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right question, wrong time

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'No need to be nervous,' he repeated inside his head. It was only Iruka, he would like this. Nothing flashy or elaborate. He would just go home and ask him. The brown paper bag he carried against his right side, filled with Ichiraku take-out and their favourite sake, shifted so he adjusted his grip on it. The fingers of his left hand played restlessly with the little, black box in the pocket of his pants.

He had thought about this a great deal, of course, but it had also been the easiest decision he has ever made. Life with Iruka hasn't always been undemanding especially since they had gotten together shortly before the last war, which hadn't been the best time for him, mentally. Not his worst either but still. And not to mention the actual war that had happened only three months into their then fragile relationship. That would have been reason enough for a lot of people to end whatever newly formed bonds they had. Additionally, he had been a wreck when he returned, chewed up and spit out in what seemed to have been the culmination of years of mental and emotional turmoil.

But Iruka had been relentless after they were all safely back in Konoha and Kakashi couldn't thank him enough for that. He had wanted and craved the other man's warmth but if Iruka had not been this persistent in spending time with him and deepening their connection he would have had difficulties with allowing himself to fully commit. Sure, hearing your supposedly dead best friend say he wanted you to live was a motivation booster but his psychological holdups hadn't just disappeared overnight. They would probably never leave completely and yet Iruka accepted all of him, even wanted all of him. It was exhilarating. Which made him nervous again. This was only Iruka but it was Iruka.

Kakashi tried to reason with himself some more. He knew where they stood after nearly four years of being together. They had talked about their views on marriage before. This evening would be like getting to read a part of a story that was cut out of the novel simply because everything essential had already been said. Although he must admit, he had always been a fan of special editions with bonus material. 

 

Kakashi's musings had busied him all the way to their little house in the quieter and older part of Konoha. When he slipped through the front door he could hear muffled cursing from the kitchen, sounds he was all too used to whenever he found Iruka in that room, he thought fondly.

"I'm home!" he called out. Kakashi heard a yelp and a loud bang that sounded like a pot being dropped into the sink.

An almost inaudible "Shit" was quickly followed by a louder, "... uh, welcome home!". Iruka was clumsy in the kitchen even when he merely did the dishes. How the man was able to precisely and even artfully craft the most elaborate explosion and barrier tags was lost on him.

Kakashi placed the paper bag next to the front door, he would come back for it later, and slipped out of his shoes. Next, he unfastened the lightweight uniform vest that was now standard Konoha gear. His was designed differently, dark grey instead of green, with his title stitched onto the back. It was something he had protested at first but apparently, the Hokage had to stand out from the rest of the village in some way. Even Tsunade had been insistent on that point. He hung his vest next to Iruka's, got rid of his hitai-ate and fingerless gloves, too, ruffled his hair, and pulled his mask down. 

 

When he made his way towards the open doorway to the living area and kitchen at the end of the small entrance room his heartbeat started to quicken. The weight of the ring in his pocket seemed to grow heavier with each step. Kakashi stopped a few steps behind Iruka and watched him. He wanted to ask what he was doing, tease him about his obvious struggle but his voice got stuck in his throat. How should he build-up to the question? How was Kakashi even supposed to just ask something like that? Just minutes ago he was convinced 'just go home and ask him' was the superior approach but now he wished he would have put slightly more thought into the actual realization of his plan. This suddenly didn't feel like bonus material at all and more like a narrative altering plot point. 

He hadn't noticed when he had fished the little box out of his pocket but he held it in front of his stomach now. The weight of it glued him to the spot and his pulse sped up further.

Iruka dropped whatever he was cleaning into the sink and turned around looking quite as miserable as Kakashi felt right now. He didn't just look miserable he looked outright defeated and the sight of Kakashi only seemed to make this worse. The small working part of his mind provided a helpful 'oh, that's not good'.

He should have asked what was wrong, maybe hugged the other man, and rubbed the space between his shoulder blades. Instead, he blurted out a different question.  

 

"Iruka, would you marry me?!"

 

His question did obviously nothing to ease Iruka's inner turmoil.

"I…," Iruka's bottom lip started to quiver while his brows scrunched together piteously. He seemed as tense as a bowstring and his hands at his sides balled into fists.

 

"... I don't know how to make rice," he confessed with the severity of a person admitting to having accidentally killed their neighbour's cat.

The frantic pounding of Kakashi's pulse stopped abruptly and his eyebrows might have reached a high enough ground to actually observe and correctly assess the current situation.

"What?"

"I don't know how to make rice!" he repeated, now frustrated. "In a regular pot, I mean! The rice cooker is still broken. Why is it so complicated?! Do I wait until the water boils, and..." Iruka started pacing in front of him in short steps, going on about the ludicrousness that was cooking rice. The little black box Kakashi was still offering remained unnoticed. This was not at all working out as he'd hoped. This was bad. Normally, a situation like this would amuse him to no end but he was kind of proposing right now.

