A/N:Sorry for being absent for so long! School has started and I'm already starting to feel the stresses of my AP classes! I'll do my best to keep updating for you guys. I love you all (:
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, it belongs to Masashi Kishimoto
Chapter Twelve: Something
When the sunlight breathed its warmth through the cracks of the slightly drawn curtains, Sakura's beryl eyes fluttered open. The room was silent and was glowing faintly. The atmosphere felt unusually comfortable and gentle, and exhaling softly, she embraced it with open arms. For staying up past midnight, she felt like she never had a more peaceful rest in her entire lifetime.
Sedately, she rolled onto her opposite side, her gaze meeting the crooked yet upright figure of Kakashi. His eyes were closed and he wore a placid expression. He was snoring softly, his chest rising and falling behind his crossed arms. She stared at him for the longest time, not bothering to think about why he had stayed to sleep next to her instead of returning to the lone couch. He was there, and that was all that mattered to her.
Sakura wasn't going to deny it anymore. This was the man that she had fallen hard for. Yes, perhaps he did often neglect to train and teach her when Team Seven was still intact. He didn't support her as much as he did with Naruto and Sasuke, and eventually she branched off and found a new mentor, Tsunade. Years after Sasuke's departure, he was rarely present in the village and she would only see him every once in a while as he trekked the streets during the evening. Then, out of the blue, he made weekly arrangements for team sparring sessions in order to maintain relationships and connections. She hadn't known much about him, and still a huge part of him remained unknown, but she looked at it from a mentor's perspective and agreed to attend.
The first few sessions flew by like the wind. She hadn't conversed with him much, other than receiving a couple of pointers here and there. Then a month passed. Sakura was experiencing frustrations during her shifts at the hospital. A mission had gone awry and she was assigned to perform emergency medical procedures on three wounded ninja. Their injuries, however, were fatal and she was unable to save their lives. It was the first time she had a group of patients die in her own hands, and not being able to hold her tears in, she let them all out once the sparring session was over.
Everyone had already gone home. Kakashi, being the sharp man he was, noticed her lacking composure and kept her behind.
"You're hurt," he had said, straightforward and to the point.
Hoping to avert the conversation, she made an obvious, literal statement. "Yeah, Naruto really packed a punch."
But then something within him changed. He appeared as if he was standing taller than ever. He told her to look at him, but she couldn't. The tears began to well in her eyes and she soon found herself silently weeping. She had felt far beyond embarrassed and humiliated. Why did she break down in front of him, she had wondered, of all people?
All of a sudden, his hand carefully met the back of her head and he gently pulled her forward. Her forehead met his chest and she stared wide-eyed at his disheveled dark sweater.
"I'm here now," he murmured. "So I can lend you a shoulder to cry on."
It was the first time Kakashi hadn't run away from her. It was the first time Sakura had seen him in a new light, and it was the first time that she had felt drawn to him. Perhaps he really had left her behind, but then he finally reached out to her, extending an open hand that had never seemed more warm and comforting. Something had changed in him, and that something marked the beginning of her journey.
~ X x . . . x X ~
When Kakashi woke up, he felt a mild pressure on his lap. Groaning inwardly, he unfolded his arms and brought them to his sides, his hands flat against the mattress. He gazed down, only to meet Sakura's peachy face. Her eyes were shut closed, her lips were barely parted, and her pink hair sat in messy tresses across his legs. She was resting on him, facing upward, her petite body lying perpendicular to his. He blinked confusedly at this phenomenon, trying to comprehend why he was put in such a position.
He was almost certain that she hadn't slept directly on him, but snuggled up closer to his side instead. Did she move in her sleep?
Sighing, he gently lifted her head and crept out from beneath her. He took one pillow with his spare hand and slowly slid it below her head. Sakura rolled onto her side, her arms bending in toward her chest. Kakashi could only stare at her in faint wonder, noticing how the rays of sunlight illuminated her body, making her shine and glow as if she was a goddess in a deep slumber, awaiting to be awakened.
Kakashi took in a heavy breath and turned on his heel. He trudged to the bathroom with a new pair of clothes, where he then took a shower, brushed his teeth, and dressed himself. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he ran his fingers through his hair, brushing it back in a disarray. He wasn't too fond of personal grooming. He never tried to appear too nice or fancy. It was out of his comfort zone, and he much preferred dressing in drab.
