This isn't my bed.
His eyes snapped open, heart beat freezing in his chest with his limbs doing the same.
Don’t look. It’ll only make things worse. Find clothes. Find phone.
Eyes snap to the edge of the bed next to him and he immediately saw his pants. Small triumphs. His phone was probably in there too.
This was good, things were getting better. Now he just had to get the heck out of there. Skin cringing at foreign skin sliding against his, he slowly slid the arm around his waist away with the most precise movements a deer in headlights could make. Sweating and skin covered in goosebumps, Iruka clenched teeth and muscles as he deliberately snuck out of the stranger's bed and to his pants.
Boxers check. Pants were a go. Green light for shirt and socks and jacket and he was flying to the front door, throwing on boots and his scarf before he realized the stupid door had one of those security systems.
Shit. No, there was no way of getting passed that. Engraved in his mind was the memory of his parents catching him red handed when he tried to sneak out to a party when he was twelve and he cringed, knowing that this situation was almost very much the same.
Calm. This is an apartment. All apartments have fire escapes.
He quietly hurried to the kitchen and peeked out the window into the snow. No fire escape.
Living room was the same and so was the bathroom and Iruka was dreadfully heading back to the bedroom, tip toeing around the creaky apartment in the hopes of not waking his unexpected host.
Even though he could barely see outside the window with the heavy snow sluggishly falling, he could see the fire escape as clear as day right outside the farthest window.
This is good.
His mind was smoothing out his fear, reassuring that all he had to do was open it and get the heck out as he used all the stealth he had to creep over to the window. And get the heck out was what he did.
The window slid open easily and he thanked good maintenance as he ducked out and slid it back shut. Sliding passed the thick snow, he hurried down the fire escape and bolted down the street.
And he ran. Ran until he almost slipped in the snow and even then he only slowed to a quick walk.
Okay, wait. Where are you going?
Stopping in his tracks on the deserted side-walk, he went directly for his phone. He needed something: anything to fill the dark hole of memory that was last night, a clue to what had happened and who the heck that person was.
He went through his pictures and found some silly pictures of him and Kotetsu grinning with drinks in their hands, dread building.
Who the heck was that guy? What happened last night? Why was he in that guy's bed. Questions swirled in his head but he came to the slow recognition of what must have happened.
They'd done it. They must have, that was the only explanation for being in a stranger's bed. The question was: was it consensual? He had not even the slightly memory of saying yes or no for that matter to anything. Had he been drugged? The memory loss could attest to that…
He quickly dialed Kotetsu.
After a long wait in the cold snow, the sunlight grey in the sky and sparkling on the snow, Iruka heard the beep of an answering machine and he swore.
He needed answers. He could go back to the bar they’d been at but it was probably closed even if he could remember which one it was. The only thing he really remembered was laughing until he almost threw up. That had to be a good thing, right?
Snapchat. Go look there, detective.
In a half-fumbling panic, the app was opened and the super sleuth started replaying each of the snaps he received last night and going through his story.
Same dork and Kotetsu with drinks. A cat? Ice skating? What? Did they go ice skating last night?
For some reason, the next snap was a video of him staring at the ice before falling on his butt with Kotetsu laughing his ass off in the background.
There was no next after that and Iruka sighed in confusion, dialing Kotetsu again to no avail.
Worried and frustrated, both for his memories and his friend, he bolted off through the morning snow to Kotetsu’s apartment.
“Kotetsu!” He knocked almost violently at the front door, anxiously bouncing from foot to foot with the hopes of his friend being home. A quick thought popped up that involved Kotetsu being in the same predicament he was and he knocked again with quick raps of concern. His voice cracked, “Kotetsu!”
“What?” The door slipped open, revealing the rumpled Kotetsu on the other side.
“You’re okay,” came the voice of astonishment. Kotetsu grinned.
“Oh boy am I ever…” The sleepy face went sly. “So…. How was it last night with the ‘wise cracker’?”
The air quotes Kotetsu was throwing his was throwing him off more than anything and he stuttered as blood ran to his cheeks, “wise cracker? Wait no… I… I found myself in someone’s bed this morning. Who-”
“Oh, score!” Kotetsu wiggled his eyebrows but slowed in confusion as Iruka shook his head.
“Ko, I can’t remember anything from last night.”
“Oh… Come in,” Kotetsu ushered him inside, pulling him a chair out at his tiny kitchen table. “How do you feel?”
Iruka sank into the chair, head in his head as he tried to rub away a headache that was creeping on. He grumbled into his hands, “like shit.”
“That’s a good thing; proves that you’re alive.” Kotetsu winced at the glare he was shot with needling eyes. “Cool it, I'm just trying to be positive.”
Glare cooling, Kotetsu tossed Iruka and apple and watched his friend grumpily eat. “Do you remember being at the bar?”
There was a pause mid-bite and Iruka tried to think back, remembering skipping his last class of the term on Friday to go on a booze binge. “I remember a lot of vodka.”
“Oh yeah, that’s for sure,” pouring them some water, Kotetsu sipped thoughtfully. “I'm surprised you’re not worse off, to be honest.”
“Well, I had a very… Surprising wake up call.” Kotetsu hummed and Iruka gulped down all the water he could, exhaling in satisfaction. “Can I use your bathroom?”
“Uh…” Iruka was Kotetsu twitch and his eyes widen.
“So that’s what happened. You ditched me for a piece of ass last night!”
“Oh come on, you would've done the same!” Iruka felt sick to his stomach and he stood, wobbling to the front door. Kotetsu pleaded, trying to grab an arm but Iruka wouldn't have any of it. No way. “Iruka, stop.”
“No thanks. I need to not be around you right now, asshole.” Storming out, he very courteously slammed the door behind him.
At least his apartment loved him was a thought that miserably ran through his head when he opened his front door after a long and angry walk from Kotetsu’s.
