There was a soft scent lingering throughout the city that made his heart ache.
Iruka twisted his hands on the railing again, surveying everything he could from the top-story hotel room balcony. He could tell, deep inside him, that he was coming up on a particularly bad full moon. But, somehow, that wasn’t the real worry: it was whatever strange thing was happening with the scent. He transformed willingly most months and rarely had to do anything more than chase stray dogs out of his neighborhood to feel satisfied.
But… he could sense this time was different.
Turning back inside the hotel room, Iruka went about the usual procedures for routine cleaning. He had already stripped the bed and gathered the wet, dirty hotel towels as soon as he came in. As his mind rolled over the strange scent, he worked automatically, wiping clean all the surfaces and taking meticulous care of the bathroom. Iruka was glad, as always, for his second shift job and the oddly flexible hours of his schedule. He wasn’t sure if he would ever go back to teaching unfortunately, but this would do for now.
Especially since Naruto needed him now.
Iruka went about the rest of the shift in a busy contemplative daze. He tried recalling other scents and kept coming back to Naruto’s overwhelmingly strong youkai scent. It had drawn him clear across the city to find a dirty-faced boy alone on a public playground. Naruto had been blissfully unaware that he was emanating anything at all. Only when the pair of them had run into several rather nasty other youkai had the discovery been made: Naruto Uzumaki, orphaned twelve-year-old boy, blonde hair, blue eyes, was actually a kumiho, a nine-tailed fox.
Naruto’s parents were both dead and the full extent of his powers were unknown to him, but that was Iruka’s story, too. Iruka continued to feel an instinctive bond with the boy, even though Naruto could be damnably irritating and for some reason only wanted to eat ramen for the first full year of their life together. Iruka had only just managed to diversify his diet, even though he himself was a terrible cook. He’d also gotten Naruto properly enrolled in school and was tutoring him with unashamed joy. Sometimes, of course, Iruka felt like screaming in frustration so much that it turned into howling – and that’s when he thought about how different life might be if he was a part of a pack and had literally any sort of support network whatsoever.
Besides Naruto, he had no one, but there was no need to mope about it.
Iruka would have liked to ask someone else what this new scent was – the one that made him feel like he should both run away from it and also track it down and shake it until it fell apart. Of course he knew there were other werewolves in the city, but he always painstakingly avoided them even before he’d taken Naruto in. Now that he was caring for the young youkai, Iruka was taking no chances: for the first time in his life, he’d started being aggressive when confronted as a wolf. He’d even begun to threaten werewolves in person when they met in the street. Most were merely curious about his existence on the edge of the city – they could smell him going downtown to the hotel and then back to his dismally small fourth-story apartment – but Iruka had put more than a few wolves in their place who were far too interested in Naruto and if either of them were available as a midnight snack.
Sitting on the bus, slumped back in the seat, Iruka knew he looked normal to the people around him, even with his unusual facial scar. He barely remembered getting it as a child, before his parents died, but life was hard, and plenty of people had peculiar scars. He glanced at his image in the bus window: his slicked-back brown hair was disheveled from work, and his dark eyes looked truly tired. Iruka scratched at the long scar through his cheeks, wondering if Naruto would be fine tonight when he left to become a wolf once more…
He didn’t have to worry: Naruto was utterly enthused when Iruka got home, loudly shouting at the top of his lungs that he had been invited to a classmate’s house to spend the night. He was nearly bursting into tears for fear that Iruka would say no – and honestly Iruka almost did say no, feeling pin-pricks of concern about not knowing who this Sasuke Uchiha was – but the timing was too perfect, and Naruto was genuinely excited, and Iruka relented, making sure to pack him a spare dry ramen before sending his – well – his son away to another boy’s house.
Alone with himself, and with no other tasks to complete, Iruka found himself twitchy and restless. He normally waited a few more hours before turning wolf, preferring to transform after midnight and giving himself only six or so hours before dawn, but that damn scent…
He was a wolf before he knew it.
The fine white full moon beckoned him, and Iruka relished the sensation of cool weather on his dense fur. He’d seen himself in storefront windows, subway glass, and shallow puddles before: he was all dark thick brown fur, more like a timber wolf than the gray wolves that seemed to frequent the city with their white, grey, and black colors. His facial scar transferred over, too; the mark retched across his muzzle like a human had whipped a thin blade across his skull. Ultimately, he was bigger and stockier than other werewolves, but he wasn’t as skilled at fighting, having never been a part of a real pack who would teach him such things.
But what Iruka lacked in finesse, he made up in street smarts.
Tonight, he was intent on finding the source of the strange scent, but it was a full moon, and the city was filled with all sorts of wolves on the prowl. Most went after each other, seeking out new and old mates, establishing and re-establishing territories. Some attacked humans, shifting out of wolf form to ambush, rob, rape, claw, bite, murder. A few – such as Iruka – had very little interactions with wolf or human during the full moon, using the brief bit of time where his instincts took over to better study the city that he lived in.
Iruka ignored the big white wolf that was stalking him through the edge of town as he made his way into the center near the hotel. He didn’t know this wolf – the creature was overly scarred and far too silent for Iruka’s comfort – but he didn’t want to know him, either. Instead, Iruka purposefully lost the other werewolf as he ran through the alleyways, having perfected his knowledge of the streets long ago.
He didn’t want a fight, not tonight.
He wanted to fight the scent – no… – no, he wanted to find the scent.
Iruka shook his head. His nose was directing him to one single spot, which he was so unbearably relieved about, but he could feel his wolf brain turning into mush far sooner than he wanted.
On full moons, he almost always lost himself by the end of the night. He had been disgusted when he first came to the city and realized that he’d eaten rats and pigeons – but then Iruka had gathered that other werewolves ate people’s pets and sometimes people, so he just threw away chewed-up rat carcasses and tossed the pigeon feathers out the window. He’d never gotten so out of control as to assault a human, but he had fought other werewolves before. He tended to win his battles, but he also ended up bloody and sore and calling in sick to work, too, so he stubbornly avoided other wolves during the full moon.
He wasn’t sure why he was already losing himself this early in the night.
He’d even transformed earlier than normal!
All of a sudden, Iruka went perfectly still and stared up at a specific balcony in a brownstone apartment building. He… he could smell the scent, really smell it, and it was coming from there. He was trying to piece together what he wanted to do about the information, but… but all he could think about was getting up to the balcony and finding the person who was so very strange-smelling.
Before he understood what had happened, Iruka was standing nude on the damn balcony.
He stared back down at the ground, flabbergasted.
But he didn’t gawk for long! Instead Iruka forced himself back into being a wolf, feeling hot and stupid for making such an irrational decision to – to climb a fucking wall? How had he even done that? Had he done that naked??
He turned towards the balcony door – and realized with a start that it was open.
Iruka padded inside on instinct. His ears were pricked, he was careful with each step. He knew enough about invading human spaces to know that very, very few of them liked when full grown wolves entered their apartments. He certainly didn’t like it when a particularly quarrelsome werewolf had tried to make a statement by coming into his own space: Iruka still daily glowered at the blood stains on his kitchen cabinets that he couldn’t get out.
He wasn’t about to lose even an ounce of blood in this apartment; in fact, he promised that he wasn’t going to lose himself at all.
But… but then…
Iruka went still all over. He could hear the person finishing a shower. The entire studio apartment was swamped with sweet-smelling steam, dampening Iruka’s fur with its heaviness. The scent itself was still as strong – no, it was even stronger – now that Iruka was clearly within only a few feet of the person.
He felt strange.
He wasn’t sure if he wanted to kill the person. He didn’t feel like how he did when he was fighting other wolves – even the dumb brute who had burst into his apartment last year. He had never felt any desire to tear apart humans, and he had never done so in his life.
So this – this was something else.
And it worsened infinitely when the person stepped out in front of Iruka.
He was fully nude, fresh from the shower. He was forcefully drying his pure silver hair, his whole lithe body on display. His skin was moonlight-white… and impossibly unscarred, unbruised, unblemished, unmarked. He was clearly a he: his flaccid sex and silver pubic hair attracted Iruka’s full attention with startling intensity. He was taller than Iruka, and fifty pounds lighter, and was full of lean supple muscle, looking like he could either be a competitive dancer or a professional runner.
And Iruka wanted to devour him, he wanted to mark every inch of him.
The man suddenly looked up, and then they met eyes.
Well, they almost met eyes: the man had his left eye firmly closed. A fine featherlight scar slid down the left side of his face, from his forehead down towards the corner of his lip. He looked like he was permanently winking or wincing, but his right eye was black-colored and open wide as he took in the very large timber wolf standing on four paws in his kitchen.
But Iruka wasn’t thinking anymore. He moved on instinct, he was abruptly across the room, he was pushing the man down on the ground. He had knocked the towel aside, his nose was shoved against the man’s throat, he was breathing it in, all of it, all of him.
It was him! The soft sweet sad scent – it was him!
He was suddenly not in his wolf form, no longer scratching crimson claw marks down the man’s painfully white skin. Iruka was instead holding the other man down, he was kissing the man’s throat, he was licking it, too. His grip on the man’s forearms was ruthless, uncaring, forceful: he held the man’s arms over his mess of half-dried silver hair. They were both nude, so very nude, and he was hard hard hard. He was panting into the man’s neck before he suddenly, violently couldn’t stop himself, and he bit down on the pretty soft white flesh there, eliciting the loveliest keening sound from the man underneath him.
Iruka moved his mouth just as he moved his hands. He kissed the other man’s mouth, at first clumsily, unthinkingly, but then he remembered some distant skill, and he was doing his damn best to learn everything about the man’s lips. He didn’t part them with his tongue, instead the man did that, opening himself up for Iruka, and then Iruka was eagerly licking into the man’s mouth, touching his tongue, panting panting panting.
His hands went to the man’s cock and his as well. There was enough residual water from the man’s shower that Iruka used it to ease their cocks together in one hand, and he was soon stroking them both together with delirious zeal. His arousal had been so great that he was weeping pre-cum, which only made the movement easier, sweeter.
Underneath him, the man shifted his hips suddenly, joining in the motion, and Iruka tore his mouth from the other man’s to stare down at him for a single senseless second.
The man was so wildly flushed, his entire pale face had gone pink.
It was delicious, delightful.
Iruka glanced at the long scar down the man’s left eye, which he was still amazingly keeping shut, and he found himself licking its very end with incredible obsessive want.
The man moaned underneath him.
Iruka felt his body doing that perfect shudder that signaled he was close, close, close. He stopped licking the man’s scar to force his face under the man’s left ear, where he breathed in as much as he could the wonderful scent that had dragged him here so blindly, mindlessly. His hand shook uncontrollably, then his hips did too, then his whole body, and he came with a wordless gasp against the man’s sweet wet skin.
He couldn’t really parse though his actions, but suddenly he was down between the man’s legs, and his mouth was on the man’s very wonderfully large erect cock. Iruka’s eyes rolled to the back of his head as the whole hard thing went past his lips, pressed down his tongue, pushed at the back of his throat. Iruka grasped roughly at the man’s hips, he was forcing the man’s cock into him more, more, more. He heard sounds – and he realized he was making some of them, but not at all of them – the man was moaning again, loudly, heavily. He moved the man’s cock out of his mouth, and he was harshly breathing as he begged desperately, “Please come, please, please, please…”
Then the man’s slender hand shoved Iruka’s head back down, and Iruka was so very thrilled to take the man’s cock back past his kiss-bruised lips, and he was rewarded beautifully by the man’s cum filling his mouth, dripping out, slipping down the outside of his throat.
He sat back, stumbled backwards.
Iruka finally caught full sight of the other man – and his breath disappeared from his lungs.
The unbearably soft-smelling man had propped himself up on his elbows. He was still only one-eyed, keeping the other scarred eye closed, as he stared in thrown astonishment at Iruka. His silver hair was thoroughly messed up, scrubbed against the carpet, some of it still soaking wet and other parts dry to the point of fluffiness. The man’s whole body was painted a faint pink from the flush of arousal, most of it concentrating on his finely featured cheeks. He had thin red claw marks from Iruka’s wolf paws on his shoulders and chest that stood out fearfully on his moonlight-white skin. The man’s cock was limp, spent against his quivering thigh; his muscular abdomen was streaked with Iruka’s own white cum.
Iruka stood suddenly, still staring at the man.
And then he changed back into a wolf and flung himself out the apartment, off the balcony, and onto the street below.
The impact was bad, he could feel it as soon as his front two paws hit the asphalt. He fumbled further, his muzzle smashing against the street, his sensitive scar getting pulled as he slid a few feet against the pavement. He struggled to stand on four paws, but he finally made it, and then he was running down the street, turning sharply into an alleyway, all without looking back at the man’s apartment.
The rest of the night passed in a wild, wicked blur. He scratched down another wolf’s face at some point, held her down, had his teeth on her throat, but then he realized what he was doing and dropped her and ran again. He saw a human couple kissing in a side street, and he scared them terribly, and he was hurt when the man stepped in front of the woman to defend her from him, from Iruka, and Iruka went home, desperate to be home, he wanted to be home again.
He slept at the end of his own bed as a wolf, taking up the majority of the lower part of the mattress, his wet dense fur shedding on his bedsheets.
When he woke up the next morning, Iruka had an unbelievable headache, and he spent more than a few minutes dry-heaving into the toilet. He mechanically went about cleaning his bedsheets, sweeping up wolf hair, throwing away a flower vase that he’d broken while fighting to get into the apartment through his bedroom window. He was desperate not to look in a mirror or catch his reflection on anything: he was terrified what he would see there.
He’d attacked a man last night. He’d found the source of the confusing but amazing scent – and he’d assaulted him. He’d broken into the man’s house – and then he’d – he’d -
Iruka slumped down in his kitchen, dropping the dust pan, slapping both hands over his scarred face, groaning to himself.
And then he realized he could smell the man… on his own skin.
So, naturally, he passed out on the kitchen floor.
The scent was persistent all morning, it was calling to him, it was making him mad.
Iruka botched cleaning one of the best rooms in the hotel by spilling bleach on the carpet, which sent him into a downward spiral that lasted the next several hours. He was sweating like he’d run a marathon. He knew he was flushed red because the other custodians and maids kept teasingly telling him about it. He waved off their sly comments while inwardly cringing to himself.
Fortunately Naruto had gone from his new friend Sasuke’s house straight to school, so he hadn’t been witness to the frantic abrupt awakening that Iruka experienced in the kitchen. He had somehow managed in his panicked flailing to knock over a dirty glass Naruto had left by the sink and then had to avoid cutting himself while cleaning it up. He had felt so very stupid by the time he went to work that even his usual motivational messages to himself - work will be better! I’ll get my life in order! today will be good, just wait and see! - went literally nowhere and inspired nothing within him at all.
On his break, Iruka didn’t venture down to gossip with the other staff. Instead he went to the rooftop, pushing open the heavy door and finding the high chain fence around the side of the building. He hadn’t been employed at the hotel when they’d put in the fence, but the rumor was a suicidal guest had taken advantage of the employee-only rooftop and taken the plunge off the building, leading to terrible press for the business. Iruka didn’t know if it was true or not, but, as he pressed his heated scarred face against the cold metal, he felt relieved the fence was there to support him during his sudden crisis.
He was bewildered by what he had done.
Sometimes, Iruka could see snatches of last night: his fingers sliding against spotless pale skin, his tongue lapping against the man’s bare throat, his calloused hand stroking both of them.
It made him blush like crazy.
He had been with men before – and women, too – but he had never in his life had such a wild one-time encounter. Iruka prided himself on being good to his partners, making sure they were satisfied before he got his. He could not recognize the version of himself that pounced on the strange man with an even stranger scent in the man’s own studio apartment, without knowing him, without asking anything about him, without asking if he wanted to even touch Iruka let alone do everything that they had done together. Iruka had been filled with such embarrassment that he’d run away from the scene of his crime without saying a single word to the man except –
Except begging the other man to come in his mouth!
Iruka squeezed his eyes shut, deeply pained by what he had done. He hadn’t felt any sort of arousal as a wolf before, and he certainly had never pursued anyone, human or werewolf, during a full moon. But last night not only had he hunted down the source of the fascinating scent – he had tackled the man to the ground, forcibly licked him and kissed him, got both of them off with his hand and mouth – and then he had run away like a coward!
Sighing to himself, Iruka turned around, putting his back against the high chain fence. He brought his forearm across his aching eyes and burning face. He knew he would have to go back to work soon. Worse, he would have to swallow down his shame when he saw Naruto tonight and act like nothing strange had happened…
He would have to be particularly cautious tonight, the night after the full moon, when his heart, loins, skin, brain were all still overstimulated and demanding increased activity from him.
Iruka was about to push off the fence when something flickered by the rooftop door.
His wolf senses sung in concern. He shifted instantly into a defensive stance. He could feel his body wanting to transform to fight whatever was on the roof with him. But Iruka held himself in check and instead stared hard at the silvery shimmer of air by the door.
The gleaming grey-white vision coalesced into a familiar silver-haired figure.
Tension flew through Iruka as he recognized the man from last night… except now the man was standing on the rooftop, completely clothed and looking strikingly indifferent to his surroundings. The man was wearing a long black wool coat that, even from twenty feet away, Iruka could identify as a high-end piece of clothing. His jeans were tight and dark blue, his elegant black shoes were perfectly shined. Iruka couldn’t see his hands, because the man had shoved them deep down in his coat pockets, but he wouldn’t have been surprised if he was wearing fine black leather gloves considering the quality of the rest of his attire.
The man’s silver hair was in much better shape in the daytime. He apparently swept it up and off to the side, seemingly not holding it together with any product as the wind tousled it as naturally and easily. He had his head tilted far off to the side while staring at Iruka. His scarred left eye was still firmly closed, leaving his right black eye alone to do the work of observation.
Iruka had no idea what he should say… including how to ask how the man had just suddenly materialized on the hotel rooftop out of thin air. He knew quite well werewolves couldn’t do that, and neither could youkai, something he’d learned from his hours of research after adopting Naruto into his home and heart.
Yet the man hadn’t been there a second ago – and now he definitely was.
Most torturously, however, the man’s expression was so totally blank that Iruka started to think Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was being flamboyant and tawdry in her small subtle smile. It was truly disturbing how the man had schooled his features into revealing nothing at all. His eternal wink-wince with his left eye should have altered his face some, but it really didn’t change a thing. However, the man didn’t actually seem all that calm; rather, he was only pretending to be unbothered while standing on the hotel rooftop across from Iruka.
Iruka stayed still and silent, like any good wolf when confronted by an unknown threat.
The man, however, was not a wolf: after a few seconds, he slunk forward towards Iruka with impossible grace, speed, and ease. As he moved, he kept his hands in his pockets and his body loose, but his right eye was focused far too strongly on Iruka as he closed the space between them.
“So,” the man began in a slow thoughtful way that also sounded truly sinister, causing Iruka’s eyes widen in surprise. “I finally move to the big city, learn that there’s werewolves everywhere, but I think to myself, surely none of them will be so stupid to cause me trouble.”
Iruka found that he was pushing himself backwards against the fence, his hands gripping the chain. The silver-haired man in his fine black coat was still walking forward, coming much closer than what was comfortable. He kept his head tilted off to the side, staring at Iruka with his relentless single-eyed gaze.
“But then you,” he continued, emphasizing 'you' with particular force, “waltz into my home as a wolf and attack me.”
The man stopped within only inches of Iruka. The wool of his coat was so close that Iruka could see the soft short fuzz of the material. His silver hair was unbelievably fine, his skin was nearly bone-white pale. His shirt collar was high on his neck, so Iruka couldn’t see where he’d bitten the man, but he knew it was there along with his claw marks. Iruka was breathing steadily through his nose so he wouldn’t pass out again, but he definitely wanted to do so, if only to get out of this tense terrifying situation.
He flinched when the man’s gloved right hand flew out from his coat pocket and landed beside Iruka’s head, audibly clenching down on the chain. “What was the purpose behind that?” the man wondered, his tone dark as a moonless night. His black eye was locked on Iruka’s face.
“Was it an initiation ritual so you could join a pack? Was it a dare?” he asked, sounding cold and curious at the same time.
Iruka stiffened as the man leaned forward and disconcertingly neared Iruka’s bare neck, as his uniform shirt was slightly open since he kept overheating at work. The man’s breath was strangely cool against Iruka’s hot skin as he cruelly insisted in his interrogation.
“Do you want to die but you’re too scared to take your own life?” Iruka shivered as the man’s lips softly brushed his throat. He murmured lowly, “If that’s the case, I can help you.”
“I…” Iruka tried to speak, but his voice failed him so badly that he couldn’t utter anything else. He was flushed across his scarred cheeks, he was shaking against the fence. He was clearly missing an integral element to the other man’s identity. He couldn’t believe that he had done something so horrible and bold to… with… this same person just the night before.
The man pulled back his head to examine Iruka better. His right black eye had become troubled. His silver eyebrows narrowed as he observed Iruka’s flustered expression. He made no sound, but Iruka could feel tension forming within the other man. Iruka’s own dark eyes were wide and worried, and he tried to express his apology silently by looking pitiful and repentant.
Then the man straightened his head and opened his scarred left eye.
Iruka went immediately faint. The other man’s hands caught his biceps hard and forced him back and upwards against the fence, holding him in place and off the ground.
The man’s left eye was red, it was scarlet, it was crimson, it was blood.
As Iruka stared at the newly revealed wonder, he realized an infinite number of tiny black sparkles were swirling in the bloody red of the man’s eye. The dark spots were distracting, fascinating as they whirled and floated and swam through the bright color. Iruka felt so engrossed that he could barely hear the man asking him an important question, but in some far-off distant way, he did hear the words, because he answered them thoughtlessly.
“No, I didn’t know you were a vampire.”
The man’s gloved hands on his arms tightened. He was asking another question, but Iruka was growing dizzy, his face was heating up, his mouth was becoming so so dry…
Iruka replied unthinkingly, “Because I like your scent.”
He registered that the man had shaken his head because his beautiful red-and-black eye suddenly moved out of Iruka’s possessed gaze, and then the man closed his left eye, and Iruka was slumping down the fence to sit on the cement, his brain trying to piece itself back together. His own hands were suddenly on his face, rubbing at his scar and his eyes, forcing feeling back into his skin and spirit. When he looked back up at the other man, he found the silver-haired stranger considering him with a frosty one-eyed gaze and his hands back down in his coat pockets.
“You’ve never had a pack, have you?” the man correctly judged. He sounded like he was contemplating out a variety of options, many of which included maiming and murdering Iruka.
“No,” Iruka answered quietly, almost under his breath. He felt like he could just barely remember the man’s question – and he could have sworn it was something like - Did you really not know I was a vampire? - but that was a crazy question – of course Iruka didn’t know – because he’d never –
His mouth dropped open as he stared up at the strange man. “You’re a vampire?” Iruka asked, far too sharp and loud.
Even though he was in his late twenties, he had never met a vampire before now; they were bordering on extinction, and he’d honestly never imagined he would encounter one. His parents had lectured him about vampires when he was a child the same way that human children were told about werewolves: vampires are rare creatures of the darkness and night, they can and will kill you for the fun of it, you must always be careful with them and never let your guard down.
