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How (Not) To Flirt

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Cities were too much, sometimes. Kakashi didn't much mind, but there were certain times of the day were it was too much. He liked to keep his head down, in his book, ignoring every and all idiot around him. He liked to take a different train a few times a week to get to his part of the city, less bustling and more suburban. It was conducive to work, and his dogs.

Kakashi liked his dogs, and they liked taking a shit in his neighbor's front yard. It wasn't really something he could get in the dead of the city successfully anyway, so he dealt with it.

It was a give and take relationship.

Kakashi waited for the blue line train as casually as he could surrounded by people in an almost suffocating crowd. Someone elbowed his side, brushed his back, stepped on his shoes, even bumped his book hand. It was too much, too many people in his space. Yet another reason he didn't care for going to his office more than once a week.

A warning in several languages requested everyone to stay behind the yellow line as the train began to arrive. There was a sudden rush behind him, the weight of some fifty to hundred bodies attempting to urge him forward.

"Seriously? It isn't even fucking here," Kakashi grumbled. Someone stabbed another elbow into his side, making him grunt and pitch to the right. He ended up bumping into someone else, knocking him off balance enough to be unprepared for the next shove from behind.

It was enough movement to jar him from his two square feet of space into the person in front of him. Kakashi slammed his chin into the back of the unfortunate person's head and earned himself a mouthful of hair for his effort. In an attempt to keep them both from going down Kakashi dropped his book and wrapped a strong arm around the poor woman's slim waist.

Shit, just my luck to slam into a woman. Bet she's hot, too. "Maa, sorry, miss. The crowd - "

The tenseness in the body Kakashi still supported doubled. He immediately let go and righted his overcoat, feeling suddenly shameful. Kakashi knew he was tall and heavy despite his lanky form, but that couldn't be it, could it? Maybe it was just having a virtual stranger launch themselves at you that could be more stressful than intended, but Kakashi took the brunt of everything anyway. The woman turned, and Kakashi immediately understood his blunder.

Although the initial slap may have been a bit much.

"Miss?" The man growled, holding his navy coat a little tighter to himself. "Are you blind or just an idiot?"

Kakashi's hand rubbed his stinging cheek thoughtfully, his jaw hanging open almost comically. He'd been right about one thing - he was hot and hitting every one of Kakashi's triggers. He made no attempt to hide being attracted to both sexes but, this guy had quite a bit going for him. Tan skin, insanely dark and expressive eyes, interesting faint scar across both cheeks and nose, warm brunet hair - ding ding ding! Kakashi found a winner.

It was a shame that, despite these wonderful revelations, Kakashi's jaw continued to hang open. There were a number of things he could have said, maybe beginning with another apology, his name, perhaps his business card with an invite for drinks to make up whatever damage had been done.

No, Kakashi very wonderfully went with:

"You're a guy."

The man in question showed a remarkable shift of emotion in quite a short second - astonishment, annoyance, irritation - and it was truly something Kakashi adored. Especially the slight blush that tinted his cheeks and made his scar pale in comparison as he pulled his right fist back and socked Kakashi directly in his left eye.

Kakashi once again flailed about for a moment, although this time he landed square on his ass and took a random dude down with him. He groaned and adjusted his grip, the pain no longer in his cheek. What a fine distraction.

"No shit, asshole," the tan man growled, adjusting his coat once again. Kakashi hissed as he felt the swelling begin. Hottie had a mean right hook.

When he finally gathered his senses enough to look around, the man in the navy coat was gone. In fact, most of the crowd had filed onto the train that miraculously appeared while Kakashi was kissing pavement. He attempted to stand but felt instantly dizzy and sighed. Kakashi felt a hand on his shoulder and looked to see the man he took down with him already standing and offering a hand.

"Hey, bud, you okay?"

"Maa," Kakashi answered, accepting the offer and standing on shaky legs. "Old friend. That's how we say hello."

The man's face contorted to a look of obvious disbelief. "Sounds like you need new friends."

"Indeed," Kakashi mumbled. "Sorry for slamming into you."

The man waved it off and hurried to get on the train. Kakashi managed to locate his book a moment later, wiping off the dust from the bright orange cover.

He felt like he might be in love.

What a peculiar day.


