Author's note: This chapter is dedicated to Ninjakittee for giving me a review that made me laugh out loud :) thanks hun!

Five weeks later

Tailing Hatake Kakashi and keeping tabs on Uzumaki Naruto was easier than tactician genius Nara Shikamaru had expected. Both of them worked under the direst service of the Hokage and therefore spent a lot of time passing various memos and important documents between them. The Chunin exams were coming up and it was apparent that that was part of the actual stress that the Rookie Nine had sensed around their friend. The preparations for the nation-wide event began a year before the exams themselves simply because of the floodgate that had been opened after the Rookie Nine's year in the exams. Shinobi from around the world, ninja village affiliated or not, all wanted to become chûnin if only for the chance to catch a glimpse of the five world leaders; the Mizukage, Raikage, Tsuchikage, Kazekage and, most of all, Hokage. Everyone knew that the strongest ninja came from the Hidden leaf, despite what the other villages might brag and every year, a bigger stadium had to be made. That was part of the reason that preparations began so early. The best earth and rock element users and the most famous architects (including Tazuna and Inari of the Land of Waves) from around the nation were gathered together and paid hefty sums of money to secretly build a bigger and more elaborate stadium than the year before. Konoha had become the traditional holding place for the exam simply because the Fire Country was the biggest and had lots of room to waste on frivolous things.

Somehow, against the shadow nin's wishes, he was chosen by default to be the main overseer of the exams every single time. And despite his complaints and laziness, he always managed to enjoy himself immensely (mainly because he got to see his long distance girlfriend, Temari). He was a completely unbiased judge and, because he slept through most of the exams, he thoroughly reviewed all of the contestant tapes over the course of a week and made calculated decisions based on their performance. His assistants were usually Hyuuga Neji and Kakashi, which gave him all the more reason to be around the mysterious Jôunin.

So, yes, tailing Kakashi and watching Naruto was easy and barely took up any of his time, but that didn't mean that he gleaned any useful information from his encounters of the two in each others presence. They gave off a very professional (or as professional as was possible for them) air when they had to speak and, in general, spoke very little during work hours. He did, however, find out two important facts about the duo.

One was that Naruto trusted Kakashi implicitly. Naruto had received many threats to his person over his years in office and Kakashi always dealt with them quickly and thoroughly, never telling the Hokage more than the bare minimum of information, such as whether he had completed the mission and his method of completion. Shikamaru assumed that this was because he didn't want to add to the stress that was already piling on his ex-student, but after seeing Kakashi dispatch one such threat, his theory changed. What he told the blond really was all there was to it.

Kakashi was also the one Naruto went to for advice. When Naruto came back from the Gokage summit and began his training to beat Sasuke, Kakashi taught him the Rasengan Chakra Spiral. Near the end of this training, Kakashi had told Naruto that he needn't call him sensei any more because he had already far surpassed both himself and Yondaime. To this, Naruto replied that Kakashi would never stop being his sensei and, when asked why, explained that he may have been strong but Kakashi was smart and gave great advice because he had more experience. To Shikamaru's knowledge, Kakashi had been so overwhelmed that he'd made a stupid retort and ended up getting beaten by Sakura which had effectively ruined the mood.

The other thing he found out was that the two of them did in fact go everywhere. Not only was Kakashi Naruto's assigned body guard (he had not-so-discreetly accompanied the blond to Ichiraku's under the pretence of heading in that direction himself), they just happened to live in the same apartment complex, nay the same apartment, if their departure times were anything to go by. Several times he had been asked by the council to deliver important scrolls to Naruto's home and Kakashi had answered the door. The same had happened vice versa.

And that wasn't even the most disconcerting thing. A third fact, and one that Shikamaru had almost overlooked because of circumstances, was that Kakashi always found an excuse to make some sort of contact with the blond. The first time he had noticed it, he was in the Hokage's office awaiting a signature of approval for the attendance of the Kazekage to an important function. Kakashi had waltzed in, nose buried in his (perpetually there) orange book, slapped a stack of papers onto Naruto's desk and, as he was lifting his arm away, brushed his bare fingers across Naruto's whiskered cheek so lightly that he almost didn't catch it. Shikamaru thought nothing of it until, a second later, a visible shiver ran through the blond's body. The shadow nin's eyes had immediately zeroed in on Kakashi to gauge his reaction, then narrowed when he noticed the lines of a smirk forming underneath the dark mask.

When Shikamaru analyzed these three components, he could come up with nothing other than what had already been proposed by the rest of the group. (He refused to call it by its name, deciding that it was troublesome even being a part of it. What he didn't tell the others was that he was having quite a fun time of it despite the boredom and mild irritation he whinged about.)

