Hello my dear friends and followers of my fanfiction, I apologise for my absence and am hoping to get back onto the writing horse as soon as possible for my other works of fiction. For now enjoy this, albeit short, update for one of my favourite pieces !

Disclaimer: I do not Own Naruto or any of the aspects of Naruto mentioned in the fic.
Warning: Rated M for language, violence, lemon (later in the fic)
If you're too young to view this kinda material, leave or keep very, very quiet ;)
Also if you do not like KakashixSakura or hints of SasukexSakura - don't read :)

ENJOY! :D


The Man and his goats.

Sakura rose early, the sun rose sluggishly over the horizon as she stood, fully clothed, cerise flak jacket and crimson hitai-ite to boot, watching the amber sky slowly turn slowly ochre, then a wavering blue. Sakura stood, transfixed, the light of day brought a calming security. She knew the lazy Copy-nin was awake but she couldn't bring herself to talk to him, she was too ashamed. She might as well have screamed, "I'm a boy crazy child who cries at the slightest bad dream!" to the world last night.

"Sakura," A slight moan emitted from the silver haired nin as he rolled out of bed, "You have to stop beating yourself up." His voice was thick with sleep.

"Beating up? Who's beating up?" Sakura whirled around, a big, fake, ear-to-ear smile slapped to her face.

"Whatever," Kakashi couldn't be bothered, he didn't sleep last night. He woke five minutes after falling asleep and was restless ever since. He couldn't shake the feeling that something was in the room with them, something foreign and foreboding. "Come on, I've already bought supplies, we can leave now, unless you have unattended business?" His tone was dry and impartial.

"No lets go." She turned to see his face, really see his face. His hair was a sprawling mass of iridescent silver, bed head to say the least. His smooth, strong jawline dusted with a slight hint of stubble. His mismatched eyes were startling in the early morning light. A cocked eyebrow shattered her gaze as he pulled up his mask and adjusted his hitai-ite over his Sharingan. Blushing she stormed out of the room, picking her, now heavier, pack from the doorway. She sped down the wood-panelled landing, and stomped down the stairs, gaining a questioning look from a sleep ravaged landlord. She shot him a smile and continued out of the inn. Sakura stopped as she met the street. There was no one in sight. Not a soul.

"Eerie isn't it?" Kakashi mumbled against his wounded Icha Icha.

"You don't say." Sakura retorted flatly, trying to put distance between them by shuffling out of the doorway.

"Enough, lets just go." Kakashi grunted, pulled out Icha Icha, shoved his free hand in his pocket and set off at a strong pace towards the South gate. Sakura followed at the same pace, too angry to care any more. She needed to grow up and stop relying on others to support her. Sakura had always been that girl that relied on others, if it were moping over Sasuke not loving her or if she was in danger, she always relied on others to rescue her like a damsel in distress. No more.

They reached the Southern gates without quarrel, it was as if the town was nocturnal. There wasn't even a ghost of a breeze. The town was dead. Shutters were closed, doors barricaded, not even the barking of a stray dog penetrated the still air of the silent town. The guards were dressed in a lesser fashion than the night before. Thin, plated armour, the same silver-topped spears but no katana, no bows.

"Leaving so soon?" Mitsuya's coarse voice chuckled from the left guard.

"Unfortunately so," Kakashi lowered his book and his eye creased in apology, "We were supposed to reach our destination last night." He scratched his head in mock embarrassment.

"Ah, punctuality is foremost in these parts, though Yuzu-chan should know that?" Mitsuya had almost opaque grey irises and a kind smile. Something that had escaped Sakura's gaze in the club.

"Of course I do, but we ran into some difficulty on our travels." Sakura smiled vacantly and tried to sound chirpy.

"Is that so?" An inquisitive eyebrow arched as Kakashi began to laugh it off.

"Oh she's over reacting, she twisted her ankle and she pleaded for me to wait until she had recovered!" His tone that of a dismissive lover, marvelling at his fiancée's weakness. Sakura knew it was an act, he meant nothing of it and she had walked into it. But the rage coiling in her stomach almost became painful.

"Ah I doubt that!" A throaty chuckle resounded from deep within Mitsuya's chest, "She seems like a strong one." He smiled at Sakura, giving a knowing look. Now it was Sakura's turn to raise an eyebrow.

"Well," Kakashi's amused tone broke her train of thought, "We must be off, nice to meet you, Mitusya-san!"

