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The first time Iruka met Hatake Kakashi, he was still on some pretty good painkillers.

That was probably just as well, because otherwise, he would have been highly twitchy about being forced to lie on his stomach in the presence of one of the top jounin of Konoha. But as it was, he was pleasantly snowed, and so when the famed Copy-nin slouched into Iruka's hospital room, he was definitely less on edge than he could have been.

"Umino Iruka-sensei?" Kakashi said, by way of greeting.

"Um," Iruka said. "Pretty sure, yeah."

Kakashi made an amused sound and walked forward. "Sorry for the late-night visit, but I just returned and I'd like to ask you a few questions."

Iruka tried to keep his eyes open, but he felt so tired. "More?" he asked, vaguely aware that he sounded petulant. "I already talked to Ibiki. What more do you need to know about Mizuki?"

Kakashi came to a stop at Iruka's bedside, and spared a glance for the IV bag. "Got you on the good stuff, huh? I'm not here about Mizuki. I want to ask you about Naruto."

"Oh," Iruka said, a long exhaled sigh. "Naruto. He did well. Really well. Mizuki -- he tricked us both, he--" Iruka could feel a sob somewhere inside him, something that said he was almost too late, Mizuki could have killed Naruto, would have killed Naruto, would have killed Iruka but he was still here --

He felt the hospital bed dip under Kakashi's weight, and felt a warm hand on his shoulder, well above the area of ruined flesh that a medical nin spent nearly four hours trying to stabilize. The medics told Iruka he'd been lucky -- any closer to the spine, and he'd have been paralyzed.

Iruka realized that his breath was coming in fits and starts, and his face felt wet.

"Shhh," Kakashi said softly. "Don't think about it. Go to sleep. I'll come back later."

Iruka's first impression of Kakashi was one of kindness, of falling asleep with the sensation of fingers gently stroking through his hair.


After a few days, Iruka was sick to death of lying on his stomach all the time. He was also considerably cranky, due to being weaned off of the really good stuff and placed on the not-so-good stuff, which meant that he was conscious of two things: one, his back hurt like hell, and two, he was really very bored.

"Want some apple, Iruka?" Anko asked, holding out a peeled piece.

"No," Iruka said, feeling miserable and sulky.

"Say, 'Ah,'" Anko cooed, in a rather frightening parody of caring concern.

Iruka opened his mouth to tell her to get lost, and Anko took the opportunity to shove the piece of apple in Iruka's mouth. And because he had good table manners even when he was pissed off, he chewed and swallowed before opening his mouth to yell at her.

His rant was forestalled by the hospital door sliding open, to reveal the Sandaime himself.

Anko stood immediately. "Hokage-sama."

"Ah, Anko, if you could give us a moment," the Sandaime said. Anko slid the door shut behind her, and Sandaime took her place at Iruka's bedside. "Iruka," he said. The seriousness in his voice made Iruka pull himself together and concentrate. "I have to inform you that Mizuki has been sentenced."

Iruka nodded dully. He'd been expecting as much.

"When you are released, Iruka, Ibiki will need your assistance in going through Mizuki's apartment. I trust you'll give him your full cooperation?" The last was not actually a question.

"Yes, Hokage-sama," Iruka said, although it was the last thing he wanted to do.

The Sandaime cleared his throat. "Ah, were you going to eat this apple, Iruka?"

Iruka sank his face into his pillow. "No, I'm done," he said, wishing the nurse would come by and jab him with something, already.


Iruka was high as a kite again when Kakashi next came to visit. He'd apparently had a reaction of some sort, which resulted in being placed on IV antibiotics and painkillers again, until the medics could figure out what had happened.

"It's after visiting hours," Iruka murmured.

"Is it?" Kakashi asked, scratching his head and sounding politely confused.

"Which you would know if you'd come in the front door and not the window," Iruka said. He probably meant it to come out tartly, but at the moment, it did seem a little bit funny, so he wasn't to be blamed if he actually sounded amused.

"No doubt," Kakashi agreed, settling in the chair beside Iruka's bed. It was the middle of the night, but the moon was fairly bright. Not that Iruka could actually see Kakashi's face.

He was silent for some time, and Iruka almost drifted off to sleep again, when Kakashi said suddenly, "Mizuki originally wasn't going to use Naruto to get close to the Forbidden Scrolls."

Iruka made a humming sound under his breath.

"He was going to use you."

Iruka's eyes snapped open.

"You were close enough to the Sandaime, you could have gotten access," Kakashi continued contemplatively.

"I never would have --" Iruka began, only to be silence by Kakashi placing a calming touch on his shoulder.

"Which he discovered. It seems Sandaime's faith is not misplaced."

Iruka didn't know what to say to that, and Kakashi remained silent. He could hear the night wind rustling the tree leaves outside the hospital room window. Iruka just watched Kakashi, and afterward, he would remember the black uniform that melted into the shadows of the room, and the bone-white of Kakashi's hair, and the thoughtful silence.

Iruka thought about going to sleep, but he wanted to stay awake as long as Kakashi was there.

Finally, Kakashi said, "He was your friend?"

Iruka thought about it. "I'm not really good at having friends. Obviously. But I suppose he was. To me."

"You're probably better at it than you think. Anko doesn't peel apples for just anyone, you know," Kakashi said. "Well. I should let you rest."

"Wait," Iruka protested. "Didn't you want to know about Naruto?"

"Yes, you've been a great help," Kakashi said, pulling the blankets over Iruka's shoulders.

Iruka was reasonably sure that was not the correct response to the question. "But wait, I --"

"See you around, Iruka-sensei," Kakashi murmured. "Go to sleep."

And Iruka did.


Naruto was a very inept nursemaid, but Iruka could hardly blame him - this was a new situation for them both, and Naruto was so earnest and eager to please that Iruka tried very hard not to snap at him when it became clear that Naruto really did think that ramen was acceptable nutrition three meals a day for a convalescent.

"Vegetables, Naruto," Iruka said tiredly, carefully not leaning against the back of his chair. "They're frequently green. They have vitamins. They make you grow taller."

Naruto's brow furrowed, but he looked determined. "Maybe if you made a list," he said slowly, with an air of great concentration.

Iruka smiled a little at that, and obediently made a shopping list. Simple things, things that he could teach Naruto to make, and hopefully prevent further occurences of all ramen, all the time. Maybe get the boy to introduce more fruits and vegetables into his daily diet. "Here," he said, handing the list to Naruto and ruffling his hair.

"Quiiit," Naruto whined, doing an unconvincing job of pretending he hated the attention. On his way out the door, he turned and yelled, "You better be resting, Iruka-sensei, or else!"

Iruka waved. "Yes, yes, now go and come back!"

