This fic is about a year old, but I stumbled across it on my hard drive and decided the world was ready for it. :) There were three sources of inspiration for this one. They were as follows: the song 'If I Die Young,' by The Band Perry, the song 'Marry Me,' by Train (which popped up on random play on my iTunes while I was writing and changed the ENTIRE plot) and Eponine's death in Les Miserables. But mostly the first two. So enjoy – and I don't own Naruto! :)
"You know, I never got a wedding," Anko commented, followed by a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a dry cough. "So my funeral better be pretty damn good, Kakashi Hatake."
Kakashi, from where he sat above her, nodded and managed to barely blink back the tears that would no doubt make her angry.
"Okay," he replied, his voice husky. "So what do you want?"
"Lots of roses," she said, her eyes gazing off into the gray, rainy sky. "White ones. They were always my favorite."
"I can make that happen," Kakashi replied, coughing himself to hide a groan or whimper or something that almost managed to escape anyway.
Both shinobi seemed oblivious to the battle going on around them, but that was a luxury they could afford, because several of Konoha's other warriors flanked them on each side at a slight distance. The jounin in question knew that that had to be their final gift to Anko. It was no secret that she was dying, and it cut them all deeply not to be able to spend these last moments with her. But they knew they could do her one better if they continued to fight so she could have those last rainy, bloody minutes to spend with her almost-lover.
"But I'm not done yet," Anko insisted, her words becoming a little bit more strained. "I want to be wearing white, too. Maybe even a wedding gown. A big satin one. Why not?"
"Why not?" Kakashi repeated in agreement.
"But make it one that covers up that stupid curse mark. That's not the way I want people to remember me."
"Don't 'of course' me, Hatake," Anko cautioned, her voice growing more stern. "All this better happen, or heaven help me, I will find out and haunt your ass forever."
Kakashi laughed at that one – but that expression made it somehow even harder to keep the tears from escaping.
"Don't worry," he said. "I'm keeping track. It's all going to be just how you want it."
"Good. And there better be pearls, too. I want to wear a whole string of them."
"And the funeral itself… it shouldn't be like the one we had for the third. I don't want it to be that sad."
Kakashi's first thought was one of numb indignation on Anko's own behalf. Of course it would be sad! Not only was Konoha losing one of its most skilled and determined jounin before she even got a chance to train a team of her own, it was losing the ever-smiling, witty, beautiful girl who was the first to stand up to any challenge and the last to give up. Konoha was losing Anko.
He was losing Anko.
"Anko?" Kakashi demanded suddenly, before he could talk himself out of it.
She looked up at him, leaning her head quizzically to prove that she was paying attention.
"Will you marry me?" he blurted out.
Anko's half-lidded eyes popped open, suddenly alert again despite all the pain.
"What are you playing at?" she demanded harshly. "I'm not stupid. I'll be dead in five minutes. This better not be some kind of reverse psychology stuff to convince me that I'm gonna be okay. I think we're way past that."
"It's nothing like that," Kakashi promised, swallowing sharply. "It's just… if I have to see you in a casket, I want it to be with a diamond ring on your finger. One given to you by me."
Anko finally felt her composure slipping.
"You're really serious, aren't you?" she whispered. "Then why don't you just slide one on my finger before they close the coffin? I won't care anymore by then."
"It wouldn't mean anything that way," Kakashi replied. "I want to have had you say yes. Then people will look down and say 'that's Kakashi Hatake's finacee.' And I'll know that you meant it and left this world loving me and only me. So tell me… will you marry me?"
Anko's bravado and pride was completely gone. She sniffled as a tear ran down her cheek to mingle with the rain that still fell evenly all around them.
"Yes," she said. "Yes. I accept. I want to be your fiancée."
"You're not just saying that?" Kakashi asked, giving her a stern look.
"I'm not wasting breath on anybody at this point," Anko said. "I don't have enough of it left for that. I truly want to marry you."
"That's all I needed to hear," Kakashi replied, kissing her forehead.
Anko's lip trembled, and she seized her fiancé's vest more firmly.
"Kakashi, I'm scared," she whispered. "Hold me."
"I'm holding you, baby," he replied, his breath warm against her cheek as he lifted her up higher onto his lap. "I'm going to hold on to you for the rest of your life. That's the promise a fiancé makes."
Anko barely managed a smile before she suddenly winced and ducked her head.
"It's getting cold. Why is this so scary?" she demanded. "I thought it was supposed to be the easy way out. If things end on the battlefield, you don't have to drag yourself back to camp bleeding. There were times when I wanted this. So why am I suddenly so afraid? I shouldn't be."
"There's no shame in fearing the unknown," Kakashi whispered, brushing a stray lock of wet hair away from Anko's face. "But it's easier if you let go and give in – that's what everybody says. Go softly. Surrender to it."
"I never surrender."
"There's a first time for everything," Kakashi assured her. "So breathe deeply and lie back. I'm not going anywhere."
Kakashi rocked Anko back and forth slowly. There was a first time for everything, he realized. Her first surrender. The first leap of faith he had ever taken in love.
"You know, Kakashi?" she whispered. "I think I might have loved you just a little bit."
His first time hearing three simple words he had wanted to hear from somebody - anybody - his entire life.
"I love you too, Anko."
Kakashi felt her finally relax and slip away in his arms, but it was with the tiniest of smiles on her cool lips. As he sat, numb, his first inclination was to wonder where to go from there. Who would he take her to? How could he tell the story? And worst of all… how he could live without her?
But it was far too early and he was still in far too much pain to think about any of those hard things. A few simpler promises echoed in his mind:
A white satin gown with pearls. A diamond ring. And roses – lots of white roses…
All the promises he had made to his fiancée.