If he was being totally honest, Kakashi wasn’t particularly worried about this mission. He had seen way worse, and he knew every member on his team had seen way worse. He would admit, though, the enemy numbers were overwhelming. And if it weren’t for the fact that they were horribly inexperienced and disorganized, Kakashi probably would be worried. But he trusted himself, he trusted his team, and he knew that this mission would be successful. He was more worried about how long the five of them had been away from the village than he was about their chances of survival.
He sighed softly to himself, leaning his head back to gently bump against the truck of the tree he was currently up. His squad had been coming up on an enemy camp for some time now, and they were finally close enough for surveillance. The fact that they were able to get close enough to clearly see and hear the goings-on of the enemy while remaining undetected themselves was truly a testament to how unpracticed the enemy shinobi were. Sure, Kakashi could attribute it to the skill of his own team, but he was fairly certain this was one of those missions one could attribute to dumb luck.
He slipped down from the tree, heading swiftly back through the forest to where his team had set up camp. He didn’t usually run missions with anyone besides Team 7, but with this mission being long term, the Hokage had assigned Iruka as a Chuunin second in command for the mission. Kakashi had been apprehensive at first, this being the first time his…relationship with Iruka would be tested out in the field. There were, of course, regulations surrounding shinobi in romantic relationships running missions with one other, but those rules were difficult to enforce in cases like his and Iruka’s, which weren’t exactly talked about. They weren’t exactly trying to keep it a secret anymore either, but neither of them ever really saw the opportunity to talk about it. Both of them knew very well that they should, eventually, get their official paperwork sorted. But both men were busy, and before they knew it, years had gone by with them dating ‘unofficially’. And as much as Kakashi trusted Iruka and his professionalism, he couldn’t help but be slightly nervous about being Iruka’s Jonin captain. His worries turned out to be unwarranted, however. Iruka worked seamlessly with Team 7, and as it turns out, facing large numbers of disorganized ninja in hand-to-hand combat could very easily turn into disaster, and Iruka’s clever use and placement of traps and seals had saved them a lot of trouble and injury. It was the first time in a long time that Kakashi had seen Iruka go all-out on an opponent, and he felt his respect and awe for Umino Iruka growing steadily by the day.
Currently, Iruka was helping Sakura set up the fire, while Naruto and Sasuke squabbled about watch duty a few feet away. For being a life-threatening shinobi mission, the scene was shockingly domestic.
“Intel?” Iruka asked, looking up and catching Kakashi’s eye as he approached.
“Their camp’s about a klick Northwest of us,” Kakashi said with a shrug, sitting down next to Iruka by the fire. “There’s a lot of them, but they’re all young. And loud. And seem to have no idea that we’re here.”
Iruka laughed softly, pulling some rations out of his pack. “What’s the plan, captain?”
Kakashi caught Iruka’s eye for a brief moment, raising his visible eyebrow slightly. “Simple surveillance for now, Sensei,” he answered smoothly. If Iruka wanted to tease him with titles…well two could play at that game. “We may be able to complete this mission without engaging them head-on. As much as I believe we could outdo them in combat…they have at least three times the manpower we do.”
Iruka nodded, passing Kakashi a ration bar before calling Naruto and Sasuke out of their argument. “Do you think they have the scroll we’re after?” he asked. “Or do you think it’s still hidden?”
Kakashi shrugged. “We’ll watch them for a while. If they have it, I believe we can get it from them without a full-on battle. Especially since we have our very own prank master with us,”
Iruka rolled his eyes, though his cheeks grew pink. “Glad to be of help.”
Kakashi smiled, turning to face the rest of his team. “We’ll take watch duty and surveillance duty in shifts. Once we establish whether or not they have the mission objective, we’ll plan a retrieval strategy. For now, we’ll rest. I’m on first watch.”
Iruka snorted, before he could stop himself. He flushed deeper under Kakashi’s amused reproachful glance, but met his eyes steadily. “With all due respect, captain, you need rest more than the rest of us. You’ve been pushing yourself non-stop.” He tried to keep his tone neutral and professional for the sake of their company, but couldn’t help the worry and affection that showed through. “We need you at the top of your game, Kakashi.”
Kakashi held Iruka’s gaze, the look significant. “Very well, sensei. You can take first watch. Then myself, then Sakura, then Naruto, then Sasuke. We’ll begin surveillance shifts tomorrow.”
Iruka smiled softly to himself. “Understood.”
None of them had expected a battle.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Surveillance had gone completely undetected, and by the second day Sasuke had managed to confirm that their enemy held the mission objective. By the end of the third day, they had managed to nail down a rough estimate of the schedule of the enemy camp. By the fourth day, they had a retrieval plan.
Iruka, being the traps expert (and seasoned troublemaker, as Kakashi referred to him as, much to Iruka’s chagrin), had prepared several seals and bombs (“for emergency distractions only, Kakashi!”) that Kakashi had at the ready just in case. Kakashi, being the strongest in espionage, was going to infiltrate the camp, take the scroll silently, and slip back out. He’d done it a thousand times before. Iruka and the kids were stationed in the trees surrounding the camp, ready to back Kakashi up as needed. But they totally wouldn’t be needed. Kakashi was Konoha’s elite, these enemy ninja barely seemed better trained than most Genin. There was no way Kakashi would get caught.
