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Always Only One Night

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Iruka fought back a sigh as someone slid onto the bar stool next to him, body turned towards him, invitation in the movement clear.

This was the problem with going out alone. Iruka just wanted to have a few drinks and relax after a long week at the Academy, but that didn't stop a parade of drunken assholes from trying their luck. Tonight was even worse than usual. He had yet to finish his second drink, but the guy next to him was the third of the evening.

Iruka turned towards the newcomer with a polite rejection already on his lips. It died when he saw the man's face. He had never seen this guy before. If he had, he'd remember. The purple markings over his eyes were too distinctive not to. But still, he was familiar in a way that itched at the back of Iruka's mind, like a puzzle begging to be solved.

"Hi," Iruka ended up saying instead of some watered-down version of fuck off. The stranger smiled and shifted closer. Maybe he'd seen Iruka reject the last two guys flat out and was taking the lack of immediate dismissal as encouragement.

"Hey."

As far as opening lines went, Iruka had heard better. He waited for the follow up.

"Can I buy you a drink?" the stranger asked in a voice that didn't seem to fit him, though Iruka didn't know what he'd been expecting. Something deeper, maybe. But it was a warm, amiable voice, like the smile on his lips, friendly and disarming.

The line wasn't particularly original, but sometimes simple really was best.

The rest of Iruka's night flashed before his eyes. A few more drinks then hurried kisses in the alley behind the bar before barely making it back to Iruka's bed for a one-night stand that he could really use. It'd been longer than he wanted to admit.

Iruka wasn't against that chain of events, even if it was far different from his usual Friday nights.

"If it comes with your name," he replied.

"Sukea," the man said, shifting closer again and this time Iruka followed suit.

~*~*~

Iruka woke with only a mild hangover, not bad considering how much he'd drunk the night before. He didn't have to open his eyes to know his bed was empty. There was no one else in his apartment. He hadn't expected anything different. It'd only been a one-night stand, after all. An enjoyable one, but nothing more.

He cracked his eyes open. The sunlight spilling into his room was angled in a way that meant it couldn't be much past nine.

On his bedside table, there was a bottle of water that he definitely hadn't grabbed before he'd crashed, the combination of alcohol and multiple orgasms making sleep far too tempting to fight. There wasn't a note though, a clear sign it'd been just a one-night stand for Sukea too.

Iruka drank half the bottle then forced himself out of bed. He had the entire day off and intended to take full advantage of it.

Stretching, he felt a pleasant ache throughout his body. He hadn't been this relaxed in ages. If this was what came of it, maybe he should consider accepting a few more of the offers he got whenever he went out.

For the rest of the week, he didn't give the whole thing much more thought than that.

~*~*~

The following Friday found Iruka at his usual bar. It didn't take long for someone to sidle up to him. He turned towards the guy, torn between a polite get lost and reminding himself that last weekend had been highly improved by the orgasms.

It ended up being an easy choice. He blinked in surprise as he realized who was sitting next to him. Sukea's smile was wide and inviting, and once again Iruka was hit by the same familiarity he'd felt the first time he'd seen him, but he still couldn't place him. Maybe he just had one of those faces you saw everywhere.

"Can I buy you a drink?" Sukea asked again, and Iruka grinned.

"If I can buy the next one."

Iruka hadn't expected to see the man again. Maybe at the mission desk or on the street, but not here, trying to pick him up for a second time. Last Friday night had been enjoyable though, and Iruka was more than willing to repeat it.

They barely finished Iruka's round of drinks before they were heading back to his apartment. Once inside, they were out of their clothes so fast there might have been jutsu involved.

The first time, Sukea's hands had been exploring, thorough, as if he was tracing every line of Iruka's body so as not to forget it. This time his hands were greedy, devouring. There was an edge to his kisses that hadn't been there before, like he'd been think about this all week, waiting to come back for more.

Iruka almost laughed at his imagination. It had just been a one-night stand. Sukea hadn't spent all week pining for him any more than he'd been pining for Sukea.

He couldn't say he minded the added intensity though. He was more than happy to dig his fingers into Sukea's back and lose himself in the heat of his kisses.

~*~*~

Iruka woke to an empty bed and another bottle of water on his bedside table, this time accompanied by a bottle of painkiller. It was brand new, probably bought from the convenience store just down the street.

He laughed. Sukea had left his apartment, bought painkiller, brought it back, then left again. He hadn't been that rough, though Iruka was definitely feeling it more than last time.

