Iruka had been waiting by the gates for hours, knowing that any minute the man he loved would return, as well as the young man who was rumored to have saved the world, someone Iruka considered a little brother, and maybe even a son, alongside the students from his past. His heart raced, but also ached, because no matter how much he anticipated their arrival, he knew better than to expect everyone to come back alive or uninjured. Iruka needed to see his friends, and those he considered to be his family, to ease his mind and suffering. For a man who has already lost so much, Iruka was surprised to find himself admitting he couldn't lose Naruto. Just the thought alone broke his heart, but Kakashi... losing Kakashi wasn't something Iruka wanted to think about. The anguish he'd feel from losing the man he loved would tear him apart at such a microscopic level that he wouldn't be able to live normally afterwards.
Kakashi was not, by any means, Iruka's first love. He'd loved before, and lord knows he's lost before, too. To Iruka, Kakashi had been a friend first, who he slowly developed feelings for over time. It had started out so innocently, chatting about their students over ramen and sharing mission stories over sake or tea in their free time. Then they started having sex, it had been completely casual until neither man could see themselves sleeping with someone else. From there, they began dating, it was just around the time Naruto had returned from his training with the sannin. The few years they'd be involved had seemed like a lifetime, but in the best way possible. Iruka had wondered how he lived so long without Kakashi in his life. He was sure that everything he loved and lost prior to Kakashi was simply preparation.
Many factors played into Iruka's feelings. Having almost lost Kakashi before, and patching him up after rough missions; wiping the blood off of his floor in the middle of the night, and it was as if no matter how horrible or painstakingly long or heinous his missions had been, Kakashi would always drag himself home. He could be half dead, bleeding, broken bones, or poisoned, and he'd still manage to make it home. He'd always make it back to Konoha, and then right home to the man he loved. Some times, Iruka really wished he'd go to the hospital first, but the gesture alone had warmed his heart just as much as it pained him. Seeing Kakashi hurt in any way never failed to make his heart sink into his stomach.
Iruka has truly been spoiled, he realized it now. He didn't want his luck to run out, it couldn't be now of all times. It wasn't just a mission he'd been on, it was a war. No matter what, Iruka needed to see Kakashi walk through those gates, it didn't matter how injured or broken he may be, Iruka was more than ready to patch him up and return him to full health. The love he had for Kakashi held no bounds, it was endless and vast, it was as bright as it was dark, and just as selfless as it was selfish. For Kakashi, he'd do anything. For another moment with him, Iruka would kill for it...
It was fortunate that it didn't have to come to that. After all, Iruka was a chunin with average skills and intelligence, there was no way he would have beat Uchiha Madara all on his own, but for Kakashi he would have tried, damn it!
All the people around him erupted with screams and shouts, mostly of excitement, as a band of ninja came limping towards the front gates of Konoha. Most of the shinobi were injured, as expected, but a vast majority had smiles on their bruised and swollen faces.
Iruka found his eyes scanning for Kakashi, as well as Naruto, whoever he found first. It was as if no one else was around, his body had moved through the crowds of people like water flowing and didn't stop until he caught a tuff of shockingly silver hair and his mind went blank. For a moment, his heart stopped.
Kakashi was holding up Gai, who was badly injured, and Kakashi wasn't too better off himself. From what he could make out, Gai couldn't walk on his own, and Kakashi was carrying him home on his back. It was a heart breaking sight. War took so many lives, but Iruka hoped and prayed that it wouldn't take Gai's, especially for Kakashi's sake. Not many people were close to the Copy Nin, but Gai was a special and dear friend. It would break Kakashi to lose his best friend and rival.
How could Iruka manage to heal a wound so deep? Where would he even begin?
But Iruka knew, for fact, he could not heal every wound. He was no super hero, nor magician, only a man. There was only so much he could do. Not every kiss, or lingering touch, could heal Kakashi. He would try like hell, but...
"Kakashi!" He called out, and instantly the other's head snapped in his direction. He was wide eyed, with both of his eyes- how could Iruka not notice that?
He made his way over to them both, and took Gai from Kakashi. He had more straight to spare out of the both of them, and carried Gai to the medical tents that had been set up around the village gates for the soldiers who would return.
After making sure Gai was being taken care of, Iruka made sure Kakashi was next.
They didn't say much to each other as a medi-nin healed his wounds, which had mostly been superficial, but they remained close, feeling each other's warmth. Kakashi hadn't let go of Iruka's hand for a second.
Finally, as the made their way out of the tent, Iruka had to ask. "Is Naruto okay? Can we try and find him? I need to see him with my own eyes."
