This was written for juniper 11's Lyric Competition over at LJ. I'm not allowed to say what my lyric prompt was but it's from a song you probably know.

Half of this was seriously written last minute to make it in for the contest. It's unbetaed and in the raw so please forgive any and all grammatical errors. I was just trying to get this sucker done because, like always, it turned out way longer than expected!

XXXXX

New Tattoo

I wake up with a groan. The curtains are drawn but even the morning light that makes it through the cracks is agonizingly bright. My head is pounding as if small men with pick axes are mining the inside of my skull. My body aches and my stomach turns. I try to sit up, but promptly roll over and puke into the trashcan by the bed instead.

I am Kakashi Hatake, the great Copy Ninja of Konoha. Unfortunately, I'm just as pathetic as everyone else when I'm hung over, and right now, I'm definitely hung over.

I sit up and the room immediately lurches at a precarious angle so I lay back down. My room now smells like vomit and stale alcohol and if there were anything left in my stomach to throw up, I probably would have.

As the room spins lazily around me, I try to remember what I did to put myself in such a state. To my horror, I realize that last night is a complete blank. There's a big black hole in my memories and I really have no idea what I drank, who I drank it with, or what I did while drunk. It is the last of these three that concerns me the most. I drink occasionally with friends and sometimes alone if a mission has been exceptionally trying, but it is a rare occasion when I get shitfaced to the point of blacking out. A drunk ninja is often a dead ninja, but since I was in the safety of my own village, I had apparently felt safe enough to overindulge.

My room continues to be the wild amusement park ride I want to get off of as I try to piece together last night's events. I had come home yesterday from a very long, very tiring mission. On my way home, I stopped by girlfriend's apartment just to let her know I had returned. Yuri was tall, leggy with long raven hair and smoldering eyes. She wasn't particularly deep, nor did she have much sympathy for the shinobi lifestyle, but I couldn't deny that it was nice to have a warm body to come home, especially a body that looked as good as hers did when naked.

Knocking got me no reply, so I let myself in through the unlocked door. I figured she was out and was going to write her a note letting her know I was back in Konoha. What I didn't expect was to hear her familiar feminine moans coming from the bedroom. I thought that maybe she had taken to fulfilling her own desires in my absence. Every man dreams of walking in on their woman pleasuring herself and watching a bit before lending her a helping hand. Hoping that I might receive a proper welcoming from my lover, I crept down the hall in hopes of surprising her.

What I found was far different from what I had imagined. She was moaning all right, but she obviously wasn't thinking of me, not when straddling the naked hips of some ANBU hotshot. His uniform strewn all over her floor along with the very pair of lacy panties I'd bought her before leaving for my mission. I could only stare for a moment, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, watching their bodies writhe with reckless abandon. Neither noticed me staring and neither noticed when I silently let myself out the way I'd come.

I manage to sit up in bed now without feeling violently ill, realizing that I had just remembered what I had probably tried to forget last night with my drinking binge. Yuri was attractive and good in the sack, but she didn't mean all that much to me. She was beautiful, but there were countless women in countless villages just like her.

She had confessed to me that she had been curious about my skills in the bedroom, and she hadn't been the first to tell me so. Konoha's rumor mill had apparently deemed me some kind of sex god due to my choice of reading material. I'll admit that I am quite experienced and I tend to be highly experimental if my partner s up for it, but calling me a god is going too far.

Despite my lack of emotional attachment to Yuri, I couldn't help but feel utterly depressed. Was sex all she had wanted me for? Had she just wanted to see if the rumors were true? If that was the case, she had obviously found me lacking if she was sleeping with another man.

Suddenly, I felt like I was getting old. Was thirty-four too young for a midlife crisis?

I gingerly swung my feet over the edge of the bed, managing it without feeling like I was going to throw up. As I stood, I realized that Yuri must know I was back in town now, and unless she had tried while I was in last night's drunken stupor, she hadn't bothered to call. For some reason, this deeply saddened me. Perhaps I still had some alcohol in my bloodstream, or maybe, just maybe, I was longing for a partner that actually gave a damn about me, and maybe, just maybe, I could actually care about them in return.

Love is a silly notion when you're a ninja. You face death everyday. You never know what mission will be your last. You're future is uncertain. Such truths make having a relationship exceedingly difficult, but I realized that as I grew older, wild sex, though pleasant, was no longer wholly satisfying. I was looking for something else, though as a shinobi, I had already given up on ever really finding it. My cards had been dealt, and I was certain love was not among them.

I shuffle to the bathroom, moving cautiously as to not further upset my turning stomach. I'd lived in this apartment for years, but now I fumble for the light switch as if this was a strange house.