Stupid metro system.
As he cursed the unreliable subways and kicked off his boots, his phone vibrated. He decided to ignore it. He didn't need Kotetsu’s lame apologies.
A slow thought popped into his head, thoughts having roamed to bedding partners.
I wonder if last night was any good…
He shook it off, pulling off his shirt and examining his chest on his way to his bathroom.
No stitches. This is good. Organs are a-okay.
His skin went unmarred of new scars or cuts. As a matter of fact, he didn't see any bruises or redness either. He started to question if he really had lost his virginity last night and even awkwardly checked his private parts too to find nothing out of the ordinary.
What the heck is going on…
Uneasy, he pulled his clothes back on and went for his jacket, pulling out his phone in the shallow hope of finding a number in his phone for the guy he’d slept with. They would definitely have answers.
What the heck is…
The was an appointment in his phone. He never used those things. He found them too tedious and frustrating but there was an appointment for eight o'clock that night at a place downtown. There was the appointment in black and white with a little picture of a blow up penguin as the label and he felt the world spinning as he found there to be, including that day, an appointment every single day from then until the New Year and each of them was labelled as date two through twelve.
What the fuck.
Waiting on a cold street corner with his phone in hand, Iruka's eyes scanned the blizzard of people.
This is a bad idea. Why I am doing this… I'm gonna be murdered.
“You showed up.” A voice caught his attention and he looked back to find a figure sauntering with purpose towards him.
Oh. He does kind of look familiar.
“I'm as surprised as you are,” Iruka caught a flash of eyes that reminded him of rolling thunder and lashes flecked with fluffy snow. He shivered and took a step in the other man’s direction. “Kakashi: the one from the bar, right?”
“Skating actually.” The other man chuckled at his look of surprise.
“Skating.” The clarification was met with a nod.
“You don’t remember, do you?” Well, now he felt bad about not remembering. He shook his head anyway, not really thinking a lie would soften the awkwardness.
“That’s okay. Do you want to know what happened last night? Since you don’t remember and all.”
“Well, my friend Kotetsu told me a good bit of it.” Okay that might have been a bit of a lie. Iruka watched Kakashi nod, eyes watching curiously and critically.
“The guy with the poof.”
“Pffff.” Iruka held back his laughter. “Says the guy with the poof.”
“Hey, it’s not a poof. It’s a fashion statement.” Kakashi raised a brow in fake disdain and Iruka broke in chuckles.
There was a shuffle of feet, Iruka trying to find a way to ask about last night.
“You want to grab some coffee?” Kakashi gave him a warm smile and Iruka noticed a small beauty mark under the corner of his lip. “We can talk and maybe I can help you with you memory.”
“You read my mind.” Maybe it was an even worse idea to follow the tall man into the warmly lit shop that smelled heavily of vanilla bean and cream but the haze of confusion that was hovering around him was clouding the link between him and his intuition.
So this was why.
Kakashi was funny and smart. Not a slapstick kind of funny but the charming and witty kind at that. There was something offhanded about his words and how it just seemed to come natural for him to say all the right things at all the right moments to make Iruka laugh or grin.
That was the problem.
There was something deeply arousing about a man who could make him laugh over and over but still manage to hold a conversation. It was very clear to any passers-by and to Iruka’s subconscious self that there was something sparking.
“What? You like fps games?” Kakashi’s eyes snapped to him the new question, mouth slowly opening to answer cautiously.
“Well, I really only play CS:GO, I'm not really into Call of Duty or Battlefront.” Kakashi’s voice got comically threatening and he sunk into the folds of his warm scarf, eyes narrowing and Iruka couldn't hold back a chuckle. “What? You've got something against people who like fps games? You too high and might for the bullet scum? Yeah, what do you play?”
As Iruka pursed his lips, Kakashi scoffed, “lemme guess: World of Warcraft.”
“Ew, hell no,” the dramatic face of disgust Iruka made sent Kakashi laughing his head off.
“Fine, fine,” he patted Iruka's hand, sending silent tingles up Iruka's arm. “What do you like then?”
Ignoring the warmth filling his torso, Iruka looked away sheepishly as he mumbled, “League of Legends…”
That made Kakashi crack up even more and Iruka felt a spark of pride.
Apparently, their bar escapades had landed them into going skating at the open rink in the middle of the city where they could throw up in front of dozens of people and show off their embarrassing vocal prowess to Jingle Bell Rock and that one Grinch song.
“Never trust people with flasks. They've got some crazy shit in there.” Iruka cringed, remembering the rum Kotetsu had been pouring down his throat as if he was trying to give him alcohol poisoning.
"You were wobbling around like a leaf." Iruka frowned at that comment, Kakashi grinning. "To be honest, I thought you were just an old man who was learning how to skate again instead of a lightweight."
"Oh... Thanks," Iruka's sarcasm made Kakashi laugh and the two of them broke into grins. "So, what happened? How'd I turn into a not-old-man?"
"You know that little shop right by the rink?"
"Yeah?" Iruka's palmed a cheek.
"Well you and Kotetsu had been behind me in line and were being goofy and you grabbed my hand." Seeming to drip with satisfaction, Kakashi watched Iruka's face switch from white to red. "Apparently you wanted hot chocolate but Kotetsu said no."
"I... Forgive my drunken self..." The mumble was met with a chuckle and Iruka looked up to see Kakashi's eyes crinkling, gathering the courage to ask the question he really wanted to know. "So..."
Nodding, the other man continued his story as he sat back in his chair and nursed his drink, "so then Kotetsu tried to punch me in the face and hit the guy in front of me."
Iruka broke into disbelieving laughter, shaking his head. "No way."
"Yes, and I have proof." Kakashi fished out his phone and held out the picture of a stranger pressing a bag of ice to his cheek; Kotetsu, Iruka and a few other people lazying about with red cheeks. "Thankfully he wasn't hurt too bad."