Iruka could vaguely recall his mother showing him an elaborate sketch of an excessively scary vampire and her directing Iruka’s childishly wandering attention to the figure’s fangs. She had said, slowly and deliberately, that vampires and werewolves did not get along, they were mortal enemies, and, that while vampires did not like drinking werewolf blood, they would do so, especially to kill a wolf.
Iruka’s hand jumped to his throat where the strange man had just put his lips.
Oh, God, the man had been threatening Iruka. He was saying that he would kill him.
Iruka’s eyes were still fixed on the other man as he realized that last night he had tackled a vampire to the floor of his own apartment and then kissed him and jerked him off and sucked his cock and – and – and then he had just run the fuck away!
The silver-haired man watched without comment as a thousand different emotions and thoughts rushed over Iruka’s face. Finally his lips slipped into a sarcastic smile. “You’ve never smelled a vampire before,” he remarked in amusement. “So, instead of staying away from the strange scent, you ran towards it.”
Iruka blushed. He felt stupid, he was stupid. He had been conflicted about the scent the entire time, but he hadn’t considered that it was his primal instinct warning him that it was a predator, a threat, an enemy to avoid at all costs. Instead, Iruka had gone after it, hunted it down, found where it lived. He felt overwhelmed as he stared up at the man, who was smiling at him in the cruel sort of way that feral cats did while toying with their prey.
And then the man was crouched down over him and pushed Iruka’s back against the fence. Sitting on the cement of the rooftop, Iruka found he could barely move an inch. He tried to remain still under the heavy oppressive aura of the other man, but his body was shaking slightly. His brain was finally recognizing the scent for what it actually was – a sign to stay away – a warning that death is waiting nearby.
“Tell me your name,” the man ordered as one of his gloved hands easily unbuttoned and unzipped Iruka’s black trousers. He wasn’t using his sparkling red-and-black eye on him, but Iruka felt compelled to answer anyway.
Staring at the other man’s pale scarred face only inches from his own, his voice wavered as he replied, “It’s Iruka Umino.”
“Kakashi Hatake,” the man said instantly in response. He adjusted Iruka’s hips with effortless but disturbing strength so he could pull down Iruka’s pants to his knees. It took a few seconds for Iruka to realize that was his name – that was the man’s name – his name was Kakashi Hatake.
As Kakashi’s gloved fingers ran the length of Iruka’s boxer-clad thigh, he leaned forward and breathed against Iruka’s bare neck, “You can tell me something that no one else can.” Iruka shuddered as Kakashi delicately nosed his jugular vein, pushing up Iruka’s head against the fence. “You can tell me what vampires smell like, what I smell like. You don’t have any prejudice clouding your judgment, so you can describe the scent without bias.”
Iruka’s hands curled into fists on the cement. He squeezed his eyes shut as Kakashi suddenly stroked his cock through his boxers, swiftly inspiring arousal with a simple touch. He wondered what he should do – stay stationary, endure whatever happened next, hope the man would leave him alone – or should he turn wolf, fight back, go for Kakashi’s throat, even though he knew in his heart that vampires were stronger and quicker? Iruka’s brain was unable to help him, instead relishing Kakashi’s extremely skilled hands caressing Iruka’s arousal.
“You smell strange,” Iruka finally confessed. His blush was drowning him alive. His skin was tearing against the cement as he dragged his hands backwards across the rooftop.
Kakashi murmured, “Oh?” with his lips pressed against the slope of Iruka’s neck.
“It’s soft,” Iruka choked out, lifting up his chin, irrationally giving Kakashi more access. He felt his eyelids flutter as the other man kissed Iruka’s pulsing vein with gentle force. “Like that, how you just…”
Both of Kakashi’s hands suddenly were on Iruka’s shoulders, and then Iruka was flat on the cement, looking up at the other man, his silver hair, his black eye. Above him and around him was the vast baby blue sky and white clouds drifting by, but Iruka found himself concentrating solely on Kakashi, whose face had changed from indifference to… to something else.
Then the man freed Iruka’s cock from his boxers, and his hand lost his glove, and his palm was smooth and soft against Iruka’s aching arousal. Shame poured over Iruka as he involuntarily pushed his hips up into the man’s grip. He looked away from Kakashi, desperately embarrassed but terribly aroused, and he could only just hear the man’s near-soundless question, “What else?”
Iruka couldn’t answer him. His face burned, his body was trembling. He could feel himself getting harder from Kakashi’s exquisite touch, it made his head swim and spin and float away.
Kakashi’s cool breath was suddenly against his right ear. “Tell me what else, Iruka Umino.”
Before he knew what he was doing, Iruka’s hands had grabbed both of the other man’s shoulders, his fingers digging down into the solid wool of Kakashi’s coat. He jerked the man down to him, forcing their bodies further together. He spoke harshly into Kakashi’s sweet-smelling silver hair on desperate impulse, “Your scent is lonely. It was calling to me. It’s still calling to me.”
Then he dropped away from Kakashi and closed his eyes.
The other man stayed surreally motionless for a moment – before he tightened his grip on Iruka’s arousal and pushed up Iruka’s uniform shirt with the other, exposing his scarred abdomen to the cool air. He was suddenly kissing there, across all of Iruka’s fine muscles and the scars from his wolf form that had transferred over to his human body. Kakashi was obscenely good at stroking him, tight and ceaseless but gentle and caring, meaning each and every movement. Along with the sudden combined stimulation of sweet soft lips on his stomach, Iruka soon fell completely apart. He came with an undignified whimper of pleasure.
He blearily opened his eyes to see Kakashi, dark coat, silver hair, pale skin, so very close to Iruka’s face, on his hands and knees, positioned perfectly over him.
And the man – the vampire – looked furious.
“I am not lonely,” Kakashi swore vehemently down at Iruka. Even though his enthralling eye was shut firmly, his expression was one of forceful, infuriated conviction. He was clearly intending on being understood and agreed with, but Iruka was incredulous while looking up at him.
“Yes, you are,” Iruka replied back immediately, without thinking.
Kakashi’s face couldn’t hold back his irritation and surprise, nor could he keep the pink flush from saturating his too-white cheeks. “No,” he snapped back. “I am not.” His black eye narrowed as his expression shifted into glowering down at Iruka, a peculiar look for a man who was also blushing quite madly. “If you ever step foot in my apartment again, I will kill you.”
The silver-haired man stepped away from Iruka, tugging his gloves back on in obvious agitation. He wasn’t looking at Iruka anymore, but it was evident that he was well aware of the werewolf only a few feet from him. Sitting up and ignoring the wild mess on his stomach and thighs and boxers, Iruka stared at the other man in increasing skepticism.
“No, you won’t,” he found himself saying in response.
Kakashi looked at him sharply, his fingers stopped mid-way in his task. His blushing cheeks betrayed him even as he promised with dark intensity, “If I ever see you again, Iruka Umino, I will drain every bit of blood from your body, and it will mean not a thing to me.”
Iruka didn’t even fight the amused smile as it climbed to his face. He blamed the adrenaline and the aftermath of his orgasm, but he was laughing slightly to himself as he scratched at the long scar through his cheeks. “Oh, okay,” he replied off-handedly. “I totally believe you.”
Apparently Kakashi really did not like to be teased – because the next thing Iruka knew he was back down on the cement and a slender hand encased in supple leather was strangling the life out of him. He just managed to grab Kakashi’s shirt collar, which he yanked down, exposing the frightfully vivid red bite mark that he’d left the night before. For reasons that he couldn’t discern, Iruka gripped the recent wound, slamming his thumb into the deepest spots, where his canines had broken the skin.
Above him, Kakashi flinched badly. His grip lessened, and then Iruka snatched his pretty silver hair, and he rolled on top of the other man. He pressed Kakashi hard into the cement, breathing heavily, his dark eyes blazing bright.
And Iruka kissed him with everything he had in himself.
Kakashi struggled for a sincere second, causing Iruka’s body to scream in protest, a dozen new bruises blooming into existence where Kakashi’s hands gripped him and his knees struck him.
But then… he moaned into Iruka’s mouth and kissed him back, hopelessly taken.
It was soft, and sweet, and strange.
Iruka loved it.
Kakashi seemed to like it, too.
Yet, before Iruka could even think what to do next, Kakashi shoved Iruka off of him so hard and with such force that Iruka was suddenly flush against the rooftop door over twenty feet away.
With his breath knocked out of him, his head spinning, his vision blurry, Iruka could barely make out Kakashi standing up by the fence – and then flickering away in a swift silvery flash.
Although his mind was elsewhere, Iruka was waiting for Naruto in the kitchen when the boy came back from school.
He listened for nearly an hour as Naruto relayed every single detail about Sasuke and his house. The other boy was living with his older brother who was never around, so Sasuke could do whatever he wanted, which meant lots of video games, take-out delivery, and martial arts practice. Sasuke could be really mean, but he also challenged Naruto a lot, and Naruto thought that Sasuke might even know that he was a youkai fox, but they hadn’t talked about it at all. Instead, they had played a few different fighting games, and then actually fought a little, too, and, after that, Sasuke made them both some really nice ramen with flank steak and scallions.
Then they’d gone to bed, and Naruto got to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag! Sasuke said his brother took him camping sometimes, which was pretty fun, but the mosquitoes were awful. With Sasuke in bed and Naruto on the floor, they’d kept talking for a while, about silly things, like which of them was the best racer in Mario Kart, but also more serious things, like what Christmas and birthdays are like when you don’t have any grandparents to send you any cards or presents.
When Naruto had finally run himself ragged from talking so much, Iruka asked him, slow and worried, “Do you think you’ll be okay by yourself tonight?” When the young youkai looked back at him in surprise and confusion, Iruka flushed a bit and ducked his head. “I’m sorry, Naruto, I’ve got business to attend to, it might take me most of the night.”
“I’ll be fine, Iruka-sensei!” Naruto exclaimed, reaching out and catching Iruka’s hands in his own. His bright blue eyes shone brilliantly, and Iruka found himself captivated by the boy once again. He was even more overwhelmed when Naruto asked rapidly, his expression radiating concern, “Are you okay, Iruka-sensei? Is everything alright? Did something happen last night? You can tell me!”
Iruka blinked several times. He’d hoped he could suppress everything that had occurred between him and Kakashi, but it must have been showing through his admittedly poor disguise. He glanced up at his adopted son and smiled sheepishly. “I ran into someone that I’m worried about. I’m going to see if I can find him again tonight. It might take a while.”
Naruto, although very much twelve years old, looked quite skeptical at the explanation. His smaller hands tightened around Iruka’s, and he pursed his lips together, appraising the much older man. But he finally nodded in one curt motion and declared, “Go find him, Iruka-sensei! If you think he’s in trouble, you’ve got to help him. Like how you helped me, right?”
Trying to fight back his ridiculous impulse to burst into tears, Iruka didn’t stop himself from pulling Naruto into a tight embrace, and he sighed dramatically over the boy’s shoulder.
Yeah, he would go find Kakashi… and try to help him… but he might get killed in the process. And then what would happen to Naruto? Would he move in with this Sasuke kid? Go back to living on the streets, or get sucked up into social services, or be hunted down by other youkai?
“Iruka-sensei,” came Naruto’s muffled voice from Iruka’s chest. “I promise I’ll be fine. I can make instant ramen by myself, you know.” Embarrassed by his showy display of affection which had bordered on physical suffocating, Iruka released Naruto, who only smiled widely at him and proclaimed with distinct pride, “Sasuke showed me how to boil an egg! I can add egg to my ramen now!”
Iruka ruffled Naruto’s blonde hair and warned him, “Don’t burn the house down,” but his mind was already wandering back through the city, wondering just where Kakashi was at this very moment and what the other man might be doing. He hung around with Naruto for a few more hours, watching their favorite soap operas, listening to the frighteningly intense death metal music that Sasuke had suggested to Naruto, showing the boy yet again how all the locks worked and checking each of the smoke alarms, before he left the apartment and his dear little son.
He was irritated at how much he wanted to be a wolf again. It was barely after sunset, but Iruka couldn’t shake off the feeling and begrudgingly slipped into his wolf body, feeling relief right away. He was grumpy much of the night, not wanting to do the incredibly dumb thing and hunt Kakashi down again, but he was uncertain what he should do instead. He scared away a few stray dogs from his neighborhood; he made sure that there were no new werewolves in the streets surrounding his apartment. Iruka wasn’t surprised to discover he was still the only one around the area.
Throughout it all, he kept finding himself lifting his head and sniffing the air, trying to sense out Kakashi’s strange scent.
The full moon was white and shining above him when Iruka surrendered to his conflicted instinct. He followed Kakashi’s smell from the edge of the city back through downtown, past the hotel, past the man’s studio apartment, and then all the way to the riverside on the other side of town. The whole journey took another two hours. He dodged cars and the subway, escaped the eager eyes and sharp teeth of wolves noticing him stalking through their territories, and navigated the confusing maze of tourist traps by the river.
Iruka had rarely visited this part of the city: he had no money to spend at the casino, or time to attend monthly music festivals, or reason to take the ferry across the river to where many of the city workers resided. When he first considered moving to the city, he’d looked around this area to see if he could find an apartment nearby, but everything was absurdly expensive.
As he walked over the jagged rocks by the river, Iruka had to admit that the riverside during the nighttime was truly beautiful. The colorful lights of the city struck the water in such a way that the whole thing looked like a dazzling display of rainbow-colored fireworks. He stayed there for a while, watching the old-fashioned ferryboat churn through the river water from one side to the other, before Kakashi’s scent suddenly struck him again, and he resumed his hunt, rededicating himself to his cause.
While he could smell Kakashi far before he saw the man… the vampire… Iruka also saw Kakashi much further away than a human would have been able to spot him.
Underneath the ferryboat ramp, where passengers walked up a huge cement ramp to board the ferry and cross the river, there was a dark, mostly empty space of rocks, wooden debris, broken cement, and feral cats behind caution tape and construction fencing.
As Iruka slunk up to the fence as a wolf, he could easily identify Kakashi sitting on the old cement steps that tapered down into the river itself. The man was in the same beautiful black coat as earlier in the day; his silver hair was in much the same shape, loose and fluttering in the wind. He looked completely relaxed, resting his arms over his kneecaps, sitting forward and watching the colorful lights dance on the river’s surface.
Iruka squeezed his enormous wolf body through the torn-open hole in the fence, ignoring the spikes of pain where the sharp-edged metal scratched him.
He tried to affect submission while still walking forward, which was honestly rather difficult, but Iruka wasn’t going to give up now. He kept his ears down, his head low, but his eyes stayed open and focused on Kakashi. He made sure his hackles weren’t raised, his dark brown fur kept sleekly down.
He managed to get within a few feet of the vampire before Kakashi looked over at him with his black right eye, his left eye shut, and Iruka realized fearfully that he’d been approaching the man from his bad side, his scarred blind side. He gulped down his anxiety and slid down into a partial bow, his throat almost touching the rocks. Kakashi watched him with so much distance he could have been on the moon itself, but Iruka wasn’t dissuaded. Even though the vampire’s expression was back to its full mask of pure empty indifference, Iruka knew he could get a reaction from the other man, he had done so before, and he was do his damn best to get it again tonight.
Iruka slowly straightened up as a wolf, inched forward just slightly, and then brought his right leg into the air, trying to present his paw to Kakashi. He knew he must look comical, probably even ridiculous, but he wanted to incite Kakashi’s amusement rather than his rage, especially since he’d obviously done the unwise, unwanted thing of hunting him down once again.
Kakashi glanced down at Iruka’s dark brown paw hanging mid-air. After a few seconds of Iruka trying very hard not to drop his arm, Kakashi finally responded to him, much to his relief.
“You’re stupid and suicidal.”
Iruka only waggled his paw, soundlessly suggesting Kakashi shake hands.
Raising his one-eyed dark gaze to stare into Iruka’s intense yellow wolf eyes, Kakashi shook his head back and forth, slowly, simply. Before Iruka could feel too crushed at the rejection, the other man patted a gloved hand beside him on the rocks, clearly indicating that he wanted Iruka to come sit next to him.
With far too much glee in his heart, Iruka carefully stepped forward on four paws, turned around, and sat down beside Kakashi, tucking his long tail around him on his right side.
And there they sat together, silver-haired vampire and timber-colored werewolf, watching the pretty city lights reflect on the muddy brown river.
Iruka was never very aware of time in wolf form, but he was certainly unable to keep track when beside Kakashi. The vampire’s scent was all too strange, and soft, and fascinating.
It wasn’t as pained as it had been last night. It didn’t seem as lonely.
Somewhere in the back of his brain, Iruka wondered if it was due to his effect on Kakashi.
“Let me see your face.”
Iruka slowly turned his wolf head to study Kakashi’s expression, but the other man was still looking ahead and seemingly nonplussed by his own request. He only glanced over when Iruka made a quiet whine down his throat and tried to express somehow that he would be nude if he transformed now. He quickly realized that his communication skills as a wolf were more than a bit poor, and Iruka found himself sagging, staring down anxiously at his paws as he scratched at the dirty rocks that they were both sitting on.
“You can wear my coat,” Kakashi offered calmly.
Although a huge part of Iruka was screaming at him to stay as a wolf – and another strong segment of his primal instinct was demanding that he run the fuck away from the fucking vampire what are you doing here why are you here you need to leave he will kill you he will drain you of all your blood - Iruka shrugged his way out of his wolf form.
For a few traumatizing seconds, he was totally naked under the ferryboat ramp in the dead of night with a blank-faced vampire observing him with cool detachment.
But then Kakashi slung off his black wool coat and presented it with the sort of gentlemanly chivalry that one might expect from a man of a different time period. He even held the coat still as Iruka stretched both of his arms through the sleeves. Only when Iruka fully buttoned up and sat back down did Kakashi follow him, retaking his spot on the rocks, as nonchalant and tranquil as no one else could or would be in such a strange situation.
Iruka curled up on himself, pressing his knees into his chest, keeping his arms around his calves. He felt oddly embarrassed to be beside Kakashi not as a wolf, without them doing anything to each other, not sharing a word between them. He was also unprepared for his bodily reaction to being covered in Kakashi’s vampire scent; he could feel his core temperature radically rising, his scarred cheeks flushing with heat, his nude body trying to cool itself down with sweat. He definitely liked Kakashi’s smell… there was no denying that. But Iruka could also tell that his wolf instincts were worried about its existence and proximity, desperate to notify him of what and who he was near, but he was still so very intrigued by it in many ways.
What Iruka read in the vampire’s scent made him worried… not for himself, but for Kakashi.
It was sad to be so alone.
“I’m sorry I hurt you,” Iruka suddenly blurted out.
Leaning back on his palms, Kakashi turned to look at him with two raised silver eyebrows. His scarlet-and-black eye remained closed as he considered Iruka with his single dark eye. He studied Iruka with incredible meticulous care, like he was just now noticing the other man.
It felt like several hours passed before Kakashi swept his one-eyed gaze back out towards the river. His comment came a few moments after that and sounded as distant as the vampire’s own impassive expression.
“No one’s ever bitten me before.”
Iruka found himself leaning to his right side, deliberately pressing his shoulder against Kakashi’s. The other man didn’t startle or stiffen, but his expression shifted slightly, signaling he had felt the touch and wasn’t sure what to make of it. But Iruka couldn’t help himself, he was finally feeling his shame from earlier in the day catching up with him, and he wanted to spill out everything that had been plaguing him all day, including what should have been a hundred different apologies for every aspect of his terrible behavior.
Iruka forced himself to confess, concise but repentant, “I shouldn’t have broken into your apartment. I’m sorry for that, too.” Looking nervously at Kakashi, he tried to appeal to the other man with soft brown eyes and an apologetic expression.
Kakashi wasn’t having it, though. Instead, he replied coldly without even glancing at Iruka, “Finally having regrets?”
Iruka practically threw himself away from Kakashi, he was so astonished by the accusation. He instantly exclaimed, “No!” with far too much force, which he could tell immediately because Kakashi finally looked fully at him, his whole face on display. He appeared genuinely confused at Iruka’s loud denunciation of his comment, his single dark eye going wide and trying to understand the new look of mortification and dismay on Iruka’s own face.
Ultimately, Iruka ended up insisting, determined to be firm but careful at the same time, “No, I don’t regret anything.” He paused, swallowing, feeling the shame of his behavior strangling him, not unlike what Kakashi had done to him hours earlier on the hotel roof-top. Iruka winced at the recent memory, but it was swiftly replaced by the imagery of him holding Kakashi’s arms over his head, biting down on the soft skin of Kakashi’s neck, forcibly kissing the other man in his own apartment. He could hear his voice shaking, both depressed and disappointed with himself, as he tried to explain, “I just - I didn’t ask you if you wanted to –”
Kakashi interrupted him so sharply it was as if a knife had sliced open Iruka’s throat.
It had not. It was only Kakashi’s excruciatingly honest confession cutting through the night.
“I thought you were there to kill me.”
Iruka’s shoulders slumped down inside the other man’s coat. His mouth dropped open, too, and his eyes suddenly shone with sincere horror. He would have loved to have been able to respond, but he was so terribly lost in the idea of Kakashi thinking that he had invaded his space to kill him – when that hadn’t been his intent at all!
Yet, then again, the hazy vision of Iruka’s mother running her finger down the sketch, showing the sharp tip of the vampire’s fangs, saying vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies…
“But then you kissed me.”
Iruka went still instinctively. He kept his eyes fixed on Kakashi as he tried to understand what was going on between them. He could tell the other man was thinking something, working through something, but he couldn’t put his finger, his paw, on just what was going on in the man’s undoubtedly complicated mind. But his own brain, human and wolf melded into one, was darting through all his options, which confusingly included running away and tearing out Kakashi’s throat, but also more prominently featured grabbing the vampire and remorselessly having his way with him.
Iruka realized he was breathing heavier as he leaned forward…
And Kakashi suddenly caught his chin with frighteningly strong fingers, at a speed too quick to see.
To his infinite relief, though, Kakashi looked more amused with him than upset. The other man was almost smiling with those thin pale lips of his, and he seemed faintly pleased as he remarked, “You really are fearless, aren’t you?”
Before Iruka could respond, however, Kakashi evidently went through with what he had been contemplating, because once again, he opened his scarred left eye, and Iruka became dazed and dizzy, his whole body wanting to collapse down and drown in the river. His hand desperately clutched at the rocks at his side, trying instinctively to keep himself upright and stable. Yet – yet he was so very fixated on the fine black sparkles in that spinning circle of blood red – he could see each one of them glisten and shine, crystalline and divine.
“What do you want, Iruka Umino?”
Iruka’s voice was weak, but he meant every word as he answered, “I want to take you.”
He could just hear Kakashi, who sounded surprised and a little perplexed at Iruka’s reply. The other man, the vampire, asked him something cautious, something like, “What do you mean?”
The black sparkles were so unendingly breathtaking and bewildering; they were like the nighttime inversions of the rainbow lights on the river. They were wonderful, and Iruka loved them, but he could hear himself talking as if they weren’t the only perfect, fascinating thing in existence.