As the light flickers on, I realize turning on the light was a horrible idea. My headache turns excruciating as the light assaults my retinas like a thousand little needles. I squeeze my eyes shut with a tortured groan and wait for them to adjust to the light. It takes far longer than it should. When I finally open my eyes the dim bathroom bulb still seems unnaturally bright and abrasive, but it's bearable.

Upon finally seeing my reflection, I notice that my face looks like hell. The dark circles under my eyes resemble those of a raccoon. My hair is more disheveled than usual but not in a sexy way. My skin is sallow and pale, my eyes bloodshot, face unshaven, and I'm pretty sure my breath could kill a large animal.

I run a hand over the ragged scruff on my chin, debating whether I should shave or just hide it under my mask. And then I realize I'm not wearing my mask like I normally do. My reflecting tells me I'm also not wearing a shirt. I glance down towards me feet and realize I'm not wearing anything.

This is odd.

I never sleep naked, at least when I'm alone, and I doubt even a severe dose of alcohol would change that. I stick my head out the bathroom door and survey my bedroom. My clothes are indeed scattered haphazardly all over the floor. I always put my clothes in the hamper, and though I may not wash them until I run the risk of walking around in dirty clothes or in the nude, I certainly don't leave them on the floor. I may be a bachelor, but I'm not a slob.

I'm starting to get a bad feeling about this.

I cautiously walk back to my bedroom, headache and nausea slightly less acute as I search my room for clues to what the hell happened last night. I don't have to search very hard. Under my bed I find a garment that certainly is not mine. I pull it from a nest of dust bunnies and stare in horror at the lacy black garment dangling from my fingers.

I am holding the bra of a woman I had sex with last night and I have no idea who it belongs to!

Here I am, morose because Yuri was sleeping around, but apparently I'd gone out and done the same thing! At least she knew who she was doing it with.

I check the small tag near the back closure. While the garment is certainly sexy, the brand reveals that it's not high end lingerie. The size said 32A, not exactly the proportions I'm usually drawn to, although the push-up pads in the cups probably enhanced what little there was. Of course there was the fact that I was so wasted that I probably could have been attracted to a gorilla in a dress so cup size hardly mattered.

A flash of color against the black fabric catches my eye and I frown as I pull a hair off of the bra. It's pink.

Pink? Who in the hell do I know with pink hair?

I return to the bathroom to examine it better in the light. It is indeed an unusual shade of bubblegum pink from root to tip, meaning either it was recently dyed or the color is natural.

I carefully set the hair on the bathroom counter for later inspection. The enigma is puzzling and I plan to think it over while I shower. I feel dirty which is understandable considering I have no idea what is currently all over my penis, and hope the hot water will soothe my aching body.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see something on my side reflecting light. I twist around so I can look at it in the mirror. It appears I've wrapped plastic wrap around my midsection and do to my hangover and preoccupation with bras, I've only just noticed it. For the life of me I cannot imagine why I would do something so silly, unless this mystery woman is even kinkier than I am.

Cautiously, I unwind the clingy plastic and it is immediately clear why it was there. On my right side is a fresh tattoo depicting a bloody shuriken imbedded in a branch of sakura flowers. The tattoo is beautiful, masculine but feminine at the same time. It's about three inches high, six inches long, wrapping around my side. It's already fully colored, meaning I must have spent hours under a tattoo gun last night, and yet, I don't remember getting it at all.

Was my mystery woman responsible for this too? Just who the hell is she?

I stare at the tattoo hard, seeing the pink flowers, the brown wood, the grey shuriken, and I suddenly know who it is that was in my bed last night. It should have been obvious, except for the fact that it's so damn unlikely that I still can't believe it. The small bra, the pink hair, the sakura flowers that are now a permanent part of me, they all point to the last person in the would I would expect.

I meet the eyes of my reflection in the mirror and we both speak in unison.

"Oh shit."

XXXXX

I trudge along Konoha's main street but I don't see what's around me. Usually it's because my nose is stuck in a book but today its because I've withdrawn into my own mind. I still haven't quite recovered from the shock of realizing what I'd done and who I'd done it with. Now I was faced with the dilemma of either confronting or ignoring my former student.

On the one hand, ignoring her might send the message that I either regretted what we'd done or had only wanted to use her for the night. I didn't want her to think either of these, but I also didn't want to confront her and reveal that I'd been so drunk that I honestly couldn't remember a thing about what had happened between us. It certainly seemed like I was the loser no matter what I did, and though my mind is busy trying to confront the problem from every angle, I can't find an outcome that is any different.