"And yourselves, keep your wits about you around these parts!" Mitsuya's warning almost was nullified by his laughter, he clearly had a screw loose.

"Don't worry about us!" Kakashi waved him off, eye creasing fiercely.

"I won't, be on your way." Mitsuya and his silent partner uncrossed their spears and pounded them into the dusty ground. A small pause later and the doors swung open swiftly, revealing large, flat plains. Coarse scrubs and thin, prickly clusters of dry grass were the only form of greenery. With an unspoken prompt the two Shinobi stepped through the double walled gates and out onto the plains.

~##~

The heat was unbearable, it had only just turned Spring but the absence of mountains, forestry, springs of water made the trek nigh on impossible. Nothing to protect them from the sun, occasionally a breeze would roll by but it would be a saturated wave of dust and heat that tore at their skin. Sakura's lips were cracked and bleeding, she had zipped her flak jacket up to it's full extent but it still couldn't shelter her from the blistering heat. Kakashi however seemed mostly unaffected by the heat, his eye would shut in the occasional wince but nothing more. This enraged Sakura further, how could he bear the heat so easily? Make her look so pathetic? Why was he such an ass?

Why are you being so bitchy? A small voice called quietly from the back of her mind.

Sakura pushed the thought away, she wasn't being bitchy, she was just annoyed at the, all too good Copy-nin and his survival skills.

But why? The voice called again, louder this time. Sakura pushed it back, she was going to be pissed at him and that was the end of it.

The barren landscape was mind numbing, the only sense of direction that they had was the town that faded slowly in in distance behind them, soon even that was near non existent and Sakura pulled out her map irritably. Sakura's brow furrowed, the farm should have been in sight by now, the savannah was far too large in proportion to what the map indicated.

Light was fading fast and they were still plodding along in single file, getting seemingly nowhere.

"Sakura-chan." Kakashi called over his shoulder, Sakura flicked her eyes up towards the back of his head, "We'll have to find some shelter, it's far too dark for us to continue tonight without getting more lost than we already are..." Kakashi added a dry chuckle to the end of his sentence.

"Sure, where do you suggest?" Sakura retorted in a clipped tone, her lips searingly painful now.

"Well," Kakashi paused and lifted up his hitai-ite, "There's a tree about," Another pause, "A hundred metres to the left that has thick roots, they could provide some kind of shelter..." Kakashi was still scanning with his Sharingan, trying to find a better option. There wasn't.

"Sure, sure," Sakura mumbled, "I'll take first watch." Kakashi simply nodded, Sakura would have missed it if it weren't for the bobbing orb that was his Sharingan.

They set off cautiously, night had begun to fall only a few moments previous but already Sakura had begun to lose sight of Kakashi.

"Don't worry Sakura, I'm just in front of you." Kakashi's voice was startlingly close in front of her.

"I'm not worrying." Shut up you high and mighty prick, I'm not scared! But even Sakura knew it was a lie, she was trying to ward off that, watched, feeling that had her looking over her shoulder every few seconds. The chilling creep of ice along her spine. The jittery somersaults her stomach was attempting. The tremble that had crept up into her fingertips. Her whole being was a mess of fear, fear for her life, fear for Kakashi's disapproval and the simmering fear that she was slowly losing it.

"Sakura, stop walking or you'll walk straight into that tree." Kakashi's voice was above her now. No doubt he was perched up in the tree with his book.

"I knew that!" Sakura hissed shakily. She stopped dead in her tracks and extended her left arm out cautiously, her hand brushed against dry, cracked wood that felt dead and hollow. Her arm had only extended past her nose when she came into contact with the wood. Kakashi had been right...again.

"What's your problem?" Kakashi drawled airily.

"Nothing!" Sakura snapped, scraping her nails against the dead wood, she clenched her fist and winced as splintered wood drove itself under her fingertips.

"Lying won't solve your problems." Kakashi sighed and leant his head back against the tree.

"Lying won't solve your problems!" Sakura mocked petulantly.

A sigh emitted from above her but nothing more was said.

Sakura plunked herself down at the base of the tree, a hollow between large roots fitted her nicely. She pulled her knees up, rested her chin on her knees and wrapped her slender arms around her legs protectively. Silence ensued. Sakura used a soft flow of chakra to pull out the shards of wood from under her fingertips, casting a faint emerald glow about her. Eventually the wounds had healed and she set about using chakra flows to set a boundary around their position, weak enough for an assailant to not realise yet potent enough for Sakura to notice if it were to be disrupted.

