Underneath

I'm gonna buy this place,

And watch it fall,

Stand here beside me baby,

In the crumbling walls.

Kakashi knew, without any illusion, that things were different now. Her back was rigid in front of him, the pale exposed skin nervous and full of doubt. There was a way to salvage this somewhere. There was always a way to pull the severed parts back together. And though she was the medic, he knew that it was his job to operate on this table.

"Sakura…" He made sure his voice was non-threatening. She didn't turn, but he could see those moonlit shoulders jump. Something about their situation truly scared her. Daring to hope it wasn't him was as far as he could analyze it. Slowly, and with all the care he could muster, he placed his hand softly into the crook of her neck. "Are you ok?" He was no good with women, especially those with such fragile bonds.

"I think…" The hand resting on her skin rose and fell with her heavy sigh. "I think this shouldn't happen again." It was almost believable, this lie pushing through her thin lips. Had he been anyone else, his heart may have fallen into the pits of his stomach. But he knew better.

"It may appear that way, on the surface. I think, however, that you give your teacher very little credit." Just as gingerly as he had braved touching her, he moved around to face eyes that glittered with unshed tears. "I do very little that I see reason for regretting."

Lips parted to breath out a laundry list of very sensible reasons that they could never be here, in this situation, ever again. They were reasons he had heard a hundred times. All were very true, fairly undisputable facts of their life. Counter-arguments always seemed elusive, unfortunately. And yet, they were always back, always standing here. Somehow he could never stay away from the softness of her skin or the echo of her sigh; she could never stay away from him. He wouldn't pretend to know why. What about this bubbly, young, torn woman saw anything worth having in a raggedy old ninja?

"Kakashi." She said his name with all the desperation of a woman in love. His ears treasured the sound. "You're my teacher, they'll never understand…"

"Remember the first lesson I gave you, Sakura?" It was a question that he hoped she gave the right answer to. Having to explain everything would ruin the effect.

"Yes. About teamwork and seeing beyond the rules. This isn't the same." The twelve year old child that had sat and stared shyly at the Uchiha was no where to be seen in the maturity draping her words. Love had shown itself, with it's hideous snares and traps. She had crawled under it's belly and survived, to come out as she stood before him now.

"No, it's not." He would never force her into any decisions, no matter if she changed her mind each and every night for the rest of their lives. But he didn't want to lose her to fears or doubts that he could possibly put to rest. "What do you really see?"

For a moment her eyes ran over his and ran down his chest to rest at his hands. Light touches sent shivers across the hairs of his arms and up his neck. She wasn't trying to entice him, but the effect was the same nonetheless. He didn't have to wonder if she noticed. She always did.

And yet, her gentle observation of him never ceased. There was no clue as to the thoughts that wrinkled her brow. Would she see something in him that she couldn't live without? Or would the risks outweigh any potential value he may hold for her? Her pokerface was impeccable. Her expression never changed from mild curiosity as she traced his jaw line with a short nail. No smile or frown gave way to enlighten him to the direction of her assessments. And when she finally spoke, it was not to reveal to him the mysteries he had witnessed. It was simply his name carried on her tongue to soothe the aching in his heart.

"Kakashi." Finally there was a wistful tug of her lips upward. He may not have convinced her for eternity but he had convinced her for tonight. That was enough.

In a way, all they ever had were the moments spent searching underneath the underneath to validate each other.