If you asked Kakashi’s friends to describe him, they would each have something different to say, and each of them were somewhat correct. Obito would say he was an idiot. Rin would admit he was a bit laconic. Gai would say he was as “cool” as he was emotionally distant. Yamato would say he was irresponsible, while simultaneously begging him to focus. And Genma had often, to his face, called him an asshole. But certainly none of them would say he was shy.
Kakashi didn’t consider himself shy, either, but that didn’t mean he was actually going to talk to the cute brunette who had taken up residence on his afternoon train. No, Kakashi hadn’t spoken to him because he did have some level of social tact and knew that most people on the train weren’t looking to be hit on. Especially on the evening train, when most just wanted to make it home.
That didn’t stop him from looking, of course.
Kakashi first noticed him after class on a Tuesday. The new term had just started, and Kakashi was in the midst of making his thesis proposal, and thus could barely hold his eyes open, much less read on the way home as he usually would. Instead, he swayed with the train and held onto a brace bar above his head, eyes on his feet, chin tucked into the folds of his scarf. He was idly wondering if the pups would be willing to nap with him before their afternoon walk when someone bumped into his shoulder. They mumbled an apology as they scooted down the crowded car to find an open space. Kakashi looked up when he was jostled, following the slumped shoulders of the other passenger with passing curiosity- until he actually looked at him.
The brunette looked like he was a few years younger than Kakashi, a first or second year student at most. His hair was long enough to brush past his shoulders. It was trapped beneath a jade green beanie that complimented both his warm skin and chocolate eyes. There was a curious scar across his nose, and the sight of it made Kakashi touch the scar across his own eye thoughtfully. The boy was handsome, certainly, and looked adorably rumpled in heavy layers of winter clothing. From across the train, Kakashi could count a collared shirt, a sweater, a cardigan, and a coat tucked hastily into one of his backpack straps.
Kakashi watched him surreptitiously until the train ground to a halt at his stop. He spent his chilly walk home imagining what might have happened if he had chosen to say hello.
The boy was back the next week. He got on at the same stop as before, the one closest to the west side of campus. Kakashi idly wondered if that meant he was a science student, since that stop was next door to the lab building. He noticed that there was no hat today. Instead his hair was pulled half up into a messy little knot, revealing twin pierced ears that looked a bit pink from the cold. The thought of touching them and warming them with his fingers distracted Kakashi so thoroughly he nearly missed his stop.
Seeing the boy became a bi-weekly occurrence. By the end of the semester, Kakashi had catalogued basically every one of his physical features. He had a gorgeous smile that tended to come out most often when he would sheepishly apologize to other passengers for bumping into them. His clothing added bulk to his figure, sure, but as spring approached Kakashi realized that he actually did have quite broad shoulders. One blessed afternoon, they actually ended up standing side-by-side and Kakashi had the opportunity to compare their heights. The other boy was a few scarce inches shorter than him, and from up close Kakashi could spy a few freckles on his face, little spots barely a shade darker than his skin. On one of his backpack straps, written in sharpie, was the name Umino.
Yamato accompanied him home on the afternoon when Umino first wore his hair pulled entirely up. Kakashi was driven to such distraction by the sight that he didn’t hear a word Yamato said for the whole journey. The bare expanse of Umino’s neck and the soft fuzz of his undercut was such a delightful surprise on an otherwise uneventful Wednesday that Kakashi felt he couldn’t be blamed.
(Yamato very much disagreed, and chastised him all the way home.)
But still, Kakashi didn’t say a word to Umino. At this point, it felt like too much time had passed. They had seen each other on the train often enough by now that when Umino caught his eye, he would give him a small, polite smile. To speak to him now, after months of imagining what he would sound like and be like, could only be awkward and disappointing. And besides, the private delight of fantasizing about Umino was far too pleasant to give up.
As the semester drew to a close, Umino disappeared from the train entirely. Kakashi assumed that he had gone home for the summer. Most of the students had, and Kakashi only returned to campus each day to focus on the completion of his thesis and to teach a summer introductory literature course.
