“So you lied.”
Kakashi gave no reaction, his face unmoving as he watched her. Sakura didn’t think there as much left to watch, her outrage having run its course. Now, she was just tired.
“Four years,” she said, her voice low and quiet. “You lied.”
She almost wanted him to respond, to say something to the truth she was throwing at him. Four years of her life down the drain, loving a man who lied to her the entire time. Four years of her love and commitment and he couldn’t even bring himself to respond now that it had all blown wide open.
“Why did you even get involved with me?”
“I tried not to,” he gave in and Sakura bit the inside of her cheek to keep from responding the way he expected her to. Instead, he was faced with silence and only with that silence did he continue. “And then I tried to keep it casual, something easy to put on hold. Then…”
She waited. Arms crossed over her chest, Sakura waited. She deserved an actual explanation, not to be left explaining his deceit for him.
“Sakura, I fell in love with you.”
Once, those words brought nothing but joy. Now, they pierced through her stomach. “You kept lying.”
“Top secret,” he said again, a common theme to the entire conversation. “I couldn’t—”
“And you still chose to enter a relationship with me,” she interrupted. “You knew you’d have to keep lying and never be honest about so many things, and you still chose to continue roping me into those lies.”
Kakashi didn’t show any reaction to her words and Sakura didn’t know what else to say. What else to do. What could she do? It was a lose-lose situation. Accept the man who kept his identity secret for four years that she gave him her life? Accept that all the things she fell in love with were merely byproducts of the lies he lived?
“What do you want me to say?” he asked and even that hurt her.
“I don’t know,” she answered, her heart finally breaking. She’d held it together so far, keeping a hold on her anger and disbelief and letting that keep her standing. Now that she burned through the anger and the truth as sinking in, there was nothing left to keep her heart in one piece. “I don’t…I don’t know what I want you to say. Or even what you could say.”
His arm came up. “Sakura—“
“Don’t.” Stepping back, Sakura stayed out of his reach. No way was she letting him touch her now. Looking around, taking in everything that once made up their home, she made her decision. “I’ll contact you when I’m ready to pick up my stuff.”
His breath sucked in, his eyes darkening in despair.
“Give me half an hour to pack up some clothes and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“Sakura,” he rasped. “Please—”
“No.” Tears stung her eyes. All the hopes and plans and dreams she’d built to life washing down the drain, how could she come back from this? “You had four years to say a number of things. You didn’t. I’m not going to listen to them now.”
The hotel was adequate. She could have gone to a friend’s house; every single one of them would have opened their door to her after the mess that happened, but she didn’t. Couldn’t, really. Not when most of them knew.
That she could understand was the fuck of it all. He had a job — a dangerous, confidential job that required secrets and lies. He lived a double life for the betterment of society and she knew just how lonely that was. Oh, did she know. And Kakashi had more self control than she did, so loneliness wouldn’t eat at him as quickly as it had her. How long had he made it before she offered him something he wanted so badly, he couldn’t control himself to say no anymore?
No one who lived that life could blame him, Sakura herself included. But she also couldn’t stand in front of the man she’d fallen in love with and given herself to only to find things she would never recognize. Things he had meticulously kept from her. It’s not like he didn’t have the opportunity to say something — she’d given him plenty. Her own top secret history had come between them once or twice and she explained as much as she could.
And not once, even though Kakashi must have known exactly what she wasn’t saying, not once did he ever give up anything about his own life.
The Kakashi she knew was a lie. Not all of him, she accepted. Most of his personality she knew, from that dry humor to his taste in dirty novels sitting on her shelf. The core of who he was, she knew. But how he became that, how he dealt with grief or the horrors in his past or any of their ups and downs, those were all lies. Carefully constructed lies to fit into the mold of who she was supposed to think he was.
With all of that, Sakura hit a dilemma. Rationally, she knew she couldn’t hold it against him. Now that it all came out, he revealed everything. Everything. Even things she knew if she were still working, she wouldn’t be privy to knowing. Emotionally, though, she was a humiliated mess. Her trust was shattered and after everything they’d been through, she wasn’t sure she could build it again.
Her cell phone started ringing the next morning. She was grateful they gave her a night, but she still didn’t want to deal with anything that would come from answering a call when Naruto’s name flashed over the screen. Sakura knew he had three more calls before he would outsource to other friends and then her phone would really blow up. Sasuke would be next and then maybe Sai. She wasn’t sure about Ino. Ino was her best friend. Ino hadn’t known Kakashi, but she had a history of her own.
