A/N: This is written for Week 1 of the Poe Challenge at the KakaSaku LJ Community. The theme of the week was the Tell-Tale Heart. I was attempting to use the concept of misleading yourself by covering the truth with your own delusions. I hope you can see that in this oneshot. Enjoy~


Self-Sabotage


Tick. Tick. Tick.

It wasn't as if it was out of jealousy or revenge. Hell, it wasn't even because he was bored, and that would have been his most likely excuse to fool the general populace. It may simply have just been a small dose of disappointment, as if he had imagined all of these high hopes just to be let down with an invisible hand that twisted his gut with a vengence.

Kakashi wasn't really sure how to describe his actions. He could pretend he was just a concerned friend looking out for her. He could also pretend he was overprotective of his student, and just wanted to help guide her on a path she deserved. A path with a bright future, one of the utmost smiles and the least amount of troubles. No matter how he looked at it, there wasn't an easy way to reason why a man of his caliber would go out of his way to ruin his teammate's love life. However, in his defense, it also wasn't easy to watch her go through an ordeal in which any other bystander would obviously gossip about her lowered standards.


Tick.

Kakashi rubbed his sharingan eye in irritation. It must have been the sight he saw that made it sting so much.

Tick.

She walked through the streets as if she was a puppy on a leash, being dragged behind her master, a badly-behaved fool who raised suspicious eyes. If Kakashi heard that Kosuke raised his fists against others much more than necessary, he would hardly be surprised. He may also rashly send the guy to an early grave… in the backyard of that house by lot 5 which burned down last year, where the number of witnesses were quite limited and the tall weeds were high enough to hide a seemingly random pile of freshly dug-up dirt.

Tick.

Sakura followed close behind Kosuke, her hands together in front of her and her eyes usually looking anywhere except at her boyfriend's back. It was like watching a caged bird that was eager to get out, but not brave enough to leave behind the appeal of free food every day. Kakashi gave attention from the coffee cafe across the street, his orange book in his hand more out of habit than in interest at the moment. His lone eye peered from the top of the spine to watch through the cafe window, observing his teammmate's latest choice in poor relationships.

For a jounin with intelligence only second to Shikamaru, one would have expected her to open her eyes a bit wider before taking actions. More precisely, to see underneath the underneath. She could dispel poisons in a human body like it was a chore, while other medics had to concentrate with sweat running down their face. She lost her arm during a fight not more than two weeks ago, and regrew it directly from her bone and muscle within a minute, without an expression to show pain or discomfort at the loss. If anything, Kakashi would suspect she found it as a secret rush of adrenaline high to be so acutely involved in a spar. Moreover, she had the attitude and the power behind it to not take shit from anybody. Least of all, a twat like Kosuke. Yet he supposed he could see exactly what Sakura's disillusioned heart saw.

The guy was like a shadow of her first love. Kosuke was not neccesarily a person that was offensive enough to be marked on someone's hit list, other than Kakashi's for personal reasons. That still didn't stop the stupid prick from walking the village like he was hot stuff. He was the kind of guy who walked around with an air that one labelled as an 'asshole.' He held his nose a bit higher than the rest and his only facial expression was a smirk. He treated Sakura like she was lucky to have him, when in all honesty, he should have been lucky that he hadn't pushed her button so bad that his dick would fall off.

Kakashi took a sip of his coffee with a grim look of disappointment. It's been a month since he heard of her relationship with that Sasuke-wannabe. He knew she could do better than that. Frankly, everyone who's gossiped about them knows she deserves better. Kakashi watched the mismatched couple stop in front of the Yamanaka flower shop, a particular lily catching Sakura's attention. The apparent expression on her boyfriend's face showed he considered the interaction as a waste of time. Kakashi could only assume what Sakura must have asked since Kosuke stared at her for a long while. After a reluctant sigh, he gave his lover permission to walk in the store with a smile on her face. He was left to lean against the shop window, crossing his arms and silently counting down the minutes before he would go in to fetch her.

