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I pecan U

Chapter Text

Respect the Source by Barclay Crenshaw

 

From his perch, Hatake contemplate the prone form taking residence in a neighboring tree. This time of night was a dead hour; most living things asleep or lying in wait for prey, layering the world in eerie silence for a few short hours before dawn. An occasion that, without even needing to clock the moon’s position, foretold they would be breaking camp soon.

 

This time of night was also when said form prefered to sleep.

 

Now... Kakashi wasn’t an asshole, despite what his teammates led everyone to believe. Of course he knew how to bend the rules every now and then, knew how to cut loose and have a little fun... but he did so all on his own time. Not betting on his life kind of time. Kakashi prefered making it home as quickly and efficiently as possible just as much as the next person. The downtime in between missions is what kept his life in tact; although, most would argue Kakashi Hatake did not actually value his sacred time on this earth… which might not be far from the truth baring the speed and intensity with which he took and complete missions... but low and behold he ever go out like a piece of shit, or because of a piece of shit for that matter…

 

There would be a Hatake ghost floating around, mark his words.

 

Having collected a pile of pecans out of boredom, Kakashi idly rolled a few between his knuckles while he wait for the form to twitch again, pondering what exactly he would do with said pecans when they did and if he was prepared to die tonight.

 

Contrary to his father’s suicide, if Kakashi died, his death would serve a purpose. Oh yes, it’d mean something, and possibly have the opportunity to teach someone else a lesson along the way.

 

How best to accomplish the requisite to this ending, one might ask? And he would simply reply:

 

Follow the rules if you know what's good for you.

 

It’s why they exist.

 

When Thumper’s elbow twitched again, Kakashi didn’t hesitate to flick a nut at the eerie white mask staring into oblivion. It clicked against the shiny white porcelain, easily passed off as a creaking branch or... something or another, and yet despite that, the pink-haired medic remained motionless. Kakashi readied another nut only to hit pause.

 

What if she was simply excellent at keeping her composure? What if that had been enough to wake her and she was currently watching him? ...Would she attack him?

 

A petite shoulder twitched and his first thought was a distinct,  nahhh,  as his question flew out the window, right along with the pecan he sent flying past her. Lazy aim. You dare doubt yourself, Hatake? Are we three all over again? Boo on you for missing a sitting duck. 

 

Anbu was brutal and cutthroat - some might even call it evil - but more than any other label, this organization was every bit the Shadow at play in Konoha’s friendly neighborhood. There were numerous undocumented hours spent in the darkness keeping tabs on various dignitaries and panjandrum, even going so far as to gather gossip [or leaking specific information in some cases] from the town’s folk because any inconsequential rumor could always add up to form the bigger picture. Sometimes, months of espionage became the appetizer to assassination. Sometimes, he wasn’t even the finishing hand to some of these slow burners, which in his humble opinion… could be incredibly lackluster... horribly unsatisfying... downright unjust.

 

Sometimes, it was harder to keep up with these types of missions, over any other, for this exact reason. Simple tracking of a foreign ambassador from Iwa was the least worrisome at present considering they already had that war...

 

It’s why he didn’t mind letting his medic sleep so heavily. That’s what he was awake for... He supposed. Teammates and all.

 

There was an unspoken almost somewhere in that thought if he looked hard enough, because her exhaustion did bother him on some level. Not because she seemed weak or lacking…

 

But if not that, then what was it?

 

As the mission stood right now, it wasn’t a big deal and he wouldn’t reprimand her for it. Yet . But the amount of times this had happened on his watch were racking up… And it wasn’t looking good for her as a new squadmate. He wasn’t above kicking someone off his team, even if she did have a good sense of humor, a vast knowledge of herbs and poisons unlike any he had been privy to with past medics, and the type of chakra precision that could punch a hole through a mountain in two seconds flat.