And with how close Ino had gotten to Naruto, Sakura wouldn’t be surprised if her friend knew more.
Her phone was silent for all of twelve seconds before it started ringing again. She flipped the sound off and tossed it on the bed before grabbing her room key. The gym downstairs had been one of the reasons she picked this hotel and she couldn’t think of a better distraction than to drag her ass through a demanding workout.
Between the fog in her mind and the buzzing from her phone, what did she have to lose?
It was still vibrating on the bed when she got back to her hotel room, so she holed herself up in her shower. She followed that up with a long bath, then ignored her phone in favor to the complimentary breakfast downstairs. Sakura didn’t bother returning to her room after breakfast, but instead set out onto the street to explore the area. She was familiar with it, but needed the distraction of small store fronts and a quiet walk.
The phone was dead when she returned and she didn’t bother plugging it in. Instead, Sakura crashed onto the bed for a nap and ignored the world for the rest of the day.
She was happy to note she only cried three times if she didn’t count the one in the shower.
Sakura plugged in her phone the next morning then left for breakfast. When she returned, there were twenty-nine missed calls, thirteen voicemails, and an unfathomable number of texts. She could see the number, she could read the number, but the one followed by a zero and then a seven just didn’t make sense.
When the phone started ringing again in her hand, she unplugged the device from the charger, dropped it on the bed, and changed clothes. With just her room key slid into the small pocket on the back of her shorts, Sakura headed out to a park she found the day before. An expanse of beautiful greenery surrounding a lake and fountain, it was the perfect place to run.
She only wished running would help.
It wasn’t the same as weightlifting, where she could stack the weight high enough to rid her of all thoughts in order to focus on her form. Running let her mind wander. The scenery was nice, but it wasn’t enough to block out everything of the last forty-eight hours. From the moment she’d been kidnapped to the moment Kakashi showed up while she was breaking free and even further to the discovery of the agent she’d been living with, Sakura couldn’t stop the unending loop of memories. Or the discoveries.
Her quiet, friendly neighbor, Yamato, who loved his plants and the quiet that came with them. Kurenai, the nice, single mother that lived a floor down and always greeted her with a smile. Even Gai, the goofy man across the street whose workouts made hers look like a playground.
All of them knew Kakashi, all of them worked with Kakashi, and when Kakashi broke through the locked door she couldn’t get through to find her kidnappers unconscious and tied up on the floor, everything came loose.
She hadn’t lied. After their second anniversary, Sakura took a chance and told him what she could. Never about the jobs she did or the people she worked for, but the general gist of the skills and talents she once performed. Why she worked out as much as she did, why she kept current with her permits, why she continued checking and caring for weapons she hadn’t used in years. Why she woke up with nightmares about things she couldn’t explain and why seemingly innocent things of life sent her careening into the dark recesses of those nightmares.
Kakashi listened. He’d comforted her and adjusted their lives to accommodate her quirks. He stayed awake with her when her nightmares wouldn’t let her get back to sleep and he took care to help her continue her life as she needed it to go. And still, he hadn’t said a damn word.
The vision of Gai in his green jumpsuit running on the other side of the lake confirmed what Sakura suspected. If she looked hard enough, she had no doubt she’d find the rest of her neighbors, her old friends from the agency, and probably even a few new faces she’d recognize from the attempted rescue.
What she didn’t expect to see was Kakashi standing near the inlet of the lake with her old boss.
Tsunade hadn’t aged a day since Sakura saw her last. Beautiful, blonde hair and perfect, smooth skin, she still stood tall with that awesome figure she worked for. Kakashi standing next to her should have been a jarring sight, but it wasn’t. He fit. Then again, he’d been working for the agency longer than Sakura had even known it existed. Of course he fit.
It was his life with her that didn’t.
Sakura had two options, but neither one of them skipped the conversation her mentor obviously wanted to have. Rather than put it off, she changed direction and went straight toward them. She didn’t want to face him, not right then and probably not ever, but she wasn’t getting out of this. Thankfully, Kakashi took one look at her and blended back into he background, leaving Sakura alone with Tsunade.
“Haruno, I’ll need a briefing.” Seemed the woman hadn’t changed.
“Just a civilian, ma’am,” Sakura returned in a defiance she’d never shown. “Civilians aren’t required to give briefings.”