Naruto shut the door with a loud bang and actually took off running in the direction of the market, and Iruka slumped forward with a sigh.

There was really nothing to do now, except wait for the wound to heal.

Well, that wasn't strictly true. He also had to prepare for the new genin meeting, and he could always work on revising lesson plans for his next session at the Academy. He had tried to tell the Sandaime that he was perfectly capable of manning the mission desk, only to be roundly told to go home and rest.

And if he were alone, he could be giving his apartment a much-needed spring cleaning, or maybe doing some careful exercises. But if Naruto came home and found him doing any such thing, Iruka wasn't sure his eardrums would recover from the decibals of the scolding he was sure to get.

So instead, he picked up a book he'd been meaning to read for almost six months now, and settled in for a quiet afternoon.

Later that night, after dinner (Naruto had only set off the smoke alarm once, which Iruka regarded as acceptable), Naruto mused from his futon on the floor, "You really need a bigger place, Iruka-sensei."

"Oh?" Iruka said, lying on his stomach in his bed. He thought about it. He'd had the same apartment since he was a genin, which he'd moved into after his parents' house was sold. But maybe Naruto had a point. It was a little cramped for more than one. "Planning on leeching off me, are you?"

Naruto was quiet, and Iruka smiled into the darkness.

"Then again, it is awfully convenient to have my own live-in nursemaid," Iruka teased.

He had expected Naruto to blow up at that, but what he got was a mumbled, "Somebody's got to take care of you. You don't have anybody either."

Iruka was pretty sure he didn't deserve this. He'd ignored Naruto's pain for so long, been so determined to treat Naruto just the same as the other kids. But maybe he could start making up for some of that.

"I'll start looking tomorrow," Iruka said.


It was a slow morning at the mission desk, which meant that jounin milling around were bored, which in turn meant that it was pretty much open season on Iruka.

"I wouldn't buy anything if the roof hasn't been reinforced in the last ten years," Kurenai said, snatching the housing advertisements out of Iruka's hands.

"Walls, too," Asuma added, looking over Kurenai's shoulder. "Especially if the kid is going to be staying with you."

"He's not moving in!" Iruka protested for the fourth time. "I just wanted some extra room."

Asuma and Kurenai both gave him frankly disbelieving looks, and Iruka subsided.

Kurenai went back to the newspaper. "You should try for something close to the Academy, but you have to watch out for that block to the west, because they all have the worst plumbing ever - just ask Kentarou if you don't believe me, he had an apartment over there and-"

Somebody cleared their throat.

Iruka looked up to see Kakashi standing in front of him, holding a report that looked like it had seen better days.

Iruka's brain froze for a minute, because he sort of felt he should say something like, "Nice to see you again," except that the only times he'd ever conversed with Hatake Kakashi, he'd been drugged up. "Um, hi," Iruka said eventually.

Kakashi was giving him a considering look, which Iruka found vaguely unnerving. Even more unnerving was the way that Kurenai and Asuma were both trying to pretend that they weren't interested, when they most definitely were.

"You're looking better," Kakashi said. "Naruto's cooking obviously hasn't killed you yet."

"How is Naruto?" Iruka said immediately, seizing on the topic.

Kakashi scratched his head. "Pretty dirty, I think. He spent the afternoon weeding."

Iruka winced, and made a mental note to insist that Naruto hose himself down outside before he even thought about stepping foot in Iruka's apartment. Still, that hadn't really been what he'd been asking Kakashi, who probably damn well knew it.

Really, bored ninjas never boded well.

Kakashi let the report slide onto the desk as he leaned forward. "Definitely looking better," he said, and Iruka would have thought the sudden almost-purr in Kakashi's voice was his imagination, except that Kurenai and Asuma both froze.

Iruka felt his face warm, and he blindly grasped for the report and stamped it. "Thank you for all your hard work," he said, his mouth on autopilot.

"No, thank you," Kakashi said, his voice silken and polite. "I'll be by for our next mission tomorrow." And with that, he turned and ambled back out the way he came.

Iruka could practically feel the weight of Kurenai and Asuma's curious stares. And then Kakashi just had to go and make it worse, pausing in the doorway and looking back.

"You are looking well, Iruka-sensei," he said. "Although, if I may say, you look pretty good when you're in bed and out of your mind, too." He raised one hand in a wave and strolled out.

Iruka knew his face was flaming, which was not going to help his cause.

"So, Iruka," Kurenai said after a moment. "Something else we should know?"

Iruka buried his face in his arms and groaned.


The upside to living well below his means for years was that Iruka could more than afford the down payment and furnishings for the modest three-bedroom near the Academy (well away from the much-maligned west block with its faulty plumbing, and also not in the north block, which was far too close to the fish market for anyone's comfort).

Iruka admitted to having been seduced by the kotatsu and the built-in bookshelves, but he was, after all, only human. He bought a new kitchen table and a new bed, and put his old twin bed in the bedroom that Naruto had gravitated to almost instantly.

"You know, Naruto, if you want to bring some things over - I mean, you don't have to live here, I just thought if you wanted another place to stay sometimes, you could, you know..." Iruka trailed off, unsure how to put it better.

If Iruka was bad at this, at least he wasn't the only one. Naruto looked heartbreakingly young for a moment, and Iruka wondered if he hadn't looked exactly like Naruto did right then once upon a time.

Naruto settled for looking at his feet, one hand coming up to gentle brush his hitai-ate - Iruka's old hitai-ate - before mumbling something about posters and t-shirts.

"Whatever you want," Iruka agreed. And when he reached forward to clasp one brotherly hand on Naruto's shoulder, he didn't even have to tug Naruto forward into a hug - Naruto did that all on his own.

The night before Team 7 was heading off for their first Class C mission in the Country of the Wave, Naruto dragged Kakashi in the door.

Iruka was sitting at the low kotatsu, working on lesson plans, and as such was just dressed in his blacks, and his hair was tied sloppily at the nape of his neck.

"Iruka-sensei!" Naruto said, clearly already having worked up a good head of steam. "Kakashi-sensei doesn't think I can cook and I'm going to show him-"

"Welcome back," Iruka interrupted dryly.

Naruto looked abashed. "Um, yeah. I'm home."

Kakashi looked toward the ceiling. "Naruto, since you're not actually paying rent, maybe you should have asked first."

Naruto made a rude noise. "That's stupid. It's my home, too. Iruka-sensei says so." He stomped into the kitchen and started making what Iruka felt was probably an excessive amount of noise.

"Naruto! Remember to make enough for three!" Iruka called.

"I knooow!" Naruto hollered back.

That settled, Iruka turned his attention back to his impromptu dinner guest. "Really, Kakashi-sensei. If you're reduced to scamming meals off of Naruto, you must be desperate."