Kakashi merely nodded, and confirmed the Naruto was alive.
"Is there anything else?"
"He fought Sasuke." He replied. Kakashi's voice was tight and he was close to loosing his composure. "It was a tie, though."
"Is... Sasuke back, too?"
Kakashi pointed towards his students, all three of them, being carried into a tent by Hinata, Kiba, and Shino. Tsunade was hot on their heels, but didn't look much better herself. A group of highly skilled medical ninja were rushing into the tent behind her. Iruka's stomach dropped quickly, suddenly making him feel sick.
"She'll patch them up, Sakura is there too. She won't let them die." Kakashi assured him. "She healed what she could already."
"Oh, thank god.."
"There's something else," the grip he had on Iruka's hand went tighter. "About Obito."
"I gave back what was rightfully his," he gestured towards his eye with his free hand. "He was alive this whole time, Iruka. Can you believe it?"
Iruka couldn't, actually, but... there was a hint of a smile on his lover's lips. It didn't matter if the story was far fetched or not, and it wasn't something Kakashi would lie about, anyways. Obito was someone Kakashi cared deeply about, and to see any remnants of a smile on Kakashi's face was so pleasant to see.
Obito was alive, all those years Kakashi spent beating himself up over his friend's death were almost in vain. At the time, it had broken his heart, but as his life progressed and everything around him lived on, Kakashi learned to live as well. It made him a better man.
"He's still alive."
Kakashi's voice shook Iruka from his thoughts.
Iruka had barely remembered Obito from when they were kids. He'd seen him in passing, they'd only been in the academy for a few moths together, so it wasn't as if they were friends. It was the same with Kakashi, though. Their age gap didn't warrant them to hang out with the same group of people, of course when they got older it was different. Iruka found himself hanging out with the people who knew Kakashi, which is how they formally met before team seven was formed.
Out of respect, Iruka had attended the small ceremony they held for Obito's death. He remembered seeing Kakashi there with a young girl he later learned was Rin, another close friend of Kakashi's, who had passed away not long after that.
The guilt Kakashi carried for their deaths was unimaginable, Iruka couldn't fathom it. Their pain was nowhere near the same, but they both understood what it was like to lose everything they had. They expressed their hurt in such different ways, but it didn't change the fact that they had been broken.
Iruka had been the one to glue the pieces of Kakashi back together. It wasn't just him, he had help from team seven, the friends Kakashi had made, such as Yamato and Gai, and the slow building effort from Kakashi himself. All things factored in, and over time Kakashi felt whole again, or as whole as a man with a broke heart could feel. And no matter what, Iruka had always tried his best to put each and every little piece of Kakashi's heart where it belonged to keep him whole, and to keep him happy and sane.
Kakashi did the same in return.
Iruka feared that somehow the war would tear apart what had been fixed.
They found Obito in a tent nearby getting his arm and back healed, but he was also eating a rations bar and drinking a bottle of water. Iruka hadn't recalled Obito having such a nasty scar on the side of his face and upper body, but it'd been years since he'd even seen him. Time did change people, as the saying went.
"Before you even mention that they're offering us some real food, keep in mind I can't eat most things anymore," Obito had said right after they walked into the room. "That damn Madara gave me a half ass working stomach. I can't even eat dango anymore without feeling sick."
"I'm glad you're feeling well enough to bitch, Obito. After all, you're a big part of the reason we're all hurt." Kakashi retorted.
"Don't say that as if I don't feel guilty.."
"I know, sorry.."
Had Obito been the cause of this war...? Iruka wondered.
Obito inclined his head towards the teacher. "Who's he? Looks familiar..."
"Iruka." He introduced himself. "Umino Iruka."
"Ah, I don't know why I imagined Iruka to be a woman, I guess they were never really your taste, aye Kakashi?" The uchiha was clearly teasing him, but Kakashi didn't even bat an eye to it.
"Welcome home, Obito-San."
He was speechless for a moment, his eyes widening at the words, they'd been something he hadn't heard in far too long. Tears pooled at the corners of his eyes.
Iruka squeezed Kakashi's hand ever so slightly. "You too, Kakashi. Welcome home. Thank you for coming back to me, and keeping Naruto safe, as well as Konoha."
But Kakashi didn't respond, not verbally, he continued to hold Iruka's hand and simply nodded.
