people? Was he a masochist or something? She felt particularly bad about ripping on him yesterday now, but she'd dropped by to check on him and leave a flower to give the room a bit of decoration and as an apology already. She hadn't known how he felt, though, and she never would've been so mean if she thought he actually cared what she thought about him. She bit at her lip as she thought about what she should do with this new knowledge of hers. Certainly she wasn't about to react like Tsunade had predicted.

She'd just have to be nicer to Kakashi. She could do that, no sweat. Whether or not he would be willing to forgive her was the thing that worried her, though. But in the meantime, she'd have to get out of this closet and actually try and focus on whatever Tsunade was going to assign her.

Despite her efforts, Sakura couldn't get away from her work, and Kakashi had already left the hospital -- without letting anyone know, of course, leaving her to fill out all of his forms again -- so she didn't get the chance to see him and straighten things out. She had resigned herself to wait until tomorrow to track him down as she headed for the Hyuuga main house for the rehearsal dinner, but was surprised to see him standing at the main gates. While the rest of the guests, herself included, had dressed up for the evening, he was wearing his usual jounin vest and slacks.

She was tempted to scold him for it but wisely held her tongue, asking hesitantly instead, "Kakashi?" His head whirled around to face her and he quickly stuffed something into his pocket before pushing away from the gates and walking towards her.

"Sakura," he smiled. She had been expecting to find him as a weeping mess, brokenhearted over her cruel words from the previous day, but he looked fine. He looked happy -- elated, even -- and she was sorely tempted to punch him. She resisted though, and instead let out a sigh.

"I didn't think you'd be coming tonight."

"Why wouldn't I? It's important to Naruto, isn't it?"

"But you don't like the idea of marriage at all, so it wouldn't have surprised me if you decided to ditch."

"Well..." he mumbled, trailing off slowly. She chewed on her tongue, grumbling inwardly at herself.

'What happened to being nicer?' she asked herself in irritation.

"Sorry, I'm just surprised... but I'm happy you came," she tried again. He blinked down at her before smiling behind his mask, and she smiled back.

During the dinner, things went pretty smoothly. Sakura and Kakashi sat across from each other near the head of the table, next to Hinata and Naruto respectively. The food was amazing, as was to be expected of a Hyuuga-hosted meal, and aside from Kiba's loud proclamations that he was a constable named Dogberry that was close on the trail of some mystery villains, nobody made a real fool out of themselves. They went around the table, toasting the bride- and groom-to-be, before drifting apart to drink and mingle. Sakura didn't notice the giggles coming from the corner of the room where Ino was sitting with Tenten and Shikamaru as she and Kakashi headed out of the dining hall together.

Outside, it was a bit chilly, and the fact that she was wearing a knee-length green dress made of fairly thin material wasn't helping matters.

"You look nice," Kakashi said suddenly once they'd gotten out of earshot of the other guests.

"Thanks, you look... like you usually do."

He laughed at that, and she felt her cheeks warming up.

"So, uh, I found this in my room this morning," Kakashi started slowly, reaching into his pocket and pulling out the small flower she had left for him. It look like it had been handled carefully, but still often enough to appear ready to fall apart. "... And I was wondering if you knew who left it."

"Could've been anyone," she replied quietly.

"Could it have been you?"

She stiffened, eyes glued on her high heels, and wondered how she should answer. Yes, he was in love with her, if Naruto and Shikamaru's accounts were anything to go by, but that didn't mean she was in love with him. Not that she really minded the idea, when she thought about it, and he was fun to tease and argue with, even if she took it a little too far sometimes, and he really was quite handsome, despite three-fourths of his face being hidden most of the time. Naruto hadn't sounded weirded out by his age, and she didn't either, even if she poked fun at him for it regularly.

'To hell with it, just tell him!' she thought desperately, but before she got farther than, "I--" a disoriented Kiba stumbled out of the hall and wandered right between them.

"I AM AN ASS," he proclaimed loudly, and Sakura certainly had to agree. She glanced at Kakashi, who was currently glaring daggers at the young man between them, and she let out a laugh. He looked up and caught her eyes and his expression instantly softened, and she reveled in the ability to make him calm so quickly.

A much more sober Shino found his way towards the three of them, lured to Kiba's location by his loud, repeated inquiries to Sakura and Kakashi of, "Are you good men and true?"

"Alright, Constable, leave these two alone," Shino sighed, hoisting Kiba over his shoulder and wandering back inside, his captive shouting strange lines like, "Our watch, sir, have indeed comprehended two aspicious... suspicious... aspicious persons," as they disappeared into the large Hyuuga household.

"... I fear for that young man," Kakashi muttered once they were alone again. Sakura nodded her agreement, but felt Kakashi take one of her hands in his and any words she was about to say were lost.

"Sakura, I'm in love with you."

"O-Okay," she stuttered, nothing else able to come to mind.

"That's all I get? Okay?" he asked, though he was smiling behind his mask. She could hear it in his voice.

"Well, I guess I... love you, too," she replied lamely. But she realized belatedly that he was squeezing her hand in his and smiling like an idiot, and he was reaching up to tug his mask down and leaning in closer and, 'Oh my god, am I about to kiss my sensei?'

And if they'd had another few moments, she probably would have. But before he'd even pulled the cloth all the way off his nose, loud hollers from inside were calling in all the guests, probably to end the evening. Kakashi didn't move either to continue or back away, leaving Sakura to be the one to determine what they did next.

