In the Seraglio of the Second Flower

By Oniko

This was not how Kakashi envisioned entering the Jewel of the Golden Cities. When he thought about it at all, which wasn't often, it was at the head of a warlord's army to bring the city of sin and decadence to its knees. Those were the thoughts of the arrogant young warrior he had been once upon a time when given his first command. Time and loss had tempered his dreams. The Golden Cities were far from his small province and those dreams were set aside for more practical concerns.

But even those dreams had been ground to dust at the hands of that traitor Sasuke. The orphaned boy, last of an old House and young cousin to someone Kakashi owed his life, his honor and more than he could repay in one lifetime, so Kakashi had taken in the boy as his own. He trained Sasuke in war and governance, but the viper he nursed at his bosom held higher ambitions then Kakashi's small province and betrayed him to Orochimaru. Bastard didn't even have the decency to give him an honorable death.

No, he never thought that he would be entering the Jewel of the Golden Cities trussed up in a slaver's caravan bound for the auction block. After Gato had his hired thugs pry off Kakashi's mask he gloated at the price the brothels in the Golden Cities would pay for Kakashi's 'pretty face.' Kakashi had shuddered in horror at the realization of what that meant. Bad enough that he had been stripped of all rank and honor even of his mask, but to be debased by anyone with the coin was worse than all of it combined. Kakashi kept hoping that one of the plantations they passed would be desperate enough for workers to pay Gato's price. But, while other slaves had been bought and sold along the long journey, Gato kept Kakashi and turned down all offers.

Some weeks into the journey Kakashi had managed to break one of the cheap clay bowls that they were served tasteless gruel with. He used the sharp edge to cut his face but was more of a coward then he had thought and couldn't cut deep enough to take the eye. He only had the one chance. Zabuza was on him in an instant, knocking the pottery shard from his grasp and pinning him to the ground. Gato had been livid at the loss of revenue and ordered Kakashi trussed up except under the most watchful eyes.

The shallow cut was healing. Kakashi was still hoping for a disfiguring infection, but judging by the looks of women and some of the men in the crowd that flowed around them that was yet another dying dream. Kakashi tried to bury his face into the crook of his arm but Gato had placed young Haku nearby to poke him with a long needle that was the boy's weapon of choice every time he tried.

Kakashi's first impression of the Jewel of the Golden Cities was less then golden. White washed walls were stark in the glaring sun. The open sewer that ran down the center of the cobbled street reeked of sun-warmed shit. The people were dressed scantily enough to put the most erotic pillow books to shame. The women dressed in sheer robes and topless skirts, and the men in little more than loincloths. Like the trader's district in any city the noise was deafening. There were people and animals alike bellowing, the clatter of carts and wagons on cobblestone, and the ring of metal on metal from the nearby smithies.

It wasn't long before the caravan rolled into the auction yard. They were unloaded, stripped of whatever remnant of clothing they had held on to, collared, tagged, and sorted. Kakashi was herded with other male slaves that covered the spectrum of male attractiveness from rugged good looks to elegant beauty. All destined for the brothels or some 'lady's' stable. They were washed, sprayed down with tepid water, then looked over by a healer and certified clean of disease. Most of them anyway, a couple were turned away and sent to the labor pens. The healer also looked at his eye and pronounced it well enough. After that he was shuffled off into a holding pen with five other men. Kakashi curled up in a corner and buried his face in the crook of his arm.

The sweltering heat of the day gave way to the only slightly less punishing evening. He watched as perspective buyers, both men and women, in finely woven cloth and dripping with jewelry were paraded past the wares. A few asked to get a better look at him, but he remained unmoving and after a few ineffectual prods no one bothered him further. In the distance he could hear the rapid fire auctioneer's patter and the soft susurrations of the crowd. The room was emptied as one by one each of the men in his room were sold off, as presumably others were as well. Eventually the auction house workers, two large burly men noticeably not collared but not wearing any of the ostentatious jewelry seen on others, came into the cell to haul Kakashi to his feet and walk him out.

Kakashi debated making a run for it, but if what he saw on the way in was any indication there wouldn't be much of a chance. Not that he could take advantage of an opening half starved and weak as he was. His escorts expertly guided him to a well lit stage in the center of a large amphitheater. Well dressed men and women dotted the curved stone risers, each surrounded by their own personal entourage, some even lounging in palanquins or cushioned carry chairs.

"And here we have lot 3255," the auctioneer said. "Starting bid is 500 gold minae. Do I have 500? 500. Do I have 600? 600? 600?"

Kakashi quickly tuned out the auctioneer and the audience. He ignored everything as his escorts manhandle him into turning to the back, then the side for the audience. He was able to remain stoically unmoved until the man behind him reached around with a thin rod and slid it under his cock, lifting the flaccid member to show to the audience. Kakashi snarled and tensed, but before he could do more the rod was removed then swatted across the back of his thighs. Shocked at the sting, Kakashi froze while the audience tittered at his expense.

"50,000," a familiar voice said. Kakashi froze, almost afraid to look at the audience and find out that he had misheard. The bid had a similar effect on the audience. Everyone went quiet, even the auctioneer seemed at a loss for words.

"500," a strident female voice countered.

This seemed to spur the auctioneer into action. "Lot 3255 sold for 50,000."

"I meant 50,500. Damn you," the woman shouted.

The auctioneer simply waved Kakashi off the stage. "Next up we have lot 3256, 3233 remains unsold."

He couldn't avoid it any longer. Kakashi looked up coming face to face with his buyer, and a face from the past. Tenzou looked good for a man ten years dead. He wore a slave collar that bore little resemblance to the twist of rough leather around Kakashi's neck. The gold collar was made of sinuous interlocking plates that looked like the underbelly of a snake. The tags were elegantly engraved metal pendants dotted with colorful enamel and tiny jewels. Kakashi would like to have said something witty and dry. However he was at a loss for words.

"You can't do this!" Kakashi was saved from the awkward silence by the decent of the other bidder on them, long black hair flying and sheer dress leaving nothing to the imagination. "I made that bid, and I demand that you release him to me."

"The house has the final say on all bids," Tenzou said blandly. He turned his back to the woman and glanced over what Kakashi could only assume was the sales receipt.

"The Temple has the house by the balls and you know it," she snarled. "He's not the usual stock the Temple buys I bet he isn't even for the Temple. Stocking your lady's stable with your own toys, hmm?"

"If you have any questions about my conduct, take it up at the Temple," Tenzou said, stamping the papers with a heavy seal he wore on his left ring finger.

She stepped in close and hissed in Tenzou's ear. "You think you're something because those whores on the hill like to ride your cock, but at the end of the day you are worth nothing more then what some slut is willing to pay for you."

