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Summary: Kakashi's late for a date! He must get by a missing-nin, shinobi wannabes, and Gai. Will he make it in time or suffer the consequences?

Author's Notes: Written for mediaminer's Summer Stars contest.The following involves Kakashi and my OC from a series of stories where they currently have a long distance relationship. For those unfamiliar with my Kakashi-Kunoichi Chronicles, it's just about a girl waiting for a guy who apparently is all wrong for her and the obstacles he faces on his way to a date.

WAITING and WISHING

Part I - Separation

At the bridge over the little river running through Konoha, a lone figure was seen waiting...and waiting. If there were someone with the time and compulsive inclination to observe this figure, he would have undoubtedly noticed the progressive stages of waiting. First the petite young woman appeared to be waiting in anticipation. She stood there expectantly, looking all around her, with a soft smile on her rosy lips and a twinkle in her dark eyes that rivaled the stars above her. Then after a good twenty minutes had passed, the young woman stopped smiling. She began to pace the span of the bridge, all 40 feet of it, but still she looked about expectantly. After another ten minutes, she stopped pacing and just stood with her back to the railing lining the bridge. Her short dark hair fell away from her face as she raised her head to look up at the clear night sky. After a few cloudy days, the stars now shone with a vengeance, as if to make up for their nights of obscurity.

So many stars, if I could count them all, would he arrive by then? I doubt it. He's late again and I bet he'll be very, very late. But what else is new? I should be used to it by now. He knows I can't stay long this time. We only have tonight and he promised he'd be finished with his mission by now. I have meetings all day tomorrow with the Hokage and officials from other countries, then I have to return to Hidden Cloud Village. Raikage Maruyama Rikako, formerly Otori Rikako of Hidden Leaf Village, sighed half in anger and half in sorrow. She tugged uncomfortably at the hem of her short skirt. I wore this stupid dress just for him. Why do I bother? It's been over half an hour already .

Fifteen minutes was her usual limit before she started becoming annoyed. The half hour mark was when she usually started to plot her revenge. But now, the beauty and stillness of the night calmed her and made her reflective rather than ruthless. What was that old myth? The one about the weaving maid and the cowherd boy, how they were separated and could only see each other once a year. Well, at least it's been better than that. A few days every few months, hasn't been that bad, but still...at least the weaving maid could count on the cowherd boy being there on that one day. I don't have that luxury of being able to rely on him. Stupid romantic myths!

Why did she bind herself to such a man? Yet she couldn't free herself of the intense feelings that she would admit to only under the cruelest shinobi torture. They had little in common - he with his easygoing playful manner, tardiness, laziness, and fanaticism over crude stories; she with her strong will, obsessive punctuality, restlessness, and preference for all books but those ( well, they were sometimes quite amusing! ). And yet there was no other who drove her mad with want - want as in desire and want as in wanting to kill him when he annoyed her, which was quite often.

It was not as if they could just go anywhere together, especially with his obsession of covering his face. When they went out to eat, which was infrequent as he preferred take-out so he didn't have to tip ( cheap bastard! ), he would insist on a table in the back with his seat facing away from the crowd. He was a homebody, preferring to lounge around the apartment or outside to read his scandalous books. He rarely bought her flowers or gifts or celebrated any occasion. Said it was all fabricated to waste money. And he claimed he never knew what to give her, that she was impossible to shop for because of her pickiness and that she did not appreciate his attempts. She was not picky! She just knew what she preferred. She would have been happy with anything he gave her, except his gifts were really meant for himself! Like this stupid dress that's too short and too tight! But just because she wasn't the type to "ooh" and "aah" and pretend to get all excited didn't mean she didn't appreciate his efforts.

And he's so lazy, he lets dishes pile up for days until he runs out! And he often smells like a wet dog! And...

Her list of complaints grew longer and longer.