After checking on Sakura, he silently left the room, locking it, and made his way to see Yamato and Genma. He didn't have anything to do of importance, and he had to admit that he was growing tired of reading the same novel over and over again. Sakura was still fast asleep, so talking with her about trivial topics was out of the question. So, Kakashi decided that he would entertain himself by visiting his other two mission partners.
He was in no hurry and he took his time in getting to their checked-out room. There hadn't been any plans made today. If anything, they would probably take it easy. Of course, he was in no position to decide it for himself. He would have to discuss it later with Sakura.
A few minutes of lazy walking passed and he soon reached his destination. Kakashi softly knocked at the door and waited, listening to the muffled shuffling within the room. Genma greeted him with surprised eyes once the door swung open. "Kakashi?"
"Yo." Kakashi rose one hand. "Can I come in?"
His peer nodded and gave him way to enter. The silver-haired jonin stepped inside and glanced around. One side of the room was neat and tidy, most likely the doing of Yamato, while the rest was somewhat disorganized. He hummed rhythmically, searching for the other brown-haired man.
"Yamato isn't here?" he questioned. He didn't feel like it quite mattered, but the lack of his company was a tad bit depressing.
Genma shook his head. "No. We played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would buy groceries this time. Obviously, Yamato lost."
"Why didn't you both go?"
"Because neither of us wanted to, but we couldn't just leave the refrigerator empty either."
They were definitely an odd pair, but their chemistry made their sibling relationship seem much more real.
Genma took one last peek outside the room before shutting the door. "And where's Sakura-chan?"
Kakashi pushed his hands into his pockets and fell back against the wall. "Sleeping," he answered simply.
"You didn't wake her up?"
The senbon-user chuckled. "Letting her sleep in, eh? You're too nice sometimes, bud."
Kakashi shrugged blatantly.
"Well, is there a certain reason why you decided to drop by?" continued Genma, curiously.
"Not really. Just got up and went."
Genma pondered for a bit before snapping his fingers. "Ah, maybe you're here because you wanna talk!"
Kakashi rose an eyebrow, but said nothing.
"So…Sakura-chan really likes you, huh?"
He shuddered. "I guess so."
It didn't and never would make any sense to him why she fell for him in the first place. He was a boring old man with uninteresting hobbies and was often away on missions. He was always tardy to events, whether they were important or not. Most importantly, his heart and mind were corrupt with evil and darkness. He had a larger share of pain and despair than happiness.
Genma whistled quietly. "I always thought something was off with Sakura-chan. She was always so jumpy and red-faced when she was around you, but I thought that maybe she was just nervous about the entire 'couple' thing, ya know? But I would have never imagined that her heart was stolen by the great Kakashi Hatake…How'd you do it?"
Kakashi laughed painfully. "I'd like to know that myself."
It was silent for a minute. Suddenly Genma asked, "Do you like Sakura?"
"Of course. She's a kind girl…a skilled kunoichi with a lot of potential."
"Kakashi, you know exactly what I mean."
The said man cringed. "…No."
"I don't harbor any feelings for her, Genma," replied Kakashi, more firmly.
When Kakashi responded, he noticed a strange look deep within Genma's eyes. Without a question, he was being doubted. Genma, being the "clever" matchmaker he was, always believed that whenever it came to relationships, he was the go-to person for advice. Even when he was not asked, he would add his own input about the situation. For the most part, he was often correct. And Kakashi would admit that his friend was a smooth talker, the complete opposite of the reserved man he himself was.
However, with the utmost confidence, Kakashi knew that Genma was wrong this time. He was absolutely certain that he held no feelings for his former student, and he was sure as hell that he would not develop any in the future. He would make sure no such thing would happen, and if such a thing ever did happen, he would put all of his effort into pushing those feelings back.
He was well aware that Sakura could sway him off his feet. He wasn't going to lie. Sakura was a beautiful young woman, kind and caring in all ways possible. Any man would be lucky enough to get a chance to court her.
But she wasn't meant for him. It wasn't right. She was formerly her student, for Kami's sake!
"Kakashi, I don't think you—"
The lock on the door clicked and the door swung open, abruptly interrupting Genma mid-sentence. Yamato walked in, arms full of grocery bags. He shut the door with his foot and looked over to where Kakashi was standing. He didn't seem surprised.
