Say it Loud

She sat in her bed, a notebook on her lap and a pen between her lips. The entire length of the pages was filled with calculations, scratched and replaced with better options. The budget was small, but if she paced herself she could make if through next month ands still have enough to catch a ride to see Jiraya. Speaking of which, she needed to write a letter to see if he was coming anywhere near Fire Country within the next month. Based on his response she would have to adjust her budget and probably her timeline.

Another scratch through the food budget made Ren frown a little. She could live a couple of weeks without brand name pastries from the market. Not much of an option there, she mumbled adding in the new smaller number. At least now she could afford to buy some more necessities.

The window slid open, startling the woman away from her budget planning. He walked in, sliding the door shut behind him, before taking his first full step in the room. Ren felt her chest flare with heat as her heart beat tripled. She wasn't ready to end it.

"Surprise," the unannounced visitor waved. He wasn't prepared to really ask her to be his girlfriend, because honestly things just happened. Standing outside the building as Ayaka-San walked away, the Jonin had debated getting some flowers or something else that he thought men got girls when they were going to ask the important questions. But then he thought carefully about it. He didn't need to be too formal. It was Ren after all.

Her greeting wasn't as enthusiastic. "Hi."

Kakashi remained unchanged at her lack of thrill to see him. He understands the reason behind it, and his goal was to make her forget all about it by the end of their conversation.

"We need to talk."

The Jonin took a seat on the bed next to her. For a person who had just heard the most dreaded words a couple could utter, he seemed kind of not shocked.

"I just spoke to Ayaka-San."

"Ah." So he knew about her getting fired. Great.

"She was well aware of her granddaughters extreme behavior."

Ren looked up at her visitor, curiosity making her brows narrow closer to each other. That was a... Surprise?

Kakashi carried on, the excitement in his voice not being so patient. "And she had a solution in mind. Nori would be taking care of a book store in a small town on the outskirts of Lightning Country. Once she's there Ayaka is already making plans for you to return to work."

The younger women shook her head, baffling her suitor. This was the part where she hugged him and they moved on with their lives. Why wasn't she sharing his joy?

"It's not that easy."

Kakashi didn't understand. It sounded pretty damn easy to him.

"The books store has been in the making for a year now. It took Ayaka-San over six months of negotiation just to get the land and they've recently gotten the paperwork and contracts to start building. It'll take another 2-3 month for construction to finish, and even though they have some publishers to stack up a good portion of the walls, some major contracts are still pending." What she was trying to say was. "Nori won't be leaving anytime soon." And she couldn't afford to stay there for such a long period of time just living on her meager savings.

"Ayame has also lost her job due to conflicting personal issues with her father, and soon will be living with her lover. They asked me to come along, but I don't feel comfortable intruding into a budding relationship."

So she found herself without a job, without a roommate, and with only enough savings to make it through the upcoming month.

Kakashi had no idea things had gotten so bad. An uncomfortable feeling made his palm sweat and his heart beat erratically. It was his fault. All of it. How dare he even ask her to be his girlfriend after he had put her through so much shit?

"I'm going to concentrate on my writing," she continued. "See if I can finish it and start the publishing and promotion process before I run out of money."

"I see." It was not a very subtle hint for him. "If you still need any inspiration you know you can always come get me," he offered quietly.

She agreed and he excused himself.

The screen door slid shut, and Ren found herself unable to lift her gaze from the piece of paper in front of her. Her mind was quickly filled with thoughts on exactly what to write to Jiraya. If she didn't think about Kakashi it would' hurt. If she kept her mind busy forever she wouldn't have to feel hurt.

But she wasn't fast enough. Before Ren could even pen the first words, a string of tears started falling. Angrily she wiped them away.

It's not like she expected a relationship. But it really hurt. This wasn't how she wanted things to end up. She wanted to write on her own time and see where this relationship was going to go, but now everything was so rushed.

Frustrated she teared the paper from the notebook, releasing a painful scream.

