(I don't own any characters etc etc)
"Iruka-sensei," a voice called out from the doorway.
Iruka looked up and smiled. "Hello, Kakashi-sensei. What brings you to the academy?" His smile faltered. "Is Naruto alright?"
Kakashi nodded, sticking his hands in his pockets as he strode into the room. "He is."
"Good," Iruka said, visibly relaxing. "And the rest of Team 7?"
"Good," Iruka said, again.
They stared at each other in silence for a moment, before Iruka returned his focus to the work at his classroom desk.
"Let me know if there's anything you need," the teacher said, shuffling through papers.
Kakashi watched him work for a moment before speaking.
"The genin are very...nosey," Kakashi said, suddenly.
Iruka laughed and nodded. "Well, they are kids, even if Sasuke tries to act grown up."
"I suppose," Kakashi sighed. "They've taken quite the interest in me."
Iruka looked up from his work again and smiled at the copy nin.
"You're their new jonin-sensei, it's only natural," he gently reminded the other man. "You're a new adult to them, a new teacher, and you're well known."
Kakashi shrugged. "Maa, I suppose."
Iruka pursed his lips as he thought about it. "Is it the mask?"
"You know, they want to see under your mask?" Iruka said, motioning with his pen to his own face.
"No," Kakashi said. "Well, probably. But it seems to be more than that."
Iruka shrugged. "They asked me lots of questions when I was their teacher, too. I'm sure it will pass."
They were silent again, the only sound for a moment Iruka's pen scratching the paper as he graded.
"They're asking about my love life," Kakashi blurted out.
"Oh," Iruka said, pausing his grading. "Oh. Oh!" He nervously chuckled. "Ah, well, they are kids, growing up and all that." He cleared his throat and shuffled his papers. "Ah, have fun with that. I'll stick to my pre-genin, thank you very much."
Kakashi sighed and scratched the back of his head. "They're trying to set me up on dates."
A slight blush began to creep across Iruka's face.
"Um...." he said, at a loss of what to say. "That's...cute?" Iruka looked around. "Um, with all due respect, Kakashi-sensei, shouldn't you be sharing this with Gai-san, or Asuma, or another, you know, friend?"
"We're not friends?" Kakashi asked, blinking at him.
"We usually only talk at different jobs in the village, like here, or the missions desk," Iruka said, surprised. "So..."
"But Naruto drags us to ramen like once a week," Kakashi countered. "So, I'd say we're friends. Good friends, perhaps."
"Perhaps?" Iruka parroted, looking for a literal exit from the conversation. "I should really start heading home," he said, beginning to pack his things.
"Anyway," Kakashi continued, ignoring Iruka's actions, "I finally came up with a plan."
"Hmm?" Iruka asked, distracted.
"I told them I'm seeing someone."
Iruka smiled, half-listening as he planned his departure. How fast could he jutsu home? "That's nice."
"I'm glad you think that," Kakashi drawled. "I told them we're dating."
"That's nice," Iruka said again, searching for his favorite pen. He paused, suddenly. "You what?!" he shouted, looking at Kakashi.
"Told them we're dating," the copy nin clarified.
"Why would you do that?" Iruka sighed.
"Because I wanted them to get off my back and I panicked," Kakashi reported. "Naruto was talking about you, so you were fresh on my mind," he said, shrugging. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"It seemed like a good idea at the time?" Iruka snapped. "Well, newsflash, it isn't, it wasn't! You better think of how to tell them you lied, and it better not involve us breaking up."
"But, sensei," Kakashi sighed.
"But nothing," Iruka said, grabbing his bag. "We're not dating, and you can't go saying things like that. I happen to actually have a date this weekend, and I don't want him to get wind of this." He glared at Kakashi. "So clear this up before then, please."
"Or, cancel the date. I'll take you out instead," Kakashi suggested.
"He's taking me to a nice sushi place, so no," Iruka said.