With his dark eyes and attention and soul entangled and trapped by Kakashi’s single scarlet-and-black eye, Iruka confessed, thoughtlessly, yet so terribly truthfully: “I want to take you right now under this bridge. I want to take you home. I want you to live with me, now, forever.”
Kakashi was silent for a long while after that.
Iruka had no idea how much time passed. He didn’t care. He loved, loved, loved the black sparkles in Kakashi’s scarred left eye. He would take care of them for eternity. He would make them breakfast and lay with them in bed all morning, every morning. He would do whatever they wanted. He would –
“You like collecting stray monsters, Iruka Umino?”
The question floated through his mind, like a little speck of dust on the wind, yet, in response, Iruka struggled to move his fingers forward to touch the very edge of Kakashi’s pants.
His voice was lowered, confused, unsettled, as he announced while still swept up in the vampire’s enchantment, “I don’t want you to be lonely.”
Kakashi closed his scarred left eye.
As Iruka’s vision returned to him, he noticed that Kakashi was faintly blushing, a very pretty sight in the near darkness of the night, and had started to look away from him. Iruka moved rapidly, even though his whole body cried out in confusion at the crazy rush of movement. He pulled Kakashi forward by grabbing the back of the man’s head and kissed him so thoroughly and desperately that he couldn’t tell if the head-spinning heat rising within him was the end of the charm or his own instinctive want. He couldn’t bear to be gentle with the other man; he was pushing him down on the rocks and straddling him with powerful force, even while keeping his hands behind Kakashi’s head to protect him from smashing his skull against the rocks.
Iruka was absolutely delighted when Kakashi started to return the kiss with equivalent passion. He wasn’t even worried when Kakashi did the same thing that he had done the night before, parting his lips and inviting Iruka to lick inside his mouth. This time, though, Iruka slowed down and thought about things and found what he was interested in: Kakashi did have fangs, though nothing nearly as terrifying as the sketch that Iruka had seen as a child.
He soon backed away a bit so he could kiss Kakashi more carefully. He tried to get a glimpse of the other man between kisses, and he got the sweet shimmer of Kakashi’s pink-painted cheeks and a single lusty half-lidded eye. Flushed and loving every moment between them, Iruka leaned down again – but then –
Iruka jumped backwards off of Kakashi, flew into his wolf body, and began growling so loudly that he could feel his ribcage shuddering in his chest.
There on the same side of the fence as them, standing under the ferryboat ramp, were three werewolves, including the big white wolf with a mess of scars ruining his otherwise pristine fur. Iruka recognized him immediately: he was the one stalking and hunting Iruka the night before. The other two wolves on each of his sides were peppered grey-and-white, the one on the right being the youngest of the three. The left one was the oldest but was obviously leaving leadership up to its larger white brethren. They were no longer silent now that Iruka was staring at them with his dark furred hackles raised and growling furiously in warning at them.
Instead, they were responding in kind, baring saliva-slick sharp teeth, glaring at him with sick yellow eyes that betrayed too much intellect for them to be anything but werewolves.
Iruka launched himself at the white wolf, swinging hard to the right when the bigger wolf tried to snap down at him, the bite only missing him by a few inches. He slammed his paws roughly into the wolf’s flank and brought his jaws down onto the back of the other werewolf’s head. On pure instinct, Iruka started to shake, feeling his teeth sinking further and further through dense fur, through tough flesh, into writhing muscle. The white werewolf howled in pain and bucked hard enough that Iruka was flung over his head and smashed downwards on his spine.
He was trying to twist back over onto his paws when –
While still upside down but wrestling himself upright, Iruka saw the young grey wolf beside him, snarling, step towards where Iruka and Kakashi had been sitting…
A small rock struck the werewolf in the dead center of his face, right between his yellow eyes.
And he stumbled forward and collapsed on the rocks, knocked utterly unconscious.
When Iruka righted himself, he swung up his head to see the white wolf come crashing down upon him, snatching Iruka’s throat with huge spit-dripping teeth. He was scratching at the other werewolf’s chest, ripping out huge chunks of snow-white fur, spreading bloody red lines all over the already scarred creature. As he wrenched his head back, trying to get his throat out of the wolf’s dangerous grip, Iruka witnessed the most peculiar thing he had ever seen in his life.
Out of the corner of his eye, Kakashi sauntered into view.
He had reclaimed his black coat, but it was unbuttoned and open, showing his long lean body under a form-fitting turtleneck. Kakashi’s hands were down deep in his coat pockets, and he looked genuinely indifferent to the belligerent werewolf and the whole commotion itself. He completely ignored the threatening snarls of the grey wolf, who finally jumped at him after mustering up a foolish fit of courage.
Kakashi effortlessly side-stepped him with glorious grace –
- and then literally punted the wolf into the river.
He’d only kicked once, but the blow sent the wolf flying far beyond the rocky shore.
At first, Iruka was sure he was hallucinating from pain, but then the grey werewolf surfaced halfway across the muddy river as a dark-haired naked human man sputtering up water.
In an insane and truly delirious moment, Iruka wondered at just how strong and dangerous vampires really were, and if he was an absolute moron for becoming so rapidly infatuated with one, and had he just invited Kakashi to live with him forever?? – but, horrifically, all of a sudden, the white wolf was jerking him up high off the ground, and Iruka could feel the taut muscles in his neck tearing, spilling and spraying blood over the both of them.
Although he couldn’t perceive it with complete clarity, Iruka could see Kakashi’s gloved fingers coming near his eyes – and then they were down inside the white wolf’s slobbering mouth, audibly breaking off several teeth before Kakashi cracked the werewolf’s lower jawbone in half so ferociously loudly that Iruka’s sensitive ears echoed with the horrendous noise.
The white wolf dropped Iruka instantly.
Visibly going into shock from sudden pain, the white wolf had little time to do much else – because, less than a second later, Kakashi threw him like a garbage bag into the river.
Iruka could feel the new hot wounds in his neck bleeding, and his body making sharp wild cries of agony, but he found he was most desperate to see Kakashi. The man had just kicked a wolf three hundred feet – and he’d thrown another the same distance using only one hand – after he’d dropped a third by throwing a tiny stone. Iruka tried to make it to all four paws, but his throat felt funny and wrong and raw, and soon he was coughing up blood on the pale rock while frantically struggling to breathe.
Kakashi’s gloved hands were on him a moment later, forcibly closing the bite wounds on Iruka’s densely furred throat. He was quickly wrapping some sort of cloth around Iruka’s whole neck that smelled just like him, so very sweet and soft. His fingers plucked some of the white wolf’s torn fur off Iruka’s forehead and flicked it to the side like one might dispose of a cigarette. As he hummed to himself, Kakashi watched the homemade bandages stop saturating with blood. After that, he sat back a little on the rocks, carefully examining the rest of Iruka’s wolf body.
Iruka could feel his yellow lupine eyes instinctively locking on Kakashi. Adrenaline continued to seize and soar through his system: he was scared of suffering, of dying, of another ambush. It felt like he was still bleeding out, even though he definitely wasn’t anymore because of Kakashi’s much-needed intervention. Iruka wanted to say something to the other man, but he knew he couldn’t shift into his human form right now, not with these wounds, so instead he urgently tried to present Kakashi with his most anxious expression and his most pitiful eyes.
In response, strangely, the other man stretched a little, lifting his arms over his head.
Iruka noticed for the first time that he’d torn off the lower half of his turtleneck, exposing the entirety of his moon-white, unmarked, muscular abdomen.
Kakashi used his shirt to make bandages for him…!
The other man glanced down at Iruka before he reached over and suddenly picked him up entirely off the ground, flipping him onto his back so Kakashi was carrying him like an oversized wolf bride.
After Iruka finally adjusted the unbelievably bizarre experience, Kakashi shrugged both of his shoulders, giving Iruka a subtle smile. Sounding untroubled by the last few minutes, or the fact that he was holding a werewolf in his arms, he remarked lazily, looking down at Iruka with his single dark eye, “Sure, I’ll live with you. Someone needs to protect you.”
I had originally planned to end this here, but folks seem to really enjoy this story, so... the journey will continue...
Iruka Umino passed out long before Kakashi brought him home.
He had never carried a werewolf before, but he had moved plenty of dying and dead humans, as well as a few youkai and demons. The method was much the same; he had no issue with the extra two hundred pounds. As Iruka dazedly stared up at him with those big bright yellow eyes of his, Kakashi decided to stay silent and start heading across the city.
Kakashi ignored the profanity-laced shouts from the old werewolf in the river trying to save his pack leader. He walked around the young pup still unconscious and face-down in the rocks. Amusing him just a little, Iruka made a small sound of surprise deep within his wolf chest when Kakashi jumped over the construction fence and landed on the other side.
Over the next two hours, he disregarded countless stares from drunk humans staggering through the streets.
They were well past his old apartment and Iruka’s downtown hotel when Kakashi glanced down to check on Iruka – and found his massive wolf head slumped against Kakashi’s arm, his vibrant eyes fully closed, his pink tongue sticking out a bit past his sharp teeth.
Cute. Very cute.
The only interesting part of the stroll home was when two uniformed policemen on horses noticed him strolling across the city with a wolf in his arms. Fortunately, the woman of the pair stopped her partner from accosting Kakashi, recognizing on good instinct that he was something fearful. As he passed them, Kakashi gave her an appreciative nod, making her stiffen and blush at the same time. He meandered on by without looking back.
Since he had previously followed Iruka back to his apartment to learn more about his mysterious not-assassin, Kakashi simply retraced his steps. Although he imagined his supernatural speed could have gotten them back in a shorter time period, Kakashi wasn’t entirely sure if werewolves could survive such swift movement. Considering he no longer had any interest in killing Iruka Umino, he instead took a long leisurely walk with a wolf in his arms.
Dawn had only just painted the skies radiant pink and soft orange when Kakashi broke into Iruka’s building with a well-placed kick to the doorknob. He silently swept inside, closing the door behind him while briefly holding Iruka’s big wolf body with one arm. Even though he wasn’t particularly excited about what was about to happen next, Kakashi shrugged his shoulders, steeling himself for an uncomfortable interaction. Using his free hand, he knocked on Iruka’s apartment door, adjusted Iruka back into both arms, and waited.
The terrifying little youkai opened the door.
His blue eyes were far brighter than they should have been, attracting Kakashi’s attention rightaway. Ah, he must have been waiting all night for Iruka to come home... The youkai’s boyish face was already upset as he went to answer the door, but his expression worsened when he saw Iruka, bloodied and passed out, in the hands of a stranger.
He’d heard Iruka call the youkai Naruto.
Kakashi would have personally referred to him as world-ender or he who could kill us all.
But, from what he saw the evening before, Iruka didn’t think of the youkai that way, not at all. In contrast, the remarkably strange creature that was Iruka Umino seemed to treat this literal hell-raising youkai as his blood-related kin, a young beloved son who deserved a listening ear and a comforting embrace.
As Kakashi stared down at Naruto now, he recalled how Iruka had snuggled up with the youkai on the ratty couch in the living room, easily putting his arm around Naruto and freely laughing with him at the dramatic antics of television soap operas.
… like Naruto wasn’t destined to destroy the city... again.
Seeing Iruka now, Naruto’s eyes flashed an unearthly blue, far beyond their normal hue, and restless fury and fear replaced his previous child-like wonder.
“Bring him inside,” the youkai said quickly, gesturing for Kakashi to enter the apartment.
Sadly, though, that wasn’t enough of an invitation, leaving Kakashi to stand in the hall. He certainly wasn’t going to force his way into Iruka’s apartment, particularly since Iruka had just done the fascinating and unbelievable thing of suggesting they live together. In addition to the wear and tear on his body from such an action, Kakashi knew too well that breaking such a barrier could destroy the space itself, shattering glass and cracking wood and crumbling brick.
So he stayed silent, unmoving, and hoped that his lack of reaction would provoke –
“Come in!” Naruto demanded impatiently, glaring at Kakashi like he was an idiot.
As usual, the impatience of short-lived creatures saved him.
He had assumed that Naruto had shared spiritual ownership over the apartment, a belief proven correct as the space tolerated Kakashi stepping inside its entrance. Even as Naruto tore through the living room and kitchen to the bathroom, Kakashi stopped to slip off his shoes at the door, still holding Iruka in his arms. Feeling more comfortable than he safely ought to be, he ventured after Naruto, unhurriedly taking note of the sparse but warm decorations throughout the apartment. Once inside the bathroom, Kakashi found the youkai pointing energetically at the tub; the boy had pushed aside a truly silly-looking dolphin-and-seashell patterned shower curtain to give Kakashi optimum access.
Even though he was quite confident in his journey across the city, Kakashi had certainly never eased a wounded werewolf out of his arms and into a bathtub.
He felt a peculiar pang of worry in his slowly beating heart.
Since Iruka Umino was special… and now he was quite partial to the man… he wasn’t going to take a chance on hurting him. After thinking about it much longer than Naruto could comfortably handle, Kakashi finally kneeled down on the blue bath-mat, noticing for the first time that he was covered in Iruka’s blood. Using the same slow manner in which he placed flowers on the graves of his friends, Kakashi rested Iruka’s large wolf body down on the plastic bottom of the tub.
Gentle and deliberate.
But, because he was determined to avoid any sort of physical contact with the youkai, Kakashi soon stepped backwards and stood in the doorframe. He watched in skillfully concealed surprise as Naruto jumped into the bathtub after Iruka. Much to Kakashi’s great internal distress, Naruto suddenly started glowing the same surreal aquamarine color that his eyes had turned… and then he was pressing his hands against Kakashi’s shirt-bandages around Iruka’s injured throat… and then he was tugging those aside to directly heal the wounds themselves.
He didn’t look back at Kakashi even once.
Kakashi couldn’t exactly tell if Naruto was naively too-trusting of the man bringing his guardian home to him – or if the youkai recognized, consciously or not, that he could easily kill Kakashi.
He didn’t waste energy trying to understand the fox spirit. Most of the time, youkai barely piqued his interest, being far too impulsive and quick to act, never slowing down or thinking things through. Although Kakashi had rarely engaged them in combat, he had never once lost against a youkai, even the old ones who took their time properly strategizing during a fight.
But, then again, none of them had been as inherently powerful as this Naruto boy.
Just as his discomfort started to truly catch up with him, Iruka suddenly stirred in his wolf form. Kakashi tried not to react, but he found himself staring at the werewolf in sharp-eyed curiosity. With his demon eye closed, he could see Iruka’s awakening with perfect clarity. The man’s long lupine legs twitched and scratched at the plastic; his large head shook against the rim as he worked himself into consciousness.
With disconcerting amounts of concern, Naruto touched Iruka’s wounded neck and scarred muzzle, exclaiming much louder than Kakashi cared for: “Iruka-sensei, you’re home! It’s okay, I healed you! You’re going to be fine!”
As Naruto shouted in the werewolf’s face, Iruka began to wake up more, lifting his head and struggling to open his large yellow eyes. He groggily looked over Naruto, clearly taking the boy in – and he then put his whole head in Naruto’s out-stretched hands in relief, provoking a surprising amount of jealousy from Kakashi.
Yet, instead of closing his eyes, finally feeling at peace because he was home, Iruka didn’t choose to rest. Instead he inspected Naruto with new genuine worry, trying to assess if the boy had made it through the night fine by himself. Kakashi watched Iruka’s yellow eyes studying the blood covering Naruto’s hands, making sure that it was his own and not the youkai’s or someone else’s. He could see Iruka raise his nose slightly, sniffing out any new scent on the boy.
He’s kind to the very worst of us... How is it no one has killed him yet?
All of a sudden, Iruka noticed Kakashi standing nearby.
He would have expected a smart werewolf to scramble backwards in the bathtub, desperately attempting to escape his presence – or a stupid werewolf to ready himself for a fatal fight, baring teeth, controlling shaking bones, trying to steady a panicked gaze.
In stark contrast, Iruka shifted straight out of his wolf form. Almost the very second he had a human mouth and throat and lungs again, the werewolf gushed, beaming with gratitude, focusing on Kakashi without the slightest bit of fear, “Thank you for saving me! I would have died if you hadn’t intervened.”
Iruka’s overly-expressive brown eyes spread light into the darkest shadows. Immediately in response Kakashi’s face grew hot – even though his blood pushed so slow through his veins he almost never felt a thing, let alone ever ended up blushing.
But he blushed all the time around Iruka.
“Who is he, Iruka-sensei?” Naruto asked, curious but confused. He began to scrutinize Kakashi like he was going to be tested on Kakashi’s face and was trying to cram everything into his brain seconds before the exam was handed out.
If Naruto had been an ordinary human child, Kakashi would have found the expression uninteresting, but on such a youkai, he was worried that his skin might burst into flame and he’d have to break apart Iruka’s plumbing to save himself from a traumatic second death.
Although very much nude and covered in blood with a ring of fading bruises around his neck, Iruka effortlessly sat up in the bathtub and put a calming hand on Naruto’s arm. “His name is Kakashi Hatake, and he’ll be living with us from now on,” he explained with impossible serenity.
A normal boy might have turned back to look at his guardian – but Naruto was definitely something else – and he continued to stare at Kakashi without batting a bright blue eye.
“So, what is he?”
There we go.
Before Kakashi could even be amused that the youkai instinctively knew what he was but couldn’t put a name to it, Iruka interrupted all his thoughts by declaring, severely disapproving, “Naruto! Don’t be rude.”
Continuing to defy expectations, Naruto only sharpened his stare on Kakashi. He was growing increasingly tense; his body was angling just slightly in protection of Iruka. Naruto spoke in a low tone like he thought Kakashi couldn’t hear him, “He’s not human. You know that, right, Iruka-sensei?”
Suddenly grabbing Naruto’s ear and pulling down, Iruka snapped out, “Yes, I know that, Naruto! Don’t be so rude. Kakashi saved me from a bad situation tonight, he does not deserve you staring at him like that.” Even though Naruto managed to look sheepish, glancing back at Iruka, Kakashi could tell that the youkai was still ready and willing to defend his guardian if needed.
As a consequence, Kakashi clarified in complete monotone, “I’m a vampire.”
Then Iruka shot him a disapproving look, and Kakashi felt like he might die once again, this time from being wordlessly scolded. He felt a damnable blush hit his cheeks from embarrassment, but Iruka’s attention was already back on Naruto as he explained quickly, “Kakashi isn’t going to hurt you or me. He’s a good guy. He’s promised to take care of us.”
On cue, Naruto started to protest. “We don’t need –”
But Iruka cut him off so decisively that Kakashi himself felt taken aback. “You remember when that wolf broke into the house and broke all our things?” Iruka sharply reminded the youkai, who began to nod obediently, looking less threatening and more like a human boy accepting his God-given fate. “Well, Kakashi is here to make sure that doesn’t happen again. No one’s going to hurt us with him around.”
Naruto hung his head, absolutely abashed. “Okay, Iruka-sensei. If you’re okay with him, I will be, too.”
Iruka patted the youkai’s arm comfortingly, but he threw a displeased glare over at Kakashi, causing his one open eye to widen in surprise. The werewolf noted shortly to both of them, “Now, I’m going to take a shower. You two change your clothes and put them in the bin. I’ll wash them when I’m done.” When Naruto started to step out of the bathtub, Iruka added, his voice easily slipping back into fatherly concern, “Do you want to go to school today? You don’t have to, if you don’t want. I can tell you stayed up waiting for me.”
“No, I want to go,” Naruto rapidly answered and shot past Kakashi, abruptly untroubled by his presence. The youkai kept shouting back at Iruka as he ran towards his bedroom: “Anime Club is meeting after school! We’re going to watch Spirited Away. I’m bringing popcorn for everyone!”
Although Kakashi wanted to say something else to Iruka, the werewolf looked him expectantly before bringing up both hands – and then, much to his astonishment, Iruka literally shooed him away.
Feeling inexplicably scolded, Kakashi left the bathroom and wandered down the hallway until he found what he imagined was Iruka’s private bedroom. He slipped inside, closing the door behind him, not particularly sure what he was going to do. Even though he had studied Iruka – and Naruto – through the windows yesterday, he had never considered that he would one day be inside the man’s apartment.
Kakashi tried not to feel like an incompetent thief as he went through Iruka’s dresser drawers in search of new clothes. He picked out the first things he saw, if only because he was so flustered and discombobulated by the strange turn of events during the last few hours.
As he started to pull off his coat, Kakashi suddenly realized that the fabric was soaked in Iruka’s blood…
Kakashi’s hands were still wet with blood as well.
He swallowed roughly.
Lifting his hands to his face, Kakashi tried to smell anything… but, to him, there was simply no scent at all.
On instinct, he flicked his tongue across the center of his bloodied palm.
Oh… definitely werewolf. Fresh and full of iron…
Kakashi shuddered, although he honestly couldn’t tell if it was out of revulsion or want. He ignored the thousand different messages running through his brain and instead undressed, vigilantly holding his bloody clothes off the ground. He managed to put on an old black shirt and a pair of loose grey sweatpants without getting blood on anything. Even though much of him wanted to lurk around Iruka’s bedroom and find out all the werewolf’s secrets, he went back out into the kitchen, searching for the dirty clothes bin.
Naruto was already there, taking out a lunch that Iruka must have made for him the night before – knowing that he might not return in time to make one for Naruto in the morning.
Is this guy trying for sainthood…?
Kakashi hung back in the hallway, uncertain just how to interact with the young youkai. The power differential was quite clear to him, but he couldn’t tell if Naruto understood it as well. Certainly the boy seemed like he would protect Iruka against a whole horde of demons with the same zeal that he’d knock out a too-flirtatious coffee barista in defense of Iruka’s honor.
But Naruto caught him lingering about with his sharp blue eyes and gave him a firm warning.
“I’m going to trust Iruka-sensei on this one but –”
- and then the very air in the kitchen was sucked out of existence, and Naruto’s bodily glow wasn’t a soothing blue-aquamarine but a very fine translucent blood-crimson, and his youthful face went suddenly angular and animalistic, filling with a shadowy sinister snarl –
“If you hurt him, I’ll tear you apart.”
Kakashi so rarely felt fear that he wasn’t sure what was happening, but he caught on quickly enough, so he forced himself to lean against the hallway wall with far more pretended calm than was actually coursing through him. He carefully but coolly nodded towards the youkai, crossing his arms over his chest.
And then it was all over – the red glow – the fox face – and the suffocating aura.
Well-timed, too, because just then Iruka swung open the bathroom door, appearing in a fluffy white bathrobe and looking remarkably satisfied with life. His hair was tied up, and he was entirely clean of blood and debris. His fascinating facial scar was on full display, his neck badly bruised from the healing wounds.
He looks absolutely adorable.
Clearly unaware of Kakashi’s thoughts, Iruka smiled right at him, taking his bloodied clothes from him, and said dazzlingly, “I’ll get your coat dry-cleaned for you! I guess I’ll have to buy you a new shirt. Naruto, where’s your PJs? I’ll wash them with Kakashi’s pants.”