The village, thankfully, hadn't been completely demolished, but was still badly damaged. Some homes and family estates towards the outskirts of the villages made it out alright, only needing minor fixes, but the innermost parts of the city were of dire need for repair. Those who had stayed behind had already started to rebuild, and after a few days of rest from the soldiers, those who were able to help would step in. It was one of the good things about the people of Konoha, they always did what they had to do for their country. First, the put their lives on the line, and when they get home they rebuild the family homes and schools, the same ones they fought so desperately to protect.
Luckily, places like the Hyuga and Nara compound were mostly in tact, so those shinobi had a place to sleep. Iruka's apartment building wasn't completely destroyed, but it wasn't really safe to go back inside, the foundation was cracked and some of the walls on the uppermost part of the building were crumbling. For safety reasons, he hadn't gone back.
The Hatake compound, on the other hand, was left almost untouched. The wooden gates around it had taken most of the damage, a few chunks had been blown off during an explosion, and a window on the home had been broken due to flying debris, but that was it. Iruka had only checked out of curiosity, really. It wasn't as if Kakashi lived there anymore, but he noticed that the Jounin dorms where he lived had been completely destroyed, and since Iruka's own apartment wasn't a viable option, it either meant sleeping in the tents they had set up, or sleeping in the Hatake compound. Iruka was almost convinced he was going to be sleeping on a cot for the next couple of months, but Kakashi has always been the type to surprise him.
"Even devastation won't go near that house," Kakashi had said before looking up at the sky with some pain in his eyes, "but if need be, it is a place to sleep. I'm more tired and sore than I'd care to admit."
Obito, who was now mostly healed, had joined them. When Gai was back up on his feet again, Kakashi said that he too would join them in his family home. The house had quite a few bedrooms, so everyone would have their own space. Kakashi opened his doors to his students as well, even though he figured Sakura would stay with her parents over them. The offer was there, nonetheless.
The first thing Iruka noticed when the three of them walked in was how clean the home had been. He'd expected a dust covered home, one that looked untouched and abandoned over the years, not a spotless home with a futon and a blanket in each room. Kakashi said he paid a guy to swing buy every month or so to keep the place clean, and air it out. His reasoning had been that one day, he knew somehow he'd come crawling back to his family home, and that he might as well keep it clean over the years to save himself from an allergy attack with the dust that would have been built up. Iruka knew he just couldn't part with his family home, no matter how many bad memories it held.
"It's been so long since I've been anywhere near this house," Obito had a small smile on his face as he looked around. "It hasn't changed much at all, just less photos hanging around."
"Photos?" Iruka questioned, now curious. "Like photos of you as a child?"
"Some, but his uh, his dad liked to collect paintings and things like that.. he used to paint in his free time, too. If I'm remembering correctly."
"My mom would play the piano," the teacher had pulled out a chair at the kitchen table to sit down, "I can remember waking up in the middle of the night to the Melody's she would play. Some nights, it was comforting. Other nights, I wanted to throw the damn piano out of the window."
Obito chuckled at that and joined him at the table.
"My grandma would cook, but she was too old for missions, so she cooked when she was in a bad mood. I assume she did the same thing after a rough mission." He said. "We all have ways to calm ourselves down, I suppose."
The both looked at Kakashi as if expecting an answer, but they didn't get one.
"He usually reads," Iruka says for him. "Sometimes he likes to cuddle."
"Aw, Kakashi~ I didn't pin you as the cuddling type!" Obito teased, but he teasing fell on deaf ears. Kakashi was already walking towards the hallways into the bedroom.
The other two men sat in silence for the moment, until Obito spoke first.
"He's blaming himself for everything," he said, "but it's not his fault. Really, it's mine. It's a burden I'll carry for the rest of my life, and I'm sure they'll throw me behind bars once the dust clears, and I'll spend the rest of my life in prison atoning for my sins. Honestly, I'm okay with that, but it's a burden I'll carry on my own."
"He's always so hard on himself."
"That much hasn't changed about him then."
"All he wants is for everyone around him to be happy, and he sacrifices his own happiness to do so. It pains me, some of the things people say about him, when he's the most selfless person I've ever met." Iruka sighed, putting his head down on the table. "Sometimes I wonder if I make him happy enough."
"I know you do, he talked about you the whole way home. I can tell how much he loves you."
Iruka lifted up his head with tears in his eyes.
"He's my whole world, Obito. I was scared he wouldn't come home.. I don't know what I'd do if he hadn't, but it wouldn't have been pretty. I would have been so hellbent on getting revenge, it would eat me alive..."
