Chapter 4: The Date

Sakura couldn't help herself grinning in excitement as she scurried throughout her apartment to get ready. Humming with each step, she sighed yet again in amusement. A date with Hatake Kakashi. Who could have ever predicted such a thing?

Not only was this the first date she had been on in a long time, but unlike a blind date, it was with someone who she truly wanted to get to know better on a personal level. Despite Kakashi being her former sensei for so many years, there was still so much mystery to the man beyond the mask. Sure, she knew small things like what he usually preferred to eat, or his favorite tree branch he enjoyed to lounge on while reading an Icha Icha book, but never anything deeper. He always kept to himself. It made her wonder though about their relationship all these years. How long had he looked at her in a romantic way? From the lack of signs that he was ever interested before, she could only speculate.

The idea of dating him didn't seem strange to her. There was always an unspoken attraction she felt even in her mid-teens, but quickly cast it aside as a silly school girl crush. Who wouldn't admire someone as talented and skilled as he was? He was famous for a reason. But the magnetic pull that made her question the seemingly platonic feelings for him within the past few days was all that she needed to realize that she was, indeed, attracted to him. The heart didn't lie.

A small knock startled her thoughts, snapping her attention towards the door. Biting the bottom edge of her lip, she exhaled a slow sigh to defuse her sudden nervousness. With a final glance at her reflection, she adjusted the clip in her hair for perhaps the fourteenth time. Frowning skeptically, she pulled it out again and tossed it back on the dresser at her decision to just wear it like she normally did.

Dressing up always felt so foreign to her as a shinobi. She was used to wearing the same type of clothes over and over again for training and missions. Practical always won over impractical. Why buy something she would only wear a few times during the year compared to things she would wear everyday?

Looking towards the full length mirror of herself in the corner of her room, she began to seriously question the outfit she had on now. This wasn't a mission, it was a date. With another knock sounding in the distance, she grumbled at her indecision and threw on a jacket over her blouse.

Opening the door, a laugh immediately left her lips as she glanced at Kakashi. He was wearing the same Jounin pants and long sleeved shirt he always wore with an attached mask, but without the flack jacket. Obviously his idea of dressing up didn't go very far.

"What?" he asked, puzzled as he glanced down at himself as to what was so funny.

"Oh, we just think alike," she mused. "I couldn't figure out what to wear, so I ended up just putting on a different top than usual. You're practically wearing the exact same thing."

"Uh, you're wrong there," he defended with a chuckle. Politely stepping inside as she pulled back from the door, he went more into the light and did a small spin with his arms slightly raised at his sides.

With a raised brow, he said, "See?"

She stared blankly for a few seconds, wondering if he was being serious. "No."

With a dejected sigh, he mumbled, "This is black."

"Black?" she repeated, squinting at him critically. "It just looks like what you usually wear."

He crossed his arms and moved little closer towards the lamp. "And that's always dark blue. This is black."

"Okay, okay, it's black," she laughed until another thought crossed her mind. "But wait… isn't that the same color you always wear for funerals usually?"

He stiffened. "No…"

Clearing his throat, he added, "Anyway, enough about my amazing fashion sense."

"Of nearly identical dark colors," she snickered.

Knowing fully well the truth that he really didn't have much of a wardrobe to begin with, he ignored her comment and said, "You look lovely by the way, Sakura-chan."

"Oh, well, thanks," she replied with a coy smile, feeling a little embarrassed at the way he was studying her. Like him, she chose to wear something similar to what she usually wore with a slit styled skirt and knee high boots, but jazzed it up slightly by choosing a dressy, floral patterned silk top that folded across her chest similar to a kimono.

Struggling to find something else to talk about, she glanced away at first before stepping beside the coffee table. "Oh, I just finished this a couple of hours ago… so, you can have your precious baby back," she half joked, picking up and extending the book for him to take.

"Ah, and what's the verdict?" he asked, taking it from her hands.

"I hate it," she said dryly.

He glanced at her doubtfully, stuffing the book in his back pouch. "…Really?"

"I hate that it makes me want to read more books," she groaned, glaring at him accusingly. "And I hate you for getting me addicted to the series, jerk."

With a pleased grin, he shot her two proud thumbs up.

"Jerk," she teased again with a sigh.

He softly chuckled, casually taking a step closer to her. "Anyway, so are you ready to go?" he questioned, tilting his head towards the door.

Her green eyes lit up at his words, drumming heart back into feeling a bit nervous again. She had almost forgotten why he was here in the first place.

"Oh, um, sure. Let me get my keys if you wanna go ahead outside," she replied, quickly collecting her things.

He nodded and moved towards the door. Sakura shortly followed after him into the night after turning off the lights in her living room. Immediately after she finished locking up, he smoothly took her hand into his without warning, pulling her down the steps before she could react with anything other than a deep blush.