He got on his train after one such class, agitation from a lack-luster discussion compounded by the muggy, late May heat. He had already stripped down to his undershirt, button up folded away in his bag, and was contemplating tugging off his medical mask, allergies be damned, when he stepped onto the train and immediately froze.
Because there, after a three week absence, was Umino. And boy oh boy. Winter was over, summer had arrived, and Kakashi forgot any problem he may have had just moments ago because those legs. He averted his eyes quickly and moved to sit on the bench opposite Umino.
Because most of the students were gone, the train was significantly less crowded at this time of day. Other than Kakashi and Umino, there were only a few other passengers. Everyone had space to sit and mind their own business, which made it a little more challenging to outright stare. But Kakashi did enjoy a challenge. He blindly pulled his book from his bag just to have something to do with his hands. And to have something else to look at if he was caught staring.
He started at his feet, eager to take a better look at those legs. He was wearing brown, worn sandals, and his toenails were painted bright blue. Kakashi’s mind swiftly provided the image of having his own hands held and nails painted by Umino, who would likely be very focused and very adorable about the whole thing.
He let out a breath and moved on to what his frantic mind could only describe as miles of toned leg. From his seat, Kakashi could just see a dusting of dark leg hair that thinned and transitioned to soft peach fuzz the further up, up, up Kakashi looked, until he reached the mid-thigh hem of his sage green shorts. They were a little bunched up, but it looked like they probably had aesthetic-over-function cargo pockets and for some reason that was obnoxiously charming.
He looked away to the pages of his book for a few minutes, staring unseeing at the words, before glancing up to look at the rest of him. His arms were bare and smooth, with smattering of braided bracelets on one wrist and a faux-gold watch on the other. And he was wearing a tanktop that maybe couldn’t be legally described as actual clothing, since it was made up of black mesh and fishnet. Kakashi had to look away again when he noticed the suggestion of a nipple through the mostly sheer fabric.
He hadn’t been prepared for this today at all. It had been easy in the winter, when he’d only had little bits of exposed skin to admire. Now, with all of this? His defenses were down, and he had been celibate for far too long for this not to be an absolute clusterfuck for his delicate psyche. Which was probably why he decided, after months of silence, with a brain boiled by the truly inhumane heat of early summer, that today was the day to speak.
When he made his decision, he was less than five minutes from his stop. If this went terribly, he could make a speedy escape. A final glance revealed that Umino was busy wrangling his hair into a messy ponytail, a faint sheen of sweat on his brow. He looked like he was having as tough a time with the weather as Kakashi.
“You look hot,” Kakashi said mildly, making himself stare directly across the cab at the other boy.
Umino paused, arms still raised over his head to deal with his hair, and looked at Kakashi in polite confusion. “I’m sorry?” he said. His voice was a little bit deeper than Kakashi had imagined. He liked it.
“I said,” Kakashi said slowly, “That you look hot.”
“Oh, ah.” He laughed a little, awkward, and dropped his hands back to his lap when his hair was successfully tied. “Yeah. It’s really warm for so early in the summer, isn’t it?”
“I suppose,” Kakashi agreed, tipping his head to the side. “Why do you say that?”
Umino brows drew together slightly, mouth twitching downward in confusion. “Uh. Well, you said I looked hot. And I am. Hot, I mean.”
“Ah.” Kakashi nodded, tucking his book into his bag without looking. “That’s not what I meant.”
The polite humor was beginning to disappear from Umino’s eyes, replaced by mounting irritation. Kakashi couldn’t help smiling a bit, suddenly grateful he hadn’t removed his mask, even if it was absolutely stifling. “What,” Umino said, tone edging towards dangerous.
Kakashi stood as the train swayed to a stop. “I meant that you look very handsome. Though I suppose it is quite warm.” He smiled, lifting a hand. “Have a good day.”
Kakashi was off the train before he heard anything else, grinning to himself.
