Title: Scars and Stitches

Characters: Team Gai

Genre: Friendship/Romance/Angst

Summary: A love triangle of Gai-stronomic proportions.

Bonus Chapter


"Kakashi, my eternal rival!"

Three people cringed, one responded with a fake smile, another stared stoically, not caring either way, and the last one pumped his fist in utmost admiration.

Hatake Kakashi, as expected, did not even bother lifting his head from the Icha Icha Paradise page he was currently focusing on.

And it was not because he did not respect Gai—because he did, even when it was hard, very hard at times—but he was currently in the middle of a really naughty scene, where the female lead accidentally walked in on the male lead as he was taking a shower, and—

"I challenge you to a race around the village, clad only in one of my vibrant green spandex!"

The copy ninja shut his book close and sighed exasperatedly, suddenly losing interest in what he was reading. Besides, not even the steamiest chapter of Icha Icha Makeout Tactics was enough to rid him of the images of himself wearing one of Gai's spandex suits.

Talk about being mentally scarred for life.

"Yosh! Gai-sensei! You should race using your hands!"

"Haha! Lee, my brilliant student! My eternal rival and I should do it using one hand!"

"You should do it using only your thumbs, Sensei!"

"Lee! I applaud you for your youthfulness, but we should do it using only one thumb!"

"Gai-sensei, truly you are the most youthful of them all!"





Kakashi fought the urge to facepalm himself—because facepalming would do damage to his "I am cool" reputation—and pinched the bridge of his nose instead. One sweep around and his suspicion proved correct—wave upon wave crashed against the dynamic duo, and an orange sunset, complete with flying seagulls, served as their background.

He quietly wondered if it was possible to skip dinner—he had a novel to finish anyway—but one glance at his old team made him change his mind. After all, it wasn't very often nowadays that the old Team Seven could meet up for a meal, what with Naruto being busy between missions and his new wife, Sakura with her hospital duties and apprenticeship under the Godaime, and Sai preparing for his induction in ANBU.

It wasn't bad either that the old members of Team Gai were to join them. Kakashi had always enjoyed Tenten's company, and Neji was more bearable to be with as long as his wife of three months was around, and even Lee was endearing in his own weird way, especially whenever he tried so hard to treat Sakura in the most special manner possible, even when it was obvious that he was still not quite over his kunoichi best friend.

And maybe he could admit to himself that he enjoyed Gai's company once in a while as well, even if the latter had a habit of challenging him every ten minutes or so.

So he was very grateful when Tenten, ever the most sensible member of his friend's team, stopped the youth fest with a well-aimed punch at the younger Green Beast's right cheek.

"Shut up, you baka!" the weapons mistress hissed, winding her left arm for another round of pummeling. "I'm starving! Let's get something to eat, damn it!"

Kakashi eyed the brunette warily, wondering why Tenten was crankier than usual, balling her fist against her best friend even when the taijutsu master apologized and berated her for being unyouthful under the same breath. It was then that the Hyuuga prodigy, who appeared to be the most level-headed in the team at the very moment, stepped in between his former teammates, gently wrapped an arm around his wife's waist, and not-so-gently pushed his best friend backward, obviously miffed at all the attention his wife was giving the taijutsu master.

"Shut up, Lee," he scolded, leading Tenten to the bar, coaxing her to choose whatever she wanted to eat.

"Well, I guess we better order as well," Sakura suddenly said, a little nervous, obviously still not quite over her fear-slash-admiration for the older kunoichi. Because no matter how proud Kakashi was of his female student's strength and intelligence, even he knew that Tenten's temper was something not even Sakura could rival with.

"Okay!" Naruto beamed, and then proceeded to make a lame joke about two frogs crossing the road, to which Sai fake-smiled, as expected, leading Sakura to smack the Hokage-in-training on the head.

Dinner went by normally—and by normal, it meant that Naruto finished three large bowls of ramen, Sai made some penis commentaries, and Gai challenged Kakashi to a gyoza-eating contest. Everything was going smoothly, as smoothly as what was to be expected from a Team Seven-and-Team Gai joint dinner, when the relative peace—or stalemate, maybe—was shattered when Tenten suddenly threw a chopstick at Lee for no apparent reason whatsoever.

"Y-youthful flower?" Lee stuttered, hand holding a steam bun halfway toward his mouth. The rest of the people around their small table paused in whatever they were doing, when they noticed the usually chirpy kunoichi throwing a fit.

"Why the hell did you buy me another order of sesame dumplings?!" Tenten hissed, pushing away the saucer of her favorite dish.

"B-but I thought sesame dumplings are your favorite?" Lee asked, unsure. "You used to gobble up five orders in one go!"

"What?!" the kunoichi screeched. "Are you calling me fat?"

"Of course not!" the taijutsu master squeaked, shaking his head left to right. "Why, you are one of the fittest, most beautiful, sexiest women I know!"

"Pervert!" Tenten yelled, voice raising in decibel at every word. "I ought to . . . !"

And then she was running away, toward the ladies' room, covering her mouth and clutching her stomach, as if in sudden need to vomit.

Quiet reigned the table once again, before Sakura quickly got up to follow the irate kunoichi, ready to offer any medical assistance necessary.

"What was that about?" Naruto dared break the silence, after a few more seconds. "Tenten is moodier than usual, dattebayo."

"And she looks like she wants to puke," Sai said, fake smile never leaving his face. "Perhaps she finds the food bad."

"Is our youthful flower, sick, Gai-sensei?" Lee asked worriedly, to which Gai enthusiastically answered that their beautiful blossom must have caught a dreadful virus during their last mission, but he was sure she would get well soon, because she was that youthful.

