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Pterrible at Flirting

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"Alright everyone, listen carefully." Iruka looked at his class of pre-genin, commanding their waning attention. They stood outside the Konoha Natural Museum of Science and Nature, vibrating with energy. It was a lesson in futility as Konohamaru and his gang of troublemakers giggled at each other and cast furtive glances in his direction. Subtle, they were not.

“Do you have your activity booklets?”

Iruka’s class stood on the grassy slope just off the main walkway. There was a loud chorus of yes in varying degrees of exasperation as a forest of booklets were held aloft. Iruka had worked hard on those booklets. In the past week, Iruka had nearly chakra exhausted himself using the Photocopying no Jutsu. But seeing their shiny covers and binded spines made it worth the effort.

“You will be respectful. You will be courteous. This is a public location and we share this space with everyone.” Iruka gave his kids the stink eye, willing them to take heed. “I do not want any trouble. Any hint and I will not hesitate to have you work double time fixing the training grounds on Wednesday.” There was a loud chorus of groans from the kids. Fixing the training grounds was the worst.Especially after the jounin finished using their latest flashiest technique. “Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Iruka-sensei,” the kids answered in unison, a hint of a whine in their collective voices.

“Good. We’ll be handing out the wristbands now. You are not to lose these. The wristband will let you into the other exhibition areas aside from the main dinosaur exhibit.” Iruka nodded at his student-teacher helper. “Tsubame-sensei, if you please?” Together, they worked quickly to distribute the paper wristbands.

There was someone lurking in the shadow of the trees. Iruka had pinged him earlier when he and Tsubame had herded everyone from the Academy. It was hard not to when Iruka was being stalked in such a dogged manner.

"Ebisu-san," Iruka called out, catching the glint of his glasses. This wouldn't be the first time or the last time he caught the tokubetsu jounin lurking about. “Come out, please.”

Caught and called out, Ebisu approached them with a high-pitched laugh. “Ayo! Iruka-sensei!” Ebisu greeted with a wide smile as if he hadn't seen or heard the group of children hyped about seeing dinosaurs. "What a pleasant surprise on such a gorgeous day!" He pushed his rounded sunglasses up onto the bridge of his nose and began to laugh.

Iruka sighed internally, feeling the onset of a headache. Ebisu stopped his awkward laughter when Iruka sent a sharp pointed look. "If you're going to be shadowing Konohamaru and his friends, you may as well chaperone them properly and keep them out of trouble."

Konohamaru protested loudly. "That's not fair, Iruka-sensei!"

"Yeah, Iruka-sensei!" Udon and Moegi chorused, turning their wide innocent gaze on him. “It’s not fair!” 

Iruka isn’t moved by their plea and nods at Ebisu. If Ebisu was rumoured to become Konohamaru's jounin teacher after they graduated, he might as well make himself useful and get better acquainted with their wily ways. “Keep a close eye on them. They're slippery.

With someone else looking after his most trouble-seeking group, Iruka turned to the rest of his hellions. “Remember: we have a talk at 11 so I expect you all to be in the foyer at five to. After the talk we will break for lunch outside. Free time will happen this afternoon. If you haven’t finished your activity booklets by then you will have time to complete it before we leave. Are there any questions?”

“No, Iruka-sensei.”

“Can we go see the dinos now?”

"I want to buy something for my little brother at the gift shop!"

“Where’s the toilet? I really need to go...”

Iruka let out a mental sigh. “There are bathrooms when we go inside. I’ll point them out when we go inside. You are only allowed to go into the gift shop before we leave. Have I made myself clear? Alright, let’s go!”

Konoha Natural Museum of Science and Nature was built on a museum campus far from the bustle of the downtown area. It used to be the old storage house back in the Shodaime era until there was a push to move all the administration buildings into the downtown area closer to Hokage rock. The foundations were solid and new wings were being built to house its ever growing collection of fossils and taxidermies.

