Chapter Nine - Hey Pretty Baby, You're Almost Half My Age

"Look, have you seen him or not?" Sakura demanded, dragging her hand through her hair, and shaking off the strands that clung to it.

"Did you get in a fight?" The jonin's senbon twisted, rolling between his teeth. Sakura heard the metal clicking on enamel.

"For the last time, no. We were supposed to meet up, but I forgot to set a time or place, so I'm looking for him." From the way he looked at her, the excuse sounded as weak to him as it did to her.

"Huh. Sorry, can't help you. Haven't seen him in weeks." He was definitely the same jonin who'd been watching Kakashi last night. Same bandana, same stupid senbon, same hair.

"Liar. You saw him yesterday," Sakura said, too peeved to bother with politeness. She slipped around him, heading back toward the main road.

"Wait," he said. "Look, Kakashi's a private kind of person. If he doesn't want to be found, you're better off not finding him, if you catch my drift."

"If he doesn't want to be found, I sincerely doubt that I'll manage to find him," she snapped back.

The jonin chuckled. "Good point. His apartment is at—"

"Fucking seriously? You think I don't know where he lives?" Sakura clenched her fists, then loosened them. Shouting at jonin was silly. She took a deep breath, and let it hiss out from between her teeth. "That was the first place I tried."

"No answer?" he asked, casually shifting to block off her exit.

"His next door neighbour started freaking out, but other than that, no." Sakura looked to the skyline, seeking out the familiar silhouettes of ANBU. There were four close enough to hear if she screamed. If she ran up the wall...

"Calm down. I'm just wondering why I saw the Copy-Nin heading in the general direction of his apartment, looking like someone kicked his puppy." He slouched against the wall and added, "Happened about an hour ago. Maybe an hour and a half."

Sakura paused. He seemed sincere—or at the very least, not blatantly lying—and the timing was good. "You did?"

"Yep. So, did you break up?" The senbon twitched eagerly, and the jonin's brown eyes sparkled.

"No." You couldn't break up if you were never together. "He was just...there was this thing. With...yeah. And when I turned around, he was gone, and now I'm worried because he looked—" Sakura shook herself. This guy totally didn't need to know that. "Thanks."

"You don't say..." He plucked the senbon from his lips. "And what was this thing?"

"You know, Shizune was there," Sakura said. "And she's at the hospital. With Lee. Maybe you should ask her?" Gossip-trap baited...

A gleam of interest entered the jonin's eyes. "Don't mind if I do," he purred. "And I maybe got the direction wrong, first time. Might have actually seen him heading toward the Hokage's Monument, yeah?" Bait taken.

He shifted away from the wall, suddenly closer, taller.

"I—yes." Sakura stumbled over her words, feeling like she was sliding down a steep slope, her mind at the top and the rest of her falling away. He smelled like hot tea, and nothing at all like tea. She had no idea why her mind made the comparison.

He laughed. "You're welcome, kid."

And then he was gone.

Sakura sorted out her galloping heart, setting it firmly back in its place. Sometimes, she really hated jonin. "Right. Hokage's Monument," she muttered. She shook her hands, then rubbed them against her shirt, trying to get rid of the strange, ant-like feeling that was crawling through them.

She didn't know why he would head toward the Hokage's Monument.

The view was nice from so high up—

Sakura broke into a run.

There were no lights on the monument. On Remembrance Night the peak would be decorated with paper lanterns and pyres to burn messages for the dead, but that wouldn't happen again for another three months.

Sakura had to cling to the wall with chakra to keep from falling off the narrow path up, and squint in the faint moonlight to see.

In the distance, near where the fourth's head was, she thought she saw a light. Dim and flickering, it might have been her imagination, or it might have been fireflies. Sakura changed her course, climbing up the side of the mountain.


It was Kakashi's voice, and for a second Sakura was too relieved to reply.

"What are you doing here?"

She pulled herself over the edge of the cliff before replying. "You still owe me dinner," she said. Kakashi looked like he'd been carved from stone, the color drained from him by the moonlight.

"Oh." He wandered closer. "It's kind of late."

"It's not that late," Sakura protested. "It's only...uh, like eight or something. We can still hang out, right?"

Kakashi nodded. "If you want."

"Are you okay? You sound tired." It isn't prying, she thought. She had a mission.

"I'm fine," he said. "Is Lee okay?"