But worst of all was his tardiness. It was inconsiderate, selfish. He believed in taking life easy, not too seriously, enjoy it while you can. He only believed in being on time if it were really important. And he liked being late because it put the other person at a disadvantage. Then there were instances when he was late because of his shinobi memorial visits, where he would lose track of time wallowing in his past. She understood he was consciously or subconsciously emulating his long dead best friend, but he wouldn't admit to any of it. He would just come up with some pathetic excuse. She didn't care what his reasons were. There was no point dwelling on the past. She believed past was past, and it's how you live your life now to make up for it. After all, her sins were greater, and now she was doing penance in a distant land where she had no one.

She had long accepted his tardiness as one of his many annoying idiosyncrasies. Still it was annoying, very annoying. Yes, he was annoying, but he did make her laugh, a lot, and that was a fairly rare thing for her. He was annoying, but amusing. And she did love his intelligence, his strength (both physically and of character), his unflagging loyalty, the arch of his eyebrow, the curve of his profile, his mismatched eyes.and especially his crazy gray-white hair which stuck out at all angles and which shimmered silver in the moonlight as he lay in bed beside her.

But did she love him as much as before, after so much time apart? She could not afford to think of him during her waking hours, such a distraction from her plethora of paperwork. She worked late into the night and often fell asleep at her desk. She rarely had the luxury to think about him at all. But now while waiting she had plenty of time to let her mind dwell on their relationship.

There was too much going on in her life that she could not tell him. She was the Raikage and all the problems of the country were knowledge forbidden to him. When she asked him for news about Konoha, he would say something general or change the topic or sidestep it with sex, as if he did not trust her with any real information. Each time she saw him she felt they grew further apart. But was she alone in this feeling? It wasn't that she loved him any less, but it was an insurmountable wall between them, and she found she had less and less to say. Yet he didn't seem to notice. All he seemed to care about was sex! But that was true of any man.

No, that wasn't a fair assessment. She knew he loved her. She also knew that he was not happy about their arrangement, though he pretended it was what he preferred. Each time she was ready to return to Hidden Cloud Village he would hold her tightly, too tightly, as if he did not want to let her go, as if he were afraid she would never return. So tightly, she could not breathe and had to hold her breath, waiting for him to release her, but each time she was the one who finally pulled away, or rather pushed him away. She knew how he loved her, how he put up with her, forgave her, despite everything.

What was that silly song? Something about lovers being apart yet watching the same stars at night. As if that helped the feeling of loneliness at all! Stupid romantic songs! Despite her cynical thoughts, she wistfully looked up at the stars.

Out of nowhere a bright flash appeared, just beyond the carved mountains of Konoha. The spot of brilliance descended quickly leaving behind a tail of sparkling light. But as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared.

A shooting star, how wondrous and romantic, too bad I'm alone . She sighed again. A shooting star, is it too late to make a wish? What should I wish for? I wish...I wish...I wish he'd be on time, all the time. I wish he'd be more considerate. I wish he didn't come up with those lame excuses and would just tell me the truth. I wish he'd stop reading those perverted books in public. I wish he weren't so damned lazy. I wish he could reconcile his past. I wish he would change for me. I wish I could change him...I wish I could spend more time with him...I wish we weren't separated by hundreds of miles of forests, plains and mountains...I wish... I wish I could stay...

-...-...-...-...-...-

Part 2 - Obstacles

I'm late, I'm late, that damn mission developed into something more than I expected... Kakashi was frantic. He was late again, and it really wasn't his fault this time, really. She was going to be mad again, just how mad would depend on how late...

-...-...-...-...-...-

It was supposed to have been a quick mission to deliver some important documents to the Rain Village feudal lord. But then he wanted to discuss the extradition policies on missing-nins. It was really not his area, but the stupid old man persisted and it would have been rude just to leave. Apparently Rokushou Aoi had just left Hidden Rain Village, so he was now a missing-nin of both Hidden Leaf and Hidden Rain.

Who would have jurisdiction upon his arrest? Can he be punished by both villages? Would Konoha cede its rights? How the hell should I know! That's something to discuss with the Hokage. Go schedule a meeting! Kakashi wanted to say, but he patiently heard him out. Then the old man offered him a mission, find and kill Rokushou Aoi. The Rain shinobis were otherwise preoccupied and could not pursue him now. And seeing that he was also a missing-nin from Konoha, would he take the mission?

