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Kakashi lost footing on the slick rooftop as he landed, smoke from his latest shunshin dissipating around him. Cursing out loud, he tried to roll and absorb the impact, but his body refused to cooperate. 

His shoulder hit the roughly-carved wood shingles first, then his hip and spine. Kakashi skidded, limbs shaking as he tried to grasp the rooftop with clawed ANBU gloves, shock spreading across his body like an icy wave. A soft cry left his lips as he slipped into freefall. 

 

He landed flat on his back, sinking into the frigid embrace of the balcony’s snowdrift. Exhaling, he took a moment to close his eyes. The pain was blinding, a terrible, burning ache that spread outwards from where the kunai was buried in his stomach. Kakashi gritted his teeth and fought back, willing himself to focus.

Slowly, he regained awareness of his surroundings. 

 

A balcony, that’s where he was.

Iruka’s balcony. 

A rock seemed to drop into his stomach. He shouldn’t be here—couldn’t be here. 

 

Suddenly the lack of wards and traps made sense. By all means, the safety measures did exist, but Iruka had coded his chakra into the seals. 

 

In his head, Kakashi found a thousand different curses to describe his current situation. He’d been running, injured and worn, and his pain-clouded mind had brought him to the one place—to the one person—that he wanted to keep safe. 

He rolled himself over, limbs shaking terribly as he moved. He could feel the kunai with every breath, a rather painful accompaniment to the sounds of his own exertion. 

 

There was a glass sliding door nearby, and he heard the soft, rumbling hiss of it being pulled open. Bare feet sank into the snow at the edge of his vision, and Kakashi recognized a familiar set of blue pajama pants, the hems rippling slightly in the night breeze. 

Strong hands gripped Kakashi gently, and he found himself being half-carried across the threshold and onto the living room’s hardwood floor. There, he was slowly lowered back to the ground. Jaws set tightly against the renewed discomfort, Kakashi fumbled with the straps to his ANBU mask, and eventually managed to pull it free. The porcelain made an alarmingly loud thunk as it hit the wood panels. 

 

Iruka's brown eyes glittering in the faint light that filtered through the glass. “God, Kakashi, you—” 

“I’m sorry.” Kakashi fought to keep his sharingan eye closed, but found shock impeding control of his face. 

Iruka hurriedly set aside the kunai that had been tucked in his waistband in order to kneel and begin to loosen the straps on Kakashi’s armor. 

“Don’t you dare apologize. Who attacked you?”

Kakashi scrabbled for his boyfriend’s arm. After a few tries, his blood-slick fingers found the man’s wrist. 

“Happened—on mission. I can’t stay here—I’m putting you in danger.” 

“What are you talking about? You need medical attention right now! I—” 

“They’re after me. Iruka, they can’t know I’m here—” 

 

A loud banging filled the air, causing them both to jump. Iruka’s eyes narrowed as he turned his attention towards the hallway leading to the apartment’s front door. 

There was no way for him to see who was there, but Kakashi knew exactly who was standing outside. He gripped Iruka tighter, guilt weighing heavily in his stomach. 

 

“Damn, looks like it’s too late for that now,” Iruka muttered, and then looked back down at him. “Do me a favor and take a breath.” 

Without warning, the man took hold of the kunai and pulled it free. Kakashi sank his teeth into his bottom lip and let out a muffled yell, swearing as his vision went sideways. Already, the sting of Iruka’s chakra was replacing the pain, an uncomfortable tingling only accentuated by the urgency behind the jutsu. 

Kakashi’s gaze locked onto the mesmerizing, green glow that bathed his midsection. “You—re much better at medical jutsu—than I thought,” he commented, words slurring together. 

“Quiet, you. I’ve had practice. I teach pre-genin, remember?”

Mmph.”  

Feeling drained, Kakashi closed his sharingan eye and allowed himself to relax into the wooden floorboards—only to heave himself back up onto his elbows as another knock echoed through the room. Iruka’s hands gently forced him back to the floor.

“I’ll deal with this, Kakashi. Just stay put. Believe me, they won’t be able to get you here.” 

Kakashi watched as the man pushed himself to his feet, pulling the curtains shut over the glass door to the balcony. 

 

‘They won’t be able to get you here.’  The words seemed to swim in Kakashi’s mind. What did Iruka mean? They could force their way in at any damn moment… ROOT didn’t care, not about anyone… 

 

Iruka wiped blood from his hands on a kitchen towel before turning on the hallway light and bustling to the door. 

Kakashi quieted his breathing as best as he could and rested his head against the wood panels, listening hard. 

 

“Good evening, Iruka-sensei.” A deceptively calm, smooth voice drifted through the air, sending chills down Kakashi’s spine. 

Every nerve in his body screamed that he needed to run to Iruka’s side and protect his boyfriend. 

 

Danzō. 

Danzō was here, searching for him. 