Kakashi's eye crinkled. "No, just curious."

Iruka harrumphed, and carefully stood and stretched a little. "Please, have a seat. May I offer you some tea? Dinner will be awhile yet, I'm afraid."

"How can you tell?" Kakashi asked.

Iruka shrugged. "Naruto hasn't set the smoke alarm off yet. Believe me, we've got time."

Kakashi looked slightly concerned, and Iruka thought it served him right.

When he returned, Kakashi was perusing the photographs on his wall. He took the teacup Iruka proffered with a murmured thanks, and after a few moments, said softly, "Why not just adopt him outright?"

Iruka looked down at his tea. "I want to support Naruto, but...he's been on his own for a long time. I don't think I should step in and be his guardian at this point."

Kakashi hummed ambiguously in response. "Worried about the mission tomorrow?"

Iruka frowned. "It's a C-class mission. I'm sure your team will do fine."

Kakashi looked like he was about to say more, but the smoke alarm went off and Naruto yelled, "It's done!"

"Shall we?" Iruka said.


Naruto was asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow, and Iruka closed the door gently.

"Thank you for bringing him here," Iruka said. It was early evening when Team 7 had returned from their mission to the Wave Country, which seemed to have gone desperately awry.

Kakashi nodded. He was doing his best to hide it, but Iruka was an old hand at spotting concealed exhaustion - any time spent among a group of five year olds helped develop that particular skill.

Iruka knew, too, that Kakashi had already been through debriefing tonight, and probably was in no mood to answer more questions. So he said, "Would you like to stay the night?"

Kakashi somehow dredged up a friendly leer. "Oh my, sensei."

Iruka struggled against the blush he knew had lit up on his face, and rolled his eyes. "Quit joking around. I know you must be tired after taking care of those three." He opened the door to his bedroom, and quickly stripped the bed and changed the sheets.

"I don't want to turn you out of your bed," Kakashi said, even as he looked at it longingly.

"Stop arguing with me, and go to sleep," Iruka said briskly.

"It's a big bed," Kakashi said speculatively. "We could share-"

"Kakashi-sensei," Iruka said firmly. "I'll see you in the morning."


Iruka sighed contentedly as he dried himself off and slid his robe on. There was really nothing better than a good soak after a long day of bureacracy. He stepped into his slippers in the hallway and started to dry his hair with the towel around his neck. "Naruto!" he called. "Bath's free!"

There was no reply, which was not particularly strange, but Iruka wandered into the living room to see if Naruto had fallen asleep on the floor again.

But instead of Naruto, he found Kakashi sitting comfortably at the low table.

"Where's Naruto?" Iruka asked.

Kakashi jerked a thumb in the direction of the kitchen.

"Oh," Iruka said. Sure enough, he could hear Naruto muttering to himself, the faint sounds of glasses clinking. And because Kakashi kept staring at him, he asked, "What are you doing here this time of night?"

"Mission tomorrow," Kakashi said briefly. Which was fine, but it did not explain why Kakashi kept looking at him like that.

After a moment, it occured to Iruka that his robe was not belted as properly as it could be for company, and his hair was probably a disaster since he had just run a towel through it, and hadn't combed it yet. He probably looked as messy as Kakashi had ever seen him.

And Kakashi just kept looking at him, with the concentration he might have reserved for a new jutsu.

Naruto chose that moment to thump into the living room, setting a cup of tea in front of Kakashi with a glare, and giving one to Iruka with a bright grin.


When Iruka answered the door, Kakashi was on his doorstep, holding a bottle of sake in one hand. Iruka looked at him questioningly, and Kakashi said, "Well, I figured, you keep feeding me -"

"You keep showing up at dinner time!" Naruto yelled from the kitchen.

Iruka was tempted to agree, but that was an awfully good bottle of sake that Kakashi was holding.

"Come in," Iruka said. "You're just in time." He purposefully neglected to mention that Kakashi was rather expected at this point, and that he'd told Naruto to make dinner for three without really thinking about it.

"Pardon the intrusion," Kakashi murmured, handing the sake off to Iruka as he slipped off his sandals in the entranceway.

After dinner (during which Naruto had pointed out that he had cooked eggplant even though he hated it, exactly seven times; Iruka had counted), Iruka carefully took his sake set out of the cupboard. It was dusty, and hadn't been used since...

Iruka shut the cupboard firmly. He wasn't going to spoil a good evening thinking about Mizuki.

He brought out the sake tray into the living room, and Naruto wrinkled his nose. "Gross," he said. "If you're going to be boring and drink, I'm going to go train."

Kakashi waved. "Have fun."

Naruto narrowed his eyes at Kakashi, and then looked at Iruka. "Don't let him talk you into anything stupid," Naruto warned.

Iruka could swear that Kakashi was trying to hold back a bark of laughter. It was fortunately that he couldn't quite tell, because he probably would have been tempted to smack Kakashi. Then again, Naruto warning other people against stupid actions was pretty ironic.


"Stop," Iruka gasped. "No more!"

Kakashi waggled his eyebrow. "I can keep going."

Iruka clutched his stomach, and tried to catch his breath. "No, seriously, if you make me laugh any more, I'm going to be sick."

Kakashi's lips twitched into a smile, and Iruka was drunk enough that he'd stopped staring at Kakashi's bared face. Which may have been the point, but he wasn't sure anymore.

Iruka collapsed onto his back on the floor. "Mmph," he said, resting one arm over his eyes. "Why did you let me drink so much? We both have to go to that meeting tomorrow for the Chuunin exam nominations."

"I thought it sounded like fun. Some people get mean when they're drunk. You, on the other hand, just giggle."

"I do not giggle!" Iruka protested, sitting up more quickly than was probably advisable.

"Like a little girl," Kakashi said solemnly, putting a steadying hand on Iruka's shoulder.

"Pfft. It's not like you haven't seen me under mind-altering substances before," Iruka pointed out. "Why did you come see me that first night, anyway?"

"I like to chat up schoolteachers stoned on morphine," Kakashi said.

Iruka giggled. "No, really."

Kakashi took another sip of his sake. Iruka's own cup seemed to be much too far away at the moment, which was disappointing. It seemed like Kakashi would say more, but then he set his cup down. "I told you, I wanted to ask about Naruto."

" you really didn't want to talk to me. In particular."

Kakashi pulled his face mask back up. "Come on, it's late, you're drunk, you should go to bed."

"But Naruto-"

"Came in about two hours ago. I heard him climb in his bedroom window."

"Told him to stop that," Iruka complained.

"I'm sure you did," Kakashi said soothingly. "Come on, up we go."

"You don't seem very drunk," Iruka accused as Kakashi nudged him into bed.

