An Adequate Kiss

Sometimes, Yamato just had to say something to get it out of his head. He'd been told he thought too much. The pressure would build over time, the thought repeating over and over again. Like he was stuck. A thought jammed in his brain.

"He said it was a privilege," Yamato said.

Sai glanced at him.

The two sat alone, keeping watch while everyone else slept. Behind them, the small personal shelters lay like cocoons against the ground, hiding their teammates. The fire had gone out, and neither one of them needed to restart it, since it was a summer night. The field around them was quiet, and the forest beyond dark and motionless.

Yamato wondered if he would have to clarify his statement, especially since it punctured a long period of silence, with no preamble to anything they'd discussed.

"Do you think it is a privilege?" Sai asked.

Yamato shifted slightly and sighed. "You know, when I was a kid, I would have said no. But…" His brow furrowed. "Things change as you get older."

"How?" Sai asked.

"Well…you start using your experiences for good," Yamato said. "They seem like they're meaningless, but when you get the chance to put them all together into something good, the pain lessens a little. Every time I use Wood Grip to save someone, or I make something with my mokuton that would have taken another person months of planning and cooperation with a dozen others under their command…" He shrugged. "It hurts a little less."

"This is why it is false when you complain," Sai said.

Yamato flinched and automatically smiled in embarrassment, flustered. "What?"

"You complain all the time you are overworked, but it is a lie you tell others so they will not suspect that you wish to be used," Sai said.

Yamato looked away, tensing inside. He didn't know what to say. Lying to Sai was evil. He couldn't do that when Sai was working so hard to understand people.

"You feel a little less pain when you make houses," Sai said. "That is why you let people order you around and ask you to use up your chakra until you drop."

Yamato clenched his jaw. He couldn't help it.

"But you get angry, too," Sai said.

Yamato hung his head guiltily. "It doesn't make sense, does it?"

"Yes it does," Sai said. "You wish for people to know you are in pain and to make you feel better, but you cannot get your meaning across. So people enjoy their houses and forget about you once they are inside and comfortable."

Yamato felt a spurt of terror and pain.

Sai tilted his head. "The ideal scenario is for you to work very hard and have people understand why you do it, and so offer you their sympathy. Sympathy is what heals many wounds, I have noticed."

Naruto would have told him to shut up. Yamato knew that without thinking about it. Sakura would have blushed and might have run away. Kakashi would have simply accepted Sai's insight, in that pragmatic way Kakashi seemed to accept everything.

Yamato didn't know what he would do.

"You are scared," Sai said. "You think I will use this information against you, and perhaps wreak havoc in your life."

The affirmation was pulled out of Yamato unwillingly. "Yes."

Sai beamed. "I will not."

Yamato forced himself to uncurl and straighten his back. "No?" He studied Sai. "What will you do?"

Sai raised his gaze to the night sky in a cute emote of thought. "Mm…I will kiss you. I think I will do that."

Yamato's jaw dropped in disbelief, and then he flushed hotly as Sai leaned towards him, apparently going to do just that. What do I do what do I do what do I do?

Sai gave him a short, business-like kiss that was technically correct without being at all passionate. It felt okay.

What am I saying? It felt okay? How am I supposed to –

Sai pulled away, straightening, and regarded Yamato with a broad smile. "How did that feel, Yamato-taichou? Was it adequate in expressing my emotion?"

Yamato took deep breaths and told himself not to panic. "What emotion is that?"

"Love," Sai said.

Yamato almost fell over.

"Was it not adequate?" In spite of Sai's blank tone, Yamato knew Sai was concerned.

Yamato held up his hands hastily. "No, it was adequate. It was perfectly adequate, in every way. I just wanted to make sure the meaning I got from it was the same as the meaning you meant."

"Oh." Sai shifted, his body language subtly conveying that he was pleased. He ran his fingers through the fringe of his hair, tucking a dark, silky lock behind his ear unnecessarily. Then he redoubled his smile in Yamato's direction. This smile, unlike most of his bright smiles, had an edge of genuine feeling to it.

Yamato knew he was never going to be able to bring himself to wipe this smile off Sai's face. Which meant he was doomed.

He knew Kakashi would laugh if he ever expressed that sentiment to his sempai.