Nothing happened not a gust of wind, no insects. Silence.

"Grooooowllll~" Sakura's cheeks burned with the heat of her blush. She hadn't realised how long it must've been since she had last eaten.

"You should eat something!" Kakashi mumbled gluttonously, his mouth full of some form of sustenance. Probably some kind of dried fish.

Sakura merely gave a distraught sigh and reached into the bag behind her, rustling around until she brushed against aluminium foil. She pulled out a small bundle of the stuff and unwrapped the package as quietly as she could. Sticky dumplings lay in the nest of scrunched up metal. She sniffed them gingerly and her jade eyes widened a fraction.

No way... Sakura bit into one of the dumplings and let out a moan of pure pleasure. Anko dumplings!

"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura breathed, not wanting to wake him if he had fallen asleep.

"Yes?" A lazy drawl seeped down from his position.

"Did you get these from Anko?" Sakura was smiling for the first time in hours.

"I did, I knew you liked them." Kakashi's voice was softer now, as if he were smiling.

"Oh..." A weak response she knew but nothing else would pop into her head. She found her cheeks heating up and a small smile ghost across her lips. Kakashi said nothing more and the only sound that now was the occasional flick of paper. He was reading again.

Sakura savoured every sweet dumpling. The sweet flavours mingling in a cacophony of delight. Sakura's mood was instantly lifted. She finished her dumplings and remained on watch, slowly she head the deep breathing that sleep brought. Kakashi had fallen asleep.

~##~

"Rin..." A soft, pain stricken mumble put Sakura on edge. She froze, senses alert on every level.

Sakura frowned, nothing had breached the ring of chakra.

"Rin!" A louder, barking plea of desperation echoed from above her.

"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura turned her head upwards. Searching for her sensei among the boughs of the tree.

"No, Rin, please, get back!" Kakashi's voice was painfully helpless. Sakura jumped to her feet and stared up at the hunched shadow that was shaking on the bough of the tree.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura yelled, attempting to wake him.

"Get away! Rin please!" Kakashi was practically screaming now.

Sakura took a chance and flew upwards, clearing the branch in one swift leap. She knelt before Kakashi's hunched form and tried to keep her balance as she edged slowly towards him. Sakura was almost upon him when he lashed out and grabbed her by the collar, his eyes wide with fear and anger.

"Rin!" A howl ripped from his covered mouth, he began shaking Sakura violently. "What have you done to her?" Kakashi exploded with rage holding Sakura close to his face, his eyes crazed, filled with anguish.

"Kakashi-sensei..." Sakura managed to choke out. Her jacket pressed painfully against the back of her neck.

"No!" Kakashi hissed, "You will not talk, I am asking the questions here!" Kakashi's eyes were crazed and his Sharingan swirled lazily, contrasting hugely with his sudden outrage.

"Ka-ka-" Sakura began to choke as Kakashi wound his fists into the material, tightening it around her slender neck.

"I told you to shut it!" He growled, pressing his face menacingly against hers.

A soft whimper escaped Sakura. Tears forming in the pits of her eyes.

"Sakura?" Kakashi's grip relaxed suddenly and his eyes lost the edge of menace. Sakura collapsed against the branch and clung to it desperately, clutching her raw throat.

Her throat hurt too much and her spluttering and coughing prevented her from responding.

"Sakura, what did I do?" He scooped her up from the branch, he held her against himself.

Sakura shook her head, she still could not speak.

"I'm so sorry, I lost Rin again, I couldn't stop her from dying...again." Kakashi whispered softly, pain laced through his speech. It was his turn to cry. He shook and sobbed, clinging to Sakura as much as she did to him. Together they sobbed and spluttered. Clinging together for both comfort and support. Neither felt safe, although for completely different reasons.

The sun peaked over the horizon sluggishly, turning the baked dirt golden. Kakashi was first to wake, his right eye cracking open slowly.

How could this happen? Kakashi sighed, dreading the journey forward. He could see a smudge on the horizon, he lazily opened his Sharingan eye. The image became clearer, a small cluster of buildings and some form of forestry. They were close.

"Sakura..." Kakashi smoothed her hair gently, attempting to wake the Kunoichi up slowly.

"Mhmn?" A sweet grunt emitted from the woman on his lap.