As soon as they walked in, Iruka was hit by the sound of people’s footsteps and conversations. Everyone was enjoying some well-deserved free time and choosing to visit a museum, unassuming of the chaos that just walked in. There were a few familiar faces that he recognised from the mission desk. Iruka hoped his kids wouldn't be too disruptive when he released them into the wild.

The impressive thing about the foyer were its high ceilings and the complete skeleton of a large long necked sauropod that must have lived many million years ago. Every time Iruka saw it, his breath was taken away. To think such creatures used to roam Konoha was unfathomable. The last time something large had done a walkabout in Konoha, he had lost his parents.

Shaking himself from darker thoughts, Iruka left a clone by the main entrance just in case any of the kids thought they could slip outside. "Tsubame-sensei and I will know, so don't even think about it." The kids near the back shuffled guiltily and Iruka vowed to shadow them from afar. "What time are we meeting up again?"

"11!"

"No! 10:55, dummy. 11 is when the talk starts."

"Hey! Don't call me a dummy, dummy!"

Iruka gave them the look, leaving Tsubame to deal with the aftermath. "Shigeo is correct. 10:55, right here. Now you're free to wander. No running."

The kids squealed and broke off into pairs and groups; Iruka could enjoy the relative peace for a moment. 


Iruka found himself in the company of Inuzuka Shima and Iwashi Shouji, best friends for life and dinosaur enthusiasts. Shima's ninken partner Aomaru was always sleepy. Whether that was because of the museum itself or because he was a puppy, Iruka wasn't certain.

"Iruka-sensei?" Shima asked. She was struggling with holding her pen and the activity booklet as well as the little backpack she had on.

"Yes, Shima-chan?"

"Can you hold onto Aomaru for me?" Shima looked a little frazzled, juggling all her things. "I can't answer the questions and hold onto him at the same time and I'm afraid he'll get stepped on. He's only very small."

Normally, Iruka would have said no. Inuzuka’s were fiercely protective of their ninken partners. The bonds they shared was what made them so unique. Iruka decided discretion was the better part of valour and nodded. "If Aomaru will let me of course."

Shima smiled brightly and she patiently showed Iruka how best to tuck the sleeping puppy into the crook of his arm. They walked through the ground level together, Iruka taking in the animals and their glass eyes, impressive but no less freaky every time Iruka came to visit.

It wasn't until they got to the main dinosaur exhibition hall that both Shima and Shouji perked up. Skeletons lined the outside of a large concrete dome, their necks arched in repose. A double set of ramps ran along the perimeter, leading up to the second level and connecting hallways into the next exhibit. The middle was filled with the delicate, smaller fossils safe behind glass in a temperature controlled environment.  

They stared in wonder at the large skeletons on display, artistic renditions of what they could have looked like done as a comparison. Iruka was much the same way as they wandered through display after display of life sized creatures from many years ago.

There was a guide in the far end, talking about the fossils around the room. From his vantage point, it seemed the guide had quite the crowd although he was too far for any words to be decipherable; Iruka was pleased to see a number of his students listening in. Good. They might learn a thing or two to fill out the last page. Iruka had deliberately left it blank so they could fill it with any cool facts they learnt.

Iruka followed Shima and Shouji's circuit around the room as they looked at the Konohasaurus skeletons and reconstructions.

The tour guide's voice was soothing and deep, the words getting steadily louder. He seemed to know a lot about the Konoharaptors' teeth. Aomaru wriggled in Iruka's arm letting out a soft whine, and then snuggled into the warm crook of Iruka's arm; Aomaru was content to use Iruka’s arms as his bed for just a little longer.

Iruka rounded the bend of the display cases to a chorus of "Iruka-sensei!" coming from his students in the group. He lifted up a finger bringing it to his smiling lips for silence. It wouldn't do for the tour guide speech to be interrupted by his kids' enthusiasm.

The apology on Iruka's lips died when he was struck by recognition. "Kakashi-sensei?"  It was none other than Team 7’s leader. What was he doing here?

"Good day, Iruka-sensei." Kakashi greeted, his gaze drawn momentarily at the sleeping pup.

