Yea, title is taken from the song 'Fool and Me' by Robin Trower [AMAZING song and well worth a listen :D] but you don't have to hear it to understand the story (I.e. NOT a songfic,) I just love the song and thought this lyric was appropriate for the one-shot ^.^
Also: The events which occur in this fic, I don't really expect / want this to happen (you'll understand when you read it) but I wrote it as something of what I'd really like Sakura's character to become / who I think she is, but hasn't realised it yet (in terms of maturity rather than who she's with) Sort of a tribute to the strength of character Sakura possesses!
I know that this will probably be another cliche, predictable KakaSaku but I liked the idea and hence wrote it down and published it, I hope that you get at least something out of it (whether a random escapist story or the copious smut in chapter two lol) anyway, I've done yet another edit on this, but doubtlessly I've still missed a few things, so I apologise in advance if there are any further mistakes!
First chapter is quite clean (no smut, only a little swearing) but all the kinky stuff is in chapter two;
Hope you enjoy and thank you for reading!
Two Fools Dancing On The Hands Of Time
Sakura was stood eyeing the book carefully, very carefully whilst making it look as though she was just wandering around the book shop without a specific target in mind. Deciding on another slow circle of the shop she weighed up the pros, cons and varying other worries in her head; most of them were silly, almost insignificant things that she really shouldn't be worrying about – but nagged her nonetheless... Perhaps even more so because she thought they were supposed to be insignificant. Frowning, she was beginning to piss herself off with her uncharacteristic indecision and apprehension for the supremely easy task: to buy a book.
An unusual book.
Fine, a perverse, hentai book.
Icha Icha Paradise to be exact; the series of books had managed to intrigue her for years and now, she'd (on a whim) wandered into a book shop she knew sold them.
A fine time to get cold feet.
Although she felt certain that the bookshop owner didn't know or recognise her, something nagged her about someone knowing that she'd bought such a...private book – that someone would have some nasty or humiliating comment to make about it; well, so what? If they want to make such stupid conjecture about me, they can have a long talk with the blunt end of my fist! She thought angrily, as Sakura plucked the oddly cheery jacketed book off the shelf and carried it to the man at the desk in the front of the shop – her very best nonchalant and cool expression on her face.
The middle-aged man at the desk gave her a ...suspiciously wry smile, as she handed over the money and picked up the book, slipping it into the kunai pouch at her slim waist and marched out of the shop not giving it a second (or even backward) glance as she walked away back towards her apartment with her usual confident stride. As soon a she was two streets away, inner Sakura gave a strange sort of giddy squeal – although she almost daren't admit it to herself, buying a copy of Icha Icha had been something she'd been angling after for a long time but it had, shamefully, taken a while to pluck up the courage to go and buy.
(Somewhere in her psyche, she imagined Kakashi popping up out of nowhere to catch her in the act and then taking the opportunity to rub it in forever more – however unlikely or silly it seemed.)
But she was now the owner of a copy of Icha Icha and would (in approximately twelve minutes and fifty-three seconds) reach her apartment there she would crack it open and enjoy the world of smutty literature without and damn interruptions or-
"Sakura-chan! Sakura-chan!" The excitable – although strangely serious – voice of Naruto broke her thoughts; grinding to a halt and forcibly quelling the anger which quickly boiled inside her, she turned to face him,
"Obaa-chan wants to see us immediately, it's about Sasuke," Any thoughts she may have previously had of shouting at Naruto quickly dissolved into stunned confusion,
"Are you sure? Why?" Naruto shrugged,
"I dunno, but she sounded pretty desperate, c'mon! I found Kakashi-sensei, but you know what's he's like," Sakura stifled a grin; yes, she did know what he was 'like', his chronic tardiness – she was so used to it now that Sakura almost felt it an endearing quality to the man – and it almost, almost put her on edge whenever he was under an hour late. The pink haired Jounin turned on her heel and fell into line next to Naruto,
"What do you think her decision will be?" Naruto took on an uncharacteristically dark and stern expression,
"I... don't know," Sakura remained silent; they'd managed to drag Sasuke home almost a year to the day ago and since then, he'd spent his time in a Konoha jail, partially to pay for his crimes against Konoha and the ninja world as a whole. But it served as a double function where Tsunade could monitor him and provide counselling, essentially, (although carefully wrapped up so that his 'Uchiha ego' couldn't find a way to refuse and counteract the good it was designed for).