"We'll let the genin see us --"
"-- and they'll let it go."
"No," Iruka said for the third time. "It will just encourage them."
Kakashi nodded. "You might be right, Naruto seemed surprised by the news and probably will want lots of proof."
"There is no proof," Iruka sighed. "You'll handle this, right?" he pleaded, and the copy nin studied him for a moment before giving him a trademark eye smile.
"Of course, sensei."
"Promise?" Iruka asked, hopeful.
"You have my word," Kakashi said, before leaving in a swirl of leaves.
Iruka sighed and grabbed his bag, dreading the thought of having to explain any of this to his date....
"May I see you in the chart room, Kakashi-sensei?" Iruka asked a few days later. "I just have a few questions on a scroll you turned in."
"I bet he's in trouble," Sakura whispered, and Naruto nodded.
"Of course, lead the way," Kakashi responded. He turned to his team. "You're dismissed for the day, I'll see you tomorrow morning."
Sasuke and Sakura nodded and left, and Naruto lingered, narrowing his eyes at his jonin-sensei.
"You too, Naruto," Kakashi sighed.
"Go on," Iruka urged the blond, who looked at his former teacher and smiled before leaving.
Iruka stood and began to leave the missions office, Kakashi trailing behind.
They walked in silence down the hall before turning into a chart room, and Iruka closed the door behind them and threw wards up.
"I can't believe you!" he shouted.
"What?" Kakashi asked, surprised, and Iruka rolled his eyes.
"I thought you were going to handle your mistake! Clear up the lies!"
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about..."
"My date, a guy I've been flirting with for three weeks, was yesterday suddenly sent on a six-month long mission, three days before our first date! Sound familiar?"
Kakashi scratched his masked chin. "I feel like I heard something about it from Genma..."
"You have some nerve," Iruka snarled. "How could you?!"
"Do you have proof it was me?"
This seemed to surprise Iruka, who blinked several times. "Well, no, not directly..."
Kakashi gave him an upside down eye smile. "Then you don't know it's nothing more than mere coincidence. But if you're free on Saturday, I'm happy to take you out instead. We can still do sushi."
"Go find someone else to fake date," Iruka sighed.
"But I want you," Kakashi said in an almost whine.
"Why me?" Iruka asked, surprised, and Kakashi cleared his throat and shrugged.
"We've already been to dinner with the kids, so it felt familiar. And believable. And...nice. You're a nice guy, it could be nice to date you."
Iruka smiled softly, then shook his head and scowled. "Fake date, you mean."
"Sure, that too," Kakashi said, waving his hand. "If you want me to work for it, I will."
"That's not what I meant," Iruka said, rolling his eyes and looking at the ceiling, but when he dropped his gaze, he found he was alone.
There was a knock on Iruka's apartment door the next night, Thursday night, and Iruka sighed as he opened it.
"Oh!" he said, surprised. "Hello!"
"Delivery for Iruka-sensei," a young man said, holding a large bouquet of flowers. "Sign here, please."
He held out a clipboard and Iruka scribbled on it, his eyes glued to the flowers.
"Have a good night," the man said, passing the flowers to Iruka, who brought them inside and closed his door.
He frowned as he looked at all angles of the bouquet, shrugging as he walked to the kitchen and placed the vase on his counter.
"Strange," he said aloud to himself. "I wonder who sent you..."
He spied a small envelope tucked into the flowers and plucked it out, breathing the scent of the bouquet deeply, humming happily to himself.
...until he read the note inside it.
"Dear Iruka," he read out loud. "Please accept this as a token of my admiration, and as an apology for my [reported] antics. But if you're still free on Saturday night..."
Iruka shook his head and sighed. "I can't even."
He was about to walk away when he saw a second envelope in the flowers.
"Seriously?" he sighed, removing it and opening it, before smiling to himself.