Tsunade narrowed her eyes, her mouth thinning. “You’re not just a civilian.”
“You have my badge, you have my weapon, you removed my alias, and you sealed my file. Last I was told, that makes me just a civilian.”
Steely blue eyes narrowed further and Sakura focused on them to keep from looking around to find just where he disappeared to.
“Still the same brat I trained, I see,” Tsunade said as a sudden smile warming her features.
Sakura returned it with a smile of her own. “Some things never change.”
“I ordered him to keep silent.”
Sakura sucked in a breath at the shift of conversation.
“He told me everything you told him and I made it very clear that he wouldn’t say a word, not until I let him”
Pain lashed at her sternum and she had to end this. “You don’t need to explain his choices.”
“Sakura,” her old mentor admonished. “You know what position that puts him in.”
There were a million things she wanted to say, but Sakura held her tongue. It would not do any good to rehash this argument here, not when she’d already said everything she could think to say.
Tsunade’s voice softened. “Girl, you know better than this.”
Still, she remained silent. She didn’t want this conversation and she didn’t want this reality. She wanted to finish her run, go back upstairs to her room, make sure her phone was dead to the world, and then go to sleep.
“You’re going to punish him for doing his job?”
Bullseye. She couldn’t handle that barb, not when doing his job twisted something once beautiful into something sullied by deceit. “Is that all, Captain?”
“Thursday. Two o’clock. I expect you in my office and ready to debrief and I will accept nothing less.”
Three days. Sakura had three days to herself and then she’d have to face him again. Good thing she had enough money saved to keep the hotel room for a week.
She didn’t bother answering, but instead turned on her heel and continued her run.
“Don’t you think you’ve punished him enough?”
The clock was getting closer to 2:10 and Sakura didn’t know why Tsunade was running late. The woman never ran late, not for any appointment or meeting she’d ever had. Except this one, apparently, leaving Sakura out in the compound surrounded by agents who knew all too well just what happened. Only good thing so far was that she hadn’t seen him.
“Sakura, you know how important it is to keep those secrets.”
Naruto had received one hint of her meeting and made sure to ambush her as soon as she crossed the property line. Her phone had been sitting dead in her purse for three days. She’d checked it once the day before to make sure she wasn’t missing anything from her family. Nothing except fourteen more voicemails and she didn’t waste time turning it back off.
It had been a useless paper weight since. Living without a phone had been a bit inconvenient, but Sakura chose to look at it as vacation from her life.
“Don’t you remember when Shikamaru started seeing that new girl?” Naruto pressed. “Tsunade knew for months that they both worked for different factions and still ordered them to keep it secret.”
It had been a nightmare — a true nightmare. And the beginning of the road to Sakura’s resignation. Realizing she’d never be free to find someone to love had killed the magic of the job.
“They found out while assigned on the same job and they still got through it. Celebrated their seventh year together just a few months ago.”
If Naruto didn’t shut up soon, she was going to force him to stop talking.
Her body jerked at that tone, the one she’d woken up hearing for four years and the one she listened to at night as she fell asleep, but she kept her stare fixed on the closed door of Tsunade’s office.
“Kakashi, I was—”
“Leave her alone.”
“Leave her alone?” the man sputtered. “How can you say that?”
Yeah, Sakura agreed, how can you say that when you didn’t do it yourself?
“I knew who she was. I knew she got out. I knew why she got out.” Sakura’s breath caught in her throat at the revelation. “Chasing her, winning her, and losing her is on me, not her.”
Silence settled, almost suffocating in its weight.
“Leave her alone.”
Sakura was finally left in peace to stare at the door before it opened, but she didn’t see it at all.
“Anything else to add, Haruno?”
The recorder sat on the desk, a bit outdated when she compared it to the other technology they’d worked with, but it was reliable. Tsunade had sheets of notes spread over the rest of the desk and she finally sat back to meet her gaze.
Every debriefing Sakura ever went through ended just like this.
“Kakashi knew who I was?”
Tsunade’s eyes brightened, but Sakura refused to acknowledge it.
“And you knew?”
She took time to pull in a breath, a typical stalling technique. “I told him to go after you.”
Sakura suppressed the flinch. “Why?”
“Because I knew he could make you happy.”
A shadow crossed Tsunade’s face and she dropped her gaze to the desk.
“Four years, Shishou, and you didn’t once think how this would effect me?”
“Of course I did,” she snapped. “Everyone thought about how this would effect you, but we also saw how good it was for you.”
