Finding Peace

Chapter 11- Spill the Beans

Kakashi ambled along the road. The chunin exam was proving to be more work for him than he had thought it would. He really wanted to go visit Asami but he had been walking through the hospital to see Sasuke when he had overheard her in Rock Lee's room. She had been flirting with Might Gai, at least that was how it had sounded and, although he didn't like to admit it, he was a little jealous. It had sounded like she was greeting an old boyfriend. It wasn't that he doubted himself, it was that he knew by asking her to be a part of his life she would be giving up a lot. If Gai was a better fit for her then who was he to stand in the way?

He knew that his ambling was bringing him closer to Asami's house and he didn't care. He wrestled with the idea of visiting her anyway but worried about being selfish. He was just about to turn around and go back home when Sakura appeared around the corner.

"Oh hello Kakashi-sensei!"

"Oh hello Sakura. How are you?"

"I'm good. I 've had the most amazing day! I escorted Asami into the village, it was the only way Hikari-san would let her go anywhere, and I helped her around. I also introduced her to Rock Lee. Did you know that Asami's father and Gai-sensei's father were best friends?"

Kakashi wondered if he was going to be able to get a word in edgewise but noted that this was an interesting fact. Before he could speak Sakura started up again.

"Gai-sensei and Asami are practically cousins because of it! And she grew up calling Jiraiya-sensei Jiraiya-ojisan! She knows so many people! And she's so nice! No wonder you like to spend time with her Kakashi-sensei!" Sakura stopped, she was young but even to her it was apparent that Kakashi was a very private individual. She was afraid she had crossed the line but he didn't look upset. "Gai offered to carry her home but Asami turned him down. She told me later that she'd rather be back on the crutches than be seen being carried by Gai with all the fanfare he'd make doing it."

Kakashi smiled inwardly, bless Sakura for being a gossip just this once. But he didn't want to encourage it either so he said "Now Sakura, it's poor manners for anyone, but especially a kunoichi, to repeat things they haven't been asked to repeat."

"Yes Kakashi-sensei. I'm sorry."

"It's ok Sakura, I'm your sensei, I'm here to teach you. But remember it next time." He smiled at her to soften the correction. In many ways he appreciated her reliability and eagerness, it meant he could rely on her to deliver a message and listen when he taught something. He knew that Sasuke and Naruto also relied on her to repeat things as well. "Speaking of sending messages. Did you deliver my message to Asami last week?"

"Yes, sensei, I did. Just as you asked" Sakura wondered if he was irritated but then decided he wasn't.

"And what did she say?"

"She just thanked me and said that was what she'd expected. She's so nice!"

Kakashi was relieved that she had seem to take it in stride. He was right, she would be a good wife for a shinobi, he just wasn't sure he wanted to be that shinobi yet. Not because of Asami but because of his own confused feelings. "Thank you Sakura."

"Well if that's all I've been out all afternoon and I'm sure my mom wants me home now. And I have more onigiri to take her! Bye!"

"Ok. Have a nice evening Sakura!" He wondered again just how much Asami sold and how much she simply gave away. Well she didn't seem to be struggling to keep the shop open so he guessed she must know what she was doing. With that thought he turned towards her apartment after waving goodbye to Sakura.

Asami was settling down and wondering how she was going to stand long enough to cook herself dinner. She wished she'd asked Hikari or Sakura to make something for her quickly before they'd left. Her ankle was very sore from being out all day but she was still glad she'd gone. She had run into 2 old friends and had a wonderful time getting to know Sakura.

She was just trying to remember what she might have in the kitchen that could make a quick meal when there was a knock at the door. She got up and limped over to answer it.

She couldn't believe her eyes! Kakashi was standing in her doorway smiling down at her as if he showed up there everyday. She threw her arms around his neck and giggled a little. "Kakashi! What a great surprise!" She backed off a little realizing that she had taken a liberty she wasn't sure he would appreciate in hugging him but he was still smiling at her.

"Hello Asami. Shouldn't you be sitting? I just saw Sakura on my way here and she mentioned that you two had been out on the town all day. You should be resting your ankle."

"Well I was until some strange shinobi knocked on my door and made me get up and answer it." She playfully punched him in the arm as she said this and then turned to go back to resting.

"Well maybe you should tell strange shinobi to stop dropping in if they're bothering you." Kakashi's tone was teasing but he watched for her reaction.

"Well, I could but to be honest your the only shinobi who drops in regularly and I'd miss you if you stopped coming by."

Kakashi smiled, reassured that he was not bothering her. "So I heard that you spent the day with Sakura. Did you have fun?"

"I did." Asami smiled. "She really is the sweetest girl. She introduced me to Rock Lee. And I got to introduce her to Jiraiya."

"So I heard. I also heard that you turned down an opportunity to be carried home by Might Gai, handsome shinobi of the leaf village." Kakashi laughed as he said this.

Asami joined him in laughing. "His father, Dai, and mine were best friends which made us practically cousins growing up but there was no way I could be carried through town with the fanfare I knew he'd raise. He's a nice guy, no pun intended, but not for me." She wondered for a moment if Kakashi had been jealous but dismissed it immediately. Kakashi jealous of Gai? He might as well be jealous of a fish, both the fish and Gai had the same chance of winning her heart.