 

He rolled a few more pecans around in the palm of his hand before pinching one between his thumb and forefinger hard enough to send it careening toward her boots, feeling the corner of his mouth pull down at the thought of losing a medic as adept as Sakura Haruno. Most medics around here were men. Especially Anbu medics, and none of them had training quite like this pinkette. Ibiki Morino did not draw any punches when it came to his T&I testing either; he covered all bases from nail pulling and rape, to injecting psychotic hallucinogens, or performing Ling Chi. And to think of all the hard work, the mental agony, the suffering… gone to waste because she was struggling with nightmares…

 

As if a light bulb went off atop his head, Kakashi came to the conclusion that it was the kind of REM sleep she was experiencing lately that really bothered him. At this rate, sleep would only hinder her performance. He would know, nightmares were difficult to shake. The powerful ones that hung around for days, the ones that liked to settle in and draw from words and behaviors that never failed to bring you back to that haunting event? It could be unrelenting and exhausting.

 

It wasn’t restful. It wasn't beneficial. Period.

 

On a more disturbing level, Kakashi realized he might actually miss the sight of that delicious bubble butt scouting ahead every once in awhile or squatting in front of him to reach for plants like rubus idaeus if he did happen to remove her, and the only reason he’d remembered that specific one was because she’d said it at such a memorable time. Perhaps he should make it a point to look at her when she schooled them on the medicinal components within herbs and fungi... It wasn’t often he found himself superbly impressed not only physically, but mentally, as well. There had been a time, several years in fact during his teenage years, when he considered himself to be asexual - excluding fictional characters, of course.

 

Speaking of, a good book would be nice right about now...

 

Flicking projectile number four at the anbu tattoo he knew to be on her bicep and watching it hit the ground several meters down, Kakashi slouched into the tree at his back and made to rub a hand down his face in mild exasperation until he realized his anbu mask was in the way.

 

Mahh… What's it going to take?

 

Had he really mistaken how far along she was? How deep could she be in that mental prison?

 

Deciding to ramp up his efforts - because who was he if not the most thoughtful Captain? - Kakashi carefully pat around his thighs for a small twig to sharpen, unhinging a hidden razor in the forefinger of his glove when he did so. He went very still at hearing a chirp. Had that been a real bird or what? A muted white mask shift imperceptibly three trees away to catch his attention before signalling for a perimeter check. Kakashi wasn’t sure if he was impressed with Cat or disappointed with the rest of his squad for being the only one to react. This mission needed to wrap itself up quickly. His team was getting lazy.

 

With the pacing of a sloth because fuck if he disturbed the wildlife and gave away their position because of sheer stupidity, the Hound razed one end into a fine point and fanned off the shavings. By the time he was finished, Cat had returned to his post several trees away, temporarily facing into their circle, no doubt to watch. A mischievous smirk quirked at Kakashi's lips unbidden. Now holding the twig-needle between two fingers, Kakashi took aim, inhaled quietly, and promptly flicked his wrist. A muffled grunt was the prize this time and it nearly had him rolling off his own branch knowing she’d have a tiny red dot on the side of her ass cheek. He had to bite the inside of his cheek to stifle a laugh. Anbu leggings were mobile, sexy as fuck, and quick to dry, but scored below zero as practical armour. If he’d put as much umph behind that as he thought he had, it might have sunk an inch or so.

 

Thumper took a few meditative breaths to steady herself, Kakashi more aware of this action by seeing than actually hearing as she rubbed her butt with one hand and adjust her mask with the other. She didn’t seem to know who or what woke her up if the slight back and forth movement of the white mask spoke any truth. Cat was conveniently facing out once again and Kakashi was thankful he was already in a reclined position to fake asleep.

 

Sakura Haruno might be a petty betty and ruin their entire scouting op just to break his face.

Chapter Text

BACKBONE by DROELOE / nevve

After waking up with three distinct bruises during three separate missions, Sakura began to suspect foul play. Someone was apparently getting so ridiculously bored with night watch that she was becoming a source of entertainment.

Buddha only knew how or why.