I try to remember just how I had met Sakura the night before. I mentally retrace my steps, seeing myself walk home to my apartment after witnessing Yuri's unfaithfulness. I shower, unpack, look in my fridge to find a half empty bottle of soy sauce and a black lump that might have been a banana at some point. I distinctly remember wanting alcohol more than food, something that would take the edge off the miserable feeling of knowing that while I was an elite ninja, I was terrible at relationships.

I had gone to the dive bar near ANBU headquarters. It's where most shinobi go to blow off steam after a mission. I had seen Gai, Genma and Kurenai and Iruka clustered at a table near the bar, and though I had previously planned on drinking alone, a part of me longed for their companionship.

I was immediately welcomed into the circle with warm smiles and a hearty clap on the back from Genma. It felt good to be among friends even if Gai immediately challenged me to see who could swim down the villages river the fastest, raving about the fires of youth and our duty to set an example to the younger generations. I had no choice to accept of course, though I set the date for late next week, hoping that by then, I would be sent on another mission.

Conversation soon turned to the upcoming festival that was held every year. It was a week of festivities, celebrating the end of winter and the coming of spring. There would be food, games, and a hell of a lot of alcohol. Shinobi usually started drinking several days in advance just in case they were called away on a mission and missed all the fun. I had been In Suna and had been absent last year and Genma was insisting that I should drink double the shots today to make up for it.

Before I could protest, two shot glasses were on the table in front of me. I downed the first one to a chorus of cheers and was joined by everyone for the second. And so it continued on throughout the evening. Whenever someone would have a drink, I would have two. I remember talking briefly with Iruka about his current group of students, and giving Kurenai an understanding nod, knowing springtime was when she missed Azuma the most. After that, the details grew fuzzy, worn away by alcohol and bad judgment.

I come out of my internal musings and realize I'm in front of the Ichiraku ramen stand. I can smell the savory scent of fresh broth and barbequed pork and my stomach growls hungrily. Now that my nausea has passed, I find that I am starving. Unfortunately, my sensitivity to light is still quite acute and even though one of my eyes is covered as always, the sunlight feels like its shooting needles directly into my brain.

All the stools at the counter are empty so I take the nearest one. Old man Ichiraku emerges from behind a faded curtain with a greeting and a smile. He asks me what I have and I mumble my reply. I'm surprised he understand. It's practically unintelligible, even to me.

"Rough mission?" he asks.

I nod, not having the energy to tell him that the mission went just fine. It's the village living that's getting me down.

He doesn't press further and disappears back behind the curtain. I sigh and scrub a hand over my face. What a mess I have made! I can't believe that I've done something so foolish. Sakura is my former student and fourteen years my junior! I've known her since she was only twelve! I think back to when she was little more than a crybaby with such a large soft spot for Sasuke that it made her weak and unreliable. She has grown so much since then. Just two weeks ago I had caught her sparring with her friend Ino out the training grounds and I was once again surprised by how much she's grown. I see so much of Tsunade in her now. She's strong, fearsome and yet somehow retains compassion. She can demolish a mountain with one punch and heal injuries that would otherwise be mortal wounds. She is an amazing kunoichi and an even better medic, book smart in a way I could never be yet competent and a strong ally on the battlefield. She is just a shadow now of her twelve year old self, improved now in every single way. Yet sometimes, when she smiles, I still see that little girl in her and I can't help a smile of my own. I would be lying if I said I hadn't noticed how she's matured physically as well. Her legs seem to go on forever beneath that small pink medic apron. Her figure has developed curves all in the right places and though her bust isn't exactly generous, those soft mounds would fit quite nicely into my palms.

I stop mid thought, realizing her breasts probably have been molded into my palms as well as her perfect heart shaped rear. I've probably kissed those soft pink lips...hell, perhaps she even let me kiss her other set of lips too.

I couldn't help but wonder what we had done the night before. Maybe Sakura was even kinkier than me. Maybe we had done stuff I've never even dreamed about. What if I'd had the best sex of my life with her and I couldn't even remember...or what if it had been the worst? What if I'd performed so poorly in my drunken stupor that she didn't even want to talk to me again? Could that have been why she left before morning?

I was so distracted by my inner turmoil that I didn't even hear Naruto coming until he plopped down on the stool next to me and greeted me with a voice that was about ten decibels too loud.

"Hey, Kakashi sensei! Isn't it a great day for ramen?"

I personally didn't think it was a great day for anything considering that the diminished pounding in my head suddenly returned full force.