She continued to nervously follow him by his side, glancing at their linked hands from time to time wondering if this was real. She never pegged him as being this open in public with someone. Yet here they were, walking together as if they had always been like this for years. Then again, she reminded herself that she really didn't know much about him.

"So, um… where are headed?" she asked, failing to hide the eagerness in her voice.

"To a place," he replied simply.

"Which is…?"

"A place… near another place."

"…"

Kakashi grinned, tugging her a bit closer as she scowled at him. They walked under the moonlight in a comfortable silence for awhile. Sakura kept guessing at each path they approached from the main street where they might be going on their date. A café? Restaurant? But they kept moving onward and further into the sparse streets until they neared the edge of a forest.

He halted, glancing around before turning her by the shoulders to face him. "This will do. Close your eyes."

She blinked. "W-what? Why?"

Unfastening his headband from the back, he slipped it away from his silver, shaggy styled hair. Keeping the left eye of his sharingan closed, he held up the long fabric just above her eyes.

"Because it's a surprise," he stated simply.

Staring unsurely at the headband at first, then to him, she asked, "You're really going to blindfold me?"

"I'll make it worth your while," he replied huskily, grinning sinfully beneath his mask.

In an instant, her eyes obediently closed, unable to hold back a growing smile to her lips as she did so.

"Oh, that didn't take much to convince you, did it?" he whispered next to her, sending chills down her spine as his words tickled her ear. She inwardly shuddered as he grazed a light touch against her cheek while he tied the temporary blindfold over her eyes.

When she opened her mouth to ask what to do next, familiar soft lips met hers. Her heart began to swell as he lingered sweet kisses at the edge of her mouth, trailing across her cheek before nibbling playfully at bottom of her earlobe.

"K-Kakashi," she stammered in a single breath.

"Told you I'd make it worth your while," he teased.

Nodding, she yelped when her legs suddenly left the ground. "W-what are you doing!" she screeched, clinging to him blindly as her body was lifted against his chest.

"Kidnapping you away from the village, obviously," he stated, hoisting her up higher before leaping into the trees.

She squirmed in his arms as she felt like she was free falling between jumps from branch to branch, but soon relaxed knowing she could always trust him.

Kakashi smiled throughout the whole way, captivated by how the wind whipped into her pink locks as he hopped between trees. It took a few hours to prepare everything on such short notice, having to call in a few favors to get everything that he needed in time for tonight. He wanted it to be perfect. Not just because she might want to pound him into the ground tomorrow after she received her wonderful Icha Icha package, but the fact that he really wanted to make the best of their first time together on a romantic level. She was special and deserved something equally as wonderful as she was. This was something that he had never done before with anyone, so this was just as important for him as well.

Landing on solid ground again, he gently dropped her to the grass. "Now, don't peek," he warned cheerfully.

"I won't," she promised with a wide smile, swinging her shoulders side to side in excitement as she waited patiently for the word for her to look.

With a quick string of hand seals, he carefully used a small fire jutsu to light the lanterns that were strung up around them, creating a soft glow of blue that brilliantly complemented the overhanging bright moon itself.

Satisfied at the lighting, he quickly jogged towards a bush where he had stashed away a few things less than an hour beforehand, but suddenly froze in mid-step as a pair of beady eyes glowed through the leaves.

"What the hell…" he murmured, feeling uneasy as he carefully approached.

"What was that?" Sakura asked in the distance.

"Nothing, just a second," he replied.

Peering around the bush, he exhaled in relief. A mere raccoon was staring back at him, nibbling on a piece of fruit between its tiny paws. Seeing that the picnic basket beside the creature was opened, he groaned in annoyance once he realized that the animal was snacking on the surprise dinner he had packed. How did the damn thing open up the snap lock on its own?

"Shoo," Kakashi harshly whispered, not wanting to alarm Sakura that something was amiss. He began to wave towards the animal to move as he took a step forward, praying that there was still plenty of untouched food left inside the basket.

The raccoon barely batted an eye at his action before continuing to eat the treat between its furry hands.

"I said, shoo!" he whispered again, this time jumping once towards the animal. Still yielding no reaction, he began to jump up and down and wave his arms around in circles trying to scare it away.

"…"

He could have just sworn the damn thing shot him a dirty look, staring back at him like he was a lunatic.

"Oh, for the love of…"

Within a few steps, he snatched the basket, but the pesky raccoon threw itself inside before he had a chance to snap the lid shut. Moving his hand inside to pull it out, the raccoon darted outside the basket with a squeak, hanging on the edge as it refused to let go.

"Get off," he gritted, swinging the basket around in an attempt to shake it off.

"Is everything okay?" Sakura asked worriedly, curious about the strange commotion she was hearing.

"Yes, just one last thing," he replied calmly, continuing to twirl the basket around as the striped tailed demon clung to it like it was the very last thing on Earth.

"Oh, well, okay!" she replied, strangely looking like she was fighting back a laugh.

Aggravated, Kakashi spun the basket one final time with all his strength, finally unlatching the animal into the air.