There was a bottle of the same stuff in his medicine cabinet, but he appreciated the fact that Sukea hadn't rummaged through anything besides his fridge, which was mostly empty anyway.

There still wasn't a note, so Iruka doubted anything more would come of it. But if Sukea did turn up at the bar again, he wouldn't say no.

~*~*~

The third time, they didn't even bother finishing Iruka's round before they left. Sukea kept his hands to himself while they were in public, leaning into Iruka's personal space, but never touching him. His eyes were full of hot promises though, ones that sent Iruka's pulse racing and made him forget everything but getting Sukea to his apartment so he could make good on them.

Back in his room, Iruka stretched himself, making a show of it, batting Sukea's hands away every time he tried to take over. When Iruka sank down onto his cock, Sukea looked up at him with pleasure and something like awe, almost as if he couldn't believe Iruka was real or this was happening. His grip on Iruka's hips was all strength and steel, like Iruka would disappear if he let go, like he'd be able to keep Iruka there forever if he just held on tight enough.

Iruka leaned forward to kiss him. He'd start moving in a moment, but for now he just wanted to enjoy the feeling of Sukea inside of him, the slide of their tongues against each other.

"Iruka," Sukea groaned against his lips. His voice was deeper than before. It tickled the back of Iruka's mind, a flicker of that odd familiarity again, like Iruka should be able to place it somewhere outside of the bar and his bed.

"I-" Sukea started to say in that deeper voice, and Iruka pulled back enough to look at him. For a moment, there was a raw honesty to his expression that made Iruka's breath catch. But then Sukea was pressing his eyes closed, and when he opened them again, it was gone. "I will flip us over, if you don't start moving," he finished, his tone lighter, his grip easing.

Iruka blinked at the sudden change, shaking his head as he realized the foolish direction his thoughts had taken. He blamed his overactive imagination. It seemed set on turning this into something it clearly was not. The buzz of alcohol in his system wasn't helping to keep it in check either.

"If you say things like that, I might not want to," Iruka said, grinning down at him, but he started to move anyway.

Sukea's touch was gentler this time, teasing as he traced along Iruka's chest and thighs, skimming over his cock with maddening lightness. When he finally wrapped his fingers around Iruka and started to stroke, Iruka fell apart in his hands and enjoyed every minute of it.

There was no note with the bottle of water in the morning, but Iruka would have been surprised if there had been.

~*~*~

They were only halfway through the drinks Sukea had bought when they left the bar together for the fourth time. Iruka was sober enough to notice things about Sukea that he hadn't before. There was dog hair on his clothes, the backs of his hands were just a shade lighter than his fingers, he wore contacts, his voice slipped lower and more familiar as he got closer to coming.

It was too hard to focus on those things for long though. The way Sukea touched him, heated and hungry, drove all thought from his mind.

The weeks continued on. It became a pattern. They drank less each time. It was a series of drunken one-night stands, though they weren't particularly drunk anymore. Sukea showed up earlier each night, even before Iruka had ordered a drink of his own. They got a round on pretense, but never bothered to finish it. The taste of alcohol on Sukea's tongue was less noticeable each time they kissed the moment the door to Iruka's apartment shut behind them.

The bottle of water got switched out for a mug of tea, kept warm by the tiniest of jutsu, once it became clear they weren't drinking anywhere near enough to have hangovers in the morning. But there was still no note, no indication that Sukea wanted anything outside of this odd little Friday night ritual they were creating.

During the week, there were moments when Iruka would catch himself looking for Sukea around the village. He didn't expect anything more to come of it even if he did find him, it was just curiosity. He couldn't ignore the puzzle that Sukea presented.

He was clearly a ninja. There were more than enough scars on his body to prove it, and once he had used a body flicker to take them straight from the bar to Iruka's door, but Iruka had never seen him around the village. He thought he knew nearly all the ninjas on the active-duty roster by sight at least. He saw most of them on a semi-regular basis as they picked up missions and dropped off reports. Sukea was an anomaly, a face he didn't know.

He didn't have any of the notable characteristics of the major clans. No long blond hair, no white eyes, no bugs, nothing like that. He did have the purple markings. Iruka had seen Noharas with ones of similar color, but always on their cheeks, never over their eyes.

Maybe he worked predominantly in ANBU. He did have the tattoo, old and faded enough that Iruka wondered how long ago he'd gotten it. They hadn't talked about their ages, but Sukea couldn't be that much older than him. If he was still ANBU, he'd been in it for well over a decade.