With a few kilometers under her belt and a nagging pain in her right flank, Sakura determined via scanning her internal system that the pinching soreness was not just a simple bruise, but an actual freaking splinter. A big splinter, long enough to penetrate through the subcutaneous layer of tissue in her butt cheek. Which was quite a feat for a mere splinter. No wonder it was so annoying to move.

Greenery blurred at the edges of her vision as her analytical gaze swept over the squadmates running ahead. They were running a typical anbu formation termed Arrow with Cat and Bear leading, positioning the medic in the middle, and Captain bringing up the rear. Any other mission, any other squad, and she might have brushed it off as a simple consequence of sleeping in trees for days on end, but the accruing bruises while she slept and the fact that the thing was two inches deep… There was no way she would have slept through something lodging into her skin like that. There was no way a splinter could naturally even get that far!

It had to be either Cat or Bear because the Captain would never engage in such immature behavior. In his downtime? Sure, she could see it. But she’d heard the rumors, she’d seen the man in action. Hound was much too serious to play games in the middle of a mission. Cat was much the same, if not having a more light-hearted demeanor in general, but she just couldn’t see innocent Tenzo pulling something like that, even if all the evidence point to him with his wooden style kekkei genkai. Bear? Eh. The Aburame clan was known for their dry sense of humor or complete lack thereof. She held absolutely no qualms knocking his creepy ass to the moon and back if it was him, but it wouldn’t exactly make sense for him of all people to use something as inconsequential as a piece of wood. Yoji was more apt to use his Kochu bugs to inflict pain.

As Sakura propelled herself from branch to branch, irritation bled into her behavior until she could faintly hear her own footsteps rattling the leaves. Sakura tried to focus on other things like the smell of the woods or the breeze whipping over her bare shoulders to keep from stabbing one of them in the back, but every lunge fanned the flames of her ire, teetering on the verge of spontaneously combusting. It didn’t help that the cause of said ire was in constant, direct view.

Maybe if she had considered them friends, it would take the edge off of her anger. Maybe if being picked on wasn’t such a sore spot for her, it wouldn’t fucking matter and it could roll right off her back. But the fact was, this was and it did and it wouldn’t. Sakura had a temper because of her childhood and she knew it. Training under the Shishou she had did not help matters one bit, either.

What was she to do about this? Was she going to sit back and let them bully her? Was she going to put up with this crap? Hell no.

Forgoing protocol because like hell was she going to deal with this the entire run home, Sakura rolled her leggings down mid stride, delicately catching herself on a branch as she shamelessly revealed the top half of her ass to her Taichou. Keeping an eye on the path ahead, Sakura held her leggings in place with one hand and used the other to create a suctioning of chakra to remove the offending object. It spoke volumes of how fed up she was with their shit that she didn’t really care who she flashed. Hound wouldn’t mind, she was sure he would be respectful and look away.

Probably.

She ducked a limb and leapt once more, twisting horizontally through a small slot in the winding branches.

It didn’t matter.

They changed in the locker rooms together, they took turns bathing in the rivers when they could… Everyone had the same parts and no one cared, it was all medical! She could argue to herself that he was a guy, after all - and a perverted one at that - so he might, except she wouldn’t put it past the man if he swung the other way. His stoic personality while on duty remind her of a certain infuriating Uchiha who was currently giving her knuckleheaded best friend the runaround. Why the two couldn’t just admit they were gay as fuck for one another and fuck each other’s brains out already was beyond her... Just being in the same room with that kind of blatant sexual tension made her horny.

How awkward was that?

When the trees spaced out a bit and she was able to see Cat running ahead, his white mask peeked behind him to acknowledge the surge of chakra gaining on him before doing a comical doubletake at the sight of her. If she wasn’t so pissed off about the whole situation, Sakura might have giggled. Cracked a smile, something. Alas, she was incredibly aggravated. There would be no laughing.

Tenzo was the highest on her culprit list. It only made sense.