"At least." The phone was pulled away and a moment of silence followed the meeting of their eyes.
Moment of truth; Iruka took a brief moment of breath before asking, "did we have sex last night?"
"Yes," came the nonchalant reply and Iruka felt his heart drop and scream at the same time that his cheeks burned.
"Oh... Cool." The air was heavy; not with awkward tension but with something else. "Was it... You know."
"Yes." Kakashi had leaned forward; lips barely an inch away when he said with a low rumble, "It was really good."
The accent on the roll of his tongue made Iruka shiver and his body felt the echo of memories on his skin. He was conflicted whether to lean forward into those parted lips or to coerce them to speak more sensual words into his ear. They spoke of the many shivers and shaking that had occurred last night. The feeling of skin on skin and the intense pleasure for both of them.
If it had been anyone else, maybe it wouldn't have ended the way it did but it wasn't and Iruka was so turned on that it was painful. The way those eyes reflected the soft blue of outside.
Iruka had been laughing, giggling and flirting just as much as he was being flirted with. Those eyes meeting his every chance they got and making his cheeks feel hot. It felt so good to have a talk so smooth with someone. Their words simply flowed. Iruka had barely paid any attention to the waitress or the other people at the café and his focus was closing in on the warmth barely a foot away.
“Want to get out of here?” He couldn't believe the words coming from his mouth.
“Okay…” Kakashi seemed taken aback but grinned and complied. “Where do you want to go?”
“How about your place?”
He needed this. Whther it was to replay at least a part of last night for him to judge or just to fill the need. It was an urge that made his hands twitch and it took everything within his power not to touch the other man. At least nothing overly obscene. Wasn't his fault that Kakashi’s hand kept touching his. Or accidentally brushing his coat against the other man’s butt when Iruka was slipping it on.
Not completely at least.
But it was definitely on purpose when Iruka latched himself onto Kakashi, keys falling to the hardwood floor. Hands were cupping his face and their lips pressed together. Heart fluttering wildly, the world began to focus in until the only other being Iruka could see was standing in front of him, heat pressed against his and hands searching for skin.
Their breaths mixed and he was only vaguely aware that he was reaching into those snug jeans to playfully touch and caress. A whine fell from lips and hips jerked at the touch. Suddenly, hands were on Iruka's hips and he was being propelled to the nearest room where pants were shirts were pulled off and lips collided.
“You want breakfast?” Iruka lifted a foggy head from pillows and he groaned, returning back to the comforting warmth. Poking his head back into the room, Kakashi smirked. “I’ll take that as a yes and as our third date.”
Iruka's head shot up at those words and he scrambled to pull boxers on. Over at the toaster, toaster pancakes were being cooked. Kakashi had his back to Iruka’s wide eyes. “Th...third?”
“Mmm?” They faced each other. “Yeah.”
“You really want to go through twelve dates? Each day?” The question seemed to hang in the air and confuse Kakashi just as much as Iruka was.
“Well,” the older man struggled for words, looking away and finally back as he said, “yeah. Why not? Was it that bad last night?”
“N-no.” Was the quick response and Iruka's heart leaped at the truth. Oh damn that had been more than not bad. It had been downright addictive and he was sheepish to admit that he wanted to do that again and more.
“Am I that sucky of a companion?”
“No.” Even more sheepish this time.
“Well, why don’t you give this a try? I mean, you suggested it, after all.” Iruka could have replied that it had been in a drunken haze but his tongue couldn't find the words to say it even though they were so prominent in his mind.
Kakashi slid a plate into his vision, a small stack of cute pancake with a syrup-smiley on top. Looking up, Iruka found Kakashi to have a stack just as tall and he met the older man's eyes. With a small smile in his direction, Kakashi dug into his food with so much vigour that he was almost half done by the time Iruka had finished the first one. Maybe it was just him, but he kinda felt bad for being so slow.
The atmosphere was so nice though. It was casual and calm; safe. Snow was falling slowly outside and time seemed slowed with the soft guitar instrumental playing from somewhere in the apartment. He was being lulled into a state of bliss, his belly filling with food and his body half numb with sweet exhaustion. It was nice.
"Sorry," he looked up to find Kakashi grinning sheepishly and running a hand through his hair that seemed silky to the touch and Iruka wondered if he had showered that early in the morning. "I eat a lot..."
I don't really think that that's a bad thing.
Eyes scanned the toned arms and remembered the body from last night and thought that his body was using it all to its full potential.
"I should be the one apologizing." He shrugged. "I don't really eat much in the mornings anyway."
"Well," Kakashi's eyes widened at the crack in his voice and grunted it away; Iruka bursting into laughter with Kakashi frowning in self-consciousness. He went grumpily, "not like it's morning anymore."
"Wait, what? Oh shit work!" In a flash, Iruka was dressed and at the door, struggling with his boots as Kakashi watched in confusion. Flipping his coat on, Iruka explained quickly, "last shift before winter break."
He had his hand on the door when he turned back and said, "so, fourth tomorrow?"
The next time they communicated was in the form of a text; a question.
'What are you doing tonight?'
"Uhhh..." He rubbed his sleepy eyes, going from his clock to his calendar to find that it was noon and that night was Christmas eve; automatically knowing what Kakashi was going to ask. He wasn't doing anything. It was kind of sad but his family was back home in Canada and being a student didn't pay for him to go on vacation.
It wasn't like Kakashi was a bad guy. It's just that Iruka had no idea what the heck had happened between them, what they were or what was going on between them. There was something there but the question was what.
For now, he had two choices: continue this game they seemed to be playing or ignore the guy.
'Nah, not doing much. You?'
There was a slight pinch of regret in his brain but he ignored it for impulse.
A few hours later, he found himself knocking on Kakashi's door and a stranger greeting him.