Iruka felt slow for not having recognised the owner of the deep and soothing voice sooner. What was strange was that Kakashi was here at a museum with an adorable Stegosaurus scarf wrapped around his neck. It was green and fleecy, and probably blatant advertising for the museum’s gift shop; Iruka wondered how many of his kids would end up walking out of the building with one wrapped around their necks.

But if Kakashi was here with no Team 7 in sight then that could only mean… "Is Team 7 alright?" Iruka felt a frisson of worry for Naruto and his teammates. They weren't in hospital were they? Iruka felt he would have heard something by now.

"Don't worry, sensei. They're all fine." Kakashi gave him an eyesmile. "They're just doing a spot of administration in the back."

Iruka was relieved, matching Kakashi's smile with one of his own. "They must have been delighted to find such an action packed mission."

"Absolutely," Kakashi's bushy hair waved with each nod. "Good thing the administrator runs a tight ship. It'll give them someone else to whine at for a while."

That didn't explain at all why Kakashi was guiding this talk. Iruka supposed that to become a jounin you had to know all sorts of knowledge. Perhaps Kakashi's special interest was in dinosaurs and paleontology.

"Ah, that's good and please don't let me interrupt." Iruka bowed, laughing self-consciously as he realised everyone was staring at him. His cheeks warmed when he realised Shiranui Genma was winking at him from the side of the group with his boyfriend Namaishi Raidou flashing him a thumbs-up. Iruka had never interacted with the tokubetsu jounin outside of the mission desk. 

It became evident to Iruka a few minutes later that perhaps Kakashi's special interest wasn't in dinosaurs after all. The longer they were guided by Kakashi, the higher Iruka’s blood pressure climbed.  Konoharaptors were not the same as Konohavenators. Everyone knew that. The Konoharaptor was four times as large and from Kakashi’s description of its serrated teeth, it was a carnivore.

"Excuse me, Kakashi-sensei," Iruka interjected after the third dinosaur fact that seemed a little off. Everyone turned collectively to look at Iruka. "But you mentioned that pterodactyls were dinosaurs, but that strictly speaking isn't true. The pterodactylus was a genus of the pterosaur."

"That is correct. What a pterrific explanation," Kakashi beamed at Iruka again like Iruka was his star pupil and he had been expecting someone to call him out on his wild facts sooner rather than later. 

“That was--” And here Iruka couldn't believe he would stoop to Kakashi’s level, but when an opportunity presented itself... “--pterrible.”

“Did he just--” Someone that sounded like Genma groaned amongst some childish giggling coming from the other adults in the group. Iruka was rather pleased that his kids were all studiously applying themselves to their activity booklet, the puns having flown past their heads. 

"They’re bantering like an old married couple." That voice definitely belonged to Genma. "They deserve one another if only they…"

But Iruka wasn't paying attention to the gossipers behind him. It was Kakashi’s look of surprise - the widened eye and the look of admiration- that Iruka was committing to memory. It wasn't everyday that a normal academy teacher could surprise the great Master of a Thousand Jutsu and jounin extraordinaire Kakashi after all. 

"Is there anything else that I have gotten wrong, Iruka-sensei, that you'd also like to correct?" Kakashi asked, a little too gleefully in Iruka's opinion.

Iruka scratched at the edge of his scar with his free hand. He really ought to refuse, but he couldn’t stand this misinformation for a moment longer. "As a matter of fact…." 

Kakashi didn't seem to mind that Iruka was the one giving the lecture as they walked from the curved displays of the smaller skeletons and the models of what they could have looked like. In fact, he seemed to enjoy listening to Iruka talk even if he kept asking nonsensical questions. That was pretty strange and Iruka filed it away to be examined at a later point in time.

By the time they reached the geological Earth Sciences section, Iruka realised he had been speaking for ten minutes about dinosaurs to a captivated audience. "A-and that's why, like Kakashi-sensei mentioned, the Konohavenators are likely to be omnivorous given their size and the lack of serration on their teeth. It would have made hunting larger prey difficult," Iruka finished lamely, accepting the applause bashfully.