"He will be." Sakura shrugged, unable to say that it wasn't that bad, but wishing that she could.

Kakashi stood beside her, looking down the front of the monument. "Will he still be in the hospital tomorrow?"

"Probably. It's easier to keep him overnight while the cast sets."

"I should apologise."

"He'll forgive you. Lee always does." She sat cross-legged on the cold rock, her sandals sliding over the dew-slick moss. "I'll come with you, if you want."

He sat down beside her, almost close enough to touch. "That would be okay," he muttered, looking away. "If you have the time?"

"If you wanted, we could meet up after so I could, like, heal you. More." She really needed to finish reading his file. Sakura straightened the hem of her shirt, then twisted it around her fingers.

Kakashi drew his knees up toward his chest. "You...when we were at your training grounds..." He glanced at her, then looked away. "Do you remember when Shizune—?"

"The rumour?" She was bright red with embarrassment, and a little ashamed by it. Tsunade wouldn't blush.

"The...yes. That." On the upside, Kakashi sounded just as uncomfortable as she was. "You found out? About it? You know?"

"Yeah." Sakura turned and looked over at the lights of Konoha. It was pretty from so high up. "I kind of...well, I fed it. A bit."

Kakashi didn't say anything.

"Okay, a lot. They offered to buy me lunch, it wasn't my fault!"

Kakashi nodded. "That's reasonable." He ran a nail under the metal plate of his glove. "We could break up."

It was a perfectly logical suggestion. Sakura looked out over the village lights and pretended she hadn't heard.

"Fake break up, because it's not like we're actually engaged," he added.

"Technically we are," Sakura said, too fast. "It was Tsunade who started it. She witnessed you...asking." Sakura shivered, her eyes fluttering shut. "And she decided to record it, so, yeah. We are legally engaged."

"Really?" he asked, sounding startled. "I thought—don't we have to sign things?"

"Tsunade's the Hokage," Sakura said, "and she heard us enter a verbal contract. It's all perfectly legal." Mostly because Sakura hadn't protested when Tsunade had brought it up, but it was within the limits of the Hokage's power.

"I see."

The hot twist of misery in her chest was probably heartburn. "Yeah." Sakura shivered, tucking her hands under her arms. There was a snag on her thumbnail. "Did you—"

"It might take a while to figure out how to get out of this without damaging your reputation," Kakashi said, words rushing over each other to get out. "We could try, of course, but a three day engagement doesn't look very good."

"People would say nasty things about us, even if we told the truth," Sakura pointed out. "And it would be much harder to be friends."

"That's right," Kakashi said. "And it's not like it's harming anyone, right?"

"Not unless you have a girlfriend," Sakura said, then flinched, because what if he did? And girlfriend was awfully presumptuous. He could be gay, and that would be okay, but assuming that he'd have a girlfriend might make him feel like it wasn't. She jerked her thumb away from her mouth before she could gnaw the nail down to the quick. "Or a boyfriend," she added, feeling hopelessly juvenile.

"No—neither," Kakashi said, and the rushed pace of his voice slowed and flattened. "I have no one."

"Same," Sakura said. The words weren't quite right, and she almost clarified, but the sentiment rang true.

"Lee is no one?" Kakashi's eye curved into a smile that felt strangely fake.

She bit back a dozen cruel agreements, because she had bet her politeness on that fight. "He is a good person. But he is not my boyfriend." Sakura almost added that Lee was not even her friend, but thought better of it.

"And Tsunade is no one?"

"She is my teacher," Sakura pointed out. "Not my girlfriend—that sounds so wrong. She'd be, like, a significant other instead of a girlfriend, if she was mine, but she's not."

Kakashi laughed. "The most significant other you could ever have."

"Yeah." Sakura was only a touch wistful. Tsunade would never look at her like that and Sakura didn't want her to, but if Tsunade ever did...Sakura sighed.

"And Shizune?"

Kakashi had to know that Shizune would never see Sakura like that.

"You're not asking about significant others, are you?" Sakura asked, glancing over. He met her eyes for a fleeting second, then looked away.


"Do you really feel so alone?" Sakura shifted until her knee touched Kakashi's leg. He jolted, but did not move.

"I'm considering faking an engagement to my underage former student for the attention it would get me." There was a tightness to his words, a carefully hidden message under the surface.

Sakura hated carefully hidden messages. They inevitably blew up in her face and got her sent to the T & I department. "I'm considering faking an engagement to my friend," she said. "I'd probably do it for the food, but I think it might be fun, too."