After several seconds of glaring at the back of his head, she snapped the waistband of her tights back into place and eyed her findings with growing rage. The splinter floating in a green bubble of chakra over her palm was more than an innocent splinter. It was a fucking needle with obvious razor marks at the end! An inconsolable growl vibrate her clenched teeth. Who in their right mind found it funny to do this kind of crap? She hadn’t realized they were still in the Academy! For Kage’s sake, they were anbu ranked jonin-

The force of a rhino slammed into her from behind, a steel band locking around her midriff and squeezing to hold her hostage against a rigid form. They shunshinned upon contact and her world lurched dizzyingly from her cells being manipulated without permission. Despite the breath knocked from her lungs, the lightning affinity of the chakra that had wrapped around her to perform such a jutsu was the only thing that halt the bone-shattering elbow aimed for the head behind her. Friend. Not foe.

Sakura relaxed slightly and scanned the foliage for threats as they bound off a tree. Why isn’t he letting - Hound parried a random kunai and then flickered to another tree. Something shiny from the right head straight for them as they dart across a break in the trees and she allowed Hound to keep possession of her body a moment longer to take the brunt of the attack. She sucked air through her teeth with a sharp hiss as a wave of shuriken pierced and sunk into her flesh like butter. Ignoring her captain’s manhandling as he bent them in half to duck whatever attack was coming from behind, Sakura made the hand seals for mystic palm and began pushing the shuriken out of her thighs by pushing a thin layer of chakra to the surface of her skin.

Three shuriken fell into the abyss before he headbutt the back of her head and snapped hoarsely, “Use your legs, kunoichi!”

“I can’t!” She hissed back and shut her eyes to focus on breaking down the paralyzing toxins that had coat the shuriken.

“Poison? You took - Fuck -” With a growl that she felt more than she heard against her back, Hound shunshinned elsewhere again, probably trying to lose their trail and dropped them seamlessly into a crouch when he land on a hidden branch. A limb smacked her mask, covering her view of extracting the poison and he snatched and held it away for her before she had time to get irritated. Sakura had no time to blush or be embarrassed by the position they were in either. Working to remove this numbing substance seeping into her bloodstream had her breaking out in a sweat. She gulped a few deep breaths to calm herself, fighting the natural increase of her heart rate. She didn’t need adrenaline right now. She needed to be calm as a cucumber.

Stop betraying me, stupid body! Sakura worked her jaw, hardly paying any mind to the hard thighs shifting beneath her ass.

A gloved hand patting the stomach of her flak jacket pulled her attention down to a flurry of silent hand signals -

North, North-East

Seven

Take cover

Rushing

And then, as if last minute, he added, Sound.

- The body glued to her backside vanished.

Like hell was she sitting this out. Her pride wouldn’t let her.

Scoring through her veins without care to the searing pain of a hasty extraction, Sakura ripped the poison from her body and held it aloft in a small green bubble of chakra. She yanked a scroll from her chest and snapped it open, making quick work of sealing it away for later. Not bothering to heal her wounds, Sakura followed her Captain, busting through a nin on her way back to the fight with her Cherry Blossom Impact technique that had become damn near instinct now.

Blood and guts splat against her armor as she fell straight through the mess with a grimace and hit the side of a tree. Setting her stance and making sure she didn't leave bloody tracks, she pinged back and forth toward the general vicinity of enemy nin. Sakura hit the next tree branch and spot a Sound nin, who in turn spot her. Some type of long distance ultrasonic wave pulsed toward her. The translucent vibration of air burst through the mud wall she erected in response to his arrival. It gave her just enough time to cast a genjutsu that he would stampede through, alluding the target into thinking they were being swallowed by said earth wall.

When she shunshinned behind the sound nin, spotting his murky colored body twitch under her spell, she vaguely registered that she’d caught two flies instead of one before cutting through their spinal cord with a chakra scalpel in one swift arch.

Three down. Who’s next? She spun, eyes scanning the canopy as her ears tracked the falling bodies hurling towards the forest floor - that’s it? - Sakura frowned, dropping from the branch and catching them silently before they could make too loud of an impact.

It seemed her Captain had the other four.