"Hey!" The person pulled him in for a very friendly hug, almost squishing the cookies he'd bought but managing to scratch his fuzzy cheek on Iruka's. "Come on in and join the party."
The greeting had been a little too friendly for Iruka's taste but he smiled politely, stepping through the familiar front door to the slight and sound that screamed gaudy. Holiday music was playing from one corner in the living room while the kitchen was loaded with food, people mingling in pretty much every nook and cranny. The warmth and music was inviting an Iruka shucked off his boots and coat to step into the kitchen to set the cookies down. People barely noticed him and he was perfectly fine with that. It wasn't that he didn't want to get friendly, it was just that he didn't really know anyone. It was kind of intimidating.
"Whoa, look out there, shorty." An arm reached high over his head into a cabinet of bowls. He was about to retort but he stopped himself short and swerved for joke city instead.
"I mean, if I were shorter, I'd be picking crumbs of the ground so..." A heavyset guy looked down at him. He felt sweat drip down his neck and he chuckled nervously. "Glad you didn't step on me."
"Haha!" Maybe it was just him but the laugh seemed both short-lived and exuberant, the man throwing his head back.
Yes, yes, that's right; keep laughing while I make my escape.
"Don't worry. To me, everyone is a shorty." The other man introduced himself with a firm handshake and Iruka nodded, the haze of anxiety dissipating.
"Good because I was about to ask what you'd call my cousin John if I'm the short one." Iruka joked to Ibiki.
"I wouldn't call him anything. I wouldn't even see him." Even though Ibiki was laughing wholeheartedly, Iruka was not getting the same vibe.
He's a tall glass but he sure is dry in humour.
"Hey you!" A hand suddenly dragged him by his collar and dragged him to a close table. The man holding his collar stared him down and he felt suddenly more intimated than he had with Ibiki. The eyes studied him until a question was worded, "do you know how to solve for x?"
On the table was a complex map of the surrounding area. Intrigued, Iruka came closer and the other man explained, "there's a trip we're taking in a few days and we're tryna figure out how much gas it'll take for each of us if we split it. You know numbers?"
"Yeah, I guess," he hadn't taken a single course of math since high school and he was a bit rusty but... Oh man, did he love numbers and simple equations like these. Feeling very much full of pride that wasn't quite deserved, he pulled out his phone to multiply and divide a few numbers before reading his result out to the small group around them.
"Great, thanks, kid." The man held out a hand and smiled softly, "Genma; pleasure to meet you."
"Iruka," it wasn't so scary now and he shook the other guy's hand with a similar smile. "Hey, uh... You wouldn't happen to know where Kakashi is, do you?"
"Kakashi?" Genma's head did a 360 degree turn before pursing lips in thought and Iruka realized that he probably wouldn't be seeing Kakashi for the night.
Oh look at the time, I should be going. Somewhere else. Where I'm not surrounded by complete strangers.
"That's okay, I just stopped by anyway," he said casually, taking a step back to make a polite retreat. Genma had other plans and was already smiling charmingly his way.
"Why don't you stay for a bit and keep us company, eh?" His head nodded to the circle of people who were quietly conversing around the map. "Kakashi'll be back soon. In the meantime, you can explain to us why we've never seen your face around before."
Laughing nervously, Iruka felt his cheeks burn, "don't worry, I'm not a homeless person looking for cookies."
Genma huffed and drew closer to his friends, "I guessed as much, seeing how you're not clutching them right now. Hey, guys, this is Iruka."
When Kakashi finally showed up, Iruka had already been introduced to the others in the circle like Anko, Gai and Kurenai. Looking as if the snow had magnetically been pulled to him, the dazed Kakashi shook his head and leaned over where Iruka was sitting on the couch as he made eye contact with his friends, "what have we here?"
"They were telling me how you have a horrible fashion sense." The smug in Iruka's voice made the group chuckle.
"Take a seat, big man," Gai threw a can in Kakashi's direction and Iruka couldn't help but laugh when it bounced out of Kakashi's palm and smacked the ground.
Giving Gai an exasperated look, Kakashi went to fetch the can as Kurenai offered Iruka a bag of chips, "so, what do you do for a living, Iruka?
"He's a student," Kakashi was suddenly kissing Iruka's cheek as he dropped down onto the sofa and grabbed the bag for himself.
"Whoa, don't oppress me," Iruka snatched the chips for himself and said with so much snide that he was immediately embarrassed and hid back in the couch. For some reason, Kakashi and the others laughed instead of being offended and Iruka stuffed his face with chips, mumbling, "I'm studying in Literature."
"Oooohh," Anko grinned, wiggling here brows. "You gonna be a writer? You gonna be the next E. L. James?"
Iruka felt as if his cheeks had suddenly burst and he wanted to hide behind Kakashi if he could but the older man shook his head and said in a far off voice to Anko, "if you would read his writing, you would want to cry."
"Kakashi," Iruka suddenly felt himself chill and he asked cautiously, "when... Did I show you my writing?"
Looking back at Iruka, Kakashi went still and he seemed to fall into a distant plane where Iruka couldn't reach as he said softly, "you wouldn't remember."
In the way those words were said, Iruka felt confused and it was mainly because he wasn't creeped out anymore.
Why had those words made him shiver?
Kakashi seemed to quickly change topic and made a dive for the door when it rang.
The image of Kakashi's eyes turning nostalgic but mournful was stuck in his mind; as if Kakashi had thought the memories he wasn't remembering were far more important than he could ever imagine.
This was wrong. This whole thing was wrong, actually and Iruka would be lying to himself if he tried to say otherwise. He shouldn't have agreed to any of this in the first place.
What have I done...
He was currently in a huge mess very much akin to a child drawing on the walls but very different because instead of drawing on the walls it was more like making out against the wall and the wall wasn't his.
He didn't know how he was going to tell Kakashi.
Worse, if Mizuki was to come back and see how he was acting... But what would he tell Kakashi?