 

“Danzō-sama, how may I be of assistance?” Iruka’s voice was curt, yet respectful. 

“It has come to my attention that Hatake Kakashi is in your care. May I speak with him?” There was a hint of warning in the man’s tone. 

“My sincerest apologies. Kakashi-san has not yet regained consciousness, and cannot see anyone at this time.” 

“Now that is a pity. He possesses something that I… require. I will have my personal guard escort him to the hospital.” 

“With all due respect, he will remain here.” 

“Is that so?” Danzō hummed. “My sources say that he sustained quite the injury in his last mission. He needs professional care.” 

“I have already tended to his wound. The Academy is on winter holiday, so I will personally escort Kakashi-san to the hospital in the morning.” Iruka’s voice rose slightly, but remained admirably controlled and respectful. 

 

“That is not an option I am giving you, Sensei. Stand down.” Danzō's command was harsh and bore the full weight of his authority. 

 

There came a pause and Kakashi felt a stab of panic race through him as he heard the telltale soft clank of armor.

The door squeaked, and Iruka grunted. 

 

“Danzō-sama,” Iruka’s voice was slightly strained, “by law, you cannot enter this residence without my consent. As a military leader and member of the council of internal affairs, you signed the law yourself.”

“That document pertains only to civilians. In becoming a shinobi, you forfeited that protection, Sensei. Come now, you know this,” Danzō sneered.

 

Iruka’s voice was laced with ice when he next spoke. 

“You will find that I am perfectly qualified and well-aware of my rights, Danzō-sama, as the same protection extends to those employed in government offices. Hatake Kakashi is not a criminal, and my current position grants me the ability to place him under my protective custody.”

“He is ANBU, and already subject to court-martial upon return for exposing his identity,” the ROOT leader practically spat back. 

“I processed his paperwork, Danzō-sama. His identity comes as no surprise to me.” 

 

Kakashi’s heart hammered against his ribs, reawakening a hint of discomfort from the kunai wound. Any pain, however, was quickly overtaken by the sense of pride that expanded from his chest at Iruka’s words. 

 

“Tread carefully, Sensei. You do not know what you’re dealing with.” 

 

“June eleventh, year sixty-eight of the reformed calendar, August twenty-eighth, year seventy, November twelfth, year seventy-one—” 

Kakashi heard a low growl emanate from the doorway, cutting off Iruka’s voice, one that did not match either pair of voices—Danzō’s guard, presumably. 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Danzō replied stiffly.  

 

“Two documents detailing assassination attempts on the Sandaime’s life, both of which nearly required full ANBU mobilization, and one of a shinobi’s evacuation from your organization—”

Another warning growl accompanied Iruka’s words, but the man kept going. 

“—following an attempt on the life of an ANBU—whose identity remains undisclosed. The council, however, recorded the acquittal of one ‘Kakashi Hatake’ that same year after you pressed criminal charges. All three documents came to my attention after being tampered with by a third party early last year.” 

Iruka’s unspoken threat seemed to hang in the air, weighing the silence that fell in the apartment. 

 

“So, Sensei, what do you plan on doing with that information?” Outwardly, Danzō’s voice almost sounded amused, but Kakashi knew there was a terrible wrath boiling just beneath the surface. 

“Nothing, Danzō-sama.” 

 

From where he lay on the floor, a half-smile crept its way onto Kakashi’s face, curving his lips. Danzō clearly had been expecting a pushover, a simple shinobi that he could bully aside. 

Iruka was neither of those things. 

 

“You are playing a dangerous game, Sensei,” Danzō said at last, low and menacing. 

Iruka’s voice showed no fear. 

“Perhaps I am.”

 

Kakashi heard a soft shuffling. The door creaked again, audibly closing slightly as the ROOT soldier backed off.  

 

“Well played, Sensei. But I caution you against meddling deeper into matters that do not concern you.” 

Iruka hummed, a sound quiet enough that Kakashi almost missed. “Thank you, Danzō-sama. I will keep that in mind.” 

 

The door snapped shut, and Kakashi heard Iruka sigh heavily. 

Next thing he knew, the man was kneeling next to him. Kakashi took the proffered hand and allowed Iruka to ease him up into a sitting position. 

 

“Sorry about that.” Iruka rubbed the back of his neck. “I might have just made things worse for you.”

Then, the man’s eyes widened slightly. “Shit … I just threatened—gods, what was I thinking?” 

 

Already, there were a thousand different words racing through Kakashi’s mind. Facing down Danzō, turning back ROOT from his doorstep—that would make Iruka just about the bravest, most reckless person in Konoha. 

Umino Iruka

His Iruka. 

 

“Iruka, it’s okay, don’t worry about it,” he tried, but Iruka was still going on, frowning and distracted in a thoroughly Iruka fashion. 

Kakashi gazed at Iruka fondly and shook his head before leaning in and interrupting his boyfriend’s ramblings with a kiss. 

 

“Thank you.”