Aoi was already on the Anbu hit list, especially for what he did to Ibiki, so that wasn't a problem. Politics was so messy. Hidden Rain Village was supposed to be Konoha's ally, yet they accepted Konoha's missing-nins. Go figure. Last seen, Aoi was making his way along the borders of Rain and Fire, possibly toward Sound (they were always looking to hire - the turnover rate was very high for some reason). Kakashi agreed to keep an eye out for the missing-nin on his way back to Konoha and present the mission to the Hokage. But he already had a prior commitment with a pretty kunoichi and could not spare the time to actually track him. Still the Leaf jounin decided to summon his little dog, who might be able to catch Aoi's scent on the way. At least Pakkun would keep him company.

The pug appeared in a puff of smoke. He quietly waited for his orders while looking up at his master with his large brown eyes, which always seemed rather sad or tired or both. "I need you to track a missing-nin, Rokushou Aoi. He was originally from Konoha, then signed up with the Rain where he left just yesterday. These are his rooms, get his scent. He can't have gone too far since he's had to hide from the Rain Anbu. We're not following him per se, but on our way back to Konoha, if you should catch his scent, let me know." Pakkun walked around the room, nodded to show he was ready and the two took off toward Konoha.

Pakkun detected the missing-nin's scent and it was in the same direction that Kakashi was headed, rather uncharacteristically urgently. "You're just heading back to Konoha from a mission aren't you? So what's the hurry?"

Kakashi just shrugged in reply. Pakkun knew his master well enough to tell that he was hiding something. Something personal that he did not want to talk about. Well, he doesn't seem angry or upset, just rather expectant. If anything, looks like he's in a good mood. analyzed Pakkun who was much smarter than he looked. He could also see that Kakashi wore a slight smile underneath his mask.

"You're late for a date with that little kunoichi, aren't you?" Pakkun surmised.

"Uh, yeah," his master laughed a bit in embarrassment.

It's been a long time, maybe never.it's good to see him like this.but that girl.he really should have gone for someone.less like himself, Pakkun evaluated. Someone warmer, more open with her feelings.someone who would scratch behind my ears and rub my tummy.

-.-.-.-.-.-

The sky darkened as the two traversed the borders of Rain and Fire countries. Hours later, the tops of the immense monuments of Konoha appeared just beyond the woods, but the little dog abruptly stopped leaping from branch to branch. "He's here, nearby, his scent is strong."

Crap , thought the Leaf jounin , I was so close to making it back without any further altercations. Now I have to deal with this. Sigh, duty comes first I guess. Ibiki owes me for this!

The veteran shinobi felt a tingle in his chakra sense. Someone was hiding nearby. A sudden shower of poisonous senbon needles just missed the two as Kakashi swiftly grabbed Pakkun and leaped to safety, hiding among the taller trees. He's here and he knows we're after him. "Thanks, Pakkun, good job as usual," Kakashi fondly patted his old friend on the head.

Pakkun nodded, but before returning to wherever summoned animals originated, he deadpanned, "Give my regards to your little friend."

Just great, not only do I have to deal with shinobi gossip, but now all of the summoned world will know...

But Kakashi had other concerns right now. A fog enveloped the woods and the illumination from the stars no longer penetrated. He pushed up the forehead protector from his left eye to expose the red and black of his sharingan.

"Hatake Kakashi, Konoha's copy-nin, or should I say has-been-nin," came a voice from above.

"Rokushou Aoi, the Leaf Anbu have been looking to get their hands on you for a long time. Guess I'll have to do them a favor."

"I'm no longer the weak chuunin you thought you knew back then. It's been a long time since I became jounin."

"The Rain's jounin are weaker than the Leaf's genin," taunted Kakashi in his condescending arrogant voice used to intimidate and infuriate the enemy.

"We'll see about that!"