Tsunade had also, when Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi brought him back, told them that she would give Sasuke a year in Konoha prison as well as under her 'care' and if, after the year had passed, he was stable and 'healed' enough to return to normal society he would be allowed to do so. But with heavy restrictions of course; he would forever remain as a genin and be forced to wear special cuffs which would reduce his charka by two-thirds or more – he would also be prevented from leaving a ten kilometre radius around Konoha.
He was, though, allowed to find a wife of his choosing and set about 'rebuilding' his clan – Tsunade, among others, had expressed her disapproval of this, but the councillors Homura and Koharu (and even the damn Daimyo) had agreed that the powerful bloodline of the Uchiha should not be allowed to die out. As so long as his children were appropriately brought up (with Konoha officials keeping an eye on things) then it would be silly to let the bloodline die out, right?
Tsunade had told them were to shove it.
Diplomatically and oh-so politely, of course, that they hadn't quite realized they'd been insulted, (although that too could be a result of their ages) much to Kakashi's amusement; he'd been brought in as a perspective due to his role as Sasuke's Jounin instructor. They hadn't listened to a damn word he'd said.
Naruto, Sakura, Kakashi and Tsunade had many a meeting about Sasuke just after he'd been brought back and they'd discussed almost everything there was to discuss – they'd made plans and agreements for what to do if he recovered enough to be let back into normal society. They'd even discussed what to do if he failed Tsunade's tests; that was the second and final option for Sasuke. Tsunade had told Sasuke the score from the very beginning and reminded him and everyone else of a passing interest of what the score was:
If Sasuke failed to make progress enough that it was safe for him to be let out and retuned to being a citizen of Konoha, then he would be executed.
He'd caused too much suffering and death for Tsunade to even consider making Konoha pay once more for his upkeep – even while he was rotting in prison. At first, Sasuke wondered why she hadn't already killed him, but Tsunade had listened to Naruto on that one; the blonde had insisted – to the point of tears – that Tsunade at least give him a chance to redeem himself. Both Tsunade and Kakashi (and to an extent, Sakura) had thought it was more for Naruto's sake, the better part of a decade had the boy searched and ached for his lost friend, his lost brother and they couldn't refuse his request.
Sakura resisted a frown at Naruto's predicament, he'd ached as much this past year as he had done when he'd no idea were Sasuke was; Sakura supposed that it was some milestone in Naruto's heart – where he hadn't even registered it yet – that he needed, needed conclusion on Sasuke. Today, it seemed, was that day.
Sakura, had had been a mess – or in a daze for the first few weeks after Sasuke's return; she simply had no idea how to act, she spent the majority of her life searching for him, so much so, it had never really occurred to her how she should act once they actually had him back. It took a little while to realize, but Sakura had grown out of her feelings for Sasuke – her romantic ones at least. There was still a part of her that loved him dearly, but as a brother, someone she'd known for so long and seen the absolute worst of him but couldn't bring herself to wish him specific harm – even if he did deserve it.
There was also the part of Sakura who couldn't forgive Sasuke for the hurt and torment he'd inflicted upon Naruto and the rest of Konoha which she couldn't turn a blind eye to. She wouldn't do anything to Sasuke, if he survived, well, not that much at least (she'd only use a little bit of chakra when she punched him) but it would take a lot for her to really trust him again – especially with Naruto, Kakashi, Tsunade and the safety of Konoha.
As Sakura knocked on Tsunade's door, she could sense a familiar but distant chakra signature inside her office – she decided to give nothing away (knowing Naruto couldn't sense signatures) and opened the door when ordered; they both filled in instantly spotting the dark haired man sat in one seat. Kakashi leaned over looking bored on the opposite wall, next to the door. Sakura shot her old sensei a dark, questioning sort of look which he returned and wasn't sure either could read. It assuaged her – knowing at least someone else would be on the same page as her; Naruto, she expected to act exactly as he did.