"Dear Iruka-sensei, we asked Ino to slip this in Kakashi-sensei's flowers. Whatever he did that he's sending these to apologize for, please accept his apology," it read, in Sakura's handwriting.
Sasuke had clearly contributed too. "We doubt he's just sending these 'just because,' and knowing him, he's probably in deep trouble."
"I don't know how I feel about you dating him but I want you to be happy!" Naruto had scribbled.
Iruka laughed as he tucked both notes underneath magnets on his fridge, just as there was another knock on his door.
He opened it and was less than surprised to see Kakashi at his doorstep.
"How did you get my address?" Iruka asked, not inviting him in.
"Naruto, of course," Kakashi said. "I bribed him with ramen."
Iruka sighed. "Who needs interrogation tactics when he has an appetite?"
"Speaking of food, why don't we eat together Saturday night? Say, around seven thirty?"
"Is that the only way to get you to stop?" Iruka asked, and Kakashi shrugged. Iruka sighed, again. "One dinner, one," he stressed. "You're paying."
"And don't be late."
"I'll do my best."
"And make sure the genin know exactly where we'll be."
"Of course," Kakashi assured him. "I'll pick you up then," he said, turning to leave.
"On time!" Iruka shouted at his back, before looking at the night sky. "Why me?"
Saturday night arrived without Iruka realizing it. He had stayed late at the academy Friday to help another teacher, and covered a late shift at the missions desk, resulting in him sleeping in a bit Saturday morning.
He spent the rest of the day cleaning, grading, and relaxing, and soon realized he had an hour to get ready.
"Ready for what?" he asked himself as he turned on his shower. "A fake date with a real guy? Why couldn't I have a real date with a fake guy?"
Iruka couldn't help but laugh at himself. "My first real date in a while gets sent away, and I end up with a fake night out? How do I even get ready for it?"
He opted to put on a clean uniform and spent his last ten minutes grading, before there was a knock on his door.
"Right on time," he mused to himself, as he went to open it.
"Hello, Kakashi-sensei," Iruka greeted the copy nin.
"Evening, sensei," Kakashi said. "Here," he said as he held out a small gold-wrapped box.
"What's this?" Iruka asked, accepting it and looking at it.
"Chocolates," Kakashi responded, scratching the back of his head. "Ah, apparently the genin have taken quite the interest in my now-existent dating life and gave me specific instructions for tonight."
Iruka laughed. "Is that so?"
"Unfortunately," Kakashi sighed. "They're buying that we're dating, and seem to think I'm in the doghouse with you. So, Sakura insisted I bring you a small gift."
Iruka smiled. "That's quite thoughtful. Would you like to come inside while I put these away?"
Kakashi nodded and follwed the younger man in, looking around at the other man's apartment.
"Nice place," Kakashi commented, as Iruka gently placed the box on a table.
"It's not much," Iruka said, bashfully.
"It's cozy," Kakashi said, nodding. "Very you."
"The me you know," Iruka laughed. "The teacher-desk worker-Naruto guardian me."
"Maa, isn't that what tonight is for? Getting to know the rest of you?" Kakashi asked, winking.
Iruka shook his head. "We should go, I assume we're already under surveillance."
"True," Kakashi sighed, and Iruka grabbed his flak vest as they left, surprisingly pleased that the copy nin was also in uniform.
"So," Iruka said as they walked through the village, "where are we headed, Kakashi-sensei?"
"Surely we can drop the formalities if we're on a date?" Kakashi mused, and Iruka laughed.
"Of course. But I'm still curious...Kakashi."
"Ichiraku's," Kakashi said.
"What happened to sushi?" Iruka asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Maa, I thought I should pick a place easier on our shadows' wallets," Kakashi said, his visible eye curving into a smile.
"That makes sense," Iruka agreed, "but I was looking forward to a few rolls."
"Next time,' Kakashi suggested, and Iruka laughed.
They walked in comfortable silence to the restaurant, where Ayame showed them to a table right away.