What followed was what Kakashi imagined must happen rather frequently in the Umino household: Iruka rushed around the apartment, prepping Naruto for school, which included checking his lunch a few times more and adding another packet of baby carrots (“You need to eat more vegetables! Please, Naruto, they’re orange, your favorite color!”). Naruto seemed to simultaneously resent and appreciate being fussed over, as if he was a normal twelve-year-old boy… and not a truly terrifying youkai known and feared through the ages.
Naruto looked particularly chagrined when Iruka started apologizing for not making breakfast. He actually held the werewolf’s hands in his own and told him that he really was a very good dad and that it was totally okay, he would just grab a breakfast sandwich from the corner store.
Although that seemed like a fine compromise to Kakashi, Iruka looked like he’d been stabbed in the heart. He was only consoled when Naruto accepted that they would go out for really good ramen over the weekend.
Then, suddenly, in the whirlwind of the morning, Naruto was out the door and off to school.
Iruka turned around to face Kakashi, his expression changing in an instant.
The very next second Iruka had Kakashi up against the living room wall, he was kissing Kakashi with both hands holding the sides of Kakashi’s face, he had his full body flush against Kakashi’s, their hips almost perfectly aligned.
In between wild hungry kisses, Iruka was saying breathlessly, “Thank you, thank you so much,” even as he ruthlessly pursued Kakashi with every last ounce of energy left in him.
Kakashi was so very thrown once again by Iruka’s primal persistence that it took him a moment to register what was happening to him, between them.
But he finally figured it out, and he started kissing the other man back, causing Iruka to shiver in delight and grip his cheeks and hair even harder. Kakashi was losing his hold on reality far too quickly to understand Iruka’s intentions, and he had no defense at all when Iruka’s hand forcibly pushed into his sweatpants and grasped his rising erection. He tried not to swoon or shudder at the glorious new contact, but Iruka made it impossible to control himself as the werewolf fiercely whispered against his scarred cheek, “I love how you smell wearing my clothes, you smell amazing, I just can’t stand it.”
Before Kakashi could comprehend what that meant, Iruka was down on his knees, the sweatpants were halfway down Kakashi’s thighs, and Iruka’s mouth was on him, taking in all of him, and Kakashi slammed himself against the wall, trying to stay stable when he just wanted to fall into pieces and faint on the floor. He couldn’t handle the feel of Iruka’s warm lips, mouth, tongue on his suddenly impossibly hard cock; he was shaking all over, he was struggling to keep his demon eye shut, he was trying to look at Iruka and not look at him for fear that he would come right away from sheer stunning wonder. He found his hand moving down to caress Iruka’s hair, but he wasn’t prepared for Iruka’s response as the other man grabbed him from behind and forced him much further into his eager waiting wanting mouth.
Kakashi could just barely hear his own moans made out of his control. He could clearly, excruciatingly hear the wet lewd sounds that Iruka was making below him, downing his cock like he was desperate to devour Kakashi’s sin and seed and soul. He was so flushed he wondered if he might pass right the fuck out, there being so little blood anywhere besides his arousal and face.
He accidentally gripped Iruka’s hair with some of his true strength, and Kakashi stared down at him in a sharp spike of anxiety, deeply afraid that he’d hurt the werewolf, but –
Iruka’s scarred cheeks were reddened from arousal, his brown eyes half-lidded with lust. He glanced up at the same time that Kakashi looked down, and, unsettling every set thing in Kakashi’s existence, he gave a slight subtle smile – with his lips wrapped around Kakashi’s cock.
Kakashi forced his demon eye to stay shut as he flung back his head and came hard in Iruka’s warm wondrous mouth.
He was breathing out loud like he really needed oxygen, which he absolutely didn’t, making the whole thing all the more bewildering and hot and insane.
Although Iruka was rocking back on his feet, looking quite pleased with himself, Kakashi recognized that the man wasn’t going to do anything for himself, and he was too much a damn gentleman to let that happen.
He reached down and grabbed the werewolf’s left arm, pulling him up without restraining himself. Even though Iruka seemed to foolishly trust him far far too much, the man’s face still flickered with confusion, a look that spun into surprise as Kakashi kept roughly moving him upwards before he grabbed Iruka behind his thighs, forcing the other man to embrace him and wrap his legs around Kakashi’s waist.
Keeping precise track of where they were in the room, Kakashi walked the few feet to drop Iruka on the kitchen counter, and he went for Iruka’s neck a second later, falling back into his fascination with the werewolf’s bare brown throat. His hands did the rest of the work for him without much conscious thought: he undid Iruka’s robe, shoved it aside, started stroking Iruka’s cock with insistent skill and strength.
Pressed up against his ear, Iruka was moaning so unrestrained and wild that Kakashi felt his deadened heart beat harder, and he had to stop himself from biting down on Iruka’s throat in primitive satisfaction at such a true delirious reaction to him.
Instead his wrapped his other arm around Iruka so he could touch the man’s back, greedily seeking out the large scar that he had seen on the werewolf when he shifted nude by the river.
I’m never going to let anyone hurt you again, ever, ever, ever…
Iruka came with the same blissful gasp that he had the first time they were together. He was clinging to Kakashi, he was holding on for dear life. He kept himself wrapped up with Kakashi as he swung down from his orgasm, not that Kakashi minded in the slightest. He was drunk on the feel of the man, this werewolf, hanging onto him, collapsed in his arms, intertwined with him, breathing him in and not feeling fear and disgust but lust and fascination and acceptance and, and, and…
Kakashi stared hopelessly over Iruka’s shoulder at the kitchen wall.
… how in the world am I going to tell him I’m a virgin?
Kakashi was back in his apartment, staring at a partially filled suitcase, when a powerful series of knocks struck his front door… Three sharp - Knock-knock-knock - then one loud - knockkkkk!!
Then the knocks escalated into a perfect fist-based rendition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67.
Kakashi turned to look at the door, already knowing precisely who was there and why the man was using Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in such a crude manner so early in the morning.
Maito Gai had been in Austria when Beethoven’s orchestral composition was first performed, and he’d fallen in love with the stirring piece, even though the rest of the world had viewed it with far less enthusiasm initially. Even though Kakashi had not been in Austria at the time – he had slipped down to Portugal to participate in the Peninsular War on behalf of Napoleon – he clearly remembered receiving Gai’s gushing letter about “the song that will be forever played in theatres around the world.”
And so Gai had used Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as a way to knock on Kakashi’s door for the last two hundred and eleven years.
Kakashi opened his apartment door, imagining it would be for the last time at this location, and readied himself for their centuries-long usual competition.
He only did so after opening his scarred demon eye.
Instantly Gai’s green-glowing right hand flew by his face while his left hand, similarly outlined in colorful flame, tried to catch Kakashi’s slender waist.
Of course, Kakashi automatically dodged both attacks. He stepped backwards, but Gai was immediately following him, his right hand aiming for Kakashi’s shoulder this time. While nearly throwing his arm out of joint with brutal force, Kakashi instinctively implemented a ballet-inspired move to avoid Gai’s other hand, stepping aside with pointed grace.
He took that peculiar moment to consider Gai this morning.
With his demon eye open to the world, Kakashi could see more than Gai’s normal appearance, the one most living creatures on the planet saw when they looked at him. Of course he knew that version of the man – he saw it every time he had left eye closed.
It was the much more fascinating other version that still managed to intrigue him after all these years.
Gai had pitch-black hair in both forms and kept his overly muscled human shape, too. But the rest of him utterly changed when viewed with demon eyes: the most significant one was the violently visible immortality curse literally written into and across his tanned skin.
As usual, the abyssal black chains were endlessly moving across the exposed portions of Gai’s flesh, sliding into hiding under his black track suit about his neck and wrists. They had been moving the same way ever since Kakashi first met Gai way back in 1776, the day after Christmas, when Gai had lumbered alongside then-General George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Kakashi had drunkenly opened his eyes, surrounded by partied-out Hessian mercenaries, to see a massively muscled man with black magic chains rotating rapidly along his skin.
Still quite drunk on stolen rum, Kakashi had remarked in intoxicated fascination, staring past the rifle pointed in his face: “Oh, look at you… so badly cursed at such a young age. Just who did you insult to get burdened with everlasting life?”
Instead of understandably shooting Kakashi dead, Gai had dropped his rifle, took Kakashi as a prisoner of war, and then mercilessly followed him for the rest of time.
Now, well into the twenty-first century, Kakashi found that Gai looked just the same as when they had first met, nearly two hundred and fifty years earlier.
Of course, the black track suit was new, but Gai’s all-white burning eyes, the supernatural green fire that surrounded his swiftly moving body, and the thick dark magic chains turning mechanically across the exposed skin of his hands and face – those were exactly, exactly the same.
This particular day’s dance lasted another few seconds; Kakashi won more than half of the time, as Gai tended to surrender naturally after that period so they could actually engage in conversation. This time, Gai seemed particularly more insistent, and Kakashi found himself rather tired of trying to avoid him, and so he internally shrugged to himself and stopped defensive pirouettes and let what would undoubtedly happen… happen.
Gai’s left hand caught him first around the waist – and his right went to Kakashi’s left shoulder a second later – and then Kakashi was smashed against Gai’s enormous chest in a fantastically violent full-bodied embrace. He couldn’t have taken in a breath if he had wanted to, not that he needed to. Instead, he briefly allowed himself to listen to Gai’s out-of-control heartbeat, the one that sounded not unlike the orchestral piece, The Flight of the Bumblebee, both wicked and speeding.
His own heart sounded like if someone tapped a single finger on wood once every fifteen minutes or so.
“Good morning, Eternal Rival!” Gai boomed in his ear, nearly deafening him. Barely a moment later, the immortal human whipped through a few other ‘good mornings’ in several different languages, each more complicated than the last. Being just as old and informed as Gai, Kakashi understood almost all of them, though he did perk up at the newest addition.
“Is that Thai?” Kakashi mused into Gai’s chest, his arms dangling limply at his sides.
Gai’s ‘good morning’ single-man chorus stopped, dissolving into a loud bark of laughter.
“Good catch, rival!” he declared, shamelessly and honestly impressed with Kakashi.
Gai let Kakashi loose so he could thrust a thumb’s up into the air and give him an especially wide, white-teethed grin. “I’m hoping to learn all of the Thai dialects in the next decade!”
As usual, Gai wasn’t looking at Kakashi when he had his demon eye open.
He had learned long ago that staring straight at Kakashi when Obito’s eye was on full display meant that he would be trapped by demonic enthrallment – and so he stared down past Kakashi’s face, often around his chest. Sometimes Gai looked at Kakashi’s feet when he was particularly worried that Kakashi was taking things seriously and might actually start a fight.
Today, Gai was fixated down at Kakashi’s kneecaps while grinning and still giving his relatively new obsession – the thumb’s up – a sign of positivity and approval in Gai’s mind.
So, of course, Kakashi told him: “You should leave. I don’t want to see you.”
Kakashi turned around and resumed packing, unapologetically leaving Gai behind. He was almost certain that his ‘eternal rival’ would do no such thing as depart his apartment, but he could always hope.
He was tossing a Haitian hummingbird amulet into his suitcase when Gai started pulling out frozen fruit from Kakashi’s fridge and poured almond milk into the blender – and just like that – he was noisily making a smoothie and cheerfully making himself at home.
I’m going to have to explain so much shit to Iruka.
But, then again…
Kakashi glanced up with both eyes to consider Maito Gai.
They had been together through countless wars and revolutions, attended an astonishing number of parties and peace treaties, saved damsels and the damned in every country across the planet. He was often brusque with the man, and he tended to shove him away – sometimes physically – with far more force than necessary.
And yet… Gai was relentless in pursuing friendship with Kakashi, even if it seemed one-sided most of the time.
Suddenly, Gai glanced back at him, having felt the weight of Kakashi’s demonically-aided stare.
On instinct, Kakashi shut his demon eye and looked down at his luggage, embarrassed that he had been caught contemplating the odd immortal being in his apartment.
“Leave me alone,” Kakashi warned again, keeping his tone flat.
“I know you care for me, Eternal Rival!” Gai exclaimed in a sing-song voice, pouring his smoothie into one of Kakashi’s only two glasses. He leaned across the kitchen bar with his enormous body. Kakashi could hear the smugness in his voice as Gai declared with unashamed pleasure: “Do not pretend otherwise!”
“I hate you,” Kakashi said instantly in response.
He followed the blunt statement up with silence as he crouched down and began to better organize his lone piece of luggage, brimming full of all his earthly belongings.
Gai didn’t even try to hold back his laughter. The sound was both remarkably pleasant – and insanely grating – and Kakashi wanted suddenly to high-kick Gai through the ceiling. He refused to look at the other man, his shoulders growing increasingly tense, his expression turning sour.
“You cannot fool me, rival,” Gai explained with cheery calm. “When you saved me in Normandy from those Nazis, I knew in my heart that you were not just my Eternal Rival – but also my very best friend – for all of time!”
Definitely unamused, Kakashi snorted, shaking his head back and forth in irritation.
“I only saved you because you were stupidly shielding that kid from Nebraska.”
That comment offended Gai quite a lot, because, abruptly, Kakashi heard Gai slam a ridiculously strong fist down on the expensive granite kitchen countertop.
“He was a very good man, Kakashi!” As Gai spoke, he became markedly louder and sharper, nearly tempting Kakashi to look over at his expression, but he held himself back and in control... unlike Gai, who sounded like he was admonishing Kakashi for his own behavior from seventy-five years ago. “I check in on his great-grandchildren all the time. I will have you know that Mary just got into college!”
Kakashi didn’t reply, which, for Gai, was a good enough of a sign that he understood he was in the wrong.
But the actual reason that Kakashi didn’t respond wasn’t his capitulation on the topic. Honestly, Kakashi wasn’t opposed to saving other creatures with shorter life-spans than his own, not at all. In fact, he frequently saved humans in war and peace alike, though he did admittedly kill a good many as well.
However, the real reason behind his silence was the same single reason that he had saved Gai in 1944… and innumerable other times throughout the last two hundred fifty years.
Kakashi wasn’t sure if Gai was invincible… if he was unkillable.
Immortality as a curse seemed to mean that a human couldn’t die: their body didn’t age and continued to function with utter perfection.
It was a rare enough curse that Kakashi had never met a human with it.
And he simply didn’t know if the immortality curse meant Gai would survive – well… – well, something like being shot point-blank in the head.
Due to his frighteningly accurate demon eye, he still could see the exact scene that Maito Gai was referencing: the horrendous cacophony of artillery, gunfire, dying men on the beaches of France echoed exactly in his ears as if he was still running up through the sand after the human man who he had met two centuries prior.
Kakashi had lost track of Gai in the initial moments after their boat had hit the shore. He had spent the first few minutes of the invasion supernaturally dodging bullets and artillery shells before he had spotted his huge friend higher up the embankment, going towards a Nazi fortification. His little lost puppy of a human follower, the blonde-haired boy from Nebraska who admired Gai more than Jesus Himself, trailed foolishly behind him.
Kakashi could almost hear his single solitary thought radiate through time.
Gai can’t die here. Not this way. Not here, not now.
He had jumped up to the Nazi guard post – and furiously punched through the side, destroying a whole wall of reinforced concrete in an instant.
Kakashi had been utterly surprised to find Gai struggling in hand-to-hand combat with a snarling Nazi soldier, the Nebraska kid sprawled, unconscious and bleeding, on the floor. The Nazi who had been manning the machine gun had just turned to level a shaking pistol at Gai’s shiny black hair from less than a foot away – the same moment that Kakashi burst right through the wall like an elephant crashing and trampling mercilessly through the forest.
It was one of the rare moments where, in a moment of weakness, Gai had glanced over at Kakashi and not remembered to look away from his demon eye.
Gai’s adrenaline-reddened face, the black magic chains rotating incessantly over his visible skin, had gone completely slack, and his whole green-aflame body relaxed to the point that he nearly stumbled forward into the Nazi who he was grappling with.
In response, Kakashi had punched the machine gunner with the pistol so hard that the man’s head entirely vanished.
He was even less tolerant of the other Nazi, the one suddenly gripping Gai’s throat.
Seventy-five years later, as Kakashi stared down at his small collection of material possessions crowded together in a single suitcase, he couldn’t avoid the memory of the Nazi’s bones being ground to nothing between his remorseless fingertips. He’d caught the young German man by the throat with one hand – and forcefully pressed together his index finger and thumb, meeting the tips of them through the soldier’s spine.
He spared a glance down at his fingertips, encased in black leather gloves.
“Thank you for that,” Gai suddenly said, disturbing Kakashi from his thoughts. He peered upwards at the immortal human clad in a silly black track suit – and was surprised to find that Gai was looking peculiarly serious, a rather strange shade for him. “For saving me.”
Kakashi could only nod, feeling the smallest flush of embarrassment cross over him.
“Are you going somewhere, rival?”
He wanted to shrug off the question, ignore Gai, leave his apartment, disappear before Gai could catch up with him. Certainly, the immortal man would find him soon enough: Gai had become incredibly efficient in locating him, particularly as technology progressed and it became more and more difficult not to leave a virtual trace of one’s movements.
But, instead of running away, Kakashi said in a low voice, not looking up, “I’m moving in with a werewolf and the Nine-Tailed Fox on the western side of the city.”
He wanted – suddenly and desperately – to see Gai’s expression, but he was too uncomfortable with the impulse and stared intently at his things shoved together in the suitcase.
Gai was effortlessly boisterous, anyway, saving him from discomfort.
“The Nine-Tailed Fox who destroyed the city twelve years ago?” the immortal mused, humming loudly, clearly holding his chin in contemplation. “And a werewolf who he is keeping captive?”
Kakashi’s one-eyed gaze shot up to meet Gai’s surprised black eyes. “No, he’s not a hostage,” he corrected firmly. “Iruka adopted the Fox.” He didn’t blush under Gai’s scrutinizing look, but he did feel flustered, and he found himself suddenly saying, trying to explain the strange situation, “He invited me to stay with them.”
Gai’s bushy black eyebrows went high on his forehead. “But the Nine-Tailed Fox has never been kind to other creatures. What has changed?” Then he appeared as if the most amazing idea had just occurred to him, and he made a huge fist in front of himself, seizing on his new thought. “Oh! Do you think it is tutelage of the werewolf, this Iruka? Has Iruka tamed the beast?”
Trying to describe how Iruka had fussed over the Nine-Tailed Fox’s vegetable intake would take so much more energy than Kakashi could offer at the present moment.
So he simply shrugged and zipped up his suitcase, standing with easy grace. “He’s going by Naruto now. He’s taken the form of a boy; he’s attending school.” As Kakashi watched Gai nod contemplatively, he shifted his hands into his jeans pockets and surveyed his apartment. “You can crash here whenever you want the next year. Everything’s paid for.” He spared a glance back at Gai, who was looking quite pleased with the invitation. “You can have the blender.”
Unfortunately, however, Gai took advantage of the brief eye contact and asked Kakashi with profound and honest interest, “Will I get to meet Iruka and Naruto?”
Kakashi almost did blush, then, if only because he wasn’t sure how to explain what he and Iruka were doing… or what he was thinking after three hundred years of solitude… or why his dumbass self was taking the risk of residing with The Nine-Tailed Fox to care for a relatively short-lived werewolf.
Instead, he wondered aloud, continuing to look at Gai as if he was unbothered by the question or the present situation, “Have you ever lived with anyone?” The last part of his inquiry didn’t need to be finished… since you were cursed with immortality several hundred years ago.
Gai stared blankly at Kakashi for several good seconds before bursting into a remarkable bout of loud laughter. Based on the man’s reaction, Kakashi felt as if he had asked a ridiculous question, but his aggravation was soon building, and he was just about to cut off the other man, when Gai announced in truly warm amusement, “Well, I have been married eight times, Kakashi! Did you think I was living separately from my spouses?”
There was no restraining the shock that rapidly saturated Kakashi’s face. He realized that he was looking in open but silent disbelief at Gai for longer than was considered appropriate when Gai started laughing again and ran a large hand through his shining black hair.
“Kakashi, did you not know I was married? I have sent you invitations to all of my weddings!”
“No, I... I didn’t know,” Kakashi muttered, glancing away to study the wood floor of his apartment. Unexpected shame was twisting and turning up through his insides. He had honestly not known that Gai had ever had a single sexual partner, let alone married eight different people.
Kakashi was slowly beginning to understand what had happened: Maito Gai was the pinnacle of etiquette. He had been sending paper invitations like any good late eighteenth century man – and had just been assuming Kakashi didn’t care enough to attend his weddings.
Another sharp, painful thought stabbed through him: Wait, do I still have that mailbox in New York City from 1780? Has Gai been sending me things there? What else has he sent me??
As if he wasn’t registering Kakashi’s growing guilt and confusion, Gai began to talk incessantly, halfway swooning, halfway roused to celebration: “I met my first wife in 1790! She was a French aristocrat, I saved her from a mob. We married in London!” Gai laughed slightly to himself, a bit more sorrow in the sound, before he continued in a wistful tone, “My first husband was my fourth spouse. He was one of the first African-American men to enlist in their Civil War…”
Kakashi’s single-eyed sharpened on the other man as Gai noticeably deflated, leaning heavily on the kitchen counter, looking off into the distance. Even as his hand tightened around his empty glass, Gai concluded softly, “He died in my arms in the summer of 1864, saying he was glad to fight beside me. We couldn’t even marry back then, but I still gave him a ring and promised to be with him, until death do us part, and…”
Suddenly trailing off, Gai moved to clean the blender, visibly lost in his thoughts.
It was strange to see Gai sad.
But that was the point of the immortality curse, Kakashi realized abruptly.
Everyone he loves will die before him. In battle, of disease, old age.
He thought of the Nine-Tailed Fox, this Naruto boy, and added to himself, Or they’ll be reincarnated and forget both themselves and him.
It suddenly made a bit more sense why Maito Gai had latched onto him two hundred and fifty years ago: there were few creatures that lived as long as vampires, and Kakashi was certainly one of the better survivalists of his kind, having outlasted a good number of his peers.
It wasn’t that Kakashi avoided danger – in contrast, he was often running head-first into fighting, determined to make a difference in this world with the skills that he had.
He could admit to himself that he loved danger.
He loved taking risks; he loved seeing if he could survive yet one more horrible thing.
And Kakashi had survived three hundred years of truly horrific experiences.
Of course, there were plenty of decades where Kakashi sat out of war and politics and instead read romance novels, but he was always attracted to action – and bloodshed.
But sometimes, admittedly, his vampirism was a real disadvantage. Although he no longer caught on fire when out in the sun, his skin evidently having built up some resistance to sunlight, he suffered a whole host of other indignities specific only to his kind.
One of those was his need for blood… his love of danger, his love of blood. In fact, he hadn’t been with Gai during the American Civil War, known Gai’s husband, seen the human man die – all because that war had been such an unbelievable bloody mess.
He had left the war after losing himself during a particularly bad battle, one where thousands had been killed over the span of a few days. Such a sudden death toll had not happened in the recent human history – the new technology of fast-loading guns and long-range artillery meant hundreds of human soldiers dying quickly and messily.
Thanks to Obito’s eye, an unwanted memory flashed through his vision: in the heated hell of a battlefield, he was standing alone, loose and lazy, drenched in bright red blood. He was licking droplets of blood dripping off his long fingers, staring down at the dying soldier desperately trying to crawl away from him. The man was whimpering pathetic little sounds, straining in his suffering.