The satisfaction he had was short lived as he watched the raccoon sail towards the string of lanterns. His mouth fell open in horror as it snapped the connected lines, crushing and knocking over the small candles within the lanterns as it fell towards the ground. Fire immediately began to consume the delicate blue paper, spreading across the rope and engulfing the others one by one.

"Is… that smoke?" Sakura murmured, sniffing the air curiously.

He stood in silence at the spectacle around him, completely stunned as he watched the leaves of the trees start to light up into orange flames. When his eyes fell to the ground, he flinched in even more panic when he saw the raccoon dart between Sakura's ankles in fear from the fire. Her lips upturned at the strange feeling that something just ran across her toes, but remained oblivious.

With a heavy sigh, he dropped the basket to the ground to perform a water jutsu to take care of the flames.

"Uh… Kakashi, what's happening?" she asked with concern. "Why are you using a jutsu?"

When she started to tuck her fingers inside her blindfold, he quickly ran up to her and held her wrists, lowering them back at her sides.

"Everything's fine," he assured.

"But the smoke-"

"-Fine," he cut in, wishing that the charcoal stained grass and metal skeleton remains of the lanterns he borrowed (and now regrettably had to pay for) weren't anything but fine.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, he quietly sighed to himself. Ruined, he thought. His whole plan was ruined.

"When… um, can I open my eyes?"

Biding his time to answer, he hesitantly replied, "Not yet…"

Departing from her side, he went to pick up the picnic basket to survey what was still edible. Tossing away a few scratched pieces of fruits and emptying a couple of destroyed dishes to the ground, he felt thankful that there was still enough food in good shape to eat for tonight. Maybe there was still a way he could save this date and make it special somehow.

At Sakura's side again, he pressed her up against his back. "Hop on," he instructed. "We have one last stop."

"Oh," she replied, seeming confused that they were leaving somewhere again. Jumping on his back, he carefully held on to the basket as he wrapped his arms around her legs, taking off into the trees once more.

He really had no idea where he was going from here. He had spent all his time today trying to find and set up that specific area, only to be foiled by a freaking raccoon within seconds. It was the perfect spot for the lanterns… away from prying eyes of the village, but open enough to watch the night's vast sky of stars.

A small glint of water caught his eye through the blur of trees, triggering the idea of where they should head next: the lake. He knew the area pretty well, personally making frequent trips by himself sometimes when he was looking for a little peace and tranquility.

With a new destination in mind, he wasted no time in reaching one of the isolated banks. This wasn't anything as thoughtfully put together like he had planned earlier, but he hoped it could still pass as being just as romantic.

Spreading the rolled up blanket that was tucked away inside the basket on the ground, he led Sakura to sit down on her knees. After creating a makeshift campfire, he finally untied and removed the headband from over her eyes.

Sakura instantly greeted him with a warm smile before looking at their surroundings. She stared in awe at the beautiful sight of the lake beside them. The water was so still and quiet, that the moon reflected against it like it was on the surface of a mirror.

"Oh, wow, Kakashi. This is nice," she said gratefully. Seeing a basket nestled in the grass just a few feet away, she asked, "Did you make us dinner?"

"Well, it's all pretty light and simple cold cut kind of stuff, but I did put it together," he confirmed with a nod. "I did bake something though."

"You? Bake?" she scoffed, looking a little unsure if that was really the case. "The great copy ninja bakes?"

"Hey, I own more than just Icha Icha books, you know," he playfully mocked.

"Icha Icha movies?" she asked, poking his arm teasingly.

"Well, yes," he lowly mumbled, retaliating back with a light pinch to her shoulder. "But I have quite a few cookbooks."

She hummed in thought. "I never would have thought you liked to cook."

"I have many hobbies," he stated fondly. By the way she smirked at him, he figured she would recall him saying the exact statement years ago when Team Seven first began.

"What's another hobby?" she pressed, eager to learn something else about him.

Scratching his chin, he pretended to be in deep thought before spouting out, "Uh… Reading?"

She rolled her eyes. "Elaborate about your other hobbies beyond reading."

"Cooking," he said jokingly, dodging her balled fist that came very close to his shoulder.

"Ugh, Kakashi," she grumbled in annoyance. "Seriously, tell me something about yourself. I've always wanted to know more about you…"

"Sorry," he sighed, scratching the back of his silver hair sheepishly. "I don't like talking about myself very much."

"Well, but why?" she asked.

"It's just…"

He fell quiet as he struggled how to truthfully respond to the question. He had an idea why. It was based on all the love and loss he had experienced throughout the years. It was simply easier to stay at a distance from people that you cared about. It didn't hurt as much. Perhaps it was pessimistic on his part, but he figured he wouldn't have even lived as long as he did now. Before Team Seven even existed, he thought it would be easier on everyone else, too, if he'd just remained a simple comrade to people, and at the very least of the word, a friend. Losing a comrade was hard, but a loved one, even harder. He knew it all too well.