"It was a really good lunch," Sakura said. "Better than I've had in months."

"I got dinner from Genma by refusing to reveal details," Kakashi admitted. "It was free. I like free food."

"Yeah, me too." The point where her knee touched his leg was warm, sending a strange tension crawling up her thigh, like electricity in her nerves. She could tell that Kakashi wasn't using chakra, but it felt like he was causing a chemical reaction in her blood.

"Would you mind?" Kakashi asked.

"What?" The slow current under her skin was incredibly distracting. Sakura flexed her toes, hooking them over the edge of her sandals. They were getting too small. She needed to buy new ones.

"If we—I just let it stand. Just let people think what they want." Kakashi's hand came up in an aborted gesture, then fell back down to his side. "It would be easier. We might get a few more free lunches, too."

"No, of course not." She smiled at him, and pulled her hair back into one hand, letting the night air cool her neck. "I think I've implied or outright stated that we are engaged in front of at least a dozen different people, so yes, this is way easier."

He muffled his laugh with a hand, then flopped backward into a shallow hollow formed by the Yondaime's hair. It pulled his leg away from Sakura's, ending the strange tightness crawling over her skin.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sakura asked, turning over to lie on her belly beside him. The moonlight seemed brighter, now that her eyes had adjusted, and the soft slopes and angles of Kakashi's mask were as clear as his smile. She grinned back, her cheeks aching from how real it felt.

"Nothing," he insisted.

"It had to have been something," Sakura said. "You laughed."

Kakashi paused for a long moment before he responded. "I did the same thing. And then I felt very bad about it."

Sakura remembered the ring, and almost told him about it. "I—I felt bad too, when I remembered that the rumour was about us and not me." She'd tell him about the ring some other time, when she was sure he'd find it funny instead of creepy.

"I'm glad it wasn't just me," Kakashi said, surprisingly earnest. "I usually don't like rumours, because they're impossible to break, but this one was just so fun—" he cleared his throat, "—so good that I couldn't resist."

She was incredibly grateful that he hadn't resisted. It would have been too awkward to live with if he had.

"So how does this work?" Kakakshi asked. "Is it different from just being friends?"

"I don't know that it would be a good idea to act differently," Sakura replied. "Shizune would kill us if we actually did anything." She waved her hand in an attempt to clarify that 'anything' meant sexual things, not ordinary things, and that by 'us', Sakura meant Kakashi. "Or Tsunade would."

He shifted until he was looking directly at her, his eye glittering in the moonlight. "I wouldn't—You know that, right? I would never do anything to you."

"Duh," Sakura replied, caught between gratitude and regret. "I know that, and so does...well, everyone who matters." Had the rumour been about her and anyone else, she wouldn't have allowed it to spread.

There was a long silence, where he looked up at the sky, and then Kakashi hummed, his eye drifting shut. "If we are friends—"

"We are," Sakura interrupted. "No take-backs."

A tightness she hadn't noticed eased out of his shoulders. "Then we should do friend things. The kind that Shizune won't kill us for."

That covered a lot of ground. "Like...?" Sakura prompted him. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn't eaten in ages, but she ignored it in favour of watching Kakashi.

"Dinner?" he offered, his eye opening slightly to watch her.

Two good meals in one day? Sakura felt like a cat in a canary shop. "Okay!" She scrambled to her feet, then stopped, suspicions rising from her genin days. "You're buying, right?"

He blinked. "You mean you won't buy me dinner?"

"Hey, you asked me out!" Sakura protested. "That means you're supposed to pay!"

"It does?" Kakashi asked. "The things you learn..."

He jumped to his feet and brushed an invisible coat of dust from his pants. "Do you want to get barbeque?"

"Are you paying?" she asked again, because he hadn't confirmed, and her next pay check wasn't until the fifteenth.

"Fine, fine." He rolled his eye elaborately, a glint of black and pale grey in the moonlight. "I will buy you dinner. Unless we con someone into buying it for us."

"Do you have anyone in mind?" Sakura asked, placing herself between him and the edge.

"I might." He backed up obligingly, heading toward the path. "But Sakura?"


"I wasn't going to jump. I just wanted to see the sky."

Her smile was stiff, and probably didn't look much like a smile. "I was scared for you," she answered. "It might not have been justified, but you looked so sad..." She wondered if she should ask why Gai had been so angry, or if that was too private.