"Good morning, Senpai."
"'Morning," greeted the jonin.
"Sakura isn't here?"
"She was still sleeping when I left." Kakashi paused to glance at the clock. It had been nearly twenty minutes since he arrived here. Knowing Sakura, she was a deep sleeper when her exhaustion was at its peak.
"Aw, too bad," commented Yamato, placing the groceries on the kitchen counter top. "Do you wanna stay a little while, Senpai? I'll be making breakfast soon, and I can make extra for Sakura when she wakes up later."
Kakashi didn't know what to do at this point anymore. Yamato was completely oblivious to the pressure Genma was emitting from their previous conversation. He wanted to escape it, but at the same time did not want to return to his room just yet. Then, hesitantly, Kakashi accepted Yamato's offer.
It took Yamato approximately half an hour to cook and prepare the meals. It took another half hour for the three men to eat it all. The table had been far from silent. Genma frequently started conversations, a majority of them directed toward Yamato. Kakashi swore it was the most foolish words he had ever seen come out of Yamato's mouth. It was almost unbelievable.
After finishing breakfast, Yamato packed Sakura's portion into an extra takeout box they had gotten from a restaurant and gave it to Kakashi. The jonin chatted for a few more minutes before Kakashi proceeded to bid his farewells. He departed and made his way back to his room, faster than he had anticipated. His steps were quick and eager, but he paid no attention to the reasons behind it.
Once he reached the door, he reached out to turn the knob. It was unlocked; not like how he had left it.
The grip on the takeout box tightened, one of his fingers punching a small hole in the styrofoam. Cautiously, he entered, his mismatched eyes darting all around the room. He relaxed when he realized there was no sign of struggle. The bed was neatly made and the couch he had abandoned the previous night was tidied up, the blanket folded up on the side. When he walked over to the kitchenette to place the take out box on the counter, he noticed that the rotten fruit and vegetables had been disposed of, as well as the rest of the messes he recalled leaving.
Sakura was nowhere to be found. The bathroom was empty, though there was a lingering floral scent mixed with strawberries. Her bag was open as well, some of her clothes hanging out the side. It was immediately concluded that she had indeed woken up and taken a shower, changing into a new pair of clothes shortly after.
But the question of her whereabouts still remained.
Kakashi began to worry. He didn't know Sakura well enough to figure out where she would go early in the morning, or what she would do in general. Would she be wandering around the clothes stands? Would she be treating herself to a delicate meal in one of the local tea houses? Or would she simply be taking a walk around the town to pass time? Did Sakura even take walks in her free time?
He gave a heavy sigh and walked back out of the room, deciding that it would benefit him more to actually search for her. Fortunately, he did not have to search far and ended up discovering her in the lobby downstairs. He spotted her from the stairwell and saw that she was somewhat troubled. Two young men, around her age, were surrounding her, eyeing her up and down with hungry gazes. They were silly and flirtatious, a common trait found in most young adult males. Sakura was holding tightly onto a bag as she glared back at them with annoyed eyes. She was unaffected and nearly at her boiling point.
He knew he didn't have to help her. Sakura was a strong person, probably stronger than what everyone thought. She was perfectly capable of handling situations on her own and always maintained a moderately mature attitude. Yet, despite this, Kakashi found himself growing more irritated than she was, and soon he felt more protective than irritated.
Without another thought, he approached Sakura from behind. His arms snaked around her waist and he craned his neck down and around her shoulder to press his lips against her cheek. He caught all of them off guard, Sakura being more startled than her pursuers.
"There you are, honey. I've been looking for you," he said, imitating a worried manner as best as he could.
"Kakashi," she said, somewhat puzzled. Her gaze flashed at the two men, who were now uncomfortable and defeated.
"Breakfast is ready," he continued, smiling as he stared their company down.
Sakura blinked twice. "O-Oh, right. Let's go then."
Kakashi was quick to lead her back upstairs, away from the strangers. Neither looked back, as they were certain they were baffled and dumbfounded. Once he was sure they were alone, he let go of her and resumed his trademark, poor posture. He could hear Sakura's fast-paced heartbeat, as well as his own. The realization of what he had done eventually dawned upon him and he instantly began to hate himself. What on earth had gotten to him? Had he seriously taken the initiative before Sakura even tried resolving the conflict herself?