The silver-haired observer gave an inward groan of annoyance. What level of arrogance do you have to reach before you deny your girl to look at flowers? He might as well have done a coin toss. Kakashi attempted to take another sip of his coffee, before he realized the last of it had been long gone. He sighed, finding the day to be as disheartening as the grey clouds above the village. He wasn't one to step out of being the third-party bystander in his friends' relationships, but Sakura's desperate need for intervention had finally pulled his strings.

He left the cafe with his book of lustful literature still in his hand. His agenda for the day, which happened to be slightly off-schedule, issued for his next appointment to be at the debriefing conference room of the Hokage Tower. One might inform him that it was in the opposite direction of where he was heading, but for all intents and purposes, he felt the desire to take the longer route that coincidentally passed by the Yamanaka flower shop.

"Ah, Hatake-sempai!" the man greeted, with a smile Kakashi judged to be plastered on his face. Kosuke was not the type of person to talk friendly to those below him. However, if there was a person positioned above him on the social ladder, he made it a mission to become your new best friend. As much as Sakura was going to hate him for this, she'll get over it. For her own sake.

Tick.

"Hmm? Kosuke, right?" Kakashi greeted with his usual eye crease of a smile. The man didn't bother putting away his book when he aimed to make this conversation last no more than a few minutes. "I think I've heard about you. Your mission last week made some big news."

That was a complete and utter lie. Kakashi never heard of the guy or of his achievements until word about Sakura got around. Nor did Kakashi really give a flying shit about Kosuke, anyway. For all he cared, the chump's talent could lie in changing shapes of fluffy clouds. He knew Sakura wasn't the type to date someone less than a jounin, and every male jounin exaggerated tales of their missions until their ego was impressive enough. Whether he was up to par with Sakura or not, a guy like him wouldn't be able to stop himself from gloating until he got his mouth sewn shut like a voodoo doll.

The smug prick shrugged his shoulders with a smirk, like it was in his self-right to be showered with compliments every day. "So goes the usual chit-chat. I'm sure Hatake-sempai has been in some talk lately, too. You're always the hero of the story."

"Ah," Kakashi noted. "I can't say. I've done so many, I can't remember which ones they're talking about," he gave a masked smile, particularly with as much as emotion as Sai would.

"That's all right. At some point, old age gets to you, right?"

Tick.

Kakashi kept his smile. "I hear there's a good spot behind an old burnt house that's perfect for digging."

"Huh?"

"That's all right. The younger ones aren't as quick-witted, right?"

Kosuke jumped up from his spot against the store, intent on a clever comeback, but Kakashi interrupted him from being fed-up with this insipid chatter. "At least you've got a caring heart, to date that pretty girl of your's."

The egocentric twat paused in shock and slowly raised a brow in curiosity. "Sakura? What do you mean I'm caring enough?"

"You haven't heard?" Kakash snapped his book shut with a bit more eagerness than expected. "For someone who's caught up in gossip talk, I figured you'd have known about her small...deformality, in easy terms." He prayed Sakura wouldn't take this to be the exact moment to walk out the shop, or else his plan may go to waste. Then again, she may not be as offended if she confronted him in person, compared to what Kosuke will tell her in the next few minutes. If Kakashi's lucky, she'll come out and simply think he's up to some funny shenanigans. In the worst case, she'll mutilate him.

"What deformality?"

"Her extra toe. I thought you would have known already. She used to have a sixth toe on her right foot before she performed surgery on herself last year," Kakashi gladly watched the boy's facial expression slowly conform from suspicious wonder to utter disgust as he kept encouraging the story. He kept the smile hidden beneath his mask. "It used to be a bad handicap for her experience with guys. For the longest while, not a single guy would want to date her. Even now that she's cut it off, it's not exactly an easy story for her to talk about. But I'm sure you understand," Kakashi patted his shoulder as he walked past him. "She's really lucky to find a guy like you who wouldn't mind."