"At the end of the day, your Elegance, my word alone can have you stripped and beaten in the streets." Tenzou never once raised his voice or changed his inflection. Her expression twisted in to an ugly snarl and she spun on her heel and stalked away muttering about citizen's rights. Tenzou tidied up the papers and handed some to the clerk and some were rolled and tucked into a small round scroll case dangling from the chain belt around Tenzou's waist that seemed to serve no other purpose. "The leash isn't necessary. I trust Kakashi won't do anything foolish at least until we get some food in him."

The last was said with a wry smile at Kakashi. He felt a small jolt, coming awake from the shock. Kakashi shook his head numbly. "No, I won't do anything foolish."

Escaping at the earliest opportunity was not foolish, but Tenzou was right about the food. And clothes. He wasn't going to get far without clothes. Tenzou nodded as if he expected nothing less. He waved Kakashi to follow making room for the next buyer looking to pay their balance.

"They said you were dead," Kakashi said when he finally managed to regain his mental footing.

Tenzou paused, stiff posture going a little stiffer before he continued on with a sigh. "I suppose Danzou had to tell you something."

"What happened?"

"After the retreat Orochimaru's forces gathered up the wounded." Kakashi flinched, at the time he hadn't realized that wounded had been left on the field. This, among other losses, had formed the backbone of his personal code that lead to one of the strongest and most loyal fighting forces built around him and allowing him to retake and to hold the province that his father had been deposed of twenty years earlier. "Ransom demands were sent, but he refused to pay."

"He what?" Kakashi asked, shocked. Ransom for captured fighters was one of the most important of the codes of civilized war, without it they were nothing but barbarians.

Tenzou nodded. "Orochimaru sold us to the slavers to 'recompense for his expenses'."

"Bastard." Kakashi didn't know if he was cursing Orochimaru or Danzou. They reached the gates of the auction house. Kakashi balked at stepping into the city beyond. "I don't suppose I could get some clothes?" He asked hopefully.

"Since when did you start being so modest?" Tenzou asked lightly. Kakashi just looked at him and the smile slipped from his face. "Sorry, I forgot what it was like at first. We'll be able to get you something back in the seraglio."

"The seraglio?" Kakashi asked, tripping over the foreign word. They wove through the streets that were even more crowded in the cooler evening. Kakashi felt the tickling prick of stares, though it was no more or less then what he would have received at home should he bare his face alone. He wasn't going to show any weakness by huddling behind his hands.

"The private rooms where the lady's consorts and concubinus, pleasure slaves, are kept," Tenzou explained. Kakashi felt his heart plummet. So he hadn't been saved from ignoble servitude. It didn't help that there was some small part in the back of his brain that was whispering that maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Tenzou seemed happy with his lot in life. And truly what male wouldn't want to be called upon to service a pretty woman? It was like a story from his favorite pillow books that followed the journey of a wanderer as he traveled the known realm and seduced, and was seduced by, the many beautiful women he met. The Golden Cities ruled by the eternally young Living Goddess, the Bhavatarini Tsunade, who was the incarnation of Sarasvati, was the centerpiece of the books.

Kakashi shook his head. He couldn't let himself think that. Even though Sasuke had been his legally declared heir they boy would never be able to hold the province. Not with Orochimaru behind him. Kakashi's people would never accept that man's yoke and Kakashi worried about what was happening in his absence.

"How did you get here?" Kakashi asked, trying to distract himself with conversation.

"Well, I was sold to a plantation down south of Jingo." As Tenzou talked, Kakashi mentally marking the streets he was led down. Also taking note of potential hiding places and obstacles for when he was ready to make a run for it. "Worked there for a season then the lot of us were sold as soon as the crops were in. I was taken further and further south that way, bought and sold, until I ended up here… where I killed a man."

That sounded more ominous then it should have. Tenzou was a blooded warrior long before his "death."

"I don't know if anyone's explained it to you yet, but its death for a slave to kill a citizen no matter the reason."

Kakashi filed that away. He would need to make sure he got a clean escape or there might be no second chances. As they walked towards the center of the city, the state of the buildings around them gradually improved until Kakashi could see how the city had earned its name. Elegant ivory towers capped with golden domes rose around them. The fountains at every intersection were tiled with bright, jewel like mosaics and even the cobbles under their feet turned from baked brick to granite laden with quartz flakes that sparkled from the multicolored lanterns strung overhead. "So what happened?"

"Sakura, my current owner, happened," Tenzou said. "Everything is still a little disjointed, concussion. I just remember that one minute I was being dragged out to be gutted in the street and the next thing I know I'm following some woman to the temple under escort. She claimed me as one of her own and unlike other slaves, the concubinus of a Temple Priestess may be pardoned for all crimes, including murder."

Tenzou waved him so silence as they entered one of the central complexes. First through an open gate guarded by men in light-weight banded armor and long spears. Then a smaller side door into a lavishly decorated building. The walls were hung with banners and carved with intricately patterned latticework. The long halls were quiet and empty. Beside the guards at the gate there seemed to be no one in the building, though Kakashi knew that wasn't likely.

Eventually they entered a large room that put to shame any previous standards of luxury Kakashi may have held. The floor was covered with thick colorfully patterned rugs that felt soft and comforting against Kakashi's sore and abused feet. There were couches and divans and piles of silk pillows grouped in areas around the room, some around a cold brazier and some around low tables. There was a wide open archway leading to a lush garden filled with flowers and fruit trees. Heavy screens and curtains were pulled back to let in the scant breeze and the sound of water singing over stones.

"C'mon let's get you cleaned up and into some clothes," Tenzou said, depositing scroll case, chain and all, on a nearby table before leading Kakashi to a wall that contained a nearly seamless door leading into a communal bathing area. Open showers alternating with racks of bottles lined one wall while the majority of the room was taken up with large bathing pools of various temperatures. Tenzou waved a hand at a narrow archway. "Facilities are through there. It's just like a bathhouse here, shower first then soak. This lever for hot water, this one for cold."

He continued on to explain the multitude of soaps and oils in the racks. They ranged in scent from sweet to musky. Kakashi chose a light clean scent that was neither feminine nor overwhelmingly masculine. As he was lathering up a soft scrap of cloth left for this purpose, movement caught his attention.

A young man had just exited the facilities. He had pale skin with dark hair and eyes. A length of cloth strategically draped around his waist and tied at his hip was the only clothing he wore, and no slave collar not even one like Tenzou's. His affectation was completely flat and he blinked languidly at Kakashi standing in the shower's hot spray.