More needles rained down but Kakashi leaped to an even higher branch. From their direction, Kakashi now knew where the enemy was hiding. He threw kunais at the source, hoping to flush out his quarry. But from another direction came more needles. He jumped up to a higher branch. He's up there somewhere, using his chakra to target, I can't tell where he is.

The fog started to condense and Kakashi felt the air around him become colder. A jutsu condensing the water in the air...like the second Hokage ... But the Aoi he knew did not have anywhere near that level of ability. Even the copy-nin who could mimic the seals could not duplicate a high level water jutsu without a source of water. What the f... A torrent of water nearly knocked Kakashi off the thin tree branch.

"Do you know why the Rain want me back so badly but are afraid to sacrifice any of their men? Did they ask you to return my body and any possessions?"

Just tell me. Annoying villains always feel the need to explain...

"I've stolen something just as good as Shodaime's raijin sword! Something that gives me control of the water in the air and the clouds themselves."

As if to prove his point, a single dark cloud appeared directly above. A lightning bolt lit up the night, missing Kakashi by inches as he leaped to an even higher branch at the last second. But in that second of illumination, he saw the enemy. Kakashi now knew where he was.

I didn't want to resort to this, but I don't have time to play around. Time to end this, Konoha's technique expert thought as he performed the seals for his sole original jutsu...

-.-.-.-.-

At least she's not the type to rant or yell, nor the type who goes around cuffing me on the head. Nothing so obvious.hers is always a slow burning methodical anger. I'll have to keep an eye out for traps. Well, I'm almost back in Konoha, Kakashi thought as he raced along. I'm almost there ... just a couple of miles.

-.-.-.-.-

"It's him again."

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes."

"It's been years."

"Vengeance has no statute of limitations."

"He crushed all three of us the last time."

"We're stronger now, all three of us, and he's still just one man."

"Yeah, well, one dangerous shinobi."

"We're dangerous shinobis too!"

"Uh, sure, whatever you say big brother."

The three Moya brothers lay in wait for the gray haired shinobi, the one who took away/saved the eldest Moya brother's alleged true love years ago.

"Now!" They sprung their trap. Itching powder flew all around the Leaf jounin. Special itching powder that would penetrate his clothes and burn his skin and cause a permanent disfiguring rash of hideous welts and sores that oozed. So disgusting that no woman would want him ever again.

"We got him!" The eldest Moya brother said excitedly.

"Whom did you get?" asked a shadowy figure behind them.

The three brothers turned around to find the veteran shinobi hovering over them, glaring at them with his mismatched eyes.

"You guys." Kakashi had a very faint memory of his first genin team dressed like them. "I really don't have time for you right now. If the three of you would just get on your knees with your hands behind your back, I'll let you off easy."

The three trembling pseudo-shinobis complied immediately.

Kakashi raced along, leaving the trio bound and strung up in a tree.

-.-.-.-.-

Now within the safety of Konoha's walls, Kakashi slowed his pace to catch his breath. Out of nowhere, a green blur came directly toward him. Kakashi somersaulted away, avoiding Gai's Konoha whirlwind kick by a fraction of an inch. "What the hell is wrong with you!" Kakashi yelled, uncharacteristically angered.

"Nice, rival Kakashi, you managed to avoid my lightning fast kick..." Gai said with his usual toothy grin.

"I don't have time for this. I have an important appointment, and I'm already late..." Kakashi continued to race along.

Gai followed on his heels, "You forgot didn't you?"

"Forgot what?" Kakashi turned his head back slightly to give him an annoyed look.

"You had an important appointment with me this morning! But you escaped it by taking on another mission. You won't get away from me that easily, rival Kakashi," explained Konoha's crazy green beast.

"An appointment with you?" Kakashi now stopped in his tracks to think.

"You don't remember? You don't remember? How can you not remember our 199th challenge!" yelled the taijutsu master.

"It's been 199 already?" Time sure flies whether or not you're having fun.

"Yes! We're currently tied at 99 wins apiece. This is the all important tie breaker!" the man in green was nearly jumping out of his skin.

"We're always having tie breakers..." Kakashi sighed.