With a farewell wave over his shoulder, the Copy Ninja left the subordinate to dwell in his own thoughts for what few minutes he had left. Kakashi already knew the next page of the story. It was a cheap shot from Kakashi, but even a tactic like this was necessary to open Sakura's emerald eyes again. He only hoped it wouldn't nudge her into a downward spiral of depression out of rejection. Of course he felt bad for this. He felt all too happy to perform the task, but now that the deed was done, Kakashi felt quite horrible in worries that Sakura may take the pain a bit too close to the heart. Hell, they were only dating for a month and it hardly seemed like a relationship worth crying about. Even if the intimate moments behind bedroom walls were something to merge out of princess stories - and Kakashi highly doubted there was any endearing touches from the guy - he wasn't worth any more of her time. For Kosuke to dump over a stupid rumor like that, since he was all for his reputation and ego above anything else, it wouldn't be right for her to delude herself further.

Sakura was a very responsible and mature woman, sometimes quite sophisticated on the field. She kept the personality of a feisty wildcat underneath her cover, but she never held back on letting it loose when she needed to. For a jounin and respected medic of her stature, she simply needed a light push in the brighter direction. She would thank him later in the future...someday… long after she found out he had been the one to start the stupid rumor and blamed him for the hour of misery she'll experience today.

The moment Kakashi heard the chimes above the Yamanaka entrance play music in the wind, he found comfort in the shadows beneath the canopy among the fruit vendors down the block. Under the appearance of musing himself with a ripe orange, he stressed his attention intently on the main event. Sakura merged with a small bouquet of white lilies and a gentle smile graced upon her face, but it was all too plain to see her love interest was not entertained by the impression of a plant. Either she didn't recognize his scrutinizng gaze at her feet, or she blatantly ignored it. At first, he seemed to question the story and opened his mouth to speak, but reconsidering it, he shut it and just turned around. Not a single word was spoken from the usual boaster as he led her to the ramen stand across the street. And of course, she followed him like the obedient puppy she had turned into.

After they had passed beneath the flaps of the tent, Kakashi moved on to engross himself over the sweet strawberries. Not more than two minutes later, he watched the back of Kosuke's figure leave the stand. Alone.

Kakashi could be the usual gentleman and sneak in there to simply "happen" to come across Sakura in a moment that she needed comfort. He could sneak his way into being the shoulder she needed to cry on, or perhaps feed her those cliché lines about bigger fish in the sea. He could be that knight in shining armor in her desperate moment, but he wouldn't be able to be the prince that offered her anything more. He would not be able to do anything more than offer her promises, whether they held true or not. Moreover, Kakashi didn't want to be that one rebound who mattered for only a week or two until she discovered she wanted nothing more than to just be alone.

He left the fruit vendor with a single strawberry, with every inclination to resume the long backroutes to Hokage Tower. As much as he felt guilty for interrupting her love life, he also couldn't just sit back and let her go through the same mistake again. Though she might be hurt now, Kakashi knew she would be just fine. She will still be Sakura, she will still be the best medic nin in the village, and she will still walk with a strong sense of pride. Eventually, she'll find someone else, possibly as a rebound but also just as likely to be her one and only soulmate. Then hopefully he'll be that guy who's almost too perfect for her.


Tick tick tick.

Goddamn this eye.

Tick tick tick.

Damn it, damn it, damn it. Why the fuck did he have to jynx it. Why did he not just let her go through with that dumb toad, Kosuke, and have her figure it out on her own? Why did he have to go and do the damn work for her, instead of just teaching it like his profession? No. No, he wouldn't go by common sense, because apparently, it escaped his mind for the past few weeks. Now he was caught in this damn mess again. Damn it, damn it, damn it.

Tick.

Kakashi clenched his teeth in outright vexation. He had already snapped a pencil in half about five minutes ago out of pure irritation from the sight. They were sitting right across from each other, playing footsie like they had never graduated from the Academy. His mission report laid in front of him, in what usually should have been only a paragraph or two. Instead it was enshrouded with various curse words and a few rants on how certain people should pay more attention to their job than how much foreplay they can show in public before they're caught. It may have been a bit hypocritical to accuse them of actions like that when he reads explicit porn in common society. Though, he didn't predict that she would find a rebound like him so soon.

Tick.