"Sasuke! Baa-chan, you're letting him go?" His voice was excited and shrill, as Tsunade lowered her head to her palm,
"Naruto, please calm down...there are things I need to explain, first," Naruto, visibly calmed himself and diverted his attention to Tsunade, already knowing there would be conditions; "Firstly, the initial conditions we set out will remain," No one argued with that, "Also, the elders would like you three," she gestured to Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi, "To keep an eye on Sasuke as best you can,"
"I wasn't aware I was to have baby-sitters," Sasuke retorted, although he still sounded somewhat arrogant, his tone wasn't nearly as self-righteous and superior as all three of them had heard in the past,
"No, but the councillors would feel better if you had a first point of call – I know you can handle yourself, but there are people in this village who're unhappy with you, Sasuke, to say the least. Naruto, Kakashi and Sakura will keep an eye on how your integration goes and if something happens, they'll step in... Likewise if you try anything, they'll step in..." Sasuke nodded back at the Hokage, knowing that he had little option; they eyed each other carefully for a few moments in a silent test of strength, but Tsunade seemed, after a while, satisfied,
"Very well, you may leave," Sasuke rose to his feet and turned to face his old team, all three of them, at first glance seemed to slot right back into their old roles: a lazy Kakashi, an excitable Naruto and an apprehensive Sakura.
"You meant a lot to them, Sasuke... don't let them down," Tsunade spoke quietly and the rest of the old Team 7 politely pretended not to hear as they made their way out of the office and back down towards the street,
"Ano-san, ano-san, so what are we going to do now?" Naruto was the first to break the silence with a very obvious question, Sakura thoughts immediately returned to the book in her pouch, which quickly began to burn a hole through it, as all four of them came to a stop, Naruto next to Sasuke, Sakura on his left and Kakashi trailing behind slightly.
"Shut up, dobe," Sasuke initial response was all it took for Sakura; charging a minute amount of charka to her fist, she swung it around and it collided straight with Sasuke's cheek, sending him flying backwards,
"W-whoa, whoa, Sakura-chan," Naruto tried to rectify the situation, but she momentarily ignored him,
"Sasuke-kun, if you owe anyone your life and your freedom, it is Naruto; you should at least try to bear with him," Her face was stern as Sasuke scraped himself off the floor, spitting out a glob of blood and what could well have been a tooth,
"I deserved that-"
"You're damn right!" Sasuke found his feet, fixing a strange look at Sakura; Kakashi chose the moment to try and calm tensions, he placed a hand on Sakura's shoulder,
"Hey, hey, let's not fight, guys... That's all you've done for the past ten odd years," Sakura momentarily closed her eyes, already knowing the truth to Kakashi's words, Sakura huffed angrily, before turning away,
"Come on, I need a drink," For once, perhaps all members of Team 7 heartily agreed.
All four of them sat in the bar, Sakura and Kakashi next to each other with their backs to the walls and Sasuke sat opposite, with his back, reluctantly, to the rest of the bar and Naruto to his side. Sasuke, mildly thankful that he hadn't yet any money, for if he had, he was certain that Sakura would have made him pay for all their drinks. Instead, Naruto's everlasting good nature meant that three beers and one pot of sake (for Kakashi) began what would not doubt prove to be a long afternoon and evening of drinking. Kakashi, as per his habit, was careful to observe all of his team's interactions, although Sakura and Sasuke had proved to be the biggest surprise yet; he definitely hadn't expected Sakura to throw at punch at him (although he didn't blame her, he wanted too as well).
It was also a surprise to Kakashi that Sasuke didn't scowl, attempt to attack or verbally abuse Sakura as the elder shinobi expected; in exactly the same way he had expected a slightly bashful Sakura upon coming face to face with Sasuke again, but she seemed, merely... pissed off with him, even for Naruto's sake. Kakashi, took a glug from is small cup of warm sake as he eyed Sakura and Sasuke – the recent returnee sat with proportional sullenness to Naruto's exuberance, his eyes darting over the bar and back to Sakura on a regular basis. Sakura, on the other hand, seemed to be somewhat on edge, she appeared to be half-listening to Naruto but was fidgety – as though she had somewhere else she wanted to be, but couldn't bring herself to leave.
Kakashi decided that whatever their respective problems, he'd see a change soon enough and as such, he shifted in his seat and dragged out his copy of Icha Icha Paradise taking another swift sip, this time safely behind the open book;
"Mou, Kakashi-sensei, you can't just sit there and read... We finally have Sasuke back!" Kakashi averted his eye off the text, to look up at Naruto's pitiful expression and was almost, almost tempted to humour the boy, but thought better when Sakura caught his attention. Looking subtly over to her, he saw her eyes glued to him, had she seen his face? He was careful to cover it when he took a sip, but...