Taking a deep, steadying breath and then gagging at the thick smell of iron that coat her mask, Sakura wiped her bloody glove off on the dead bodies at her feet without studying them too much and attempt to locate the rest of her team. Cat and Bear were grouped farther up, most likely unscathed since their squad was attacked from the rear. They would still need to be checked out and - and there was an empty space of trees in front of her and then there wasn’t. Hound appeared in the clearing, staring right at her, and then flickered again directly in front of her, grabbing the strap of her flak jacket and shoving her back into a tree.

Sakura grit her teeth and stared up into the eerie white mask speckled with blood, refusing to back down from her taichou’s silent reprimand. Their breath labored between them as they watched one another, waiting. They both knew why they were in this position without having to say it. It was obviously her fault they had been attacked because she’d carelessly used chakra out in the open, but she wasn’t going to feel sorry for it.

“What’s your problem?” Hound snarled, shoving her again with enough force to dent and splinter the wood behind her when she didn’t answer. His armguard pressed against her chest, making any chance to catch her breath difficult. The weight of him was heavy and domineering as he leaned in, dipping his head until their masks were inches apart. From this angle she could see the bright red of his sharingan and it was on fire. “Do I need to send you back to the Academy? Have you trained like one of my ninken? Hm? Are you that fucking dense, kunoichi?”

“Maybe you should ask the rest of your squad those questions!” Sakura snapped and shoved him back, not bothering to keep a respectful tone. “You saw what I pulled out, probably watched them do it, too. It doesn’t take much to transfer or file a report, Taichou.”

“You’re right, it sure doesn’t...” He drawled and his grip lessened with intensity for a moment, as if she’d reminded him of something. She watched his gaze flicker around her wounds momentarily, feeling her blood heat because she could swear the little tomoe’s were moving in his left eye and if he were about to do what she thought - but then his voice said lightly, “I can arrange that, gladly. No problem.”

“Fuck you! How dare you say that after I - I’m not the problem here!” Sakura seethed and shook, felt it in every crook and curve of her body. She had done everything possible to protect him like her medical nindo advised and if he couldn’t see it then… Well, then…!

“No?” He quipped like he was telling a joke and cocked his head comically like one of his ninken. “You’re not? Sure fooled me.”

“W-Whatever! Control your stupid team or I will.” Sakura growled and maybe foolishly, because she was fed up with that irritatingly easy-going lilt to his voice, she spat the words sarcastically, “Unless you can’t? Should I replace your rank, Captain? Show you how it’s done?”

“Think you can, aa?” His tone was deceptively light, contrasting significantly with the mismatched gaze that bore into her for a heavy few seconds. Long enough for the air between them to crackle with electricity. The natural affinity that seemed to define his very make-up from his hair to his personality - it popped and stung at her skin like a thousand wasps until she was gritting her teeth against the pain. But Sakura’s body drew taut as she raised her chin, refusing to back down. She wasn’t going to let this man bully her. She wasn’t a little girl anymore. She didn’t need Ino’s help. “Do it,” he barked, voice hard as ice then as he swaggered to the left slightly, arm held out in open invitation. “Let me see, kunoichi. I dare you.”

Sakura gulped down her nervousness because Hound had never spoken to her this way before. She wondered if he was going to put his fist through her chest like he was rumored to do if she stepped out of line, but there was no chakra building in his palm. Sakura wiggled her fingers around the forearm that had her pinned. She didn’t actually want to take his rank and she didn’t actually want to fight him, she knew she would die if so, but she had to do something. She couldn't back down now. With a simple jut of her chin against a floating leaf, a pulse of chakra connecting with solid material cleared the air between them. She said quietly, “It wouldn’t take much.”

Hound blinked and then squint at her. There was a long, tense silence filled with their laboring breaths as they evaluate each other and this new situation. She searched his eyes, wondering if he really cared about being a good teammate. If he did, he would have stopped his team from acting like stupid little boys, would have appreciated the fact that his medic had saved him the trouble of being poisoned. Too bad he didn’t see her kindness and she wasn’t willing to keep giving it.