It was the closest thing Iruka had to a theory. Sukea was in ANBU, he worked mostly undercover, and either didn't have time for or didn't want a real relationship. He probably just wanted stress relief as much as Iruka did and picking up someone new every week was a hassle. This thing they had going was easy, convenient, a good way to unwind after a long week. No strings attached and they already knew the sex would be enjoyable.

Except it wasn't just sex anymore. Sukea never stayed the night, but he always stayed until Iruka fell asleep, and that didn't come as quickly without the alcohol in his system. They spent an ever increasing amount of time lying in bed together afterwards, not cuddling exactly, but closer to it than Iruka would have imagined with a drunken hookup, or even with this acquaintances-with-benefits thing they had going on.

They talked about whatever came to mind as long as it had nothing to do with Sukea. Whenever the conversation started to shift more towards him, he always turned it back to Iruka. He would listen with interest to a full recount of even the most boring of Iruka's days at the Academy, adding amusing commentary along the way, but he didn't like to talk about himself.

Once Iruka had asked if he had a dog, and Sukea had stilled.

"A few," he'd finally admitted. Iruka didn't push further and avoided asking anything too personal after that.

More than once a seriousness settled around Sukea, like he was about to say something he needed Iruka to hear, but each time he seemed to stop himself and a moment later he was grinning warmly, changing the subject. It left Iruka blaming his imagination again. He'd always had a habit of overthinking things.

There were still moments when Sukea seemed so familiar that Iruka knew they must have met before all this had started. He ran through mental lists of shinobi he'd worked with, current and former parents of his students, missing-nin, even civilians, but no one fit. It was getting harder to judge which parts of Sukea he had found familiar before, and which parts were familiar now simply because the hours they'd spent together were starting to add up to something startlingly significant.

Somewhere around the two month mark, Iruka woke to the smell of freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee and felt almost cheated it was coming from his bedside table and not his kitchen. Sukea must have stayed long enough for the bakery just around the corner to have opened. Iruka glanced at the clock. He'd only missed him by a little bit. The steaming cup of coffee made him frown. This wasn't at all how breakfast in bed was supposed to work.

Friday nights were more than just drinks and a means to a Saturday morning hangover now. Thinking about them didn't stay neatly to the weekends anymore either. From time to time he found himself chuckling at the memory of a lame joke Sukea had made, or wanting to tell someone about this quirky thing he'd said. But he couldn't. Not really. At best, it would just lead to questions he didn't have answers for. At worst, his friends would start to worry he was hooking up with some missing-nin who was trying to infiltrate Konoha by learning all about Iruka's daily battles with the photocopier at the Academy.

He lost track of how many times he'd told himself that these were just one-night stands, no matter how many of them there had been. He shouldn't dwell on them. But that was hard to do when the mystery surrounding Sukea sat at the back of his mind, slowly taking up more and more space.

~*~*~

In the end, Naruto was the one who made all the pieces fall into place. They were out for ramen when he started grumbling about how, even after all his hard work and impressive effort, he still hadn't seen Kakashi's face yet.

Iruka blinked and Ichiraku's faded away around him. An image of Kakashi superimposed itself over a recent memory of Sukea, one of him chuckling as Iruka relayed the more interesting of his students' essays on the history of Konoha. His chuckle had turned suspiciously close to a gleeful giggle at a particularly clueless student's essay about the unique properties and abilities of Hashirama's wood. It was hard, strong, and in high demand, the student had written. Iruka had choked on his tea, then immediately thought about how much Sukea would enjoy the essay. He had something of a perverted streak he hadn't always been successful in hiding, and now Iruka knew why that side of him had always seemed so fitting.

Iruka's head spun. He couldn't believe it, yet he knew it was true. There was no denying it now.

He felt like an idiot. Overly private dog-lover who wore gloves and whose face Iruka had never seen before? He should have realized sooner.

Naruto called his name and Iruka tried to listen to his rantings. It didn't work. His head was too full of the idea of Sukea being Kakashi, of Kakashi being Sukea.

Later that night, after he'd returned home, Iruka's eyes fell on his bed. All he could think about was that Hatake Kakashi had been there nearly a dozen times. Hatake Kakashi, copier of a 1,000 jutsu, public reader of porn, harrier of Iruka's former students, writer of messy reports. He'd spent hours fucking Iruka, then hours more pressed up against him, fingers tracing lazy patterns on Iruka's skin as he asked if that one student who'd been struggling with lessons the week before was doing any better, or if the teachers had worked out the curriculum problems they'd been having recently.