“That was quite the presentation, Iruka-sensei,” Raidou said, sounding impressed. “You definitely put Kakashi in his place.”

“Oh, uh, thank you?” Iruka hadn’t even thought about it from that angle. What if Kakashi took offense for taking over his talk? What if he thought badly of Naruto because of it? Iruka wouldn’t be able to forgive himself for putting Naruto at a disadvantage because he did something incredibly stupid. His worry must have translated onto his expressive face because Raidou gave him a sympathetic shoulder pat.

It wasn't until Shouji cleared his throat that Iruka pulled himself away from his internal debate. “Iruka-sensei? Don’t we have to get to the foyer?” Shima helpfully pointed at the clock on the wall showing that they had fifteen minutes to join up with the rest of the students and it’d take some time for his kids to navigate the museum.

“You’re both right.” Iruka handed Aomaru back to Shima, the little pup yelping for having his sleep disturbed. “I will be right there. Off you trot.”

The pair quickly scurried off after their peers, the room echoing the footsteps coming from a small stampede of children.

Iruka turned back to the now smaller group and bowed his thanks, reminded of his manners. “Thank you for the tour, Kakashi-sensei. The students and I have a presentation to get to now, so please excuse us--”

“Oh. The tour’s finished actually,” Kakashi said quickly, much to the surprise of the group behind them. “I’m headed that way myself.”

“Oh!” Iruka hadn’t been expecting that although the company would be welcome. He beamed at Kakashi as the group slowly disbanded. “That sounds lovely but I’ll have to check the halls for any stragglers...” One of the many skills of being a pre-genin teacher Iruka found was knowing how to herd cats, especially when they didn’t want to be found.

Kakashi wasn’t deterred. “I’ll help you. Let's walk together then.”

“I never knew you were into paleontology.”

Kakashi shrugged. “I have dogs that really like digging things up.”

Together they checked some of the other halls in comfortable silence, walking through the museum together as they hunted for any missing children. Distracted even as Iruka was with his main task, he couldn’t help but feel like this - wandering through a dinosaur museum - had... potential date vibes.

Iruka felt his face heat up. A date with Kakashi? Kakashi who was a part of Konoha’s elite? No no no. There was no way that Kakashi would be interested in him. And now that the idea had incepted itself into his brain, Iruka could indulge the what ifs.

What would dating Kakashi be like? Filled with worry, no doubt. But that was true of any active shinobi irrespective of rank. Kakashi was strangely playful in his own way, and mischievous if he kept dishing out incorrect dinosaur facts whenever Iruka was within earshot.

Did Iruka find Kakashi attractive? Iruka snuck a glance in the reflection of the glass display case at Kakashi, trying not to be obvious in his surveillance. There wasn’t anyone that Iruka knew that hadn’t had a crush on Kakashi at one point or another. It was impossible to find someone as loyal and dedicated to Konoha than Kakashi. Even without being able to see his face, everything about Kakashi hit Iruka’s competency kink. Yes. Kakashi was attractive even in his Stegosaurus scarf.

So being that person who got to welcome Kakashi home not just at the mission desk but at home? That would be such a privilege.

Iruka laughed a little to himself and detached himself from his daydreams; he hardly knew Kakashi after all. 

“Something funny, sensei?” Kakashi murmured as they headed out to the balcony that overlooked the main foyer.

“I’ve just realised that this isn’t the first time I’ve met you on one of my excursions...” 

"Oh? What a coincidence," Kakashi said mildly like he was commenting on the fact that water is wet.

Iruka was very suspicious now, racking his brains for the last excusions he had taken his pre-genins out. The bait to get this class to behave was spaced out over the year. They had gone to Konoha Zoo in winter. visited the Konoha Planetarium during spring, admired the art sitting in the Konoha Art Gallery and now that it was going into autumn: the Konoha Natural Museum. Kakashi and Team 7 had strangely been present when Iruka was visiting. 