But before he realized it, in all the years that he and Sakura had grown together as teammates, he had gradually fallen for her. As much as he tried to remain indifferent about his feelings, once the idea was in his mind to see her in a new light, it began to build and grow, slowly thawing away the ice that had been guarding his heart for as long as he could remember.

And now in hindsight, all those years seemed wasted at his misguided attempts to not want to feel such pain again. The friends he had now could have been there so much earlier in his life when he really needed them. As for love… it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Wasn't it true? Life wasn't exactly worth living if you didn't live. Take risks. Take chances.

Even though he had decided on letting go of his fears in being close to someone, he still tried push people away out of habit. It was hard not to.

"It's okay." Sakura shrugged with a smile, dismissing the question. "You don't have to say, but I do want you to tell me whatever you're comfortable with, okay?"

"Of course," he agreed, feeling a little silly how he was making it so difficult just to share something simple about himself. Trying to be a bit more open than usual was something he was going to get used to. He was finally taking the chance to be with Sakura, he shouldn't stop here.

Helping him set out the small containers and dishes from the basket between their silence, she suggested, "Why don't you ask me something you'd like to know? It can be anything."

"Anything?" he repeated, his voice laced with hidden meaning.

She hesitantly nodded. "Yes…"

"What color of underwear are you wearing right now?" he casually questioned, as if he had just asked for something as simple as directions to somewhere.

"Kakashi!" she yelped in surprise, blushing as she smacked his chest so hard it nearly knocked the wind out of him.

He coughed, but only laughed all the more at her reaction. "You said anything," he reasoned.

"You really are a pervert, aren't you?" she sighed, looking not particularly surprised at the fact.

"If you didn't know this about me from all the Icha Icha I read out in the open, then I have no sympathy for you," he teasingly replied.

"Oh no, I figured as much since the beginning. You're only just confirming it with a question like that…"

Breaking apart the chopsticks he had just given her, she added, "And it's black."

"B-Black?" he echoed, nearly losing his voice.

Seeing how clearly amused he was, a small grin spread to her pink lips as she suddenly asked, "Boxers or briefs?"

Stunned at her even asking such a question, he felt rather thankful for the mask that was always in place, allowing him to always have the perfect poker face. "Neither."

"W-what?" she stuttered, blushing as he smiled at her.

"Well you asked," he said with a shrug, not giving away if he was actually serious or not as he swirled his chopsticks inside his bowl.

When her embarrassment subsided, she blinked at the remains of his dish that was filled with sushi and rice just only a moment ago. "Hey, when did you even eat? I haven't even started yet!"

He shrugged again, forming an eye-crinkle of a smile.

"And stop trying to scarf food down to keep hiding your face," she pouted, pointing a chopstick at him. "You promised you'd show me."

"If you recalled, I said on the third date. This is technically our first."

"Nope, third," she corrected adamantly. "We had lunch as our first date and library as our second. Don't pretend you've forgotten the agreement that this would be counted as the third."

"I never agreed to anything," he bantered on, thoroughly enjoying how cute she was scowling at him right now.

The corner of her mouth changed into a sly expression. "I think after endangering my life, you owe me that much."

He quirked a brow. "What?"

"I could sense the fire from earlier, Kakashi. I'm not slow."

"Fire?" he asked, pretending he had no idea what she was talking about. "That was just you feeling my presence. I'm just that hot."

Rolling her eyes, she sighed. "Anyway, whatever happened back there, I'm sure you owe me even more just to see your smile finally, mm?"

"Fine."

"You-" She stopped her initial words. "Wait, you'll let me?"

"Have to kiss me first though," he grinned.

"Not a problem."

Placing her dish aside before sitting up on her knees, she scooted across the blanket to sit next to him. Bracing her hand against his chest as she leaned in, she closed her eyes and moved her lips towards his masked ones.

He dipped back, letting her fall forward into the air before she caught herself.

"Are you trying to kiss me, or my book again?" he playfully teased.

Shooting him a glare, she sat up straight and dusted off her hands. Determined to kiss him without any more resistance or back talk, she pushed him by the shoulders into the sandy ground that the blanket beneath them fell short in covering.

"Oh, I like it rough," he murmured, hoping to gain another rise out of her quick temper.

"Shut up," she spat with blushed cheeks, tightening her hands at his shirt before she finally claimed a kiss. Feeling him smirk against her lips, she pulled back.

"There," she whispered triumphantly with a grin. "Now show me that evil smile of yours."

"I don't have an evil smile," he defended, sounding hurt.

"I'll be the judge of that."

Wiggling her fingers to the edge of his mask, she performed a quick tug to reveal his face, but in a blink it was hidden away again by his loose fist, pretending that he had a sudden cough.

"Sorry, I think I got sand in my mouth," he lamely excused, turning to the side to cough like he had a tickle in his throat.