Kakashi got caught.
Well, to be more accurate, Sakura got caught. It was just bad luck, really. One of the enemy ninja was coming back from a scouting run, and landed on the branch Sakura had positioned herself in. And, for how little Kakashi thought of their skill as Shinobi, their scout did manage to catch Sakura off-guard, secure her, and bring her to the center of camp before she so much as got a sound out. And that was impressive.
Sakura’s silence didn’t last long, however, and Kakashi was alerted to her presence in the camp almost immediately.
The enemy ninja leapt to their feet, weapons in hand, facing Sakura and their scout. Several jumped forward to help their comrade continue to subdue Sakura, who had begun thrashing and struggling with all her might. The next few seconds of reality seemed to pass Kakashi in slow motion.
The scout ninja who had captured Sakura pulled a kunai, letting out a passing remark about killing her. Kakashi swore silently in his own head, securing the scrolls in his vest and preparing to retaliate.
He never got the chance.
Before Kakashi could get a firm hand on his kunai, Iruka leapt down from his position above the camp, sending shuriken between the eyes of three enemy ninja, and planting a kunai at the base of Sakura’s captor’s neck.
This time, Kakashi swore aloud.
He pulled one of Iruka’s homemade smoke bombs from his vest, leaping out from the tent he had infiltrated.
He threw the bomb to the ground, barely managing to glimpse Iruka pulling Sakura back towards the trees before the enemy were on him.
And they came on him with a fury, albeit a chaotic, untrained, and disorganized one. Kakashi managed to take out three of them, before leaping backwards to escape Iruka’s smokescreen. The sounds of battle continued, and Kakashi swore again when he realized that Sasuke and Naruto most definitely have joined the fight by now.
He threw himself back into the fight through the clearing smoke, hearing the telltale popping from Naruto’s shadow clones and dodging a wayward shuriken he assumed was from Sasuke. The battle was in their favor for now, but they were severely outnumbered. Sasuke and Naruto were unreliable even in the quickest of fights, Kakashi didn’t want to find out firsthand what they’d do when overwhelmed by enemy numbers. He needed to finish this fast.
He took down another two ninja while trying to reformulate his strategy.
Sasuke got hit with a kick across the face, he hit a tree a few yards away with a sharp grunt of pain and stayed down. Naruto landed on his feet in front of his teammate, teeth bared and kunai raised in his defense. Well, at least they were mostly out of the way.
That just left Iruka.
Kakashi turned back towards the thick of the battle, readying himself to spring into the thick of it to back Iruka up. But when his eyes caught the scene in front of him, he couldn’t move.
Kakashi was never one to freeze in battle. Not since he was a child, anyway. But watching Iruka in battle was nothing short of captivating.
He’d seen Iruka fight before….at least, he thought he had. But no amount of sparring, no amount of watching Iruka break up spats between students or the occasional pair of Jonin in the mission room, no amount of watching Iruka train could possibly match up to him in battle. His body moved fluidly and flawlessly through taijutsu, his precise execution of every move turning the basic into something formidable. He leapt and twisted with fearsome grace, parrying strikes and landing hits with such an efficiency it looked like ease. His face had hardened into a look of furious concentration, his eyes burning with an intensity that took Kakashi’s breath away.
Iruka swiftly took down the three ninja he was fighting, before that intense, fiery gaze was turned to meet Kakashi’s. Kakashi felt his stomach tighten slightly with the heat from the stare, but the fire was gone in an instant. It was replaced instead with a wide-eyed look of shock.
Whatever spell was on Kakashi that had kept him still was broken, and he fell immediately, catching himself on his forearms and rolling onto his back, kunai held out defensively.
As it happened, he turned around in time to witness Iruka launching himself across the clearing, landing with both feet on the chest of the ninja who had been behind Kakashi. He hadn’t even noticed. What was he doing this whole battle?
Kakashi watched from the ground as Iruka dispensed of the last of their enemies with a well-placed kunai, a strange feeling building in his gut.
“Kakashi, what the hell happened to you?” Iruka’s voice cut through Kakashi’s contemplations. “You were frozen! Are you okay? Did they hit you with something?”
Iruka had knelt down beside where Kakashi had fallen at his command, concern showing in his voice as much as it did on his face. Kakashi let the hand holding the kunai fall, reaching up instead to grip the front of Iruka’s vest. He wanted him close. He’d never been so sure of anything in his life. After today, how could he not be?
Iruka’s eyes widened even further, and his cheeks flushed pink as he began to realize what Kakashi had said. “Wh—Kakashi, that’s not—I-I mean--!” he spluttered, shaking his head a little. “You’re asking me right now?” he asked incredulously.
“Right now,” Kakashi confirmed, smiling. “Watching you, just now…was the first time I froze on the battlefield since I was ten years old. I couldn’t take my eyes off you. And hell, you just saved my life. I can’t think of a better time or place to ask. Or get married, for that matter.”
