Hatake Kakashi’s entire life was the furthest thing away from normality, he should have expected the same with his soulmark. It appeared during the third year of his tenure when he was thirty-six, a good twenty years later than the population’s average, the mark inconspicuous at the inside of his upper left arm. Kakashi paused mid-shave, fingers still zapping with electricity, he stared at his own reflection in the mirror for a long, long time.
The identity of his soulmate was painfully obvious despite the mark showing only half of a face. Long scar bisecting a straight nose, full lips stretched thin to form a blindingly bright grin - Kakashi would bet his life savings that the lower half of his face would be at the exact same spot on Iruka’s arm. He heaved a sigh, zapped his jaw clean of hair, and decided to leave things in the hands of fate.
Soulmates were, for the lack of better words, magical. Having the mark meant that there were two people in this vast, wide world so compatible that a part of them manifested as a mark on the other’s body, on the exact same spot, at the exact same time. They could be life-long friends, though most ended up as lovers, and an unfortunate few were caught in a messy tangle of love-hate relationships. Kakashi with his fatiguing thirty odd years of life experience was too weary for love, but he could use a good friend.
His current relationship with Iruka was lukewarm at best. They were closer in the past thanks to Team Seven but now that things had quieted down and he was constantly buried under piles of paperwork, they were confined to formalities. Kakashi saw Iruka mostly under professional settings, sometimes in Ichiraku, and if they did not have time to share a few words they would nod at each other and smile. Long gone were the impromptu lunches and dinners where they talked endlessly about their students and exchanged gossip materials, laughed when things were well and sat together in silence when things went south.
Their paths were different, as were their person. Unlike Gai and Tenzō whom Kakashi had constant mission runs with, he and Iruka had nearly zero overlapping missions. They were shinobi of different calibre, their skills honed in different fields, and this reflected in the type of lives they led. Iruka was kind, his notorious temper a shoddy cover of the inherent goodness underneath, his heart bigger than the land of all five nations combined. And Kakashi with too much blood on his hands was still learning how to cope, lost in the long journey of self acceptance and self forgiveness. People often said that opposites attract, and Kakashi’s mark was telling him the same old tale.
He spoke to Iruka two weeks after the initial discovery of his soulmark, they were finalising the budget of the upcoming school year and Iruka was giving him a rundown on the numbers. The recently promoted academy teacher was dressed in standard shinobi garb, and Kakashi’s concentration wavered when he thought about the possibility of Iruka discovering his own soulmark, how he had reacted when he did.
“Are you listening, Rokudaime-sama?” Iruka’s annoyance was poorly disguised in his voice and Kakashi chuckled, raising his hands in a placating manner. “Please, Iruka-sensei. Drop the honorific. We keep our original budget. The Daimyo will cover the rest.” His reward was a bright grin well worth the four hours dinner he had to suffer through to obtain the sponsorship, and Kakashi found himself smiling in return.
Nothing had changed by simply having a soulmark. Paperwork was still piling up like nobody’s business, Shikamaru was still looking at clouds whenever he could, and Kakashi found himself joining his aide sometimes when his brain refused to handle anymore bureaucratic shit. “What is it like? Having a soulmark.” They were taking a break on the roof of the Hokage Tower, Kakashi could hear Shizune screaming bloody murder in his office having found it empty.
“Troublesome,” Shikamaru replied, flopping down to better look at the sky. “But I guess it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there.” Kakashi hummed and crossed his arms, thumb brushing lightly against the mark hidden underneath his clothes. “I didn’t know you have a mark as well.” His aide commented after a long pause and Kakashi shrugged, not seeing the point in denying. He stood when Shizune started to threaten bodily harm, telling Shikamaru to take a longer break before he flickered back to his office and let Shizune chew his head off.
When he met Iruka again it was already at the end of month. The academy teacher was performing a basic medical jutsu, comforting a wailing pre-genin as he healed her injuries. It was a good sight, children so sheltered that they cried from scraped knees alone, though it was a conflicting one because shinobi was meant to be tougher, stronger. It had taken nothing less than a tantō through his father’s belly to get tears out of him back then.
Dropping down onto one knee, Kakashi crinkled his eyes at the young girl, “Did you learn how to throw a kunai today?” She nodded enthusiastically, holding her sobs. “Was it fun?” That turned on a switch and the pre-genin started to rant about her first kunai throwing experience which somehow ended up with her falling face down at the training ground. Her speech was difficult to understand for Kakashi but Iruka seemed to catch every single word, smiling and nodding encouragingly as the young one blabbered on. Her tears were dried when they sent her off, knees good as new and Kakashi waved when she yelled her goodbyes.
“You’re very good at your job, Iruka-sensei.” This was not the first time Kakashi had said it, but his words carried a different weight now. Iruka bowed and thanked the Rokudaime for his kind words, a hint of a blush noticeable only by the reddened tips of his ears. “You’re doing very well too, Kakashi-sama.” Iruka said when their eyes met, his smile genuine, and Kakashi felt a little lighter from the unexpected validation.