Kakashi took the red line instead of the blue a week later, settling further in the back of the train than he usually did. He watched people filter in and out, riding the line for the better half of an hour. The book was mostly for show (he totally did use it as an Idiot Deterrent, obviously) but he enjoyed peering just so over the edge to people watch.

He saw all sorts of people, tall people, short people, people who had no sense of fashion, people who were really too shy for a train ride. People with long hair or bald, people with suitcases or overnight bags (red line made a connection with green for the airport), people who pretended to read like him but were not nearly as good at hiding it as he was, and then there were the people who were too nice for a crowded train.

It was somewhere around the forty minute mark and between the train filling to the brim that Kakashi was grateful for swapping routes. Someone slipped on carrying a shoulder bag and obviously in a right hurry, or late. Kakashi's eyes were drawn by the long brown hair, auburn and chestnut in the afternoon sun. It stopped just around the person's shoulder blades. Damn, was it lovely.

Just as those lovely locks were being pulled back into a low ponytail Kakashi was ejected from his seat. More like, when Kakashi saw a slim tan neck exposed beneath all that hair, he volunteered his seat to a startled business woman checking her phone.

Kakashi trudged through the sea of business folks, normies, and those that blended too well together, and had plenty of time to think of something awesome to say. Like: Lovely day, huh? or Trains are a great way to meet, yeah? or, and this Kakashi liked, Where have you been all my life? Because, seriously, Kakashi took this train at least once a week and where had she been hiding. Obviously, she was a she, because no man Kakashi knew (besides himself, he didn't count) took such delicious care of his hair.

She was there, close enough that Kakashi could touch her shoulder. She was a safe few inches shorter than Kakashi, looking down and rummaging in her messenger pack. Her blue peacoat was lovely, a dark navy that complimented the tan of her skin, with still a trace of snow on her collar and in her bound hair. Kakashi swallowed and put on his most dashing smile. The action tugged at his healed-but-still-sore black eye. He hoped he didn't look like a psycho.

"Hey gorgeous," he began, leaning as casually as possible against one of the handrails along the side of the train. "I feel like I should know you."

Nailed it.

Only, he didn't, not really, because when she turned around, she wasn't a she at all. It was that man, the very same man that slugged Kakashi in the eye last time they met, because Kakashi was a fucking idiot and mistook him for a girl. Twice.

Twice.

Kakashi was beginning to understand what everyone meant by calling him socially inept. Also, he really should have recognized that lovely coat.

Those beautifully deep brown eyes Kakashi remembered from last time glared at him. He was still gorgeous, long scar over his nose included, and at least Kakashi had that right.

"I'd rather not," Hottie (as Kakashi called him in his head) said dryly. "I'm going to give you a suggestion to take ten steps back." He paused when Kakashi didn't move, too dumbstruck by his luck (could it really be called that?) to meet such an intriguing man for a second time. "I'm going to suggest you take it."

"Take what?" Kakashi answered dumbly. When the man's eyes narrowed further, Kakashi knew he should have been actually paying attention to what he said instead of watching his lips make syllables. "Your number?"

Oh yeah, totally not the right thing to say. Whatever patience Hottie held for Kakashi immediately ran out. It was far too late when Kakashi noticed the still steaming to-go cup in the man's hand, and even later still for Kakashi to dodge the onslaught of whatever was actually in the cup.

Kakashi's flailing and definitely unmanly yelp got the attention of the better part of their shared cab. Hot coffee (mocha caramel latte, dark roast?) soaked through his overcoat and blazer and tie and dress shirt in record time. He hissed and swatted dramatically at his chest, doing not a damn thing to stop the scalding liquid from spreading. He tried anyway, patting away at his staining clothes.

Kakashi looked up to glare at his assailant but stopped mid sentence: "What the fu -?!"

He was gone. Totally bolted while Kakashi writhed in agony. Again. He frantically searched further up the cab, feeling the train slow to a stop. As the doors opened, he watched the tan man practically stomp out, giving a great go at ignoring Kakashi.

"Wait!" Kakashi called, suddenly feeling desperate. The stop was for the airport, and unless Hottie was just using a convenient stage left exit, Kakashi might just be watching his only chance stalk away in anger. "Wait, please!"