I nod my head and make an unintelligible noise that might have passed for on of agreement. I hope it's enough to satisfy Naruto so he will leave me alone.

It's not.

He continues to prattle on and on, talking of missions and jutsus and summoning frogs, pausing only to order an obscene amount of ramen bowls before getting back to chatting.

Mr. Ichiraku brings me my own steaming bowl of noodles and though the broth is warm and soothing, it can't compete with my former student's grating voice.

Naruto doesn't seem to notice that the conversation is mostly one sided, considering I only give the occasional grunt when I think it's was needed. I'm not even really listening to what he was saying. My throbbing head hurts too much for me to try and make sense of his words. All I knew was that he's loud. Seriously, how did a guy with no concept of "indoor voices" and a bad habit of wearing orange jumpsuits make it so far as shinobi? If it weren't for the spirit fox inside him and his indomitable spirit, Naruto would surely be the worst ninja ever.

I look down at my bowl and find it empty. I had eaten everything without even realizing it. I debate ordering another but that meant I'd have to suffer Naruto's company even longer.

The blond was polishing off his third bowl and asking for another as I pulled out my wallet. Unfortunately, when I open it up, it's completely empty, not even a single ryo. Apparently I had been quite generous with my funds last night. I had probably bought several rounds for my friends, hell, and probably for some people I didn't even know. And then there was the tattoo on my side that still stung slightly. I wondered how much that ink job had cost me.

Cutting Naruto off mid sentence, I apologize hastily, saying that I have a meeting I'm late for and ask if he would mind spotting me this time. Before my former student can protest, I'm gone in a puff of smoke, leaving him to pay my tab. At least it was only one bowl.

It wasn't the first time I'd left him with the bill and it probably wouldn't be the last. In my current state I can't even muster the decency to feel bad about it. All my thoughts are focused on Sakura. I have to find her and ask her what happened, even if it means swallowing my pride or hearing an answer I'm not going to like.

It was true I thought she had developed into a beautiful woman with admirable kunoichi skill, and sure the thought had occasional crossed my mind that she'd look good naked. I am a man after all and a perverted one at that. But I never thought I'd ever act on my thoughts and get her into bed. But the fact was that somehow or another, she had agreed! Maybe she had an attraction to me as well, or maybe it was just the alcohol in her bloodstream that night that had made her act so brashly. Either way, my fingers secretly itched to touch her again, even though I knew it was wrong.

I am not the sex god that everyone makes me out to be, but I'm not exactly virginal either. I've had my fair share of women. Some of them meant something to me, others did not, but I've never been one to chase skirts or hope for long lasting relationships. The women who I bedded usually sought me out, and sometimes we became more than a one night stand. Sometimes I even started to care for them, which past experience has taught me is a dangerous thing. For the most part, my sexual encounters are infrequent and usually not with the same partner and never with a fellow Konoha kunoichi. That made things too complicated.

So it was quite unusual that I yearned for Sakura. Perhaps it was the taboo of pursuing a former student, but it was more likely because I'd had her and couldn't remember a thing about it. I knew this strange attraction was dangerous. Dating girls from the same village was never a good idea for a man who didn't like many attachments. I knew the smartest thing would be to forget that I had ever woken up naked with Sakura's bra under my bed. I shouldn't go see her. I shouldn't bring it up with her. I should live the rest of my life as if this morning had never existed.

Even as I was thinking these things, my feet were walking on their own, moving independently from my brain, and I had a good idea of where they were headed. No matter what I try to tell myself, I still walk towards Sakura's apartment.

I arrive at the complex in only a few minutes. It's an old building, but still retaines a cozy charm despite its faded paint and crumbling stucco. I had only been here once before to deliver a summons to the hospital, but I still remember her apartment number.

I knock on door 203, the last door on the second story. I hear no movement inside. I can't even sense her chakra signature. It appears my former student is not at home.

As if to echo my thoughts, a soft voice behind me says, "she's not here."

I turn to find a large brown paper bag and an elderly, white-haired woman peeking out from behind it. She can't be more than five feet high. If I remember correctly, she owned the building and is Sakura's landlord.

The bag seems like a large load for such a small lady so I offer my help, which she gratefully accepts.

"Sakura is usually at the hospital this time of day," she says as I take the groceries from her so she can pull out her key and unlock door 202. "You should try there."

I thank her for her help as I return her groceries. Of course she would be at the hospital...my least favorite place in the world. Did I really want to talk to Sakura badly enough that I would risk being poked and prodded by a nurse who might insist on giving me one of my long overdue examinations?

I did.