The guy was everything Kakashi had wanted for Sakura, and it was torture to watch. Daichi was handsome, smart, and even a respected warrior in the ANBU division. Whereas Sakura dealt with curing diseases and poisons from within a person, Daichi's talent was within chemcial warfare and projected those poisons and ailments onto his enemies. It was like two pieces of a puzzle fitting perfectly together. To make it worse, he treated her like a queen, exactly as every girl's dream. He took her out to extravagent dinners on his fancy paycheck, kissed her often in the hallways, and knew the exact moments to give his best smile and compliment her. He was even good in bed.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

As if being burdened with the daily episodes of lovey-dovey hearts between the perfect couple in their perfect relationship wasn't wretched enough, Kakashi had be the guy's damn neighbor. Certainly, a man from ANBU would have the stamina to perform for several hours of the night, oblivious to the loud banging of his bed frame against the wall. It wasn't like Kakashi was upset that Sakura was finally getting what she deserved, but would it hurt to let him sleep for one night out of the week? How often had he taken cold showers the past few nights just because the appeal of Sakura's screams and moans were getting too carried away?

Now the one day he decided to be a responsible ninja and complete his tasks for the Hokage, he's sitting at the far end of the conference table with a private show going on less than five feet away. He didn't even have to see her naked foot sliding against Daichi's thigh. He could hear the ruffling of his pants underneath the table. The pretty little deviant smile on Sakura's pretty little face also certainly didn't give it away. It was almost sickening to see it from the corner of his eye. No, it was most definitely already sickening.

Kakashi managed to only scribble a few more words before deciding it was adequate enough for Tsunade's approval. She never liked his writing anyway, so most likely, there would be no difference when she noticed his story was more of rambles than details. In any case, he could just slip her a few tokens for the slots and he'd be in good grace while she's wasting away at the casino.

Finished with his essay, his eye caught Sakura just in time as she gave a suggestive look to her lover across the table. The innuendo was crystal clear when she slowly raised a brow and swept her tongue across her bottom lip, like a wanton creature inviting her prey for desserts. Daichi only smirked, but the dark leer he returned her was nothing but pure lust.

Tick.

With a sigh, Kakashi contemplated for a single minute. Just a single minute.

The question wasn't if he should act on it. There was no doubt he would. The issue at hand is coming up with a reasonable excuse for this horrible habit he's begun. Could he use the same defense and say she could do better? Probably not. There wasn't a single fault in that horny bastard that could be used against him, and he gave no reason to why he wouldn't be able to make Sakura happy for the rest of his life.

Although… he did look suspicious.

Maybe it was just the lighting in the room, or possibly the way his face just happened to resemble a crook that Kakashi took down long ago. And by long ago, he meant so far back in time that he may or may not remember the exact features of the criminal. He also seemed to lack the muscle for someone of ANBU standards. Surely, Kakashi would want to make sure that Sakura would be well-protected should a sudden attempt on her life ever happen. Not that the jounin medic couldn't take care of herself, but it never hurts to have a decent bodyguard nearby.

With only a slightly guilty conscience, Kakashi got up from his seat headed towards the door, with a mission report crinkled in his fist. He gave what smile he could muster, because he was sure he wouldn't be able to live this down for a while.

"Sakura, could you give this to Tsunade? I hear she's been in a foul mood lately," he offered her his crumbled sheet of chicken-scratch handwriting.

Her emerald eyes gave a brief glance over the mission report, staring at it in his palm for a stretching moment. She probably had half a mind to force him to rewrite it.

"You know your handwriting is gonna make her headache worse, right?"

"Anything and anyone makes her hangovers worse. I'd just rather it be you than me," he gave his cheerful eye crease.

She rolled her eyes and accepted the paper in defeat. "Fine, but let's say you owe me one, then."

He scratched his chin in feigned innocence. "Right. How many is that now?"

"Twelve, Kakashi. You owe me twelve favors," she gave a piercing glare, no more threatening than Rock Lee's bushy eyebrows, however.

"Sure, sure," he waved it off as a promise that held no words.