Shikamaru could find no innocent way of telling the others what he had discovered so, at their next meeting, he gave them the facts then outright told them, "I agree with Ino. Naruto definitely has some kind of relationship with Kakashi-sensei. Whether it's sexual or not remains to be seen but you'd have to be blind not to notice it. No offence, Neji."

"None taken," the Hyuuga replied almost pleasantly. He had lost his normal sight on an undercover mission the previous year and had to rely almost solely on his Byakugan. When Naruto had heard about it, he had literally worried himself sick before Kakashi (there he was again, fixing up Naruto's problems) had knocked him out and given Neji some helpful rehabilitation tips that came from personal experience. Today, Neji was able to make out the vague shape of anything within about ten feet of him. Beyond that was complete darkness unless he was using his Byakugan.

"Well that's all very well and good, but we need evidence!" Sakura said in annoyance, "Conclusive evidence, not just the same crap everyone keeps telling us! Pretend you didn't hear that, Hiro-chan," She added, looking at her eight year old son in warning. The eight year old, black haired boy giggled and clapped his hands over his ears, a mischievous sparkle in his green eyes. Shikamaru instantly knew that the boy's friends and sisters would be hearing about mommy using the 'C-word'.

"U-umm, Sakura-san, I think I can shed a little light onto this topic." Said Hyuuga Hinata, a blush appearing on her cheeks when heads turned to her. She glanced around nervously before Neji nudged her side and whispered some words of encouragement. Her eyebrows set in an uncharacteristically hard look and she began as if she had rehearsed her lines.

"A week ago, I did a little test on Naruto-kun's office." Sakura sat forward in interest, an eyebrow raised, "I discovered that, though the north, east and west facing walls are made of a three foot thick steel, titanium and rubidium alloy, which is impenetrable even by the Byakugan," Useful piece of information, thought Sakura appraisingly, "the south facing one that overlooks the village is not. Last Wednesday, I took up a strategic position at the south-westernmost end of the city between ten hundred hours and seventeen hundred hours. At sixteen fifty-seven, just as my chakra reserves were almost depleted, I caught Kakashi-sensei in the act of... of..." Here, Hinata's reserve failed her and she blushed a deep red before sitting back and glancing at Neji.

"What Hinata-sama is too shy to say, and frankly, I don't blame her, is that she saw Kakashi-sensei giving Naruto-sama a blow job. Again, Hiro-kun, pretend you didn't hear that," His sharp eyes looked at Hiro and Shikamaru could tell by the aggressive nod of the boy's head that none of what was said from now on would leave the room, "She promptly fainted under the combined chakra exertion and embarrassment of seeing that and it wasn't until later that evening that Sarutobi Konohamaru-kun found her, still out cold in the grass below the tree she was in." Neji finished, his expression changing only when he looked at Hiro.

A palpable and shocked silence filled the room at this admonishment. Only one person was left in doubt about the events conspiring. Sakura turned to Hiro and told him to go find his sisters, Ayame and Chika. Then, when the boy left with a very Sakura-like pout, she turned to the group.

"But that doesn't actually prove anything! For all we know, Naruto could have just been sexually frustrated and in need of release! We all know that anyone in the village would give it to him if he asked and don't try to deny it, Tenten." The armoured girl stopped shaking her head in denial and sighed in agreement. She knew that she probably would give him anything he asked for; he deserved it after all.

"That still doesn't explain why they live together." Said Sai, confusion replacing his usual awkward smile. "It would make sense for Kakashi-senpai to live close to or on the same street as Naruto-kun. It would even make sense for them to live in the same apartment complex seeing as he's his personal guard. But if they really aren't in a physical relationship, then it wouldn't make any sense for them to room together. I read in a book that living in close quarters with a person that you have a physical or emotional connection with can improve your relationship tenfold." Sai finished looking pleased with himself for his input.

"That's true, but..." It was apparent that Sakura was floundering for something to counter that argument but Shikamaru knew that it was almost unshakeable. Here, he voiced his true opinion on the situation.

"I know how you feel, Sakura. None of us want to see him get hurt or anything and most of us are rightfully suspicious of Kakashi's motives. But aside from watching their behaviour towards each other, I've also been watching how they move around each other and act when they're apart. Naruto is the happiest I've seen him in a long time and Kakashi's presence only serves to put him at ease, from what I've seen. I've also observed some changes in Kakashi's behaviour, starting with the most predominant; his reading material." Sakura's interest perked at this. Maybe this was her chance to out Kakashi for the horrible, Naruto-using pervert he really was.

