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Kakashi shifted his weight nervously between his feet as he washed the dishes. It was the third time he'd stepped into the kitchen since he'd first woken up and gone for a cup of tea, yet the man across the street hadn't moved an inch. The sensei had fallen asleep slumped over the table with his red pen still in hand and the sight made Kakashi's heart give a little skip of endearment.

The whole scene was so soft. Iruka's forehead rested against the side of his right hand, the one that held the pen, and the lower half of his face pressed into the back of his left hand. His elbows were spread on either side of him. It reminded Kakashi of the young boy who'd fallen asleep with his cheek smushed against the smooth pane of a large stone, wire string still hooked loosely in his right index finger.

How many jonin had walked by the barracks without noticing the can of paint hidden among the branches that overlooked the path? He himself had only noticed because he'd been meaning to settle onto the very branch against which Iruka had propped the can with a stick. He'd made it a point to look out for any other dangerously messy threats looming overhead every time he walked around the neighbourhood since.

A blush crept up his neck as he tried not to feel too creepy about noticing the gentle shiver that ran through the sensei's sleeping form. Was he cold? He had to be. It was just before 6 in the morning and the sun was only beginning to rise. Kakashi wanted nothing more than to wrap a blanket over the man's shoulders, or maybe wrap his arms around the man's chest and drag him back to the couch where they could stay together. That second thought was so intriguing.

He'd seen it before; Iruka carrying Naruto home after eating out and the pair falling asleep on the couch. Kakashi had discovered the pair both had a weakness for Ichiraku's and found it soothing that, in the midst of so much ruin, the two of them had each other.

The day he'd approached Iruka on the bench he'd wanted to tell him —I saw you, you know. You fell asleep waiting for someone to pass by, aching for some attention, just like Naruto.— but he didn't. Instead he'd practically begged the man to hang in there a little longer.

It was a monumental moment, even if Iruka probably hadn't been aware of it. Despite every fibre of his being urging him towards safety, Kakashi's heart pleaded with him harder and Kakashi just couldn't —wouldn't— ignore his heart, not when it was over Minato-sensei's son; not when it was over Naruto.

He couldn't tell if he'd loved the man at first sight, or second, or third... but a few days later, watching from his favourite tree as Iruka pulled out two bento boxes from his satchel before placing one of them in front of Naruto and the other in front of himself, Kakashi engraved the exact moment he realised Iruka had kept the tiny fraction of the heart he had shared with him.

How simple it had been for the earth to give way beneath him and yet he felt more grounded than ever. Kakashi's soul had reached out and Iruka had seen it, had caught it, had whispered promises of attention and understanding and Kakashi had soaked it all up. He was a romantic, after all.

Every glimpse into Iruka's life rang familiar in Kakashi's heart. It was so easy to imagine himself a part of the other man's life: Kakashi would wait for him at the academy when the school day was over and they could walk home together. Many people would wave at them, Iruka knew half the village after all, but it would be okay because Kakashi's hand would be clasped tightly in Iruka's. And when Iruka invited his friends over, instead of fussing in the kitchen looking for the nice crockery it would be Kakashi, brewing the tea and pouring the cups while the other man kept the conversation going. Iruka wouldn't waver over Gai's boisterous company either, but afterwards they could sit together in silence anyways, each one with their own book. They'd have a huge library, with a space for Mr. Ukki, who wouldn't be lonely whenever Kakashi left for missions anymore. Then maybe, when Kakashi came back —he would always come back to his love— Iruka would greet him at the gates with that brilliant smile of his and a follow-up kiss.

There were so many little things Kakashi wanted to do with Iruka. He wished to kiss him while they folded laundry, and roll around together on the freshly made bed just for the sake of it. Kakashi longed to run his hands through Iruka's hair as they read Naruto's letters, and wrap his arms around the younger man while he sliced vegetables for dinner, before ultimately taking over.

He wanted Iruka to pin his wrists above his head, and kiss him back, want him as much as he wanted Iruka. He wanted to fall asleep every night with Iruka's head against his chest, not against student papers like he was now.

It was a silly desire, he knew. In the 2 years they'd been neighbours they hadn't really advanced past amicable greetings and the occasional polite conversation when they happened to leave their respective apartments at the same time. Kakashi had memorised the man's routine to make sure such meetings happened twice a week in the mornings and thrice in the evenings, so long as his own mission schedule allowed it.