"I think we should, y'know, go in," she whispered after several moments of silence, eyes not breaking away from his. He slowly stood back up and pulled his mask back up over the rest of his nose, but he didn't let go of her hand until they'd gotten inside.

They walked back to Sakura's apartment in a comfortable silence, her heels in one hand as she strolled along barefoot. She could only stand wearing them for so long before she refused to go one more step in them, and she'd reached that point nearly a mile ago.

"Ah, there it is," she pointed out when they reached her building. They slowed, coming to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. "I enjoyed tonight," she smiled, and despite not feeling awkward at all around Kakashi, she couldn't stop nearly every word out of her mouth from sounding stiff and clumsy. Kakashi, on the other hand, was just as capable of being smooth and suave as he normally was, which was a bit more infuriating than attractive at the moment.

"Mind being my date to the wedding?" he asked with a grin.

"You waited this long to find one?" she asked back, raising an eyebrow.

"I wasn't really waiting. I just didn't want to go with anyone before now."

'Goddamnit,' she swore inwardly, 'How does he do that? Why does that even work?'

"... Well, I suppose it wouldn't be too embarrassing to go with an old man like you," she teased.

"This old man appreciates it," he laughed, pressing a kiss against her forehead through his mask. Despite it being perfectly chaste, Sakura found her heart doing all kinds of crazy gymnastics in her chest.

"Hey, Kakashi," she asked suddenly.


"... Why are you so down on the whole marriage thing?"

He stared down at her in surprise, not sure where the question had come from, and scratched idly at his face as he began to answer.

"I'm not 'down' on it as a whole. But, as shinobi, I just find it kind of... purposeless. Our job description is basically 'cannon fodder for the village,' after all. Any one of us, or even all of us, could be asked to throw our lives away tomorrow. So I don't get the determination to pretend to be civilians with things like marriage when you could lose your husband or leave behind your wife every day you go to work."

He brought his eyes back to her face and realized she was gawking.

"Um, but, I'm very happy for Naruto. I know he loves Hinata and she loves him and all that, and if they're willing to fight the house politics to get married, then good for them," he added quickly.

"That actually made a lot of sense."

"What were you expecting?"

"I thought you'd just give some bullshit excuse like you were spurned by an ex-fiance or something," she shrugged.

"Ha, no, my life isn't that interesting."

"That's not true," she protested before she could stop herself. He blinked down at her before laughing and teasing some of her bangs with his thumb.

"So I'll see you tomorrow?" he asked, walking backwards down the street.

"Yeah, and don't be late!" she called after him, and though he waved in acknowledgment, she was pretty sure he would be anyway.

Kakashi was late the next day, but not unreasonably so, and he even showed up in a suit, which made up for it rather nicely. They headed for the shrine, jokingly betting on how long it would take before Hinata got sick of living with Naruto. They'd decided on a month and four days by the time they got there, just in time to hear the last of Kiba's bizarre cries before he was sedated to prevent more outbursts and propped up in his chair beside Shino.

The last wedding Sakura had been to had been her aunt's when she was six, but both went by equally slowly. If Kakashi hadn't sat next to her and squeezed her thigh whenever she started to drift away, she was sure she'd have fallen asleep halfway through the ceremony.

To his credit, Naruto kept to his indoor-voice for most of the wedding, though he'd occasionally get enthusiastic and shout before a gentle look from Hinata quieted him back down. And Hinata looked beautiful herself, though Sakura was sure the majority of male guests were paying attention only to her very generous bosom, which not even her kimono could hide.

When the music started up and the two were declared husband and wife, everyone stood from their seats and cheered. She watched them run down the isle and and everyone start to file out after them for cake and other goodies, but when she reached behind her to tug Kakashi towards the snack tables, she only grabbed air.

Looking around, she spotted him talking to the priest and her stomach dipped down to the vicinity of her knees for a brief moment.

He wasn't.

He wouldn't.

"Hey Sakura!" he grinned from behind his mask, waving her down.

He was.

'Oh hell no,' she roared inwardly, stomping out of the row and down to meet him.

Those who hadn't already reached the various desserts stopped and turned around to watch whatever was happening. Ino was even starting call some people back in.

"You love me, right?" he smiled once she'd reached him.

He was going to do this in front of an audience, was he? He was going to regret that.

"No, of course I don't. Where did you get that idea?"

That startled him out of his smugness, finally.

"But... Ino and Hinata and they... They said you were desperately hiding your love of me, beside yourself in your grief because you thought you could never be with me," he said seriously.

"Well, they were wrong," she cried, blushing bright red. She was going to murder her friends after this.

"And you even told me you loved me," he pouted, and her face somehow managed to get even redder.

"I did not," she hissed, horrified by the 'awws' and snickers coming from their audience.

"Okay, so you said 'I guess' first, but it still totally counts."

"You asked me a leading question, okay?! You're the sappy idiot who told me you loved me first!"

"Because I do! And even if you're embarrassed to admit it, I'm not. Hell, I'll even marry you right here, right now to prove it," he frowned, grabbing her hands and tugging her onto the platform that Naruto and Hinata had previously been sharing for their wedding. "Now be honest, Sakura, do you love me or not?"

"I-- I--" she stumbled, glancing around only to find all of the seats occupied once again, everyone watching with rapt attention. Ino even had popcorn. "Fine, I love you. I love you, you stupid, old, lazy, obnoxious, cheating bas--"

"Oh, shut up and kiss me already," he interrupted with a roll of his eyes, his mask down to his chin in a moment before he was pulling her close and silencing any protests with a kiss. The cheers around them were almost as loud as they had been for the ceremony before as the music started back up again.

Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.