Iruka was silent for a few stunned moments, the noisy approach of their Genin squad going completely unnoticed between the two men.
“You mean to tell me…that when you froze in the middle of this fight…it was because you were watching me?” Iruka asked slowly, pinching the scar that bisected his nose. “And that your response to almost getting killed is to propose a field marriage?”
Kakashi grinned as Naruto balked.
“It’s the moment I knew you were the one. There is no better time,”
At that, Iruka actually laughed. It was higher pitched and a little more frantic than usual, and Iruka looked as if he couldn’t quite believe his ears.
“No, of course, eloping on a battlefield full of dead enemies is much better than a ceremony at home, during a time of peace, surrounded by our friends.” Iruka rolled his eyes, smiling fondly in spite of himself. “Stupid crazy Jonin. What was I thinking this whole time?”
Kakashi raised his visible eyebrow, challenging. “Is that a no, Sensei?”
Iruka fixed Kakashi with the same fiery gaze from earlier, though this time, it was with a smile. “Of course it’s a yes. You knew it would be.”
“Sensei, What the hell’s going on? What’s Kakashi-sensei talking about?” Naruto interrupted, despite Sakura slapping him on the shoulder and telling him to shut up.
It was then that Iruka and Kakashi tore their eyes away from each other. Sakura was blushing, but looked livid at Naruto for interrupting. Sasuke was about a foot behind her, looking shellshocked and pale. Naruto was gazing up at Iruka, pure horrified confusion written all over his features.
“Ah…Naruto, forgive me,” Iruka winced a little, looking back at Kakashi guiltily. “You were going to be the first person we told. Really, you were…but we kind of ended up telling no one,”
“Iruka-sensei! You aren’t really marrying him, right? He’s just delusional!”
Iruka laughed softly, reaching out to ruffle Naruto’s hair affectionately. “That he is, Naruto. But I am marrying him,”
“Hey,” Kakashi interjected. Iruka ignored him.
“I’m sorry I kept it a secret from you for this long. Can I make it up to you?”
Naruto pouted. “It’s gonna take a lot of ramen, Sensei. You really want to marry him?” he whined.
Iruka laughed full out, pulling Naruto into a one-armed hug. “We can talk about the ramen later. I had a different idea,” he glanced at Kakashi. “Naruto, do you remember the rules of the Shinobi Code?”
Naruto looked away, rubbing the back of his neck guiltily. “I…remember there are rules,” he said sheepishly.
“Rule #74!” Sakura gasped, her eyes widening. “Naruto, you dummy! Iruka-sensei wants you to—”
“Thank you, Sakura,” Iruka interrupted her gently. “Naruto…it would be an honor if you would be the one to officiate Kakashi and my field marriage,” he shot Kakashi a glance. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,”
Kakashi nodded in quiet agreement.
Naruto’s eyes widened. “I…I don’t know how,” he admitted. Sakura elbowed him in the ribs.
“Idiot! It’s in the rules! Genin can officiate field marriages between the Jonin captain and the Chuunin second in command!” she hissed. “Just—repeat after me!”
Iruka smiled softly, standing and pulling Kakashi up to his feet. He took a gloved hand in his own, looking up and meeting Kakashi’s eye. “You ready, Naruto?” he asked.
And, in the clearing once used as both camp and battlefield, the blood from their enemies drying on their clothes, and with Sakura hissing instructions in Naruto’s ear, Kakashi and Iruka exchanged vows to each other. To protect, to cherish, and to love one another. Iruka’s first moment of hesitation was for when Naruto, with considerable urging from Sakura, told them that they could kiss.
Iruka glanced from Kakashi’s eye down to their joined hands quickly, before looking back up. “Kakashi, I…we can keep your mask on,” he offered in a soft whisper.
Kakashi’s eyebrows knit together in a small frown as he considered Iruka’s words, squeezing the younger man’s hands gently. “If we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this right,” he murmured.
Iruka’s grin alone would have been well worth it, but the combination of that and the shocked noises of surprise from all three Genin when Iruka reached up and pulled aside Kakashi’s mask was more than Kakashi ever could have hoped for.
And then, Iruka was kissing him. His kiss was sweet but firm, warm and familiar, and Iruka’s hands were holding the front of his vest so tight he thought he may never let go. He wrapped his arms around Iruka’s waist and pulled him close, only breaking their kiss when he heard Naruto’s cry.
“Enough, already! Kakashi-sensei, don’t be a pervert!”
The two men broke apart with laughter, gazing into each other’s eyes fondly before reluctantly parting from their embrace.
“You realize how much paperwork we’re going to have once we turn in this mission report, right?” Iruka teased, squeezing Kakashi’s hand quickly. “No way this’ll be a secret any longer,”
Kakashi shrugged. “I can handle paperwork, Sensei. It’ll be worth it. You’re worth it,” he paused, enjoying the light flush across Iruka’s—his husband’s—cheeks. “Besides, now that it’s already official and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop us…we can have that ceremony with all our friends that you wanted,”
If he thought Iruka’s smile from before was good, it was nothing compared to the one he got for that.