It was another week before Kakashi saw him again. He noticed him as soon as he stepped on the train, taking in today’s bike shorts and over-sized, old white t-shirt combo gratefully, before pretending he hadn’t noticed him at all. He took a seat on the opposite end of the car and pulled out his book. It was only fair that he gave Umino plenty of space after out-right hitting on him, after all. To try and crowd him would be creepy. It had been enough of a thrill to satisfy Kakashi, anyway-
Kakashi looked up as Umino dropped into the seat beside him. He was glowering, the corners of his mouth tugged down. He looked incredibly adorable.
“Hey,” Kakashi said and looked back down at his book again. He smiled behind his mask, the irritation of the boy beside him practically tangible. He counted in his head as he waited for a response, barely making it to five before a hand slapped over the pages of his book. Umino’s fingernails were the same blue as his toes, Kakashi noticed, and he looked up with a polite tip of his head.
“Don’t ignore me!” Umino pulled his hand back and folded his arms. “You can’t say strange things to a person and then ignore them.”
“Is it strange to say hey?” Kakashi mused. There was a hectic blush rising in the boy’s cheeks.
“That’s not what I mean! You know that’s not what I mean.” He leaned forward a bit, glaring. Up close, he was even more adorable than Kakashi had thought. How depressing, if this didn’t turn out well.
“I’m not sure. What did I say?” He smiled at him, letting his eyes curve in a way Obito described as “irritating” and Genma described as “irritatingly charming.” From the small falter in the angry look being directed at him, Umino seemed to agree with Genma’s conclusion.
“You-” He looked away, arms squeezing around himself self-consciously. Ah, did he really think Kakashi had forgotten? “You called me hot,” he managed, voice stilted.
“Oh,” Kakashi said, and let it linger for just a moment. The pause made some of the boy’s irritation return, and wasn’t that cute? “That’s right, I did. I suppose I thought that you’d hear that often enough that it wouldn’t be so strange to you.”
He blinked, and made a face at Kakashi. “You’re really weird, aren’t you?”
“I’m Kakashi, actually.” He had to bite his lip against a laugh at the mortified look he was receiving now.
“Oh, no,” Umino said, voice somber. “Was that a joke? Did you just introduce yourself with a dad joke?”
“Oh, no, I wasn’t joking.” He closed his book and leaned back in his seat. “My name really is Kakashi.”
The boy’s mouth dropped open a little, shocked. Kakashi resisted the urge to reach out and tap his chin closed, but just barely. Finally, he shook his head, sighing heavily. “This is a bad idea,” he mumbled, before extending a hand to Kakashi, shoulders straightening. “I’m Umino Iruka.”
“Iruka-kun, huh?” Kakashi took his hand, holding it more than shaking it. “That suits you.”
Iruka narrowed his eyes. “Is that a dolphin joke?”
“No.” Kakashi did laugh then. “It’s just a cute name. And you’re a cute person.”
Iruka pulled his hand away and slumped into his seat with a huff. “You’re a weird person. With a weird name.”
“Thank you,” Kakashi said sincerely.
Iruka didn’t say anything, and Kakashi wasn’t one to break a silence, so for a few minutes they just sat together, swaying with the movement of the train. The stitching on Iruka’s black bike shorts was yellow, and it matched the yellow trim on his sneakers. The faint freckles on his face were mimicked on his bare knees, and Kakashi couldn’t be more grateful for the invention of shorts.
“So, uh. What’s your major?” Iruka asked at last, looking up to meet his eyes again.
“Ah… I’m a literature student.”
“Really? Is that why you read all the time?” Iruka twisted a bit in his seat to face him.
“Maa, Iruka-kun, you noticed my reading habits?” Kakashi smiled at the immediate return of his blush. “Yes, really. I’m working on my doctoral thesis at the moment, so I read a bit less than I’d prefer.”
Iruka blinked, embarrassment disappearing. He tipped his head, scrutinizing Kakashi’s face. Kakashi tried not to feel too uncomfortable under his close inspection. “You’re… getting your doctorate?” he said slowly.