Hugging her knees, surrounded by broken pieces of paper, Ayame found her best friend and immediately rushed to comfort her. In her arms she allowed her to cry, as much as she needed to.

"It's going to be ok," she repeated to the broken girl, "it's going to be ok."

Eventually tears begin to fall and Ayame found herself feeling the same overwhelming misery that was pestering her best friend. They were both at that dark before the dawn moment, but neither could see that dawn. And both feared that it wouldn't come on time.

[19]

As Kakashi walked home, the sun came out without a drop of water having fallen, surprising the whole town. He looked up at the beaming sun just as a flash of green came into view obscuring the luminescent orb. He almost wanted to laugh as the model of the extreme poses landed gracefully by his side, a toothy smile and proud pose, cementing his presence. As much as he hated to admit it out loud (both because it would defeat the nature of their friendship and because no one would really believe him) Kakashi actually enjoyed Mighty Gai's extravagant company.

He could appreciate when at least one person could surpass the gloom and doom that seemed to surround Jonins after a while. And without alcohol involved? The man was a real genius.

"Rival!" He called out unnecessarily loud. No one turned to look or disturbed their trip. It was Gai and even a newborn babe was accustomed to his outrageous speech mannerism. "I, like you my dearest Rival have also sustained a delicate injury on my stomach."

Please don't show it to me, please don't show it to me...

"See!"

Gods... Gai didn't believe in bandages after the wound closed. A body full of vitality such as his didn't need 'no stinkin bandages!'

Kakashi sighed, it was gross.

"So whatta ya say Kakashi? Let's go to the fourth training ground and see who can sprint from the floor to the top of the highest hill the most times before we succumb to the pain that will weep from our injuries!"

Kakashi didn't say a word. Even though Gai had taken a stretched pause, he knew that ball of energy still had a long way to go. "It'll increase our energy and we'll overcome our injuries surprising any doctor and their deadly modern medicine!"

Uh-huh...

"I see," he grinned unnecessarily bright, "you're to cool to talk to me again eh?"

He shrugged.

"Alright so let's make it a bigger bet. Forget the fourth training ground!" He began to name other forms of games that could decide once and for all who was superior, all which Kakashi decided to not comment on.

There was a limit to Kakashi's patience with Gai. Four and half minutes of silently listening to nonsense to be exact.

"Alright Gai," the break in the rambling was very welcomed to Kakashi. Before his partner could could take it as a sign that he was ready to participate in any conversations concerning the healing properties of training your body, Kakashi proceeded to end their games before they even started. "You see we've been playing a game all along, who could talk the most in the span of five minutes times. Congrats buddy, you won."

The exuberant man was stunned for a a mere second before declaring his superiority with a hearty laugh, drawing a chuckle out of Kakashi.

"Well if you're too afraid to drown your sorrows with raw exercise than how about we do it the old fashion way and drink til we puke?"

He had a feeling that this was the inspiration behind his old "rival's" sudden appearance, and Kakashi was delighted. He couldn't think of a better plan himself to be quite honest.

Authors Note: Hello sweet dears! It took a bit, but I have a good reason. I was hoping to release two chapters back to back, but alas my brain does not have the willpower. But at least there is this one so yay!

It's a bit sad, I know :( so as last week I promised a surprise, well here it is. This little author has been working on another Kakashi story (Surprise!) and I have all the chapters outlined up until the last one (major surprise!). I'm adding some more elements to it, and I will be releasing the story once I'm done with this one. In the mean time though, I do have the first chapter completely done, and so for the next week (ending Saturday Feb22) , anyone who reviews and wants a little taste of the story, will get the first chapter in a private message :D if you want to review and not spoil the upcoming story that's fine too :) I'm just really excited about it and I want to know what you guys think of it as well.

Thank you everyone for reading, reviewing and adding this story to your faves. Nila hun I hope I did Gai justice :p The lovely guest reviewer, thank you so much for being awesome xD you should get an account so I can bombard you with thank you messages. I hope I got everyone who reviewed, if not, pardon my goldfish memory span, I lovez you all!

Much love

Zinni