Chapter 13

So… I'm sorry for not updating this story since February. Life got caught up on me, and I just let this project get swept to the wayside. Even when life settled and I tried to return to this project, I kept getting writer's block for this story and had a tough time working out where to go with it. This time, I won't make a promise I can't keep. I'm not sure when I will be updating this story, but it will be updated. Thank you for reading, and please favorite, review, follow, etc. Also, visit my profile page for the link to my Tumblr, where I have been writing a lot!

Sakura looked up from her book for what seemed the hundredth time. Kakashi was supposed to have picked her up nearly an hour ago, and yet he still hadn't made it to her apartment. She didn't expect him to be on time, exactly, but she was hoping he wouldn't be this late in getting to her apartment. It was so hard to be patient, sometimes…

As she looked back to the book, there was a tap on the door. She quickly slipped her shoes on and stood, running her hands down the simple black dress she wore to remove any creases. Sakura then grabbed her purse, walked to the door, and pulled it open.

Kakashi stood there, looking slightly disheveled and irritated. His hair was drooping in odd places, he was sweating slightly, and his front was soaked in muddy water. Sakura blinked for a moment, then stepped back, silently beckoning him to come into the apartment.

"Sorry I'm late and such a mess. It's been a bad day. Do you mind if I freshen up in your bathroom before we go?"

"Not at all. What happened?" Sakura replied, charmed and amused by his honesty and frustration. She led him to the bathroom. Kakashi closed the door behind him, and Sakura remained in the hall, waiting.

"Well, I took a mission that I thought was going to be a simple message delivery to one of the local townships, about an hour out of Konoha. As it turned out, there were a number of traffic issues, thanks to heavy rains yesterday and the day before. I got splattered by this huge cart that was going by extremely quickly, and when I got to the township, they wanted me to help in catching a thief, which turned out to be a teen boy who was bored. When I caught him, his mother scolded him for an hour and then made him go clean out a cattle barn by himself."

"Ouch," Sakura said, wincing. "How was the trip back to the village?"

"I got splattered again. I managed to snag a pair of clean pants from a clothing store just before it closed for the night. I'm almost done."

"Okay."

A moment later, the door opened. Kakashi stepped out of the bathroom, clean pants on and dirty pants in a bag he held in his hand. He also wore a worn black leather jacket, his hair was combed back into place, and he looked a lot more calm and relaxed, compared to his expression when Sakura had opened her front door.

"Much better," he said. "Would you mind if we dropped these pants off at my apartment on the way to the restaurant?"

"Not at all."

The pair left Sakura's apartment and walked to Kakashi's, holding hands. It was a beautiful Friday evening, as the stormy weather that had taken over the area throughout the week had cleared, and the couple could see the stars. It had been a warm, sunny Friday, and the heat and humidity of the day was slow to leave. Even so, there was slight breeze, which cut the humidity and made the air pleasant and fresh. They could hear the buzz of the Friday night crowd in the restaurants and bars that they walked by, but the noise did not irritate either Sakura or Kakashi.

After Kakashi dropped his pants off at his apartment, the couple made their way to the restaurant Kakashi chose for their date. It was a small eatery which specialized in tempura and kebabs. It was intimate and located on a side street, which made the eatery seem romantic and special, set aside just for their date. Sakura and Kakashi walked in and were quickly seated, the waiter taking their drink orders right away.

"This is one of my favorite places to eat. For how busy it is, the place is always quiet, the food is delicious, and the staff are always polite," Kakashi said, opening the menu.

"I've heard its good, but never really thought to come here. What is your favorite dish?" Sakura inquired.

"I like the scallop and asparagus tempura and the beef with peppers kebab best. The sake here is nice, and complements just about everything, too."

Sakura hummed in response, scanning over the description of the dishes. She could smell some of the tempura from a nearby table, and she tried to ignore her stomach growling long enough to decide.

The server came and brought them the drinks they had ordered, then took their food orders and left them to wait.

"So how was your week?" Kakashi asked, fiddling with his chopsticks idly.

"Not bad. The Lady Hokage and I started a series of classes at the Academy. We hope to teach the next generation of ninja how important it is to learn basic medical skills. This way the teams can handle injuries and other medical issues when there are no hospitals or clinics nearby, like when they are traveling."

"That's an excellent idea. There will be less injuries that are badly treated during long trips, and having ninja trained in medical skills would help their teammates learn to rely on the medic, and the team itself would grow stronger as a result."

"Exactly!" Sakura said. "The program has had a lot of the students taking interest in the program, particularly those who do not come from a clan, or who come from small clans that are not well known. Most of the students have shown interest in medical information and the application of medical knowledge as well."

"That's always good," Kakashi said. "Nothing worse than trying to teach students something new when they aren't interested or refuse to show their interest."