"I thought you were just sent to deliver a message," the young man said to Tenzou.

"I was," Tenzou said. Turning on the water for his own shower.

"And on your way back you picked up another cock for the hag, how thoughtful." If it was supposed to be a joke Kakashi couldn't tell. Wait. Hag? The small hope that he might get some enjoyment from this mess was quickly wilting under images of an old, wrinkled woman demanding he perform acts of increasing depravity.

"You shouldn't call her that," Tenzou scolded.

"Why? She doesn't care." Tenzou raised an eyebrow. "Well, she won't do anything other than yell. Mostly" The boy paused thoughtfully. "She would break anything she can't fix."

"That's beside the point. If someone who might care overhears- forget it," Tenzou said, giving in on an obviously old argument with a wave of his hand. "Just go and see if we still have that daimyo's costume from the Ino's masque last month, and get some food sent up." The boy nodded and without a word left for the main room. "Please, don't mind Sai. He's from Root. They're a little strange out there."

"The Root of the World?" Kakashi asked after a long pause before he realized that Tenzou was referring to the massive mountain range to the far west. "Strange? How?"

"They prefer their nobles to show no emotion at all. No, to have no emotion," Tenzou said with a slow shake of his head. He continued talking as he stripped and washed himself as well. "He's had to learn somewhat to interact better with the people here, but his primary influence has unfortunately been Naruto as the only boy here around his age."

"Noble? He's not a slave?" Kakashi asked, mildly surprised that a noble would so meekly accept orders from a slave.

"No, consort. He was given in marriage to seal a treaty between the Cities and Root, and act as a spy for their king." Kakashi nodded. He knew well the benefits of keeping a known spy. He had made use of them himself in feeding false information to his enemies and tenuous allies.

"And this… Naruto?" Kakashi asked. Their ablutions complete, Tenzou showed Kakashi where the towels were and the new clothing, or what passed for it, in the dressing room, talking all the while.

"Naruto is… a special case," Tenzou said. "He's Untouchable. A street rat. Normally someone like him would never be even considered for a concubinus of any caste. I don't know what happened, Naruto refuses to talk about it, but rumor has it that he got into something that he shouldn't have and instead of being killed out of hand Sakura took him in. Ah, good Sai did find the kimono."

Kakashi found Tenzou handing him a traditional hakama and haori. Traditional in cut and color only; it was black with a five kamon layout, though the insignia aligned with no House known to Kakashi. There was no juban to wear underneath, but the silk it was made from was very fine and slid like water across his skin. And there was a mask. Kakashi gratefully pulled on the familiar article with a sigh of relief. Even with clothing he would have felt naked without a mask to complete it.

He rolled his shoulders releasing a tension that he hadn't realized he'd been holding and relaxed his lanky frame into a more casual slouch, tucking his thumbs into the narrow obi tied at his waist. He followed Tenzou out into the main room. "So, am I another charity case for your mistress?"

"It's not like that," Tenzou said with a shake of his head. "I just couldn't-"

"Yamato!" A strident female voice cut Tenzou off. Kakashi looked up to see a young woman stalking towards them, absolutely livid and she was a sight with it. Anger brought a flush to her cheeks and a sparkle to her green eyes. "What did you need to spend 50,000 gold minae on? How much money do you think I have? Who the hell is this?"

"Your 50,000 minae," Kakashi said cheekily. So, this was the 'hag.' He definitely wouldn't mind performing acts of increasing depravity on her. She was dressed with a length of sheer cloth wrapped around slender hips, and draped over her shoulder leaving one pert breast exposed. Her shoulder length pink hair reminded him of the cherry blossom trees back home. Reminding him why such thoughts were dangerous. He couldn't afford to tarry here, no matter how pretty the distraction.

Sakura opened and shut her mouth a few timed before turning to Tenzou. "Yamato!"

"I can explain," Tenzou said tone low and soothing.

"Well?" she crossed her arms under her breasts apparently either completely unaware of the way it dislodged the fabric and presented both perfect coral nipples. Or maybe she did know and didn't care.

"Hatake Kakashi was my squad leader from- before," Tenzou said with only a slight hesitation as he selected his words carefully. "He is known to me as an honorable man and skilled in weapons and diplomacy. He would be a great asset to you, Splendor, and wasted in the brothels."

That seemed to appease the young woman somewhat. She unfolded her arms and tugged the cloth back into place. "You know my finances aren't in the best place right now, I don't know if I can afford upkeep for all four of you."

"But weren't you saying you were going to give Naruto to the First Petal?"

"What?" squawked the blond young man, presumably Naruto, sounding hurt. "You're giving me away?"

"I was thinking about it," she said with a grimace. "Hinata greatly admires you, and I'm sure she wouldn't want to let you go."

"Hinata?" Naruto asked with a surprised look on his face. Surprised and thoughtful.

"You would be her First and that would put you in a powerful position regardless of what consorts came later," Sakura said. "But I don't know if you'd be able to handle the responsibilities. You don't listen to Yamato when he tries to teach you these things."

"I listen to Yamato. He has the scary face; I have to listen," Naruto objected. Kakashi glanced at Tenzou who made a subtle negative swipe of his hand. Don't ask.

"That's not good enough, Naruto," Sakura growled, temper rising again. "You need more training then we can provide. I've been trying to talk Tsunade into taking you on so you can lean from Jiraiya. I just didn't want to say anything until I had a definite answer from her."

Naruto worked his mouth but didn't seem to know what to say, or even if he should be happy or disappointed. On the far side of the room, Kakashi noticed another invisible door opening and slaves of both sexes in only white loincloths and bleached leather collars coming though to lay trays of food and decanters of cool drinks dripping with condensation on a nearby sideboard. The smell of cooked meats and foreign spices make Kakashi's mouth water and stomach twist with a hunger that he had been ignoring for weeks. It took all of his iron resolve to stay rooted to the spot and not rush to the food like a ravening animal.

"But that's neither here nor there," she said and gestured to Kakashi. "I may as well see what I bought. Remove the mask."

"No," Kakashi said flatly. He knew that with most he would be on thin ice to deny his owner any request no matter how unreasonable, but he suspected that Sakura was more lenient then most and despite her earlier expression of temper would do little.

"No?" Kakashi admired the flush spreading across her breasts. He was debating with himself on the potential benefits of needling her further when Tenzou stepped in. He always was a mediator by nature.

"Among our people it is believed that the mask should not be removed lightly."

"You don't wear a mask," she noted, the question why clear though unstated.

"I was not born to a noble house with the blood of Amaterasu," Tenzou said. "Since the fall of the old empire the Houses that can trace their lines back to the imperial family hide their face so the goddess will not be shamed by how far her children have fallen."

