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Monday, March 4, 2013

When the Dark Clouds Clear Up

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters and make no money from this. Masashi Kishimoto does.


Phase Four

To heal, you must bargain


Finding a disheveled and tired-looking Sakura at his doorstep hadn't been what he expected when Kakashi woke up. Sure, his slumber had been disturbed by the sound of someone knocking on the door, but that didn't mean it could have been Sakura. Not after the previous night. From her current appearance, he was pretty certain she had gotten even less sleep than he had, if any at all. Ignoring the confusion that her visit raised, he stepped aside to let the girl enter his apartment.

The kunoichi walked by him without uttering a greeting, or any word for that matter, and headed straight for his bed to sit on it. Kakashi followed her and dropped on the mattress beside her, irritated by the goosebumps that rose on his exposed skin yet too lazy to retrieve a shirt. Leaning his arms on his knees and slouching as usual, the Copy Nin decided to remain silent. Whether it was out of exhaustion, frustration or patience, he couldn't tell. Maybe it was from all three. He was pretty certain his rest had been cut short after barely two hours and he simply didn't know how to deal with his teammate anymore. Patience was a quality often pinned to him, but that didn't mean it was bottomless.

"Why would you want to be with me?" Sakura asked, breaking the heavy silence.

"I have no answer to that," Kakashi replied honestly, leaning his cheek on his fist.

How did one fall in love and start wishing to live the rest of eternity with someone? All he knew was that he wanted her, desired a different kind of bond and relationship with her. Did that even mean he hoped she would be the mother of his kids? Did he even want kids to start with? Discouraged by every question that assaulted his mind, the male jonin slouched further under the massive weight his mind had just dropped on him.

"Why tell me you love me if you can't even say what makes you want to be with me?" His companion whispered, stubbornly staring at his desk and avoiding his gaze.

"I don't know why I love you, Sakura," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes with his thumb and index. "But it doesn't change what I feel. Do you really think it can be explained?"

"How could you fall in love so easily?" Sakura spat, vehemence seeping into her voice unexpectedly. "You've been single for well over a decade, you can't just start loving me like this!"

Kakashi could only blink in reply and stare at her. While it was true that he hadn't fallen in love for so long that he'd firmly believed his heart was barred from Cupid's list, he had come to accept that this was false. The only explanation to the warmth that enveloped him when he was with Sakura was that he was in love with her. Why else would he want to spend so much time with her, never want to see her cry, prize her safety and happiness even above Konoha's safety? Every time he forced himself to repeat the sentence, to say he loved her, the statement became easier to embrace. Escaping a fact never rendered it false. Admitting its existence could be painful, without a doubt, but as time passed and healed wounds, it became comforting. Instead of continously running and hiding, you could rest.

"It wasn't easy to fall in love with you," Kakashi answered truthfully, shattering the last of his barriers. He loved her. "It took a long time. Over the years, you just brought down every barrier I keep around people. That allowed me to relax around you, to build something deeper with you."

"That just doesn't make sense!" she exclaimed as she sprang to her feet and put her hands on her hips. Before he could question her logic, she continued, "It's just lust. That's what it is."

"What?" he gasped. "That's ridiculous," he growled as he stood up and forced her to face him. "Who do you think I am? I can tell the difference between lust and love." His voice raised against his own will, the beignnings of anger brewing in the pit of his stomach. How could she pin him as that kind of man? "We had sex. Even if I would be such a fool, don't you think that would have satisfied me?"

Sakura looked away from him, refusing to meet his gaze and chewing on her lip instead. Certainly, she was fighting an internal battle that she was losing, that he prevented her from winning. The embers that were lit barely a moment back died down and Kakashi's shoulders dropped. Why she couldn't simply accept his affection was beyond him. Did she believe she was not worthy of being loved?

"Sakura..." he called softly, placing a hand that should have been comforting on her shoulder, only to have her shrug it off and wince. "You don't have to return my feelings. I can understand, but please stop this nonsense."

"What nonsense?" she asked, frowning and taking a defensive step back.

"Why can't you accept that I love you?"

"How could I not?" she screeched, throwing her hands in the air. "What does someone like you find in me if it's not for sex? I'm fourteen years younger, you were my sensei, you... you..."

