Silver haired Hatake Kakashi stood slouched against the dingy wall of an alleyway. A smoking cigarette was held leisurely between two fingers and his navy mask pooled around his pale neck like a scarf. Tendrils of smoke reached out like desperate fingers towards the dark sky and as the sound of slapping stilettos reaching his ears, his eyes darted to the entrance of the alleyway.
A pink haired woman’s shoe suddenly gave way and the heel broke with a resounding snap. There were only two pink haired women in Konoha and only one of them was a ninja who wore black gloves, so he realized it was Sakura. He yanked his mask over his face again, the stifling sensation washing over him, before he headed towards her and into the light.
“Where’s the fire, Sakura-chan?” Kakashi asked her, the corners of his mouth curving upwards against the fabric and his eyes crinkling out of force of habit.
She glanced upwards at Kakashi before swearing colourfully at her broken stiletto. Her petite hands struggled to remove it and she ignored his previous question, demanding, “Kakashi-sempai, do you know where Jiraiya-san and Yamato-sempai are?”
“They passed the alleyway a couple of times,” he supported unhelpfully.
Sakura stood up, her shoes in her hands and her jade green eyes darted to the burning cigarette in his hand. She ignored it for now and put it to the back of her mind for later interrogation.
Her voice took on a more pleading tone, “Kakashi-sempai, please, Tsunade-hime wants them. It’s about Naruto.”
Suddenly Kakashi’s eye narrowed. He stabbed his hardly smoked fag into the wall, marking it black, and let it drop to the floor. He bit into his calloused thumb until it bled crimson and placed his fingertips against the ground, murmuring, “Kuchiyose no jutsu” under his breath. Pakkun appeared with another dog and scratched at his ear lazily before turning to Kakashi with drowsy eyes.
“You called?” he asked with a dopey smile.
Kakashi ordered the two of them, “I need the two of you to find Jiraiya and Yamato and then to bring them to the Godaime as fast as possible.”
They disappeared without an answer and Sakura stood by his side nervously. An uncomfortable silence had fallen over the both of them (well, Sakura thought it was uncomfortable) and her gaze travelled to the thumb Kakashi had in his mouth. She beckoned for him to give her his hand and he wiped it first on his baggy trousers. A faint river of chakra leaked into his thumb, sealing it up again.
Suddenly, her legs gave way. Kakashi’s advanced reflexes were the only thing that kept him from dropping her to the floor. He steadied her with his hands and she noticed absentmindedly that he smelled faintly like smoke and deodorant, a smell not entirely unpleasant. His cold, gloved hand tilted her chin up to meet his intense gaze.
For a moment, he was completely silent. Then he inquired in a low, husky voice, “Your eyes aren’t focussing properly. How much chakra do you have left?”
“I-I don’t think I have any,” she whispered weakly.
“Can you walk?” he questioned her and Sakura straightened up, testing her legs.
At first, she seemed perfectly fine but her knees collapsed on the fourth step. Kakashi gripped her arms tightly and said to her, “I’ll help you home. Where’s your house?”
“I need to go back to Naruto,” she protested and Kakashi forced her to look at him again.
“No. You can’t do anything for him in your condition. You will hurt yourself and Naruto if you try to,” he told her harshly.
Her jade eyes flickered to the ground angrily and her jaw clenched because she knew that he was right. She didn’t know what was happening to Naruto though and it was making her nervous and desperate to get back to him. But if she was only going to hurt him…
She argued weakly, “I won’t help, I just want to be with him. I don’t want to…”
The awkward silence that followed finished her sentence off for her. I don’t want to lose another team mate.
“Naruto will not die if that’s what you’re thinking. You, however, might if you go. If you won’t show me where your house is, I will drag you to mine,” he told her very seriously.
“But Naruto-” she tried again but Kakashi had already picked her up.
Her mind was desperate to get back to Naruto, but her body was too tired to respond. Kakashi had brought her close to his chest and held her tightly to prevent her from slipping away. Although she struggled, it was feeble and she eventually gave up. Her eyes shut and her head very gradually began to sag against Kakashi’s chest. The rhythmic thud, thud of his steady heartbeat calmed her down.
“Naruto’ll be fine. He’s much stronger than you give him credit for,” his chest vibrated as he spoke.
She said quietly, “Yeah…because of the Kyuubi.”
“Not only that. He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t be able to beat down with a spiked metal club,” Kakashi’s words made Sakura smile slightly.
“Do you think…do you think he’ll be okay?” she couldn’t help but ask.
Kakashi’s mouth tightened subtly underneath his navy mask. He answered, “That kid has Tsunade-hime, Yamato-san and Jiraiya-san with him. It’d be difficult for him to die with those three around.”