"I see," she said speculatively. "Have you had someone look as that eye?"

"Yes, the healer at the auction house said that it was doing well," Kakashi told her. From her expression, Sakura clearly doubted the skill of said healer.

"I'd take a look at it myself if this wasn't my rotation at the Temple. I'm too tired right now to heal a pricked finger," she said with a sigh. "I suppose you'll be staying then. Yamato, see to it that's he's up to full duties by the end of the week."

"Yes, Splendor." Tenzou said with a slight bow.

"I will be meditating in the garden," Sakura said as she turned towards the open arch. "Sai, attend!"

The boy appeared in a smaller arch that Kakashi could only assume lead deeper into the seraglio. He hurried after the young woman, detouring only slightly when she added a shouted 'and bring tea' from outside. Assuming that they were dismissed, Kakashi made a beeline towards the food barely beating out Naruto.

"So, what'cha look like under the mask?" The boy asked around a mouthful off food.

"Like anybody else," Kakashi said with a shrug. He picked out a few choice delicacies and eased them under the mask when Naruto was distracted with his own food out of long habit.

"Oh, c'mon. Let me see. Let-me-see, let-me-see, let-me-see," Naruto begged, latching on to Kakashi's arm and reaching for the mask. Kakashi easily dislodged the boy and focused on the food.

"Naruto!" Tenzou scolded, pulling him away. "Why don't you go get cleaned up."

"Fine, whatever," Naruto said with a huff. Half way across the rooms towards the bathing area, Naruto turned and shouted, "I bet you have fish lips!" before sticking his tongue out and running off.

"Sorry about that," Tenzou said. "I don't think Naruto had much of an opportunity to be a child growing up as he did. Some days I think he and Sai are both trying to make up for their early lives by out-doing each other in childish antics."

"It's alright," Kakashi said. Sakura, the only one who might be able to order him to remove the mask, was respectful of other people's gods. Which was more then he could say for Gato. "So, Yamato?"

Tenzou looked away. "Tenzou died on the fields of Amara."

Kakashi flinched. "If I had known-"

"But you didn't," Tenzou said, laying his hand on Kakashi's arm. "I never once thought that you would have left us to that."

Kakashi covered Tenzou's hand with his own, marveling at the bitter irony that Tenzou was comforting him. "Thank you."

… … …

As the days passed Kakashi was awarded his own collar of gold links and tags imprinted with Sakura's name and rank. He soon learned that the men of the seraglio were more than just the lady's lovers. They were her guardians, her advisors, and the most trusted were empowered to act in her stead. When Kakashi noted that this could put the lady in a potentially very dangerous position, Tenzou explained that there was usually a more thorough vetting process before a man was admitted to the seraglio. Especially for any of the Nine Flowers that ruled the Golden Cities in the name of the Living Goddess, but Sakura was somewhat unique in that regard.

When she decided to extend her protection to a man she would bend law and flout tradition, anything to keep him safe. Though her relationship with the males in her seraglio may have begun as one of mutual protection she did sleep with them. Sai had been quite up front with the details, though the lady had never initiated any sexual activities that Kakashi had seen. At least nothing beyond a sharp 'attend!' that usually had whichever male was ordered scurrying after her like a dog panting after a bitch in heat. And though she never commanded Kakashi to her bed, she watched him. He knew this because he was watching her.

Much of Kakashi's days were spent in weapons practice. Sakura had already weathered several attempts on her life and Tenzou insisted that all of her boys, and herself, were trained in some weapon. He had done an amazing job considering that each of them had their own strengths and preferred vastly different weapons, but he had never been a group leader and had never had to learn how to make a group of men move together. He knew some of what was needed by virtue of being trained to act within a solid fighting unit, but was uncertain how to overcome some of the unique challenges that getting Naruto and Sai to work together presented. Somehow, Kakashi ended up filling in that role.

This was the time he found he could observe Sakura the most. When he was called on for brief escorts to her lessons or prayers to the temple or academy he was usually too busy assessing potential dangers. But here in the privacy of the seraglio he could study her. Sakura was not what he had been expecting on his long journey south is the slave caravan. If they were back home at twenty she would barely be old enough to marry but here she had been a woman grown and weighted with heavy responsibilities for the last four years. She was a sweet girl, kind and tolerant of Naruto's and Sai's antics, though she had a temper. It was flash-fire that burned bright and beautiful. Deadly if a man wasn't careful but like the fire life was more vibrant and verdant for it having passed.

Kakashi found himself looking for excuses to be closer to her during training. He would lean in close and murmur advice in her ear to enjoy the minute shiver that ran down her body at the caress of his hot breath across the shell of her ear. He wanted her. He wanted to throw her down on the curves of one of the oh-so-suggestive divans and fuck her senseless, but she never called on him. Kakashi was not foolish enough to press and possibly lose a lenient master if she sold him to someone else.

Tenzou was right that Sakura was a trusting soul. She would trust him. She'd given him food and clothes and weapons, and one day she was going to send him out into the city like she sent Tenzou, like she sent Sai. Only he wasn't going to come back. Until then he needed to bide his time. Though Kakashi knew he was in trouble when he had to remind himself that Sakura was not his friend. She was his owner. Tenzou may have been his friend once but he had lead Kakashi by a leash into this all too comfortable cage. Kakashi just needed to bid his time.

The nights in the seraglio were like an armed war camp. Each of them took turns at a watch and circling through the rooms looking for potential intruders. He had easily learned the maze of empty hallways and hidden doors that protected Sakura's sleeping chamber.

It was the early morning hours, Kakashi was walking those halls on his shift when he heard a sharp cry of pain from Sakura's chambers. Kakashi rushed down the halls, running silently in soft soled shoes. If an intruder had slipped past them, it was best that he didn't hear Kakashi until Kakashi was ready to reveal himself, only to stop dead at the entrance to the lady's bedchamber.

There was no intruder. The sound had been a cry of pleasure and not pain. Sakura was intertwined with Naruto and Sai, all three kneeling on the wide expanse of silk and down that served as her bed and writhing with pleasure.

He could see Tenzou lounging on the bed beyond them, by the rhythmic motions of his arm Kakashi could guess what he was doing as he watched the other three, his eyes gone dark with desire. Kakashi found his hand inching towards his own half hard cock. Another sound drew his attention back to Sakura.

"Please," she moaned. "Harder."