He watched her give a chaste kiss to Daichi's cheek, while the lusty lover kept his intent gaze on her backside. It wasn't until after Sakura's echoed footsteps had fallen silent that he realized Kakashi had yet to leave.

"It must be tough on you," the silver-haired culprit masqueraded his faked sympathy.

"What is?" Daichi raised his brow.

"Dating Sakura. You must have a lot of patience to deal with her...condition." Oh, how he loved dramatic effect. "You're a good man, Daichi." He made to exit, but exactly as he figured, he'd be a step away from turning the corner before curiosity killed the cat.

"Wait. What...condition?"

Kakashi slowly turned his head to regard the boy. Only if the lights had gone out, and had there been a flashlight in his hand to make the occasion for story-telling. But there were only so many minutes before Sakura would return.

"Her...schizophrenia. Didn't you know?"

Daichi made no change in expression. "She doesn't seem to be-"

"You haven't witnessed it yet. A couple weeks together is nothing. One day, she'll be sweet and gentle. The next day, she'll rage a storm and beat you to a bloody pulp," Kakashi shrugged like it was normal. In all actuality, it was very normal. He simply chose not to address the fact that he personally finds schizophrenia in women is also commonly referred to as PMS.

"You've seen this happen?" Daichi gathered his papers together from the table. His interest in the fable was pleasing to Kakashi's ears. Sakura may send him to hell if - more likely, when - she finds out, but he was only trying to be a proper guardian for his teammate, and it wouldn't do justice if he were to let a very, very slightly-looking creep take advantage of her.

"Oh, often. I've seen it happen hundreds of times. Her other half can be pretty extreme, though," Kakashi tapped his chin, as if he had a mental collection of every rant he absorbed from the vivacious woman. "Let's see. There was last summer when she tore down a whole forest. And a few months ago, she neutered someone because he tried to grope her. Oh, and last week, she - Daichi, quit looking so scared."

"She cut off his-."

"It's not something that can be easily brought up in conversation."

"Right," Daichi averted his gaze to a particular spot on the wall, recalling distinct moments in his relationship with Sakura that mysteriously supported Kakashi's claim. "She did throw that coffee machine out the window when she spilled a cup…"

"Exactly. But hey, don't worry about it. She may practically be the Hokage's daughter, but at least you got the skills to protect yourself, right?" Kakashi waved him off with a smile and left for the descending stairs.

Oh, how hell was opening its doors for him that day. He gave it a few days, possibly a week before he heard about Sakura's misfortune. Hah, misfortune. It was similar to Kakashi volunteering to be the grim reaper, or at the very least, a demonic Cupid. He exited the Hokage Tower to relax on the worn bench with his head hung in his hands. He let out a most depressing sigh. This was becoming a horrible habit. He didn't have the right to say who Sakura could or could not date. Moreover, if he just convinced the perfect candidate in Konoha to dump her, then who the hell was he going to approve of? This was a disaster.

He could go back and fix it right now. He could walk back up there, confess that he stretched the truth a bit too far, and maybe throw in a few compliments about how the two of them look so good together that they make him want to barf. While he's at it, he might as well confess to Sakura how he messed up her last relationship too, though he did believe he deserved a 'thank you' for that. Instead, he was quite sure he'd get a super-powered fist to the face for it.

Kakashi wasn't even too sure how to describe his actions, other than the word "sabotage." He wasn't exactly keen on his motives either. Protecting Sakura? Lies. Downright, absolute bullshit. Since when did he consider Sakura's guidance to need all her boyfriends chased away? The silver-haired loner groaned in disappointment at his own morals and contemplated to reach into his hip pocket for his favorite book, hoping that the guilt would magically disappear if he got absorbed in detailed images of erotic scenes. Then, he thought better of it. After hearing Sakura's sexual episodes for the past few nights, the last thing he needed was to mix reality with fantasy.


Tick. Tick. Tick.