Sakura couldn’t argue that; Kakashi had been the healthiest relationship she’d ever had, bar none.
“You have four years of good after a decade of shit,” Tsunade said, “and you could continue to have that good if you opened your eyes.”
“Four years, Tsunade.”
“Then why aren’t you mad at me?”
Sakura jerked back a step.
“You think he knew what drink to order you that first day? Please,” the woman scoffed. “That boy was too cooped up in his own nerves to think about how to approach you.”
Kakashi had been nervous?”
“I ordered him to lie to you and I ordered him to continue lying to you. If you’re really going to blame someone, you should blame me. Not him.”
Sakura’s hands reached out to grip the back of the chair she’d refused to take. “Why did you?”
“Because you deserve happiness. If he had told you a damn thing, you think to tell me you wouldn’t have barged into my office and risked it all?”
“Tsunade, I made my resignation clear—”
“—and he fell in love with you in spite of it.”
When Sakura said nothing, Tsunade planted her elbows on the desk and leaned forward. “I’m sending an escort with you to your hotel. You’re having breakfast with Hatake tomorrow morning.”
“Shishou, you can’t just dictate my life—”
“Tomorrow morning,” she demanded. “I’m not letting that stubborn streak of your ruin the best damn thing that’s ever happened to you. To both of you.”
Sakura pulled in a breath to protest, but Tsunade beat her to it.
She was a block away from the hotel when she changed her mind. No, she wasn’t meeting Kakashi in the morning. She refused. If she was going to speak to him, she was going to do it of her own accord and not because she was ordered to. Especially when that order came from someone she no longer answered to.
So, she turned on her heel and faced her escort. Tenten said nothing, but the amused curiosity coming off the woman said enough.
“What’s the leading bet?”
Thankfully, Tenten didn’t even bother trying to misunderstand her question. “Tomorrow, lunch, destroyed table.”
Figured. “And the chances for tonight before dinner?”
Tenten studied her, then answered breezily, “With or without damage?”
“Not as good as after dinner.”
She nodded, not surprised at that one either. Sakura’s temper always calmed down after she ate. “Where is he?”
“Probably watching us now,” Tenten answered with a knowing smile. She was probably going to go adjust her own bet.
It was also an answer Sakura expected. “Thanks for walking me home.”
Tenten responded with the smile Sakura knew from when they once worked together.
“Hope to see you soon.”
Sakura nodded in response and continued toward her hotel.
That he knocked spoke more of his mindset than anything else. She expected him to let himself in though the door or even the window, but he knocked. And he was silent when she answered, doing nothing but looking at her with heartache and regret in his eyes.
Sakura stepped back to let him in, but Kakashi took nothing else. He stood just inside her room, his gaze never once leaving hers, and waited.
“Did you know what Tsunade was doing?”
“I had an idea.”
“And you didn’t fight it?”
His jaw shifted, but he said nothing. Then again, he didn’t need to.
“I loved you.”
Kakashi winced, finally breaking eye contact to look over her shoulder. “I know.”
“I would have loved you the rest of my life.”
Silence this time, but the pain in his face grew.
Quietly, she admitted, “I still want to love you the rest of my life.”
He jerked back, his eyes widening in surprise and a little bit of hope.
“What happens when your job gets in between us again?”
She shook her head. “You can’t promise that, Kakashi.”
“I can. I quit.”
“You what?” she demanded.
“Put in my resignation right after you left.”
Sakura blinked, trying to understand what on earth would motivate him to do so. “Why?”
“Only way I could get you back.”
“It was time,” he interrupted, his eyes growing intense. “It’s been time. I should have resigned when you moved in with me.”
Probably, but she didn’t blame him for it. With everything going good and with the available information to keep them safe, Sakura wasn’t certain she would have either.
“Tsunade told me if I should blame anyone, it should be her.”
Kakashi was shaking his head before she finished her sentence. “As soon as I knew I wanted you as a permanent fixture in my life, I should have left.”
“Why leave now?”
“You’re more important.”
The distance between them was too much and Sakura took the two steps toward him, walking right into his arms and pressing her cheek to his chest. Kakashi’s hold was strong and firm, but he trembled against her.
“I love you.”
His shoulders sagged in relief. “I love you, too.”
“What are we going to do now?”
“I don’t care,” he said into her hair. “I don’t care about anything other than getting you home.”
Faced with that, Sakura couldn’t say she cared either.