Something akin to a scoff or laugh lift his broad shoulders and the stifling air abate as quickly as it had come.

“Interesting,” he murmured finally as something cool and thin swiped slowly across her thigh. Dipping a bit lower to her level, he said in that deceptively light voice of his, “Well, unless you’d like me to take you up on the offer,” another deliberate swipe pressed against her thigh and pronouncing every syllable with an air that was vaguely threatening, he said slowly, “Do not flash that ass at me again.”

There was frozen moment, especially in Sakura's lungs as she registered his words. She gaped up at him, her rage slowly, steadily building again at the intense amusement in his eyes. The end of his tanto flicked out to remove any excess blood as he pushed off and swayed back lazily to regard her. The blade glint at her as he swung his arm back, sheathing it with the kind of finesse that spoke volumes of his bingo book status.

Anger flooded every cell in her body like a heatwave from Sunagakure, burning her alive as her gloved hands balled into tiny green fists of fury. “It wasn’t-!”

Hound disappeared, leaves rustling in the wake of his shunshin and if she had the clearance to scream, she would have. Not only did this prick have the nerve to use her like a fucking rag, but he also found no fault threatening her with her own ass. He didn’t even have the common courtesy to hear her denial.


It was hard to concentrate on the necessary preparations a Captain should perform returning from a mission despite having two incredibly long hours to run after that skirmish just outside Sound territory. There had been high tension and adrenaline the whole way home from the pink medic. Nothing unusual coming back from a mission, but this was of a different sort and an absent mind during a time like that was cause for a death sentence or worse, leading the enemy right to their front door.

And then there had been a debriefing with the Hokage, of which he had omitted certain actions to prevent certain consequences. He wanted to punish his medic on his own terms. The village wouldn’t suffer from this, so he was guilt-free of displacing the truth a bit. The only one it seemed to bother was Thumper, which was odd, considering she would have been handed a month’s leave without pay or expulsion, depending on how much sake Lady Tsunade had consumed that day. Kakashi wasn’t so sure she would have actually removed Sakura from Anbu, though. He had learned over the months that the pinkette was a favorite of the Legendary Sannin.

Even hitting the showers at headquarters couldn’t keep his attention from straying because the source of his distraction was so close at hand. He’d just happened to glance over at the petite rosette toeing into a clean pair of black capri tights, one of those little strips of silk she liked to wear in accordance with that particular outfit fitting snug in the crack of her ass and pretty lacy bands wrapping around a tight waist.

Green. She was wearing lime green.

The muscles of her ass squished beneath the waistband as she wiggled and tugged it up, highlighting the red pinprick in the center of a bruise. Absently tugging the sleeves of his sweater up his arms as he stared at the wound that started this mess, he chewed on his lip and felt the material of his mask brush his cheeks awkwardly. Why didn't she heal it? Kakashi’s questioning gaze flit up her figure as if looking at the rest of her would give him answers somehow. He lingered on the dimples above her tights as she methodically wrapped her chest with gauze.

Kakashi had never seen someone pull a splinter out of their ass while simultaneously sprinting through a forest as professionally as Sakura had. He’d never seen anyone do that at all, actually. And while he had gotten a nice, creamy view of her gloriously flexing gluteus maximus, he was hard-pressed to forgive her for giving their position away, even if he had indirectly started this. They had been ambushed because of her, damn it, and he was trying to remain angry and centered around that fact, but the memory of that tight ass pressed up against him while under attack, of holding her, belatedly realizing she’d taken a whole wall of poisoned shuriken for him, witnessing the carnage she’d covered herself in when he’d come to rip her a new one…

It was hard to stay angry at that.