The walk to the hospital doesn't take me long. As soon as I enter through the front doors, I keep my head down and gaze to the floor, hoping none of the staff see me and attempt to take me to an examining room. I know that I am tall and my shock of silver hair is hard to miss. I'm easily recognizable in Konoha, but I try to sneak by anyway.

"Kakashi-sensei? What are you doing here?"

So much for sneaking. I thought ninja were supposed to be good at that sort of thing.

I look up to find a very blonde Ino Yamanaka who insists on wearing her skimpy purple two-piece even when working at the hospital. I suppose I should consider myself lucky. If anybody were to know where Sakura is, it would be her nosey best friend.

"Hey, Ino," I say, raising my hand in greeting. "I have an appointment with Sakura. Do you know where she is?"

Turquoise eyes narrow as she gave me a hard look, as if trying to see through my lie. Hey, I didn't think it was that obvious.

"Sakura left for a mission this morning. All of her appointments were called and rescheduled."

Shit.

"I've been out all morning so I must not have gotten the message," I lie, keeping my smile in place beneath my mask. "Do you know when she'll be back?"

A knowing smile plays at the corners of her mouth. "She expects to be back in about a week, but if you have any love notes or chocolate to give her, I'd be happy to put them in her inbox for you."

My smile is abruptly wiped away. Ino knows about Sakura and I? Did Sakura tell her? Did that mean Ino knew more about last night than I did? I want to ask, but know I have to be careful about dealing with a gossip like Ino. I don't want to tell her anything she doesn't already know, because if it's not all over town yet, it will be if I let something slip.

"What do you mean by that?" I ask, carefully keeping my expression neutral.

The question earns me a roll of her aquamarine eyes. "Don't play dumb Kakashi-sensei. We all saw the two of you leave the bar together last night. She was drunk and you were totally trashed. The way you two were gazing at each other like hungry animals made it pretty obvious what was going to happen."

I'm thankful that my mask is covering most of my face because I can feel my cheeks reddening at her smug comment. At the same time, I can't help a twinge of disappointment. If Sakura had been drunk, that might have been her only reason for falling into the sack with me. I should be grateful that it was nothing more complicated than that, no attachments, no expectations, but for some reason, I'm not.

Judging by Ino's smirk, she know she's gotten to me.

"If you want to keep your appointment, I have a moment to spare. I suppose you're here for your yearly physical?"

Her smile turnes saccharine sweet as she bats her eyelashes playfully. I can't tell whether she's just messing with me, if she just wants the pleasure of causing me discomfort during my physical, or if she too is curious to find out of the rumors circulating about me were true. I have no intention of sticking around long enough to find out.

"No Ino, that's quite alright," I reply, managing to keep my voice steady and calm as I slowly back away. "I'll just reschedule with Sakura when she gets back."

I turn and walk away as quickly as I can without breaking into an outright run. I can hear her laughing behind me.

XXXXX

A week is not a long time. It's only seven days. It's only a small moment in comparison to the life I've already lived. However, these days are the longest, most torturous seven I'd ever had.

I try keeping my mind off Sakura by reading my beloved Icha Icha books, but of course those do me no good because reading about sex inevitably leads me to think about her. I try to take a mission that will take me out of Konoha, preferably one with lots of danger, but Konoha's surrounding villages seem annoyingly peaceful at the moment. I consider taking up gardening, but then realize I live in an apartment and therefore, have no garden. So I sit and thought about Sakura. I image countless scenarios to replace my lost memories of the night we had shared. Some were good, some were amazing, and some were very, very bad. It was eating me alive wondering which one came closest to the truth, but with the kunoichi gone, I had no choice but to suffer on my own.

Fortunately, the annual Spring festival begins exactly seven days from my eventful morning. It's nice being in town for such festivities since I had missed out last year. The daylight hours go on as usual but nighttime marks the first of seven evenings of food, alcohol and fun.

As soon as the sun goes down, the village comes alive. I walk through the streets to see everyone in brightly colored kimonos and yukatas, enjoying the fresh, warm air that held the promise of winter's end and spring's return. The streets are lined with bright paper lanterns of every hue and everywhere are food vendors and booths in which you can pay a few ryo to play games in hopes of winning prizes. The smell of many appetizing foods is thick in the air and there is laughter and smiling faces any way I turn. I had forgotten how wonderful this time of year is. It's almost like Christmas.

I had been invited to a rooftop gathering that was to be mostly shinobi. It's one of Konoha's taller buildings, allowing me to look out over the brightly colored city. As I arrive I am greeted by Genma, who looks like he's already had enough to drink for the evening, but has no intention of stopping.