So, the lady likes it rough, Kakashi thought with a small smirk. His kind of girl. The boys were happy to oblige pushing themselves into her harder and faster, letting out soft pants with every thrust. Her head lolled back against Naruto's shoulder behind her with an arresting look of bliss on her face. A hand, Tenzou's, smeared a line of pale fluid across her bottom lip. Sakura's pink tongue swiped across her lip. Her eyes fluttered open to fix on the semen covered fingers hovering bare inches away. She lapped at Tenzou's hand. Her tongue curling around his fingertips until Tenzou slowed pushed one into her mouth. Sakura's cheeks hollowed as she sucked on the digit.

Kakashi bit back a groan and turned away. He was painfully hard. The remainder of his watch seemed to drag on for an eternity. Every time he thought he had calmed himself down his traitorous brain would dredge up images of Sakura's flushed face and firm breasts with hard nipples begging to be sucked and licked, and he would find his erection straining against the cloth of his hakama once again.

Eventually Naruto strolled out, with the lazy walk of the well sated, and Kakashi was free to take care of himself. He retreated to one of the "meditation" rooms, small cells that each of them had to retreat to for privacy in the seraglio that was otherwise open. Each room contained a small but comfortable bed and a cabinet for a few personal possessions that technically weren't theirs but they laid claim to anyway.

Kakashi threw himself down on the bed and swiftly loosening the ties on his hakama. The cool air across heated flesh made him groan. He hadn't been entirely without female company since his Rin had died defending their new home from a siege while Kakashi lead his men in battle elsewhere, but he still found himself fixating on Sakura. Though he knew wanting her would make it harder to leave.

But his mind wouldn't settle. Even as he stroked himself, tension coiling low in his stomach, none of the women he pictured not Rin, not the nameless camp-follower he last fucked after a hard-won battle against Orochimaru, not any of them in between. He growled softly in frustration as he slipped too easily into a new fantasy.

'Kakashi, attend,' Sakura stood naked in the open doorway. Her voice was low and sultry. Her jade-green eyes hooded and dark. One hand trailed from her thigh still wet with fluids and he wanted her all the same. His eyes followed her hand as it slid up her toned stomach to brush against her breast and tease her own nipple to a hard peak. Her eyes traced a burning path down his body, focusing on his hard cock. She licked her lips. 'Or, perhaps I should attend to you.'

She prowled forward, crawling onto the bed. Her tongue flicking across the tip of his cock, lapping up a drop of pre-cum. Kakashi groaned and gripped his cock tighter, sweat and pre-cum making the movement fluid and easy. The calluses of his hand scraped across sensitive skin.

The gentle scrape of teeth a sharp contrast to the soft slide of her tongue as Sakura took him into her mouth. Her head rose and fell in a slow rhythm while her tongue worked itself around his thick length. Kakashi's back arched and he rocked his hips into his fist, closing his eyes he gave himself over to the sensations both real and imaginary.

She swallowed him down deep into her throat until her nose met the thick silver hairs at the base of his cock. She flexed her throat around him, soft and tight and hot until he came, spilling his seed down her throat. Warm liquid spattered across his thighs and fingers, his member going soft and limp. Kakashi wiped himself off briskly with a discarded cloth before quickly divesting himself of his remaining clothing and curling up under the light sheet that was provided, trying not to feel like a traitor to his home or his people. There was nothing wrong or unusual about a man fantasizing about a beautiful woman, but there was still that niggling feeling that he may only be laying the groundwork for his own chains.

… … …

"Kakashi, Yamato, attend!" Sakura ordered as she hurried through the main room, garbed in her robes of office, layers and layers of linen finely woven and sheer that flowed around her lithe body hiding one moment and hinting the next. Kakashi jumped at the command, especially in light of his more erotic daydreams of late. "And bring weapons!"

"Weapons?" he asked Yamato. The only weapon he could think of at the moment didn't need to be fetched.

"Temple duty," Yamato said, shortly as he hurried to his room to fetch his favored heavy Naginata. "South District Shrines."

"Ah," Kakashi said, miming understanding though he only had a basic grasp of the situation. Temple duty was required of all priestess and they rotated services at the various temples and shrines so the people who needed healing or intercession wouldn't need to go far, they could wait for the appointed day when a priestess would be available. The South District was home to some protesters to the temple's rule and there had been several riots already. No one was to go into the District without escort, but the Goddess would not abandon the temples and shrines there.

He quickly gathered his new katana. The blade was simple and kept in a sheath of varnished wood with an odd jagged burn pattern on it. Sakura had given it to Kakashi after he had passed his first week. She presented it with a smile and story. Apparently, the sword-maker took refuge under a tree one night when caught out in a summer storm. The storm was strong and the lightning fierce. The tree was struck several times by bolts of blue-white lightning but it neither broke nor burned. Sure that the tree had been blessed, the next day the sword-maker cut the tree down and fashioned the sheath and hilt of the katana he had been working on from the wood and named it the Lightning Cutter.

Sakura had explained the story was probably a lie. Neither the blade nor the wood felt god- or spirit-touched, but she had sensed that it was made for his hand. When Kakashi tested its balance he couldn't say that she was wrong. The weight and style were similar to his own Chidori that he had last seen on the hip of that bastard traitor, Sasuke. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Kakashi fell into step beside Tenzou trailing after Sakura and out into the city.

It was only mid-morning but the city was already sweltering. The streets smelled of baked clay, cut greens from the gardens hidden behind high walls, and an undertone of the less pleasant smells of human sweat, blood and excrement even on the cleaner streets. They were joined by a small procession of lesser priestesses, called Petals, also going to serve Temple duty in the same District. Most were escorted by one or more armed males. Those who had neither consorts nor concubinus hovered nearer to ones who did the closer they got to their destination.

The Southern Districts main temple courtyard was packed with men, women and children in various stages of health. The smell of blood and sickness was almost overpowering. Kakashi breathed carefully through his mouth, thankful for even the small filtering properties of his mask.

Two of the Petals headed down the wide avenue leading a large cow that had been decked with flowers and the horn and hooves gilded with bright paint that was to be sacrificed on the stone altar in the center of the courtyard. The sacrifices here were nothing like the burning of incense and paper that he was used to back home.

"Barbaric," he murmured softly, Kakashi had thought it had been just to himself.

"The meat will be cooked and shared with the people. For some this is the only meat they get until the next temple day," Sakura said. "Tell me, what do your gods give you?"

"The grace to keep their business to themselves," Kakashi said dryly, in his experience there was little difference between blessings and curses when gods turned their attentions to mortals.

Much to his surprise rather than being offended by his attitude, as most priests of his passing acquaintance tended to be, she laughed, drawing startled looks for some of the people around them. "Lucky you, if they do."

Any further discussion was ended as another woman, an older priestess though she lacked the rank signifiers of the Petals or Flowers, probably this temple's groundskeeper. She bowed deeply. "The most critical are this way, Splendor."

