The Grand Scheme of Things


Chapter One


Summary: AU. Sakura crushes on her professor. Things get awkward before they get better. First impressions don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, anyway. KakaSaku. Cheese.

Disclaimer: Naruto is not mine. None of this is mine. Leave me alone.


These days Sakura has made a habit of watching Hatake from the corner of her eye. She is equal parts mortified and resigned to the fact that this seems to be the norm; her compromise is stringent secrecy interspersed with glances at him moving between the shelves of books.

She fancies she's fallen in love with his hands, long and angular with fingers like spiders tracing imaginary lines along each row; fancies him using those hands to-

No, no, no, no.

The library is crowded as usual. Late afternoon sunlight filters in through the hazy windows, revealing rising dust stirred by shuffling feet and literature. From her vantage point on the second level, Sakura is able to get a decent view both of the main floor and of Hatake, who is now adding to a growing pile of books in his arms. The tower totters precariously and one hardcover edition smacks him in the teeth. He winces noticeably and Sakura has to stifle a giggle. Her eyes follow him as he checks out his selection and takes note of the way the librarian's body responds to his, flirty and coy like she's sixteen and not a thousand years old like she should be acting (she's probably only in her early thirties, though Sakura doesn't care about that).

As Hatake walks out the door Sakura wonders if he'd ever find her attractive.


"He's a monster," groans Ino, pulling the strap of her handbag more securely on to her shoulder. "Doesn't Hatake realise that we're taking other classes? With other assignments? That we have lives? I don't even remember the last time I went out-"

"Two nights ago, you drama queen-"

"I swear, if he wasn't so damn good I'd drop that class in a heartbeat."

"You wouldn't," says Sakura wryly, "it's a required class. And you're lucky that you landed him. I didn't register early enough and got stuck with Gai."

Ino pauses and shoots her friend a pitying look. "You're right. I'm sorry."

"That's what I thought. But Gai isn't so bad, not really. I mean, at least not until someone sets him off."

"Tenten filled me in on what happened last week."

Sakura shudders visibly. "Let's go home. I don't want to do anything tonight except eat fried food and watch trashy rom-coms."

"Ditto."


Not for the first time, Sakura wonders how things turned out this way. An hour ago she was prepped and ready for some serious indolence when Ino kicked her out in anticipation of her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Shikimaru.

(The exchange went a little like this:

"YOU CAN'T DO THIS TO ME!" Sakura wails.

"There's no reason I shouldn't be getting laid just because you're feeling lazy. You're welcome to hang around but I can't guarantee that you'll be able to block much out."

"I'M PRETTY SURE THIS IS ILLEGAL!"

"Why the hell are you at home on a Wednesday afternoon anyway? But if you really want to stay I'm sure you wouldn't mind the sound of a little rough-housing...some sensual moaning...skin on skin on sofa-cushions-"

"I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU GET IT ON!" Sakura bellows. "AND ON OUR SOFA?! THAT'S DISGUSTING!"

"I'll call you when we're done."

"I'M TELLING TENTEN!"

"Nice, okay. Whatever you'd like. Now put some pants on and I'll see you later.")

It is two-thirty in the afternoon and Sakura is in no mood for social pleasantries. As a result she is now sitting in a little coffee shop two blocks away and seething over a mug of chocolate. She is particularly annoyed that Ino had not stopped her from opening a bag of Cheetos before imparting the vital information (re. Shikimaru's booty-call). She tries to calculate their relative loss in crunchiness over time but finds that it only fuels her rage.

The coffee shop is not too bad, though. She can count only two other customers there besides herself, and so grudgingly appreciates the quiet before the inevitable late-afternoon rush. She is seated in a squat armchair by a picture window overlooking some flowerbeds and wishes bitterly that she'd brought her laptop along. In lieu of this, she rummages grumpily through her backpack for a small paperback she'd snatched off the coffee table at home. On the one hand she is pleased because it is the first novel she has had time for since the semester began; on the other she is mortified because the book in her hands is not the sort of thing one reads in public, let alone in quaint coffee shops filled with pretentious pseudo-intellectuals. She looks around again to make sure that there is no one present who could possibly recognise her, and tentatively turns the page. Where she'd hoped to revel in mindless erotica Sakura only finds that she's growing steadily grumpier with the realisation that even the fictional characters therein are having more sex than she is. My life sucks.