The mask was pooled around his chin, but she still couldn't catch a glimpse of his face. Crossing her arms, she waited patiently for him to turn back around.

With a deep sigh, he remained still with his hand draped across his mouth. "I feel so sleepy lying like this," he yawned, staring into the embers of the campfire.

"Kakashi," she sighed with an unamused glare. Taking him by the wrist she pulled his hand away, resulting in him completely turning around with his chest flat on the ground.

"Think I'll take a nap," he murmured, trying not to laugh as she let out an irritated grumble.

Every time she leaned into the side he was facing, he would quickly switch the other way, annoying her to no end.

After the fifth time, she sighed. "You're such a jerk!"

"I'm right here, Sakura-chan. You can look at me any time you want."

"Then turn around!"

He snuggled himself more into the sand like a turtle would on a beach. "I'm comfortable."

"I'm going to punch you into the ground if you don't turn around in three seconds," she warned.

"Sakura-"

"One."

"Seriously…"

"Two." Her knuckles cracked with the sounds of chakra whooshing into her fingers.

"You're not really-"

"Three!"

He panicked and rolled on his back again, preparing to deflect any incoming blows. Instead she was still sitting calmly on her knees with her arms crossed. She seemed highly amused.

"Oh, you were bluffing," he sighed, propping up on his elbows as she stared at him.

"All this trouble just to see your face," she tsked.

"I can't make it easy, now can I?"

"I suppose not… now then, let's eat something," she smiled happily, pulling him up in a sitting position.

He felt oddly disappointed at her dismissive reaction to his face, not even commenting one word about it before she turned away.

Clearing his throat, he said, "So…"

"So?" she asked, handing him a clean pair of chopsticks.

"No tears of joy? Fainting? Comments of how handsome I am?" he asked, frowning a bit.

"I'm not going give you a reaction," she dully replied. "Until you take off that fake curly mustache."

Pursing his mustache covered lips, he said, "…It's not fake."

"It's black for crying out loud."

"Your point?"

"…Your hair is silver."

"And?"

She sighed, taking a small bite of rice. "You think you're sooooo hilarious, don't you, Kakashi?"

He began to twirl the ends of his crooked thick mustache, sporting a mischievous grin. "I do, yes."

With another sigh, she watched as he scratched the clearly fake mustache, making it even more askew than before. "Kakashi."

"Yes?"

"Come here…"

"Why?"

"Just come," she said, extending her hand for him to come closer.

He cautiously did, wondering what she was up to until she softly trailed a finger down the scar of his left eye, sending unmistakable shudders down his spine. Before he knew it, she had ripped the mustache off his upper lip like a band-aid.

"Ow!" he quietly muttered, rubbing the stinging spot above his lip as he stared curiously back at her.

Without another word, Sakura slowly raised her hand with the mustache still in between her fingers. He was about to ask her what she was doing until she stuck it in the middle of his eyebrows.

"And this is my first memory of your whole face," she sighed in faked disappointment, flicking the ends of his improvised unibrow.

Kakashi wiggled his brows up and down, causing a smile to her lips followed by a laugh.

"Weirdo," she sighed, wondering what in the world she was going to do with this silly man. "How long have you had that mustache stashed away in your pocket?"

"Uh, forever? You know, for special occasions… like tying damsels in distress to railroad tracks or when I forget my mask at home and need a disguise."

"You're a compulsive liar, aren't you?" she asked dryly.

"No." He smiled. "And aren't you forgetting something?"

Narrowing an eye at him, she sighed at the look he was giving her. "Oh yeah, I forgot to faint, sorry."

Falling backwards, she rolled her eyes back and pretended to lose consciousness.

"Sakura!" he called out over dramatically, rushing to her side. Placing her hands in his, he shook his head in sadness. "My poor, sweet, Sakura-chan."

Cracking her eyes open, she grinned when she saw him sincerely smile at her for the first time. He really didn't have anything to hide like Team Seven originally figured. Yes, he was handsome in his own way, but the charm of his lopsided and almost unsure smile didn't blind her of how meaningful it was to him to share with her.

It always was hard to judge how he truly felt by just his single eye, but with his smile, it was clear as day how he was feeling. He really did care for her a lot, didn't he?

When her eyes fully fluttered open, she took in the sight of his adorable lips, scanning all the way along the tip of his nose until the ridiculous mustache between his eyes entered her field of vision again.

Frowning, she lightly pointed to his brows and said, "That's really ruining the moment here."

Peeling the mustache from his face, he stuck it on her forehead instead.

She deadpanned. "That's not any better."

"It's sexy," he teased, leaning in to kiss her softly.

"Please don't tell me this is some kind of sick fetish of yours," she groaned, kissing him back between her words.

"No, but I do have many fetishes."

"I bet," she sighed against him, figuring she would discover those in the not so distant future.

He smiled against her cheek, placing one last kiss before he edged back. "Let's finish dinner?" he suggested, holding out his hand to pull her up.