"Yes but this is the 199th challenge, the one before the 200th challenge! I'm not letting you by me until you agree to fight me!"

"Sigh, fine, but I name the challenge," Kakashi agreed resignedly.

"Yes! What will it be this time? A race? A test of strength? Jumprope? Hopscotch? You name it, I'll win this time!"

"Thumb wrestling," suggested the nonchalant shinobi.

"Thumb wrestling? Something as simple as that?"

"The thumb is a difficult digit to exercise. If you truly are a master of taijustu..."

"I see...yes of course! Thumb wrestling will be a true test of my powers." Gai struck his nice guy pose and thought, I can't lose this one. My thumb gets lots of extra exercise from this pose! No way rival Kakashi will have a chance.

Kakashi analyzed, His thumb is longer than mine, he has a better reach, better strength too, thanks to his nice guy pose exercises. I won't have much of a chance, but who the hell cares. The thumb is not a true measure of manhood. I just want him out of my way and a thumb fight takes 10 seconds.

Gai, however, was taking the thumb wrestling match very seriously and was planning multiple deft maneuvers.

The two grown men got into position: their shoulders squared; their fingers clasped around each other's; their thumbs erect. "One-two-three-four, I declare a thumb war!" shouted Gai enthusiastically. But Gai did not move his thumb immediately as Kakashi expected, he was waiting for Kakashi to make the first move. But Kakashi was waiting for him to make the first move. The two men stared at each other's thumbs unblinking for nearly a minute.

Screw this , Kakashi thought as he moved his thumb into a lateral position, expecting Gai to easily pin his thumb for a win.

But Gai expected a trap and did not take the bait so easily. Nice try, rival Kakashi, but I know a lure when I see one! I'll wait till his thumb weakens and then I'll make my move!

This is taking way too long. Every minute I waste with this fool is another minute I'll be late and another minute she'll have to complete some complicated trap to punish me. Sigh, and another minute without her... This calls for something drastic.cheating. Kakashi concentrated his chakra to his hand. A jolt of electricity passed into Gai's hand causing it to flinch slightly, enough for Kakashi to take advantage of his surprise and pin Gai's thumb for three counts.

"Argh! What was that? You're not allowed to do that in thumb wrestling!" Gai grabbed his hair in frustration.

"All's fair in love and war, and you did declare a thumb war. No rules were specified," Kakashi said as he ran off again.

"I see...rival Kakashi, you took advantage of your enemy's trust. Unscrupulous, but effective...I'll keep that in mind for our next challenge...and I won't lose again!"

-...-...-...-...-...-

PART 3: REUNION

Even from a distance he could see the little bridge was empty. But still he headed toward it though he knew his effort would be futile - she was long gone. He was going to surprise her with a late dinner under the stars at the restaurant nearby, something more romantic than he was accustomed to doing, but now it was too late. She probably left to visit her parents where she could get a nice home cooked meal for free.

Kakashi finally arrived at the designated meeting place and jumped onto the bridge to look for any trace of her. I'm just over an hour late. That's really not too bad. He was also careful to look for any traps, but there was no trip wire to be seen. Well, this is a public place, not the training grounds, so I guess I don't have to worry about traps. No scent, so I missed her by quite a while, and I won't be able to see her tomorrow. That means it'll be at least another couple of months before we can meet again. He sighed and looked down. At the foot of the railing he spied a small scroll. He picked it up and unfurled it. The words were written with her decisive, precise hand.

"YOU IDIOT! YOU'RE LATE AGAIN! JUST FORGET IT! IT'S OVER!" The scroll suddenly began to smoke. Kakashi quickly threw it into the river below where it self destructed as it hit the surface. An immense wall of cold water rose up then cascaded over him.

Just great , he sighed again as he placed his arms on the railing. Now I'm wet again, starving, and alone. At least that washed off the blood. So it's over. I guess it's for the best. Long distance relationships rarely work out. I've been expecting this sooner or later. So that's that. It was fun while it lasted.

But soon his thoughts changed from resignation to regret.