That was also why he now faced the uncomfortable predicament of knowing Iruka would be late if he didn't wake up soon, but not knowing what to do about it without giving up the fact he'd memorised the man's routine.

Kakashi snapped back to reality as Iruka stirred. His head rolled onto its side, right cheek resting against the back of his left hand and lips slightly parted from the pressure. The man really wasn't going to get up soon, was he? No, most definitely not, but Kakashi wasn't going to allow the sensei's 2 year streak of punctuality be broken so innocuously.

***

He was walking purposefully across the street that separated their houses; before he knew it he was knocking at the door.

He nearly had time to berate himself over the impulsiveness of it all, but a thud and subsequent groggy voice interrupted his newly-forming thoughts.

"Yes! Sorry! Come in."

A brief dose of panic surged through him. What kind of ninja didn't at least ask who it was before inviting them into their home? He opened the door hesitantly and spoke.

"Hi. Uh," Iruka was looking up at him through a drowsy gaze, there was a pencil case on the ground beside him, it was all too much in too little time to process. He voiced the only thought still bouncing around in his head.

"It's 6 AM, you're going to be late."

"Huh?"

Kakashi squirmed in his place, he really hadn't thought this through.

"For school. I- Uh- You always leave at 6:30."

"And you came over to wake me up so I..." Iruka's eyes were clearing a bit, Kakashi felt his ears burning, "wouldn't be late?" It sounded foolish when he put it like that.

"Well I- I know you don't like tardiness. Why spoil a good reputation?" He brought his right hand to rub at the back of his neck. Was that cold sweat running down his temple?

"Hm," came Iruka's brief response.

The man was staring at him with inquisitive eyes and Kakashi had the distinct impression he was being assessed. He couldn't take it, he had to fill in the silence.

"Besides... I only had to cross the street. I live across from you."

'I live across from you,' the voice inside his head mocked back at him; but that was unnecessary because Kakashi was already chiding himself for his ramblings.

"I see."

No one had to know about this, he thought to himself. Iruka didn't seem like the type to run about embarrassing well-meaning jonins for their graceless executions, right? He wouldn't tell anyone. Maybe he'd tell Naruto. Kakashi hoped not. Had Naruto told Iruka about the chalkboard eraser he'd dropped on Kakashi's head that first day? Again, Kakashi hoped not. He didn't want Iruka to think him some clumsy jonin who would've also gotten covered in paint had Iruka been awake so many years ago.

"Um, so you're up now," he started. Kakashi's hand had never left the door handle and he took a step back, "I'm just gonna-"

"Do you want to stay for breakfast?" Iruka interrupted.

"What?"

"Would you like to stay for breakfast? You're already here, it's the least I can do to thank you," the sensei finished, bringing a hand up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind his ear. 

Kakashi traced the movement with his eye and felt himself blushing again. He hadn't even had the time to take in Iruka's sleepy appearance. But oh, of course, trust Iruka to stick to civil codes despite the awkwardness of it all.

It'd stumped Kakashi during the brief conversations they shared, but he was suddenly very grateful for it. It gave him comfort to know Iruka wouldn't make fun of him to his friends later on.

"Ah. Thank you, but I know you have to get ready. I'll just-"

"There's no school today," Iruka said smoothly, as though he hadn't just thrown out any remaining semblance of reason in Kakashi's impromptu visit. 

He blanched. "What?"

"The children had sports day yesterday. It's their day off, so it's mine too."

Iruka was now blushing furiously, and in any other context Kakashi would be appreciative of the pretty hue, but he was too busy willing himself not to body flicker away.

"Oh," came a soft whisper, "I didn't know." I don't even know what a sports day is, he added mentally, but saying that out loud would certainly not help his case.

"Yeah." Iruka was running his middle and index fingers along his scar and Kakashi was just the faintest bit amused and endeared by the obviously unconscious movement.

"Sorry I woke you up," Kakashi's voice came out steady this time. Finally.

"No, it's alright. It was a" —Iruka's cheeks darkened, Kakashi swooned internally— "pleasant surprise." 

A smile graced the sensei's face, not quite as brilliant as his everyday smile, but somehow warmer. It was the one that made Iruka's eyes light up and Kakashi's heart skip a beat; the same smile he gave Kakashi when they happened to glance out their respective kitchen windows at the same time and their eyes met. It was Kakashi's favourite.

"Breakfast sounds nice then. If that's okay."

Kakashi closed the door behind him.