"Sure, but you're not allowed to scarf it all down this time," she lightheartedly demanded, accepting his help to sit up.

He shrugged. "But it's kind of a habit."

"Then I'll teach you how to eat slowly then," she said with rolled eyes.

"Ooh," he hummed in delight with a flirty look.

"Pervert," she muttered, not sure if she wanted to know what that rotten mind of his was thinking. "Oh, and by the way…"

He paused. "Yes?"

"You're cute."

Beaming with pride at her compliment, he smoothly ran his fingers through his hair as if to showcase himself like some model.

"In a weird way," she added.

His smiled dropped.

Sakura sighed. "I'm kidding!"

The rest of their date went off without a hitch, better than either of them could have hoped for. After eating, they watched the stars and simply talked about everything imaginable. From favorite movies, to quotes from Icha Icha, to how they felt they had changed throughout the years to who they were today. Before they realized how late it was, the sun's orange light began to glitter its way across the lake.

Groggily at Sakura's doorstep now, Kakashi released her hand as she unlocked her door to step inside. He felt so tired, but couldn't help in wanting to stay up even longer just to say goodbye. He really couldn't remember the last time he enjoyed being with another person like this. It was exciting, yet scary at the same time. With so much possibility to look forward to in the future, he wanted to never let go of this new change between them.

"Sakura," he mumbled softly, slightly in a daze in his fight to not fall asleep where he stood.

"Do… you want to come inside?" she asked uncertainly, wondering if that was what he wanted to say.

"No, no," he replied, shaking his head at the idea. "I just..."

"I had a lot of fun, Kakashi. Let's meet up later today, okay? We both need some sleep."

"Okay," he agreed. "But…"

Pulling him close, she kissed him deeply, parting him with a smile before softly closing the door shut.

He sighed, rubbing his eyes. All he could do now was try to get sleep and hope for the best that she wasn't going to be too mad at him. Finding out more about her tonight, perhaps she would even find it hilarious? Maybe he was over worrying about it in the first place.

"Need sleep," he sighed to himself, unable to think anymore. Turning around towards his complex, he felt like a zombie as he trudged down the stairs.

As soon as he stepped into his apartment, he stripped all the way down to his boxers before he fell into bed. Sleep would come all too soon.


A loud knock abruptly stirred Sakura awake, causing her to pull the pillow over her head in an attempt to drown out the annoying sound. It didn't do too much good after the fourth knock was persistently getting a lot louder.

"God," she muttered, popping her head out from her bedding. Looking at her clock, she realized she had only got to bed barely two hours ago. She didn't regret staying up the whole night with Kakashi, but for heaven's sake, she needed some rest.

With another ear pinching knock, she angrily rolled out of bed and stormed to the front door.

"What?" she griped, swinging the door open to kill whoever was standing on the other side.

A mailman cowered, obviously very aware of her renowned abilities as a kunoichi. Shakily holding a clipboard under her heated glare, he slowly said, "Haruno-san, if you could please… sign for these."

"For what?" she asked, looking around. She assumed it was obviously a package, but there was none to be found in his hands or beside him.

"It's downstairs," he replied. "If you can just leave your door open for us. We'll take care of it."

"Fine, whatever. Just close it when you're finished okay?"

"Uh, sure, but-"

Spinning around, she stomped back into her bedroom, ignoring his weak plea for her to sign the package slip again. Easily falling asleep once she plopped into bed, every now and then a heavy noise would startled her awake for a split second before her consciousness would slip away again.

Her alarm went off a couple hours later, making her groan in forgetting to shut it off before going to sleep. Deciding that she probably shouldn't sleep the day away as she needed to get up early tomorrow morning, she forced herself up and went on autopilot towards her living room.

Debating on what to eat, her thoughts broke when she stubbed her toe on something hard.

"Ouch! What the…" Her eyes slowly investigated upwards, and she shrieked in horror. "What... w-what the freaking hell!"

Her entire apartment was filled wall to wall with books. Hundreds, no thousands of books were littered all around her entire apartment in crates and unorganized piles.

Her couch was completely taken over by books. Her coffee table. Television. Dining table. Kitchen.

Everywhere.

Her mouth fell open in shock as she twisted her feet around to maneuver between the scattered books on the floor. It was an endless sight of multicolored volumes of Icha Icha no matter where she turned. It felt like a bad dream.

"This is not what I signed up for!" she yelled, stumbling into a pile in her fit of anger. Bumping into a stack, books fell like dominoes around her entire apartment, creating an even bigger mess.

"DAMN IT, KAKASHI!"

Enraged, she went straight towards the front door. All the heavy boxes in the way caused her to repeatedly yank the door handle back and forth until she could push enough books out of the way to leave. Before taking even three steps outside, a piece of paper had stuck to her foot. Prying it from her toes, she gasped at what she read, nearly fainting.