While he worked hard on not fainting he couldn't do anything but watch Iruka and listen to his personal war against basic cooking. "...and how does it not burn?! I just wanted us to have a nice dinner and after that, I wanted to ask y…"

Iruka's mouth snapped shut and he halted midstep. 

"Kakashi?"

A barely audible "Yeah?" escaped his lips.

Iruka hurried back in front of him and finally registered what he was still presenting with shaking fingers. The other's eyes widened as they fixated the little box and he heard a quiet "Oh.".

Ok, now this, this was even worse. Kakashi almost wished Iruka would go back to his passionate monologue. The intensity with which his brown eyes focused on the ring box was almost as frightening as the dreadfully long silence that had passed since Iruka stopped venting. Kakashi was thrown completely off track, nothing about this proposal made sense and he grew only more confused when Iruka suddenly gave him a determined look, formed the standard sign shinobi used to silently communicate 'wait' with his fingers and quickly left the kitchen. It certainly was appropriate to be signalled to stay put in field signs since he felt like he was on an actual battleground with a possible critical hit waiting for him in the very near future. With the hand that held the little box still raised midair, his mind started to spiral into very unreasonable thoughts.

Had he misread their relationship that badly? Usually, he was good at judging situations. A valued strategist even.

Ah, but he had miscalculated. Not enough preparation and a badly timed offence. Wait, this wasn't something he could strategize especially not when it came to Iruka. He had worked hard on internalizing that mindset. Relationships weren't missions. Kakashi groaned internally. He wasn't good with relationships, was he? This was his first romantic one, after all.

Maybe that was the problem? Was he too inexperienced, too incompetent with emotions? No, Iruka had never complained in the time they had been together and he'd worked hard on opening up. Besides Iruka had seemed happy just this morning. Sure, he had grumbled when Kakashi had woken him for a quick kiss before he made his way to the Hokage Tower but Iruka always did. And after that, there had been that sleepy smile and the whispered: "Don't be late tonight.".

His mind jumped to the next possibility. Had he been late tonight? Was that it? No, he had entered their home at exactly 6 pm., just as agreed upon. Something wasn't clicking, he must be missing something.

 

Kakashi's racing thoughts were interrupted when Iruka walked back into the kitchen gazing at the floor with a slightly embarrassed but soft smile, which didn't help to evaluate the situation at all. He stopped close in front of Kakashi and that's when he noticed that Iruka cradled something between his closed palms. 

 

Iruka locked eyes with him. "This is definitely not how I imagined for this to happen and my question seems somewhat unnecessary now so I'm just going to say 'yes' but please let me also give you this." 

He then held his hands horizontally and lifted one palm presenting Kakashi with a similar little, dark blue box. For a few seconds, he could do nothing but gaze at the content of Iruka's hand but soon enough he huffed out a breathy laugh. His mind settled down and all that was left was the warmth that spread in his chest. He could notice Iruka raising his other hand to his face, very likely to scratch at his scar. It was a cute, nervous reaction, one that Kakashi loved to be the cause of.

"Well, this is horrifying, I'm sorry I made you suffer through this silence," the other man laughed weakly.

Kakashi looked up into Iruka's now bright red face. "Yeah, never do something like that again," he tried to deadpan but his voice sounded throaty.

The other flashed his best innocent smile and exchanged their ring boxes.

"So did you actually burn rice?" Kakashi couldn't help but ask while admiring the silver engagement ring around his left ring finger. 

Iruka who was in the process of putting on his golden one snorted. "As I mentioned before, it is hard and the rice cooker is still broken. The pot in the sink is a lost cause by the way," he scratched his scar but didn't look half as guilty as he usually would since he was marvelling at the gold band that was now at its rightful place, too.

"Don't worry about it. Also, tomorrow you'll have another cooking lesson."

Iruka looked up into his face and smiled. "I'm looking forward to it but what are we going to eat tonight?" 

"I might have a suggestion," he grinned wickedly.

That earned him an exasperated groan even though Iruka's eyes didn't lose their fondness. "Kakashi, I meant actual food. I'm starving. First, we have dinner then you can suck my… "

"Maa, sensei, I meant real food, too. And Naruto calls me the pervert," he whined in mock disappointment. Iruka snipped his forefinger against his head, and then slowly pulled him closer by the front of his shirt and kissed him. It started innocent enough but soon Kakashi's hand was at the back of the other's head, digging into still tied up hair, and he deepened the kiss while both of Iruka's hands gripped his waist and pulled them flush together. Kakashi's arms wrapped over the slightly shorter man's shoulder's while one of Iruka's hands travelled farther south, sneaking under the hem of his shirt, knuckles grazing his belly softly. His abdominal muscles twitched when he felt the metal of Iruka's ring against his skin. It hadn't fully warmed yet but the parts it touched felt hotter than the rest of his body. Kakashi broke the kiss but leaned his forehead against the other's and grinned.