"I what, Sakura?" he answered, crossing his arms on his chest. "What do I need to do to prove to you that it's real?"

"I need to know why," she whispered before plopping down on his bed as her hands flew up to cover her face, which did little to cover the scent of the tears that surely spilled from her eyes.

"You're a wonderful woman, Sakura," Kakashi explained. "I'm comfortable with you."

"C-comfortable?!" she shrieked as she pulled herself in a sitting position, glaring at him. "That's it? That's your definition of love?"

He flinched at her response, regretting his choice of words.

"You misunderstand," he insisted, shaking his head. "There is no one else that I wish to open up to. You're special to me, in more ways than one, no matter how hard that is to believe. I couldn't understand either for a long time. But I do now, and I need to try."

"Need to try what?" she inquired, once more avoiding the heart of the subject.

"I could have stayed silent about all of this," Kakashi started, unable to look at her as he spoke. "I probably would have, if this mission hadn't been..." What had this mission been? Hard, heartbreaking, sickening, disgusting, enranging... Was there a word for the anxiety and despair he felt? "I lost control over myself, and I told you something that I felt without even realizing it was ever there. I fought it, I ignored it, but now it's said, it's out there. I would probably regret it for the rest of my days if I acted as if it had never happened." The words escaped his lips, any filter he might have had torn before he could save it. "I have to try to be with you. Or at least, I have to make you happy."

New tears welled up in Sakura's pretty eyes and he could see her lips quivering as she tried to keep it together. He ached for her, he desperately wished he could go back in time and force her off the mission and request a different teammate. In the end, he was aware that someone else would have suffered the same fate, possibly dying in the process and failing the mission. It was selfish; just like offering Konoha's secrets for her safety.

"How could you?" she rasped, voice strained and uneven. "You saw what he did to me. You know all that I've done to succeed on this mission." She looked up at him, her bright eyes pleading him to do something. "Why would you love me after this?"

"What are you talking about?" the Copy Nin whispered, genuiely confused. "Your behavior was exemplary."

"I gave myself to two men," she sobbed as she grasped the sides of her head. "An innocent kid died because of it. And the other... The other, he-" Sakura's sentence was cut short as she broke into a series of sobs and cries, tears running down her cheeks as she without a doubt relived the events.

Kakashi was rooted to the spot. A new sense of dread and despair formed in his abdomen while his instinct screamed at him to run, to forget all this even if he yearned to hold and comfort her. He was torn between the good intention of wanting to console her and the all too tempting  voice that whispered he only hurt her, that if he left her alone she would heal.

What was he? Was he meant to be her lover, the one who would help her stand on her own two feet through this, or was he only the selfish man that desired a woman he could only cause pain to?

"Is that what being a kunoichi is?" she asked, pratically gasping for breath between her sobs. "How can I be okay? How could a man want me when he knows what I have to do?"

She was looking up at him, eyes full of expectation, as if he possessed the perfect answer when in truth he had no idea what to reply.  Kunoichi avoided breaching this subject and with men in particular. This aspect of their career was kept a secret. They rarely whispered a word about it, preferring to act as if it didn't exist. Now that he witnessed the mess it had made of his usually lively Sakura, he understood why.

He hardly knew how to deal with this himself. A woman would not be spared from this just becase she was in a relationship. In the end, it was up to her if the situation came up in a mission. Yet, if word got out that an opportunity to help Konoha had been lost because the kunoichi had valued her body more than her own village, she would be ridiculed. Either way, she was trapped.

"After this, how can you still want me?" she whispered quietly. "How can you still want me when you saw him putting his filthy hands on me? Can you just forget that image?"

He couldn't. He could never. Even if Koroku was dead now, Kakashi's hands still twitched with the desire to tear the man apart himself and make him regret ever hurting his teammate.

"I'm disgusting," Sakura rasped as she wrapped her arms around her small body, allowing fresh tears to flow and new sobs to shake her frame.

Kakashi's jaw dropped as he finally understood what was making Sakura suffer so much, why she couldn't believe that a man would love her.