"It's time to get up." Kakashi smiled sweetly. Her hair was splayed messily around her face, making her look worn out. Her brow creased and a grimace set on a perfect set of cream coloured lips. Kakashi reached down to brush the hair off of her face and found his fingertips brushing the curve of those succulent lips.

Kakashi! He pulled his hand back quickly, realising what he was doing.

"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura's sleepy, blurred eyes were cutely innocent and contented.

"We have to go Sakura, the farm isn't that far now..." His voice was soothing and his hand fell back to her tousled locks of coral.

"Oh, okay..." She sighed almost drunkenly.

"I'll carry you for a bit if you wish?" Kakashi smirked under his mask.

"No no, I'm fine." She murmured groggily, stretching herself out like a cat, back arched. Sakura looked down and jumped, clinging to Kakashi desperately. "I'd forgotten we were in a tree!" She squeaked.

"I could tell!" Kakashi chuckled softly and held her against him, "I won't let you fall..." His tone shifted slightly and those words had a deep meaning behind them and Sakura had noticed. Looking up into his eyes she blushed, seeing something deep and unknown behind the calm, composed veil Kakashi shrouded himself in.

"Let's go, like you said, the farm isn't that far off!" Sakura slapped on a false smile and readied herself, silently Sakura fell from the tree and landed softly on the balls of her feet, knees bent and arms held out for balance. Kakashi dropped from the tree less gracefully but just as silent and pulled out his damaged Icha Icha.

"Hey Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura smiled, noticing the hole in his book again.

"Mhn?" He mumbled in acknowledgement, not letting his eye stray from the page.

"I'll buy you a new book when we get back to Konoha." She smiled brightly, hoping he would look up.

"Thanks." He muttered as he flipped a page lazily. Sakura's face dropped, her eyes narrowing.

Dick didn't even look at me. Sakura smiled though, putting the negativity behind her.

"Onigiri to start the day?" Sakura smiled, pulling out a small box of four rice balls.

"Sure." This time he looked up, his visible eye arched in pleasure.

"Catch!" Sakura threw two rice balls in succession at him and he deftly caught them both in his free hand.

"Thanks!" Kakashi's eye arched again as he began to walk away.

"Not going to stop and eat?" Sakura shook her head, knowing his answer already.

"We're too close to stop now!" Kakashi laughed and lowered his mask, eating the rice balls quickly, marching off ahead so she was not to see his face.

"Wait!" Sakura called frantically, trying to shove the box back into her pack before giving chase.

The bastard still won't show me his face! I wish I'd taken a photo earlier! Sakura drifted off into a stare as she walked, eating her onigiri slowly and trying to recall what his face looked like.

The pair walked off towards where Kakashi had seen the farm. The dead tree shuddered dangerously in a sudden gust of hot, musky air. The gust shook loose something from the boughs of the greying wood. A dark, matted robe slumped to the floor.

~##~

Sakura's mood had soared to it's peak when they finally exited the barren landscape and patches of soft, green grass began to appear. Slowly the baying of cows and other animals filled the air. They passed though a large gate, attached to the perimeter fence. Large pens of animals with towering fences began to form on either side of a small, worn track. Creating a corridor leading up to a large but weather worn farm house. It was obviously once a bright marigold with a once white porch and windowsills. Now the marigold was a bleached cream colour and the white had begun to peel and turn an off grey. The weather out here was harsh. The pens contained chickens of all shades of brown and white, piebald cows, lazy goats, blank, dozing sheep, angry geese and the final pen that lay next to the house contained a stable also. Two startlingly black horses whipped their tails impatiently at the flies hovering around their backs. They snorted on occasion and the left horse whinnied frequently.

Sakura smiled at the sight of the horses and reached up to the leftmost horse, stroking it's smooth nose slowly, whispering to it gently.

"Hey there, shhhh, what you cryin' bout eh?" Sakura nuzzled her nose against the side of the horse's head. The horse calmed immediately and snorted happily. Sakura continued to nuzzle the horse happily.

"You got a knack for horses young lady!" A kindly old man called from the stop step of the porch.

Sakura flicked her eyes up in his direction, seeing if he were a threat without startling the now calmed horse.

"Ah Kaname-san?" Kakashi had put away his book and was walking up to the porch.

"That is me." The old man nodded, he had a thick, white beard mottled with grey. His eyes were a soft blue and he stood at only five foot three. But he commanded respect simply from his eyes, they may have been soft but they had countless years of wisdom stored behind them. A straw hat topped his head and his smile was kind. Instant trust radiated from him. Which made Sakura edgy in itself.

