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Not Waiting

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He was tired, that much was certain.

No, scratch that- he was absolutely exhausted. Dealing with children all day was no easy feat, even for someone as patient as him. Not only that, after coming home from a long day of teaching he still had Naruto to take care of. Honestly, that alone might be more difficult than the class full of thirteen-year-olds. Not that he didn’t love the kid, it’s just... he was definitely a handful.

Since when were teenagers this much of a hassle? Iruka wearily asked himself, shuffling through the remainder of his students’ papers. It was Sunday night, and of course he had waited until the last minute to complete his own sort of homework.

Yes, procrastination. That was the reason he left all his grading for tonight. No other reason.

...

He was absolutely not using his students’ work as an excuse to stay up, waiting for... someone. Someone he refused to name, as giving him a name would only solidify the fact that he was, in fact, waiting.

And he was not waiting.

Iruka rubbed his eyes, doing his best to stay awake. He only had a few more papers left, after which he would go to bed. This was no time to get distracted; it was time to really crack down on the remainder of his work without getting sidetracked.

...

Honestly, it shouldn’t be any surprise he was out this late, he thought. He did say that he had a mission that night, so really there was no use waiting up for him. It’s not the first time he’s been out all night on a mission.

There were times when it took days.

Iruka remembered once where it was weeks- he did his best not to worry, as he knew the other man could very easily take care of himself, but... it was hard not to.

He knew what it was like to wait for weeks, without hearing a word.

Not that it mattered, when Iruka wasn’t waiting.

He had finally gotten past his last essay for the night when he heard a sound from behind him. Iruka whipped around in alarm, only to be met with the sight of the very same man he was just worrying about.

“It’s just me,” Kakashi said, lips quirking in an amused smile.

“Welcome home,” Iruka replied tiredly, turning around to organize his finally-graded papers. He glanced at the now-open window, curtains fluttering in the breeze. “You could’ve just used the door.”

“Not as quiet,” Kakashi replied, eyeing Iruka warily. “You didn’t have to wait for me.” He gave a pointed look first at the clock, then Iruka himself.

Iruka felt a flush creep up upon his face despite his efforts, refusing to meet Kakashi’s gaze. “I was finishing my grading. You just so happened to come back at this exact time. Nothing more.” Kakashi gave him a disbelieving look, but didn’t push it. Instead, he made his way over to where Iruka was standing, arms encircling the other man’s waist.

“I’m glad you waited,” he mumbled tiredly, face buried into his shoulder. Iruka sighed, giving up on the charade as his arms wrapped around him in response.

“I’m glad you’re back,” he said quietly, almost hoping he wouldn’t be heard.

They separated after a moment, Kakashi swaying on his feet. “Bedtime,” Iruka whispered, gently leading him into the bedroom. The other man simply nodded; he was not typically one to let down his defenses, but somehow, Iruka always managed to strip them away. There were times when that worried him, but tonight was not one of them- he was too exhausted to think about anything other than sleep.

They undressed in silence, darkness enveloping the both of them. Iruka sighed softly as Kakashi’s hands snaked around his neck and into his hair, carefully untying the band that held it up. The other man then flinched away instinctively as Iruka’s hands found his face, but stilled as he pulled down the mask that covered the bottom half of his face, smiling softly when his thumb brushed over his lips.

“You shouldn’t stay up, next time,” Kakashi said, voice barely audible. Iruka sighed, shaking his head as he brought their foreheads together.

“I worry that one day you won’t come home.” Kakashi stayed quiet at that- there was no answer he could give that would lessen his fears. There was always the chance of death whenever he went out, and they both knew that truth far too well.

“I always do my best,” he finally answered, and Iruka brushed his lips against his in response.

That would have to be enough, Kakashi thought wearily, finally laying down in bed. Iruka joined him a moment later, allowing himself to be pulled closer to the other man, his heart beating distantly against his back.

“Sleep well,” Iruka murmured, drifting off at last to sleep, only barely catching the words whispered back.

“With you, always.”