In the Darkest of Places - KakaSaku
Someone wrote an awesome KakaSaku recently and I absolutely adored it and it inspired me to write this, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it or who wrote it?? (Maybe @raendown or @mouseymightymarvellous???)
In the Darkest of Places
Kakashi had been watching her all night.
Like a moth to a flame, his gaze drew to her, falling away only to be pulled back again some minutes later. As her ex-teacher, it had long since become habit for him to keep an eye on Sakura. She had been the only female and the one with the most to lose, and in a way he was more protective of her than the others, even if she had become the most successful. Sakura was equal parts strong and beautiful and intelligent. She drew every gaze when she walked into a room but even the bravest of admirers refrained from approaching her when her teammates were attached to her hip.
But not tonight. Tonight she was alone.
Kakashi had witnessed her arrive some hours ago, but Naruto and Sai continued to remain absent as she sank lower and lower in her stool as alcohol took her in its unforgiving grip. The chatter of his companions felt on deaf ears every time he diverted his attention to observe her across the bar, eyeing each shot she consumed. The longer he watched, the more concerned he became.
Something was a little off, something a little wrong. Sakura never came alone and she never drank herself onto the floor.
And so Kakashi continued to watch over her from afar, silently chasing away any admirer that entertained the thought of approaching with a warning glare and a promise of regret should his unspoken order be defied. Sakura needed company, but not to share a bed with. And as the night wore on and the shot glasses continued to drain, Kakashi knew he was going to have to be the one to fill that role tonight.
The bar was nearly empty by the time Genma and Anko finally left Kakashi alone at the table. His gaze never wavered from the kunoichi still hunched over the bar who had drank her weight in liquor and had slipped so low her cheek pressed to the countertop. She didn’t show any signs of moving any time soon.
It was only once Sakura continued to remain oblivious to the bartender’s pointed stare that Kakashi finally pushed himself to his feet and quietly approached her. He was mildly surprised to find her still conscious as she traced the scratches in the counter’s surface with her nail absently. Her finger stilled as she noticed his presence and she peered at him without lifting her head. “‘kashi.”
He could hear every drink she had consumed in that single syllable but he merely smiled at her under his mask as he placed a hand to her back. “It’s about time we get you home, yeah?”
Sakura hummed and her gaze fell back to her finger as she resumed tracing patterns in the old wood. For a long moment, he was certain she wasn’t going to move and he briefly considered the potential consequences of just hoisting her over his shoulder when she sighed heavily and straightened on the stool.
Her pale, pink locks cascaded over one shoulder in a mess of hair that brought attention to the slender column of her neck and the strength of her shoulders, but it was her eyes he was drawn to. They were red-rimmed, but from exhaustion or alcohol he didn’t know, and the energy that normally brightened her forest-green eyes was dull and lackluster as if the spirit had been stolen from her.
“Am I a good shinobi?” she suddenly asked.
Kakashi cocked his head curiously. “What?”
“I asked if I am a good shinobi?” Sakura repeated slowly.
She gestured with her hands, briefly taking them off the counter of the bar and it was only Kakashi’s years of training that allowed him to react fast enough to steady her before she slipped backwards off her stool. Sakura quickly placed her palms on the counter again but his hand still lingered on her waist, not entirely trusting her to remain upright on her own.
“Of course you’re a good shinobi,” he told her. “One of the better ones, in fact.”
Sakura nodded slowly. “Good. Because apparently I am not a very good medic and it’s good to know that at least I have something to fall back on.”
Her words slurred together but she spoke slow enough that Kakashi could make out her words, and his brow furrowed in confusion. “Why aren’t you a good medic?”
“Because medics are supposed to save people,” she said sharply, like he should have already known the answer. But then her voice softened as her shoulders slumped dejectedly. “And I don’t.”
Understanding washed over him like fog dissipating in the sun and sympathy curled in his chest as he rested a comforting hand on her back. “You can’t save everyone, Sakura,” he reasoned quietly as her gaze fell to the dirty counter. “It’s just a fact of life. But you are still a great medic. Sometimes you’ll save a patient and sometimes you’ll lose one. I know it’s hard but you have to keep trying-.”
“Four,” she said, holding up four fingers towards him.
Kakashi frowned before he shook his head, not understanding. “Four?”
“You said ‘sometimes you’ll save a patient and sometimes you’ll lose one’,” she explained. “I didn’t lose a patient. I lost four, back-to-back.” She lifted her gaze from the counter to meet his gaze, the dare evident in her haunted eyes. “So tell me again that I’m still a great medic.”
Kakashi released a silent but heavy sigh as he finally understood the weight of her burden. But before he could say anything to lessen her grief, the bartender slid a piece of paper towards them. “The tab,” he explained simply.
It took a great deal of self-control for Kakashi to not shoot him a scathing look and he said nothing as he pulled a small stack of yen from his pocket and left it on the counter.
Sakura missed the entire exchange as she rested her eyes on her palms but she picked her head up again as Kakashi placed a hand to back again. “You are a great medic,” he repeated firmly.
She shot him a ghost of a smile but it breathed some life back into her emerald eyes and she followed his silent gesture to stand before she allowed him to lead her from the bar, his arm wrapped securely around her waist as he supported most of her weight. She stumbled a few times as they traveled down the dirt path away from the downtown district of Konoha but Kakashi caught her every time, ensuring she remained tucked safely against his side.
“Can I stay with you tonight?”
Kakashi looked down at her sharply, caught between being surprised at her boldness and confused as to why she didn’t want to go home.
“I’ll sleep on the couch, or even the floor,” she pressed before he could ask. “I don’t care. I just don’t want to be alone.”
Sakura tucked her face into his shoulder as they walked, her fingers gripped the back of his vest as her other arm wrapped around his middle. She looked so lost and fragile, something he hadn’t seen from her since she was a genin straight out of the academy, and whatever argument he had building on the tip of his tongue died.
There were so many times he had fallen short on his responsibilities as her teacher and then again as her team leader; so many times she had required help and he had been unable to support her in the way she needed. But this time would be different. This time, he would get her through this night.
“Yeah, you can stay with me.”