Kakashi ignored the glares he got from screaming in the cab, but his outburst had the man hesitating. Annoyed eyes swung on him a second later. Yes.

"Could I at least get your name to send my dry cleaning bill to?"

Oh, well. When he opened his mouth, Kakashi hadn't really meant to say that. The added aggravation to the man's expression was worth it, though.

"Go fuck yourself."

Then he was gone, maybe forever, and Kakashi had a somewhat familiar tinge of regret. He really did want his name.

The asshole sniggering behind him didn't help, either.


"When can you get here?" Tenzou, Kakashi's personal assistant and long-time friend, demanded. Kakashi rolled his eyes from the safety of his location on the phone and far from Tenzou.

"I can hear you rolling your eyes, Kakashi." Of course he could.

"I'm on my way, Tenzou. I don't control the buses - "

"You're taking a fucking bus?!"

"What? No, you know I take the subway," Kakashi said, grinning. "Language, Tenzou."

"Whatever, Kakashi," Tenzou growled. "Just get here yesterday."

"Yes, mother dearest," Kakashi drawled. The usual crowd for the yellow line was beginning to gather, just as aggressive as ever. "Let me let you go, kohai, these people are demons in disguise."

"The train crowds?"

"Yeah."

"Oh, that's where you got punched!" Tenzou dissolved into laughter. Kakashi sighed, glancing around. He enjoyed Tenzou's friendship and loyalty, but he could be a right dick at times.

"I'm hanging up now." Someone elbowed Kakashi, forcing him to take several steps to his right.

"Don't get mugged, senpai!"

"Tenzou..."

"Sorry, sorry. I'll let you go - thank you for coming in for a second time this week." Another person tried to slip under Kakashi's arm, forcing him to stick his elbow out far to his side.

"You're welcome," Kakashi said sincerely. Just as Kakashi hung up the phone, his arm was bumped by the teen trying to wedge herself through the crowd. The bump forced his arm higher and out. He winced when he felt the impact of his elbow connecting with something, his bones vibrating. It could have only been an unmovable force (like, say, the wall) that could cause such bodily distress, but as Kakashi turned to see what it was, exactly, he could honestly not have been more surprised to see someone clutching their face with blood seeping through their fingers.

Oh, his last two weeks with the subway had been terrible.

Kakashi quickly pocketed his mobile and placed both hands on the man's shoulders, hoping to coax his face up so Kakashi could assess the damage. "Shit, I'm so sorry - the crowd - "

Something akin to a groan came from the man, adding to Kakashi's sudden stress. Was the hit making him delirious? Probably, what with all that blood now dripping onto his...navy...peacoat...

Fuck.

Now he knew what the groan was from.

Kakashi bit back a grin at his sheer luck (because this time, it absolutely was) and worked the messenger bag from the tan man's shoulder. It took more force than Kakashi thought it would, but he had the bag onto his free shoulder after a moment of struggling ("Would you give me this, please? I'm trying to help you.") and wrapped a protective arm around his hunched ward to move out of the way for the antsy crowd. Even with someone getting elbowed in the nose, they couldn't tear away from watching for the train, the damn bastards.

Kakashi headed for where he knew the police hung out. Hottie grumbled or mumbled the entire way, attempting to shrug off Kakashi's arm from his shoulders and then squirming when Kakashi dropped his arm to circle his waist. He just huffed, and Kakashi grinned.

Finally they reached the police and, after seeing Hottie holding his blood and face together in his palms, one hurriedly stepped into their little subway office, waving for Kakashi to follow. He allowed the wounded to go first and then followed to, ahem, keep an eye on the proceedings. Kakashi was offered a cup of coffee by the second officer while the first cleaned and bandaged Hottie. Kakashi couldn't help but sneak a glance every other second, despite the very attractive female officer attempting to keep him engaged in conversation.

Hottie simply looked miserable. The blood had little time to crust, making it easy to clean, but he hissed when the officer pressed too hard or touched something too tender. Kakashi could see the beginning of a bruise to add to the scar across his nose. He looked up for a moment and met Kakashi's gaze; his cheeks immediately flushed and quickly looked back down at the concrete flooring. The blood was cleaned from his coat, too, as best as possible.