I've waited so long for another chance...I was finally able to feel something...I thought maybe this time...but I guess I screwed up again...I'm such an idiot...

He knew he should just go home. It was late and she wasn't coming back, but he did not want to return to an empty apartment and it was such a beautiful night. The stars were out by themselves tonight, without the tyranny of the moon. He looked up at their subtle brilliance, then closed his single exposed eye.

What was that about wishing upon a star? A nursery rhyme from so long ago... Star light, star.something, first star ...something. something. I wish...I wish...I wish for a steaming bowl of miso soup and a giant size bento box of chicken teriyaki...and a pretty waitress.naked. to serve it... in bed. One with overly large dark eyes with just a hint of green, dark hair with just a hint of violet, a pretty heart shaped face ...one that looks like her, smells like her, smiles like her.like her...but one that's...gentler...more patient...more understanding...more interested in sex...more.

Did he really love her or did he just miss the feelings that had been absent for so long? He has known some women whom some would consider more beautiful, and most women he has known most would consider.nicer. There were even a handful just as clever. But he loved the way she kissed him with her hands caressing his face, the way she played with his hair, the way she held him after a nightmare where he saw his friends and family die again. He loved her defiance and diligence, her alternating cynicism and hopefulness.and of course the sex... No.it has to be her and no other .

Someone was approaching. There was no sound of footsteps but he could sense her chakra, her scent. He turned around, but there was no one behind him. Did I just imagine it? It's just that I miss her so much.. . He closed his eye again and imagined she was by his side enjoying the starlit night.

He felt her presence again, or was it just his imagination again? He was afraid to open his eye, afraid to dispel the illusion.

But then he felt small hands caressing the edges of his mask before pulling it down. Callused shinobi hands that held his face still as gentle lips pressed onto his.

"So you came back." he said softly as her lips released him.

"I saw the water explosion. Figured it was you. The scroll was rigged for your chakra signature," she said with no apology.

"I'm sorry I'm late, but the mission..." he began to explain.

She silently shook her head and placed her arms around his neck, tip toeing slightly to give him another kiss.

"Did you see that shooting star a little while ago?" she asked while still holding onto him.

"A shooting star? No, I didn't notice anything."

"It looked like it was just past the hokage monuments. It lit up the sky, so beautiful. Too bad you missed it," she said wistfully.

Could it be she saw my chidori and mistook it for a shooting star? But Kakashi decided not to mention that possibility. Using his chidori to cut an enemy in half was not romantic, even though she was a kunoichi. Instead he asked, "Did you make a wish?"

"Yes," she blushed slightly, barely noticeable in the night.

"What was it? Or do you subscribe to the superstition that wishes won't come true if you make them known?"

"Actually, I can tell you, my wish came true already."

"Oh?"

"I wished...I wished that you would return safely from your mission. That's all that really matters to me." She had finally remembered the second half of the legend. After all, even the cowherd boy could miss his annual appointment on a cloudy night with no available bridge to connect the stars. There's always the possibility of unforeseen obstacles in the way of true love.

"That's a good wish," he said as he held her tighter.

"So.why were you late?" she asked, curious to hear what excuse he would use this time.

I can't tell her I just ripped through a guy, tied up three others, and cheated at thumb wrestling. It would just ruin the moment. "Well, uh, I picked up this nifty chakra amplification amulet for you."

She took the gift from him and noticed it looked used.and bloody. But it's the thought that counts, right?

"Thank you, just what I wanted," she said sincerely as she pressed her face into his chest, ignoring the dampness of his clothes.

But he could not see her face as it contorted. Her brow furrowed. Her smile turned into a grimace. She bit her lower lip trying hard not to complain as she thought, Now I wish you didn't smell like a wet dog!

-...-...-...-...End...-...-...-...-

Author's notes:

Contest requirements were a bridge, a shooting star, a water fight, and a kiss under the stars, inspired by the myth of the weaving maid/cowherd boy.

If you liked this story, please check out "Kakashi and the Kunoichi from Thunder Country." This piece sort of takes place after the fourth story.