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a mutual friend

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"Hatake is a good guy, Iruka, despite his habitual tardiness," explains Asuma as he watches his younger brother flip through the menu, his page turns the only betrayal of how agitated he truly is. He has to hide a grin as Iruka sends him a disbelieving glare.

"Well, I certainly hope he doesn't expect us to wait for him before ordering. I didn't have a chance to eat dinner last night, so I'm starving," Iruka gripes, taking another sip of his coffee. He doesn't elaborate that the reason he didn't have dinner is he got distracted on his way home last night from the bar where they'd all been hanging out.

"Too drunk to remember to get that Big Mac on the way home, Rukie?" Asuma's grin is blatant now, and very amused. He's incredibly smart, but Iruka can't see how he can know what happened last night — that's between Iruka and the man who'd messaged him on Tinder.

"Something like that," grumbles Iruka, drinking more of his coffee to try and abate the pounding in his head. His hangover isn't as bad as it would've been if he had stayed at the bar as long as Asuma and his fiance had. "And don't call me that, I'm not ten anymore."

"Maa, Rukie sounds so cute though," comments a new voice, making Iruka freezes as he turns with Asuma to look at the person who's walked up to their table. There stands a man, silver hair hanging half over his face, covering his left eye and with a custom air pollution mask on, tiny white paw prints covering the navy material. Iruka's face pales as he takes in the casual slouch, the way the t-shirt fits on the guy's chest and the way the plaid shirt he wears over it tries to hide it.

"You're Hatake," Iruka says, as blandly as possible, trying to not let his sheer disbelief enter his voice.

"I prefer people call me Kakashi, but yes, Hatake is the surname my parents gave me." He gives Iruka a smile, by way of his one visible eye, before turning to Asuma and saying, "Sorry I couldn't make it to the bar last night. My flight got in really late and then I just wanted to sit back and relax, y'know?"

"No worries, Kakashi; we're just glad you made it today." Asuma nods over to Iruka, who's buried his face in the menu again. "This is my brother, Iruka, that I've told you about. Iruka, this is my college roommate, Kakashi."

"Nice to meet you," mumbles Iruka, looking up very briefly to be polite, a shiver running down his spine when he sees the pointed look Kakashi gives him.

"Same to you," Kakashi replies, amusement lacing his voice. He thankfully turns away from Iruka to focus on Asuma. "Have you guys ordered yet? I'm sorry I was late, by the way; I had trouble finding my wallet. It apparently flew from my pants when they were taken off last night."

Iruka flushes, knowing without looking that Kakashi is watching him from the corner of his one eye, and he doesn't want to look up and see Asuma's curious expression. His savior in that moment comes from their waiter, who appears to take their order.

"I'll have the eggs benedict with a side of country potatoes and pancakes."

"Lumberjack special for me."

"Maa, I think I'll have the French toast, but hold on the powdered sugar if you don't mind."

"Wonderful choices, and can I get you anything to drink, sir?"

"Just water please."

The waiter smiles, nodding as he walks away to get Kakashi his water and put their food order in with the kitchen. The relief Iruka had felt upon the waiter's arrival dissipates now that he's gone. He no longer has a menu to hide behind, and finds himself in a reality where he's sitting at a round table, for brunch, with his older brother and the guy who's apartment he snuck out of only a few hours ago.

"How was your flight then?" Asuma leans towards Iruka while gesturing at his friend, "This guy meticulously graduated college and then decided to travel the world."

"Just because I landed in the top 5% of our graduating class and you didn't, Asuma, does not make me meticulous," chides Kakashi, but with the familiarity and joking quality that only years of friendship can create. "And I'm not just traveling for the hell of it — it's for work."

"Right, right, you go around the world and help companies re-examine their blueprints for new constructions." Asuma manages to sound unimpressed and disinterested, but if by the amount Iruka has heard his brother talk about his friend, he knows that he's actually incredibly proud of him. "Where did you go this time again?"

"I spent a month in Germany; the Germans are, if anything, very particular about their engineering designs." Kakashi picks up the glass of water the waiter just brought out, murmuring a thanks to him, before lowering his mask enough so that it rests on his chin, covering his jawline. Iruka's grateful for that at least because he's pretty sure he left, uh, some incriminating evidence there.

"Did you do much sight-seeing while you were there?" Iruka asks, his voice a lot quieter than he intends. (He's only slightly preoccupied with the refresher of what Kakashi's face looks like, and the surge of memories of that face contorted in pleasure.)

"Maa, not usually. The companies I help like to keep me busy so that they don't have to have me out again. I managed to go to one of their zoos though — albeit to help with a new exhibit. They have guinea pigs at their entrance."