Kakashi hauled the blanket up from the foot of the bed over Iruka. "I'm sure that's a matter of opinion. Go to sleep, Iruka."

"Could stay here," Iruka mumbled into his pillow, his eyes already drifting shut.

"No," Kakashi said. "I don't think I could."


Iruka knew the meeting would probably run long -- after going through the chuunin exam nominees, they would have to get down to the more serious and tedious business of actually proctoring the exam, which was always a complicated coordination of Konoha's resources.

When Sandaime asked the jounin instructors if they wanted to nominate anyone, Iruka was already impatient for them to move on -- all of the genin were recent Academy graduates, and far too inexperienced to take the exam yet.

And then Kakashi stepped forward, and Iruka could hardly believe his ears.

Kakashi nominated all of Team 7. All of them. Naruto...

Iruka barely heard Kurenai and Asuma give their nominations, or the surprised mutterings of the others assembled at nine rookie genin being nominated.

When Sandaime was about to go on, Iruka heard himself say, "Please wait a moment!"

Sandaime said calmly, "What is it, Iruka?"

Iruka could feel beads of sweat gathering at his temples, but he pushed on. "Excuse me for interfering, but the nine students nominated are former students of mine at the Academy, and just recently graduated. Every one of them is talented, but it's too early! They need more experience before they take the exam!"

Kakashi turned toward him, slowly and deliberately. "I became a chuunin when I was six years younger than Naruto."

"Naruto is different from you!" Iruka said hotly. He pushed forward through the crowd to stand in front of Kakashi, absolutely furious. "Are you trying to ruin him?"

Kakashi's gaze was cold, remote, and a touch contemptuous, and he said, "They always complain during important missions. Putting them in a dangerous situation might be interesting. Ruining them is also interesting."

Iruka cursed himself for ever forgetting that Hatake Kakashi was jounin, and dangerous. "What did you say?" he growled, even as he thought, I invited him into my house, I thought he cared about Naruto, I thought he...

"That was a joke," Kakashi said, although it certainly didn't sound like it. "Iruka-sensei, I understand what you're saying. You must be upset as well..."

"Kakashi, stop," Kurenai interrupted.

"Don't interfere! They are no longer your students. They're my subordinates now," Kakashi said, implacable.

Iruka's throat felt thick, and he started to protest further, only to have Sandaime stop him and declare that there would be a preliminary exam. Iruka supposed he ought to feel relieved, but his eyes kept trailing back to Kakashi, who was looking straight ahead at the Hokage, and not looking back.


Iruka walked in the door, and Naruto hurtled himself into Iruka's arms.

"Iruka-sensei!" he crowed. "I'm going to take the chuunin exam! Kakashi-sensei nominated me! It's so great -- I'm finally going to fight Sasuke, and I'll show everyone how great I am!"

Iruka found a smile for Naruto, although he felt it strain his face. "Congratulations."

Naruto pulled away and ran into the kitchen. "What do you want me to make for dinner? We have enough salmon for three, I think..."

"I'll do it," Iruka said. "After all, we're celebrating, aren't we? And you've been cooking a lot lately, which I do appreciate and you're definitely improving, but you deserve a break."

Naruto grinned, happy and purring under the praise.

Iruka told himself to cheer up and not drag Naruto down, although he wasn't sure how effective it was. He took out two of the salmon steaks and Naruto said, "Wait, there's one more."

Iruka pasted an unconcerned smile on his face. "It's just us tonight. I'm sure Kakashi-sensei has better things to do."

"Like what? Reading those super perverted books?" Naruto said, rolling his eyes.

"I wouldn't call that 'better,'" Iruka said tartly, distracting himself with the easy routine of making dinner.

Dinner was good, Naruto was ebullient, and later that night, lying awake in bed, Iruka mentally chastised himself for being far too quick to believe well of another's intentions. He thought he'd learned his lesson with the scar on his back, but apparently not.


Kurenai perched a hip on the mission desk. "Must be a quiet house this week," she said.

Iruka finished dating the form he was working on. "It's not like it hasn't been quiet before," he said. Which was true. Naruto had been in and out for missions, although the chuunin preliminaries had been the longest block of time he'd been away - and no sooner had he come home, than Kakashi had farmed him out to Ebisu for training for the week.

"I haven't seen Kakashi hanging around you lately - did you two have a fight, or are you just saving it all for the bedroom?"

Iruka scanned the form before he stamped it, and then said, "He was only ever teasing, Kurenai-sensei. He's had his fun and now he's moved on. No big deal."

"Ah, so you did have a fight," Kurenai said.

Iruka stared hard at his desk. He tried not to think of his outburst and Kakashi's subsequent shut-down at the chuunin nominations, but it still made him feel angry and helpless.

"Iruka," Kurenai said, her voice a strange mixture of sympathy and chiding, "Kakashi wants what's best for Naruto."

Iruka looked up then, stung. "And what would he know-"

Kurenai silenced him with a look, which softened afterwards. "Your 'best' and Kakashi's aren't the same - but believe me when I say, Kakashi wants his best for Naruto. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that you're not looking at this like Kakashi is anymore."

Iruka opened his mouth to ask what that was supposed to mean, but Kurenai just patted him on the shoulder.

"Maybe you'll have a little more sympathy at the next round of parent-teacher conferences, now that you know how it feels to be on the other side."

Iruka could only stare after her, flabbergasted, as she left the room.


In the aftermath of Orochimaru's attack and all hell breaking loose, Iruka had a lot of time to think. There was certainly plenty to do, and everyone was on edge and worried, but eventually, emotions caught up and had to be dealt with.

Mourning Sandaime was hard. But Iruka wasn't alone, and he was deeply thankful for that. And he'd had the chance to see a Naruto he'd never quite imagined, one he couldn't have foreseen when Naruto had first walked into his classroom. He felt humbled, and proud, and so profoundly grateful that Naruto had done so well and come home safe.

And because Iruka hated leaving things undone, he knew he'd better go and get it over with.

He realized, first, that he had no idea where Kakashi lived, and so was reduced to asking Naruto, and fending off questions while he cooked in the kitchen.

"Are you bringing dinner to Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto asked suspiciously. "Iruka-sensei, he can feed himself - you shouldn't let him take advantage of you like that."

Iruka added the last of the meal to the box before saying, "No one's taking advantage of anyone, Naruto. Haven't you heard of just doing something nice for someone?"

The look Naruto gave him spoke volumes.

Iruka placed the lid on the box, and said, "Well, I'm off. Although I'm sure I'll be back soon."

Naruto was already rooting through the cupboard. "Can we have ramen tonight?"

"I suppose it won't kill us," Iruka said, although he wasn't quite sure, seeing as Naruto had taken to some fairly alarming experimentation.

Kakashi, as it turned out, didn't live very far away - just the next section over, in one of the old apartment buildings.