"Thank you, Raavi," Sakura said with a bow of her head and followed the woman to the first in a long line of the sick and wounded.

Kakashi and Tenzou stayed close by her side and kept an eye out for trouble. The cow was butchered swiftly, if there was any ceremony Kakashi missed it and the meat was divided to be cooked into a thick stew nearby. Local bakers brought their wares and sold small loaves for a half a bronze fera. While some of the Petals cooked and served the meat, others were doing like Sakura and wandering through the lines of the sick and wounded providing treatments, healing, or advice to cure whatever ailment brought them.

At first he was puzzled over how Sakura chose which ones to heal and which ones to pass over, until he noticed that all the ones she stopped for had a red glazed tile hanging from a leather thong around their necks. Others had tiles of blue or green. These she passed over, while priestesses of lesser skills aided them.

As the day wore on people came and went, they were assigned tiles as they entered the courtyard, or they simply came for the food. Some also came with stories of protesters in the streets outside the temple. It made some of the priestesses worry. Sakura granted that some of the Petals could leave if they felt uncomfortable, but they could only take their own personal guards as none could be spared. Sakura herself stayed and worked methodically, her hands glowing with a green light as she healed the patients that were set aside for her.

It was clearly exhausting work and she began to look more haggard and tired as the sun worked its way across the sky. There was no shade or protection from the sun in the open courtyard, and Tenzou left frequently to fetch water for the three of them. They were given their share of stew and bread late in the afternoon. It was seasoned with strange spices and was gone too quickly.

"So, what exactly are they rioting over?" Kakashi asked Tenzou quietly as they ate. Form over the wall the low roar of an agitated crowd had become more noticeable. The priestesses and their guards debated how long they could safely keep the temple gates open.

"Citizen's rights for the artisan's caste," Tenzou said just as quietly. "The aristocracy is protesting the temple's degrading their caste if the Goddess passes the decree."

"Odd for nobles to be acting like that," Kakashi said as he watched the gates swing shut. Riots in his home country tended to be limited to times of famine by the poor who were hit the hardest, and usually easily controlled by conscripting the trouble makers and declaring war on a neighbor.

"Caste and blood, doesn't necessarily mean money and power here," Tenzou said. "But everyone of a certain caste can expect certain rights, including full citizenship. Whichever way she decides it's going to get ugly."

Kakashi nodded. Even with the gates closed they made a point to stay near Sakura as she worked. A scream startled Kakashi into action. He and Tenzou quickly tugged Sakura away from her current patient, despite her objections, and placed her between them in a practiced move they had not actually performed outside of training. Kakashi drew his sword and quickly assessed the situation. One of the Petals he could see lying still in a pool of her own blood, along with the man who had presumably killed her. The gates were still closed, and more weapons were appearing in the hands of people from the crowd.

"They must have snuck in with the worshippers before the riot started," Tenzou said.

Kakashi just grunted an affirmation as the first wave hit them. Few had weapons beyond simple clubs and paving stones that had been worked free from the street. They wore no armor and even though Kakashi cut through them easily there was always more. Despite his efforts Kakashi was pushed away from Tenzou and Sakura, he slid along cobbles slick with blood.

After an indeterminate length of time that could only be measured by the rise and fall of his sword. Kakashi found himself standing alone in a lull of battle. Though the initial attack had caught them by surprise they had actually suffered no loss beyond that first death, it was the attacking mob, throwing themselves onto sharp sword points that died by the dozens, and the ill or wounded petitioners caught and trampled underfoot when they were unable to move fast enough.

Looking around he easily pinpointed Sakura's bright pink hair as her fist, clad in gloves weighted with steel plates and iron rings, struck a man hard enough in the jaw to snap his neck with the force of her right hook. Tenzou was nowhere in sight. He started to head towards her before he lost sight of her in the shifting mob again, but movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

The gate was open.

He was closer to the gate then he was to Sakura. He could make a run for it. The Temple was close to the South gate, he'd be out of the city within the hour if he left now. This was his best chance, anyone who cared to stop him were too busy fighting the rioters. He glanced back to Sakura. Tenzou was by her side now. His naginata was gone, but he wielded a simple wooden baton with brutal efficiency.

New rioters poured through the gates. These were better armed with short swords and long knives. He watched at the new wave washed over one small group of resistance after another. If he left now he was leaving Tenzou to die. Again.

And Sakura. As much as he had wanted to hold her at arm's length, as much as he wanted to lay his anger at his situation at her feet because she was the one holding his leash, he found that he couldn't leave her to die either.

He built his province on his reputation as a man of honor that no man would be left to die alone on the fields, that no woman would have to fear being raped and butchered in her home. If he left now, Kakashi knew that though he would retake his province and ape at honor it would be like ash in his mouth. What would that honor mean if it could be so easily set aside when it convenienced him? When his dishonor could be hidden by miles of road and a silence that only death can bring?

Kakashi turned his back on the open gate with a silent snarl of frustration. He made his way across the bloody courtyard to Tenzou and Sakura. He arrived just in time to turn aside a blade that would have take Sakura's head. She flashed him a grateful smile, but only Tenzou had breath to speak.

"We were worried about you," he said panting with exertion.

"Sorry," Kakashi said shortly, not wanting to examine too closely the warmth that he felt at that acknowledgement of his absence.

Then there was no more time for words as the wave of new rioters crashed into them. These were not only better armed and more rested, but they were better trained as well and knew how to use the weapons in their hands. He and Tenzou and Sakura fought, hard and desperate, watching each other's backs, but there was always more and the bodies piled up around them. It was only a matter of time before they slowed, became sloppy and one of them made a fatal mistake. Kakashi was honestly expecting it to be Sakura. She hadn't had the same training or stamina that the rest of them had. He was surprised when instead he felt the heavy weight of Tenzou crash into his back.

"Yamato!" Sakura cried. Out of the corner of his eye Kakashi could see the now familiar green glow of her healing gift as she turned to the wounded man. He also saw flash of steel diving towards her unprotected back. Kakashi's own sword was buried in the guts of the man he was facing. He would never be able to free it in time to bring it up. Instead Kakashi dropped the blade and threw himself over her. He felt the burn as the sword slid into unprotected flesh and warm blood spilling down his side. He had been expecting to take the blade in the fleshy muscle of his outer thigh as the blade dove low for Sakura bending over Tenzou, but the man saw him and at the last moment twisted the blade up into Kakashi's unprotected back, the tip protruding from his belly.