His hand brushed against hers. "I was," he admitted. "But mostly I was just worried about Lee."

"Why didn't you stick around?" Sakura tapped her knuckles against his, timing it so it could look like a coincidence if he wanted to ignore it.

Kakashi's pinkie hooked around her own, linking their hands in a tenuous bond. "Gai told me to leave."

"Oh." She hadn't held anyone's hand since she was a child, almost before she entered the Academy. It felt strange. "Do you want to talk about that—him?" I thought he was your friend, she didn't say, because Sakura was well acquainted with how easily friends stopped being friends.

"Not really." Another calloused finger wrapped around her pinkie.


The waiter passed by their table for the fifth time in seven minutes, balancing a tray of drinks on one hand. She looked familiar, and Sakura wondered if she'd been in the Academy with her.

"Do you think we should go?" Kakashi asked, pulling out his battered wallet.

"It is getting late," Sakura agreed reluctantly. The clock above the bar told her that it was past eleven, and the customers had long since switched from eating to drinking.

Kakashi pulled a few well-worn bills from his wallet, nearly dislodging a receipt—

Her cheeks prickled with heat, and Sakura wondered how odd it would look if she tried to snatch that receipt. It might not even be the one she'd written on, and it would definitely serve to remind Kakashi about the little piece of paper with her secrets on it—Sakura took a deep breath and tore her gaze away.

There was nothing incriminating on that receipt. So what if he knew he was her hero? Kakashi wouldn't mock her for that. She was almost certain of it.

"Are you okay?" Kakashi asked, slipping the money under the bill, and palming the rest of the mints.

"I'm fine." She squirmed out of the booth, her skin catching a bit on the vinyl. "It's past my bedtime anyway," she joked.

"Mine too," he said, sliding out far more gracefully than she had. "I didn't realize how long we were here."

"Yeah." A moment passed, and they both started walking toward the exit.

"Walk you home?" she offered as she passed through the restaurant's glass doors. The streets were dim and empty, and she didn't want to go back to her apartment yet.

"Aren't I the one who should offer?" Kakashi asked, pausing slightly.

Sakura frowned. "Why can't I?" Had she missed something?

He shifted his weight, a faint sign of uncertainty. "I'm not certain. I thought, perhaps..."

She waited, holding still in some instinctive desire not to startle him.

"...that it was how this was done?" he questioned her, his voice lilting up into a query.

"I think that people walk each other home," Sakura mused. "But I don't think it depends on who bought dinner or anything."

"In that case, I'd appreciate your company." Kakashi relaxed suddenly, a good humoured smile creasing the corner of his eye. He had a very expressive eye.

This time, his hand only tapped hers once before Sakura tangled their fingers together, loose enough that they could both pull away if someone attacked. A faintly giddy thrill coursed through her, and she smiled at Kakashi, then looked away before he could notice.

Sakura wondered if this was friendship or a fake engagement that they were acting out, then tucked the thought away. It didn't matter.

"Lee will probably be released around ten in the morning, so if you want to see him you'll need to come in before then," Sakura warned Kakashi, pausing in front of his apartment door.

He nodded, fishing his keys from his jonin vest and sliding them silently into the lock. "Will you be very busy?" he asked, just barely above a whisper.

She dropped her voice, following his lead out of habit. "I'll be working in the emergency room until noon. I can get someone to take over for me, though."

Kakashi jimmied the lock open, and opened the door with stealth that wouldn't be out of place on an S-ranked mission. "Thank you for walking me home," he murmured, staring at a spot a few inches to the left of her eyes, his skin lit with a hint of the delicate pink blush that had covered his entire body—

Sakura slammed the breaks on that thought. "You're welcome—"

"You think I can't hear you, boy?" The harsh caw caught Sakura entirely off guard, sending a bright pulse of adrenaline shooting through her blood. "Sneaking in like a lumbering oaf!"

Kakashi grimaced, and whispered, "You should go."

"Inconsiderate! That's what you are! You're an inconsiderate cat murderer!"

"What the hell?" Sakura whispered back, waving her hand at his neighbour's apartment. It was the same old woman who'd gone on a huge rant about Kakashi when she'd knocked on his door earlier. "She does this all the time?"

"A dog killed her cat, and she thinks that it was one of mine," Kakashi muttered, the cute pink blush gone, and replaced with a vexed look.