He knocked on the door, and was just about to leave the box and go home when Kakashi opened the door.

"Um, hi," Iruka said.

Kakashi looked sort of bored, but then he usually did. Iruka tried not to take it personally.

"The thing is," Iruka started, and stopped. "You were right, you know. About Naruto."

Kakashi was still staring at him. Which only served to make Iruka a little nervous. He licked his lips once, and continued on.

"He was ready, and I couldn't see, so I just -- I wanted to apologize. I mean, I'm not sorry that I worried about Naruto, but I -- you were right. So, um. I'm sorry," Iruka said, and bowed low, holding out the dinner box in front of him with both hands.

"Is that really eggplant?" Kakashi said after a moment.

Iruka looked up, still bent over. "Um, yes?"

Kakashi took the box from his hand, and Iruka straightened up, and turned to leave.

"Where do you think you're going?" Kakashi asked mildly.

Iruka half-turned. "Home?"

"That's it?" Kakashi asked. "You give me dinner, and you go home?"

Iruka thought that was plenty, but restrained himself from saying so. "Is there something else I can do for you, Kakashi-sensei?" he asked, the very model of civility.

Kakashi leaned forward a little. "You could give me a kiss."

Iruka's lips tightened. "That's not funny," he said sharply. "Well, maybe you think it's funny, but I don't. If that's all, Kakashi-sensei, I'll be on my way."

Kakashi caught him by the wrist. "Wait."

Iruka glared at him, but stayed where he was.

Kakashi sighed. "Will you just come inside for a minute?"

Iruka let himself be tugged gently by the wrist inside the apartment, but as soon as the door closed, he found his back pressed against the wall of the entryway. His first instinct was to break Kakashi's grip and duck out of the way, but he forced himself to stay still.

Kakashi was close - not quite touching, save for where his hands curled in a light grip over Iruka's wrists. "You know, you're a lot less prone to making things complicated when you're under the influence."

"That's insulting," Iruka said tightly. "Let go."

Kakashi exhaled sharply, sounding frustrated. "That's not what I -- look, I'm not making fun of you." He paused for a moment. "I mean, sometimes I am -- but I'm not right now."

"Let go," Iruka repeated, having had more than enough.

"Let me finish.'re more than I thought you were," Kakashi said, his voice low and almost troubled.

Iruka wasn't quite sure how to take that. "Is that a compliment?" he asked warily.

Kakashi gave him a look that Iruka had previously seen him direct at Naruto, when Naruto just could not get something through his head. And then Kakashi muttered, "Fuck it," lowered his mask, and leaned in.

The first press of Kakashi's lips against Iruka's was a faint caress, a question - and Iruka held himself absolutely still, all of his concentration fixed on the way Kakashi's lips grazed his own, and Kakashi must have taken his silence as permission, because he tilted his head and kissed Iruka again, still soft but more confident.

Iruka was pretty sure he ought to be saying something, but when Kakashi let go of his wrists and stepped to press them close together, his hands settling on Iruka's hips and his teeth closing gently over Iruka's lower lip, Iruka felt his eyes slip shut, and his hands fall to Kakashi's biceps.

He would realize, later, that he'd been the one to deepen the kiss, to slip his tongue into Kakashi's mouth, that Kakashi had made a low sound of approval before clutching Iruka closer. Iruka felt hyperaware, acutely conscious of where every one of Kakashi's fingertips pressed against his skin, of the way that Kakashi kissed, slow and deliberate.

When Kakashi pulled back to look at him, Iruka just looked at him, feeling oddly helpless against Kakashi's gentleness, as undone and exposed as he'd been the first night they'd met, when a stranger had stroked his fingers through Iruka's hair until he'd fallen asleep.

"You don't even know me," Iruka said, his voice thick.

Kakashi pressed one palm against the scar on Iruka's back. "I know you better than anyone."

Iruka's eyes widened, because this sounded like honesty, sounded like Kakashi's words as only previously heard through a haze, but this time crystal clear, sharp and distinct. "You don't -- you just came over for dinner, how can you say --"

"I came over for dinner for about three months running. I braved continual exposure to Naruto's cooking, and I can tell you that it wasn't because I couldn't get enough of the cuisine," Kakashi said wryly. "I would have thought that the fact that I didn't run off screaming after Naruto's third attempt at okonomiyaki would prove to you that I'm serious."

"You're serious?" Iruka repeated faintly.

"Serious enough that I was willing to do what I thought was right, even if it would almost certainly piss you off. If I hadn't been serious, I could have lied to you, could have said something to make you forgive me," Kakashi said. "I won't tell you that I'm sorry for what I've done, or that I regret it, because I don't. But I will say that I missed you."

"Oh," Iruka said, almost soundless. Because whatever he'd come here expecting, it certainly hadn't been this. Not the kiss, not this declaration of....whatever it was.

Kakashi searched his face for a moment, and then stepped back a little. "Maybe we should just leave this for now, and, you know, eat."

"Food?" Iruka asked, his head still not quite together.

Kakashi stared at him for a moment, and then his mouth curled up in a thoroughly disreputable smile. "Did you just say something perverted?"

It took Iruka a minute to process that, and then he blushed, and fumbled for the dinner box.



Iruka felt Sandaime's absence keenly today, when he wanted counsel, wanted answers, wanted someone to point out the way. Though he was not sure he could have brought himself to speak of his predicament with Kakashi, at least not without turning bright red, he would have liked the option. Would have liked to lay it all out in front of Sandaime, and watch Sandaime smoke peacefully for a few moments, before zeroing in on the heart of the problem, and helping Iruka see what he had been blind to.

Iruka didn't find talking to the memorial very comforting, any more so than he had when he talked to his parents there as a child.

Part of the problem, Iruka decided eventually, was that he could see and feel, by their blind absence and omissions, the dark hollows that clung to Kakashi, and understood that they were part and parcel of what Kakashi was, and only an idiot would take Kakashi's bored, lazy act at face value.

By now, Iruka knew, through bits and fragments, that Kakashi spent his mornings here, in this very place. Such dedication spoke of catastrophic loss, and made Iruka wonder why anyone would risk giving a damn, ever again. The memorial was filled with rows upon rows of names, to say nothing of the more pedestrian graves tucked in pockets around the community. Iruka knew full well that death was a shinobi's constant companion, but he knew something else, too.

In spite of the danger, or maybe because of it, shinobi anchored themselves to this world, over and over again, with friends and lovers and children. Some of them were broken and stayed broken, but most of them had someone to keep them going, even if the someone was no longer alive.

He'd be lying if he said he didn't find the prospect of being Kakashi's anchor a little frightening. Mostly because he still wasn't altogether sure if he could be what Kakashi wanted, whatever that was.