"You were dressed up as a zookeeper of the wolves and the kids were helping out with cleaning the pens!" Iruka paused, his mind flicking through memories like a flipbook. "And you were wearing that sparkly galaxy vest at the Planetarium while giving the kids a tour."

Kakashi rubbed at the back of his neck. "Guilty as charged, sensei. But it really is all a coincidence..."

Iruka was staring intently at Kakashi now, trying to piece together whether he saw Kakashi at the Konoha National Art Gallery. He had been certain that he hadn't seen Kakashi at all on that day.  In fact, he hadn't seen many adults on that day aside from Tsubame-sensei and some of the other patrons of the gallery. There had been a photography exhibition aside from the usual permanent art pieces and a rather lovely fellow that Iruka had got to talking to. It was a shame he never caught the photographer's name.

"A coincidence…." Iruka repeated, not at all convinced. Three out of four excursions was a rather high percentage. Iruka was suspicious. Could it be that Kakashi was stalking him and was using Team 7 D Rank missions as an excuse? But what reason could there have been for Kakashi to go to such lengths?

There was no way Kakashi was interested.  Maybe he wanted a friend?  But Iruka thought he was rather well placed with multiple jounin friends already, like the friendly rivalry Kakashi had with his best friend Gai-sensei. 

“Iruka-sensei!” Tsubame called out from below where she and Ebisu had corralled everyone into a chaotic semblance of a line. “Everyone is here! We’re ready to start when you are.”

Iruka waved down at them. “I’ll be right there!” He turned to Kakashi who blinked innocently at him. Iruka was no fool. “This isn’t over, Kakashi-sensei.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, sensei.”


By the time lunch time came around, Iruka was ready for the break. The presentation about the excavation techniques by his contact person at the Museum - Masaki-san, an ex-shinobi turned paleontologist - had been fascinating. The kids had been equally as enraptured, asking excellent questions about using Earth-based techniques to aid excavation.

Iruka was listening with half an ear, paying attention for any signs of trouble. Tsubame and Iruka traded off halfway for a quick break. Iruka checked in with the front desk about lunch and was pointed in the direction of the food hall that was reserved just for his kids.

He was surprised to see Kotetsu and Izumo, both sporting matching hairnets, wheeling in trays of lunch bentos.

“Oh!” Iruka trotted over to the waving pair. “Hey, I wasn’t expecting to see you both here.”

“Iruka, my man!” Kotetsu greeted. 

"I wasn't expecting to see you both until the Halloween Party," Iruka said.

"The one that Gai-sensei is organising? I thought you weren't going," Izumo said as he unloaded a tray of bentos onto the table. "Did something or someone change your mind?"

Iruka was confused. He had said he'd think about going if he managed to get all his lesson plans and wasn't on duty at the mission desk. "I have no idea what you're talking about?"

"Oh, they're not-" Izumo studiously returned to setting out the juice boxes alongside the bentos on the table.

"Ignore him. He's being stupid," Kotetsu interjected smoothly with a meaningful glance. Izumo and Kotetsu then held an entire conversation with their lip quirks and eyebrow waggles that left Iruka mostly confused still.

"Anyway, we're here because apparently the Museum posted a mission looking for miscellaneous help. Izumo thought it was a good idea to pick it up.”

Izumo rolled his eyes at his partner and began to set out the bentos in the food hall. “It’s easy ryo! There’s zero chance of dying and I get to spend all day with you. What’s not to like? We can even buy that extra fancy mayo that you like so much. You know, the wasabi flavoured one.”

“You don’t even like the wasabi one.”

“But you do.” Izumo shrugged and grinned. He took a crate of bentos and began lining one side of the long table. 

“Ok.” Kotetsu flushed, hands pausing on the bento he was putting down and cleared his throat. “But next time we go condiment shopping, we can pick the sesame dressing that you like.”

Iruka laughed quietly, leaving them to their flirting. He slipped back inside the auditorium for the tail end of Masaki’s presentation.

“Ah, and here’s your Iruka-sensei.”  She beckoned him to the front of the class.