Oops, sorry, Kakashi. You were taking this seriously? Hah. To bad I was just messing with your emotions by pretending to be completely and utterly single.
Well, it wasn't like he was taken. There was no reason to say he was taken but... Single wasn't entirely accurate. What would you call someone who was waiting for someone to get their ass in gear even though they know that were falling out of love with them?
You call that person a fucked up piece of work, is what they are.
He groaned, falling back back against his pillow and pulling out his phone. A part of him hurt when he scrolled through the last conversation that had started out mainly as an argument. That had happened almost a month back and he hadn't heard anything from Mizuki since. The saddest part of it all was that he didn't care any more; about any of it except for the fact that he was losing someone who used to be not only a lover but a good friend. He was completely happy with the life he had now and he didn't want to continue this back and forth with Mizuki.
His phone buzzed in his hands, a message sliding into view.
Iruka stayed still, wondering how he should respond to the new message from Kakashi, knowing the other man was probably going to bring up their arrangement. He wanted to scowl and throw his phone away, dreading the oncoming words.
I'll back out with grace.
'Nothing much, you?'
I will eventually back out with less grace.
'Drawing a bit.'
'Cool, whatcha drawing?'
'Mainly a bit for the animation but I got bored and drew you.'
'Yeah, started to doodle a bit last night. Wanna come over? I've got the whole Star Wars
series on Blu-ray :3'
Okay, really? How the heck am I supposed to resist that?
There was a sweet spot of light hitting his neck and he felt the warmth of an arm on his back.
"Mmm," curling closer to his lovely source of heat, Kakashi sighing and running a hand through soft, brown hair while the other drew soft patterns against a hip.
With soft eyes, he pressed a kiss up to the head against his chest.
"I should draw a bit."
Iruka felt a pang of regret for being such a distraction but... On the other hand.
"No, not now. You deserve a break." Circles were traced onto Kakashi's chest and the other man chuckled.
"Babe," Iruka looked up at the pet name. He pecked a flirtatious kiss to Kakashi’s lips, making his words drift off. "I... Have to do some work. At least... A bit today."
Iruka hummed again and kept pressing kisses against a very attentive Kakashi who shivered and hummed. "Come on... It's the holidays and... You can take a bit of a... Break."
The last word was emphasized with sharp intakes of breath; hands sliding down to touch and feel while mouths collided.
"Hey, we need a word." Heavy breathing filled the air and Iruka pulled back.
"Good idea... Any ideas?" At the question, Kakashi laid his head back and thought while Iruka had an idea form in his mind. He had an idea forming in his mind. It was pretty good; he'd heard it suggested on a show somewhere and it sounded pretty sexy at that. Calypso seemed hot and sensual and with the type of play Kakashi liked, it seemed to fit.
"How about banana?" Iruka scoffed at the suggestion.
"Oh hell no. I am not saying that, it'd just gonna turn you on more." Kakashi made a disbelieving face, wrinkling his nose in a way that was almost cute. But it mocked him. He rolled his eyes and sat up in frustration.
"Hey," lips touched his neck to soothe the wounded ego. Maybe Iruka was even more turned on by the way Kakashi didn't ignore his feelings and wanted his attention. Maybe he was even more turned on by the arms around his waist and the voice in his ear that sent shivers down his spine and flutters to his heart. "Something else then. How about... Red?"
The sun had set not too long ago but the dark had quickly covered the sky, turning it almost pitch black; the light of the moon and the four-wheelers’ lights the only things that illuminated the snow-covered trails that entwined with the powdered trees.
After forgoing the paths, the dozen or so pairs of people descended their vehicles and threw together a large bonfire inside the circle of rocks from the logs of wood in the trolleys attached to the four-wheelers. The heat from the fire quickly heated the surrounding area to cosy temperatures and the forest’s guests broke out the hot cocoa, pealing out of their snow coats and sitting down on them as make-shift comforters in the cold snow.
Iruka sat quietly in front of the fire with eyes staring into the flames, lost in thoughts of nothing and simply enjoying the moment as the cold bit his back and the heat licking his front. He sat snugly on his coat with a Styrofoam cup sitting happily in his hands, legs crossed and clothed in snow pants as his tuque tilted on his head.
It was a beautiful night; that was for sure.
“Ah,” Kakashi sighed as he dropped down onto his own coat next to Iruka; the Thermos in his hands tipping too as he did so and spilling some of its content on his pants. Cursing his bad luck, Kakashi rubbed in vain at the new stain on his snow-pants with a handful of snow, the brunet next to him chuckling and grabbing the cocoa out of the silver-haired man’s hands as Kakashi scowled. “Urgh, why does this always happen to me?”
With a smirk, Iruka filled his flimsy cup and wedged the Thermos into the snow between him and Kakashi, saying slyly. “You have been chosen.”
“Ha ha, very funny,” the older man grumbled with a quirk of his lips. "I guess the mountain just likes me and my sweet ass."
Seeing Iruka almost choke on his cocoa in fits of laughter brought a smile to Kakashi’s mouth as he plucked another white cup from next to the small stack of jumbo marshmallow bags and poured a cup for himself.
When asked the night before if he wanted to go adventuring out into the woods on a cold, snowy day, Iruka was least to say sceptical. The beauty and nature that surrounded them was enough to make him sit back in awe and watch it all.
Most of the afternoon, they had been riding all over the mountain, making tracks in the snow, and Iruka even got to try out the four-wheelers and found out he had sort of a passion for going at high speeds on hills of snow. Much to Kakashi's fright and anxiety, Genma had slapped him a set of keys as soon as they'd parked the trucks near his family's chalet a few hours from downtown.
These people were interesting and easy to get along with even though he could tell that they were watching his every move; something he hadn't noticed the night before. Between the snow that fell so lightly on the ground, the could sense their anxiousness towards him and how they glanced between him and Kakashi but he ignored it. For now, they seemed to accept him and that was all right with him. He didn't need their approval.