He traced his fingers over the characters carved on the memorial, over the name of one person who had meant so much to him. In the end, the decision was always to trust or not to trust -- Sandaime had taught him that. And Iruka was coming to suspect that he'd already made the decision, might have made it long ago.


Kakashi resumed being a fixture in Iruka's house, almost as though nothing had happened. Iruka wondered at times if he was supposed to do something different, but Kakashi seemed perfectly content to loll around half-under the kotatsu, rereading an apparently much beloved volume of Icha Icha Paradise while Iruka graded papers or made lesson plans. Naruto was in and out, so Iruka did most of the cooking, with Kakashi occasionally showing up with take-out in hand.

So it was just like before. Except for the part with Kakashi stealing kisses left and right.

It was, Iruka realized, a comfortable existence. Because pain and tragedy had visited Konoha once again, but he had this -- this quiet companionship, in which Kakashi seemed to want Iruka just as he was. This was something he could get used to. Well, he might not get used to the surprise kiss attacks -- but then, Iruka was pretty sure Kakashi had elevated it to a game at this point, and Iruka knew he didn't have a chance at winning, so he might as well give in gracefully. Or so he told himself after Kakashi had once again left him breathless and flushed, his hands still a little soapy from washing the dishes.

To say that he'd been a little unprepared for a sudden reversal of roles of their first meeting, courtesy of Kakashi's fight with Uchiha Itachi, was a bit of an understatement.

One day turned into two, and then three, and then more -- and all Iruka could do was visit the hospital and sit by Kakashi's bedside. Kakashi lay still, chest slowly rising and falling, but his eyes stayed shut. It was like a coma, the doctors said, their brows furrowed -- exactly like what afflicted Sasuke.

The doctors said Kakashi wasn't in pain, but Iruka thought that he breathed a little easier when Iruka held his hand, thumb stroking slowly over the palm. There was nothing to do but wait, they said. Help was coming.

Help did come, in the form of Tsunade, the soon-to-be Fifth Hokage. He hovered outside Kakashi's hospital room door, listening to her chastise Kakashi for being bested by Itachi and his companion.

"Your pardon," Kakashi said, his voice low and scratchy from disuse.

The nurse met Iruka at the door, and they walked in together after Tsunade and the others had been led by Naruto and Gai.

"We could discharge him in the morning," the nurse said, trailing off as she looked at the chart. "He still needs plenty of rest."

"I can rest at home, can't I?" Kakashi asked, voice still gravely. He looked frighteningly exhausted, and Iruka fought the urge to tell him to lie back down.

"I suppose so," the nurse said, after a moment. "But it would be best for someone to stay with you-"

"I'm taking him home," Iruka interrupted. "So it will be fine."

"You don't have to --" Kakashi began, but Iruka interrupted him too.

"As if I'd leave you alone," Iruka said, feeling his throat tighten as he looked back at Kakashi.

Kakashi opened his mouth and then shut it, without saying another word.

There were papers to sign, and stern orders that Kakashi rest for the next week. Iruka scribbled his name over and over again, and finally they could go. Kakashi could barely walk, his arm tight around Iruka's shoulders and his body trembling with the strain. He certainly couldn't walk the distance from the hospital to Iruka's house. So Iruka pulled him into a waiting rickshaw, and soon they were finally, finally home.

No sooner had Iruka settled Kakashi into bed than Kakashi was asleep once again. He looked better, though, curled on his side under the bright quilt spread over Iruka's bed, with none of that awful, unresponsive stillness of his days at the hospital. He seemed to be sleeping normally, peacefully -- and Iruka breathed a sigh of relief.

He should let Kakashi rest undisturbed, and try to do something useful with his afternoon, like grade papers.

On the other hand, it had been a busy couple of weeks for him, too, and he could probably use a nap. And it was a big bed -- Kakashi was hardly likely to notice if Iruka lay down for just a bit beside him.

Having fallen victim to his own slightly suspect logic, Iruka stripped down to shirt and trousers and carefully slid in next to Kakashi. Just a little while, Iruka promised himself, moments before he drifted to sleep.


Iruka thought of himself as a reasonably perceptive individual, but it did take Kakashi calling him into his bedroom seven times in the same hour before Iruka caught on.

Kakashi may very well have wanted an extra pillow, a glass of water, his book, and several other things, but what he plainly didn't want was to be alone. And so, on the eighth trip to his bedroom, Iruka said, "What do you think of resting on a futon in the living room?"

Kakashi pretended to think it over. "I wouldn't want to be in the way," he said, although it was such an obvious falsehood that Iruka wondered why he even bothered. And so Iruka dragged a futon out of the closet and settled Kakashi in the living room, near the low table Iruka was attempting to do work at.

Kakashi opened his book, but a few moments later, he put it down again, resting it face down on his chest. "Not that I'm complaining, but shouldn't you be at the Academy?"

Iruka looked up briefly from grading. "I'm on leave."

"Vacation?" Kakashi asked after a moment, sounding a little puzzled.

Iruka willed himself not to blush, because maybe it had been presumptuous. "No. Personal leave." He wanted to leave it at that, but something in Kakashi's expression drove him on. "For, ah, family medical reasons."

Kakashi just looked more confused.

Iruka felt even more flustered. "Well, it's just that -- when I got to the hospital, everyone just, well, assumed, and they'd already checked the box on all the forms, and truthfully, it made it easier to take care of everything, so -- um. When you woke up, I called the Academy and put in for leave -- I'm sorry, I should have asked, I just thought that-"

Kakashi mercifully stopped him with one raised hand. "So, are you basically telling me that we got married when I was asleep?"

Iruka felt himself flush bright red. "I'm so sorry, I really shouldn't have done it-"

"Iruka," Kakashi interrupted, his voice low and somber. "I told you before that I was serious. Did you honestly think I'd object to you feeling likewise?"

When Kakashi put it like that, his worries did seem a little foolish.

"I just have one concern," Kakashi said after a moment.

Iruka leaned forward, trying to convey that he was serious, contrite, and listening. "Yes?"

"I appear to have missed our wedding night," Kakashi said, his face relaxing into a leer. A tired leer, but a leer nonetheless.

Iruka stared at him.

"Was I good? You know, if I can't remember, I think that means we should do it again."

Iruka regained enough presence of mind to sputter, "You -- you can barely walk and you're--"

"Who said anything about walking?" Kakashi said. "I admit that I'm not quite up to snuff, but if we were just a little creative, we could manage just fine."

"Kakashi, go to sleep," Iruka groaned.

"You're not actually saying 'No,'" Kakashi observed.

"I'm actually saying, you're supposed to be resting, not trying to drive me crazy," Iruka said, resolutely turning back to the papers he was trying to grade.