"Guinea pigs?" asks Asuma, a smile on his face.

"Yeah, with little tents for them to sleep under and everything." Kakashi snaps his fingers and points at Asuma. "Oh, and they had advertisements for weddings! You and Kurenai could get married there. I know the board, I could help you get on the short list if you guys don't have a venue yet."

Asuma laughs, and Iruka can't help the small chuckle that escapes him as well. "Thanks, Kakashi, but I somehow don't think that a zoo is where Kurenai wants to exchange vows."

Kakashi shrugs. "Her loss. It's a beautiful zoo." He turns his gaze solely to Iruka at that point. "So, Iruka, what is it that you do?"

"I'm a teacher; sixth grade."

"A teacher, huh?" Iruka flushes again, not sure what to do with the focused stare Kakashi is giving him. "Sounds exhausting."

"You'd never know it from how he goes on about them," says Asuma, clapping his brother on the shoulder lightly. "He never shuts up about how great his kids are, how well they're doing."

"But they are doing great!" Iruka huffs, not sure what to do with his brother's normal teasing when it's in front of a guy who's seen quite literally all of him. "There's nothing wrong with being proud of my students."

"I'm sure you're a wonderful teacher if that's how you feel about them. I know my little brother is very fond of his current teacher, and is doing much better in school because of him." There's no mocking tone in Kakashi's voice, and Iruka finds himself smiling softly behind his coffee cup.

"What school does he go to?"

"Konoha Middle."

Iruka's grip on his mug falters for a second. He meets Kakashi's eye, after glancing at Asuma who's definitely grinning. "I teach at Konoha Middle."

"Oh yeah?" Kakashi's smile is warm and Iruka barely hears him as he adds, "His name is Naruto Uzumaki, have you seen him around?"

For a moment Iruka can't hear anything but static, and then he realizes Asuma's talking. "Isn't that that kid you've been tutoring on the weekends?"

"Y-Yeah, it is." Clearing his throat, Iruka meets Kakashi's gaze, which is amused with a touch of…awe? "I didn't realize Naruto's brother Kashi and your college roommate were the same person." Not to mention, also the person Iruka slept with last night.

"Naruto's parents adopted me before he was born when my father died," explains Kakashi patiently, "He never grew out of calling me the nickname he started when he was a toddler."

"It's cute," falls out of Iruka's mouth before he can stop himself. Asuma snorts into his own coffee, and Iruka hopes he chokes on his eggs later. "I'm glad to have met the person who Naruto looks up to so much."

Kakashi laughs lightly, "Just as glad as I am to have met the person who is so diligently showing my little brother the importance of school. Perhaps now that we have officially met, you won't leave my bed so quickly in the morning."

There's a long, silent moment, where Iruka is gaping at Kakashi, blush spreading rapidly, and Asuma is frozen with his coffee mug still held to his face. Kakashi, unperturbed, drinks his water like he hadn't just broken the unspoken agreement between them.

"I — "

"Knew it! I knew it!" Asuma's smirking, and Iruka hates what his life is in that moment and hides his head in his hands. "I knew you didn't leave the bar to go get food! You left because you had arranged a hookup!" He turns to Kakashi, who is rather smug looking until Asuma's finger points at him. "And you! You skipped out on last night to also have a hookup!"

Kakashi shrugs with one shoulder. "I wanted to relieve the stress of flying instead of forcing myself into a weird social interaction."

Looking between them, Asuma's smirk grows bigger. "And the two of you just happened to hook up, with each other!"

"Fate works in mysterious ways," says Kakashi calmly, ignoring the glare Iruka shoots him.

Asuma barks with laughter, startling not only Iruka, but also the people at the table behind them. "Oh, Kurenai is gonna love this! This is way better than us trying to set you two up!"

That gets Kakashi's attention. With a pause, he looks at his friend, one visible eyebrow raised. "You were trying to set me up with someone?"

"You were trying to set me up with him?!" Iruka's voice comes out more strangled than he likes, but at least he doesn't draw the ire of the other tables around him. "Isn't he the one who you wouldn't stop complaining about the number of people he kept bringing back to the room to sleep with?!"

"Maa, that was more of a frequency issue than a quantity issue," chimes in Kakashi, winking at Iruka, who flushes more. "Besides, he got over it once he and Kurenai finally got together and I said not a word of complaint when I got sexiled from the room in turn."

Iruka puts his hands over his ears. "I don't want to hear about this."