There are more people here than I'd thought there would be. The rooftop is crowded with familiar and unfamiliar faces alike. The atmosphere is equally festive with more paper lanterns and kimonos. I had decided to forgo customary festival attire for my usual Jounin uniform. I didn't even own a yukata. But I'm not the only one dressed this way, so I don't feel out of place.

And then I see her, even through the crowds she stands out like a beacon. Her pink hair is swept into a high bun and secured with chopsticks and her kimono is the same jade color as her eyes. I have to talk with her, and weave my way through groups of happily chatting people to reach her.

She sees me coming and shoots me a radiant smile.

I can't remember Sakura ever looking quite so stunning. As I neared I saw that she had actually applied some makeup for the occasion. There was no doubt that the girl who had once been my crybaby student had grown into a ravishing woman.

"Hello, Kakashi-sensei," she says when I had drawn close enough to be heard over the din of celebratory voices.

"Hello, Sakura-chan," I reply.

It's how we've always greeted each other for years, but now it somehow feels too formal after being in bed together with our clothes off.

A moment of silence passes between us. Now that I am close enough I can see that her kimono has flowering cherry trees on it, their shimmery petals raining down against the jade background. It is the perfect kimono for her and she looks beautiful in it.

"Sensei?" she prompts and I realize I've been staring at her for too long.

I snap out of my daze and begin to babble, all my smooth ways of talking with women suddenly gone when faced with one so familiar. "Sakura, about last night...I don't...I mean...well, you see...it's like this...um..."

She suddenly presses a finger to my lips, mercifully saving me the trouble of trying to talk. The gesture is simple, yet somehow, incredibly intimate. She never would have done something like this before and it's just more proof that something has indeed changed between us.

"You don't remember a thing, do you?" she asks. I expect her to be mad, but instead there's a playful smile on her lips as if she finds this whole situation rather amusing.

I shake my head and feel like a fool. Who the hell sleeps with a woman this beautiful, one they've known for years, and not remember a thing?

"I figured," she says, pulling her hand away and I immediately find myself missing the feel of her finger against my lips.

She figured? So she knew I wouldn't remember? From her tone, it appeared she remembered everything that had transpired that night. I open my mouth to speak again but she shakes her head.

"Let's not talk about it here. Walk me home tonight and we can discuss it. For now, let's just have a good time, ok?"

I agreed with a nod of my head, even though there's nothing more I wanted than to than pull her away from the party and talk abut it now. While I'm here I might as well eat the free food and greet the people I haven't seen in a while, even if the question of what happened a week ago is eating away at me. However, one thing is for sure; I'm staying the hell away from alcohol.

I am only here two hours, but it feels like an eternity. I watch Sakura mingling with her friends, and our eyes occasionally meet from across the room. I try not to stare, try not to make it too obvious that I am somehow absolutely infatuated with her. How could I not have realized sooner how beautiful she is, and how could I not remember what was hidden beneath the silk of her kimono?

My thoughts are interrupted by a light tap on my shoulder. I turn to find Yuri wrapped in a fiery red Kimono that shows just the right amount of cleavage to be alluring but still classy.

"Hello, Yuri," I say politely, not at all in the mood to talk to my former lover."

"Hello, Kakashi. I wondered where you'd been. You haven't come to visit since you got back from your mission. I've missed you. Is everything alright?"

Her voice is a low purr, soft and seductive and perfectly practiced. I wonder how many men she'd used it on. I used to be attracted to that sultry voice, but now I was hearing it for what it was, a bunch of lies.

"I came by a week ago but you seemed busy with your ANBU toy," I reply flatly. "Since you didn't bother to call or visit me either, I figured you were getting everything you needed from him and my services were no longer required."

Yuri looks stricken as she realizes she had been caught in the act.

"I-I don't know what you saw but it was a mistake!" she lies. "It's over with him now. All I want is you so come home, baby. We can just-"

"Goodbye Yuri. I hope you enjoy the party." I say, not even waiting for her to finish her sentence before I walk away. It's funny, but I haven't thought about Yuri and her cheating ways at all because I've been too busy thinking about Sakura. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

Apart from running into Yuri, the rest of the night goes smoothly. There is music and games and laughter, and I remain perfectly sober through all of it. I have a good time but when Sakura finally approaches me and asks me to escort her home, I couldn't be happier. The streets remain bright and crowded all the way to her apartment so we chat about things of little consequence until we reach her door. She unlocks it and ushers me inside.

I watch her switch on a lamp that bath in a low golden glow. It hardly seems like sufficient lighting but I have other things to worry about at the moment. Now that we are truly alone, I can finally speak freely.