"Oh," says a voice above her, "Are you a fan of his work?"

"What?" she snaps irritably, then stops short.

It's Hatake. She's pretty sure her heart has seized because it doesn't seem to be beating anymore, and she feels the blood drain from her face. Something jarring and unpleasant pools in her stomach. Oh God, she thinks. Oh God, no. She tries to speak but can only muster a couple of embarrassing gasps like she's asphyxiating.

"It-uh...I...um...it's my first."

Sakura wants to slam her head against the table. Because she's pretty sure she sounds perverted and not a little Lolita-esque.

"You're starting on the wrong one," he says, confoundingly unaffected by her discomfiture. "This is the third in the series."

"Oh," she says, with a glance at the cover. "I wondered why I was confused."

"Yes, you need to start on this one, see?" He reaches for the book in her hands and turns back pages until he's found the author's list of previous publications.

"Oh."

"Mind if I join you? It's nice to meet another fan."

"What? Uh, I mean, yes! Sure!"

Hatake slips in to the chair opposite and settles comfortably against the cushions. His hair, entirely silver-grey like a spiderweb, is windswept and could probably use a trim. He loosely crosses his legs, clad in charcoal slacks, and pushes the sleeves of his shirt (crumpled, blue) above his elbows. Sakura wishes she'd put on some eyeliner. Maybe worn something different. Or something. She did remember her pants, right? She glances at her lap. Check.

"What do you think of it so far?"

"It's okay, I guess, for smut."

This is a dream. This is a dream and I am going to wake up now (Sakura surreptitiously pinches herself. Hatake is still in front of her, ordering coffee from a waitress).

"Just okay?" he exclaims, clutching his knee, "it's the best damn smut you'll ever read in your life!"

Okay, I wasn't expecting this. "Err?"

Hatake launches into a lengthy discourse extolling the virtues of his favourite novels. Oh God, thinks Sakura, it was better when I couldn't hear him speak. Indeed, she soon finds herself zoning out and tries desperately to nod and 'hum' affirmatively every so often to stop him from catching on. Awesome. The only object of interest in my desolate love-life turns out to be a creepy Otaku.

As he comes to a close, Hatake looks at Sakura intently to drive his point home. Or points. Whatever. She hasn't really been listening. However it is at this moment that she notices that his eyes are two different colours – one an icy slate-grey, and the other a warm, red-brown. It is unnerving and so she thoughtlessly interrupts.

"Oh! Your eyes!"

"Ah. Yes. But didn't you hear what I said about-"

"What is that called?" She snaps her fingers as she attempts to recall the word. "Heto...Heato-"

"Heterochromia. I'm trying to talk here."

"Sorry."

Hatake sighs. Then he smiles ruefully. "Nevermind, I'm sorry too. I get a little excited when it comes to this subject."

"Porn?"

NOOOOWHATDIDYOUJUSTSAYYOUIDIOTSAKURAOHMYGODWHATISW RONGWITHYOU

"Er," says Hatake, hesitating for a second, then recovering admirably, "yes. It is, after all, a subject very dear to a man's heart."

Sakura snorts.

Real classy.

"I'm Kakashi, by the way."

The expression on her face is most likely embarrassingly delighted. Who cares? "Sakura," she says, shaking his proffered hand. "Kakashi." She tastes his name, rolling it on her tongue curiously. "Kakashi."

"Sakura," he smiles teasingly.

"I like it. It's unusual."

"Thanks."

He glances at his watch and rises to his feet. "Well, I won't trouble you any longer, Sakura-chan. Thank you for a lovely afternoon."

"Anytime."

"See you around!" he calls, and is out the door in an instant.

Sakura sighs and sinks into her chair. She can't stop smiling. She can't stop smiling and she doesn't mind. Hatake (Kakashi!) is nothing like she imagined. But he'd noticed her, and had actually initiated a conversation! She almost doesn't care about those Cheetos anymore. Sakura spends the rest of the afternoon in a glowing haze and only realises he's skimped on the bill forty minutes later, when the waitress charges five extra dollars on her debit card.