Asuma merely laughs again, only stopping when his phone starts ringing. He answers it with, “Hey honey, what’s up?” as if Iruka and Kakashi didn’t already know it was Kurenai. He smiles softly as he listens, and it warms Iruka’s heart to see his brother so in love, even though he’s definitely planning on punching him later for this whole brunch thing. “Okay, okay, I’ll be there in a little bit. Mmhmm. Love you. Bye.”

“Something up?” asks Kakashi lightly, looking, if Iruka hazards a guess, suspicious.

“One of the wedding vendors is giving her the run-around and she just wants me there to look intimidating when she goes to speak with them.” Iruka understands the suspicion as his own eyes narrow. Kurenai, need Asuma to look intimidating? “I’ll go ahead and pay for everything on my way out, but Rukie can you get my stuff to go and bring it to our apartment?”

“Yeah, sure thing Suma.” Asuma merely beams at Iruka using his childhood nickname, much to Iruka’s frustration.

“Thanks! And I’ll see you around, Kakashi! Good to have you home again!”

“Good to be home, Suma.” Kakashi doesn’t look at Asuma as he stands up — his eyes steadfastly focusing on Iruka, who can’t help but feel his cheeks growing hot again.

Asuma walks away, chuckling to himself as he goes to pay the bill. Iruka forces himself to hold Kakashi’s gaze, even if all he wants to do is hide under the table. Kakashi huffs in amusement and then looks away, apparently having taken in all he needs to see. During the lull, their food arrives, naturally, and the waiter informs them that Asuma managed to get his food put in a to-go box as he paid so he already has his. Iruka thanks the waiter — as does Kakashi — and they start eating. It’s after a couple moments of their silence outside of food noises that Iruka nearly chokes on his eggs.

Kakashi looks up at him questioningly. Iruka sputters, “Did he just set us up for a date?!”

“Maa, Rukie, I think that had been his plan the whole time. It was too calculated the timing of Kurenai’s call.”

“Are you implying Kurenai is also part of this?!”

“Implying? No, I’m sure of it.” Kakashi shakes his head as he resumes eating. “She’s been meddling in my love life before I even roomed with Asuma, so ever since they started dating it’s really gone up a notch.” He looks over at Iruka, something else gleaming in his eye besides amusement. “You can’t imagine my surprise when you showed up last night and I realized who you were.”

“You knew who I was and didn’t say anything?!” Iruka hisses, annoyance filling him alongside embarrassment.

“To be fair, I figured you knew who I was as well. Asuma must’ve showed you photos of our college days; he’s always tagging me in something or other on Facebook as well.”

“I…” Iruka scratches at the back of his neck, staring down at his half eaten food. “I tend to tune out most of Asuma’s college stories, especially if we’re out with a lot of people and he starts pulling out his phone.”

“Ah, my apologies then.” Iruka breathes out slowly, feeling a little better, as if Kakashi’s apology is a sponge that soaks up all of Iruka’s muddled feelings about this whole thing. “Next time we’ll both be on the same page though, so there will really be no excuses for running away. I was going to make you breakfast.”

“N-Next time?” Iruka stammers, looking up at Kakashi.

Kakashi smiles — it’s a little toothy, and somehow a little like Naruto’s — and Iruka can’t stop staring at it. “Obviously, if you agree to a next time; I’m certainly interested. If only out of a brotherly obligation to see Naruto’s face when I kiss his teacher in front of him, but also you’re interesting, can clearly hold your own if you grew up with Asuma and the Sarutobi sisters, and the fact that you’re good in bed doesn’t hurt either.”

His entire face definitely on fire, Iruka mutters, “I won’t kiss you in front of Naruto — that’s unprofessional.”

“Doesn’t have to be professional if you’re over for dinner with our family, now does it?” Iruka gapes at Kakashi, who ignoring him in favoring of eating again. “Well, of course, that won’t be for a while. I can’t even let Kushina know I’m seeing anyone or she’ll get nosy and involved with everything. Minato won’t even help me stop her ‘cos he’ll be just as curious since it’s been a while.”

Iruka’s brain stalled a few seconds ago, and is having trouble starting back up. Eventually, he asks, “A-Are we just dating now?”

“This is our second time meeting up in twenty-four hours, so I figured it was a safe assumption, especially given your reactions to everything. Am I wrong?”

Instinct tells Iruka to tell him to shove off, that sex and accidental brunch date does not make them boyfriends. The words catch in his throat though because of the gentle way Kakashi looks at him, awaiting his answer, both looking apprehensive and hopeful. Iruka clears his throat and murmurs, “I guess not.”

Kakashi doesn’t say anything further, but he gains a small grin on his face. Iruka tries to focus on eating again before his food gets too cold, but can’t help the matching grin on his own face as Kakashi’s leg rests against Iruka’s under the table.