All in all the entire ordeal lasted only a few minutes. Kakashi thanked both officers and turned to gather Hottie only to find the man had slipped away (again) but Kakashi wasn't too worried. He still had his insurance, after all.

Kakashi left the subway and headed up to the streets, peering around for the closest hiding place. Fortunately, between all the food vendors and people and general hubbub of the city, he didn't look for long.

Behind the entrance for the subway was a park, not the largest of the city, but big enough for a mile long track to wrap around it with a pleasant fountain in the centre. The water was off because of winter, and the park was fairly empty of joggers as well. The white and grey backdrop made finding a tan man in a lovely navy peacoat easy, even for Kakashi.

Kakashi detoured to grab the largest cup of hot cocoa he could from a nearby vendor before walking over. Hottie had his face buried in his hands, hunched over his knees. It was the perfect appearance of a defeated man. Kakashi sighed, stopping a few feet before Hottie. Said man made no move.

"Hey," Kakashi prompted, softly, after a minute of being solidly ignored. Hottie sighed and leaned back, his usual glare towards Kakashi in place but lacking any sort of fight.

"Haven't you done enough?" The man asked, his voice slightly congested. Kakashi offered the cup he held in his hand.

"Peace offering?" The man eyed the cup with obvious distrust. "Hey, I just bought it, you can ask that dude at the stall." Kakashi jerked a thumb over his shoulder, and when Hottie still made no move, he shoved his free hand into his coat pocket. "Wanna see my receipt?"

Hottie sighed. "No," he muttered, taking the offered paper cup. He brought it to his lips and took a tentative sip. Kakashi stood awkwardly by, shuffling his weight occasionally, waiting for approval or dismissal or, honestly, the entire cup thrown on him again, because elbowing someone in the nose probably deserved some form of retribution.

Kakashi was surprised when none of the above occurred. Hottie sighed again after his first sip, this one a relieved sigh, before looking up at Kakashi. He slid to the left on the bench, making more than enough room for Kakashi to join him. Which he wasted no time doing.

"Thanks for not throwing that back at me," Kakashi said with as much surprise as he felt. Hottie snorted a laugh, or tried to, anyway. It was more of a bubbling gurgle that ended in a slight grunt of pain.

"Thanks for not calling me a woman again," he answered, free hand going to touch his bandaged nose gently. He flinched away and huffed, making Kakashi's stomach churn.

"You're welcome," he said cheekily, drawing another half-hearted glare from the man at his side.

"You know, you said that when you elbowed me."

"Shit, no. I was on the phone." Mentioning his conversation with Tenzou reminded him that he was probably so late. "Why would I thank you for hitting you in the face?"

"Dunno," he answered, sliding around to angle his body more towards Kakashi. "I thought it was all some weird way to flirt."

Kakashi blinked, suddenly confused. "Wait, so you thought me mistaking you for a woman twice and cracking your nose was flirting?" Kakashi was beginning to wonder at Hottie's mental stability.

The man just shrugged. "I've lived here my whole life; I've seen worse."

Just the nonchalant answer and apparent acceptance of Kakashi's very shitty flirting was more than enough. Kakashi started laughing; he laughed at the absurdity of it all, of meeting someone he had become borderline obsessed with meeting again end disastrously each and every time for at least one of them. It was too much, and he had no trouble believing no one would believe him even if he swore on his dogs' lives that it was the solid truth.

Somewhere in his mental anguish and his only coping mechanism becoming laughter, Hottie joined in. Perhaps he found it just as humourous as Kakashi, because it truly was. His laughter was beautiful, albeit stunted by the lack of breathing through his nose because of the whole bandage thing, but still so beautiful.

The laughter lasted a few good minutes, ending in Kakashi wiping tears from his eyes and leaning back against the park bench with a sigh. His phone vibrated wildly in his pocket but he ignored it. Sorry Tenzou.

A silence settled that Kakashi could only describe as companionable. Hottie occasionally sipped his cocoa, the white cloud of his breath and steam mingling, a bird or two puttered by and chirped, and Kakashi just kept ignoring his ringing phone. It was lovely.

"Thank you for the drink," Hottie said after a moment. "It's really helping."