He fell to the ground, the impact only distantly registering. He heard Sakura scream, high and piercing. The ground shook and roared, or that could have been the blood rushing through him, out and away. Black spots danced in front of his eyes before the darkness over took him entirely.

… … …

Kakashi gradually awoke, drifting in a warm sleepy haze with the soft weight of a feminine body draped across his side and chest. It took him several moments to remember that he shouldn't be awake. He shouldn't be anything.

His eyelids were heavy and didn't want to obey when he tried to open them. Eventually he won the stubborn war against sleep to find himself lying in Sakura's bed staring at the elaborate lotus design painted in shades of pink and gold on the ceiling.

"You're awake," Tenzou said. Kakashi turned his head to find the other man lounging not far from him with a small book in his hands.

"How are we still alive?" Kakashi asked.

"Ah, well," Tenzou hesitated. "When you went down Sakura panicked a bit. She rent cracks in the earth that swallowed men whole with just her fist, demolished a good section of the district and completely razed the temple."

"She could do that?" Kakashi asked, wondering how he had never heard of this power before. The gifts of the gods were well known and sought after in the Golden Cities whether it was the Hands Healing such as Sakura and Tsunade displayed or the All-Seeing Eyes that Naruto's Hinata had.

"It took a lot of people by surprise," Tenzou said. "I've heard rumors that the incarnations of Kali the Destroyer could rend earth and shatter mountains, but according to Jiraiya she hasn't worn flesh in generations. Then Sakura healed you, whatever happened she's still blessed by Sarasvati. Thankfully. We didn't think you were going to make it without direct intervention. There was so much blood, and she had already been weakened after Temple duties and- and whatever she did to stop the riot.

"Some of the others, when Tsunade came with her guards to investigate the tremors, tried to force her to stop, but Sakura wouldn't just kept pouring more of herself into you until she collapsed. The Goddess completed your healing herself and ordered us brought back here," Tenzou said, he gave himself a small shake. "But enough of that, you must be starving. Can I get you anything? Food? Water?"

At the mention of food, his body woke up to the fact that he had no idea when the last time he had eaten was, and it felt like it had been days. Before he could answer a feminine voice murmured sleepily. "Yes, both please."

"Good eve- hm morning, Sakura. It may take some time. I don't think even the kitchen staff is up yet, but I'll see what we can get," Tenzou said. He set his book aside and quickly left.

Kakashi looked down to see Sakura looking back at him with her head rested on her arms. She smiled happily, green eyes sparkling. "You came back."

"Thanks to you, Yamato said that you saved my life," Kakashi smiled with his eyes creasing upwards slightly.

"That's not what I meant," she said with a small shake of her head. "Before that, during the fighting when you disappeared, I thought I was never going to see you again."

"I was-" Kakashi has started to say that he has simply been separated from her and Tenzou in the crush, but when he found himself looking down at the earnest worry in her eyes it was difficult to lie. "When I saw the gates open it was tempting, but I couldn't leave you or Ten- Yamato in danger."

Her expression softened and she smiled happily at him. "I'm so glad. Yamato said that you would be good for us, but you always felt so far away."

"I'm here now," Kakashi said, patting her awkwardly on the arm.

"Yes, yes you are," she agreed and nodded decisively. "Now, I also need to review your healed wounds."

Without any further preamble she pushed herself up to resettled across his thighs. She pressed her hands to his stomach, gently massaging the flesh under fingers. A frown of concentration fixed on her face. He followed her steady gaze to find that his own flesh was surprisingly unscarred. Only a line of new pink flesh the width of his palm marred the toned skin of his lower abdominals.

It was then that he noticed something that probably should have been more apparent to him earlier. Both of them were naked. In a sudden momentary panic his hand flew to his face. He sighed in relief as questing fingers met the thin cloth of a mask he'd worn for most of his life. The movement did not go unnoticed by Sakura. She glanced up at him with a conspiratorial smile.

"I can't say that I wasn't curious," she said. "And keeping Naruto away was a bit of a challenge, especially after Sai let it drop that he'd seen your face, but Yamato rallied to protect your modesty."

Kakashi smiled. Good ol' Tenzou. "So, am I going to live?"

"You better," Sakura leaned forward and poked him lightly in the chest with one neatly trimmed fingernail. "As much work as I put into you. I will be very put out if you die on me."

As she moved the thin sheet that had been covering them fell aside completely revealing her pale skin and soft curves. Kakashi couldn't have stopped his body's reaction if he wanted to. As his cock hardened, it brushed against her inner thigh, and all he could think about was how easy, just the smallest of movements and he would be sheathed in her soft warmth. Sakura blinked down at him in surprise and a bright flush spread across her cheeks. A surprisingly innocent expression on a young woman he was expecting to be more jaded.

"I- s-sorry, I-," she stammered out an incoherent apology and started to shift off of him. Without any conscious command his hands reached up and grasped her slender hips, holding her in place. Her skin was soft and smooth as the finest silk, stretched taut over well toned muscles. "I didn't want to push myself on you if you thought that you couldn't say 'no,' and- and I didn't think you were interested."

As she said it, her weight settled back down on his lap with her heat pressing along his length. He groaned softly. "You think that this is not interested."

"You're hard… hard to read with the mask on all the time." She blushed harder, the bright color spreading across her now hardened nipples. Kakashi licked his dry lips as he contemplated her breasts and the taste of her flesh. She half turned to look toward the closed door to her sleeping chambers. "Where is Yamato? You really do need to get something to eat. Intense healing can wear on both the healer and the- yah!"

Sakura shrieked as he flipped them over so she lay sprawled beneath him, her pink hair fanned out on the white silk sheets. He had acted without thinking, brushing aside the dozen reasons why he shouldn't lose himself in his desire and the heady smell of her growing arousal. When he spoke his voice was low and thick with need. "I can think of something to eat that's already here."

"What are you-?" Her question was swiftly cut off with a moan as Kakashi swiftly tugged off his mask and pressed his mouth to her breast, laving it with his tongue. He reveled in the soft flesh and hard nub of her nipple. He teased her, licking and gently nipping one moment before pulling back to blow a gentle stream of cool air across sensitized flesh. He cupped her other breast in his hand, gently kneading and tugging at her nipple in counterpoint to what his mouth was doing. She writhed under him, back arching off of the bed, hands grasping and digging sharp nails into whatever was in her reach be it the sheets, his hair or his back.

He leaned back to take a look at his handiwork. Sakura's chest heaved with gasping breaths and her jade-green eyes had gone hazy and dark. She smelled sweet of sweat and the feminine musk of her arousal. She gave him a lazy smile and reached out to cup his cheek in one hand.