"I can do both at the same time," Kakashi argued. "I'm talented like that."

"Maybe if you were drugged up, you'd be quiet and rest."

"I wouldn't count on it. After all, I seem to remember you being pretty chatty. And cuddly."

Iruka leveled a glare at him.

"Like a puppy," Kakashi clarified, seemingly ignorant of any impending danger.

And while Iruka struggled to come up with some sort of response, one that didn't involve bodily harm to an invalid, Kakashi's eyes slid shut, and a few moments later, the regular rise and fall of his chest told Iruka that he was asleep again.

"Wedding night, my ass," Iruka muttered under his breath, and then promptly blushed.


"It's a biiiig bed," Kakashi coaxed.

Iruka hesitated, waffling between wanting to sleep in his own bed, and wanting to make sure Kakashi would rest well.

Clearly sensing Iruka's indecision, Kakashi pressed on. "What if I need something in the middle of the night? It'll be much more convenient to have you right by my side than have to call out into the other room for you. And what if you couldn't hear me?"

Well aware that his sensibilities were being played, Iruka gave in with a small sigh. "You'd better not be waking me up every five minutes. You need to rest, Kakashi, and I mean it."

"I'll be good," Kakashi promised, although Iruka didn't put it past him to have his fingers crossed.

When Iruka turned off the bedside lamp, the room was lit just enough by the moon that he could see the paleness of Kakashi's hair against Iruka's dark pillowcases. A year ago, he really couldn't have imagined sharing a bed with Hatake Kakashi, no matter how platonically (and Iruka had his doubts about that). He wouldn't have thought of buying a house to sometimes shelter Naruto.

He wouldn't have thought of a lot of things, it seemed.

He moved a little closer to the middle of the bed, no longer exactly on his half, and reached out one careful hand, slowly enough that Kakashi wouldn't be surprised if he were still awake. Kakashi's hair felt just a little rough under his fingertips, light and slightly coarse. He moved his fingers in gentle, steady strokes through Kakashi's hair, before he himself drifted off to sleep.


Since Iruka was fairly sure that a bored Kakashi was a dangerous and almost lethally annoying Kakashi, Iruka made sure he was prepared accordingly.

After a few days of drifting in and out sleep, Kakashi managed to stay awake for several hours at a time. It turned out, however, that the same volume of Icha Icha Paradise was only an effective distraction for so long.

"I was going to save this for later," Iruka told him. "But since you're bored now..."

"A present?" Kakashi asked, looking a bit surprised but delighted.

Iruka removed a package wrapped in brown paper from his bookshelf. "Here."

Kakashi opened it slowly, and when he pulled out the contents, his eye widened.

Scratching at the back of his head a little, suddenly a bit uncomfortable, Iruka said, "I didn't know which you had, so I just picked some at random. If you'd like, I can take them back and get you something else--"

"Umino Iruka, marry me," Kakashi said reverently. "You bought me the latest volume -- it must have come out when I was in the hospital." He clutched said latest volume of the Icha Icha series to his chest, before gleefully opening to the first page and settling back to read.

"You're welcome," Iruka said awkwardly.

Later on in the morning, Iruka brought out plates of melon, purchased for a rather extravagant price at the marketplace that morning. He set one next to Kakashi's futon, but Kakashi just turned another page.

"Don't forget to eat," Iruka reminded him, more than a little amused by what an effective distraction his gift had turned out to be.

"You could feed me," Kakashi suggested. "I'm an invalid, after all."

"You're an invalid reading porn," Iruka pointed out dryly. "I think you can manage."

"But then I'd have to put my book down. I might lose my place."

Iruka rolled his eyes and resolved to stuff one melon ball in Kakashi's mouth, just to shut him up. But Kakashi sucked in Iruka's fingertips along with the sweet melon, and Iruka drew in one sharp, surprised breath as Kakashi did some rather inspired things with his lips and tongue.

"Another?" Kakashi purred.

Iruka licked his lips, and reached for another piece of melon.


Five days was long enough that Iruka had been lulled into a false sense of security. He caught up on work, made meals for them both, and talked with Kakashi when the man didn't have his face buried in a book.

Iruka was toweling his hair dry when he walked into the bedroom that evening. Kakashi didn't look up from what he had apparently decided was his side of the bed, and said, "I'm a little thirsty. Could you bring me some water?"

Iruka yawned and went to retrieve a glass, and when he brought it back, he put it on the nightstand on Kakashi's side, next to one of his books. "Anything else before I turn out the lights?" he asked, feeling warm from the bath and pleasantly drowsy.

"Actually, yes," Kakashi said, and then pulled him into bed.

Iruka managed to not land with his full weight on top of Kakashi, although it was a near thing. "You're supposed to be resting," he said, a little breathless. And before he could protest further, Kakashi rolled them over and leaned over Iruka.

"I have been resting. I've also been watching you sashay around in that yukata for five nights now, which is more than any poor man who's terribly taken with you should have to bear," Kakashi said.

"Sashay?" Iruka said incredulously. "I don't -- I have never in my life -- anyway, I don't see how this is my fault. You're the one who wound yourself up by reading porn for days."

"Which you gave to me," Kakashi retorted. "My point stands." He ground his hips in a teasing circle against Iruka's, and Iruka remembered suddenly that the only things between them were two thin cotton yukata.

"You shouldn't," Iruka said, although he was thinking that Kakashi really should, the sooner the better. "You're still tired --"

"Are you accusing me of starting something I can't finish?" Kakashi inquired, his eyes narrowed. He punctuated the statement with another roll of his hips, one that dragged his erection up the length of Iruka's and made Iruka take in one unsteady breath. "I'm at my limit," he murmured against Iruka's lips.

Iruka nearly coughed. "You really have been reading too much Icha Icha," he said.

"We already agreed whose fault that was," Kakashi said, before capturing Iruka's lips in a rather lurid kiss.

They kissed for long minutes, before Kakashi's wandering hands pulled open Iruka's yukata. "Ah," Kakashi said, looking down at the expanse of skin he had bared. "I wanted to strip you out of this the first time I saw you in it."

"That was months and months ago," Iruka said, trailing off into a moan when Kakashi reached down to stroke his erection slowly. "And you were looking at me weird."

"I was looking at you like I wanted to nail you against the wall," Kakashi corrected.

"How was I supposed to be able to tell with that mask on?" Iruka asked, his hips moving with Kakashi's rhythm.

"That is sort of the point," Kakashi said, leaning down to nibble along Iruka's collarbone.

Iruka thrust up into Kakashi's hand, his head thrown back to let Kakashi molest Iruka's neck as he liked. But eventually he regained enough presence of mind to gasp, "Stop, I'm going to..."