All of a sudden, the pink-haired kunoichi stopped in her tracks. He seized to a halt a few steps in front of her and glanced back, his skin still crawling.
"I went out to shop for some more clothes," she began. "I'm sorry for leaving without writing a note to you."
He sighed and scratched the back of his head. "I should be sorry. I left you alone without saying anything."
They lapsed into a short period of silence. Sakura adjusted her weight from one foot to another, biting her bottom lip. He watched as her pink hair swayed from left to right in gentle motions.
She cleared her throat. "Thanks…for helping me back there."
It took him a moment to process what she had said.
Sakura continued, "Who knows what I would've done to them if you hadn't stepped in? I probably would have punched them through the wall."
Kakashi was ashamed of himself for doing such a thing. It was beyond his character and it came directly out of the blue, surprising both her and himself. He dearly wished he had controlled himself at the time, but he appreciated her efforts and so he felt a tad bit better. Just barely.
"C'mon," he ushered with a murmur. "Your food is getting cold."
The pair resumed walking.
"Did you cook it yourself?" she asked, the curiosity evident in her tone.
He coughed. "I dropped by earlier to visit Yamato and Genma. Yamato whipped up some breakfast and I was invited to stay and eat. He saved the rest for you."
"How nice of him."
A few more minutes passed until they reached their destination. As Kakashi reached into his pocket to retrieve the room key, he felt her gaze piercing the back of his head.
"Kakashi, I know I already thanked you," Sakura murmured, "but what was all of that about?"
The silver-haired jonin cringed. He proceeded to finish unlocking and opening the door before responding.
"They didn't seem like the type to be convinced after simply being told no," he answered bluntly.
Sakura entered and closed the door behind them. "…I guess not."
"Well, breakfast is on the counter." He motioned towards the mentioned location with a sway of his hand. "I'll be in the bathroom for a bit."
Her beryl eyes were undecipherable. "Okay."
After retreating to the bathroom, Kakashi took the longest shower he had ever had.
~ X x . . . x X ~
"Hey, are you even listening to me?"
Genma flinched when Yamato gave him a nudge on his arm.
"Great," exhaled Yamato. "First Kakashi-senpai, and now you. Am I really that much of a bore?"
Genma shook his head and leaned further over the railing to look down into the stream that ran under the stone bridge. "Sorry," he said apologetically. "I was just thinking 'bout some things."
The two men had gone out, seeking for more intel about the secretive drug distributions. They didn't bother notifying Kakashi and Sakura, knowing that they were resolving conflicts of their own. It was a silent, calm day and there was barely any activity among the crowd. They hadn't discovered any information or big leads, and no one seemed to be doing anything interesting. The brothers were at a loss of what to do. They had just about given up for today.
"Thinking about what, exactly?" asked Yamato.
Genma shrugged. "Dunno, it's nothing too important."
His concern about the mission was great, and without a doubt, it was of high priority. At the same time, however, he just couldn't get his mind off of Kakashi's and Sakura's spiraling relationship. His thoughts were out of order and it was surely causing him some mental grief. If he hadn't stuck his head in places where it didn't need to be, perhaps he wouldn't have been so tangled up.
He sucked in a deep breath as he stared blankly at his blurred reflection on the water's surface. The senbon slowly slipped out from between his lips and dropped into the stream. His reflection by this time was distorted and gone.
"Shit," he cursed. He didn't have a spare senbon.
"Looks like you gotta wait till we get back home to buy another one," commented Yamato. "And that's a long time from now."
"Damn it." Genma raked his bangs back in despair. "I guess I gotta get used to chewing on toothpicks then."
"But you can't always just go off and buy toothpicks to replace your senbon," Yamato pointed out.
Genma snorted. "Then I'll fetch myself some from restaurants. They don't care."
His younger brother chuckled. "Let's get a move on. We aren't accomplishing anything by standing here."
"We're gonna walk around some more?"
"Just for a bit longer."
Yamato turned on his heel and crossed over to the other side of the stream, where the rest of the town sat. Genma grinned slightly and followed after him. "Aye aye, captain."
Later that afternoon, Yamato and Genma returned to their rooms empty handed. When Kakashi and Sakura left to explore in the evening, they found themselves dealing with some rather awkward situations.
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