Word Count: 488
Written for Day 1 of the Last Fan Standing Challenge on KakaSaku's Dreamwidth community.
Prompt: Balloon Animal
The festival night around them is tumultuous, joyous and heavy. Under a moon-kissed cherry tree, Kakashi stands with Sakura. She's smiling. He had been. Now he stares at what she holds. "Sakura," he says, "I don't—"
Her smile falters as she looks at the balloon animal in her hands. "But it's a dog," Sakura says, all bright-eyed earnestness and hope. "See, look, I even had them draw on Pakkun's cape."
Kakashi fights off the urge to shudder successfully. He's noticed that and, more than anything else about it, finds the drawn on cape to inspire nothing but revulsion. "It's well done, even," he says, trying not to recoil. "But—"
"You don't like it." He doesn't have to look at her to know she's got one perfectly manicured eyebrow raised.
He feels guilty. "I really-deeply-appreciate the thought, Sakura." Kakashi tilts her chin up and steals a kiss from her. Her lips are the softest he's ever touched. "I do," he says.
"I believe you." She sighs as she turns the dog over in her hands. "Will you tell me why you don't like it? You said you like festivals so I thought, maybe, there'd be only good memories here."
Kakashi toys with a bit of her hair—most of it is pinned up with chopsticks, only a few tendrils hang bewitchingly loose—and thinks of what to say.
"You promised me," she says, once the silence has stretched to nearly ten minutes, "that we'd try to talk about these things. I can't know unless you tell me." Her green eyes are warm, concerned and caring. "Did you want to talk about it another time and just enjoy the evening?"
He could drown in those eyes. They're what get him to answer, even though she's given him an out. "I don't like balloons," Kakashi says, "because they don't last."
She tilts her head, inviting him to kiss her neck as she thinks. He obliges her. "Most things don't last," she says, finally. "Even this festival will be all cleaned up and gone tomorrow."
"The festival will come back." Kakashi elaborates. "Have you ever heard of a balloon animal that's come back after it's popped?"
"That's not possible," she says softly, with understanding. "You can get another made but—"
"The one you had is gone," he finishes with her.
Sakura's gaze is solemn. "Lives are like that too."
Kakashi steals another kiss. She does understand. "I prefer to think they're like festivals. They'll keep coming back."
"All right," she says, after a spate of kissing that's left them breathless. "Like festivals." Sakura looks at the balloon animal she's still holding. "What shall I do with him?"
"Leave him at the temple as an offering. The gods can look after him." He loves her more for taking him seriously when all she does is nod. "Then—let's dance."
She obliges him and the night ends in laughter.