He looked closer and saw that her eyes weren't on him but his book; an almost irresistible bout of curiosity struck the silver haired Jounin, usually Sakura, at best, gave a small sigh or roll of her eyes whenever Kakashi pulled the book out at inopportune moments. Here, though, she seemed... intrigued, maybe even wanton? Nah, Kakashi thought to himself, internally shaking his head, Sasuke would turn around and declare his undying love for her before that happens;
"I don't remember a time when Kakashi didn't pull out one of those books when he was supposed to be paying attention to us," Sasuke's dry dig at the elder failed to impress any but Naruto,
"Hey, yea! C'mon, Kakashi-sensei," Kakashi shot Sasuke a rather displeased look, forcibly resisting the words on the tip of his tongue, Well, the last time I showed you any special attention you took the opportunity to attempt to kill Naruto and then betrayed the leaf...While there were others I ended up ignoring that I really shouldn't have... although it did her good in the end... Kakashi merely averted his eyes back to the pages of text, although kept his ears open for conversation.
"Sakura, Naruto, what have you been doing over the past year?" All three of the remaining team members did a double take, the pink and blonde haired ones looking visibly shocked (Kakashi was a little more subtle in his surprise) and wondering if Sasuke had somehow been switched with a shoddy fake.
"Eh?" Sakura was the first to respond,
"What have you been doing over the past year?" Sasuke calmly repeated, feeling mildly irritated that even a simple question seemed so odd to them, although he didn't care that much... At least about Naruto – being already able to guess his actions – and he did have to at least attempt to ingratiate himself.
"Ah, ah, I've been training really hard and I've done loads of missions and stuff," None of the table were hardly surprised by the blonde's words,
"Sakura?" The pink haired Jounin eyed the young man across from her with uncertainty; the old Sasuke-kun couldn't have cared less about anything to do with their lives and yet he was asking, no less, for details? Sakura cautiously opened her mouth but was cut off before she could made a sound,
"Sa-Sasuke-kun? Oh! Sakura, is that..." Ino (tailed by Chouji and Shikamaru) almost ran over to the edge of the table and leaned around to stare at the boy right in his face like he was a museum piece. The blonde threw her arms around his neck, nearly strangling him – Sasuke couldn't have looked more uncomfortable if he'd tried;
"I can't believe you're free, we were sure that you wouldn't be let out!" Shikamaru looked as bored and disinterested as ever – although he never really did like Sasuke whilst Chouji merely issued a shy smile; the Uchiha, on unusually good form, suppressed a scowl right down to a frown.
Ino took this as an invitation and motioned for Kakashi to scoot up a little so that she and her two team mates could join the table. Kakashi was beginning to feel quite out of place; sighing, he found himself trapped between Sakura and Shikamaru – it could be worse, but it could be better too.
"Right, I'm getting the next round for Team 7, who wants what?" Sakura's voice attracted attention as Naruto and Sasuke quickly ordered what they wanted,
"What, nothing for us too?" Ino complained, the teasing in her voice not lost on Sakura,
"I may be deputy head medic at the hospital, but I'm not a millionaire, Ino, I can't afford everyone's drink!"
"You're... deputy head medic..?" Sasuke queried, looking genuinely interested as he stared at Sakura with eyes hunting for the truth (and unfortunately unbreakable habit it would seem for the boy who spent his entire life being lied to),
"Yes. Kakashi, would you like anything else to drink?" It surprised everyone at the table for the Kuniochi to be so dismissive with Sasuke, but no more so than Ino. Although the two were beyond petty sabotage or nasty words to each other, they kept up a sense of healthy rivalry, which, as it always had, extended to Sasuke – at least on Ino's part.
Kakashi too had just opened his mouth to answer Sakura's question with a negative, but it seemed that another group of drinkers not only interrupted but also read his mind;
"He'll have another warm sake, thanks Sakura," Shiranui Genma wandered over to the table, initially to tease Kakashi for being sat with only the younger generation, but he soon realized why; "Ohh... it would seem the lost son returns..."
"Hn," Genma grinned as Sakura rose to her feet and walk away, he stole her seat next to Kakashi,
"Well, well, your student hath returned to you, Kakashi, you must feel proud," The grinning shinobi leaned right into the other, usually more stoic - whom merely hunkered down, trying to ignore everyone else, sorely wishing he could leave.
But surely it would be disrespectful to Sakura after she'd bought him a drink, right?
Of course it would.