"We're here to help with your livestock problem?" Kakashi was smiling or at least pretending to.

"Come on in, unless you want to stay with the horses?" He asked Sakura kindly.

"No, just give me a minute to say goodbye!" Sakura laughed softly, smoothing the horse's long face a few more times before hurrying up the porch steps. Kakashi and Kaname had already entered the house.

Sakura grasped the door handle and froze. There it was again, that watched feeling. She whirled around, facing the fear that had been boiling up inside of her.

A lone figure stood on all fours on the other side of the gate. Dark, shifting fur and an elongated muzzle. Piercing eyes that shifted from red to green and back again. Those eyes pierced Sakura's and she felt the fear rising to it's peak, it threatened to erupt out of her in a shriek. A barking laugh emitted from the shadow and the animals in their pens fell silent.

"Time, that is all I need." A ghostly, multi-toned, echoing voice howled from the shadow before it jumped up into the air and dispersed into nothing. Sakura fell to her knees and began to hyperventilate. She was palpitating severely and her nails were digging painfully into her palms, drawing blood slightly. A pain shot out from her neck and a scream ripped from her pursed lips. It was as if someone was tattooing poison into her skin. A muffled shout came from behind her but the pain shot out all other senses, it was just too much. She felt her consciousness slipping away at the intensity of the pain but a new wave of different pain shocked her system, the feeling of something burying into her neck threatened to drive her insane, it wasn't even allowing her to escape from the pain.

The muffled shouting continued but Sakura couldn't register it any more. She saw pain, tasted pain, heard pain, felt pain and even smelled the pain. It was pure torture, not a single cell in her body was safe now, it was like a toxin, polluting her very being.

Finally to her relief unconsciousness dragged her under into the painless darkness.

Kakashi carried Sakura into the house with her head pressed firmly against his chest. The hallway led directly to the stairs and was wood-panelled and bare. Only a family portrait to sport any kind of colour. Kakashi ignored this and headed into the living room. Kneeling, he placed Sakura onto the cream sofa. Her head was clammy and she twitched frequently, like being stuck in some kind of a night terror.

"Towels and cold water." Kakashi answered the old man's question before he needed to ask. He scurried away and went to fetch them. Kakashi knelt, stroking Sakura's hair, pushing it away from her sweat soaked face.

"Come on Sakura, you're stronger than this." Kakashi whispered softly, eyes filled with fear.

Sakura bolted upright, her breathing heavy and laboured.

"Kakashi-sensei?" She called out timidly. She was in a wide, pristine white, double bed in a muted yellow-walled room. A night stand with a burnt out candle and a glass of water was to her left. The door in front of her was solid oak and firmly shut. Voices could be heard from downstairs. Sakura feebly swung her legs over the edge of the large bed and rested her feet on the soft cream carpet. Her head spun wildly at the movement but she took a deep breath and steadied herself. Slowly she reached out for the small glass of water.

"Okasan!" Sakura heard a small voice call out, followed by a small knock on the door to her front.

"Come in?" Sakura breathed warily.

The door swung open in a wide arc and two children stood in the doorway, one boy one girl.

"Are you feeling better Okasan?" The boy asked politely.

"Yeah? You still feeling ill Okasan?" The girl chimed a little roughly.

"Um...I think so? Who are you?" Sakura smiled crookedly.

"Ottosan!" The little girl cried out, "Okasan doesn't remember us!"

Sakura heard an all too familiar chuckle accompanied by soft footsteps heading their way.

"Now how could my dear Sakura forget you?" The unplaced voice was amused.

As the man entered Sakura gasped, he stood behind the children, one hand on the doorframe the other on the young boy's head. Sakura looked, really looked at the children this time. The boy had startling bubblegum pink hair that flew in all directions from his scalp and deep onyx eyes. The girl had long, silver-grey hair tied in a ribbon and those eyes. Sakura knew those eyes, she saw them every day, peering back at her in the mirror. Mossy green, wide eyes that made Sakura's breath hitch in her throat.

"Good morning, sweetheart." Kakashi drawled softly.


Hope you enjoyed, again I apologise for my absence I have had exams and other pressures to deal with, hopefully I'll be updating weekly now I'm not in school for the next 8 weeks :D I've missed you all! - P.s Review pwease ;D x ~ Esuta