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The Night Before The Morning After

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The sun had set nearly two hours ago but Iruka kept pushing on. He was so close to home he could practically smell the ramen from Ichiraku's, and he wanted – no, he needed – to see Konoha. The walls, the Hokage Monument, the shops, the people. . .

One person in particular.

He had been away from the village for almost four months on one of the extended diplomatic missions that had become increasingly common since the end of the war. He had been eager for the challenge at the beginning, but had quickly realized that the life of a diplomat was much less interesting than originally thought. Far too many days spent traveling and nights spent in lodgings that were marginal, at best, had taken the bloom off of the mission in short order, to be replaced by mental and physical exhaustion. More than anything at that moment he wanted to sleep in his own bed, in his own home.

And with Kakashi.

That thought brought a smile to his face and he broke into a run, that much more determined to make it home before the gates closed. The loss of daylight had forced him out of the trees and onto the regular road and his exhaustion had kept his speed to a walk, but he pushed that aside now and ran, each step closer to home lightening his heart. When he caught sight of the torches flaming on either side of the main gate he felt a surge of joy run through his body. He covered the last yards in one large, chakra-infused bound and landed on the cobblestone walkway under the arch, breathing hard.

And was abruptly knocked off of his feet by a writhing, fur-covered, barking mass. He froze for a moment, unsure of what was happening, then relaxed when he recognized the voices of Shiba, Akino, and Bisuke. He sat on the road, trying to hug all three dogs as they jumped over and on him, licking his face and neck, and all the while babbling about how much they had missed him and they were so happy he was home because the Boss was stingy about giving them treats and he never remembered which cuts of meat they liked best and -

“But what are you doing at the gate at this hour?” Iruka asked when he could get a word in.

“Boss has had three of us constantly on watch for the last two days,” Shiba said, settling down with his head in Iruka's lap. “Ever since your message arrived about when you expected to be home.”

“He's been waiting,” Bisuke put in as he leaned against Iruka's left side. “And not very patiently.”

Iruka ducked his head to hide his smile before glancing to his right to where Akino sat. “Don't you have anything to add?” he asked, laughter in his voice.

Akino shook his head and his sunglasses shifted slightly on his nose. “He's an idiot.”

Iruka laughed out loud. “Sometimes,” he replied to Akino's comment before gently pushing the dogs aside and rising to his feet. He walked over to the guard house and handed a scroll to the chuunin on duty, exchanging a few brief words. He turned back around. “Okay boys, let's go ho-” His words cut off when he saw the shock on the faces of all three dogs. “What?”

It was Bisuke who finally replied. “Iruka-sensei, your hair! It's. . .”

Iruka raised a hand and touched the nape of his neck, where his hair was gathered and tied. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “Guess it's gotten a bit long.”

“A bit long?!” Shiba barked out. “Sensei, it's-”

“Just hair,” Iruka said blandly, ending the discussion in no uncertain terms. “Please, let's just go home, okay? I'm too tired for this right now.”

It didn't take them long to cross the village to the house, despite Iruka's exhaustion. They entered the yard from one of the side gates, which meant they came into the house from the courtyard instead of the front door. Iruka could hear clattering coming from the direction of the kitchen and he smiled, feeling Kakashi's chakra like a bright blueish-white light in his mind. He reached out with his own chakra, letting it gently nudge against the other. The noise immediately stopped.

“Please tell me I'm not imagining things.” Kakashi's voice floated out of the kitchen a few moments before he appeared in the doorway, eyes devouring Iruka.

Iruka dropped his pack with a thump. “I'm home,” he said, unable to keep the grin from his face.

“I see that.” Kakashi leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms over his chest. “I wasn't sure what time you'd arrive, so I hope you don't mind. . .” His voice trailed off as his gaze locked on his husband's head. “Turn around,” he ordered.

“Kakashi, what -”

“Just do it, please.” Kakashi's voice had dropped, and it had the husky tone that Iruka knew so well. He turned around, and could all but feel his husband's gaze as it followed the line of his back, tracing his now ridiculously long hair.

Then Kakashi's hand was there, his fingers tangled in the long ponytail, and his scent surrounded Iruka. His eyes drifted closed on a sigh. “Kakashi. . .”

“Shhhh. Let me.” The tie that confined his hair was pulled free, and Kakashi's fingers combed through, draping it over his husband's shoulders, watching as the light played through the strands, highlighting the reddish tones that were usually hidden. “So beautiful,” he whispered, making Iruka shudder slightly.

“I was traveling so much and didn't have many opportunities to get it cut,” he explained as Kakashi bent his head and buried his nose in a handful of the auburn locks, inhaling deeply. “Finally I just stopped worrying about it. We can cut -”

“No,” Kakashi broke in abruptly. “Absolutely not.” He stepped close, the length of his body pressed against Iruka's back. He wrapped his arms around his husband's waist and nuzzled his neck. “Let me enjoy it while I can.”

Iruka sighed and relaxed, his head falling back to rest on his husband's shoulder. He was exhausted, and needing food, a bath, and some sleep, not necessarily in that order. But it felt so wonderful to have Kakashi's arms around him, and Kakashi's breath tickling his ear, and Kakashi's warm lips against the nape of his neck, and. . .

“Bath first,” Kakashi whispered before kissing the shell of Iruka's ear. “Stay put while I get dinner off the stove until we're done.” And he was gone and back again so fast that Iruka wondered if he had used a transport jutsu just to get to the kitchen.

“I can bathe myself, you know. You don't need to help me.”

Kakashi stepped around so they were standing face to face and lifted one hand, fingers enmeshed in the long, auburn hair. “If you think I'm passing up what may be my only chance to wash this gloriousness you are out of you mind,” he declared with a grin before tugging gently on the hair so Iruka would follow him to the bath.

Iruka took two tentative steps forward before halting. “Kakashi. . .”

Kakashi turned around and Iruka heard his breath hitch. He stepped close, body pressed against Iruka's from chest to thigh. “If you keep looking at me like that, sensei, there'll be no bath and no food. Just -”

“Bed?” Iruka asked, tilting his head back slightly to bring their lips close together, but not quite to a kiss.

Kakashi growled and plunged his hands into his husband's hair, closing that last, tiny distance and pressing their lips together. His tongue flicked out right way and Iruka opened to him, the kiss deepening as their tongues danced together. Kakashi's fingers tightened in his hair, and Iruka moaned at the feelings that overwhelmed him. It had been a long four months.

Kakashi's lips parted from his and trailed across his cheek and the line of his jaw, pulling a needy whimper from his throat. He could feel Kakashi's mouth turn up in a smile against his neck a moment before teeth nipped at his earlobe. His gasp was followed by a drawn-out moan when a pair of lips closed around the lobe, and then a tongue traced around the shell, making him quiver.

“If I bathe you does that count as foreplay?” Kakashi asked, warm breath floating across Iruka's heated skin.

Iruka chuckled slightly, turning his head to bury his nose against Kakashi's neck. “I missed you so much,” he said, dragging his tongue up and licking the sensitive spot behind the other man's ear. “And the way I feel right now looking at me cross-eyed would count as foreplay.”

Kakashi pulled back far enough so that they could meet each other's gaze and crossed his eyes, slowly, making Iruka laugh. “You're an ass,” he said, kissing the other man's chin.

“MmmHmm,” Kakashi murmured, pulling a hand through Iruka's hair and admiring the way it shone as it slid past his fingers. “So, bath?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.

Iruka tucked his head back under his husband's chin, nose pressed to the hollow of his collarbone. “Bath, bed, food, sex,” he whispered. “Anything, as long as you're with me.”