Sakura was sat on the edge of her bed, carefully holding her freshly brought copy of Icha Icha Paradise, after the confusion of yesterday, she'd fallen asleep having forgotten about it. As she sat, waiting to go to training, Sakura contemplated opening it and reading a little bit, but a part of her wisely knew that that would spell trouble. If she opened it now, she'd never get to training on time and that would open the door for a lot of other trouble. Sighing lightly, she decided to carefully hide away her copy of the novel and, as was usual for Team 7, Kakashi would get bored by early to mid lunch time (assuming he turned up to close to the appropriate time) and send them their separate ways: she'd merely have to enjoy it then.
As she clipped her pouch to her waist readjusted her elbow protectors and checked once more that she had her gloves, Sakura opened the window closing (and using her chakra to lock it) she leapt away. She sorely hoped that Kakashi wouldn't be too late and hence she would be able to leave a little sooner and get back to her currently neglected recent purchase.
As she leapt away, albeit at a relatively leisurely pace towards the bridge, where they were to meet; Sakura was surprised to find both Naruto and Sasuke already present, Naruto happily chatting to a disinterested Sasuke.
"Ohayo," She spoke appearing in front of them,
"Ohayo, Sakura-chan," Naruto's happy greeting was shadowed by Sasuke nodding his head to her before Naruto resumed his conversation; the Kuniochi wondered, briefly, how Sasuke was going to fit into their training sessions – Naruto certainly wouldn't go 'easy' on him and Sakura didn't want to either. Kakashi? He would probably sit and read his book... damn, he gets to read it anywhere and no one bats an eyelid... though, I do wonder what their response would be to me pulling it out, Sakura smirked to herself as she could just about imagine each reaction. Naruto would look horrified, make a lot of noise and no doubt assume that Kakashi was 'at fault'; Sasuke would probably raise an eyebrow at most and Kakashi himself would look momentarily shocked but then say something designed to humiliate or embarrass her. Perfect for covering over how mystified he would probably be at her choice of literature.
"What's so funny?"
"You were smirking, what's funny?" Sasuke took a step closer to her, his eyes again searching hers for answers,
"Oh... nothing really, it was just funny how you guys have slipped back into the old rhythm without missing a beat," Sakura internally frowned at her rather almost pun-like expression she hadn't intended, but Sasuke's odd interest in her kept catching her off guard: she'd have to watch it.
Kakashi sauntered down the road, the time now early afternoon rather than early morning, with his head engrossed in his copy of Paradise but his mind was elsewhere, he'd spent the entirety of last night and this morning thinking about how the group dynamic had changed. Never, had he even suspected that Sakura had lost her interest in Sasuke; he'd seen her grow up and the older, more mature Sakura kicked the old image of her out of his head, but he'd always assumed that she still retained those feelings for Sasuke.
He had thought that her feelings had matured along with her and that she'd simply pick-up with her interest of him where they left off (although Kakashi had hoped that Sasuke would treat her better this time). But it seemed that whilst Sakura was no longer interested – firstly, her throwing at punch at him in defence of Naruto seemed to shock them all, as well as her dismissive response to his question yesterday – Sasuke on the other hand, seemed to be gaining a curiosity about her. Kakashi sighed and decided that he'd observe the both carefully during the days training session, sensing that it would at least provide some answers to his questions.
It also bothered him slightly as to why he was so interested, but then, perhaps it was because the past year had been so predicable and full of discussions about Sasuke, that Kakashi was happy for something unexpected – and Sakura's lack of interest certainly was unexpected. It registered, in the back of his head, that he probably should have given Sakura more credit – that she'd grown beyond the childhood crush, but it hadn't really occurred to him that events would play out any different than the scenarios he'd predicted.
Putting his book away and leaping up into a tree and into a few more to appear onto top of the horizontal posts above the bridge, (he should at least appear to be using more effort than the absolute minimum),
"Ohayo, fellows," He began, holding up a hand in a short wave, to which Naruto issued a short and enthusiastic
"You're late!" As much he always did – it was something of a tradition... sort of...
"Hai, hai, I saw a koi floating upside down in a pond on my way here and the grieving owner asked me to say a prayer with him for it and I couldn't refuse," Kakashi explained as casually as though he were ordering a sake; Naruto angrily exclaimed that he was obviously lying whilst Sakura and Sasuke merely held sweat-drops at what must have been Kakashi's most obscure and obviously false excuse to date; who prays for a dead koi? Kakashi, obviously...