Iruka bowed at her. “Thank you Masaki-san for your time and this incredible presentation. Everyone, can you please thank Masaki-san?” Masaki beamed and waved at everyone. “Lunch will be ready in a few minutes. I want you to take the time to double check that you have all of your things and then follow me.”

Konohamaru, Moegi and Udon were at the front of the line, their voices clamouring over one another to tell Iruka about everything they saw at the museum. Iruka listened patiently, glad to hear that the kids had fun even if it came at the cost of listening to them complain about Ebisu being hard to escape from.

“Oh hey! It’s Naruto-niichan!!” Konohamaru shouted as soon as the door opened, running up to the table in the corner where Kakashi and Team 7 were seated. Sasuke looked as impassive as Sakura was annoyed for having their lunch interrupted.

Iruka felt his heart grow seeing Naruto look so cheerful. Being someone’s idol was a good look for him. He took a roll call as the kids walked by, keeping half an ear out for trouble.

“Oh hey, if it isn’t Konohamaru!” Naruto shouted, jumping up and offering his fist out which Konohamaru bumped enthusiastically. “What are you doing here? Trying to spy on my super cool ninja techniques?”

“We’re here on an excursion!” Konohamaru rolled his eyes. “See, Iruka-sensei is here!” 

And then his name was being yelled at by two very enthusiastic kids in the corner. It brought a smile to his face that Naruto would still think so fondly of him even after a year of working with Team 7 and Kakashi. He waved briefly at them and finished off the roll call before meeting them.

“Hello Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke. It’s good to see you. Enjoying your lunch?”

Sakura smiled brightly. “Yes, thank you.”

“Hn.” Sasuke was as verbose as ever.

“It’s not as good as Ichiraku,” Naruto declared. “But it’s better than those mission ration bars Kakashi-sensei keeps giving us. Hey, hey, Iruka-sensei! We should go get Ichiraku for dinner! It feels like it’s been ages since we’ve eaten together.”

“Hey now,” Iruka said, his eyebrow ticking. His wallet was still weeping from the last time he went out with Naruto last week. Not that Iruka was ever going to pass on a chance to spend time with Naruto. “We'll go eat sometime soon."

“Sensei, can we please sit with Naruto-niichan?” Konohamaru asked, knowing full well he and his friends should be at the long tables with the rest of them. Under the full relentless power of a combined puppy dog eyes from Naruto and Konohamaru, Iruka felt his defenses weaken.

“Only if Kakashi-sensei agrees.”

“I don’t mind, sensei,” Kakashi said, his bento already empty and clean. When had he even eaten all of it?

The kids cheered, already plotting out their next prank even right underneath the watchful ears of their teachers.

“I would like a word, Kakashi-sensei, if you have a minute?” Iruka asked quietly.

“Of course, sensei.” Kakashi stood up with an enviable amount of grace, following Iruka out to the line of vending machines outside, far from little prying eyes and ears.

The leaves of the trees were turning red and orange, rustling along the pavement as the wind blew past. Scattered across on the lawn were giant sculptures made to look like dinosaurs of the past. There was thankfully no one outside, giving them some privacy. It was just the two of them and Kakashi’s dinosaur scarf.

“Is there something you need, sensei?”

Iruka inserted his coins, rolling the question in his head as he waited for the first cup of tea to be dispensed. “Here, Kakashi-sensei.”

“Oh.” Kakashi looked at the cup pressed into his hand in surprise. “Thank you.”

“I just have a few questions for you,” Iruka said, waiting for the second cup from the vending machine. “And I want you to be honest with me.”

“I am nothing but always honest with you.”

And Kakashi was, wasn’t he? Iruka thought. Kakashi with that ridiculous Stegosaurus scarf, hand cupped around the drink Iruka bought as a peace offering. How was he going to phrase this without sounding accusatory…

“I’ve noticed that the last few times I was on an excursion you and Team 7 were often around as well.” Iruka was still a shinobi of the leaf despite his position as an Academy teacher. He taught observation on Tuesday mornings. “And you’ve been saying that it’s a coincidence.”