It was surreal. Absurd. Iruka couldn't process it. There were always jokes about jounin being insane, but this was certifiable.

He didn't sleep well that night, mind turning over the revelation and still not making sense of it.

Sometime around noon the next day, anger hit. Halfway though his lunch, he took a drink of tea and suddenly remembered the cups that had been left on his bedside table. All he could think was how dare he? It took effort not to throw his mug at the nearest wall. Did he think Iruka was an idiot? Was he doing it as some kind of joke?

Iruka tried not to take it out on his students, but they seemed to sense his mood. Even the wilder ones were on their best behavior. Class ran smoother than usual. He was less successful at reigning in his temper that evening at the mission desk. His volatile mood had even the cockiest of shinobi giving their reports hurried glances, double-checking them before they could incur his wrath.

The anger burned hot and fast, and by the time he was home, he felt exhausted, oddly sad that Sukea didn't exist, that whatever they had was based on a lie. He fell into bed and stared at the ceiling. Sleep didn't come until well into the small hours of the morning.

For the rest of the week, he cycled through emotions. At times it pissed him off, at others it just confused him. There were moments when he wanted to find Kakashi, storm up to him, and demand answers. Other times he'd catch himself thinking about Sukea only to suddenly remember that there was no Sukea. He wasn't real.

He tried to reason it out, tried to make sense of it, but no matter how he looked at it, he couldn't understand. Why in the name of the First would Kakashi pick him up in disguise?

~*~*~

Iruka didn't go to the bar that Friday. It was the first time in over two months, after nearly a dozen so-called one-night stands. That was longer than he'd made it with a few of his past attempts at actual relationships, and it'd been with someone who didn't even technically exist.

He tried to read to take his mind off things, but he couldn't process the words that were written on the pages.

Sukea showed up at his door a few hours after they normally would have found each other at the bar.

Kakashi, Iruka corrected himself. Disguised or not, Kakashi was the one that showed up at his door.

He was smiling like always, but there was an edge to it, just a little bit of wariness creeping into his friendly persona, like he didn't know if he should be there.

Iruka didn't know if he should be there either.

He let him in anyway.

"You weren't at the bar." It wasn't an accusation, but Iruka was having a hard time convincing himself he hadn't just stood up a date.

"Just a longer week than usual," Iruka replied. He wasn't lying. It had been a long week. That didn't make it the entire truth though.

"Want to talk about it?"

"Not really."

"Want a distraction?" Again there was just a hint of guardedness that had never been there before.

Iruka was pretty sure he should say no, but this part was simple, this part was easy. The body that pressed against him was a familiar one, as was the mouth that claimed his own. It was just another one-night stand to help shut down his mind after a long week. It didn't have to be anything more than that.

Only he couldn't get the reality of it out of his mind. Not completely. He ran a hand through Sukea's hair and realized it must be a partial transformation jutsu. It was the only part of Kakashi that seemed different except his eyes. Iruka had noticed that he wore contacts before, but hadn't realized why. He wondered if the Sharingan still worked when it was covered like this or if Kakashi would have to pop the contact out to use it.

There were emotions on Sukea's face, on Kakashi's face, that Iruka had never put a name to before and was almost afraid to now. For the first time Iruka noticed the care in his touches, far too much for a meaningless hookup.

It was hard not to think about what it'd be like without the disguise, with messy gray hair beneath his fingers and mismatched eyes looking down at him instead. He found it less off-putting than he would have thought even just a few months ago.

He pressed his eyes shut and imagined an undisguised Kakashi fucking him. It was hotter than he'd expected it to be. When he came, it was to the image of Kakashi over him, not Sukea.

"Kakashi," he said with a moan, the name slipping past his lips as he tipped over the edge of orgasm. Not Sukea like it should have been, but Kakashi.

Kakashi came hard almost immediately at the name, his rhythm faltering as he groaned Iruka's name in return. It was in his own voice, thick with emotion, and one of the hottest things Iruka had ever heard.

They lay there for a minute, floating in the high, trying to get their breath back. But then Kakashi tensed and started to pull away. He looked shaken, like all his smoothness was part of his secret identity, gone now that his cover was blown.

"You knew?" His voice was rough. Maybe from using the false voice too much, maybe from emotion, Iruka wasn't sure.