"Anyway, I was thinking that for today's training, we should have tournament style spars, the winners of the first two matches will fight to determine an overall winner;" All three sets of ears pricked up at Kakashi's suggestion and had been something they'd never tried – at least not as their original four man team.
"I claim Sas-"
"I've already decided the teams, Naruto Vs Sakura and Sasuke Vs myself," Kakashi had to quickly cut Naruto off, not only did the silver-haired Jounin think that paring those two would be a bad idea as they'd both fight until they collapsed from exhaustion, but that Naruto wouldn't bother to check his strength for a significantly weakened Sasuke – and therefore Kakashi would actually have to bother to monitor their fight. Naruto scowled slightly, but quickly got over it, (no doubt assuming that the quicker he won against Sakura, the quicker he'd get to fight Sasuke – signs of his maturity still caught Kakashi by surprise occasionally);
"...Ok, c'mon Sakura-chan," Sakura immediately followed him towards the training grounds, Kakashi and Sasuke following a little slower to find that their fight had already started. Sasuke initially watched Sakura and Naruto spar, their footing almost completely equal as neither managed a clean hit on the other;
"Sasuke, let's go... Sharingans allowed," Kakashi caught his attention stepped back in a fighting stance with his head band pulled up, the Uchiha turned and matched the position as Kakashi allowed him to make the first move; which was a Goukakkyuu no Jutsu and something Kakashi countered with a doton.
Kakashi won easily against Sasuke, the limits to his chakra significantly weakened the range of Jutsu he was able to use –though that was the purpose of the cuffs. An unencumbered Sasuke, it seemed, didn't bother to learn many jutsus which required only a little chakra and hence, he was forced more to rely on his taijutsu, which was good, but no match for ninjutsu.
(His doujutsu required not only a proportionally vast amount of chakra in his current state, but Tsunade had also been giving him special suppression treatment for his Mangekyou Sharingan, rendering him unable to use it.) Sasuke did use his sword, which he was excellent with and Kakashi only just managed to avoid and deflect with the occasional kunai – he found himself grateful that Sasuke couldn't afford to pour chakra into it. Kakashi had also noted that Sasuke had been distracted once or twice in their spar, especially if Naruto or Sakura made a lot of noise.
The way Sasuke fought, it was almost as though he knew precisely how his abilities had been lost and although he was able predict Kakashi's movements, Kakashi's own Sharingan somewhat cancelled out the effects and the Uchiha allowed a sesn of inevitability creep into his fighting. Sasuke seemed have his mind elsewhere and other ideas occupying his attention – neither of those things being Kakashi or their fight – even though the fight seemed to wear him down quite a lot. As they walked away, towards Naruto and Sakura, they found a slightly bloody looking Naruto as she stood victoriously above him,
"Sakura, you won?" Kakashi immediately queried seeing her look over to them and nod, Kakashi found himself pleasantly surprised, assuming that Naruto would be too desperate to win – but then, he always did have quite a soft spot for Sakura and couldn't bring himself to fight her all out, much to her aggravation. The very large bruise Naruto was currently cradling over his eye was no doubt the result of Sakura's realization that it was the reason for her victory.
"Well, then, shall we, Sakura?" She nodded her eyes darting to Sasuke's finding less anger written over his face than she would have expected, he studied her equally silently; she turned back to Kakashi as Naruto rose to his feet and wandered away with Sasuke,
"Neither of you two are to fight each other, alright?" He addressed to the two, without averting his eyes from Sakura, "Ready?" She nodded and leapt forward throwing a punch at Kakashi, he ducked as Sakura brought up her knee to collide with him, but the Sharingan pre-empted and he managed to block. As he foiled her first attack and sent around a kick to her stomach, she managed to tense correctly enough to merely end up flying backwards rather than injured.
Sakura paused to assess the situation for a few moments; Kakashi was stood facing her as a predator, waiting for her to betray her plan; she leapt towards him, as she quickly performed a kawarimi and kage bunshin in such quick succession that the real Sakura had time to hide before her clone engaged, but was promptly destroyed by Kakashi. Sakura, who was calculating her next moves, created another kage bunshin and sent it to approach Kakashi whilst the real moved off to gain another vantage point to attack.
Unfortunately, Kakashi being wise to her trick, sent a hail of shuriken and kunai at her, most which she avoided and some which she deflected with her own kunai, which already had wire tied to the end. She sent said kunai right back to Kakashi, although it was thrown with an exceptionally careful aim designed to miss, but even if he noticed the wire, she had plan B. Of course, Kakashi noticed, he eyed the kunai as it sailed in on its fake trajectory, with fake kibakufuda (although Kakashi wasn't quite aware of that at the present moment) he not only raised a kunai to attempt to cut the wire and allow the kunai and kibakufuda to sail away without blowing him up.