"Heh, yeah. You had a lot of that, as a team leader?" Sakura teased, remembering how much she and the boys of Team Seven drove Kakashi crazy. She leaned forward subconsciously, waiting for his response.

"Well, not so much from certain female members of my team. More from the boys in the team, when they were young. I remember a lesson in proper chakra-based tree climbing and walking. The girl was attentive and quick to learn, but the boys… they got wrapped up in some silly competition between the pair of them and took much longer to learn the lesson itself." Kakashi leaned forward, and one of his hands stretched out, fingers gently grazing the knuckles of Sakura's right hand.

"Sounds like typical preteen boys," Sakura said, smirking. "And to be fair, the girl was fairly distracted by one of those boys. She was silly herself, and thought one of the boys was going to be a great hero and leader, and could do no wrong."

Before Kakashi could respond, the server appeared with their food. They both sat back to let the server put down the plates, thanked them, and began eating. For several minutes, the pair ate in silence. Then, Kakashi swallowed his food, took a small sip of his sake, and smiled at Sakura.

"You know, you've come a long way since then. You're not a little girl anymore; you're a young woman who knows her boundaries and what she deserves in life. You help people with everything you can. You kick ass in fights and look amazing while doing it, and you never give up. You're admirable."

With every word Kakashi uttered, Sakura could feel her cheeks flush and goosebumps on her arms rise. She had never heard a man speak so kindly, so passionately about her. Just Kakashi's tone was sweet and full of intensity and adoration. Sakura was touched and flattered.

"Thank you," she said, her voice just above a whisper.

The pair ate in silence, Sakura and Kakashi both trying to make their hearts slow in beats. Kakashi desperately hoped his outpour of admiration to Sakura didn't make him seem clingy, and Sakura felt so touched by his words that she desperately tried to think of something to say back. Her emotions and racing mind failing, she finally looked up and met Kakashi's eye, then reached out and entwined her fingers in his. He smiled widely beneath his mask. The smile went beyond his lips, however, and Sakura could see it twinkling in his eye. The blush in her cheeks grew deeper, and the couple sat staring at one another for what seemed like an eon.

"Um… Would you like to try one of our desserts tonight?" the waiter said lamely, not wanting to disrupt the moment.

"Oh!" Sakura exclaimed, startled. She drew her fingers away from Kakashi hesitantly, not quite ready to break contact. "I'm, um… I'm good."

"No. We'd just like the check please," Kakashi said politely. Inside, he was fighting frustration. Why couldn't the waiter have left them be for just a few minutes?

After the waiter dropped off their checks, and Kakashi surprised Sakura by paying, the couple left the restaurant and began walking, holding hands and not talking much.

Soon, they found themselves in a wooded area. They were still in Konoha, but the area had been allowed to grow into a nice nature spot, so that local children could play and pretend they were in the rough, wild woods that surrounded Konoha on all sides. The area was large and was calm and serene at night. The couple could hear crickets in the grass and bushes around them, and Sakura thought she saw an owl swooping into the branches above their heads.

The couple stopped for a moment near a fallen log, which was overgrown with moss. Kakashi carefully tested the strength of the log with his food for a moment, then gently laid his jacket down on it, and motioned for Sakura to sit. Once she was comfortable, Kakashi joined her, casually laying his arm across her shoulders. She turned her face to him, and saw him bring his mask down slowly as he watched her move. Sakura knew he was watching her movements and trying to gauge how she felt about him. She moved closer, bringing her body to his, and she drew her eyes up to meet his. They stared at one another for a moment, breathing in the same air. Then, Kakashi's arm on Sakura's shoulders pulled back, until his hand pressed against the back of her head, tangling in pink tresses and gently pushing her forward. Sakura was spurned by his steady hand, and she met his lips with a sigh. Kakashi hesitated for a moment, then kissed her back with passion. She responded by turning her body until she was facing him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Her mouth opened and her tongue darted out, gently lapping at his lips. He opened his mouth in response, moaning as her tongue entered his mouth, hot and wet, darting around like an elegant snake.

Kakashi pushed forward with his body, cradling Sakura with both arms and gently pressing her to his body. He felt her stiff nipples through his shirt, and felt his pants tighten uncomfortably.

There was a loud cracking noise beneath the couple, and Kakashi found himself pulling away quickly, landing over Sakura with his hands braced on either side of her head. Sakura, sprawled on her back, looked up dazed at Kakashi, who stared in shock at her.

"Oops," she said after a moment. "I guess that log wasn't so solid after all." She giggled in embarrassment.

"I guess not," Kakashi replied, carefully pushing himself back on his knees so she could sit up. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Walk me home?"

"Of course," Kakashi said, carefully keeping the disappointment out of his voice. It seemed the mood had broken, but maybe he could salvage it for a nice goodnight kiss…