"I'm glad, it's the least I could do," Kakashi replied sincerely. He paused, turning on the bench like Hottie had earlier. "Listen, I'm so sorry, about everything. This could have gone much, much better, but sometimes I have a knack for - "

"So I was right," Hottie said with a slight grin. "You are flirting."

The bluntness of his statement brought a sharp flush racing up Kakashi's neck to his cheeks, earning a soft chuckle from the tan man beside him. Dammit he hated his fair complexion, like, all the time. "Absolutely not."

"No?"

"Not at all."

Hottie sighed. "That's a shame; I find that mole by your mouth incredibly charming."

Kakashi blinked. "You're flirting."

Hottie shook his head and took a sip. "Absolutely not."

"No?"

"Not at all."

Kakashi grinned. "Well, if you're not flirting and I'm not flirting, then I guess I'll be on my way - "

"Iruka Umino," the tan man said. He smiled slightly. "Usually you exchange names before flirting, anyway."

"Kakashi Hatake," he answered, holding his hand out. Iruka accepted his handshake casually. Kakashi tried not to swoon over how warm his hand was. "And I know how to flirt."

"I don't think you do," Iruka offered offhandedly as he took another sip.

Kakashi gasped and dropped a hand to his chest dramatically. "I disagree! Got your attention, didn't I?"

Iruka paused, seemingly weighing his answer. "I suppose, but if that's flirting, I don't think I would survive a date with you."

"Says the guy who slapped, punched, and threw scalding coffee at me," Kakashi answered. "I think you're getting off easy on this one."

Iruka began to smirk, the lift of his lips decidedly sneaky. "And if I disagree?"

"Come to dinner with me," Kakashi offered. He suddenly felt the weight of his request, not thinking the possibility of denial being amongst the likely answers. He desperately wanted Iruka to agree, more than he'd wanted anything in quite some time. His stomach tightened with anticipation. "If you think you could survive me, that is."

Iruka seemed to contemplate Kakashi's request, even going so far as to tap his chin in thought. Kakashi tried not to let his smile waver, tried not to show his nerves, tried desperately to keep his hands from shaking - waiting sucked.

"If I say no, you aren't going to leave me alone, are you?" Iruka asked, genuinely. So genuinely, in fact, that the truth stumbled from Kakashi before he could really think it through.

"I'll never give up on you."

Iruka blinked, surprised. Kakashi imagined he looked pretty similar. A faint blush danced across Iruka's face as he smiled slowly, his eyes softening from the expression and what Kakashi hoped to be a growing fondness.

"I suppose my mind is made up for me, then," Iruka answered. He stood up and started walking back to the subway entrance. Kakashi could only watch him go, his mouth hanging open slightly. Uh, what?

Iruka paused and looked over his shoulder. "Are you coming? I believe we both still have a train to catch!"

Kakashi felt his breath catch in his throat. Still, he couldn't move. "Was that a yes?"

Iruka's answering smile was breathtaking. "Yes! Hurry, Kakashi!"

Kakashi hurried to secure both his and Iruka's bags, moving them both to one shoulder, before practically launching after Iruka while simultaneously enjoying how his name sounded when Iruka said it. He caught up fairly quickly, savouring Iruka's laugh as he did. Kakashi couldn't help but grin as well, imaging the scene he must have made in his inelegant scramble. He probably looked no better than when one of his dogs skated across hardwood flooring.

Kakashi snuck a glance at Iruka now at his side. He held the cocoa Kakashi bought up near his mouth, probably inhaling the steam through his bandaged nose. The officer did well cleaning him up - he was just as beautiful as always, the white bandage somehow just as perfect. Kakashi hoped the smile on his lips was because of him.

After they were in the subway and once again encompassed by the mob of travelers, Kakashi took the opportunity to subtly wrap Iruka's hand in his. The tan man glanced over briefly, but Kakashi caught the smile he hid with a sip of cocoa. The flutters in Kakashi's stomach felt warm.

Oh, yeah. He was totally in love. Totally, stupidly, and hopelessly in love. At first sight, too, because Kakashi never did anything halfway.

Now he just had to convince Iruka of that, too, and if the squeeze of the hand in his was anything to bet on, well, Kakashi would become a betting man soon enough.