A sad thought rolled into his mind.
This won't be permanent.
He could feel Kakashi's warmth by his side and the moon above them; the city lights no where near to obstruct them. That one moment in the snow was chillingly beautiful and he felt as if he could be in tears at any moment, fearing that it would end.
An arm pressed into the snow behind him and he felt Kakashi's chest barely grazing his shoulder. Other things didn't seem to matter anymore. He zoned back into Kakashi and felt at peace even though part of him was still shaking in fear.
The night under the stars and snow was floating by, slipping through fingers. Iruka barely remembered the night. In his mind, it passed in slow pictures. He saw Gai starting a snowball fight and Kakashi pulling out a harmonica which got passed around. The moments seemed to blend from one chorus of songs to the packing up where Kakashi was smiling back at him on the four-wheeler. When the world seemed to bump, he found himself almost drooling onto Kakashi's jacket in the truck behind Genma and Ibiki late that night. Kakashi turned his head when he felt a movement and smiled softly when Iruka nuzzled his shoulder, tenderly closing his eyes as he leaned his head on Iruka's.
“Hey, come over,”
“What?” Iruka stopped in his tracks, mouth full of brownie as he juggled his phone and the task of zipping his bag shut.
“Don’t. Just come over, hurry.”
The line went dead and Iruka swallowed, groaning as he turned back and trudged his way back a block to the sweet shop. "Yeah, totally not like I spent all night with you."
Head covered in melting snow, he knocked in frustration on Kakashi’s door. No time to react, the door flew open and a hand pulled him inside, eyes only catching a figure sweeping back into the bedroom.
Iruka blinked and crept to the door, peeking his head inside to have a voice say, “sit.”
Feeling like a puppy, he slipped to sit on the bed as he studied the man at the computer who was drawing carefully on his tablet with a blanket hugging his shoulders.
“Need company?” Iruka grinned, already knowing the answer while Kakashi grunted. Hands were manipulating the stylus with grace and Iruka couldn't help but watch in awe. Every move on the tablet was translating itself into the digital form on the computer screen and Iruka kept going back and forth between his phone and the computer; Kakashi ever so slowly progressing through frame after frame. Eventually, the tablet was put down and he started to watch Kakashi scan the frames and watch how they were put together and he couldn't help but smile at the focused and intense look on Kakashi's face.
He didn't remember when he fell asleep but he woke up to soft music, clear and crisp notes being plucked. Poking his head out from under Kakashi's covers, Iruka watched as Kakashi quietly picked at his guitar and listened to the soft notes dancing to his ears.
How could a man be so good looking, talented and ambitious at the same time? Iruka felt his chest ache. He wanted to be like that. He wanted to write poetry that would make people cry just like the music that was hitting his ears. He wanted to be enough of a person for someone to want him. It wasn't jealousy or anything pious but admiration. Kakashi was an amazing man and he felt the need to strive for more with every note that hit his ears.
Under the covers of Kakashi's bed, Iruka listened and pulled out his phone. Heart full and mind misty, he started to write.
Hearing Iruka sniff minutes later, Kakashi turned his head and his eyes widened at the watering eyes.
"Hey," he cooed as he propped his guitar against the desk. Moving to the bed, he slid in behind Iruka, sat the other man up gingerly and pulled Iruka to his chest. Blushing in embarrassment, Iruka flinched away from the embrace but eventually got accustomed to the warmth persuading him.
He sniffed and sunk back into Kakashi's arms, feeling the other man's cheek on his head. "Sorry... Got... Emotional for a bit. Probably from staying up too late last night."
There was no playful chuckle, only a hum as hands drew circles on his skin. Whatever they were, this thing that they were in together, it felt so good.
A sigh of frustration hit the air hard. Iruka looked up at the man he was slumped against. “Hmm? What’s wrong?”
Frown stapled to his face and bright screen of his phone lighting it up, Kakashi stood and Iruka watched as he quickly texted someone with an apparent frustration.
He sat and watched in silence, Kakashi staring at his phone while both of them waited. Iruka’s chest was pounding.
The phone finally buzzed and Kakashi growled to himself. He was started typing again when he said, “you need to leave.”
“Leave?” The question went unanswered and Iruka quickly hopped up from the couch and slipped on his boots. “What’s wrong?”
There was again no answer and Iruka watched Kakashi come around the corner, still staring at his phone. Coat on and waiting at the door, Iruka felt a sense of dread hitting his chest, “Kakashi?”
The other man’s face fell from frustration and his demeanour turned into one of affection, apologizing, “sorry… Someone’s coming over and… Well, it’s complicated.”
“Oh... Yeah?” Feeling suddenly panicked and awkward, Iruka suddenly understood what was going on as his flight senses kicked in and he slowly started to slip out the front door into the apartment hallway. “Well, in that case, um… I’ll head out and catch you later…”
“Sorry,” Kakashi apologized again and Iruka paused to look him over; the slumped shoulders and look of defeat.
“It’s okay,” he gave a small smile and nodded, “if you need me, you can always text me.”
“Thanks,” they nodded through the tense atmosphere, Kakashi turning to shut the door, and Iruka bolted to the elevator.
Standing there, the puzzle pieces seemed to fit together snugly as the realization dawned on him that Kakashi may have a partner.
It shouldn't have bothered him. It really shouldn't have since it was never something serious in the first place. They were both just fooling around. It wasn't a relationship.
But the hurt sure as hell told him that it felt like one.
The light stopped him in his tracks and he squinted up at the stop-light, waiting in the floating snowflakes for the cross-walk to change colour. His heart was heavy. Maybe this was a good thing… It hurt to think about him moving on though. He didn't want to have to walk away from someone again. Not when it felt so good to be with them.