“Maa... at least the village is still standing. Please, drop the honorific.” Iruka laughed at that, blush still going strong on his ears.
“It has a nice ring to it you know.” Surprisingly, Iruka teased. He paused for effect before dipping his head in a mock bow, “The Sixth Hokage of Konohagakure, the honorable Rokudaime Hatake Kakashi-sama.” Kakashi groaned at the ridiculously long term of address, exasperated. “Yes, yes Iruka-dai-sensei,” he countered, pleased to see Iruka’s steadily spreading blush as he patted the teacher’s back.
Their mutual teasing did not last long. Iruka gave him a proper bow when the bell rang, excusing himself to return to his class. Kakashi watched as Iruka did a small run towards the academy, scrolls falling from his arms but saved by a few clever kicks, then a bunch of pre-genins ran into him and he dropped everything to stop an especially rowdy one from busting through a window. With passing time things tended to change, yet sometimes they stayed exactly the same.
Kakashi was off to Suna to meet the Kazekage, bringing so many personal gifts that he had to seal them in two separate scrolls instead of one. He could not begin to phantom why Gaara would need ten froggy purses but he was not about to question Naruto’s logic, it was far more acceptable than the green spandex Lee begged him to carry. Pave ways for the next generation, Kakashi told himself as he sped through the forest, personal guards flanking his sides, scouts running ahead while the heavy hitters with slower speed covered their backs.
The group rested in Tenzō’s cabin at night, his kouhai came looking for him after finalising the watch duty roaster, holding up two cans of beer. He waved Tenzō in and easily caught the can thrown at him, pulling out a bag of jerkies to munch on. Their missions had been forgiving lately. Most mission runs were diplomatic in nature and it was more likely for them to run into bandits than deadly missing nins. On quiet nights like this, they could even afford to let their guard down a little bit.
They chatted, trading gossip like middle aged ladies in the market, steering ten feet away from work related topics. It took a little coercion to get Tenzō to address him as senpai in private, his kouhai was more than happy to slap those dreadful honorifics in his face after his inauguration. They also laughed, a frequent occurrence these days, and Kakashi got so warm at one point that he took off his standard shinobi blue, leaving him in a tight, sleeveless undershirt.
Tenzō spat beer all over the floor once he saw.
“Senpai!” He exclaimed, holding Kakashi’s arm up so that he could take a better look at the mark, grinning from ear to ear. “Holy shit, senpai.” Kakashi lowered his arm, it was uncomfortable having Tenzō so near to his armpit after a full day of travelling, he took another swig of his beer.
“You plan to do anything about it?” Kakashi tapped his finger on the can of beer he was holding, oddly truthful when he replied, “Not really. Not now at least.” Tenzō did not pry, simply accepting the answer that Kakashi gave. He congratulated him, giving Kakashi a firm pat on the shoulder, and their conversation went back to hot, steaming village gossip.
The Kazekage appreciated all the personal gifts, spandex included. They discussed various topics but the biggest achievement was an agreement signed between both Kages whereby one qualified academy teacher would be sent to their sister village each year under an exchange program, facilitating the knowledge sharing between Suna and Konoha. There was a lot of trust from both parties, the council might kill him upon his return, but Iruka would be thrilled knowing that his proposal went through.
They left Suna after a three days stay, both scrolls filled to the brim with return gifts and Kakashi felt more like a delivery shinobi than a Hokage at this point. Gaara handed him a scroll personally, dissolving the seal with a smear of his blood, “If there’s anyone out there who could execute this, it would be you Rokudaime.” Kakashi read through the scroll, nodding as he went, finally placing his own seal to replace Gaara’s when he was done. “I’m not so sure about that but we’ll see. Thank you for your hospitality.”
Gai was the third person who knew about his soulmark. He cried, bawled really, too happy about the fact that the universe had finally decided to bestow his eternal rival with another half of his soul. Kakashi’s ears rang from the volume, he was smart enough to place a barrier around their booth before having this conversation, and he started reading when Gai did not show any indication to stop crying. It took a good ten minutes of poetry waxing before Gai calmed down enough to have a normal conversation, Kakashi noted down the page number and closed his book.
“Iruka-sensei is an honorable, admirable and respectable man! Konoha’s children are in good hands, you will be in good hands too!”
“I’m not doing anything about it, Gai.”
“Oh my eternal rival! Do not underestimate the calling of the other half of your soul. There is no reason to deprive yourself of the connection bestowed upon you!”
Boisterous as he was, Gai was wise. Kakashi took the advice and placed it at the back of his mind, changing the topic by inviting Gai to a training session on the following day. His new jutsu was starting to come together and Gai was the right person to test it out at the initial stage. He ended up explaining the theory behind the jutsu, starting from how he obtained the original scroll from Gaara, and Gai got so invested in the whole thing that they spent the entire evening just to discuss every possible hiccup in excruciating detail.
“Honestly I won’t be surprised if you’re my soulmate,” Kakashi mused when they left the establishment, he pushed Gai’s wheelchair on the empty street, both of them a little tipsy. Gai reached over to pat the back of Kakashi’s hand, laughing, his voice loud in the quiet night.