"Sakura, I know that something happened between us that night, but forgive me, I can't remember a thing about it. I woke up with the worst hangover of my life and your bra on my floor and it's been torturing me not knowing what we did."

For a moment, she actually looks sheepish. "Yeah, I figured that would be the case. I'm sorry I left before you woke up. Genma came with a summons for a mission and I had to leave immediately."

That made sense. Genma had seen us leave the bar together that night and had probably sent a few whoops and caterwauls our way. He would know where to find Sakura. However, I'm surprised he hadn't jibed about it all week. He wasn't one to kiss and tell, but he always wanted to know what all his buddies were up to in the sack.

"You could have left me note," I say, trying not to sound sullen. It was ridiculous. I had never left a not for a woman in my life. There were countless times were I had slipped out from the sheets and left before dawn. Why was a feeling hurt that she had done the same?

"I wanted to but had no time," Sakura says with a sigh. "That's why I left my bra."

I raise one silver eyebrow. "You did that on purpose?"

"Of course," she says, taking a step towards me. "You're a smart man. I knew you'd figure who had been there."

If she hadn't left her bra there, I wouldn't have known a woman had been in my bed at all. I would have been none the wiser and could have avoided this exasperating situation of not knowing what had gone on. It would have been a clean break. So simple. So easy. Sakura must have known that too. So why did she do it? The answer was simple. She wanted me to know she had been there.

"So you left a clue for me?" I joke, "Or did you just make an excuse to come back and get your bra? Was it too good to be just a one night stand?"

Sakura smiles that knowing little smile again and crosses her arms over her chest. "Well, I wouldn't really know about the sex. We didn't have it."

For a moment I think my brain has short circuited and I've heard her incorrectly. "We what?"

"We didn't have sex," she repeats. "I was ready and you were on top of me, kissing down my body with promises of getting me off with just your mouth, but you fell asleep face first in my navel before you could make good on your promise."

I can't believe what I'm hearing. Never have I been so drunk as to do something so mortifying, so stupid. I'm swearing off alcohol indefinitely.

"You look disappointed," she says, reading the expression on my face. Her own is still filled with amusement and she obviously finds my plight very funny.

I am indeed disappointed that we didn't actually do the deed, but in a way, I'm not and I tell her so. When she asks why not, I answer honestly. "I would hate to have bedded you, a woman I've known for so long and care about so much, and not remember it."

She looks surprised and she should me. I am not a man prone to sharing my feelings, to wearing my heart on my sleeve, for showing much emotion at all. But the words are out before I realize and I cannot take them back. Amazingly, I don't want to take them back. In this week of picturing Sakura naked and pinned beneath me, I've come to the realization that not only could I get very used to having her in my bed, I could also become quite fond of cuddling together after, of having dinner together, of having her constant companionship in my life. In other words, Kakashi Hatake, the man who had sworn off ever letting anybody get close to him again, was ready and willing to enter into a romantic relationship with a former student.

As miraculous as it seemed, I was quite aware that perhaps this was not what Sakura wanted at all. Perhaps she had only been looking for one night of pleasure, not a commitment, and if that was what she wanted, so be it.

Sakura's surprised expression turns to one I haven't seen her wear before, at least not that I can remember. It is sultry...maybe even a little seductive.

"Do you think you'd remember bedding me if you did it now?"

Out of all the things she could have said, I had not been expecting that, and it takes me a moment of processing her words before I squeak out, "I would."

"Good," she says with a smile, her fingers nimbly undoing the knot of her obi, the sash holding her kimono closed. There is dark desire in those green eyes as she parts the robe and lets the silken fabric slide off her shoulders and into a heap on the floor.

I am completely breathless.

Her body is beautiful.

Small pert breasts and puckered pink nipples make my fingers itch to squeeze the soft flesh and pinch the hardened buds between my fingers. Her stomach is flat and firm, abdominals apparent but not overly defined beneath smooth skin. Her legs are long and slim but full of graceful power, leading up and up to the treasure nestled between creamy thighs. She is clean shaven, so I can't tell if the hair there is pink as well, but I want very much to shower her mound with kisses, to spread her open and explore every feminine crevice with fingers and tongue until she is panting my name.

But there is something strange that really catches my eye, something that must have been added just recently. There on her side, the one opposite to my own, is a cherry blossom branch with shurikens embedded in the wood. If we were standing side by side, it would mirror my own design.

We have matching tattoos.

Sakura follows my gaze and sees my shocked expression. "I take it you don't remember getting the tattoo either?"

"No," I say, closing the space between us to I can get a better look. "I must have been completely smashed."