The light changed colour and he didn't feel any better about himself. Trudging across the street in deep thought and feeling, he didn't notice the person with the blank face who had their hands clenched around apartment keys with their cellphone in the other.
Their eyes didn't even meet.
Iruka tightened his coat against the cold, feeling snow trickle down his neck although it may just have been the cold.
Loneliness has always been a friend of mine anyway…
It took too much energy to unlock his door and his heavy limbs dropped his coat in almost agony. The couch greeted his cheek with a soft touch and he closed his eyes against an impending headache. He should have known.
His apartment felt cold and empty… The silence spoke volumes of nothing and it crushed him along with the ache his body was feeling from deep inside.
Trilling suddenly and briefly came from the entryway and Iruka bolted up. His phone.
After a long pause, he stood wearily and moved to the doorway. He reached into his coat pocket and the screen lit up his face as his eyes widened, thumbs flying to forms the words ‘What happened? What’s going on?’
He stood in tense silence and waited for a response.
The next words made him cringe and tear up, anger swelling as his fingers flew in confusion at the words Kakashi had written detailing the story of a romance that was breaking like someone crushing a glass cup in their hand, even worse than his own love life.
‘Kakashi. I'm calling.’
There was another long pause and he waited anxiously for a response, cursor hovering over the call button regardless of what the answer was going to be.
‘No. If you do. I'm not talking.’
Tearful and outraged, Iruka listened to the call ring until silence greeted him. “What the fuck. How.. How could they do that?”
There was silence.
And the more typing, ‘it was going to happen eventually. Kind of just waiting for it but.. it still hurts, you know?’
Iruka growled under his breath.
‘Hey, no grrs.’
Iruka sighed. “That’s just so fucked up… I'm sorry you had to go through that, Kashi. I wish you didn't have deal with that.’
“No, it’s not. If they really felt anything for you, they wouldn't have done those things and to string you on like that...”
Maybe it was just him being opinionated but he felt hurt by the whole situation, as if he was directly involved but it took all his will power to bring himself down on a mentally capable level and try to be as objective as possible. He tried to say words he thought would help or soothe but he felt so useless.
With those words, Iruka smiled only slightly and apologized for a reason he couldn't find and when the call was finally over, Iruka sat back in his chair.
While Kakashi was slowly chewing on a pancake the next morning, Iruka's fork was barely poking at a waffle that was supposed to be appealing. Unfortunately for both parties, the air around them was barely breathable with the awkwardness hanging in it. Out of habit, they had agreed to meet that morning for their tenth date but...
This feels so wrong.
How was Iruka supposed to feel, knowing that Kakashi hadn't been single when they met or even long after that? He felt dirty and stupid. Almost like he was the one doing the cheating.
Stop it, you dumbass. Stop focusing on how you're feeling. Kakashi is definitely feeling more like shit than you.
Looking up, Iruka saw dark circles and cringed internally. On one hand, the whole situation had no one to blame and Iruka could sympathize with the other man, knowing exactly how it felt to be misused, but Kakashi had to deal with that for years. The man had been stuck in a relationship that had been almost completely one-sided in Iruka's eyes. On the other hand, Iruka felt used himself. What if Kakashi had used him as a scapegoat to get out of his relationship? What if Kakashi was projecting his feelings onto Iruka? Did he even feel anything at all?
Maybe it was just his past experiences talking but... He was afraid.
Afraid of the feelings he felt and the ones Kakashi was beginning to show. The fear had grown from simply worrying about what had been said or done when he had gone home with Kakashi the first night to maybe that stranger was becoming more than just an acquaintance. He was starting to get the feeling that he really wanted Kakashi to be a more permanent fixture in his life and... It wasn't scary just... Nerve-racking. Giving his heart to someone again; he felt fragile and weak to be afraid of someone breaking it again but it was a real fear for him.
Phone suddenly ringing, they both snapped their heads from their thoughts. After glancing at his own, Iruka watched as Kakashi stood with a sigh and walked out of the restaurant to politely answer. While waiting in stiff silence, Iruka thumbed his phone wearily. The silence with his own thoughts was breaking him.
Bring me joy, precious phone.
He scrolled through his feed and dash and even had time to take a snap of a smiley face he'd made with his own breath on the window. When Kakashi came prowling back, he started to slip on his coat as he said without meeting Iruka's eyes, "I gotta go. Kurenai is trying to render the file but it keeps rendering too big and now she can't even find a whole scene."
"Oh... Okay," the stunned sound in Iruka's voice made Kakashi look up and he melted.
"I'm sorry. I really am." He touched Iruka's hand lightly and Iruka instinctively latched onto it. The hand caressing his, Iruka heard Kakashi say, "I hope this doesn't change anything between us. I'll see you tomorrow."
Leaning down, the tall man pressed his lips to Iruka's forehead and slipped away quietly while Iruka sat there in a moment of silence. He sighed, slipping on his coat and hat as the waitress politely came up to him.
"Would you like your receipt, sir?"
"Uh, okay." He was about to half curse at Kakashi for leaving him with the bill until he took the slip of paper and realized it was a credit card receipt.
As soon as the door swung open at five o'clock the next night, Iruka met grey eyes in determination. Kakashi frowned, standing almost awkwardly in his own doorway with his pajamas rumpled, “hey?”
What possessed Iruka to come over uninvited was anyone's guess because even Iruka didn't have control over his body at that point. He'd spent most of his night thinking and breathing Kakashi and he'd gone on a weird trip to the store for junk food, most of which he could barely remember. So, there he was at Kakashi's doorstep, staring at the man who looked like he got as much sleep as an insomniac.
Puffing out a breath, Iruka lunged forward and tugged the surprised man in for a hug, Kakashi’s eyes going wide before breaking out into laughter as Iruka said, “no more work.”
Pushing passed the older man, he swept inside and waved his backpack at Kakashi with a smug grin on his face, “let’s party it up, big boy.”