"He has almost entirely stopped reading porn," He stated bluntly, "The only time he ever reads it is in very brief snatches when Naruto isn't around. He may enter a room with his nose stuck in that troublesome little book but that doesn't mean it was there before he went in. And, even stranger, he's never actually reading it. He's always watching Naruto. Never anyone else in the room. Not that Naruto notices; he's usually too busy with papers and such. Kakashi's also stopped chasing skirts. The only thing he's chasing is Naruto's robes."

Sakura looked at her carefully folded hands in her lap, then at Lee's resting on top of them, then she gazed around the room at her friends. It was true that she didn't want Naruto to get hurt. More than anything, she wanted him to be happy and loved by everyone. But there was a secret part of her, buried deep under layers of love for her family and friends and surrounded by a dull blanket of broken emotion, that liked to see Naruto's pain. She liked it when he was hurting and she liked it when he raged and cried because then she could be the one to make it better. She could be the one to patch him up when he was hurt. She would be the one he came to when Kakashi denied him. She didn't want him to be with anyone because she couldn't have him.

She was extremely selfish and the sad part was, she knew it. She wasn't directly jealous of Kakashi. No, never of her silly, goofy, perpetually tardy, stupidly smart (and a whole lot of other adjectives that weren't quite so forgiving) sensei. She was jealous of his role in Naruto's life. She was jealous of the effect he had on the blond that she had never been able to produce no matter how hard she turned on the charm or how much she used her natural feminine wiles. She was jealous of the sexuality he held, that she could never hope to have.

And all at once, that small, secret part of her that she had walled off and guarded carefully in hopes of forgetting her real feelings for the blond, gave a sudden and monumental ache and her friends could all see the exact moment when the dam shattered and the secret part escaped her heart in horrifying, but soundless, sobs that, moments later, were soaking the front of Lee's pale green turtleneck.

One by one, the Rookie Nine left the house. They said nothing, only pausing to throw a sympathetic glance her way or give her a reassuring and loving pat on the shoulder. Lee nodded to them all in passing, never once letting up in the circles he rubbed on Sakura's back. When Hiro, Ayame and Chika came home twenty minutes later and saw their mother still desperately crying into their father's chest, they all went up to their respective rooms, packed an overnight bag each, and left for Uncle Choji and Aunt Ino's house with as little sound as when they had come in. Lee could only assume that one or the other of them had spoken to the twins, who were older and more capable of grasping the situation than their younger and more innocent brother was.

When Sakura exhausted her supply of tears she simply sat there, shaking and gasping into the shirt that she held tightly in her white fingers for all she was worth. Because if she couldn't keep her sanity intact, then she wasn't worth anything. All those years after she got over Sasuke that she spent trying to woo Naruto would go down the toilet and what did she have to show for it? A broken heart that only one person could mend, three beautiful children who weren't Naruto's and a husband that, no matter how many dictionaries or thesauruses or encyclopedias she went through, she could not find words to describe her love for.

So, when her shaking finally subsided an hour later and she had gotten herself under control, she looked up at him, simple love in her oceanic eyes, and kissed his startled lips gently. This was her husband. The man she had formed a bond, had children and had signed papers that meant forever with. This man had been there through thick and thin, through good and bad and through all of the emotional shit she put him through and never once had he complained. Never once had he left her in a moment of need. Never once had he stopped loving her. And really, she didn't have to think about her feelings for him.

"Lee," She said quietly (her voice was beginning to grow hoarse with all the ragged breathing, "You know I love you, right? Only you?"

Lee smiled then, and not one of his 'Good Guy', super sparkly smiles. A genuine smile that showed Sakura exactly how he felt about her and all of her eccentricities. "Yes, my love," he replied, "And I love only you as well."

I know... You hate me... I'm sorry! I had to get this out there! I know everyone (especially Sakura! I was going to bash her a bit but her character in Shippuden is stronger than in Naruto so i made her less of a wimp) is acting sooooo OC but I can't help it! I needed a reason for what happens in the next chapter!

Now I would like to say thank you to history and Ninjakittee for sending me positive reviews, and also to the people who have already faved this piece of insanity! This list includes: femaleJoey, IC-KakaNaruKaka-luvr, kazama kaien, Clarindas, LN Tora and Hephaistos. Your faves and reviews are what's keeping me writing this, just so you know.

Lots of love,

P.S. I always forget to put disclaimers so just... pretend it was already there xD I don't own Naruto! (No matter how much I wish I did...)

P.P.S Next chapter is dedicated to the fifth reviewer!