Kakashi was laughing at the picture she had painted of Gai carrying her, he knew Gai well enough to know that it was accurate. "I had no idea that your father and Might Dai were so close. Seems like a bit of a mismatch doesn't it?"

"Yes it was. But my father had a real soft spot for him. It's not too different than the friendship I have with Anko really though."

Kakashi nodded in agreement. "So have you eaten yet?"

"No. Sakura and I had tea while we were in town but I forgot to ask anyone to help me cook tonight. I've been doing better and getting around but being on my feet all day has made my ankle sore again."

"Well. As I have said before, I'm not much of a cook but I bet we could manage between the two of us. How brave are you?"

Asami squared her shoulders, "I am the daughter of one of Konoha's finest, my bravery is known far and wide." They laughed together and he helped her up so they could go into the kitchen. Once there, he sat her down at the table and had her give directions while he did the work.

He served them both at the table and then cleaned up, chatting with her while he did. Asami wanted to ask about Sasuke and Orochimaru but she wasn't sure she was supposed to know and she figured if she needed to know anything he would tell her. When it was all cleaned up they went back into the living room and sat down again.

"Asami." Kakashi looked tired suddenly and Asami was concerned.

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry to have just dropped in on you tonight. The last week has been very tedious and I guess I just needed to spend some time with someone, umm, normal."

"So I'm normal huh?"

"You know what I mean, maybe you don't but to be honest I don't want to talk about all the stuff that's happened since the forest of death exam ended."

"Well. I'm glad to spend a 'normal' evening with you then. But I want you to know that if you ever need to talk I don't mind listening. And I know better than to repeat. I learned that lesson very well growing up."

Kakashi smiled at her, he was glad he had come by. Her presence was so calming to him. He shifted over closer to her and pulled her into his arms so he could hold her. She shifted also so that she could lean her head on his shoulder and relax. For a few minutes they just sat like that, enjoying the feeling of being close to each other.

Kakashi broke the silence. "So when you were training, were you good at genjutsu?"

Asami was surprised by the question. "No, why? Like Kichirou I had good chakra control but I was better at ninjutsu and taijutsu, other than climbing trees."

Kakashi laughed at her joke. "I wondered if it was a genjutsu you cast that was making me so relaxed when I'm with you." He smiled and Asami knew he was simply trying to tell her, in his Kakashi way, how much he enjoyed her company.

"Well it wouldn't matter anyway. It's been 12 years since I have practiced at all and I'm pretty sure my attempts at any jutsu would be more pathetic than a first year academy student."

"I'm sure it's not that bad." Kakashi wished he could see it but didn't want to embarrass her. "It's late and we both need to sleep and be ready for tomorrow. I will be training Sasuke for the chunin tournament and that will take a lot of my time. Will you be attending the tournament?"

"I might. I haven't decided. Maybe Gai will carry me there as a special treat." She laughed with Kakashi at the idea. "The shop will be quiet for a change that day and I might just take the day for myself."

"May I ask that you not climb any trees that day? I'll be busy with other things and I won't be free to rescue you and return you to the village." He was enjoying teasing her but there was a part of him that wanted to ask her to stay in town as well. He decided to risk it. "Asami, remember when I told you we found 3 murdered genin at the shrine during the forest of death exam?"

"Yes, I do. Do you think it's related to Orochimaru being in town?" Asami realized too late what she'd said. "Don't be angry. Sakura shared that information with me because I was grilling her. I haven't said a word to anyone. My father never liked him and the thought of him being around creeps me out."

"Your father was a very wise man. I wish I'd known him. I'll have to settle for your memories of him. It concerns me that Orochimaru has been seen around. If you don't mind I'd like you stay close to the village for now."

"I understand and I will. I hadn't intended to leave the village anyway but I'll make a point of it. In all likely hood though I will skip the tournament and stay home. I have paperwork to catch up on, a book I want to read and it will be blessedly quiet here that day."

"Good. I won't have to worry about you."

"So you worry about me then?"

In reply to this Kakashi pulled his mask down, cupped her head and leaned in to kiss her. Their lips touched briefly and then Kakashi leaned in further, making the kiss more intense. Asami breathed in his scent and relished the feel of him being so close and of his lips touching hers. They lingered there, kissing for several minutes before Kakashi pulled away leaving his mask down for the moment.

He smiled at her, that intimate smile that passes between lovers when they are feeling the closest. "That was nice. But we both need rest. I will come by again as soon as I can." And he rose to leave.

"It was nice. Train Sasuke well, my father always said Orochimaru was a lowdown cheater who didn't care how he won. And don't worry about me. I'll be here waiting." Asami smiled and remembered something her mother had always said when her father was leaving. "Pieces of a promise."

Kakashi had replaced his mask and was turning to leave but he turned back. "What?"

"Oh it was something my mother always said when my father was leaving on a mission. I know you aren't leaving on a mission but it seems appropriate. It's short for this- 'I know you can't promise me safety but at least try to come back in one piece.' She always shortened it to pieces of a promise. It was like a code telling him she would miss him and look forward to his return."

"Thank you for that Asami. See you soon."

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