For all that he was, a man of strategy, of detailed analysis and conscious thought… he’d temporarily lost himself to something primal and violent seeing her covered in blood and wounds and knowing it had been for him? Kakashi closed his eyes for a moment, the instinctive playback of the Sharingan feeding him images he’d rather not see at the moment. He didn’t need his blood boiling again, couldn’t handle all the excitement and warmth that feeling brought with her right there. If anyone were to ask him if the sight and feel of her ass had been worth it, he would, of course, tell them no, that nothing was worth his fellow shinobi's lives… but it would be a lie. The attack against them had been quick and painless, if nothing else, exhilarating because they’d been stuck in trees for weeks. It was the first action they’d seen in a long time, with zero casualties excluding the medic and easily displaceable evidence of their scuffle. Hell, they had managed to bring home a few dead bodies for observation courtesy of his medic which was a feat in and of itself, and the fight had not even reached the front of their squad. So, all-in-all, her invigorating blunder had been a good exercise for the two of them.

However, he would never let her know that.

No, he had a bone to pick with his new medic about teamwork; possibly working on somehow, maybe, convincing her that none of her squadmates were at fault so as not to cause tension while also failing to mention his own blame in this whole mess at the same time. And figuring out a way to get rid of her nightmares. That was the main goal.

Metal slammed and rattled against a cabinet.

Kakashi glanced up, realizing that had been Sakura angrily shutting her locker door. She was looking at him looking at her and what better way to play off the fact that he’d been staring like a weirdo than to smile? He sniffed and looked away, shrugging the rest of the way into his sweater and buttoning his pants. Fuck, he wasn’t even dressed. How lame.

While he had not expected the fist aiming for his kidney on her way out, he couldn’t say he was surprised. He caught the blow before it made impact, conveniently grabbing away from the charged knuckles, and twist her wrist back and up, her forearm matching the length of her spine. She bowed against him and made to jab him in the ribs with a nasty right hook. He caught that one as well and did the same, now holding both her hands at a painful angle behind her back.

Kakashi huffed a laugh at her little growl of annoyance, as if it were his fault she was stuck in a hammerlock, and cocked his head with amusement as he watched her struggle. “Aa, not very nice, Sakura-chan,” he cajoled with an easy smile and squeezed his hands around her forearms. “What’s the matter? Don’t like the way I put my clothes on?”

“You love projecting, don’t you, Taichou?” Sakura hissed and pursed her lips as she fumed up at him, creating a cute little crease in the center of her forehead. Her chest was heaving against his own from adrenaline as she said, “Just making sure you didn’t think it was an invitation.”

Reminding me of my place, eh?

“Really?” Kakashi murmured as he leaned down, enjoying the feel of a warm body pressed against him. He didn’t touch many people, especially alive, or barehanded, so this was… interesting. Sniffing delicately at her temple and then trailing down to sniff again in the soft spot beneath her ear, he caught her eye from the corner of his own and said quietly, “Maa, I couldn’t tell... You’re so confusing, kohai.”

She growled and with chakra enhanced strength and a flame in her eye, gave him a nasty headbutt and broke the hold on one of her arms. “Mind your eyes and nose, pervert!”

“But,” Kakashi refrained from wincing too hard and wriggled his nose to remove the tickling sensation of sneezing. “You came onto me, first…” Kakashi reminded innocently and glanced down where her forearm was pinning him before adding, “Pervert.”

Green eyes glanced down at how close and tangled they were and made to pull away, but with an amused tut, his free hand snatched the nape of her neck the same way he grabbed his ninkin and held her close. She stiffened against him like a good kunoichi, aware of the threat his hand posed in this position. Kakashi had no qualms getting up close and personal if that’s what she wanted, and too bad if she didn’t. She started it and he didn’t like losing. Her eyes were bright with fury and the smell of her cucumber soap was strong between them. It was practically giving him a contact high just breathing her in. When she attempt to flicker away, Kakashi’s fingers squeezed into the soft pressure points at the side of her neck, blocking the flow of chakra, and held firm.

After they shared a few calming breaths, Kakashi cocked his head and informed with a smile, “Training tomorrow. Four a.m. sharp.”

“Will you be speaking to your whole squad on the importance of camaraderie and teamwork?” Sakura seethed quietly, digging her fingers into his sweater to keep as much space between them as possible. “Or is that just me, Sempai?”