Those pained pitiful noises made Kakashi crazy.
He descended on the man, tearing out the soldier’s throat with far more force than was necessary, opening up wet muscle and biting down into the writhing jugular vein itself.
Palming his scarred demon eye in irritation, Kakashi angrily shook himself back to the present.
He hadn’t fought in the American Civil War – and several other wars, before and after it – because of that exact experience – if there was too much bloodshed, he would lose himself – he couldn’t restrain his blood-drunk self with such much human mortality hanging thick and damp like heavy humidity.
Glancing up at Gai, he saw the other man was considering Kakashi’s open balcony door and was looking out across the crowded cityscape. Even with his black track suit, absurd hair-cut, and massive muscular body, Maito Gai looked like a severe stone statue in Kakashi’s studio apartment. He rarely stayed so still – it was uncomfortable to witness the immortal man unmoving, standing in place, silently thinking to himself.
Shit. Should I be more concerned about him?
“Yeah, you can meet them,” Kakashi suddenly said, surprising himself.
Gai’s brooding gaze turned back to him – and brightened almost instantaneously.
“Eternal Rival!” Gai declared enthusiastically, immediately shrugging off the shroud of darkness surrounding him. His grin went wide, showing all his teeth. “I will bring Iruka a bottle of a wine – do you think he will accept one of the Bordeaux bottles I saved from Paris before the War?” Amusement slipped over Kakashi before he knew it: Gai was already walking towards the front door, checking his pants pockets for his wallet and cell phone. “I will be back in a few days, I have to go to my bank in London to get it, but it will be worth it, if Iruka likes wine.”
Gai stopped suddenly at the apartment door and turned sharply back around to stare at Kakashi, who straightened at the new intense attention.
“Are you planning on marrying him?”
Kakashi’s cheeks went fully pink.
He stared uselessly at his one and only friend. He actually had to force his demon eye to stay shut as panic overwhelmed him upon hearing the question.
Marry Iruka…? We barely know each other!
Yet his brain betrayed him completely rightaway. Kakashi suddenly thought about Iruka clinging to him, gasping in his ear, digging his nails into Kakashi’s shoulders; he could still taste the sharp sweat and lemon soap on Iruka’s neck, could feel the blood pulsing and pouring down the the man’s jugular vein; he saw Iruka’s wolf body launching through the air, tackling the other werewolf, trying to defend Kakashi… like Kakashi wasn’t infinitely stronger, like he actually needed and deserved Iruka’s sacrifice, like he was something precious to be protected.
Kakashi’s head was spinning. He felt a bit faint.
But Gai didn’t notice at all as he rambled onwards, his expression darkening, his eyebrows increasingly drawing together in concern: “If you are, I will need to go to Guangzhou to get the wedding present I have been saving for you. I bought it in in 1839, but it should still be in good condition. If it is not, I will need to have it restored, but it should have survived. I last checked on it in 1946, but I am now realizing that was some time ago.”
Instead of waiting for Kakashi’s answer, Gai waved dismissively into the air and opened the door, not looking back. “I will go get it – and the bottle of wine. I will be back in a few days! Please do not let Naruto destroy the city while I am gone. I am most interested in meeting your werewolf, Kakashi!” As Gai disappeared into the hallway, he called backwards in encouragement: “Keep the world safe, Eternal Rival! And remember to rest!”
Kakashi stared at his partially open door for a long time.
At some point, he closed it.
He eventually sat down on his bed and stared down at his gloved hands.
Could Iruka and I… Could we…
He didn’t realize the sun had set until a werewolf howled in the distance.
Kakashi opened up his demon eye on instinct. He saw the world outside his window – and it was full of monsters, himself included. He hadn’t seen his reflection in three hundred years, but he knew what he looked like: a desolate silver-haired figure, starving for human sustenance.
What does Iruka see in me…? How could he like my scent? Is it not the smell of death?
But, as he thought about it, Kakashi wondered if Iruka had strange instincts, truly strange instincts.
The werewolf had gone after the Nine-Tailed Fox, apparently without a worry in his heart for his own safety, even as he felt a wild concern that the young youkai was alone out in the world fending for himself.
He recalled the true desperation that Iruka had expressed in the morning about not making Naruto breakfast… and that Iruka was only relieved by the Fox’s reassurance of fancy ramen.
How can such a sincere creature be so confusing?
Kakashi was secretly rather scared of what was happening to him, of who Iruka was, of what might happen between them… but he was too intrigued to stop himself.
After all, he did love danger.
He would survive this, too.
Kakashi stared into the darkness – and saw everything.
Several hundred werewolves, a hundred different demons, two dozen youkai… They were the easiest to spot, even from a distance, their spiritual energies glowing and distinct.
But there were shapeshifters, too: famous monsters taking on humanoid form for the moment, living pretend lives in the big city on the edge of the world.
Just there – the legendary world serpent – all fine feathers and sharp scales – here, in the city, she was a café barista making a chai latte for a late-night customer, smiling slow and easy at him, like she wasn’t holding the earth together underneath his feet with sheer willpower.
And over there – the golden hind – the doe with golden antlers made into myth, paired with the Greek goddess, Artemis – here, in the city, they had kept an existence between genders, beautiful and refined, working as a low-level accountant in a large law firm, eating kale salad in the break-room, watching Netflix on their smart phone.
And… on the western side of the city, there was the Demon Fox, the Nine-Tailed Fox.
The one and only.
Kakashi could see the Fox through the window, as he was, as he really was.
He was enormous, engulfing the entire apartment in rolling orange-red flame. His face was long and angular, terribly fox-like, but it was a familiar sight to Kakashi, having seen him on numerous occasions before this one. The Nine-Tailed Fox was relaxed, though, a truly unusual look on the legendary creature: he seemed to be lounging on the backwall of the apartment, mimicking his vessel, his flesh and skin, his mortal body, the boy named Naruto.
Naruto was laughing uproariously at the exaggerated antics of soap opera characters. He was slapping his knees, his bright blue eyes closed tight. He looked too much like a kid enjoying life; it was surreal considering the sharp grinning teeth of the massive red-flame Nine-Tailed Fox hovering through him and around him.
And there was Iruka Umino, not looking at the television but at Naruto. He was laughing and smiling, too. He was clearly deeply pleased with the boy’s happiness; he leaned over and ruffled Naruto’s blonde hair, making a quick cheerful remark, resting his arm on the back of the couch.
He was a werewolf, that was obvious in his animalistic spiritual energy. Obito’s eye, the demon eye, let Kakashi see Iruka Umino as he really was: a large brown-furred wolf joyful and attentive to his packmate, his protective ward. In his hidden spiritual wolf form, Iruka was unknowingly leaning full-body against the Nine-Tailed Fox’s fantastically oversized right paw. The difference in the size of their paws, their claws, was so disturbing that Kakashi felt the strange urge to burst into the apartment and tear Iruka away from the incredible threat that he was willingly embracing.
But the Nine-Tailed Fox was also embracing Iruka, there was no denying that.
The Fox’s spiritual energy was intricately intertwined with Iruka’s wolf form, looking like scarlet-red droplets hanging onto the tips of his dark fur.
Before abandoning his post on the rooftop across from Iruka’s apartment building, Kakashi dared to look down at his own hands which were, as always, hidden behind leather gloves.
The ghostly white spiritual energy was nothing new, but…
He felt his slowly beating heart ache as he saw what he feared: a small speck of crimson in the center of his left palm.
Even from the brief encounter this morning with the Nine-Tailed Fox, with Naruto… Kakashi was being changed… he was changing.
He wanted to know if Iruka Umino was affecting him, too, but werewolves didn’t work that way. They didn’t leave behind residual spiritual energy, not like youkai and demons and legendary creatures.
No, werewolves were known to ruin lives.
They broke hearts.
Kakashi tried not to be unsettled by the reminder of a far-distant memory. The fleeting words given to him by an old vampire, her face hidden by the familiar white-and-red porcelain mask. He had the same sort of mask in his suitcase, buried under three shirts and a pair of jeans, ready and waiting for him to use whenever he needed to wear it again.
You want to court death? You want to end it all? Find yourself a wolf and fall in love with it. They live fast, they die young, they have no concept of risk. You’ll be killed by it, or you’ll die for it, or you’ll watch it die and then kill yourself out of loneliness.
His thoughts somewhere else, Kakashi pressed on the intercom for Iruka’s apartment, said in monotone, “It’s me,” and walked indoors and up the stairs after Iruka chirped, “Oh, good! Kakashi’s here!” back at him through the speaker and let him inside.
Is that what I’m doing with Iruka? Am I seeking death? Or am I trying to live again?
He wasn’t sure.
He also wasn’t sure that he cared enough to figure out the difference.
Iruka Umino opened the door wide to his apartment. His smile was just as wide, his dark eyes lighting up in pleasure upon seeing Kakashi. “Welcome home!” Iruka declared with true warmth radiating from his words and very being. He ushered Kakashi inside, nearly taking his suitcase from him but deciding at the last moment to tug familiarly on Kakashi’s coat sleeve.
“Another beautiful coat,” Iruka murmured, glancing up at Kakashi through his eyelashes.
Kakashi tried not to blush at the pretty sight – or Iruka’s naïve kindness.
You know you’re welcoming a vampire to stay in your home, don’t you…?
Having changed positions as Kakashi walked into the apartment, Naruto was now sitting up on his knees on the couch, looking at Kakashi over the back of it. When he caught Kakashi’s single-eyed gaze, he ducked his head a little, but then he suddenly sat up straighter and announced, “We already ate dinner. There’s instant ramen in the cabinet.”
Kakashi stared, taken aback by the Nine-Tailed Fox’s unexpected generosity.
This same youkai had destroyed the city – or, rather, a third of it – just twelve years ago.
That was only mere moments ago… at least, that’s how it seemed to long-lived Kakashi.
So Iruka is changing him, just as he’s changing Iruka.
“Thank you, I’m fine,” Kakashi replied tonelessly. Naruto perked an eyebrow at his rejection but shrugged soon after and turned around to watch his show. He was a bit more restless than he had been before Kakashi entered, but he didn’t look back at the two adults, momentarily leaving them staring at each other in silence.
After appearing at a loss about what to say for a few seconds, Iruka smiled suddenly at him. “You should watch Oh My Shinobi! with us. It’s our favorite show, we watch it every day after we eat dinner.”
Nodding numbly, Kakashi left his suitcase and shoes by the front door. He followed Iruka out of instinct, watching the werewolf reoccupy his spot on the couch. He himself sunk down on the brown-upholstered recliner – and physically startled when it automatically flung him backwards, the footrest swinging upwards without him adjusting it.
Kakashi realized that he must have made some sort sound of surprise, because Naruto – the Nine-Tailed Fox! – giggled at his reaction and exclaimed, “It’s super broken! I keep telling Iruka-sensei we should throw it away, but he says he loves it, so we’re keeping it.”
Glancing to his right with his good eye at Iruka, Kakashi was a bit amused to see the werewolf become flustered in response to Naruto’s statement. “It’s been a very good chair,” Iruka explained stiffly, seeming quite offended on the recliner’s behalf. “There’s no reason to throw it away.”
Of course, Kakashi – and apparently also Naruto – disagreed with him, seeing that the recliner was badly broken, but, considering how attached Iruka was to the piece of furniture, Kakashi wasn’t about to suggest tossing the chair into the garbage, and neither was Naruto.
Although it was rather awkward at first, the three of them relaxed enough to watch the old-model flat-screen T.V. showing Oh My Shinobi! without feeling too uncomfortable. With his demon eye closed, Kakashi could almost pretend that Iruka and Naruto were simply a father-son pair enjoying late night television at the end of a long day. But, unfortunately for him, he recognized all too well what they both really were. He couldn’t avoid their identities of youkai and werewolf any more than he could ignore that he himself was a vampire.
Plus there was the lingering tension of the Nine-Tailed Fox’s true form wanting to emerge… and the slightly unpleasant, unfamiliar smell of wet dog or, rather, wet werewolf.
Kakashi was too on edge to enjoy the T.V. show, even though he was intrigued by some of the complicated relationship dynamics occurring on screen.
He found himself studying Iruka and Naruto out of the corner of his one eye.
They looked so normal… but…
He had seen Iruka Umino on the hunt in his own studio apartment: the werewolf likely would have looked terrifying to a lesser creature, but, to Kakashi, he had seemed like a hint of challenge. He was something unexpected and unknown; he was something that Kakashi had never encountered before.
What sort of werewolf dares break into a vampire’s home?
It was almost absurd: it was vampires who smashed through spaces when they invaded them without being invited. To have a werewolf imitate what vampires did - well, it wasn’t something that Kakashi had experienced before, and he had been in existence for more than three hundred years.
He had expected the fearless wolf to go for his throat, rip out muscle and veins, cast the wallpaper red with blood.
But, instead, Iruka had slammed into him with two huge paws, knocked him to the ground, and – then -
Kakashi realized he was staring not at the T.V. but solely at Iruka as he finished his thought.
Iruka kissed him.
Casually glancing at Kakashi to see if he was enjoying the show, Iruka noticed Kakashi’s heavy stare directed just at him. Instead of shooting him a dirty look or demanding what he meant by such an obvious leer, Iruka’s scarred cheeks dusted pale pink.
Barely trying to hide his flattered smile, Iruka looked back at the screen without chastising Kakashi.
Firmly reminding himself that he had survived two dozen revolutions and even a larger number of international wars, Kakashi willed himself to endure the next half-hour of T.V. – and then the rather lengthy ritual of convincing Naruto to go to bed, then stay in his bedroom, then stop using his phone in bed, then stop wandering out of the bedroom looking for snacks, then finally passing out properly and fully.
After giving a sigh of relief, Iruka’s shoulders slumped down, and he turned around to consider Kakashi sitting on the arm of the broken recliner.
Without saying a thing, Iruka walked by him and gathered his suitcase, wheeling it down the hallway and into his bedroom.
Kakashi wordlessly followed him, trying not to be overwhelmed.
He stepped aside and let Iruka close the door – and then lock the door.
Before Kakashi could raise his eyebrows in question at the move, Iruka dropped the caretaker aura and caught him by the shoulder and neck, pulling him down into a fearfully strong kiss, one that betrayed supernatural strength and absolutely no sign of restraint.
Of course, Kakashi could have resisted, pulled away, but he was responding in an instant, deepening the kiss by parting his lips so Iruka could best have his way with him.
He wasn’t sure where to put his hands, but he found them going for Iruka’s waist, something that Iruka must have liked if his dark moan into Kakashi’s mouth was any indication.
He only realized that Iruka was guiding him by pushing him towards the bed when he noticed that they were moving away from the door. Even though he was truly relishing the deep kissing, Kakashi wasn’t about to have their first time happen this quickly, this way, without speaking.
So he stopped allowing Iruka to control his movements, which meant that Iruka suddenly felt the full force of Kakashi’s strength, which made for an uncomfortable few moments.
Peering up at him with unabashed confusion filling his face, Iruka’s kiss-bruised lips slid down into a concerned frown. “What’s wrong?” he asked, so simply and so sweetly that Kakashi felt more like a villain than he ever had during the whole last decade.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Kakashi said immediately, which was absolutely not the reason that he had stopped Iruka from directing them towards the bed.
But it seemed to work for Iruka, whose brown eyes lost their sharpness, instead becoming soft and sensitive. He glanced restlessly over Kakashi’s pale face, appearing increasingly concerned. Just as Kakashi was beginning to feel sick that he was causing the werewolf such worry, Iruka said something that he would have never expected – which immediately made him flush full crimson from his neck to the tips of his ears.
“It’s okay, I can top tonight. I’ll be gentle with you, I promise.”
Utterly unable to control himself, Kakashi made a garbled sound somewhere between his throat and his chest out of pure bewildered shock and embarrassment. He dropped his hands from Iruka’s waist and instantly swept them up to his face, totally unable to restrain his blush from flooding his features. He went to step away from Iruka, unwilling to stay near him as he ran through his humiliation, but the werewolf apparently thrived on ruthless compassion, because Iruka suddenly added with sincere concern darkening his tone:
“Please don’t feel self-conscious! I won’t stare at you – if you want, I can wear a blindfold!”
Absolutely breaking his brain into bits, the unwanted but wonderful vision of Iruka – lustful and breathless, his scarred brown skin shining with sweat, his beautiful muscular body twisting in bed, black silk covering his expressive eyes and tied tight over his lovely long hair – conquered the last remaining piece of Kakashi’s mind.
He waved a hand in the air, gesturing for Iruka to stop, which thankfully the werewolf did.
“I…” Kakashi started to explain himself, his virginity, but, within speaking a single word, he realized he was never, ever going to be able to say everything speeding through his head. Instead, he swallowed down his discomfort and steeled himself for admitting a half-truth. “I want to take things slow between us.”
When only silence greeted his statement, Kakashi parted his fingers and looked at Iruka with his single good eye. He immediately dropped his hands as he found Iruka on the verge of bursting into tears, something incredibly obvious and visible by the watery wave of his brown eyes.
Before he could say anything, though, Iruka confessed in a pained low voice, “I am so sorry, Kakashi, I just can’t handle myself around you. You’re completely right, I’ve been pushing us too much, I keep forgetting to ask you what you want.” Iruka made an aggravated face at his own words and fiercely corrected himself, “No, that’s not right. I’m not forgetting. I’m not thinking about you or what you want. I’m sorry. It’s completely unfair of me.”
Iruka’s hands were balled into shaking fists at his sides. His scarred face looked like he’d been gutted by a knife, it was so screwed up and anguished. He was so upset that his whole body was trembling from wracking tension.
Kakashi stared at Iruka.
He had no idea what to say. He could barely think.
He couldn’t follow what happened next.
Suddenly Iruka was down on his back, flat on the mattress, the wind knocked out of him. He was clutching desperately at Kakashi’s coat, his fingers pulling Kakashi further down to make their bodies grind into each other, to get them even closer together. He was making a high-pitched soft whine in his throat, a begging sound that was driving Kakashi even wilder than he already felt.
Kakashi found that he’d torn Iruka’s shirt, half of it still on him, leaving only one sleeve intact. Nearly the entirety of Iruka’s scarred chest and abdomen were on fine display in the darkness, the same skin he’d kissed with ardent appreciation on the rooftop of the hotel. He was doing that again, kissing each of the hard-won battle scars, sliding his tongue eagerly across the lines, while his hands made quick work of Iruka’s pants.
He shoved Iruka’s pants down to his knees, his own hand finding Iruka’s lovely hard cock.
His mind blank, his heart beating at almost human speeds, Kakashi pressed down on Iruka, bringing his mouth to the werewolf’s neck. He kissed there urgently before he gave a hurried confession into Iruka’s skin, “Your impatience turns me on. I like that you take what you want.”
Instantly, Iruka was answering him, heated and shameless: “I want you, I want you so much.”
He bucked up into Kakashi’s hand, desperate for more, for a firmer grip, and Kakashi was so terribly willing to give it to him, tightening his hand around Iruka’s arousal, treasuring the feel of silky intimate skin, Iruka’s achingly hard cock.
Kakashi could feel Iruka’s blood pumping madly up and down his jugular vein in an excited frenzy to get blood moving throughout his body, to his heart, to his erection, to his brain. Kakashi was dizzy from the wonder of it: he had so little blood in him that the foreign feeling of Iruka’s desperate blood was making him hunger, making him want to break Iruka’s throat open, to sink his teeth into that flesh, to lick up the liquid of life.
He shivered atop Iruka in a truly strange way – he was having to restrain himself, he wanted so badly to have all of Iruka, to make him some insane impossible hybrid of vampire and werewolf and victim, to keep him forever in the throes of passion and pleasure, to have him always making that adorable haunting begging whine –
Iruka responded very well to Kakashi’s shaking body above his own: the werewolf was breathing crazily into Kakashi’s silver hair. He had shoved his hands under Kakashi’s coat and was digging down hard into Kakashi’s shoulders and leaving little crescents of red cuts under his white shirt. His hips were moving off the mattress in frantic desperation, moving into Kakashi’s fist, thrusting upwards into his hand without the slightest hint of humiliation.
The soft shaking gasp of “Kakashi” was all the warning Kakashi got before Iruka came.
He didn’t have to look down to know that Iruka had certainly just ruined his only other coat – this time with cum and not blood.
But he didn’t care, he didn’t care at all.
Kakashi was back to kissing Iruka, instigating a kiss between them for the first time, which he only realized belatedly. The sudden epiphany inspired him further, driving him to delve deeper into Iruka’s mouth, having never done that before either. In response, Iruka was making peculiar wanton sounds, his half-naked body writhing against Kakashi’s still fully clothed form. He was still forcefully holding onto Kakashi’s shoulders, he was still breathing unstably into Kakashi’s hair.
He pulled back to stare down at Iruka.
For a second, Kakashi thought about keeping his demon eye closed.
But then he opened it, almost instantly dazzling the already dazed werewolf underneath him.
“I want you,” Kakashi admitted in a faint whisper. “I want all of you.”
Break my heart, Iruka Umino. Ruin my life.
In a truly impressive show of force, Iruka fought the enchantment so he could smile exquisitely up at Kakashi, his pure reckless joy at Kakashi’s confession breaking through the magic.
Iruka had done something similar on the rocks by the river the night before, when he’d struggled through the spell, being so sincerely desperate to reassure Kakashi that he had managed to caress the edge of Kakashi’s coat.
What a werewolf…
What a man.
Please, Iruka. Please make me feel something again.
Thank you for your patience. I have great plans for our pair and will be updating more regularly.
Soon their little family fell into a routine.
Naruto had taken to extracurriculars with increasing zeal since starting his friendship with Sasuke, meaning that family soap opera nights became all the more important bonding time. In between commercials, Naruto would chatter away about what happened at school, how he stood up to bullies, how he was teased for being bad at math (“but it’s okay, Iruka-sensei! Sasuke’s a genius at Algebra! he tutors me everyday!”), that Anime Club was just so awesome. Naruto particularly emphasized how he couldn’t wait for Iruka to come to Parent-Teacher Conference Day the following week: he had so much to show off, and he just knew the teachers would tell Iruka that he was a great student, they would tell Iruka that Naruto was charming and perfect, that he was going to be the best of the best.
Iruka listened to Naruto with a full heart and a smile on his face every night. He also secretly enjoyed their time together for a different reason – because their new housemate, Kakashi, had taken up a new perpetual position in the broken recliner. The other man seemed to practically live in the chair: he was there in the morning when Iruka woke up, never once lingering in the bedroom overnight, and he sat down in the same spot after escorting Iruka home from work, staying there until Naruto went to sleep.
Every night, Kakashi silently trailed after Iruka into what Iruka kept imagining was their bedroom – even though he had never once seen Kakashi sleep there – or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, Iruka had to admit that he rarely saw the man lay down at all… except for when they were fooling around, which they did… well, every night after Naruto went to bed.