"Were you asked to seat us here?" Iruka asked, and she smiled.
"Where are they?" Iruka whispered, and her eyes darted to her left.
He smiled at her and opened a menu, eyes flickering around the restaurant briefly.
Their orders were soon placed, and Kakashi ordered sake for them.
"How are they doing?" Kakashi asked, as he filled their cups.
Iruka sighed. "They need a lot of work. They're trying, but it's not good."
"Still, at least they're working as a team," Kakashi mused. "You may need to go out with me more to help their teamwork."
Iruka couldn't help but laugh. "Is that how that works? And all these years I've taught my students other ways to work within their teams."
"Afraid so, Iruka," Kakashi drawled. "It's a secret tactic, but I thought I'd let you in on it."
"Well, thank you," Iruka played along. He paused. "Now what?"
"We're out on a supposed date, now what?"
"What would happen normally on a date now?" Kakashi asked. "Conversation? Getting to know you?"
Iruka considered this and nodded, and to his surprise, the copy nin began to ask him questions about his life, his jobs, and his preferences in almost everything.
They kept up a steady conversation as their food came and was eaten, and while they worked on finishing their sake.
Iruka inwardly sighed. If he closed his eyes, this could be an actual date. And a good one, to boot.
No, he reminded himself, it's a fake date.
"They're still here, you know," Kakashi said, bringing Iruka back to the present.
Kakashi nodded, and Iruka sighed.
Kakashi considered this. "I pay the bill and we go somewhere else?"
Iruka shook his head. "And then what? Deal with all the questions from them tomorrow? Go on more and more dates to 'show' them we're dating and get them off your back? And tell them we eventually broke up? And then the village thinks it actually happened? What then?"
Kakashi seemed genuinely surprised by the other man's questions.
"Well," he began, as he left money on the table for their bill. "I enjoyed tonight..."
Iruka sighed. "I did too, but it wasn't real."
"Maa, only you and I know that. So, does it matter?"
Kakashi shrugged. "We both had fun, does it matter it started out as a fake date? You're single, I'm single..."
Iruka sat back in his chair, surprised by this turn of events.
"I suppose there's crazier reasons people have gone out together," he mused, and Kakashi smiled underneath his mask. Iruka smiled. "Want to have some fun first?"
"What were you thinking?"
Naruto sighed as he finished his fourth bowl of ramen. "All they're doing is talking! Why don't they leave so we can, too!"
"This was your idea to stalk them," Sasuke grumbled.
"You agreed to join us!" Naruto shot back.
"Only because you agreed to buy my food, and I don't trust you to not ruin their date," Sasuke commented.
"Shh, both of you!" Sakura whispered. "We can't risk them hearing us!"
"Too late," Kakashi said, from where he and Iruka had suddenly appeared in front of their table.
Sakura blushed, Naruto paused with his chopsticks in mid-air, and Sasuke's eyes widened slightly.
"We appreciate you wanting to keep an eye on us," Iruka said.
"But now you can call it a night," Kakashi added. "You saw us out, happy now?"
"Are you actually dating him?" Naruto asked Iruka, who looked at Kakashi and nodded.
"Why?!" the blond shouted.
"Because he asked me out," Iruka said, still looking at Kakashi, who gave him an eye smile. "We're going to leave. Have a good night, by yourselves," Iruka said, taking Kakashi's hand and leading them out.
Kakashi kept his eyes on Iruka as he waved at his team, and they both laughed when they found themselves outside again.
"So now we're dating?" Kakashi asked, and Iruka playfully shrugged.
"I guess we are. Quite a jump, from fake dating, to a real date, to dating. I don't usually move this fast," Iruka laughed.
"Well, I guess we'll have to celebrate our change in relationship status," Kakashi said, putting an arm around Iruka as they set off.
"What did you have in mind?"
"Drinks tonight, and sushi tomorrow?" Kakashi offered, and Iruka laughed.
"That sounds amazing."