"Then you and I have a lot in common," he said. "From personal experience, it isn't worth it afterwards. In the moment it may feel right, but when you realize what you're doing it may be too late. Kakashi wouldn't want that for you."
Iruka knew that, but it didn't change the fact that it was true. He wouldn't be able to rest until justice was delivered, and the rat bastard who hurt the man he loved was soaked in their own blood, and withering in pain. Iruka saw nothing regretful about that.
Obito must have taken Iruka's silence as a way of saying whatever, or, I'm not even going to bother to listen, because he had a frown on his face. He disapproved of Iruka's lack of response.
"I'm not saying it doesn't feel good to get revenge, but all of the people who get strung along and hurt along the way aren't worth it." Obito clarified. "All of the bloodshed before even completing the goal is unnecessary and preventable. There's no reason for so many lives to be taken away just because you're grieving."
"I know..." and Iruka did know that, but-
"I faced wanting to get revenge for many years, only to realize now that it would have been healthier for me to learn how to move on. My healing process is way overdue, it should have been done years ago. I'd be living normally, now."
The teacher nodded, and raised himself from the table.
"I think it's best we both get some rest. Healing processes aside, we still have a log road ahead of us."
Obito had no objections to that.
Kakashi was already laying out on the futon when Iruka entered the room. He was laying on his back, his blood stained clothes were thrown off into the corner of the room, his face and body fully exposed to the chill in the room. Only a thick wool blanket was draped over his lower body. Iruka noticed the new scar that was over his chest and abdomen, shaped like an X. It was healed and looked old. It had taken them a few weeks to actually return home, he knew the scar was one from the war, and now a constant reminder of how hard he fought.
Out of habit, Iruka went up to him to inspect the wound, just to make sure it wasn't infected or bleeding, but it was perfectly fine and Kakashi hadn't even moved as Iruka checked it out. He laid there, his body still and his breathing quiet and slow. It was evident that he was lost in his thoughts.
Iruka stripped down, too. He joined Kakashi on the futon and snuggled up into his side. It been way too long since they laid like this. Still, he didn't say much, but Kakashi moved into a more comfortable position for them to lay together. It was automatic how their limbs tangled around each others, and how Iruka's face would always find it's way into the bend of Kakashi's neck. His lover smelled of sweat and battle, but Iruka would ignore it for the night, the warmth outweighs everything else. The feeling of being skin to skin with Kakashi was wondrous.
"I've missed you," iruka whispers into his skin.
"I missed you, too."
"There's something bothering you, I'm all ears if you're ready to talk about it."
Kakashi hesitated for a moment, but let out a deep breath, which felt great. He hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath.
"It was me, Iruka."
"What was you?"
"I was the reason the war started. All of this bloodshed. It's all on me. If I hadn't... if it wasn't for me killing rin, none of this would have happened."
"Obito knew I did, it was his motivation of helping Madara start this war. I took away the person who meant the most to him, Iruka. That kind of pain is unimaginable."
"He knows how he went about things was wrong, the fault isn't on you." But Iruka knew that him saying it may not amount to much, Obito would have to tell him that. For now, all Iruka could do was listen.
"It doesn't matter, Iruka. That action had more consequences than I could have imagined. It's bad enough that she's gone, but I stole that light from him with my own hands. It was a snowball effect, now it's not just her blood on my hands, but everyone else's who died as well." He said. He wrapped his arms around Iruka tighter. "If I was him, I'd feel the same way. To have the only light and love in my life so rudely ripped away from me... I can't believe I took that away from him."
"I know, at the time I thought he was dead, but that didn't lessen my guilt. He saw me kill her, Iruka. He saw everything. He may have forgiven me now, but knowing that image is just as much burned into his memory as it is mine, I can hardly live with that." Kakashi confessed. "Why? Why did she-"
He pursed his lips shut tightly, and let his head fall on top of Iruka's.
"You're so hard on yourself," Iruka said softly. "I think the way you're feeling now is valid, and I'd probably feel the same way if roles were reversed. Just know that things, from here on out, are going to get better."
"You just need to believe that they will, Kakashi. I know it's easier said than done, but it's true. Once the smoke clears, it will be better. Peace is on the horizon. We can grown old together without a care in the world, okay?"
Kakashi kissed the other's forehead. "Yes."
"And I've never been the best at being your emotional support, but I've always tried my best. If I'm not enough then.. maybe when things are back to normal, you can find someone to talk to." He suggested. "Like a therapist."
"As if I'll even have time for such a thing," he said. "Soon, they'll be making me hokage. Tsunade won't be in office much longer."
