She could tell he was serious because the little orange book that shielded him from the world was nowhere in sight. "Tenten."
"Kakashi-sen- just what are you trying to do?" Tenten demanded querulously.
He'd stopped her in mid-practice by standing directly in the trajectory of her flying weapons. Tenten had nearly skewered him, managing just barely to pull back in time the wires attached to her countless blades.
"We should marry."
That sounded like a threat.
"We should What?" Tenten took careful aim and deliberately lobbed a kunai at him. Kakashi's clone dissipated with a burst of smoke.
"Marry." She found herself neckdeep in the ground as Kakashi dusted himself off after his famous 'underneath the underneath' attack. "Hear me out."
He knelt in front of her, smiling in that benign way he had, "I'm the last of my clan and there's been a lot of pressure lately from the powers that be in the village for me to sow my wild oats and produce an heir."
Tenten boggled at him. He continued, patiently.
"I chose you by process of elimination. I can't marry Sakura. She's a former student and frankly I can't count on her not to cheat on me with Sasuke. She's really hung up over the Uchiha. And I'd rather not have to face Ino's overprotective dad on a regular basis, the Yamanakas are masters of interrogation and mind control after all. It was down to you and Hinata, but upon deep reflection, I don't want my kid to have white hair and eyes, he'd practically be an albino, then."
Tenten was furious, but she knew like any good shinobi that you didn't get mad. You got even. "You're way, way, waaaay too old for me, sensei. Kami, you're like, what, TWICE my age?"
"You're at the prime child-bearing stage for women and a capable ninja. You can retire once I impregnate you, with numerous offspring if I may add, and teach the little ones to throw kunai and such."
It was enough to make a girl explode in mortification and wrath, which from her current position would probably look like a volcanic eruption. Or maybe a corpse bursting out of the soil to do a Thriller dance routine. But no, Tenten was cool. Cool, damn it. "I repeat, Kakashi, you're a geezer. Marry a fellow geezer, why don't you? Female ANBU or some other lady who's tired of active duty and actually wants to settle down and raise kids."
She tilted her head, no mean feat considering she was buried up to her chin in the earth, and smiled sweetly at him. "Medical arts have grown by leaps and bounds now that Tsunade's Hokage. You could probably knock HER up, if you liked. Prestige and power, all in one blonde and buxom package. So stop harrassing me and let me out already."
The Copy Nin sat back on his haunches, looking crestfallen. "Rejected on the basis of my veteran experience? That's ageism." He brought out a little orange novel. "I'll give you time to rethink your response, Tenten."
And he began to read quietly.
Just a regular guy, sitting in front of a bun-haired head protruding from the ground.
Well, he giggled disturbingly once in a while. But otherwise the only other sound was Tenten yelling. Loudly.
Her lips were now swollen and red.
No, not from kissing but from spitting out the fire ants that kept crawling over her from the ant hill Kakashi had so conveniently buried her beside.
"You can't force me to marry you," she continued to heckle him, despite the discomfort. "And you have to let me go soon. I need to go to the toilet. You'll compromise my reproductive system if you force me to hold it in and I get a urinary tract infection. I'd be useless to you then, wouldn't I?"
"Medical arts have grown by leaps and bounds," he quoted back at her, turning a page idly. "Torture is good for the soul Tenten. You are looking quite rosy-cheeked and endearingly tousled, as a matter of fact."
"ANTS ARE EATING MY FACE! Let me out! Let Me Out! Let Me Out! LET ME OUT!"
He let her scream herself hoarse for a while, then petted her head. "You know what I need to hear from you, honey."
"I am not your honey!"
"Oh?" he gave her a curious look, "Someone else's honey, perchance?"
She glared at him, loathe to resort to the 'yeah, my boyf's gonna beat you up real bad' route but she was clearly outclassed in terms of fighting ability here, "What if I am?"
"Who is it?" Kakashi cracked his knuckles. "Neji or Lee?"
His knuckles stopped mid-crack. "Are you serious?"
Tenten spat out another ant.
Kakashi thoughtfully picked off the other crawling insects from her head, regarding her all the while. "I mean, I would be the first to recognize what a strong and competent ninja Gai is, but are you seriously considering propagating a race of tiny little green babies with him?"
Tenten began a hacking cough to accompany the tears streaming from her eyes. The situation was so absurd, she began to realize it was possible that this was a genjutsu. A burst of chakra would have freed her from the ground prison, after all, but she had tried every trick she knew, the ground seemed permeated with a binding jutsu that rendered her immobile from neck down.
"Why are you so preoccupied with starting a family Kakashi-sensei?" she finally choked as he delicately tapped the back of her head to aid her recovery. It didn't really help but gave a good impression of it. "You don't really care about what the village elders say, and you aren't about to procreate for the sole purpose of providing the village with another batch of little soldiers. What if your kid doesn't want to become a ninja?"
"Our children would be able to choose whatever lifestyle they wanted," Kakashi affirmed solemnly as Tenten sputtered.
He sighed, full of melodrama and himself. "I'm lonely Tenten-chan ("Don't call me Tenten-chan" but he ignored this). I can feel the years wearing on me. I want a little wife that will dote on me, rub my feet when I get home, cook me warm meals..."
It took some Exorcist-level head turning, but Tenten managed to bite the hand that was petting her.
"If I ever married you, for any cockamamie reason whatsoever, I would nag you everyday, poison your food and shrink all your clothes!" she shrilled, "I would buy weapons and charge it to your account and bankrupt you, and cut off your arms and legs while you slept!"
"Would you cheat on me?" Kakashi asked seriously.
"What? No! One man is enough of a problem!" Tenten realized his hand was a kawarimi and she was gnawing on a stick. "Pwe!"
"Would you neglect our kids?" he asked, very grave now.
"IF we somehow miraculously had kids after you rendered me infertile from all this torture and you're able to get up your old geezer plumbing to do its job, I would never take out any of my anger on the kids." Tenten vowed. "MY kids, regardless of their father, will be brought up properly and well. When I've reached the suitable age of twenty five or older," she stressed.
"I see. Are you open to kinky sex, once you reach the age of twenty five?"
He had to hold a clean handkerchief to her nose, which had begun to bleed profusely. "I retract that question. Perhaps you are not ready to answer just yet." He gave her head one last pat, "So nice to discuss the terms of our future wedlock. I feel justified in my choice now. So Tenten, I'll see you in a few."
He winked at her with his Sharingan eye, and she knew then that it was indeed an illusion...
And suddenly Tenten was staring at a target embedded with dozens of highly accurate kunai, all alone in the training area.
She touched her lip, which was rather tender for some reason.
"Hey, Kakashi sensei?" she called out to the empty field. "You fail at romance!"
Grumbling, she began to retrieve her weapons. A bit of color caught her eye, and she saw a little dog-eared pocketbook pinned against the tree by a kunai.
A little note fluttered to the ground when she freed it from its impalement:
x o x o x o
Tenten fell over.