"I've been wanting this tattoo for a while, and that night I was just drunk enough to finally get it. You watched me get mine done and held my hand the whole time. When it was over, you decided you wanted one to match."

My eyes flick from her side back to her face. "You're kidding."

I may have had way too much to drink that night, but I can't imagine being so drunk that I would voluntarily get flowers tattooed onto me, even if the finished design was rather striking.

Sakura shakes her head. "Nope. You practically begged the man to do it for you."

I let my fingers come up to run lightly over the freshly inked skin. The flesh is still raised slightly where the color had been embedded.

"And you didn't even try to talk me out of it?" I ask, breathing in her scent. She smells so good, like strawberries and fresh flowers tinged ever so slightly with medicinal antiseptic.

"Oh, I tried," she replies, making her green eyes big and innocent like Pakkun when he wants to be fed. "But you're such a stubborn man. There was nothing I could do."

Her arms snake around my waist, pulling me close. They are so small but I know how much strength they contain. Fingers work their way under the navy blue shirt of my Jounin uniform and stroke along the bare skin of my back. The touch is so soft, and yet it is quite effective in arousing me. Her bare body is now pressed intimately against mine and I ache to remove the clothing that is separating her skin from my own. My former student is trying to seduce me, and to my surprise, she's quite good at it.

As much as I want to pick her up and carry her off to the bedroom, I need to know what I'm getting into. What does she want from this? And why me? If she's just another of Konoha's women who wants to put my sexual skills to the test, or is she searching for something more?

"Sakura," I breathe, realizing my voice has grown quite husky with my desire for her. "What is it you want from me?"

She gives me a questioning look from beneath the pink fringe falling across her forehead. "I think it's pretty obvious what I want, Kakashi."

To emphasize her point her hand worms between us to cup the hard proof of my desire that's already throbbing within my pants. The contact makes me groan aloud and I realize I'm losing control of the situation.

"That's not what I mean," I pant, managing to grasp her wrist and pull her hand away. "What I want to know is this just for tonight or is this more than that?"

"I'll take whatever I can get," is her vague and evasive reply. She is being incredibly frustrating and all I want is a straight answer.

I grasp her firmly by the shoulders and make sure she's looking me in my single exposed eye. My voice takes on a warning tone as I repeat her name, letting her know that the answer she's given me is not an acceptable one.

She seems to deflate a little and shows vulnerability for the first time this evening. This is more like the Sakura I know, and while I didn't mind the confident seductress, this blushing, timid version is also wildly appealing.

"I...I know you just got out of your relationship with Yuri," she says softly. "You hardly have any friends, let alone girlfriends and the ones you do have don't last long. I've kind of had a crush on you for a while, but figured you would never consider a relationship. So if one night is all I get, I'm ok with that. Please don't let my feelings scare you away."

She averts her eyes and chews on her lip, acting just like the twelve year old girl I used to know. And yet, the feminine curves pressed against me remind me that she is very much a woman. My heart swells at her words and I can hardly believe what I've heard. She's had a crush? On me? A week ago, I'm not sure how I would have reacted, but after seven days of thinking of nothing but Sakura, I am elated. I scoop her up in my arms, chuckling at her surprised squeak, and head immediately for the bedroom.

"Kakashi?" she whimpers softly as I toe the door shut behind us and lay her down on her bed.

It is my turn to press a finger to her lips. Soft light from the lanterns outside shines in through her open window and highlights her luminous skin.

"Sakura, I cannot promise you forever, because forever is a long time and time is something shinobi have little of. I don't know where I'll be in a week, let alone a year, but I do know I don't want this to just be for tonight."

Her eyes grow wide at my words, watching me as I strip off my flack jacket and shirt.

"Really?" she whispers?

"Really," I reply as I discard my mask, my pants and finally, my briefs. "Now, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I made you a promise that I intend to keep. Something about using my mouth?"

I dip my head to kiss along her collar bone and up her neck, reveling in her sharp intake of breath. By the time a trail along her jaw to her lips, the shy girl is gone, replaced once again with the sexually charged vixen.

"You had better make it good," she purrs. "I've had to wait a whole week for this."

I press my body to hers, tattoo against tattoo and chuckle. If all she expects is good, then my sweet little Sakura is in way over her head.

XXXXX

For the record, writing from the first person and in present tense is not comfortable for me. I found myself switching back to the past tense constantly. I tried to correct it all but if I missed some places, please forgive me. Like I said, it was down to the wire trying to get this thing done in time!

I hope you enjoyed it anyway, and remember, reviews are love. :)