"I figured it out," he said with a shrug.

Kakashi cast a glance around the room and Iruka could see the calculations on his face. Two steps to his pants, one more to the rest of his clothes, another three to a window. It was the quickest way out.

"Why the disguise?"

Kakashi stopped planning his escape and looked straight at him. "Would you have said yes without it?"

"No," Iruka admitted. It was blunt and harsh, but he didn't want to lie. There had always been something awkward between them that made any prolonged interactions uncomfortable. He never would have considered spending even one drunken night with Kakashi, let alone a whole string of highly pleasurable, increasingly sober ones.

Kakashi looked like Iruka had just confirmed everything he'd always known to be true. It wasn't a triumphant look. Sukea's open smiles were replaced by a carefully blank face. He might as well have been wearing his mask for all the emotion he was giving away.

He started to move off the bed, but Iruka grabbed his arm to stop him.

"How much of him was you?"

Kakashi shrugged. "Most, I guess."

He pulled away again and Iruka let go of his arm. He watched as Kakashi got dressed, his motions hasty and inelegant. For a moment, it seemed like he was going to cover his face, but he stopped himself. There was no point in hiding it now, not after Iruka had kissed his way into that mouth dozens of times, watched it slide down around his cock half a dozen more, seen smiles and smirks and countless other expressions play across his face as they stayed in bed, talking for hours.

Iruka tried to decide if he wanted this. He knew any real relationship with Kakashi wouldn't be as easy as these last two months had been. It'd take effort, it'd be messy. Kakashi was already far more invested in it than Iruka would have thought possible. It wouldn't be fair to him if Iruka just kept him around for the sex. He had to be sure he was willing to work for whatever this could be.

He was pretty certain that he was.

"That doesn't mean I'd say no now," he said just before Kakashi jumped out of one of his windows.

Kakashi froze for a moment, nodded ever so slightly, then was gone.

It took hours for Iruka to finally doze off into restless sleep. When he woke, it annoyed him how much he missed having a cup of tea waiting for him on his bedside table. He had tea in his kitchen and could make it himself.

He didn't know if this was the end. Maybe figuring it out was game over, maybe Kakashi didn't want a real relationship even if he did want Iruka in other ways.

On Monday morning, Iruka went to work, not looking forward to Friday night for the first time in longer than he wanted to think about.

He saw Kakashi at a distance, but they didn't interact. He caught Kakashi watching him more than once. Each time, Kakashi looked away as soon as their eyes met.

It hit him how long it'd been since he'd seen Kakashi around the village. Before all this had started, their paths had crossed with a decent amount of regularity. The last few months, it was like Kakashi had ceased to exist. Iruka hadn't even noticed.

It had to have been done on purpose. The village wasn't that big. There was no other explanation. Kakashi must have been picking up missions when Iruka wasn't on shift and avoiding the places he often went. Maybe he'd been afraid Iruka would recognize him more quickly if he saw him. Maybe he didn't want to face Iruka and the truth of what he was doing.

He should have noticed Kakashi's absence, he should have noticed a lot of things he hadn't. The realization that he could be so oblivious to the people around him didn't sit well. It made his chest feel tight.

~*~*~

Iruka almost didn't go to the bar that Friday either, but in the end, he decided he really could use a drink.

A man leaned on the bar next to him, and Iruka placed him immediately. An Inuzuka jounin, usually took A-rank missions that kept him out of the village for months at a time, turned in decent reports.

"Here by yourself?" the jounin asked.

Iruka tried not to roll his eyes. Apparently this guy had never learned that line was far more creepy than sexy. "I'm waiting for someone," he replied, realizing as he said it that it was true.

The Inuzuka didn't press his luck, leaving Iruka alone to continue nursing his drink at the bar.

Iruka was pleasantly surprised when a little while later, a familiar presence slid onto the seat next to him. Even more pleased when he turned to see Kakashi sitting there, no disguise this time, though his visible eye watched Iruka warily. He sized Iruka up the same way he would an enemy on a battlefield. A subtle tension ran through his body, like he was ready to retreat the moment Iruka signaled he wasn't welcome.

"Can I buy you a drink?" he asked, voice a little forced, but it was his voice and Iruka found that nice.

"If I can buy the next one," Iruka replied, relying on habit more than anything else.

"I'd like that," Kakashi said, though there was still a hint of something unsure in his tone, like he thought Iruka might change his mind any moment and tell him to get lost. Iruka had no desire to do anything of the sort.

