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It was the smell of exhaust that always brought him back. The way it permeated the air and sometimes overwhelmed the senses. It was almost like an addiction; a fire in the blood that pulled him in, time and time again. He had missed it to a ridiculous degree during his time as an instructor at the technical college. Not that he would ever admit that, especially not to some of the young up-and-comers that he could see chattering as he walked past. He had taught most of them, after all, and had to maintain his image.

It was Iruka's habit to not remove his helmet when he went from one car to another. As Hokage Racing's premier test driver he often did as many as four runs a day, and in four different cars. And the complicated helmet, with all of the attached restraints, was simply too much of a time waster to take off and put back on each time. That and the sound dampening effect of the protective shell gave him a sense of being in his own world, cut off from everything else. It was easier to think that way.

The car he had just put through it's paces needed to go another few rounds on the dyno; it had a worrying flutter at a low RPM. It had also felt like it pushed too hard in the right rear, so a stint in the wind tunnel would also be beneficial. He knew that their boss, Tsunade, wouldn't like what he had to say, but as he often reminded her a test driver wasn't paid to be nice, he was paid to speak the truth. Most times as bluntly as possible.

The next car on his list was brand new, just rolled out by the fabrication teams. The first shakedown would be easy; it focused on identifying any major problems. And he'd be lying if he said he didn't expect issues. It was a new chassis and engine combination, and those tended to be problematic. He grinned slightly, face hidden behind the closed visor of his helmet; he was really looking forward to this one.

Until he caught sight of the man standing beside the car. Even with the fire suit on and the helmet hiding his flyaway silver hair Hatake Kakashi was easy to pick out. Of course a fair portion of that was probably connected to Hatake's status as Iruka's number one annoyance. Being insanely attracted to the jerk was also a factor.

He acknowledged the other man with a brief nod before pushing past him and settling into the car's cockpit. Hatake helped him with the safety restraints, making sure he was securely strapped in. Then he leaned against the side of the car and somehow, despite the helmet and closed visor, managed to make his leer obvious. The radio clicked in Iruka's ear

“Take me for a ride?” Hatake asked, voice sounding almost intimate in the confines of the helmet.

“Get off my car.” The other man simply shifted his body until he was half-sitting on the vehicle, one leg almost sliding into the cockpit. With a roll of his eyes Iruka started the engine, laughing when Hatake leaped away from the car like a scalded cat.

He heard the radio come on again. “One day, Umino. One day,” Hatake all but purred in his ear.

Iruka put the car in gear and pulled away from the pit box, grinning as he did. One day he would give in to the other's advances. But for now he'd just enjoy the ride.