“That’s right. Maybe it was fate and destiny and it was in your star charts for that day.” Kakashi nodded, sounding about as convincing as Naruto eating his vegetables. He let out a sigh and rubbed at the back of his neck with a gloved hand. “But perhaps a little premeditated.”

Aha! Iruka knew it. “Explain.”

“Well… Naruto is physically incapable of choosing missions when he knows you'll be there. So I'm not intentionally stalking you if that was what you were thinking. I don't mind them taking turns choosing a D-rank mission, but he seems to be quite attached to you, Iruka-sensei.” Kakashi paused, turning to throw away his cup. “It might get him hurt some day.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Iruka would never hurt Naruto in any way. “Naruto will only get stronger because he now has a goal and a dream to achieve, you’ve given him that chance, and, and teammates to protect. I’m just his old academy teacher…”

“You’re not just anything in his eyes, Iruka-sensei. Not to Naruto and not to me.” Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck, the wind catching the Stegosaurus’ tail and making it sway.

“Not to… you?” Iruka blinked owlishly, feeling his cheeks and ears warm. Kakashi wasn't teasing him now, was he?

“I...” Kakashi blushed, his cheeks growing pink, apparently caught by a case of bashfulness. Where was Kakashi’s earlier bravado when they were surrounded by friends and kids?

“Do you maybe want to go to the jounin-chuunin Halloween party together?” Iruka asked, feeling emboldened by Kakashi’s reaction. Could it be that Kakashi felt the same way?

“What...like as friends or- or a date?"

Iruka felt his own cheeks warm reflexively at the idea of being either friends or something more. “I mean it’s kind of stupid if you were already going with someone else… I should’ve--Of course you wouldn’t want to.”

And then Iruka’s hands were being seized by Kakashi’s. His leather gloves were warm and well-worn. “Yes.”

Iruka’s heart skipped a beat. His stomach swooped. Had his ears deceived him? “Oh! Uh, could you maybe clarify what ‘yes’ means? Just so we’re clear?”

“I would like to go with you to Gai’s Halloween party,” Kakashi said in a rush, his grip strong. “As friends or as something more, it doesn’t matter to me. Just as long as you’re going somewhere with me.”

The vending machine beeped behind Iruka. Iruka’s cup of tea was ready, but it would keep.

“You know what? I would really like that, Kakashi-sensei.”


Iruka wasn’t sure how he would manage to function for the rest of the day. He staggered his return with Kakashi, wanting to spend a little more time outside to sort out his thoughts. His pre-genin could somehow smell weakness from far away and Iruka needed to get it together.

“Don’t stay out too long,” Kakashi had said, looping the Stegosaurus snuggly around Iruka’s neck without hearing Iruka’s protestations. He walked back inside the building as if nothing earth-shattering had just happened.

When Iruka walked back inside the food hall, a certain silence fell over his students and Naruto’s table. Everyone’s eyes were seemingly drawn to him. Naruto had certainly noticed that there was a new addition around Iruka’s neck; Iruka blushed from the tips of his ears down to his toes.

Kakashi looked smugly on, unfazed when the room’s attention turned to him.

That sly jounin knew exactly what he had done!

“Alright Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, time to go.” Kakashi ushered his whining team to his feet. “We’ll catch you later, sensei.” He waved, possibly winked though it was hard to tell the difference between that and a blink.

Iruka wondered if he was imagining the extra bounce in Kakashi's step.

“Cool scarf, Iruka-sensei,” Shima said when Iruka walked by, giving him a thumbs up. Aomaru barked from where he was draped over Shima’s shoulder. “Where can I get one?”

“Thanks,” Iruka said and ruffled her hair. “It was a gift from a friend.” A friend who was a boy. A boyfriend. Iruka liked the sound of that. “Maybe we can check the gift shop later this afternoon before we go. Does that sound good?”

“That sounds super cool, sensei,” Shima beamed.