He wasn’t especially sure why Kakashi preferred kissing and touching over penetrative sex, but Iruka felt too high and pleased with life to complain. He had learned just where to lick Kakashi to make the other man’s hips twitch; he could consistently provoke a certain low moan from Kakashi when he held both their slick erections in one hand and kissed the vampire’s neck at the same time. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, Iruka wondered once or twice if Kakashi would ever want to go down on him, but he shrugged off the idea almost as soon as it spun its way through his thoughts.
Maybe vampires couldn’t give head because of their fangs? It was fragile skin… and normal human teeth could be painful… so fangs must hurt terribly, which was why Kakashi avoided the sex act altogether?
Their new life together wasn’t entirely sex, though.
Every morning when Iruka made Naruto breakfast and lunch, he watched Kakashi catch up on the news – first in print media form, a collection of high-quality newspapers from other countries, and then in digital format on his cell phone, flicking through every sort of social media in existence.
Although Iruka talked rather endlessly to him and with Naruto in the mornings, he found that Kakashi tended to keep to short answers and avoid eye contact with both of them. It was strangely not offensive for some elusive reason that Iruka couldn’t place. Unexpectedly, Kakashi’s permanent presence in the living room felt like a patriarchal figure waiting to praise his doting wife and send his son off to school. Instead of feeling insulted that the other man didn’t flutter about the place trying to help him out, Iruka had become quite fond of Kakashi’s cool stability in the chaotic whirlwind of their family getting the day started.
Without fail, Kakashi religiously completed a certain number of mundane rituals – all of which he started doing the very first morning after he arrived in the apartment.
Every morning when Naruto ran into the corridor, lunchbox in hand and bookbag on his back, Kakashi always stood up and hung about the doorway, watching as Iruka hugged Naruto and waved goodbye to the boy when he ran down the stairs and off to school. He never said anything to Naruto, leaving it all to Iruka, who poured out his soul every morning in excessive encouragement, but Kakashi always gave Naruto a single slow raise of his hand in farewell.
Then, as if imitating a lost love-sick puppy, Kakashi would follow Iruka around the apartment, wordlessly observing him get ready for his day. Sometimes the other man would lean against the bathroom sink while Iruka showered, listening to him sing or talk about Naruto or work or silly things he’d seen online. Other times, Kakashi would stick his entire head inside the shower curtain and blink away water from his single normal eye, totally unmindful of the spray, seemingly innocently interested in watching Iruka bathe.
Although Iruka knew that Kakashi had stalked him before they gotten together, he was still surprised the very first day when the vampire had soundlessly escorted him through public transit to his job downtown – all with unerring precision. To make it even more surprising, Kakashi was ceaselessly casual about the whole thing, not providing the slightest suggestion that he felt remorseful for already knowing Iruka’s entire life routine.
Instead, Kakashi was perfunctory to the point of being unnerving, every day, every night.
He was awake before Iruka was. He always finished reading just in time see Naruto leave. He followed Iruka around the apartment, watching him get ready, saying very little, and never, ever attempting to get fresh with him.
He rode the subway with Iruka, the two of them sitting together shoulder to shoulder.
He walked Iruka to work – and picked him up from work, repeating the journey in reverse.
Every day, every night with perfect ease.
And Kakashi looked damn gorgeous the whole time. He had shown up the first evening after work with a new coat – a beautiful dark blue wool coat so crisply fit to his slender form that Iruka wondered how he had found such a perfect garment in the first place. Even though Kakashi never ate or drank anything that Iruka offered him (and he offered every morning and every night!), the man seemed to move easily about the apartment as well as the city, never faltering, never looking any paler than usual. His silver hair was still as stunning as the first time Iruka had seen it; his dark eye was just as captivating at the magical red-and-black one that he always kept closed.
In the exhilarating late night hours, when Iruka had Kakashi alone in bed, he relished the rising warm blush on the alabaster-skinned vampire’s face. He loved the looks that Kakashi gave him – wanting, wanton looks – his pale lips parted, wet with his wandering tongue, his dark eye half-lidded and focused only on Iruka.
Even though he found some enjoyment in work, and tremendous joy in helping Naruto live a good and decent life, it was in the dark of night that Iruka received the most satisfaction.
Nothing compared to the moments past midnight when scorching-hot pleasure seized Kakashi, made his long limbs shake, turned his pristine white skin pink, all because Iruka was causing him such wondrous sensations – using tongue, lips, fingers, hands, his whole body. He looked forward to those few fleeting seconds where Kakashi threw back his head, exposing the line of his throat, and surrendered to the feelings that Iruka was inspiring deep within him. Kakashi’s soft sighs of pure indulgence made Iruka’s head fuzzy with joy: he couldn’t rest a second at the end of even the worst of days without trying to pull those amazing sounds from the other man.
Of course, Iruka could admit privately to himself, just a little, that he wasn’t sure who Kakashi was – or even what he wanted out of their time together.
The second morning after Kakashi moved in, the vampire had slightly lowered his newspaper, revealing a concerned expression, and asked in a muted tone, “Do you like wine, Iruka?”
Iruka wrinkled his nose, shaking his head in negative. “No, I don’t, actually. I like sake, though.” Suddenly realizing that Kakashi had asked him perhaps the first real question of their relationship, Iruka stopped preparing Naruto’s lunch and tried to keep eye contact with the other man. He asked curiously, maybe a bit too eagerly, “Do you want me to get something for us to drink tonight?”
Kakashi’s single eye had widened in surprise at the suggestion. He kept the newspaper in front of most of his face, the pages covering the entirety of his torso, as he stretched his long legs in front of him in the broken recliner. “No, I don’t drink,” Kakashi replied in an odd, stilted way before dropping his gaze away from Iruka, who was standing still, staring at him from the kitchen.
Confused and a bit disappointed by the man’s response, Iruka had resumed preparing Naruto’s lunch – but then he quickly noticed Kakashi put aside the newspaper before finishing it. Without saying anything, Kakashi began rapidly typing (texting?) on his cell phone, something he hadn’t done before. There was a pause (a reply?) – then more typing – then another pause (waiting? another reply?) – and then more typing – before Kakashi scrunched his face at something on the screen and then went back to reading the newspaper.
Over the next week, Kakashi hadn’t messed with his cell phone in the same way, only endless scrolling and opening and closing various apps. He used neither sound notifications nor vibrate; he seemed simultaneously very attached to his phone but also completely disinterested in the object.
Iruka never had to call him. Kakashi was always there – silent, sure, and constant.
But there were certain changes that made Iruka worry… small changes, but they were present and undeniable.
Kakashi was getting colder.
He wasn’t getting emotionally colder. In truth, Kakashi’s emotional state didn’t seem to change much at all, never fluctuating in the slightest.
Strangely, so very strangely, Kakashi was physically becoming colder. It was blatantly obvious with the amount of fooling around that they were doing: Iruka’s hands and mouth were on the other man every single night, and he was particularly keen and sensitive to temperature fluctuations as a werewolf. There was no doubt that Kakashi’s core temperature was dropping, and so too the surface of his skin. He was practically freezing, his fingertips like frost as they trailed over Iruka’s scarred naked form.
But Kakashi didn’t seem perturbed by it, and Iruka wasn’t certain how to bring it up.
Unfortunately, Iruka understood now that he really didn’t know a thing about vampires. From the limited information that he was amassing from living with one, Iruka sorrowfully realized much of his Internet research was complete utter nonsense. It made him worry quite a lot about his earlier research on youkai in trying to understand Naruto. When he finally had a chance, he really needed to ask Kakashi about what he knew about youkai – more particularly, kumiho, other nine-tailed foxes, what Naruto was.
Instead, every night, over and over again, Iruka fell hard for Kakashi, and thought of nothing else but his new lover.
Every night Kakashi gave increasingly more and more attention to Iruka’s neck. The other man enjoyed nuzzling his shoulder and throat, kissing there, licking the sensitive skin. Kakashi often breathed at the junction of Iruka’s shoulder and neck when he came, sending chilled air across Iruka’s flesh, inspiring goosebumps and making Iruka shiver down to his very bones.
But, then, on the tenth night, things went wrong.
Everything went tilted, everything went awry, all at once.
All because –
Iruka was underneath Kakashi, as he often was when they were together; his hands were tearing down into Kakashi’s shoulders through his shirt, desperate to get to the man’s skin, to feel his muscle and bone. He was yet again shamelessly thrusting up into Kakashi, although this time they were still both clothed. Iruka was urgent for more delicious friction between their bodies, moving his hips against the other man’s, forcing Kakashi’s body further down onto his own. He had thrown his head aside, allowing Kakashi access to his treasured location, the soft spot so very close to his jugular vein. He knew that it must do something for the vampire to be so near Iruka’s lifeline, and he loved the way Kakashi fixated, obsessed on it, nearly getting distracted from what was happening much lower with their thighs joining over and over again.
But Iruka was both strong and persistent: he reached down to grab Kakashi by both his jean-clad hips, grinding their groins together, hissing in relief at the new sensation. He felt his shoulders shaking, he was getting close, he was saying something swift and sentimental, something like – something like –
“Oh, God, yes, only you, only you.”
And then Kakashi bit his neck.
It took Iruka a crazy sharp moment to realize what had happened, but his hands moved automatically, dropping Kakashi’s hips and going straight to the new wound. His jostling moved Kakashi backward, but he wasn’t thinking about that, he was wondering in hazy confusion at the strange pain emanating from his throat. His right hand slapped over the injury, pressing down on instinct, keeping pressure on the small bleeding cuts on the slope of his neck.
After a second, Iruka pulled his fingertips away, still trying to comprehend what was going on. He glanced down in startlingly slow motion at what he suddenly understood was his own fresh scarlet-red blood, shining and wet in the moonlight.
His gaze drifted up to Kakashi’s face.
The other man hadn’t moved off of him; he was still hovering bodily over Iruka.
But Kakashi’s body language was all wrong.
And his eyes were worse.
Both of them. He had both eyes open.
Kakashi’s eyes – one dark, one magical red - were locked on Iruka’s bloody fingertips.
His whole face was awash in surprise. He looked like the first man to discover the atom, the first person to notice they could navigate by the stars. Kakashi was so visibly stunned that he had become unearthly: his pink-flushed skin had lost all of its color, leaving his flesh fearfully bone-white in hue. His silver hair and dark clothing made the look all the more vivid and contrasting.
Iruka’s blood was on his lips.
Before Iruka could duck his head and avoid contact with the enchanting eye that Kakashi always kept shut around him, the enthrallment violently overcame him -
He went totally limp, his bloody fingers dropping down onto his chest.
Then – Kakashi vanished.
Trying to regain his senses in the following few seconds, Iruka looked desperately around for the other man, seeking him out in the shadows of the room. But, no, Kakashi was gone, he was utterly and completely gone, leaving nothing behind of himself but his suitcase. He hadn’t made a single sound during his abrupt departure, but it was easy to tell how he’d left. He hadn’t closed the bedroom window behind him; only a moment later, a sudden biting winter wind whipped through the room in his wake.
Head spinning, blood leaking from two tiny wounds on his neck, Iruka worked to bury himself under the covers, unthinkingly hiding from the cold. He couldn’t force himself to move and close the window. He only stared at it, a strange new void opening up deep within him.
It only got worse.
Kakashi didn’t return home for days.
The first two days alone made Iruka uneasy, truly and wholly uneasy. He admittedly enjoyed spending more time with Naruto, their soap opera dates going later than normal since Iruka no longer had someone to cuddle afterwards in bed. But when Iruka closed Naruto’s door and went back to his own room, he stood alone, staring at the window that Kakashi had flung himself out of so swiftly he hadn’t even been seen leaving.
Although he detested working while distracted, Iruka lost himself in the hardships of cleaning hotel rooms, becoming mechanical in removing trash, gathering sheets and towels, disinfecting surfaces, vacuuming the floors, among so many other thoughtless but necessary tasks. He felt especially despondent when he walked alone to the subway. He was always reluctant to make room for other men and women to sit next to him; he wanted one certain distinct person beside him, a man whose presence he increasingly missed with more and more of himself.
On the fourth night alone in the darkness of his room, Iruka slipped out of bed and kneeled in front of Kakashi’s suitcase. The luggage was partially unzipped with the slightest edge of a shirt peeking through. Even though much of the apartment still contained the soft scent of Kakashi, the vampire’s smell was most concentrated in his suitcase.
Iruka believed deeply in privacy, but…
He tugged on the shirt, forcing it through the zipper, until it was all the way out, and then he was holding hold the soft lightweight cotton fabric in his hands.
When Iruka curled up in bed with Kakashi’s shirt, he hadn’t expected to start crying, but he did, and he was, and he buried his face in the faded scent of his vanished lover, chest heaving in horrific bouts, fingers trembling along the soft lines of the garment. He could feel his ribs protesting the tight ache of tension, the unrelenting waves of emotional hurt tearing over him. He tried squeezing his eyes shut to stop himself from crying, terrible embarrassment overwhelming him, making him wonder what was wrong with him, why was he so desperate for someone he barely knew, a man who clearly thought so very little of him –
He made a pained sound in his throat, trying to force himself from losing himself in his self-destructive loneliness, but it only drove him deeper into the darkness that had been threatening to overtake him for the last few days.
Barely thinking, Iruka touched the scabbed-over marks on his neck where Kakashi had bite him.
It had been an accident, obviously.
One that scared Kakashi and sent him running.
He started up a mantra in his head: Come back, please come back.
But Kakashi didn’t come back.
Iruka spent the next two days and nights in a total daze. He ended up giving Naruto money for breakfast and lunch; he fumbled at work, nearly costing the hotel serious money when he misloaded one of the massive washing machines. He fought off a headache with medication, but it only dulled down for a few hours before it came back with a vengeance.
It was because he was heart-broken. It was stupid, but he couldn’t think the throbbing pain in his temples, wrapping down to his cheekbones, crushing into his eyesockets – that it was anything but his grief trying to kill him in new and inventive ways. He hadn’t cried again, but every night, he held Kakashi’s shirt to his face, trying to recall the full scent of the other man.
It was getting fainter and fainter.
And Iruka could tell what that meant: Kakashi was gone.
A new scar was forming on Iruka’s heart near the enormous black mark from his parents’ death, beside the loss of his hopeful dreams as a teacher, beside his fears for Naruto’s future. He could feel it tearing across his soul, ugly and jagged, winding its way across his ribs and sliding up his spine. He wasn’t getting used to it, but he never got over his scars, he just grew to tolerate the distant but constant anguish of them, all of them.
He’d never had a lover like Kakashi Hatake, and they hadn’t even…
Iruka dreamt about it – what it would be like to have Kakashi behind him, draped over him, unpredictably hot and hard through his clothed skin.
Kakashi’s hands slipping up Iruka’s shirt, smooth and ceaseless touching his sides. His fingers were warm and soft, tracing battle scars. His hips were flush against Iruka’s ass; he was clothed, too. But Kakashi was impossibly erect, his cock like a sword fresh from the furnace pressed against Iruka, between his thighs, just where Iruka wanted him to be.
Iruka was panting loudly enough that he grabbed his pillow and was practically suffocating himself with the plush thing, frantic not to be heard. But he was still pushing back against Kakashi, violently gripping the bedsheets trying to keep himself stable. Unbelievably aroused by the feel of Kakashi’s body against his own in such an obvious and intimate position, he could feel his werewolf instincts making all sorts of adjustments without his conscious thought.
He dipped down, raising his hips, spreading his legs more, wanting to be taken from behind.
Kakashi liked that, so very much: his hands, painfully hot, gripped Iruka’s waist harder, and he brought himself forward, his cock straining through layers of cloth, demanding entrance into Iruka. His mouth was suddenly on Iruka’s back, where Iruka had his largest scar, the scar from his older other lover, the one that betrayed him, the one that taught him to go it alone – and Kakashi was kissing the sunken recess of the old injury, his lips terribly warm, his tongue wet and deliberate dragging up the scar.
Unable to handle any further wondrous torture, Iruka gasped out, barely able to be heard, still face-first into the pillow, “Kakashi – I can’t – please, please just fuck me.”
And then everything stopped.
It was like a knife had caught Iruka in the face – again – the realization was so sudden and sharp.
It wasn’t a dream. Not at all. Kakashi was in his bedroom. Now. He was behind Iruka, he was thinking about fucking Iruka, he had just heard Iruka beg him to do it, please, God, do it –
- and, again, just like a week earlier, Kakashi completely vanished right back out the bedroom window that he’d come through.
But, this time, red hot fury roared through Iruka, and he was a wolf a moment later, running through the street, hunting down Kakashi Hatake like he was an evasive prey animal who was definitely going to found and shaken and forced to give some fucking answers now.
Apparently when I said I would be updating regularly, I meant in 24 hours.
Please enjoy, my darlings. You are each so very lovely. I see you, and thank you, for your kudos and comments. Inspiration springs eternal from your generous feedback.
Iruka ran for hours.
He ignored the surprised shouts of humans as well as the snarls and howls of werewolves whose territories he stormed through. In his blind fury, he barely thought about the consequences of such a hard run on his body: he simply didn’t care. Although he knew he was leaving behind the city, going further and further out into the countryside, Iruka never once stopped to consider what he was doing – except for repeating the revised mantra at the very forefront of his thoughts:
I’m going to get him back, I’m going to get him back.
Sometime during his journey, snow began to fall.
Even in the darkness, Iruka could see with his fine wolf eyes the shower of snowflakes coming down on the farmland surrounding the city. His own coat grew damp and heavy with the stuff, but he shook it off as he ran, never allowing himself a moment to groom himself. He felt rabid in his anger: he could still feel Kakashi across his backside, the man’s hot hands on his hips, that obsessive tongue tantalizing his old scar.
Every time he thought of it, the recent memory made him mad.
Mad as in furious, mad as in crazy.
He didn’t stop running, even when the start of dawn struck the sky.
Kakashi’s scent was different, but it was still his, and Iruka knew it on instinct now. The pained loneliness of it was tamped down, reduced, but the softness and the strangeness – that was the same as before – and the scent once again made Iruka feel wild and possessive and careless in his hunt.
He had risen his head to stare at the snow-heavy clouds when he finally recognized what he had been heading towards, where he had chased Kakashi from the city to the countryside.
It was the memorial to the dead from the Demon Fox attack twelve years ago.
His heart was already pounding impossibly hard in his chest, but Iruka felt it go all the more haywire, his wolf paws losing traction on the snow-slick stones that led up to the huge obelisk out in the open. He tried to control the unsettled struggle of his heart and thoughts, but they were jumbled up in his determination to find Kakashi, and Iruka found himself stumbling more on his suddenly unsteady wolf legs, nearly falling face-first into the well-worn path by the monument.
But he caught himself – because there – there was Kakashi Hatake!
The man was not clad in his usual coat, which was damnably confusing: he was always wearing a coat, and now, out in the cold, in the snow, it was when he really should have one on.
Instead, Kakashi was in a thin white button-up shirt with dark suspenders straining across his torso and a pair of too-loose black trousers, obviously not fit to him in the slightest. He was soaked through in the snowfall, his red-flushed skin clearly visible through his shirt. His silver hair was flat against his scalp, not a single spike pointing skyward. Alone in front of the fifty-foot tall stone obelisk, the man looked small and out-of-place, like a wandering field mouse walking up to the big house and staring up at the building in silent awe.
He was staring up at the very top of the monument, his head lifted high and held back. His hands were at his sides, still and unmoving, with nothing in them.
As Iruka neared him, slowing down as panic and confusion wove their way over his heart, he noticed with intense surprise that Kakashi was not wearing shoes. His feet were bare, directly on the dark stone pathway in front of the obelisk.
Even though he was being quiet on instinct, Iruka knew there was no way that Kakashi wasn’t aware that he was being hunted, that his hunter was now dangerously nearby. He was readying himself to pounce on the man when instead –
Kakashi turned around in a flash of silver – and then was on top of him, pressing Iruka hard into the snow-strewn stones, roughly shifting him on his spine, forcing Iruka to look up at him.
Iruka didn’t turn back into a human he was so caught off-guard. In contrast, his instincts screamed at him to snarl, and so he did, baring his teeth, narrowing his yellow lupine eyes in violent warning for Kakashi not to do anything more than this.
But the other man was absolutely unconcerned by the threat display. Disregarding the fearsome teeth so close to his pink-flushed face, Kakashi soundlessly grappled with Iruka until Iruka stopped resisting, finally surrendering to the vulnerable position after receiving a few well-placed tight holds on his front wolf legs.
Yet Iruka kept up the silent snarl, determined not to give in all the way. His instinctive fear of Kakashi – of vampires – of death – was demanding that he fight everything that the man was doing to him out here in the snow-drenched countryside. But his wolf body was beginning to fall apart: he could feel his muscles quiver in weak submission to Kakashi’s supernatural strength, his heart panicking but also slowing down as it yielded to the undoubtedly superior creature holding him down.
Before he could think what to do next, Kakashi finally spoke to him, his voice strained and shaking with each and every word:
“Stop looking for me. I will kill you. I will accidentally kill you.”
It was then Iruka had the sudden notion to actually look at the man above him, not just see him through the filter of instinctive fear and the fevered high of running miles and miles.
What he saw made him instantly turn back into a man, uncaring that he was nude in the snow.
Kakashi was flushed red, he was breathing hard, he was shivering in pained restraint. His unusual eye was closed so tightly, his whole face looked tormented, something that had never happened to his appearance before. He was gritting his teeth behind tight lips; his nostrils flared with each terrible labored breath. He was staring down at Iruka with enough force that it was difficult not to believe that he was seeing straight through into Iruka’s brain, seeing the little werewolf machinery at work, assessing and testing out what to do in this bewildering situation.
But Iruka was human once again, and he grabbed at the snow-wet fabric of Kakashi’s shirt, and he was confessing hurriedly, hoarsely, “I won’t leave you alone. I can’t leave you alone.”
Above him, Kakashi flinched full across his face. He shook his head back and forth, so much motion for a man constantly sitting still in Iruka’s living room. He answered Iruka quickly in a dark, urgent tone, “You don’t understand. I can’t control myself around you.”
Then – then Kakashi tried to vanish again.
But, this time, this third time, Iruka was adamant that he would not be left behind.
He wouldn’t let Kakashi leave again.
And he was a wolf again in less than a second, and his teeth sunk down into Kakashi’s calf, down into the skin and muscle, down until he hit bone, and he shook hard, dragging the vampire right out the air and slamming him into the gathered white snow right by the obelisk. He went on top of Kakashi this time, his huge paws shoving him down like the first night they met, ripping through the thin fabric and clawing into the pale skin of his chest.
Iruka went back to his human shape, he was reaching down and snatching Kakashi by the collar, he was furiously reprimanding the man only an inch from Kakashi’s confused, reddened face:
“How dare you leave me alone. How dare you think I would let you live alone. You are coming home with me. Shut up, just shut up – you’re coming home now.”
Although Iruka really had no idea what he expected Kakashi to do after his infuriated announcement, he certainly hadn’t imagined that the vampire would just stare up at him in complete undisguised disbelief and wonder.