"W-w-what…"

It was a bill for all the books that were stuffed into her tiny apartment right now. She counted all the zeros, twice. Those freaking books cost more than a year's worth of rent.

Crushing the paper in her palm, she dashed into the busy street still barefoot in her pajamas, not caring as a few passersby stared at her like she was a maniac.

Once she stomped up to Kakashi's apartment door, she pounded her fist against it with several quick furious knocks.

"Kakashi!" she fumed.

Her patience had quickly worn thin after waiting longer than ten seconds. Testing the door handle to see if it was unlocked, she accidentally turned it a bit too roughly, causing it to come apart in her hand.

"Eh," she said, glancing around before dropping the broken handle inside a potted plant beside the door.

Letting herself inside, she was about to search for him until she stepped on a crumpled pair of pants. His shirt was on the floor too…

"Sakura?"

Staring at a half-naked Kakashi leaning against the doorway, whatever anger she had was instantly replaced with embarrassment. As he rubbed the sleep from his mismatched eyes, she couldn't stare at anything else except what seemed like an endless display of sculpted muscles. How could this get any more awkward?

Then her eyes fell to his crotch. Was he wearing Icha Icha boxers?

"Like what you see?" he asked an amused husky voice.

Flinching at being caught staring there, she scrambled to look away. Gasping when she felt his calloused fingers at her arms, she tried not to think about how sinfully bare he was right now, which was rather impossible since he was standing right in front of her.

Unsure of what he was about to do, she let him spin her around. He pressed his hands against her back to gently lead her towards the kitchen.

"What happened to my door handle?" he asked, glancing back towards the bright hole that was glowing from his front door.

"I-It… fell."

"Ah, well this place is kind of old." He shrugged, pulling out a chair for her at his small breakfast table.

"What are you…"

"Hungry?" he asked thoughtfully, standing beside her casually with hands on his hips.

Trying not to look at the bright orange boxers just inches away from her face, she tried to remember what she was doing here in the first place.

Slamming her hand on the table, she glared at him. "Kakashi!"

"Yes?" he asked, switching the weight of his stance.

Despite trying so hard not to look again, she glanced away and blushed. "Can you… put on some pants?"

"Oh, sorry. I just woke up," he apologized, seeming strangely comfortable at the fact he was wearing practically nothing. "Um, will this do?"

Slowly turning to look again, she blinked. Now he was wearing an Icha Icha themed apron which barely covered his chest, much less his boxers.

Sinking into her chair, she stared down at the table instead. "Uh…"

A small smile graced his lips. "Would you like some pancakes and eggs? Coffee?"

"Sure…"

Hearing the rattle of pans, she sighed at herself and smacked her forehead in distress. This wasn't why she was here! Her apartment looked like an Icha Icha book store exploded in there.

"Ka-"

She paused, staring at the open cabinets. There were Icha Icha themed plates, cups, pots…

"Dear, God," she sighed at the realization that his entire kitchen was filled with Icha Icha products one way or another.

"He's… completely obsessed," she whispered, slightly disturbed at the fact she might have fallen for someone who had a serious addiction problem.

"Sorry?" he asked, arching his back as he turned.

"Y-you," she stuttered, wondering if he was trying to purposely distract her with his body.

"Hum?" he asked, tilting his head. Pieces of his hair fell over his eyes, making him look rather dashing in the morning light.

"Enough!" she demanded. "I'm not here to have breakfast with you. My apartment, it's-

"-Filled with books, I know," he cut in with a sympathetic sigh. "Before you completely freak out, let me explain."

"For one thing, I had no idea how deeply obsessed you were with the series. I mean, jeez, Kakashi. Reading them all the time is one thing, but to have all this…" She looked around the kitchen. "All this stuff is another."

"These are just things, Sakura. I have never bought any of this. It's free."

"But what about the clock you desperately wanted since the start?"

"It was just an excuse. I have ten clocks already," he said, pointing out a couple of matching ones on a wall just a few feet away. Neither of them seemed to be working either. Typical.

Still flustered from everything, she started to say, "But all this stuff-"

"You're aware that I'm usually known as a cheapskate, don't you?" he asked.

"Very," she glared. "Always leaving us with the bill."

"So, is it that hard to believe that I'd have all this stuff simply because it's free?"

"Why are you so frugal in the first place?"

"Well," he sighed, trying to think. "Two reasons. One is because I enjoy the hilarious look on whoever's face who gets stuck with the bill."

She narrowed her glare. "Which I have picked up more than once."

With a grin, he continued, "Second is because I've been saving for a couple years now."

"For what?"

"A pony."

Her eyes widened in shock.

"I'm joking, Sakura," he sighed at her gullible reaction. "A house."

Confused, she asked, "What? But you can live practically anywhere in Konoha for as long as you've been a shinobi on payroll by now, can't you?"

"Well, yes, but I've never seen the point of living anywhere larger than a single apartment just by myself."