Minutes later saw them slamming fingers wildly on controllers with mouths stuffed to the brim with popcorn and candies. Screen flashing Iruka as the winner, they roared with calls of defeat and accomplishment, Kakashi tackling Iruka to the floor and Iruka watched happily as his friend laughed.
As they calmed down, Kakashi stood and headed for the bathroom while Iruka sat up and stared at the TV screen. This was it. This was how it should be. It felt right.
Their hands were laced together; Iruka’s was kind of sweaty but Kakashi was holding on all the same.
Heart in his throat and body frozen in warmth, Iruka felt the lump in his throat build but spoke through the fear that seemed to melt away when Kakashi squeezed his hand. "Kakashi?"
Eyes turned to his and he felt his heart swell for another time that night.
The night was surprisingly warm around them except for a sharp icy breeze that occasionally blew passed the balcony. People were standing in the street below, waiting for the countdown to start and fireworks to go off while others were giggly with what their excitement was interpreting as magic in the air. Maybe the whole idea of kissing someone at midnight was silly but Iruka couldn't deny that he wanted to experience it despite how he had previously thought such a mainstream romantic gesture to be overrated.
Maybe it was the way Kakashi was holding his hand or the way he had made a beeline for Iruka as soon as he walked into the party. Regardless, Iruka's plan to put distance between them was out the window at that point.
If only he was anyone but himself.
Maybe it was wrong to want to be with someone who was more or less vulnerable from a breakup. Maybe it was a bad idea to leave behind someone he had loved so dearly in favour of someone who he just met. It was crazy.
I shouldn't be doing this.
The countdown had started; people in the street chanting while those inside were raising their drinks. The heavy feeling on his heart ached and Iruka watched the people below count until they finally reached one.
They all cheered and, even though Kakashi was right next to him and their hands were laced, Iruka still found himself staring down at other people sharing what looked like magical kisses.
The moment seemed to pass slowly and suddenly people were swarming onto the balcony and Iruka felt Kakashi's hand slip out of his. The nice feeling left him and he felt alone again. Alone even though he was surrounded by people.
He spent the rest of the party in a haze, eventually leaving the cold balcony to take shelter from the lightly falling snow and dropping down onto one of the worn couches. In that warm light of the apartment, Iruka wondered what he was even doing there.
"Iruka!" Looking up, he saw Kotetsu making his way through the crowd, a familiar looking face in tow. Kotetsu was grinning from ear to ear, looking genuinely happy to see Iruka but Iruka was too far out to really take it in. "Hey, bud, I didn't know you'd be here."
"Me neither... Just kinda... Happened, I guess," he was trying so hard to form coherent sentences and figure out who the other guy was. Kotetsu was leaning close to his face, studying him and he said with much scepticism towards Iruka's well-being, "yeah, so, this is Izumo. I don't know if you remember but he's from uh... you know when you came over the morning after?"
Izumo nodded politely and Iruka nodded back before he realized that he did know this guy. A flash of memory passed through his mind and he saw a phone being held up for him to see a man nursing a swollen cheek at an ice rink. Looking at Izumo now, you could still see the faint bruise fading and Iruka huffed.
Eyes looked back at Izumo and Kotetsu gave Iruka an embarrassed grin, "turns out that we're better as friends."
"Oh," Iruka couldn't help but feel even more dazed than ever and as he looked at the duo. He was still seeing the man beyond the phone screen; the man who was smiling softly at him.
Even the hand Kotetsu put on his shoulder didn't pull him from the memory but the words that accompanied did and Iruka snapped his head up. "What?"
"I said he's outside. I think he might be leaving." Kotetsu watched the fear suddenly appear and Iruka bolted from the couch and down the stairs. Pushing through the crowd of people, he strained for the door and stumbled out onto the street just to catch glimpses of a car as it pulled away from the crowd on the side-walk and left.
Iruka stood there deflated and felt a part of him shatter as he heard the sound of the car drive away beyond the moving body of people. The sudden regret that hit him was almost too much to bear and he had to catch himself from breaking out into tears in the mass of people. He sniffed against the cold and shivered, heading back inside as a flash of winter hair caught his eye.
Standing there with his sweater freckled with snow and his cheek rosy with cold, Kakashi watched the car drive off in the distance. Time seemingly stopped, Iruka seized the moment and stalked forward.
"Hey," he called almost aggressively. Follow by what was actually aggressive, "Butt head."
Head snapping to him, Iruka was in Kakashi's sights as the younger man finally stopped at his side. Eyes blazing, Iruka kept the other man's full attention on him as he said roughly, "what? Thinking of leaving without me."
The surprise dissolved into a soft smile, eyes closing and cheeks pink. "Never."
Passion from those words hitting him, Iruka felt himself weaken even as he stood strong. "Good because I don't think twelve dates is enough."
The taller man chuckled and stepped close, fingers reaching for Iruka's and holding them almost shyly. Iruka couldn't help but look up and simply be in the man's presence.
"I really like you." The implication behind Kakashi's words were huge and the man's cheeks never seemed to change from the bright pink while Iruka felt his heart swell and burn as he squeezed Kakashi's hand.
"I really like me too." Iruka grinned. The smile Kakashi forced back still showed even as he huffed and turned his head away in exasperation which Iruka found terribly cute and couldn't help giggling at, Kakashi hooking an arm around Iruka's neck and driving the laughing Iruka back towards the party.
He explained in a soft voice, "you make me happy, more than anything or anyone else."
Arm around Kakashi's waist, Iruka looked up curiously at the man and he saw the content they were both feeling, reflected on Kakashi's face. Snow drifted around them slowly and felt inspiration hit him as he realized Kakashi's hair reminded him of snow just before dawn, feeling the itch to write.
I swear, I'm not in love with this guy.
Yeah, just keep telling yourself that.