He relaxed his hands on Kakashi’s shirt, feeling the first wave of embarrassment for accosting the other man so violently in preventing him from disappearing. Leaning backwards, Iruka realized all too slowly that he was straddling Kakashi while entirely nude in increasingly heavy snowfall in the early hours of the morning. He glanced down, a bit mystified, to his own naked scarred body – seeing his dark skin collecting white snow – which was melting after only a moment.
But why? Iruka knew he ran hot as a werewolf, but not so warm to… to melt snow.
His eyes floated back towards Kakashi’s unchanged incredulous expression.
God, he’s flushed red.
And then Iruka realized something in his exhausted, conflicted brain: Kakashi was burning up.
“Why are you so hot?” he asked impulsively, meeting the man’s single open eye.
Immediately, Kakashi replied, voice quiet but without any inflection whatsoever, “I killed four men and drank their blood.”
Iruka felt faint. Faint and stupid. It all slotted into place, like he had found the last missing piece of a million-part puzzle and shoved it all together and the exhausted euphoria of success was flowing over him and through him. He was silent as he stared down at Kakashi, considering what had caused his first sudden departure, how he had returned and then disappeared again.
Kakashi was a vampire. He was hungry. He hadn’t stopped to feed because he was so distracted by Iruka and their time together. And so he accidentally – he accidentally went to feed on Iruka and stopped himself – and he ran away – and he… he had killed people and gotten drunk on blood – and he had come back to Iruka, completely and disastrously unsober, acting on brutish instinct, only realizing something was off when Iruka finally said something, leaving once again and coming here of all places.
To where Iruka’s parents had their names listed in stone, far up at the top of the obelisk.
Wide-eyed and watching Kakashi gazing single-eyed up at him, embarrassingly distracted by Iruka’s mouthy determination, Iruka faced yet another insane realization:
Oh… Oh fuck. He’s still drunk, isn’t he? He’s – he’s –
Kakashi’s dark eye was half-lidded as usual, but it was hotly fixed on Iruka’s face, no matter how he moved, closer or further away, left or right. The vampire’s hands had relocated to Iruka’s bare hips, holding him in place, evidently without thinking. He looked dazed in the aftermath of Iruka’s scolding, like he’d been knocked in the head far too hard and was now reeling from a bad concussion. His silver eyebrows had dropped down close to eyes; he was squinting up at Iruka, as if he was forcibly trying to understand just what was happening between them.
When Iruka gently put his hands on Kakashi’s forearms, on the snow-damp fabric of his sleeves, the vampire underneath him turned his attention to the new contact, looking deeply critically at Iruka’s fingers spread over his barely-clad skin.
“Kakashi,” Iruka tried, keeping his tone under control, forcing away his aggravation. “You shouldn’t be out here by yourself. You really can come home with me. It’ll be okay.”
After a strange moment that seemed to stretch on forever, Kakashi asked in a distant voice, still looking down at Iruka’s calloused hands resting on his arms, “What sort of dream is this?”
It took Iruka a few seconds to gather himself: his instincts warred between blushing and slapping Kakashi across the face. He had never imagined the other man dreaming about him, he still wasn’t even sure the vampire slept! And he had thought Kakashi coming to see him, apparently drunk off a blood binge, had been a dream, which made him all the more mortified. His dreams were of them fucking like dogs in heat – and Kakashi’s dream was Iruka atop him in the snow, totally nude, admonishing him and demanding he return home?
“It’s not a dream,” Iruka muttered, slowly stroking up Kakashi’s arm, trying to bring him back to reality. He observed Kakashi’s single eye following the movement with unnerving accuracy. “I want you to come back to the city with me. Can – can you do that?” He swallowed, daring to draw his hand up to Kakashi’s face, brushing back the wet hair from the man’s scarred cheek and closed magical eye. “Can you do that for me?”
“I would do anything for you,” Kakashi said instantaneously with such unsettlingly innocent honesty that Iruka’s body reacted in one way and one way only – by blushing hard, pink going across his own scarred cheeks and dancing down his throat and up to his ears.
“Oh,” Iruka found himself saying, so very softly that he wondered if Kakashi even heard him. His hand was frozen on the other man’s cheek, his fingertips shivering in the cold air against Kakashi’s searing-hot skin.
He should have felt horribly uncomfortable nude in front of the memorial stone to his parents and the thousand other dead men and women from the Demon Fox incident twelve years earlier – but Iruka instead found himself leaning down and giving Kakashi a truly gentle kiss on the lips, his hand going deep into the man’s wet silver hair.
It was so very different from all the other times that they had kissed. Unlike before, especially over the ten days where Kakashi had become ever colder, the vampire was truly warm, lips and all. He was radiating a nearly painful heat, apparently from all the new blood pouring through him. Even while disoriented, Kakashi was quite interested in Iruka’s mouth; he was a bit more forceful returning the kiss, he was giving a low moan, his hands went immediately roaming up and down Iruka’s naked sides like they had in the-dream-that-wasn’t-a-dream.
When Iruka found the strength to pull away from the kiss, he dropped down to Kakashi’s ear, saying in a desperate whisper, “Come home with me, Kakashi.”
And – then – rending Iruka’s world in two – Kakashi said right back to him, his voice wobbly and weak, but still sounding breathlessly sincere, “I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
Slowly drawing backwards, Iruka tried not to lose all of his mind at once. He could feel confusion oozing out of his pores, his understanding of everything – literally everything – breaking into tiny ragged little pieces. He stared down at Kakashi’s carelessly blank expression with both eyes opened wide, wide, wide. His heart was sliding down his ribcage, ringing each bone like taut strings on a cello, the ominous sound echoing loudly in his ears.
“What did you say?” he managed to ask, his throat closing up, his mouth going dry.
Kakashi literally changed not a thing as he repeated himself exactly, “I’ve never slept with anyone before,” and continued to look up at Iruka, clearly still stuck in his blood-drunk dream.
“Please tell me I wasn’t your first kiss.”
A bit of irritation crossed over Kakashi’s pretty reddened face. He retorted freely, sounding surprisingly insulted by the idea: “Of course not. I’ve been undead for three hundred and four years; I was alive twenty-seven years before that.”
Yet, somehow, Iruka could hear the underneath to the underneath, and he worked out the truth of things, eventually inquiring in a slow, careful way while watching Kakashi’s expression: “But everything else…?”
“You’re my first.”
Although Kakashi’s body heat was already making Iruka feel unpleasantly warm, a new horrific flush overcame him the very instant that the other man made his laid-back confession. He felt suddenly like he was the drunk one, and he had to reach down to hold onto Kakashi’s shoulders, he was so afraid that he might pass out from the sheer confusing turmoil of new unexpected information now swirling dangerously about his head.
All while he was naked.
In the snow.
In front of the obelisk where his dead parents’ names were etched into stone.
“Get us home,” Iruka half-choked out, feeling unbelievably pained and sick all of a sudden.
Wordlessly, Kakashi brought his arms around Iruka, then he was sitting up, then standing up. He swept Iruka right into a bridal embrace once again, and he glanced around silently, looking like a silver-feathered falcon carefully seeking out prey. He finally spotted the city in the far distance, through all the snowfall, through the clouds, and he tightened his hold on Iruka, pressing Iruka’s nude scarred body even closer to his own desperately heat-emanating form.
Then Kakashi moved with the speed that had been so impossibly, freakishly fast that earlier Iruka hadn’t been able to catch his movement – and it was so lightning-like, so rapid, so outrageous, that Iruka instantly utterly blacked out.
Iruka woke up to the smell of fried eggs and fresh bacon.
His stomach grumbled in response; he started to climb out of bed, seeking the kitchen on desperate instinct. Even though he wasn’t particularly sure why, he found he was absolutely starving. It felt like he could eat all of the animals in the city zoo, including the African elephants and the polar bears, too.
But then he realized in a single, sharp, horrifying moment:
Naruto can barely boil an egg, there’s no way he can cook bacon!
As Iruka flung himself out of bed, his legs rapidly revealed his idiocy. He fell face-first on the floor, nearly flattening his nose on the wood, his body screaming in protest at the sudden movement. Oh, dear God, he was in pain, he was in so much pain. His muscles were furiously reprimanding him, his throat seemed as if he had been swallowing broken glass throughout the night, his feet felt like he’d run on hot asphalt for the last century.
But – shit – Naruto –
He dragged himself to standing, clinging to his dresser, determined beyond belief to get to his son and save him from destroying the kitchen – he might burn himself! – he might burn the building down!
As Iruka stumbled down the hallway, trying not to knock the framed photographs off the wall, his werewolf senses were singing: there wasn’t just fried eggs and fresh bacon, there was toast, and baked beans, and ham, and – and – English black tea?
His heart was doing unskilled parkour in his chest, bouncing about his other internal organs, urging him to lay down and die – but no – no – Naruto! His poor son!
Rounding the corner into the living room and the kitchen, Iruka stopped dead in his tracks: he was just so very wickedly unready for the inexplicable sight before him.
Naruto was curled up on the couch, pillow pressed to his face, his bright blue eyes fixed on an old anime movie on the television screen. He was wearing pajamas, his most comfortable pair, the ones that Iruka had bought him on the day they had declared to be his birthday (the boy didn’t know his birthday, which made both of them immeasurably sad, but Iruka had fixed it by saying Naruto could have his birthday when the cherry blossoms first fell in the city).
In front of Naruto on the coffee table… was an entire breakfast spread, a foreign one, a collection of strange food that Iruka had never seen gathered together. The growing boy had eaten about half of it, but there was still so much left, suggesting a truly ridiculous amount of prepared food.
And then Iruka noticed Kakashi Hatake sitting in the broken recliner, the British newspaper The Times completely covering his face, his long jean-clad legs stretched ahead of him.
Just as Iruka was beginning to croak out a sound of confusion and question, Naruto spotted him, and, with massive glee and thrill, shouted at the very top of his lungs:
“Iruka-sensei! You’re awake!”
The young youkai leapt over to him, instantly bringing out both hands and forcing healing energy into Iruka’s weakened body. The boy was rambling immediately as he did so; Iruka found himself staring, flabbergasted at what was going on, totally unable to look away.
Fortunately, Naruto was committed to explaining what happened – or at least what he thought happened.
“Kakashi-sensei brought you back this morning! I stayed up all night, I couldn’t figure out where you went, you didn’t leave a note, but I thought maybe you were out finding Kakashi-sensei, so I tried to be patient. I watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I was on the first Hobbit movie when Kakashi-sensei came back with you. You were unconscious, just like that other night, and I would have healed you, but Kakashi-sensei had gotten bit real bad by a werewolf, so I had to spend most of my energy on him, I’m sorry, Iruka-sensei, I would have loved to help you, too, but, man, he looked terrible.”
As Naruto took a breath, preparing himself to unload out more information about his morning, Iruka looked up at Kakashi, anxious to see his reaction to the story.
Having lowered his newspaper down to his nose, Kakashi’s single dark eye met Iruka’s gaze in a keen bewildering moment. His other eye, the enchanting one, was perfectly closed, like it nearly always was. But extreme change had rewritten Kakashi’s eternally pale-white features, which could now be clearly seen in the daytime and the overhead lighting of the living room: he was still fully red-flushed in the face. His black eye was somehow both attentive and wandering.
Before Iruka could even think to speak to either of them, Naruto went back to spilling out his life story in the air between them, still pouring healing energy into Iruka’s weary frame:
“Kakashi-sensei explained it all to me, so you don’t have to worry. I didn’t know that there was a bad guy who was bothering you, I wish you would have told me. I mean, I’m glad Kakashi-sensei tracked him down, and I’m even happier than you were there to stop the bad guy from taking Kakashi-sensei away, but, wow, he really did a number on Kakashi-sensei’s leg, you should have seen it, there was blood everywhere, I could totally see his leg bone. It was gross, but also awesome, too, but it’s all fixed now! Show him, Kakashi-sensei!”
With both Naruto and Iruka’s attention pointedly redirected to him, Kakashi apparently felt compelled to put aside his newspaper on the noticeably short stack of papers on the floor. Normally, the pile was nearly knee-high, but today, there were only two other papers, both looking like Sunday editions… the ones that he would have missed while out on his blood binge.
While visibly looking quite normal but for that unceasing heavy blush, Kakashi’s movements were just a little off – something Iruka could detect with his werewolf sight and memory of the man. The vampire had clearly convinced Naruto that he was fine beyond the leg wound that Iruka had given him, the one that he was blaming on some unknown other werewolf.
Kakashi pushed up his jeans, showing the area of pale white skin where Iruka had sunk his teeth. There was nothing there, not even the shadow of a fang-shaped scar. Although Iruka could still very much feel the meaty thickness of Kakashi’s calf in his mouth and could practically hear the crush of his teeth on the man’s fibula in his ears, there was no surviving sign of their intense encounter in the snow by the Demon Fox memorial obelisk.
As usual, Naruto could rewrite history: he was doing it again with Iruka this very moment, making it so that the long horrible run was a distant memory and nothing more.
“See, Iruka-sensei!” Naruto exclaimed cheerily, embracing him with force. “It’s okay now!”
Above Naruto’s head, Iruka and Kakashi exchanged meaningful but rather indecipherable looks. Obviously Kakashi had lied his ass off to explain both of their absences, the awful wound that Iruka had given him, and the state of Iruka’s body after the hunt and the magical rush home. However, the other man didn’t look contrite at all: instead, he was remarkably blank-faced, almost absurdly so, looking like he had weeks ago, as if he was a Renaissance painting with rosy cheeks and an empty expression.
“Who made the food…?” Iruka asked Naruto quietly. He pulled his gaze away from Kakashi to study the kitchen – and was floored to see that the kitchen was a total fucking wreck – but only because someone had made an entire medieval feast in their tiny culinary space. The counter was stacked high with ham, slices of bacon, more toast, cold fried eggs, a white ceramic bowl of already-cooked baked beans, and was that an antique teapot? Was that a foreign box of English breakfast tea?
“Kakashi-sensei made everything!” Naruto chirped with clueless satisfaction. He bounced over to the kitchen, pointing out each of the different foods and naming them like Iruka had never seen them ever before in his life… which Iruka realized slowly might have been true for Naruto, even if it wasn’t for him. The boy added triumphantly, “He made it for both of us. We have so much that we can eat the rest tonight after Parent-Teacher Conference Day!”
The words crept up on Iruka then hit him like a pile of bricks.
“What?” he sputtered, suddenly flustered beyond belief. “That’s today? Why aren’t you in school? Shouldn’t you be in school right now?”
Iruka started forward in surprise, but his legs were still unsteady, and he fell.
But then suddenly Kakashi was holding him with strong arms; he was so fast that Iruka hadn’t even seen his movement, but he was burning hot pressed up against Iruka, smelling so frighteningly intense, so like himself, no, better that Iruka felt his whole body flush, harden, glory in it, and Iruka seized Kakashi’s shoulders, instantly and impulsively wanting with shuddering violence to force the man down onto the floor, down onto his hands and knees, rip off his pretty clothes, and take him right then and there, make him mine, mark him as mine, he’s mine, you’re mine, you’re going to be mine forever - - -
Without saying a thing, Kakashi righted Iruka on his feet - and then the vampire was standing alone across the room by the front door.
He was making an unusual expression… one that Iruka couldn’t immediately place.
As Kakashi glanced over at Naruto, who was piling up a second plate and had stunningly not noticed anything from the past few seconds, Iruka finally understood something:
Kakashi’s still drunk, he’s still totally drunk.
Falling back on instinct, Iruka turned tail and went to his bedroom, methodically changing into one of his better suits from back when he had been a university lecturer. He tried not to consider his confusingly intense bodily response, undoubtedly enhanced by Naruto’s youkai spiritual energy, to being proximate with the blood-intoxicated vampire, but he kept harking back to his thoughtless instinct to… to do what?
What was that? Did I want him to become… my mate? Is that even possible? A werewolf and a vampire..? Could we…?
Still very much in a daze, Iruka went to the bathroom, completing his delayed and condensed morning routine, which included shaving his face, fixing his hair, brushing his teeth, putting on deodorant. Although he wanted to shower, there was no way they were going to make it to school in time, so he gave up his need to cleanse himself of whatever was left on him after Naruto and Kakashi hand-washed him. He felt renewed energy with Naruto’s spirit swirling through his veins, a familiar feeling from all the small and enormous injuries he had sustained in the last year since he’d taken Naruto in his home and heart.
But… but the impulse to mate with anyone… especially with Kakashi Hatake, a vampire, the mortal enemy of werewolves, while he was blood-drunk and still out of his mind…
That hadn’t happened before, not even during a full moon.
Was it something about Kakashi when he was intoxicated that was driving him particularly wild?
Or was it… something else?
Really, Iruka had no more spare time to think about it, because, all of a sudden, the three of them were walking down the street to Naruto’s middle school. He fussed over Naruto’s clothing, trying to address the insane state of his sleep-disheveled blonde hair. Iruka even licked his thumb and tried to get the remnants of raspberry jam off Naruto’s line-marked cheek. Although the boy fought him every step, he could tell that his sweet little son was excited about Parent-Teacher Day, and Iruka had to force his fearfully over-eager body under control, he was so determined to make a good impression on Naruto’s almost-certainly exhausted teachers.
They arrived late, of course, just past noon. The whole event was a whirlwind, moving swiftly from class to class, with Naruto’s energy levels so impossibly high that Iruka had to remind him to keep his flowy blue spirit within his skin on more than one occasion.
Throughout the entire experience, Kakashi was perfectly composed and absolutely silent. He stayed by Iruka’s side, or right behind him, throughout Parent-Teacher Day, through the full three hours. Since no one had enough courage to ask who he was, Kakashi became a soundless familial sentinel, looking sophisticated but also like he was suffering from a bad fever. The man wore relatively loose jeans when he usually preferred tighter pairs; he’d put on a maroon button-up shirt and yet another wondrous black wool coat. Even with his reddened cheeks and constant wink-wince, Kakashi looked much like he always did… like a lean eccentric model who just walked off a Parisian runway.
More than one teacher – male and female – became flustered around him.
The same thing happened to some of the other parents and a few of the students, too.
Violently suppressing his jealousy, Iruka enjoyed discussing Naruto’s progress along with the innumerable more negative issues that his son was having both in the classroom and with his peers. He took meticulous notes on everything, firmly scolding himself in his recent relaxation of Naruto’s tutoring. Even while his body was still riding the high of youkai spiritual energy, Iruka found that his werewolf brain was slowing down and growing tired after running through so many different interactions. He was honestly relieved when Naruto asked in a quiet pleading voice if he could go see his friend, Sasuke, and hang out with him on the school playground.
Outside in the snow, watching the boys on the swings, Iruka stood beside Kakashi for a good long while before he realized that they were finally alone for the first time since Iruka had hunted him down.
He wanted to know what it meant to have a blood-drunk vampire at his side. He wanted to ask Kakashi if he had felt something earlier when the other man had stopped him from falling, or had it just been him? He wanted to figure out when and where Kakashi had learned to cook, where did he go shopping for such hardy food, did he have a secret cache of beautiful coats, did Kakashi know that he smelled so so so good this very moment that it was hard to concentrate on anything except for him?
Yet – just as Iruka was about to bring up anything, everything, something – Kakashi interrupted him in a sharp, interested tone:
“That’s Naruto’s friend?”
Feeling more than a bit thrown, Iruka followed Kakashi’s single-eyed gaze to the dark-haired boy sitting on the swings with Naruto. The two boys were differently bodied, Naruto being stockier and more muscular, but appearances were deceiving. Sasuke looked like if an old samurai sword had magically transformed into a prepubescent boy. He wasn’t looking over at Naruto, but he was responding every once and a while, which truthfully was more than Iruka would have expected for such a moody little boy. It wasn’t the first time that Iruka had seen Sasuke, but it was still new and rewarding to witness Naruto with a close friend, and he found himself smiling a bit wistfully at the sight.
“Yes, that’s Sasuke Uchiha.”
Standing on Kakashi’s right side, his good side, Iruka watched the vampire slant him a contemplative look and his silver eyebrows rise up high on his flushed forehead.
“You know that he’s a demon, right?”
“… what?” was all Iruka could manage in response.
He felt empty suddenly, as if the youkai energy disappeared from him all at once.
Still seeming rather disoriented, Kakashi only nodded, saying nothing else.
“How do you know that?” Iruka eventually had to demand, hearing protective fatherly fear in his voice and not caring in the slightest. He was fixated on Kakashi’s face – but he was also desperately trying to keep Naruto in his sight line – and, God damn it, Kakashi, answer the question quicker –
So very strangely, Kakashi’s expression shifted like he was thinking about something tragic, something old and sorrowful, but then, just as quick, it was gone, and he lifted a long gloved finger to touch the featherlight scar through his other cheek. He admitted, sounding absolutely neutral, looking not at Iruka but rather at the boys across the playground: “The Uchiha are a demon clan. I have one of their eyes.”
Iruka’s heart took up its inexpert attempt at acrobatics again: he couldn’t keep up with everything all of a sudden. But before Iruka could reach out to comfort the other man, Kakashi dropped his hand, putting it back inside his coat pocket. He looked like a wounded soldier steeling his face in front of his compatriots, trying to seem braver than he was, even as he bled out and suffered and thought desperately of home.
Iruka finally started to speak, still dreadfully surprised by the realization Kakashi’s enchanting eye wasn’t his at all, it was a demon’s -
A shadow-eyed man suddenly appeared in front of them, his black hair swept up in a peculiar loose pony tail with long bangs hanging about his face, his faux-salaryman clothes entirely monochrome with a fine grey suit jacket, high-end black jeans, white button-up shirt, and a crisply pressed black tie. He was shorter than them both, leaner than Iruka but not as emaciated as Kakashi, and he radiated cool darkness like it was expensive cologne.
With his arms crossed in front of his chest, and his dead-inside gaze locked only onto Kakashi’s blood-blushed face, the stranger displayed immense disinterest in Iruka and vast displeasure with Kakashi.
“I didn’t know you wanted to die, Copy Nin.”
Even though every single one of his werewolf instincts were warning him to stare at the man while backing quickly away from him, Iruka’s deep bond with Kakashi drove him to look instead at the dazed vampire. He was absolutely startled to see Kakashi’s entire countenance had radically changed, gone dark and sinister. Kakashi was still as blank-faced as ever but somehow now it seemed more like he was wearing a red-painted porcelain mask of lethal intent.
Although he trusted his lover, Iruka’s instincts were tripping over themselves to counsel him to get the fuck away from these two, they are superior to you in every way, they can and will kill you with a flick of the wrist, the blink of an eye.
Staring only at the man, Kakashi said flatly, “I thought you abandoned your brother.”
The frightening stranger didn’t respond in any discernable way.
After a stray second, though, he turned and looked directly at Iruka –
- and both his black eyes went supernova, exploding into scarlet blood with constellations of dark sparkling spots spiraling through the liquid red landscape.
Suddenly Iruka found himself draped in Kakashi’s left arm, like a delicate woman who had fainted in the summer heat; he was coming to, shaking his head, trying to understand his crazily scattered thoughts. He could see little snatches of his own old memories floating through the front of his mind, and they made him sick, so very sick, that his stomach started to churn, bile crawling up his throat.