And then Kakashi looked up from his book once more and offered, "Maybe she's expecting."

A pregnant pause—Kakashi chuckled quietly at the pun—followed, and then everyone was staring at Neji, congratulating (Sai), teasing (Naruto), praising his ability to procreate (Gai), and blaming him for ruining their fair flower's springtime of youth (Lee). The prodigy paused for a second, too shocked at the possibility of being a father soon, before he suddenly shot up from his seat and made a beeline toward the ladies' room, bumping against Sakura, who had just exited, in the process.

An explosion of conversation erupted at the table then, and Kakashi took this chance to return to his reading, not really minding that Naruto and Lee were arguing who should be the godfather of the child, Gai proudly saying that he upped Kakashi by having the first student (or in his case, students) to produce an offspring, and Sakura staring at the chaos in front of her, completely bewildered.

And then Sai, bless his soul, posed the million-yen question: "So what happened to Tenten-san, Ugly?"

Sakura opened her mouth to answer, but her voice was beaten by a scream from the ladies' room, followed by a loud banging of the door, and a furious Tenten marching back to their table.

"Okay, who was the dumbass who gave my idiot husband the idea that I'm pregnant?"

A disgruntled, slightly red-faced and disappointed Hyuuga followed a few steps behind, glaring daggers at the remaining men around the table.

"I'm having my monthly period, you jerks!" the kunoichi screeched, giving the nearest chair a kick for good measure. "You inconsiderate morons!"

And those were the last words they heard from the fuming kunoichi, before she marched out of the restaurant, an obviously whipped Hyuuga in tow.

A few precious seconds of silence, and then, "Okay, seriously, who was the idiot that suggested Tenten was pregnant?" Sakura asked.

Kakashi wisely left the place in a puff of smoke.

Two months later, Kakashi found himself back in the same restaurant, with the same people, plus a few others aside, as they celebrate Naruto's birthday and Shikamaru's recent engagement with the feisty blonde of his nightmares.

He sat silently on one of the bar stools, Icha Icha book on hand, when Gai appeared beside him, teeth pinging brightly Kakashi had to avert his visible eye to avoid temporary blindness. Before them stood the Konoha 11, together with their seniors, celebrating the night away.

"I beat you once again, my eternal rival!" Gai boomed proudly. Kakashi knew he didn't have to ask what his companion was talking about; Gai was sure to tell him what unknown challenge he had won, whether he asked for it or not.

"The youthful flower of our team has finally graduated from her springtime of youth and entered the summertime of womanhood!"

Kakashi smirked under his mask, fully comprehending what Gai had just said. So he was right after all, albeit his prediction was two months off, but he wasn't known for his punctuality anyway.

"But you know, Naruto told me this morning that Hinata's expecting too."

Gai beamed even more brightly—not that Kakashi thought it was not possible—and turned to their former students, eyes suddenly crinkling in silent affection. "You know," he said, voice a little softer than his usual self, "I'm very glad that our charges have found love that will make their lives more meaningful and worth fighting for."

Kakashi chuckled and turned to his friend. "Why are you getting sentimental all of a sudden? You make it sound like we'll never find the love of our lives."

Gai offered a small smile in response, and said no more. The copy ninja, who normally couldn't care less about Gai's personal affairs, especially the amorous kind, shook his head in understanding, and said, "Don't go losing hope now."

And then, as if to prove his point, a brunette came into their field of vision, her shoulder-length hair hiding her face from view, a snorting pig in her arms. Kakashi grinned, tapped his friend's arm, and pointed with his head.

Gai turned to where Kakashi had pointed, eyes widening slightly, but then he shook his head slowly, a little sadly.

"Some things are better left in the past, my eternal rival. You know that as much as I do," Gai finished, and then stood up, prepared to walk away.

Plan B then. "Gai!" he called, forcing the older Green Beast to turn around and stare at him. "I challenge you!"

Gai blinked, uncomprehending.

"Whoever talks to her first and succeeds to get her to dance wins."

They looked at each other for a long while, two people who grew up together—rivals, comrades, best friends. And then Gai finally understood, smiled gratefully, before it morphed into a blinding grin, and rushed toward where the brunette was standing, helplessly trying to stop the Godaime from drinking too much sake.

Kakashi smirked as he watched his friend strike up a conversation with his once-upon-a-time beloved, and, shaking his head, he pulled out a small notebook and pen from his jounin jacket, and wrote down:

Kakashi – 1

Gai – 0

End of Bonus Chapter

Sorry it took so long, I got stuck on how to write Kakashi. But anyway, here's the promised bonus chapter, and I know you guys will say I'm so evil for hinting a pregnant Tenten and then pulling the rug from under your feet, but golly I'd be lying if I say I did not enjoy it, kekeke!

And a little bonus for those who was curious as to who Gai-sensei's former beloved is. That's actually a spur of the moment thing, so it doesn't really make sense, I think.

Anyway, thank you so much for everyone who reviewed the last chapter/s. I really enjoyed this journey, and it was made more memorable because I spent it with you guys.

/tears up

And yes, yes, I will update Kill the Messenger, Rookie Roulette and Songs for a Dancer soon, it's just that this is our peak season (until September), so I won't have as much spare time to write anymore. But I promise to update whenever I can!

And now, for the final time (for real this time), reviews will be lovely, and flames will be used to roast marshmallows.

(And flame the embers of Gai-sensei's eternal youth, just because.)

A/N: Please visit my profile for some important announcements!