"Then why save the extra money if you have more than enough for a house? Why not spend it on yourself? Like clothes?" she asked, still very aware of how lacking he was of them right now.

"Don't need it," he teased.

She looked around at the lack of decorations. "Furniture?"

"What's the point when I'm never here? Rather just save it. I don't need a lot of material things," he shrugged.

"Except Icha Icha books," she glared. "Which are still all over my apartment right now."

"Technically Jiraiya always sends me any new copies now," he laughed guiltily. "So, I don't even buy those anymore."

"That still doesn't explain why there are thousands of copies in my apartment right now!" she bickered.

"You do know that Konoha publishes the series, right?"

She shook her head. "So?"

"Do you know who distributes them?"

"…No?"

"Icha Icha Book Club."

"So it's… not a real book club? As in sitting around in a circle and discussing smut all day long?"

He smiled. "No, but we can do that together if you like."

She sighed, rubbing her temples. "Wait, wait. I'm signed up to a smut peddler?"

"Technically, but my friend needed some extra stock outside of Konoha and the book program offers bulk for really cheap for first time sellers. It's just a one time deal though."

Slapping her hands over her eyes, she groaned. "Please tell me you're taking care of the outrageous bill…"

"Yes, yes. Don't worry. I'll have it all taken care of and out of your hair by the end of tomorrow."

Parting her fingers from over her eyes, she glared up at him. "You better."

"You do get to keep whatever volumes you like for free, so… you still get to have the entire series like I promised. It's not all for nothing."

With an unamused icy stare in response, he added, "Let me make it all up to you, okay? Starting with breakfast," he suggested.

Watching him prepare a few pans on the stove, she asked, "You planned this all out on purpose since the beginning, didn't you?"

"Like I said…" he murmured, pulling a few ingredients from the refrigerator. "I wanted an excuse to spend time with you."

"By making me angry?"

"You're cute when you're angry," he half-teased.

"You're such a jerk," she mumbled.

"I just didn't know yesterday would have ended like it did. I've liked you for a long time, Sakura. I couldn't have ever guessed that we'd ever go out together, but I'm glad we did." he said sincerely.

She hummed, tapping her nails lightly against the table in thought. "Don't think you're getting off the hook that easy, Kakashi."

"I'll do whatever it takes to make it up to you," he promised.

"Fine, but just answer me one question honestly for now."

"Alright," he agreed, wondering what she wanted to ask.

"How long did you realize that you liked me more than just a friend?"

He hummed, breaking a few eggs into a bowl. "It's been a little over a year now, Sakura."

"Why haven't you ever told me before?"

"Um…" He tried to think honestly. "Too afraid, I guess?"

"Really?" she asked disbelief. "You? Afraid?"

"I'm not very good with close relationships, much less romantic ones."

"I see…" Propping her hand to her chin against the table with her elbow, she pondered more as he continued to cook. "Then what made you want to try?"

"When I realized that you might have felt the same way."

"What made you know that I did?"

"You have adorable blushes, Sakura-chan," he said with a grin.

She paled, turning the other way to hide the sudden flare of heat to her cheeks. "I do not," she grumbled.

"Oh, yes you do," he sang back, earning him another grumbled response.

After breakfast was served, Kakashi couldn't quite relax just yet until he knew everything between them would be okay. Last thing he wanted was to start this new relationship on bad terms.

"So, do you forgive me?" he asked rather solemnly, watching her sort through her share of food between them.

"No," she evenly replied without a blink.

Her short answer stung, especially since she really did seem to mean it.

"Sakura…"

"Maybe I will on our next date," she shrugged, breaking her silent expression into a warm smile.

"Then you'll be happy to know I have it already planned out," he sighed in relief.

"Oh? Will there be more raccoons involved?" she asked innocently, twirling her chopstick around between her fingers before taking a bite of her dish.

He began to choke on the small portion of rice he had just started to chew. "…What?"

"I peeked from the blindfold when you weren't looking. Watching you dance around with that raccoon," she sighed fondly at the vision. "I think that memory makes up more than enough for everything."

"…"

"What?" she asked, grinning at the stunned look on his face.

"You knew that all this time, huh," he sighed, rather amazed that she had the willpower to not say anything about it until now.

"I was going to save it for a rainy day," she teased.

"You mean blackmail," he corrected.

She simply smiled.

With a short laugh, he added, "I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship."

The End


[ Author Note: No, no. You aren't hallucinating. I finally finished this.

My goal was to keep this short, some fluff, silly and simple. I couldn't stop myself from adding a little seriousness to Kakashi's side of things as much as I wanted to avoid it.

Writing this last addition, I have to say I kind of wish I left this a one shot for various reasons I won't bore you with. Then again, it did make me think about one aspect of Kakashi I haven't thought much before while I was writing, so I did get something out of it.

Hope you did as well in some way.

Thank you for reading and I hope everyone has a fantastic New Year.

Beta: Starcup665 (Ty for your help!) ]