"H-Hokage?! Ah, well I guess that's not too much of a surprise considering how strong you are, not only as a shinobi but as a leader."
Iruka found himself smiling at the thought of dating the hokage.
"You always make it seem like I'm some amazing ninja."
"Because you are!"
Kakashi begged to differ. "I'm just a man."
"You are just a man, Kakashi. One who's amazingly talented and strong. You're just modest." He kissed the exposed skin nearest his own lips. Kakashi warmed Into the feeling of Iruka's lips.
"We've been together through so much, it's amazing how you're still here." Kakashi said moments later, right before Iruka had fallen asleep.
"It's because I love you, you idiot. I'll always love you."
Another moment of silence fell between them.
"I love you, too."
"Welcome home, Kakashi." Iruka said Before finally drifting into sleep. "Thank you for coming home to me."
"I promised I would, after all. I've never broken one promise to you, have I?"
And that was truth. Kakashi wasn't going to ruin his streak now. Every promise he made he tried to keep, and he never made one he couldn't. He surprised himself when he promised he'd return home from war, but it motivated him to fight harder, and to not be so reckless, and most likely the only reason he even made it out alive. Before the final chat he had with Iruka before leaving, he was convinced he'd die on the battle field. He even had a will wrote out, leaving everything to Iruka and Naruto, and had wrote a heartfelt and lengthy letter addressed to those he cared about, but the longest one, of course, was addressed to Iruka. He was now thankful his apartment building had been burned down, he didn't have to burn those letters on his own, but Kakashi was more thankful that Iruka didn't have to read it in the results of Kakashi's death. Also, if Kakashi has died and the letters were still burned, he would have never been able to hear all the things Kakashi wanted to say.
Iruka would have never learned the truth.
They've been together for longer than they both would admit they thought was possible. Of course, Iruka knew he was transgender, he'd been there when Kakashi finally had his top surgery done. It would have been hard to hide all of those things from him over the years. What Iruka hadn't known, though, was that Kakashi had eggs frozen and put aside just in case.
They talked about having kids, but Kakashi said no. Iruka asked if frozen eggs were an option, or if getting an egg donor would be better, but Kakashi insisted that neither were good options, and that Kakashi wasn't fit to be a father.
In the letter, Kakashi was going to inform Iruka that he did had eggs that were frozen and that Iruka's names had been put on the forms, giving him access to them. He'd done that a few weeks prior to writing the letter, and apologized in it for lying to him this whole time about it.
Essentially, he was giving Iruka permission to give Kakashi an heir to his throne if anything were to happen to him. Well, someone had the further the Hatake bloodline, right? No one else could do it aside from Kakashi. With him alive now, and soon to become hokage, he was sure the council would be on his back about having a child.
Then, of course, like they'd done with all previous hokage, would pressure him into finding a mate. It would be a miracle if they'd accept Iruka as his partner, it had little to do with it being a homosexual relationship, and more to do with Iruka not being a man of important blood. If he were a Nara, a Hyuga, or any of important family for that matter, it would be a different story. Because they'd want Kakashi to have a strong child, someone who one day might become hokage themselves, and be a powerful shinobi of Konoha.
That's exactly what Kakashi didn't want, and he had explained that to Iruka in the letter as well, but went on to say that: I trust you with my life, and I know you'd never let anything like that happen to our child. They'd grow up normal, healthy, and have the luxury of having an actual childhood if I'm no longer around. The thought of furthering my bloodline isn't what scares me, Iruka, it's not being able to give my child the best life possible. Not like the life I had, forced to be a shinobi so young, never truly getting to live. I don't want that for any child of mine.. or any child of ours..
Iruka knew that all, deep down, and never bothered Kakashi about having a child more than a few times, and those few times had months, if not years, between them. It didn't hurt any less when Kakashi would say no and drop the topic at hand.
If peace was truly going to be spread through the lands, then maybe, just maybe, Kakashi was willing to reconsider.
He looked down at Iruka who was now fast asleep.
He wouldn't mind seeing a little boy, or little girl, running around the house. One that looked like Iruka and nothing like Kakashi, but maybe had Kakashi's eyes. It didn't matter what they looked like, Kakashi just hoped they wouldn't have his hair, Iruka's was much easier to manage.
"I guess a baby wouldn't be so bad," he whispered into the darkness, "maa, a little Iruka would be a handful, though."
It was better that he warmed up to the idea before he was forced to do it, he supposed.
Kakashi knew it was going to be a long and bumpy road, but he had Iruka, he had Obito, too.
Kakashi had the whole village.