“Mm,” Kakashi agreed, and dearly wished he hadn’t mentioned it.
“But- you don’t look that old. I didn’t think… I thought you were a senior, maybe.”
“I’m twenty-one,” Kakashi agreed. “I’m a quick study.” He thought it might be best not to admit he already had two master’s degrees.
Iruka’s eyes widened and Kakashi sighed internally. “That’s pretty impressive!”
“Yeah. Thanks.” He looked away. It was a bit tiresome at this point, the constant admiration over his intelligence. He’d been hearing it since he was a child, and it had stopped being fun years ago.
“You graduated high school early, huh?” Iruka mused, leaning a bit to catch Kakashi’s eye again. “What was that like? Socially, I mean.” Before Kakashi could get offended, Iruka continued, “I’m getting an education degree, and I’ve always wondered what schooling was like for accelerated children.”
Kakashi blinked, tilting his head. Iruka didn’t have any of that weird awe that most people had when they found out he was, basically, a genius. “Isn’t that a strange thing to say to someone?”
Iruka grinned, rubbing his knuckles over his scar briefly in a gesture of contrition. “I figure we’re already past small talk, right? We’re been staring at each other for months, after all.”
“What-” Kakashi’s eyes widened, and he felt himself blush before he could contain it. Yet another reason to be grateful for his debilitating, mask-mandating allergies. “What do you mean?”
“Well.” Iruka leaned back a bit, a mischievous sparkle in his eye. “You didn’t really think you were subtle, did you?”
“I mean,” Iruka continued, bull-dozing right over Kakashi’s defense. “I had two people warn me about you, you know. Some old lady and some girl both told me to watch out for the guy with the silver hair, because he couldn’t keep his eyes off me. They thought you might have designs on my innocence.” He grinned, resting an elbow on the back of the seat, his chin braced in his palm.
“That’s- I’m sorry if I-” Kakashi felt a bit like his brain was flashing an error message at him, as he quickly attempted to integrate this new data with his own memories but- but maybe it did make sense, that Iruka had known Kakashi was staring at him. Because he’d caught Iruka’s gaze enough times that it actually only made sense that Iruka had been staring at him too. “Oh,” he finished lamely.
“I didn’t think you were ever going to talk to me.” Iruka’s smile softened to something a bit sweeter and a little flirtatious. It did nothing to help the frantic alarm bells blaring in Kakashi’s mind. “I figured you were just a little shy, so I didn’t want to rush you or anything.”
“I’m not shy,” Kakashi said immediately, glancing away.
“You’re not?” Iruka sounded legitimately baffled, and Kakashi looked back at him again to see both of his eyebrows raised.
“No,” Kakashi said. He twisted a bit in his seat to face Iruka too. “I thought it would be unwelcome, to flirt with you on a train.”
Iruka huffed out a laugh, dropping both hands to his lap. “You were trying to be gentlemanly?”
Kakashi frowned. “What’s the matter with that?”
“Nothing! It’s sweet, actually.” Iruka leaned forward a bit, close enough that Kakashi thought he might be able to count his eyelashes, if given the time. “Just a little weird, since the first thing you said to me was a very blatant come-on.”
“You’ve called me weird at least four times since we started talking,” Kakashi pointed out. “I’m starting to think you might find me bizarre.”
“I’m just saying.” Iruka glanced down at where Kakashi’s mouth was hidden by his mask, and back up. “You could have just tried, I don’t know. Starting a conversation?”
“Do you like dogs?” Kakashi tried, leaning forward a little.
“Still weird,” Iruka said, and closed the rest of the distance. He kissed Kakashi through his mask, just a brief press of lips that made Kakashi’s head spin.
“My stop is next,” Kakashi said, as if there had been no interruption. “Would you like to come over for tea? I’ll answer as many questions about my bizarre education as you’d like.”
“That sounds nice.” Iruka grinned. When Kakashi stood as the train stopped, Iruka stood with him and took his hand like he wasn’t turning Kakashi’s world upside down.