It had been a few months since he last heard about Sakura's fleeting romance with Daichi, and there hadn't been a single noise to wake him up during the nights. Aside from the pesky, mewling cats in the alleys that he wanted to strangle. There weren't any random acts of sex in the storage closets that he had to worry about, and the only man around Sakura that he had to keep an eye out for was the lonely, senile grandpa who always found a way to escape the retirement home for the hospital's cafeteria. Overall, it could be assumed that Kakashi's worries were progressively better. If only, if only.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Kakashi's eye had taken a turn for the worse, in ways he wished he could ignore. With Sakura being a newfound bachelorette, and Jiraiya's masterpieces of literature embedded into his memory, he was lucky if there was a single day that an indecent image did not breeze by his thoughts. Not that he had perverted thoughts at every minute, but it certainly didn't help when she kept licking that lollipop in ways that he wished her mouth was on - stop.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Kakashi gave a silent groan, and fell back to lie on the ground as his legs dangled over the Yondaime's head carved from the mountain. She sat beside him, her own legs swinging in complete bliss, oblivious to the turmoil of emotions she unintentionally imposed on him. It was that mission last month when he kept noticing how their hands briefly touched when they walked together. It was last week, when he watched her go for a swim in the river and playfully invited him in the waters. Then, there was the day before yesterday, when he had to feed her because the chakra burns on her hands made them useless.

It was all these miniscule tidbits that gave him such a hard time. The more they were together, the more he paid attention to the small things about her. The things she did to him… or maybe it was the illusions his eye gave him.

A small glance at the woman beside him could hide nothing from his eyes.

Tick.

The chakra burns on her small hands had all dissipated and left behind frail, nimble fingers of porcelain skin. To imagine that hands like those could take down mountains, yet mend the insides of a person's body was quite intimidating.

Tick.

Her rosette hair ruffled about her shoulders in a light gust of the wind, and the warm colors of the sunset illuminated her features more vividly than any of Jiraiya's books. Her emerald eyes even managed to sparkle.

Tick.

Her lips wrapping around that lollipop. Oh, the ideas he had.

She turned to him with a sharp scowl. "Kakashi, I can hear you."

"What?" He had been quite positive he wasn't speaking aloud.

"That eye of your's. I can feel it burning a hole in me, and I can practically hear it turn."

"Ah. So, you can hear it too," Kakashi sat up just in time to watch the last sliver of sunlight disappear beyond the mountains.

"It's not bothering you, is it? I can calm it down, if you want," she reached her hand to his sharingan eye, but he grabbed her wrist before she could make contact. She glanced at him briefly out of surprise, though he wasn't too sure why exactly he had stopped her. It was probably out of instinct and reflex to guard his eye, but Sakura was probably the only person he felt his sharingan would be safe with.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

His thumb brushed over the pulse of her wrist, very mindul of her quickened hearbeats. Her delicate hand felt soft beneath his calloused fingers, but he felt more vulnerable than she did at the moment. Kakashi slowly guided her hand to cover his bothersome eye, aware of the pink hue across her face which was most likely from the intimate contact than the warm colors of the sky.

Tick-tick-tick.

He wasn't sure if it was because he was on edge about letting Sakura be so physically close, or if he was just paranoid, but the discomfort of his eye was getting worse. He felt like the ache of his eye and the ache of his heart were intertwined since one controlled the beat of the other, until he could feel the gentle flow of her soothing chakra heal the inflamed sharingan. It was cool and calming to the touch, and the tensed muscles around his eye slowly relaxed as the energy vented through the pain.

His lone, grey eye allowed itself to roam over the feminine features that were inches from his. Her eyes, her nose, her blushing cheeks, and her glossy lips. Of all the flavors to pick from the hospital's stash, she would pick strawberry - the only color to make her lips more luscious. The tongue wrapped around the candy, occasionally flicking it from one corner of her mouth to the other. Kakashi seemed to be dazed in the way she sometimes let the lollipop run across the bottom of her lip, her sugar-coated tongue following it. She must have caught onto his gaze when her free hand raised up to grab a hold of the white stick. Within the single second that candy left her mouth, Kakashi snatched his mask down and seized her lips.