For all his intentions, Iruka wasn't prepared for the awkwardness that settled between them. It was the same as it'd always been, neither of them really knowing what to say to the other. They stared at their drinks in silence.

Out of the corner of his eye, Iruka studied Kakashi. All of his tells were minute and covered by cloth, but Iruka realized he could read them. He could imagine what they'd look like without the mask because he'd seen them all. There would be a little crease between his brows like he was thinking something over, the slight downturn of the corners of his lips that happened when he was concerned.

He knew Kakashi. Maybe it'd come in a bizarre, roundabout way, but he did know him now. Iruka smiled softly and started to speak.

It was a long story. His students had noticed his distraction at the beginning of the week and thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out a few pranks on him. Each and every one had backfired in the most spectacular of ways, though they couldn't figure out why. What they didn't realize was that Iruka knew all their pranks. He'd pulled them all before, had invented a few of them himself.

By the end of his tale, the awkwardness had faded some. Kakashi's slouch seemed more genuine than affected, his gaze more open than wary.

When they left the bar, they went their separate ways, the first time since this had started. But it was also the first time they had concrete plans to meet again the following week.

~*~*~

It took two more Fridays before Iruka realized Kakashi wasn't going to make the first move. He wasn't pushing, clearly waiting for Iruka to decide what to do.

This time it was Iruka who shifted closer first and Kakashi who followed suit. They didn't get around to Iruka's turn to buy drinks, but he figured it could wait. He was fairly certain there would be a next time.

There was no jumping each other the moment Iruka's door closed behind them. They went slower, were more careful, like it was their first time together, though their actual first time had been neither slow nor particularly careful.

Kakashi stiffened almost imperceptibly when Iruka went to pull down his mask, leaving them both muttering apologies.

"Do you... want to leave it on?" Iruka asked, trying not to frown. It'd be weird, but he could deal with it. For now, until Kakashi felt comfortable again.

Kakashi shook his head. "No, it's okay."

Iruka took his word for it, tugging the mask down and bringing their lips together.

The kiss was a familiar one and it had Iruka steering Kakashi back to his bedroom before he could even think about it. They'd nearly made it to the bed when Kakashi pulled away enough to look him in the eye.

"I want you to fuck me," he said. The simple, direct statement made Iruka's blood rush. They'd never done it like that before. Kakashi was watching him carefully, like there was some unaccountable chance in hell that he would say no.

Iruka wondered for a brief moment how anyone in their right mind would turn down an offer like that, then realized he would have turned it down just a few months ago. He was glad he'd come around to a more reasonable point of view.

He kissed Kakashi hard in answer.

There was a fraction of a second of hesitation before Kakashi unzipped Iruka's vest, the barest moment of pause before hands slid under his shirt, like he was waiting to see if Iruka would stop him. He knew what he wanted, he just didn't believe he could have it yet. These moments of caution were something Sukea had never shown, but Iruka found them oddly endearing in Kakashi. He was sure they'd get back around to tearing each other's clothes off, when Kakashi realized Iruka truly did want him and all the bizarre little quirks that came with him.

They kissed, slow and deep, until Kakashi relaxed enough for Iruka to slide fingers inside him. He didn't have to ask to know it'd been a long time since Kakashi had let someone inside of him, both physically and in other ways. He murmured Kakashi's name against his lips, proof that he wanted to be with Kakashi, not with some idealized version of him. Kakashi pushed down on his fingers just a little harder every time he did. His guards started to fall away one by one and wariness drained out of him.

They held eye contact as he pushed inside.

"I like seeing you," Iruka said, "the real you." He rubbed a thumb across the scar on Kakashi's face.

Kakashi's eyes followed his every move, flickers of thinly veiled awe in his gaze. Iruka had seen the same expression on his face when he'd been disguised as Sukea. He didn't understand what he'd done to deserve that kind of emotion. Kakashi probably wasn't ready to tell him, so he wouldn't ask, not yet. He was willing to wait.

When Kakashi came, he pulled Iruka over the edge with him. The broken syllables of Kakashi's name on his lips felt as natural as breathing to Iruka, settling into his arms was like coming home after a long mission.

If the sex lacked the anonymous thrill of a one-night stand, Iruka didn't mind. It was real and honest, and that made it so much better.

~*~*~

When Iruka woke in the morning, there wasn't a drink or painkiller or breakfast or a note on his bedside table.

It was empty, but his bed was not.

~*~*~