"Why haven't you complained to your landlord?" Sakura hissed back.

"My Hidaki is a good boy!" the woman screeched.

"Is Hidaki the cat?" Sakura asked, casting a dubious glance at the door next to his.

"No, he's my landlord. She's his mother."

"You think I can't hear you, skittering around like rats in the dark?"

"She can hear us?" Sakura mouthed, surprised and kind of embarrassed.

Kakashi nodded again, and eased his door open. Talk tomorrow? he signed.

"Going inside to touch yourself in the dark, you little pervert?" The old woman was almost louder than Tsunade in a rage, Sakura noted through the hazy cast of embarrassment colouring her perceptions.

Kakashi looked utterly appalled before he closed his eye and waved Sakura away. Tomorrow, he signed again, then pressed a finger to his lips in the sign for silence.

Sakura nodded, and snuck away, creeping down the stairs to the street, Kakashi's neighbour's ranting slowly growing quieter with distance.

"Kakashi!" Sakura nearly spilt her coffee. "What—" she checked the clock, just to be sure. "It's eight in the morning."

"Yes?" He ducked into the staff room, ignoring the 'staff only' sign and the group of nurses staring at him.

"Naruto once bet me that you only exist from ten o'clock to midnight," Sakura said, setting her coffee down and running a hand through her hair.

"Did you win the bet?" Kakashi asked. There was a faint shadow under his eye and his hair drooped a little at the ends.

"Of course. I won it the first time we had an overnight mission." Sakura poured a bit more creamer into her cup, and picked it back up again. "So?"


"Are you here to visit Lee?"

The nurses in the corner erupted in a frenzy of hushed whispers, and Sakura wondered just how far along the rumour mill was. They knew about Lee challenging her—Sakura had told them yesterday—but did they know about her and Kakashi forgetting about Lee and leaving him to—

"Yes." He shoved his hands into his pockets. "Are you busy?"

"No, you caught me on my break. I've still got twenty minutes left." She swallowed the dregs of her cup and put it in the sink. "I'll show you where he is."

"Thank you." He slouched back into the hallway, every inch of him shouting gloom.

Sakura trotted to his side, and directed him into one of the many emergency stairwells. "Are you okay? And what the hell was up with your neighbour?"

"She's a former elite jonin who hates me," Kakashi said, shrugging. "She's seventy-two years old, and disgustingly healthy."

"Yeah, but why don't you move?" Sakura couldn't think of a single reason to stay next to someone so insane unless she actually liked them.

Kakashi shrugged again. "I've always lived there. So where's Lee's room?"

"He's upstairs," Sakura replied, leading Kakashi up to the third floor. "But seriously...does she do that all the time?"

"Yes." He flipped open Icha Icha Paradise, but didn't start reading. "I've almost gotten used to it."

"Liar," Sakura said, the word calling up memories drawn to the surface by Kakashi's presence. "Come on. Lee's been chomping at the bit since I told him that you were coming."

Kakashi hesitated, a faint hitch in his stride that she almost didn't notice. "Is he angry?"

"No. Like I told you, Lee's the kind of guy who'd apologize for getting in front of your kunai if you stabbed him."

"Sounds like a nice person," Kakashi said, his tone faintly puzzled. "Why...?"

"He's also the kind of guy who thinks that 'no' means try again next week," Sakura forced herself to smile as she said it, because she'd sworn to be polite to Lee.

Kakashi's chakra twisted in agitation, practically crackling. "He is pushy?"

"About me going out with him. Nothing more," Sakura reassured him. "Come on, his room's over here."

"Sakura!" Lee greeted her cheerfully as she opened the door. Someone must have nagged him into staying in bed, because he wasn't doing push-ups anymore. "Your Presence Brightens the Morning like You are the Very Brightest of Suns!

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? wasn't polite. "Thank you Lee," Sakura said through gritted teeth. "Kakashi's here to see you."

Lee's smile was just as cheerful, but he seemed to wilt, suddenly looking far younger and almost fragile, wrapped in white bandages and covered in blue sheets. "Good Morning Kakashi!"

Kakashi leaned against the wall next to the door and peered into Icha Icha Paradise for a couple of seconds.

"How are you?" Lee asked, his gaze darting between her and Kakashi.