His mother, her long brown hair that looked so much like his, petting his fever-slick brow, spoon-feeding him miso soup;
the hunter who held him down as a puppy, trying to cut open his throat, missing and striking his snout when his father’s huge jaws closed around the woman’s head, crushing her skull, spraying Iruka with blood;
his terrified neighbor, a human woman, holding him back, as his parents ran into the rubble, the roaring red flame of the Demon Fox all around him;
his laughing classmates, finding his pained antics hilarious, while he shook miserably on the inside, knowing he had to go back to an empty apartment on the anniversary of his parents’ deaths;
Mizuki wrenching out his slender silver wolf form, snatching a knife from the kitchen with human hands, slamming it deep into Iruka’s back in their shared studio;
Naruto on the park swing, crying big fat familiar tears, holding onto Iruka’s fingers like he was the last thing in existence;
Kakashi stepping out of the shower, wringing water out of his beautiful hair, looking up and meeting Iruka’s yellow lupine eyes for the first time.
… the same lovely vampire who was currently choking the life out of the strange man in front of them.
His leather-gloved fingers were wrapped around the too-white skin of the man’s neck, but underneath his hand was a rolling upset force of shadowy magic, desperate and frantic to fend off the assault, to stop impending death.
But Kakashi’s arm was tight and resolute on Iruka’s waist, and so too was his hand on the man’s throat, crushing downwards through the dark magic, driving into the skin, muscle, bone millimeter by millimeter, striving to destroy him by decapitation.
“Stop,” Iruka tried to say, but it was inaudible, and he forced himself to speak up, saying far too loudly in a panicked shout, “Kakashi, stop, please stop!”
Instantly in response, without looking at Iruka, Kakashi dropped the man, who stepped immediately backwards, glowering with his insane red-and-black eyes back at him –
Because he was a demon, Iruka realized. He was an Uchiha.
He… was Sasuke’s mysterious brother.
“If you ever hurt him, Itachi,” Kakashi ground out, his voice like a stormy night where the moon was gone and only crackling lightning filled the skies. “You will wish you were still in hell.”
The strange man, the demon, this Itachi Uchiha was nowhere near as enraged as Kakashi, but he was visibly taking the warning deep within himself. He was calculating; his whole expression was simultaneously as vacant as Kakashi’s, yet he seemed terribly meditative, like he was judging a thousand different options ahead of him all at the same time.
“The rumors are true, then,” Itachi mused aloud, tone dry. His bright red-and-black eyes were still on Kakashi, their magic seemingly not affecting him; Iruka kept his head down, unsure where to look. With Kakashi holding him close with one arm, his own older violent impulse to take the blood-tipsy vampire was daring to rise to the surface once again. He was too hot, they were both too hot, his body felt sick and feverish and muddled.
“You’re with the de –”
“Itachi - No fair! I can’t believe you got to meet Kakashi’s werewolf before I did!”
Iruka’s gaze swung up out of his control: he was flabbergasted to witness a truly enormous man wearing a forest-green track suit walk from behind them and catch Itachi by the shoulders, putting him into an immediate expert-level headlock and ruffling his black hair with one huge hand. Even though Itachi was clearly trying to resist, he was unable to get out of the hold, and he consequentially looked so put-out that he suddenly didn’t seem the least bit terrifying.
In contrast, the massive muscular man with the black bowl-cut, bushy eyebrows, and the shiniest teeth that Iruka had ever seen in his life – he was disconcerting, he was unbelievably disconcerting.
“Eternal Rival, it is so good to see you!” the man declared, using his free hand to give Kakashi a generous thumb’s up, which he then changed into an open hand and stuck close to Iruka’s face. On dumb instinct of human etiquette, Iruka took the stranger’s outstretched hand and became subject to the most intense handshake of his life. The truly exceptional man continued to hold onto Itachi, keeping the demon’s head directed down, as he shook Iruka's hand; most peculiarly, he seemed actually rather fond of the man he was forcibly half-embracing.
Nevertheless, Iruka nearly blacked out again when this new man, impossibly delighted, ridiculously thrilled, obviously unafraid of the strange gathering of demon, vampire, and werewolf in one place, announced with boisterous joy:
“Iruka, it is an absolute pleasure to meet you - I just can’t wait for your wedding!”
Time slowed down, down, down…
It wasn’t over, not at all, because the man suddenly concluded with a weeping exclamation:
“After two hundred years, Kakashi’s finally getting married!”
Changing back to Kakashi's perspective means we're in for one truly wild ride...
Iruka’s blood set his world on fire.
He was licking his bottom lip, desperate for more, when he realized what was happening. Underneath him, Iruka looked so confused, so perplexed; his fingertips were pretty and wet and red, and Kakashi stared at them, wanting to lick them clean, wanting to bite them right off Iruka’s hand, wanting to devour Iruka’s whole arm, wanting to eat every last little piece of Iruka.
No. No. No!
The night cold was not cold enough to blast away his hunger. He flung off his shirt, he tore off his undershirt and jeans, he was sitting on top of a skyscraper staring down at the city below. A silver-tipped owl swung by, seeking out prey, and he watched it, knowing what he needed to do, he needed to do that, too.
He broke into a store, smashing glass with a single fist. He took the first pants his fingers touched, the first white shirt and a pair of suspenders, because the pants were too loose, far too loose, they were falling off his hips and he clipped the metal to the belt just as the police flew up to the store, red and blue and red and blue and a matching screaming machine and shrill shouts of stop, put your hands up, and then he was downtown, walking the cigarette-strewn street, his demon eye open, wide open, in search of someone.
He saw them with his human eye first: they were businessmen, foreigners, white Westerners, slinking along the city like they owned the place, looking down their noses on the locals. They were already drunk, smug, self-righteous, and they were inside the fancy hotel downtown three blocks from where Iruka worked, they were in the elevator riding up to the suite level. He observed it from across the street, both eyes open, his demon eye breaking down into the dark truth of the situation.
The girls were all underage, in high heels and tight skirts; the man trafficking them was holding one hard on the arm, saying something low and hurried and harsh. They were in front of the suite, they were inside, and then so was he, grabbing the two girls and shoving them in the bathroom, saying something like ‘Don’t open the door.’
The foreign men were shouting, the local was shooting at him. He saw the bullets as they came towards him, moved aside, heard them hit the walls, breaking plaster, splintering wood.
He snapped the trafficker’s neck. He was less swift with the others, relishing each passing second of terror pouring out of their pores, lingering on the last man and witnessing his face go ashen in advance of death. He drank him first, until the man’s cheeks were hollow and his skin clung to his bones. Then the others, he took them faster than the initial man, and he was brushing blood off his scarred cheek, running his tongue along his finger, when he heard the girls’ soft crying, and, at that moment, the blood hit his system, and –
He was gone.
Next thing he remembered, he was in the river, floating on his back, looking at the daytime sky.
His face hurt: he had been in direct sunlight far too long. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been outside. He flipped over on his stomach, surveying where he was in the river, where he was in the world. He frankly had no idea. He spotted a lone deer in the distance, thought about tackling her and breaking her front legs and watching her scream herself hoarse until she died from fear. He saw migrating birds overhead, wondered where they were going, were they going home, should he follow them home?
He didn’t have a home. He had never had a home.
His father hung himself in the garden.
His mother had died in an epidemic; her body was black when they buried her.
He was in the woods, contemplating a hibernating bear in a dark cave, curious if she could feel him instinctively in her deadened state. His clothes no longer had any blood of them, but he could feel the stuff running hot and wild through his thin brittle veins. He crouched down, thinking about what he would do this winter, if he would hibernate and wait it out, see what the world had to offer him in the springtime.
Would he be with Iruka in the springtime?
He was back in the city suddenly; he was across the street from Iruka’s apartment. He stared at the broken recliner through the window, the sunken old couch, the tattered report card on the fridge stuck there with a yellow smiley-face magnet. He was inside the building, through the bedroom window, he was pressing on his favorite person in existence, he was so relieved to find Iruka still here after all this time.
The sounds were familiar, and unfamiliar, and he loved all of them. He wondered at the feel of Iruka’s ribs under his hands, they were delicate and strong, they held the wolf together like body armor and chain mail and long nights watching soap operas. He could feel the powerful beat of the wolf’s heart; it was a heavy percussion drum pounding in his ears.
He wanted to know Iruka, every part of him, inside and outside.
He remembered Iruka’s back scar, the one he had seen by the river; his mouth was on the old wound. He was licking deeply into it, wanting to taste the blood from when it happened years earlier, wanting to heal it with his undead tongue like he wasn’t evil magic but something more angelic, more like Rin, more like how she had been, so good and pristine, before he killed her. He couldn’t heal Iruka, or maybe he could, if he tried enough. He would never kill Iruka, he would never let anyone kill Iruka. He would kill anyone who hurt Iruka, he would kill himself if he ever hurt Iruka.
Underneath him, his blurred dream was saying something in a fine whine, it sounded like someone begging for his life – but, no, he was begging for more – for intimacy – for –
He shouldn’t be here. He was going to kill Iruka. He was going to eat him alive.
He was so stupid – he couldn’t have a lover – he could never have a lover - he was going to rip Iruka to pieces and taste blood on his tongue and hang himself in the garden and be black and dead when he was buried.
It was snowing at the memorial stone. The Demon Fox, twelve years ago, roaming about engulfed in crimson fire, crashing through skyscrapers and crushing people under his blazing claws. He and Gai, standing on the edge of it all, staring in dark awe.
“He seems in pain.”
Gai’s cursed-chain-drenched face looked equally anguished when the man spoke the words, and it was written into his own demon-eye’s memory, looping over and over, as he stared high up at the stone in the snowfall years later.
Iruka’s parents were there, near the pinnacle, shining and high. He was down below, he was pure evil incarnate, he was undead, he was unreal. He couldn’t speak anything aloud to them, but he was trying to say it all, confess and plead and ask permission and make promises.
I will protect him, unless I kill him, but if I kill him, I will torture myself with crosses and silver and sunlight, I will tie cold iron to my feet and throw myself into the ocean and fill up with plastic and stare at fish and decomposing whales until the planet is eaten up by the sun.
And also – also – he could feel the place where his soul had been, an empty space, a black void, he was shoving it full of desperation, stuffing it with hope-filled cotton balls, strapping its leaking darkness shut with gauze and bandages and – and -
I want to marry your son. I want to kiss him under the shining sun, I want to see him smile with his eyes closed, and he’s wearing a black tuxedo, and there’s beautiful flowers all around us. I want to make him happy, I want to keep his body unscarred, I want to save his soul from sin. He is good, so good, and I am not, and I know I don’t deserve him, but I want to marry your son, and if you could please give me permission, I will protect him with the last of my life, the rest of my unlife. Please, please, please -
Iruka was behind him; he was panting as a wolf, his paws were hard on the snow.
He was on top of Iruka, keeping the werewolf still, watching as he struggled and surrendered. He still wanted to tear out Iruka’s throat, but he wanted more now, he wanted to kiss Iruka until he broke him, he wanted to feel Iruka’s cheekbones under his fingertips, he wanted to be inside him, he wanted Iruka inside him, he –
He was going to kill Iruka. He couldn’t be anyone’s lover. He couldn’t be Iruka’s lover.
He said as much, he said aloud, “Stop looking for me. I will kill you. I will accidentally kill you.”
The wolf was big and gorgeous and stupid; Iruka was suicidal. He was suddenly human, he was too close, and he was beautiful and scarred and saying something sentimental and horrible.
Something about not leaving Kakashi alone, not now, not ever.
You don’t understand. I can’t control myself around you.
He wasn’t sure if he said it aloud, he wasn’t sure and he didn’t care. He couldn’t handle Iruka Umino; the werewolf was ruining him, ruining him in ways he had never imagined. He felt the blood rushing through his veins and heart, but there was more, and it was confusing and painful, there was uncurling green spring growth and waking baby bears and birds heading home, and he had to leave, he was gone.
But he wasn’t gone.
There was a strange feeling in his leg, blood was draining out his leg. He wasn’t able to focus on it, because Iruka Umino was a wolf, and then a human, and then a man, and Iruka was upset, he was furious, he was seething, his beautiful facial scar a dark streak of reverse lightning in the snowfall.
Clearer than anything else – than anything from the last week –
“How dare you leave me alone. How dare you think I would let you live alone. You are coming home with me. Shut up, just shut up – you’re coming home now.”
Kakashi felt the words settle into him, past his skin, down to that once-empty site of his soul. They were blowing up, getting bigger, each of the words, becoming physical and real, taking up space like expanding electroactive polymer and a rising soufflé and rainwater flooding the Okavango Delta.
Home, home, home.
He had a home?
Iruka was staring down at him. He was straddling Kakashi. He was nude and beautiful. His scars, his ribcage, his brown skin, his –
“Why are you so hot?”
Kakashi answered, he knew he answered, he could hear himself answer - “I killed four men and drank their blood” – but his attention was on Iruka’s eyes, he was keeping his demon eye closed, he didn’t want to entrap Iruka, he had done that before, he didn’t want to do that again, never again, Iruka would tell him the truth all on his own, he should tell Iruka the truth –
Iruka’s ribs were stronger than he remembered. His skin was smoother, even the scars. Had Iruka changed since – how long had it been since Kakashi had last seen him? It felt like a long time, maybe a decade? Or a half-century? Could it have been yesterday? Was it a few hours?
Iruka’s hand was on his arm, it was on Kakashi’s sleeve.
Apparently Kakashi was wearing clothing. This wasn’t his shirt. He seemed to have on suspenders, they were way too tight on his chest, they might have hurt him except his leg was broken, but Kakashi’s attention wasn’t there, either, it was on Iruka’s calloused fingers on the wet white fabric clinging to his arm.
Iruka touches me like I’m alive. He kisses me like I’m alive.
Iruka was saying something again, he was – he was saying that Kakashi should come home.
How could that be? How could Kakashi have a home?
He had never had a home.
“What sort of dream is this?”
That could be the only thing that was happening, this was a dream, he hadn’t had a proper dream in fifty years, not since 1969 when humans landed on the moon and they saw the dark side of the moon and there was sweet white magic there and it blinded humanity and –
“It’s not a dream.”
Kakashi stared at Iruka’s fingertips so intently with his single human eye that he was suddenly furious that he had ever lost the first one. That was worse than death, the loss of his other eye, because he couldn’t see Iruka’s touch with two eyes, he had to accept Iruka with half his sight, and he wanted to see all of him, inside and out, and –
“Can you do that for me?”
The question flew through him like a spear – like a shuriken – like an artillery shell –
“I would do anything for you,” he replied, because truth was his new best friend, so sorry Maito Gai, you are second now, or third maybe, after Iruka Umino, but you are a good man, too, maybe too good, definitely too good, how are we friends Maito Gai, why are you friends with me –
Oh, Iruka was kissing him.
Not a dream, not a dream.
Kakashi was kissing back, trying to stay present enough to not use all his strength at once, do not break Iruka, do not break Iruka, but, oh, taste him, taste him and enjoy him, he missed this, he missed Iruka, he wanted to go home, they should go home.
At the same exact moment, Iruka said to him, whispered to him, “Come home with me.”
They had a home together. Kakashi had a home with Iruka.
They should always be together. They should be lovers forever.
The truth, Iruka should know the truth.
“I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
Iruka was looking down at him, his expression was strange. But, it was okay, because Kakashi loved the werewolf’s face, his ribcage, his scars, his skin, his soul, his –
Iruka asked in voice unlike his usual one, “What did you say?”
So Kakashi repeated himself, because maybe Iruka was tired, they were many miles outside of the city, he must have run here as a wolf, that would have been hard on him.
“Please tell me I wasn’t your first kiss,” Iruka said in response.
Kakashi knew he was being teased; he made a face up at the man atop him. He made sure to say, firmly, correcting any narrative that he was inexperienced to the point of being an embarrassment, he wasn’t embarrassed about being a virgin, no, not at all - “Of course not. I’ve been undead for three hundred and four years; I was alive twenty-seven years before that.”
Yet Iruka was fearless, he was direct and fearless, he was always that way.
“But everything else?”
Kakashi felt no embarrassment, either, as he informed Iruka, “You’re my first.”
Iruka responded by grabbing onto Kakashi’s shoulders; he was flushed, and he looked dizzy. His words sounded just as heated and confused as he ordered, demanded, asked, pled, in a low pained voice, one that struck Kakashi like arrows and bullets and late-night spiritual epiphanies: “Get us home.”
Kakashi could do that. He definitely could do that. He adjusted Iruka’s snow-wet body in his arms, looked around for home, for their home, and he went there with the sort of magical speed and strength that came with undeath and blood hydrating his body once more.
He was bleeding badly, leaving a trail of other men’s blood behind him, but, in seemingly no time at all, he was in front of their apartment door, once again knocking with one hand.
And, again, the little youkai, the world-ender, answered the door, but, this time, Naruto looked relieved not just to see Iruka - but also Kakashi. His glowing aquamarine eyes were sharply studying them both, and he was swiftly ushering Kakashi inside, saying something, but then Naruto stopped, and he was staring, absolutely staring, at -
“Holy shit, what happened to your leg??”
Kakashi glanced down and noticed for the first time that his fibula was sticking out his skin. His entire right pants-leg (he was realizing these weren’t his pants, where had he gotten these pants?) was torn open, showing the extent of his wound and waves of red blood still flowing down his leg and over his bare foot and his toes and across the floor.
“Oh,” he mumbled, surprised by the sight. “I got bit.”
“By a bad guy?” Naruto questioned in a high-pitched voice, as both of them watched the blood pooling in the old linoleum doorway.
“Yeah, sure, a bad guy,” Kakashi found himself echoing. He glanced upwards to consider Iruka held tight in his arms, and he suddenly noticed the werewolf was utterly unconscious, likely from the magical run across the countryside. He added off-handedly, “I went out, and Iruka came after me, and he took care of things.”
“I’m going to heal you.”
Kakashi was usually quick on his feet, but he found himself stuck in molasses or sticky tar, because Naruto was so very fast, and the youkai was shoving, just shoving, his abnormal chakra into Kakashi, the kind that fueled the Nine-Tailed Fox, made him huge and wild and fast and strong and mad, and – and – and –
He put Iruka in bed, and grabbed new clothes, and robbed a man of his coat, and was standing in the butcher’s shop, pointing out fine imported ham and the best bacon money could buy, and then he was in the British section of a high-end all-organic hipster grocery store, piling his arms high with cans of baked beans and English tea and good thick bread, and he walking down the street with his demon eye open, rambling internally to himself –
People with homes protect people in their home, they make breakfast for people in their home, people love breakfast, families have breakfast together, Naruto is the Demon Fox, he’s the Nine-Tailed Fox, he’s a growing boy, he needs breakfast, the best breakfast I ever had, that was 1915, that was before I went to war, that was in that tiny English village, she said ‘You’re the most interesting person in this village,’ and I said, ‘That’s not true at all - you are,’ and she put her hand on my hand, and she made me a breakfast that I used to dream about, Naruto needs a breakfast like that, he needs to dream about breakfast.
And Kakashi realized he was making breakfast and had been for some unknown amount of time, the baked beans were already done, the ham sliced, the toast prepared, and then he slowly looked down and saw that Naruto was standing next to him in the apartment kitchen –
“How long have you been there?” Kakashi asked in thick confusion.
“The last hour and a half?”
“Why does it feel like I’m speeding?”
Naruto’s childish laughter covered up the crazy of his subsequent words. “Oh! That’s my spiritual energy! It makes other people act like they’ve had a bunch of energy drinks and candy. Like, a lot of candy.” He was smiling up at Kakashi, eyes closed, totally amused at his expense.
Instead of feeling disturbed, though, Kakashi scanned the apartment.
“Where’s your daddy?”
“Huh? You mean Iruka-sensei?”
Kakashi shook his head, turning around fully, surveying the living room in dreamy distraction. He belatedly realized he was wearing Iruka’s white-and-red-plaid apron. He was verbally correcting Naruto as he glanced over at the front entrance of the apartment, recognizing with dawning surprise that the Fox had cleaned up the blood.
“Yeah, your daddy. Is he okay? Has he woken up?”
“No, he’s still resting.”
Kakashi looked back down at the Nine-Tailed Fox and found him looking so sad, it was such a strange and unbearable sight, and there was manic Fox energy tearing through Kakashi’s nerves and bad men’s blood coursing through his veins, and he suggested, clear and strong, staring down at Naruto with Obito’s eye firmly closed, “I’m going to teach you how to cook bacon.”
Naruto’s own supernatural blue eyes glowed bright. His smile went wide, turned into a grin. “Yeah? Really?” he asked, excitement causing him to tremble and jump in place.
“Yeah, really,” Kakashi repeated back to him, and he did just that, over and over again, showing the Nine-Tailed Fox – no, no – showing Naruto how to cook bacon a few different ways, spending a full hour on that single task alone. He gave Naruto the tongs to turn the bacon, and, even when the kid messed it up, which he did over and over again, Kakashi shrugged it off and showed him again, describing how it was good to have two people working together in the kitchen, because teamwork is important, it’s really important, Naruto, always remember that - which was a funny thing to say, because Kakashi worked alone most of the time, but truthfully his favorite times in life and unlife had been with other people, now that he was thinking about it.
Kakashi was explaining why modern English people preferred teabags instead of loose-leaf tea when two things occurred at once:
First, he realized that he had apparently stopped at an antique store earlier while he was speeding on Fox chakra and had bought a freakishly expensive teapot from the mid-twentieth century to make tea, which meant he had gone to the bank, too, which made sense because how else had he bought all this food?
Second, Naruto tugged on his sleeve and announced in a warm, pleased voice, “I want to call you Kakashi-sensei, can I do that?”
“Why would you do that?” Kakashi replied, his own tone flat and uncertain. He wasn’t a teacher, well, he wasn’t a good teacher, anyway: he had a few kouhai in the last three hundred years, but he wasn’t great with them, and they called him senpai, not sensei.
“Because you’re teaching me to cook, and you’re a nice guy, and Iruka-sensei likes you.”
Kakashi was outside again.
At first he thought he’d run away from Naruto, terrified by the Nine-Tailed Fox’s honesty and sincerity, but then he noticed that he was holding newspapers in one hand and a DVD in the other, and it was his favorite anime movie from the 1980s, and he had the horrific realization he was trying to share a soft, sweet, stupid part of himself with the Fox.
He opened Obito’s eye as wide as he could and looked down at his ungloved hands.
Yes, it was happening, it had happened, it was still happening:
The Nine-Tailed Fox’s spiritual energy was mixed so intimately with his own spectral energy, it was like stirring together red and blue and seeing purple instead.
But, a moment later, Kakashi was home, and Naruto was in his pajamas, eating breakfast food and watching the movie, and Kakashi was reading the newspaper, or trying to do so, even though he was failing badly, rereading the same lines over and over again, his brain running at high speeds from Nine-Tailed Fox spirit energy and his body flushed and crazed with blood.
And – suddenly – Iruka Umino was standing in the living room, staring right at him, while Naruto healed his weary werewolf bones.
So they were both safe and home.
He was home.
He was also blood-drunk, and chakra-high, and deeply in love.
… hopefully they would just stay home all day…