Maybe that was a dangerous thing to do, to give her panic when she's tending to his eye, and then to worry how she might murder him for this. It turned into a fleeting thought, compared to the strawberry taste of her rosy lips. The kiss was gentle and brief, but it was like taking a breath of the purest air. Kakashi pulled away, anticipating her fist to contact with the side of his cheek. Seeing her eyes more in shock than in anger, he let out a sigh of relief. Or maybe it was out of guilt. What excuse could he come up with this time?

Tick.

"Kakashi-"

"No," he interrupted her. He didn't want to hear what she had to say yet. Not when she was clueless about the wreckage he had caused to her personal life.

Tick.

"Sakura…" He let her eyes catch his. His hands gripped her arms and he was more nervous now than when he had been on the battlefield. "I made those rumors," he breathed out with reluctance. "I told that Kochi and Daisuke-"

"Kosuke and Daichi."

"Right. I told them lies to dump you."

Sakura's breath caught in her throat. Maybe he should have worded that differently, though he predicted the outcome would be the same. There was a moment of deep silence, but she made no effort to move away from him, or to punch him in the gut just yet. Her eyes screamed with words he didn't have to hear. Traitor. Bastard. Backstabber.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

"You did what?" her voice ringing in his ears. She jerked in distress, forcing her way out of his grasp and scrambling to stand and put distance between them. "What the hell did you tell them?"

"I told your first jerk of a boyfriend that you had an extra toe," his tone more bitter than intended. He supposed he was still disappointed that she even bothered wasting time with that guy. Kakashi dusted himself off as he gathered his wits and approached her, but she didn't let him touch her. She stood firm with hell-bent eyes on him.

"And Daichi?"

His uncovered sharingan could witness the waves of chakra she was already sending to her right fist. He knew this was coming. He saw this a mile away and still sabotaged her relationships. All for the sake of a candy-coated kiss.

"I told him you were paranoid."

He considered the impact of her fist to his face to be long overdue, but he certainly hadn't expected the pain to be worse than his imagination. She held back enough that she wouldn't break his jaw, but just barely. There was no doubt the guarantee of a dark bruise on his face tomorrow morning. If he was lucky, he'd still be able to eat soft foods.

Tick.

Sakura's eyes didn't shed any tears, but she was most likely holding them back. She had her fists by her side, possibly ready for another attack if he opened his mouth again.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

"Did you think it was funny?"

"I didn't do it for amusement," he bit back.

Tick-tick-tick.

"Then why the hell would you do something like that?" her first tear finally escaping down her cheek.

Tick-tick-tick. Tick-tick-tick.

"You can't tell?" Kakashi grabbed her wrist, blocking her attempt to land another punch. His other hand wrapped around her neck, his thumb brushing against her jaw as he pulled her in for a firm and passionate kiss.

He was a fool. He could try as hard as he wanted to make up those excuses, but even he was a victim to his lies. Pretend that those guys weren't what Sakura wanted? Pretend like they had a contagious disease? Pretend that he was doing something that needed to be justified? Excuse after excuse, and lie after lie, he was just striving his damnest to cover up exactly what he couldn't confess. Now, it was all laid out and plain to see in this kiss.

He tugged on her bottom lip, encouraging her to play along and open her mouth. She was scared. Scared as he was. In spite of that, more out of her eager spirit than her calming wrath, she managed to relax and let her hands slowly slide their way up to clasp onto the collar of his jacket, opening her cavity to let him roam. His tongue massaged against hers, and her lips sucked his. She let him take what he needed, and he let her discover what she wanted. It was intense and consuming, enwrapped with longing desire.

She parted from him for a brief moment, with a trembling sigh. Kakashi pulled her closely, embracing her tightly.

"I'm sorry, Sakura. I want you all to myself."

For a long minute, he feared she would reject him and continue to beat the life out of his body. Then, with a great amount of relief, he felt her delicate arms wrap tightly around him, giving in to their intimate moment.

"It'll take twenty favors for me to forgive you," she whispered against his chest.

"Can I give you the favors in my bedroom? My neighbor tends to like loud noises."

Sakura blushed, and Kakashi realized the ticking had never been his eye in the first place.