Icha Icha snapped shut, and Kakashi took a sharp breath, staring at the floor between his feet. "I apologize for my lack of attention toward your wellbeing which nearly resulted in your death." Kakashi placed both hands on his thighs and bowed deeply, stiff-backed and formal. "I deeply regret my actions."

Lee's eyebrows crawled toward each other, and he tilted his head slightly. "Does that mean that you will chaperone my dates with Sakura?"

Sakura bit her lip to keep from screaming 'don't do it, Kakashi!'

"Yes, of course."

"Then I forgive you! Everyone makes mistakes!" Lee's teeth shone in the flickering fluorescent light.

Kakashi couldn't chaperone if he was too sick to move, Sakura realized suddenly. The sweat slicking her palms dried at that comforting thought, and she started mentally listing non-lethal poisons to pass the time.

"Thank you," Kakashi said, straightening up. "I will leave you to rest."

"Are you busy tonight?" Lee asked before Kakashi could slip out the door.

"He might not be, but I am," Sakura told Lee. "I've got training until late. Then I'm going to bed. And you shouldn't be up and walking around on that leg for at least another day or two."

Kakashi froze, caught between the room and the hallway.

"I'm not taking time off to go out with you," Sakura added.

"I would not ask you to desert your training!" Lee answered, eyes widening and hands flailing. "I am sorry! That was not my intention!" He paused for a long moment, studying her like she was a particularly tricky trap.

She hated how guilty he made her feel. "Look, I'm free on Friday night. If you can convince Kakashi to chaperone, I'll go out with you, so long as we aren't doing anything that might hurt your leg," Sakura said grudgingly.

He grinned, and there was a certain curve to his mouth that made her eyes linger, assessing. Sakura looked away, frowning. No matter what Shizune thought, Lee wasn't cute.

"Kakashi? Are you busy tomorrow night?" Lee asked, nearly vibrating with energy.

"No, I am not," Kakashi replied, sagging under her glare, but staying honest for some stupid reason.

"Will you chaperone a date between Sakura and I?" His eyebrows lifted hopefully, and he smiled pleadingly.


"Yosh!" Lee thrust his fist into the air, narrowly missing his IV stand. "I will think up the Greatest Date! This time, I will not Fail!"

"You do that," Sakura muttered. So long as he didn't try to catch a goldfish with his full strength and speed again, it would be an improvement on the last time. "Anyway, I'll talk to you later. I've got to get back to work."

Kakashi slipped out so fast that she barely saw him, and Sakura followed, shutting the door on Lee's happy monologue.

"You couldn't have lied?" she muttered to Kakashi.

"I nearly caused his death yesterday," Kakashi whispered back. "Did you really expect me to say 'no, I'm too busy'?"

Sakura sighed, because truthfully, she hadn't. How was it that so many of her carefully laid plans went off the rails? "Well at least we'll probably be able to eat out a couple of times on the gossip from this."

Kakashi's eyebrow rose. "Good point," he said, then chuckled evilly. "Can you mention the three-way date to the nurses? I need my target to find out from someone other than me."

Three-way date? Sakura's mind stuttered to a halt, its processing power devoured by all the implications—it wasn't just a date with Lee, it was also a date with Kakashi. Actually, it would be like dating two guys at once, which had to be worth double the points, reputation-wise. She cast aside her plan to poison Kakashi (just a little bit!). "That is a great idea," she said fervently .

"What is?"

"We should let someone overhear us talking. Come on, the Emergency Room is great for that," Sakura said, shoving open the fire door to the ground floor.

"That is less suspicious."

The double doors to the Emergency Room swung open under her hand, and Sakura forced her expression to be solemn instead of gleeful. "So I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Yeah," Kakashi said, pulling Icha Icha from his kunai pouch. "Any idea where Lee's taking us?"

"Nope. He's...innovative." Sakura leaned against the reception desk. "And it's not like we could go back to the last place he took me to."

"Well, if he's anything like his teacher, I'm sure it'll be exciting." He peered at the page he'd opened his book to, then flipped forward five pages, and wandered toward the door.

Was that enough to get the rumours flowing? Sakura wondered. Best not to chance it. She had her eye on some delicious dango for lunch. "Wear something nice!" she called after him.

"Only if you do," Kakashi replied, holding up two fingers in a tiny wave. He winked at her, and sauntered out the door.

"You're going out with Lee and Kakashi?" Emi squealed, launching herself over the desk with admirable speed for a civilian. "Tell me everything!"

Gossip no Jutsu, hell yeah!