However, Sakura yanked back on the wire just before Kakashi could cut the wire and sent in a shuriken which he barely had time to dodge; both of these she followed up with her outreached foot and a fist pre-prepared with chakra. If Kakashi hadn't had near decade and a half's worth of experience on Sakura, he would have been scuppered by the timing of the strike with her chakra laden fist; but he had almost a lifetime's worth of experience on all three of his once-upon-a-time students and Kakashi knew precisely what to expect. Ducking his head just enough, he managed to grab her wrist and twist Sakura so that she lost concentration and the chakra in her fist dissipated; she did manage, though, to bring her heel to the small of his back.
Unfortunately, it still wasn't enough as Kakashi was able to grip a hand to her thigh and flip her body to the ground that he was able to take a seat on her back, with a hand holding her slim wrist behind her neck and a cheery smile of:
"Damn you!" There was an irritation to her voice, but Kakashi knew her well enough to know that it was directed at herself; he rose quickly to his feet; while sitting on her back, he suddenly felt acutely aware of how slender and fragile she seemed to his weight.
Although it didn't seem to stop her mockingly begrudging him.
Sakura herself rose to her feet, resisting the urge to rub a hand over her thigh where he'd grabbed her, even after a decade she still wasn't able to come even close to defeating Kakashi. But then, she supposed that whatever advantage she thought she'd gained by knowing him for so long – he had exactly the same advantage; maybe even a slightly better one.
"Well done, Sakura, I only managed to spot your final attack at the very last moment," He still held a smile, or what she could tell by the little crinkles around his eye and tone of voice,
"Yea, well it didn't stop you beating me, did it?" Her feigned exasperation all to clear, as he allowed a chuckle to escape whilst they walked back towards Naruto and Sasuke, although she still flashed him a gentle smile; Sakura's mind unable to get the strangely erotic feeling of seeming so small and diminutive beneath him. It really was an odd sensation which was probably the result of a number of factors, she reasoned; firstly, Naruto never elicited the response because she'd grown up with him and gotten used to him being a 'boy' as well as a 'brother' and as a somewhat unfortunate consequence, it would take a lot for her to see him as a 'man'.
Sasuke..? He was still an unknown quantity, but her overriding impression of him is that he was still the arrogant and self-important boy she remembered him being – but Kakashi? Kakashi has always held the spot of a 'man' to her, no matter what capacity she either saw or interacted with him in – a vulnerable (though he never show it) and incapacitated patient to the occasional just-past-tipsy – he never registered as anything less than a 'man' to her. Mostly, the other males in her life were always 'boys', but Kakashi, as the only older male she knew (well enough, at least) had always carried that respectable, strong, masculine air which was undeniable at the best of times.
Maybe her being prevented from reading Icha Icha was forcing her mind to compensate for the lack of a perverse outlet.
As they reached the other two, Kakashi was quick to speak;
"Alright, I guess we should call it there for the day... Naruto, Sakura, I don't know when you're next free..." He trailed off, hoping (and was right to do so) that someone would finish his sentence for him; which Naruto did:
"Ano-san, Ano-san, Obaa-chan gave me the next four days off from missions," Kakashi nodded and turned to Sakura;
"...Well, I have my normal shifts at the hospital... so my next afternoon off (where I won't be studying) will be Friday week," All three of the boys nodded,
"Well, if you aren't called for a mission before then, Naruto, how about we all meet back here a week on Friday at 14.30, for a training session? However, if my next mission is expected to take longer than two weeks I'll let you know as soon as possible," Kakashi suggested, receiving automatic nods from Sasuke and Sakura and a complaint from Naruto,
"Ahhhh, Kakashi-sensei, why do we have to wait so long?" His face scrunching into one of irritated distain,
"Mou, Naruto, we all have our own things to do... and if Kakashi has a mission and I have my hospital shifts, then we obviously can't meet as a team unless we're all free. Besides, after the end of this week, Tsunade-shishou may well send you on a mission too," Sakura immediately scolded, in no mood to put up with his whining, having better places to be and things to do.