"So, this is the great secret. Have you been blessed by Sarasvati as well?" She asked. Kakashi shook his head silently and turned his head to kiss the palm of her hand. "Surely your goddess must have given you this face so she could look down on you and smile."

"Not like this," He said harshly. The reminder of his mask and everything that went with it caused a small stab of pain in his heart, but even that pain could not flag his aching need for the woman under him. "She would probably weep."

Sakura's expression softened. She looked like she was on the verge of apologizing, but she didn't. "Don't worry, Sarasvati and I will keep your secrets."

"And Kali?" Kakashi asked, remembering Tenzou's earlier comment about Sarasvati not being the only goddess that Sakura could be tied to. She flinched a little, but considered his question carefully.

"Kali prefers the brutal truth," she said. "But she will leave lover's secrets to Sarasvati."

"Are we lovers, Sakura?" Kakashi asked softly, the look in his dark eyes causing her breath to hitch.

"Do you want to be?" she asked, her voice and body trembling.

Kakashi lowered his head to lightly brush his lips against hers as he spoke. "Do you?"

"Oh, yes," she whimpered. Kakashi smiled against her skin and placed deep open-mouthed kisses against along her torso as he worked his way down her body until he finally reached his destination and pressed his mouth against her core.

She smelled sweet and tasted heavenly. He languidly ran his tongue along her slit and lightly nipped at her skin, his nose buried in her curly pubic hairs that were darker shade of rose. She moaned and wrapped her legs around his shoulders with her heels digging into his back.

"K-Kakashi, please," she begged, her breath gone ragged. "So close."

"Hm?" he murmured softly without lifting his head. She shuddered as the vibrations thrummed against her clit.

"Please, please," she panted, nearly unable to form any other words. Kakashi pulled away an placed a kiss against her inner thigh.

"'Please' what?" he asked. He slid a finger inside of her then two when he found her slick and hot and wanting. He let his fingers explore her inner walls, noting what places made her writhe and what touches made her scream.

"Please, fuck me!" she cried out, tugging sharply on his hair. He grasped Sakura's hips and pulled. She slid easily along the silk sheets with a soft hiss of cloth against skin and he pressed their bodies together while his lips sought her mouth. When he found it she groaned at the taste of herself.

Kakashi had gone soft while he focused on her pleasure, but with her hips grinding against his that was quickly remedied. She still made soft pleading sounds between kisses as he slid the tip of his member teasingly along her slit from the slick opening ready for him to take her up to the sensitive bundle of nerves that made her body spasm at every brush of his hardening cock.

Sakura's hands that had been wandering across Kakashi's shoulders slid down his sides to grab at his ass, fingers digging in with a powerful grip to urge him inside of her as her hips rocked up against his. Kakashi let her do as she pleased while he fussed a moment with grabbing one of the scattered pillows and positioning it underneath her. When the angle was satisfactory he dislodged her hands and guided them over her head. He kissed and nipped along her jaw, her ear, her throat, thoroughly distracting her while he shifted his grip on her hands until both slender wrists were held down in one hand.

She struggled slightly, pulling at her wrists with a good portion of his weight holding her down she wasn't going to be getting loose that way, but she wasn't objecting to it either. He guided himself inside of her with his free hand, working his cock into her with consecutively deeper thrusts. Her legs slid along his thigh, striving for purchase to pull him close her as she panted and moaned her need.

Once Kakashi was certain he wasn't likely to slip out accidentally he shifted his free hand to a bruising grip on her thigh, to keep her at exactly the angle that he wanted her. She was wet and tight and perfect. When he was buried into her soft warmth to his balls, he had to pause a moment to catch his breath and regain control. This was something he wanted to take his time on.

Kakashi sat back slightly to admire the young woman beneath him without dislodging. She was even more beautiful than usual with her skin flushed, her hair tousled, and her eyes half-lidded and dark. Sakura was made for passion whether fury or desire, these were the moments when she shone the brightest.

After they both had caught their breaths he eased back slowly, she whimpered at the withdrawal and moaned when he pushed back in. He didn't find the sound that he was looking for, so he changed his angle slightly and tried again. Her moan was cut off by a gasp at the apex. Closer, but not what he wanted. A little further and this time as she moaned, she struggled against his grip to raise her hips into his thrust. Another minute adjustment and she cried out, her back arching against the sheets, thrusting her breasts into the air. Perfect.

He started with long deep strokes. Each sound she made like music to his ears, but he couldn't keep up the torturous pace for long. He wanted more, harder and faster. And by the needy sounds Sakura was making, so did she. Giving in to what they both wanted, he pounded into her. The sound of flesh hitting flesh kept time with Sakura's sharp cries and his own low, breathy grunts of effort.

Sooner then he wanted she was tightening around him, her body shuddering with the force of her release. Sakura's head turned to the side, her open mouth pressed to her arm in a silent scream as the breath was stolen from her lungs. Releasing her hands he grabbed her hips with both hands to crush her to him as he rocked wildly against her seeking his own release. Hands now free Sakura raised her hands to his face and raised herself up to gently kiss his lips. He could still taste her own sweetness from his earlier kiss on her lips. That was the last push over the edge. He closed his eyes tight and groaned as the world around him broke apart.

Kakashi collapsed to her side, sliding out of her still quivering sheath. He gathered her in his arms and buried his nose at the nape of her neck and reveled in the mixed scents of her and him overlaid with the heady smell of sex. He blinked blearily at her pink hair the color of the cherry blossoms that bloomed in his home province. This did not mean that he was giving up he promised them. He promised himself. He just may be a little late.

… … …

AN: A brief word about words. While writing this story I did a lot of digging to find the perfect words to use. The one that gave me the most trouble was the male equivalent of concubine. It surprised me how many places said that no such thing existed and that there was no such word. When I eventually found the word 'concubinus' I was not at all surprised that it from ancient Rome. Ancient Greece probably had a word for it too, but I liked this one because of its shared root with the more familiar concubine.

When it came to using the plural form I decided to through any actual linguistic accuracy out the window, because the Latin plural form of 'concubini' (which I'm not even sure if is correct because my grasp of the language is less than spectacular) just sounded weird. 'Concubinuses' sounded even worse. So, I decided to call artistic licensee on this word (it's not like it's in common use anyways) and go with what sounded best to me which was using the same form for both singular and plural.

Much of the culture of the Golden Cities is a conglomerate of ancient Persia/Arabia for the overall look and feel of the city's architecture. The names of the goddesses are from India, and the religious practice loosely based on Ancient Greece.

Kakashi's home provinces are based more exclusively on the Japanese culture and you may recognize some of the Japanese words for the articles of clothing, and Amaterasu is also a Japanese goddess.