"I still can't believe you said yes," he mumbled against Iruka's lips.

"Of course I said yes. What makes you think I wouldn't?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around Kakashi's middle. He could feel Iruka's frown against his forehead.

"Well, you did kind of ignore my proposal at first and after you finally noticed you left the room and took your sweet time coming back," he finished with a snort.

"I was gone for half a minute and I told you to wait, didn't I?"

"Yeah, I know. Just scared me a little is all."

"I'm sorry, that wasn't my sharpest moment." Iruka placed a chaste kiss against his scarred cheek and pulled back enough to give Kakashi a shit-eating grin. "You could have put two and two together as well though, you supposed genius. And you could have noticed I was not exactly in the right mindset to comprehend a question like that."

Kakashi stepped a few centimetres back, scratched the back of his head, and huffed out a laugh. "It was kind of a mess, huh?"

"It was. I wouldn't want it any other way, though," Iruka smiled softly, taking his left hand, looking at and stroking over the silver band. He glanced up at him. "So, about the food… "

Kakashi smirked and quickly went to fetch the paper bag he had left by the front door and placed it on the kitchen counter. Iruka inspected what it contained and closed his eyes, contentment written all over his facial features. Moments like these made him miss the Sharingan.

 


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Although it was a bit cold for early Autumn they had their dinner on the engawa overlooking the little garden. The ramen did good work of warming them up and the sake and shared body heat continued doing that well into the night.

 

"You know, a Hokage's wedding is kind of a big deal," Iruka hummed into Kakashi's hair. They were pressed together, Iruka's feet dangling off the porch while Kakashi leaned against him. They were playing with each other's hands, occasionally brushing over the bands on their ring fingers. The barely-there moonlight still managed to reflect on the engagement rings, making them shine. 

"I had hoped Naruto would have taken over by now," Kakashi sighed. "Our wedding will be graced by the presence of the other Kage, the village elders, the clan heads and their immediate families, the big shots of the administration, the Daimyo and his family,... and Tsunade will drink for all the others who aren't invited."

Iruka breathed out a slightly nervous laugh. Kakashi's fingertips stopped in the middle of the other's left palm.

"I'm sorry for that," he mumbled. "Both of us would prefer something more private, I know that."

Iruka snaked his right arm around his shoulders and squeezed him tightly while planting a kiss onto his head. "It's worth it," he returned quietly but with determination in his voice. "Besides, we could always have a second ceremony. A private one. With only your friends, mine, and Naruto."

Kakashi smiled and nodded against Iruka's shoulder. The arm around him lifted and fingers sank into his hair, rubbing against his scalp with just the right amount of pressure. He moaned and pressed himself tighter against Iruka.

"Speaking of, when are you going to tell your son." 

Iruka snorted and ruffled his hair. He always pretended to be annoyed when someone spoke to him like he was Naruto's father but he was not so secretly delighted every time it happened. Most of the time it was Kakashi who peppered it into conversations just because of that fact.

"On Monday, when he returns from his mission. No matter how much Gaara will feed him in Suna, he'll come back craving Ichiraku's, I'll tell him then. You could come with us, since you'll be his father, too, in the not so distant future." Iruka poked his side as he said that. He winced not just because of the pointed finger digging into his ribs.

"Maa, Iruka, don't say that. It makes me sound old," he whined as he stared at Iruka with exaggerated fake shock.

The man next to him laughed brightly. "Well, you are old. I'm going to marry an old man!" he exclaimed a bit giddily. Usually, it was he who tried to rile up the younger man but Iruka gave as good as he got. He continued his teasing while reverting to his best teacher voice, "Thirty-five is a critical age. If I were you I would start looking into nursing homes because I'm not going to pamper your wrinkled ass when... "

Kakashi quickly silenced him with a kiss. It wasn't a hundred per cent effective move because Iruka moaned into it but if that put a damper on his success rate so be it. He placed his right hand on Iruka's cheek, stroking gently with his thumb and Iruka leaned back slightly on both his hands, simply enjoying Kakashi's attention on him. They stayed like this for a while, continued kissing and teased with barely-there brushes of tongues against lips. It was a promise for more to follow.

When they broke apart, both breathing a little heavier, Iruka smiled and whispered: "Let's get you into bed, old man."

"Only if you're staying there, too."

Iruka raised his hand and wiggled his fingers, the ring catching the light of the moon like a wordless answer, and nodded.