"Been a while, has it," Kakashi asked, his voice a little husky.

Iruka didn't answer, but clutched at Kakashi's shoulders.

"I won't make you wait," Kakashi said, giving him a wolfish, hungry look. And then he was touching slick fingers to Iruka's hole and pushing one in slowly.

Iruka relaxed into it, pushing against Kakashi's lazily thrusting finger after a few moments. "More," he moaned, and Kakashi rewarded him with a second finger and a messy kiss.

When Kakashi finally hooked his elbows underneath Iruka's knees and pressed in, Iruka was more than ready, and even feeling a little desperate. Kakashi was biting his lower lip as he slid in, and Iruka couldn't remember the last time he'd let someone do this to him, but feeling Kakashi in him and around him was something he hadn't realized how much he'd wanted.

Kakashi gave him a moment to adjust, but then started to move, a purposeful rhythm that said he was through with teasing, and meant business. Specifically, making Iruka pant and then whimper when he found the right angle.

"Nn,," Kakashi ground out as he put a little more strength into his thrusts, going in harder and deeper.

Later, Iruka would be thankful that they were in his house, not an apartment, because they were breaking in his bed rather loudly, and between the headboard hitting the wall and the shameless noises Iruka was making, it would have been enough to earn complaints from any neighbors.

Kakashi reached a hand between them, but only stroked Iruka a few times before Iruka screwed his eyes shut and came hard. Kakashi let his head hang down and grunted as he thrust in a few more times, before shuddering to a stop and resting heavily on top of Iruka.

Iruka didn't want to break the nice afterglow feeling, so it took him several minutes to realize that Kakashi was well and truly asleep.

"What did I tell you?" Iruka whispered, fondly exasperated. But on the bright side, at least Kakashi had waited until the end to pass out.


It was rare that bureaucracy managed to clarify anything, rather than just muddy the waters. Much less on issues of a personal nature.

The runner from the Hokage's administration, an older man who'd never made past genin but had a penchant for perfectly ordered files, knocked on Iruka's door a week after Iruka had brought Kakashi home.

"Let me see, let me see," the man -- Kentarou, was it? -- murmured to himself, before extracting several sheets of paper from his bag. "Iruka-sensei, you and Hatake-san have to fill out new 39-B forms to get your files up to date. You may also wish to fill out a joint 674, but of course that's up to you both. If you could please fill those out and return them to me as soon as possible, it would be much appreciated."

Iruka gulped, because Kentarou was a little scary when people didn't turn in things in what Kentarou thought was an acceptable length of time. "We'll be sure to do so, thank you," he said, bowing slightly.

Kentarou returned the gesture and went back the way he came, his steps slow but purposeful.

"The what and the what?" Kakashi asked from the futon.

Iruka looked down at the forms in his hands. "The emergency contact form, and the, er, domestic agreement form."

"Oh," Kakashi said, stretching a little. "Got a pen?"

Iruka watched in silence as Kakashi filled out the 39-B, little rows of neat characters that were at definite odds with the reports that he usually turned into Iruka. He looked up when he was done, holding the form and the pen out to Iruka.

Iruka took them, and stared down at them for a minute. Kakashi had filled out the address perfectly, and it was strange to see his own name written with clean, precise lines that were not his.

"You don't have to do it," Kakashi said softly after a minute. "But I'd want you to know if something happened to me. That's all."

Iruka held the paper so tightly it wrinkled a little. The last person on his 39-B had been Mizuki.

In the end, the decision is always to trust or not to trust.

"You'd tell Naruto too, wouldn't you?" Iruka asked. He couldn't put a minor down on the form, but he would want Kakashi to keep Naruto informed.

"If that's what you want," Kakashi said, perfectly solemn.

Iruka looked at him for a long moment, and then swiftly filled out his own form.

When he was done, Kakashi patted the futon beside him. "Oh my, what a terribly serious conversation. Come here, and bring the marriage papers."

"They're not marriage papers," Iruka sputtered, but sat down obediently on the edge of the futon.

"Oh?" Kakashi said, snatching the form from Iruka's hand and skimming through it. "Power of attorney, property ownership -- they look like marriage papers to me."

Iruka groaned in exasperation. "Will you be serious?"

"What makes you think I'm not?" Kakashi asked. "This just makes all those forms you signed in the hospital actually legal."

Iruka winced -- he'd almost forgotten about that.

"Hope you didn't have your heart set on a big wedding," Kakashi said. "It would probably be a little inadvisable, under the circumstances."

"You haven't even proposed," Iruka snapped.

Kakashi blinked. "So I haven't. Okay. Umino Iruka, being that you cook pretty well, and buy me porn, and haven't really made fun of me while I've been laid out in your house, not to mention are a fantastic lay --"

"Kakashi!" Iruka protested, his face warm. "Be serious!"

Kakashi stopped. And looked at Iruka for a long moment, before his face relaxed into a silly grin, one that Iruka would never have believed of him a year ago. "You wanna?"

"You're insane," Iruka said, and kissed him.

After they signed the form, Kakashi gave him a coy look. "You know what this means, don't you?"

"That I can't sue you for property damage?"

"Such a romantic," Kakashi chided. "We signed the papers today, so tonight's our wedding night."

Iruka's breath caught in his throat. "Oh."

"Of course, I'm sure the 'night' thing is just a technical detail, and we could probably get started right away," Kakashi said, looking very pleased with himself, and then suited actions to words.


They were casually making out in the kitchen when Naruto finally put in an appearance.

"I'm blinded," Naruto wailed in anguish.

"Get used to it," Kakashi and Iruka said in unison.

Naruto looked at them, first Kakashi, then Iruka. "But Iruka-sensei, he's a pervert."

"So I'm given to understand," Iruka said, straight-faced until Kakashi goosed him.

Naruto gave him a pitying look. "You're both really weird," he said finally.

"Weird, but deliriously happy," Kakashi said brightly. "Full of domestic bliss."

"I don't want to know," Naruto said, before rooting through the refrigerator. "Can I make dinner, or are you two just going to smooch and be in my way all day?"

"Well, when you put it that way," Kakashi said. "We'll be in the bedroom -- be sure to knock before you come in."

"Arggggh," Naruto said, making a pained face. "I told you I didn't want to know!"

"Maybe you don't need to tease him quite so much," Iruka said once they were in the bedroom.

"It's good for him," Kakashi argued. "The sooner he gets used to it, the sooner we can be one happy family." He gave Iruka a perky smile.

Iruka poked him the side. "That's creepy. Cut it out." Then he thought about it. "You let Naruto see your face."

Kakashi snorted. "He'll have to deal. Like I'm going to wear it all the time around my own home."

Iruka found himself smiling at the last part, and they kissed until Naruto set off the smoke alarm.