The only response he gave her was an infuriating eye-crinkle.

“Right. Figures.” She said through clenched teeth and he let her shunshin to the middle of the locker room this time. She tossed a glare over her shoulder as she made for the exit.

“Don’t be late, Sakura-chan~”

“Oh, that’s rich coming from you!” Sakura spun as she yelled and hurled the senbon that had been holding her hair up in a cute, messy updo.

Kakashi managed to catch it mere inches from his face and with nostrils flaring at the challenge, immediately sent it back to her. It stuck through her wet bun, tacking it to the wall before the hair had time to unfurl. She always has to have the last word. What a brat. He matched her glare with feigned indifference. Feigned, because he knew from being with her when she collected various poisonous berries to make an original lethal concoction that those senbon were soaked in toxins overnight. Every night. And her aim had been deadly. Right at his eyes. He’d be out of commission for several weeks if they had hit their mark.

Various Anbu members in the locker room paused to stare at the scene, but Kakashi couldn’t care less. To be honest, he didn’t really know what to make of her attitude. This was a relatively new development with Sakura. She was generally well-mannered and polite, if not a bit stubborn when she disagreed with something, but those moments were rarely directed at him. It seemed he had finally gotten under her skin and he hadn't even been trying. He had never had such a bratty teammate before, besides having to put up with himself when he was younger, and he had learned quickly not everyone was tolerant of that.

He’d also never had a situation quite like this, either.

Honestly, why was she so upset? Surely a simple needle in the backside couldn’t warrant this level of pissiness. Was there something else? Was this what he got for trying to keep her from her nightmares? Should he have bothered? Things never seemed to go the way he planned when it had anything to do with other people. He really only had himself to blame for this one, he knew this. He had expected her to be petty. He’d called it, but not quite like this

When she reached above her to yank the senbon out and storm off, he couldn’t help watching the way her bubble butt sashayed in her angry strut. He swore on Buddha’s life not even Jiraiya-sama could describe an ass like that. It was just his luck she didn’t turn back to look at him. Might it be said that he had a death wish, yes, but by something so pink and dare he say - violent?

Tilting his head forward, he felt hairs pinch on his scalp until they broke from where a senbon had pinned a few strands to the metal door above his head.

Tenzo eyed him from the entrance, having just caught himself against the doorframe before Sakura could bulldoze him over on her way out.

“Is there something wrong, Senpai?”

Kakashi spared a glance as the man approached and then turned to look through his locker with a shake of his head, absentmindedly organizing his meager possessions around the senbon embedded in the wall of his small square. “Be nice to Sakura-chan if you get the chance. She’s in a foul mood.”

“Why? Did we do something? I noticed some killing-intent aimed at us a few times...”

Kakashi shrugged on his jonin vest and looked up at the cracks in the ceiling with a hum. The weight of Konoha literally rest on their shoulders here. Such a sobering thought. He rolled his head on his shoulders to look at Tenzo and said, “You could ask her yourself if you really wanna know.”

“Er,” Tenzo frowned and glanced at him a few times as he adjusted his headplate. “No, thanks. I get the feeling she’d punch me in the head and break my gear.” Then he added after some thought, “Again.”

“Aa, take one for the team, Tenzo.” Kakashi persuaded lightly, not really into his own words as he felt the dampness around his nose and mouth. Damn, did she give him a bloody nose? He brought his hand back and saw red staining his fingertips. Kakashi ran his tongue over his teeth as he smeared the blood between his fingers. Interesting. Not bothering to zip his vest, he clicked his tongue around a mouthful of copper when he saw Tenzo shaking his head and whipped out Icha Icha as he strolled toward the exit. “Too bad. Teammate work is important. I'm sure she would appreciate your concern.”

“Right...” Tenzo’s sarcastic drawl followed him out the door. Because they both knew why she was mad. And Tenzo wouldn't put himself in the middle. He wasn't a snitch.