"Hmmm..." Naruto grumbled incoherently, "Fine, fine, Sasuke and I can train through the week," Sasuke, although forcibly resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the impossibly obviously expected statement by the blonde,
"Whatever," Sakura flashed a rueful smile,
"Sorry guys, but unless there something urgent, I have to get going," Although it was only Kakashi of the present company who was aware (or at least remembered) that Sakura had the rest of the day off, but he chose to say nothing about it,
"Okay, we might as well call an end to it here... See ya," Kakashi raised a half seal to his chest and disappeared in a puff of smoke, although stayed close enough to hear and see them, he kept his presence hidden;
"Ok!~ Its time to get some raaammeeen!" Chorused Naruto in his typical mood, "Are you coming Sasuke? Sakura-chan?"
"Sorry, Naruto, but I have some new medical scrolls I need to learn, so I'll pass... See you Naruto, Sasuke," She turned on her heel and walked away as both boys immediately caught her up – the means to return to the centre of Konoha (and thereby the most direct means of each getting to where they wanted to go) the same.
Their journey was quite silent, even Naruto seemed to have something on his mind as he said less than usual, that being a longer than three second pause between sentences.
"Sasuke, Sasuke, I think you own me ramen for being away for so long!"
"No way, dobe, I've got things to do," He eyed Sakura's retreating form as he brushed off Naruto, and walked away; the blonde grumbling but turned towards Ichiraku's nonetheless.
"Sakura... are you going home?" She turned to study him for a moment, before looking back to the road in front of her,
"...May I walk you..?" Sakura stopped in her tracks, (and Kakashi nearly fell out of the tree he was crouched in),
"May I walk you home?" Sasuke patiently repeated, his irritation growing slightly, at her confused and almost worried expression,
"...Why?" She queried, "I am a Jounin and perfectly capable of walking myself home, through the middle of Konoha, at not quite even three in the afternoon," Sakura explained patiently, but an undeniable hint of confusion – the words what the fuck? Running through her head,
"I know... but I want to," Sakura bit back the urge to say, and I suppose there's nothing I can do to stop you..? Her inner, although screaming at her to punch him and run, knew that causing a problem here would have repercussions that she seriously didn't want to deal with. Instead, she opted for sighing lightly and walking away hoping that Sasuke's sudden change in persona included at least mild sensitivity; apparently Sasuke didn't pick up on her reluctance or didn't care. Knowing him, it was probably the latter, as he caught up and fell into step beside her, although he didn't say anything at first;
"You made deputy head-medic at the hospital, correct?"
"Yes, that's right,"
"So da... What sort of work does that entail?" Sakura, now worriedly curious about what Sasuke was really after, looked at him; he was still looking ahead with his expression as blank as ever,
"...Why are you so curious? What do you want?" She tried to keep her tone even and project mere inquisitiveness, rather than the brash accusation that inner Sakura was screaming,
"I never got to know you, Sakura, that's hardly befitting for someone I should be calling a friend and teammate, is it?" Liar! Sakura could sense an edge of falsity in his words and as much as she wanted to drag the truth out of him, she kept silent for a few minutes before giving him the barest minimum of details;
"Well, I help oversee all major shinobi treatments and I still have active shifts at the hospital but I have relatively little to do with civilians unless they happen to fall victim to a Jutsu for example." She could see Sasuke nod out of the corner of her eyes and she elected to make a swift getaway; "Um, you know I really do need to get some reading done... so I'm going to shoot off, ok?"
Sasuke didn't answer for a moment and Sakura liberally assumed that it was accepted and said Kuniochi sped off, leaping up to the roof tops; her mind so focused on getting back to her apartment and away from Sasuke. Why does everything at the moment seem designed to keep me away from Icha Icha? She silently sighed to herself, desperately hoping that nothing would disturb her once she returned home.
Sasuke, it seemed had other ideas and followed the pink haired woman at a careful enough distance.
The Copy Nin, who'd initially been merely curious to see how they'd act without his presence, now felt an uncomfortable stab of unease at Sasuke's actions and felt it best to keep up with the two. He knew Sakura could more than handle herself – even more so now that Sasuke was incapacitated so to speak, but it would nag at Kakashi if he didn't at least make sure Sasuke didn't pull some psychological trick on her, the Uchiha certainly wasn't above it if it suited him. Kakashi knew as well, that if, if some incident happened and no matter what the outcome, Sakura would no doubt feel ashamed and therefore wouldn't confide in either Naruto or himself, which concerned the silver-haired shinobi the most.