"Sakura," he murmured as he stepped closer to her. "You're not disgusting. You were raped." The word left a rancid taste on his tongue, but it had to be said. "I can't forget, because I will never forgive him. When I look at you though... Sakura, this changes nothing. You're the same woman, I can't discard you because of this."

"How can this change nothing?" she asked, narrowing her eyes. "It's like I'm dirty now. No matter how much I bathe, it's still there! It won't go away!"

"You just need to heal, Sakura," Kakashi tried to console, unable to comprehend what she was saying. No man could understand what it was like. "No sane man will refuse you because of this."

"It ruins everything! Everything!" she cried out, slamming her palms down on the mattress. "I worked so hard to become strong! Just to measure up to you guys, but now... I can't let them know. But I know that you and Tsunade know what happened. You'll pity me for the rest of my life," she ground out. "It's not fair that he could ruin all of it just like that!"

"Sakura, you've got it all wrong," Kakashi replied as he knelt down to be at her eye level. "If anything, I'm amazed by you. You were incredible on that mission. While I lost sight of the objective, you remained focused. You're the only reason this mission wasn't a miserable failure. I'm impressed by you. You kept yourself together and you did what was necessary for the good of the village."

The compliment was true, even if it pained him to admit. He was riddled with guilt over allowing her to do what she had to do in order to make it successful, but he knew it was only right. They were shinobi, he was supposed to put the mission before everything else. He couldn't put it before her life, but losing sight of their goal only because she was suffering...

"That's not true," she argued meekly. "I didn't keep it together. I cried, I panicked, I..."

"Stop it," Kakashi ordered as he gripped her shoulders. "Your promotion to jonin is fully deserved and I won't let you think otherwise. You're a formidable kunoichi, in every aspect."


"No buts," he interrupted. "It's only normal to for you not to be okay after such traumatizing events. On the mission, you were perfect. Let yourself hurt and heal now, you're home. It's okay."

"Are you really still proud of me after seeing me break down like this?" she asked bitterly as she wiped her cheeks with the back of her hands.

"Yes," he answered firmly, giving her his trademark smile.

"Kakashi-sensei..." she sniffed, placing a hand on his arm.

"I love you, Sakura," he whispered as he let his arms slide down to her hips, eye locking with hers.

The sweet words sent the girl in another silent spell and she dropped his gaze. The hand on his arm tightened its hold slightly and she bit her lip absent-mindedly, making him wonder just what she was thinking about.

"It's okay if you don't want to answer right now," Kakashi reassured. "You can take your time to think about it, I'll be there when you're ready to talk about it." After a moment of thought, he added, "If you decide that you don't return my feelings, then I'll do my best to make things go back to normal. It'll be like before. As long as you're in my life, I'll be fine with your decision. Okay, Sakura?"

"Okay," she replied, nodding her head.

After a moment, she pushed herself off the bed and into his embrace, whispering a thank you in the process. For the few seconds it lasted, Kakashi revelled in her warmth, tangling his fingers in her hair and pressing his cheek to it while he held her tightly. He was prepared to be turned down, even if it wouldn't make it less painful. He would be able to be her friend if that was what she desired.

"I should probably go now," Sakura said as she pulled away from him to stand up. "I'm sorry to have woken you up."

"No problem, Sakura," he replied and offered her another warm smile. "I'm glad you came."

Just as she stepped in the hallway, his hand shot out to grab her wrist, directed by his sudden sadness of watching her go. He could stall her for a few more seconds, couldn't he?

"There's just one thing that you have to do for me, Sakura," he let out as he pulled her into his arms again. "Never doubt how I feel for you."

"Okay," she answered and nodded again. She sounded confident, which lifted Kakashi's spirits greatly. Maybe he had been able to cheer her up a little, after all.

After giving his chest a slight nudge with her cheek, she broke away from him and turned to leave, sparing him a glance as she hesitated to take the first step. Kakashi's lips curled in a small smile as he raised his hand in a good bye motion.

Chapter Five: Click Here


  1. awww..! i've read all of this and the original in the past few hours. please write more, it's so good. :)

  2. I'm happy you enjoyed it!

    I'll try and add more to it soon... I'm currently having a little trouble with this story, but I swear I'll finish it! I can't stand having another unfinished project, haha.