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This Is Who We Are

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Kakashi was at lunch with Iruka-sensei when the first summons of the day came in the form of written message carried by a hawk.

The hawk landed on Kakashi's right shoulder heavily, jarring the steaming dumpling out of his chopstick. Iruka let out a snicker as Kakashi leaned over quickly, snapped out a hand, and caught the wayward dumpling right before it struck the ground. He straightened up and gave Iruka's now-innocent visage a glare. Then he turned to transfer that sour expression at the large bird dominating his shoulder.

The hawk nibbled at its feathers and then countered Kakashi's impressive glower with an equally daunting nonchalance. It held out its foot in a careless fashion, and Kakashi snatched at the rolled up strip of parchment which had been tied to the scaly, yellow limb.

"Now leave," Kakashi snapped at it, and the hawk's talons clenched at the thin material of his loose shirt, just barely scratching flesh before it spread its wings and burst back into the air with a flurry of power. Kakashi scowled down at the table. "Wonderful. There's a feather in my plate."

"Poor jounin-sensei," Iruka crooned, trying unsuccessfully not to laugh. His brown eyes sparkled at Kakashi. "This is what you get for insisting that you want to eat outside. 'It's a lovely day, Iruka-sensei!'" He mimicked Kakashi's deeper voice quite effectively. "'Just bring the food, we'll eat out in the garden!'"

Kakashi rolled his eyes, glancing around at the walled area of his home. It wasn't the original Hatake compound: he had sold the property to the Inuzuka clan, and bought something smaller and newer on the opposite side of the village. It was nice; no echoes of his father's death rattling out of the walls. He was only the second owner of this home, so there was no weight of generations of the Hatake clan seeping out of ancient timber. Gai had helped to 'decorate', and after Iruka had managed to temper his penchant for anything gleaming, the whole effect was comfortable and homely.

He rather thought he deserved comfort and homeliness. Now, Kakashi pulled open the tiny scroll and read the summons from the council of elders. He sighed, tossed it in the air and blew a katon at it. The charred pieces of parchment fluttered to the bare earth where Kakashi had been trying to convince a flower garden to grow (and enduring Iruka's constant mocking). Iruka turned his head slightly, eyeing the burnt wisps.

"Council wants to see me," Kakashi told him, grinning at Iruka's raised eyebrows. "But they didn't say when."

"They're going to send an ANBU after you next," Iruka warned, reaching out for a spoonful of vegetables that Kakashi had been studiously ignoring. "I say ten minutes?"

"Fifteen," Kakashi countered instantly. "What are we waging?"

"Loser has to make sure Naruto eats something other than ramen," Iruka shot back. "For two weeks."

"You monster," Kakashi breathed. "You're on."

The ANBU showed up in eleven minutes. Kakashi sighed at the masked shinobi staring at him from out of a tall tree across the road.

"I win." Iruka snickered as he got up, taking Kakashi's empty plate as well. "Try to get him to drink more water as well, okay? He gets super cranky when he's dehydrated."

Kakashi waved one gloved hand at him as he headed towards the kitchen and gestured at the ANBU, arms open questioningly, shoulders hitching: really? The ANBU shrugged in reply: they're hopping mad, you'd better go quick.

He didn't tell Iruka that he was heading over to where the council usually met, in the Hokage Tower. Iruka would lock up the house for him, anyway. He trudged towards the Tower, nodding at civilians and other shinobi as they greeted him. He tried to take as much time as possible, but all too soon he was let into the meeting room, standing in front of the elders as they did their best to glare him into a small pile. Tsunade-hime's expression was the only one without towering outrage; she was irritated, but not at him.

"You know," one of the elders said; a tall, oily-looking woman. "We could order you to produce an heir, instead of going through all of this foolishness every month."

"It's a different age, Chisuzu-sama," Kakashi answered in the airy sort of tone he knew she hated. "You can't just order people to fuck so you can generate the bloodlines you need."

The council was universally scandalized. Tsunade-hime gazed at the ceiling, as if begging the spirits of all former Hokage to give her some kind of peace.

"How dare you," one of them wheezed. "You have the potential to continue both the Hatake and Uchiha bloodlines. How can you--

"I can't," Kakashi interrupted, not for the first time and suddenly determined that it would be the last. "I'm in love with a man. And if I can't have him, I've taken a vow to not have anyone else." He infused some fervency borrowed from one of Gai's many speeches and a few of the council members sat back in surprise. Tsunade-hime pursed her lips, eyes twinkling at him.

"Oh?" Chisuzu raised a razor thin eyebrow. "Well. Who is this...man?"

Kakashi blurted, "Iruka-sensei," purely because if there was one someone who he would be in love with, it could easily be Iruka. Besides, if the council chose to question Iruka about this, he would definitely play along without a hint of subterfuge either in his face or chakra. It was a particular talent of his. Kakashi wasn't sure if he was delighted with that fact or envious.

He really didn't expect the mood of the elders to switch from towering discontent to a wave of excitement. Dismay flashed over Tsunade's face before she managed to hide it behind a stony facade. Chisuzu turned to her with a bright expression.

"Tsunade-sama," she intoned in her greasy manner. "How convenient."

Tsunade opened her mouth and then snapped it shut again. She stared at Kakashi, who frowned back in confusion.

"The Sandaime protected Iruka-sensei, and not for this," she finally said, in a voice that started out low and strengthened with every passing moment. "He protected him from this very council, if I can recall."

The council didn't seem too put out by her obvious censure. They smiled at Kakashi; frowning, he thought he saw more genuine smiles on snakes.

"You can have him," Chisuzu said. "Have him all you like."

--

Iruka showed up back at his house in the late evening, climbing through the window of the spare bedroom and stumbling into the living area, where Kakashi sometimes took to napping on the floor.

"I know you're awake, you bastard," he said hoarsely, kneeling down beside where Kakashi lay sprawled on the messy bedding. "Kakashi, what the fuck."

Kakashi sat up and said, "Well, the council--"

"They called me in because you said you were in love with me?" Iruka sounded extremely strained and Kakashi stared at his face in the gloom.

"Hope you covered like the good shinobi you are," Kakashi said, grinning so that Iruka would join in on the joke. The council had let him go shortly after Chisuzu had made her slightly ominous proclamation. He had been a little unsettled, but then it was probably because she was an unsettling individual.

Iruka shook his head, his breath hitching. "I did," he choked out. "Like an idiot, I wasn't fucking thinking. So they said if we were together, then it shouldn't be a problem for me to have your children."

Kakashi blinked. "What?"

"I forgot that they knew all about me." Iruka sounded as if his whole life was hanging by a thread. "How could I have been so stupid?"

"Iruka," Kakashi murmured, reaching out to him. "Iruka, what--"

Iruka seized Kakashi's forearms in a tight, sweaty grip. Kakashi froze; Iruka's long hair was loose around his shoulders.

"Kakashi," he started and then he swallowed, hard. "Kakashi. I… I was born female."

He laughed humourlessly at whatever he saw in Kakashi's expression. "Yeah. I am. And you know what? I don't care if you don't like it. Sandaime-sama supported me all the way, and so has Godaime-sama and when I lived as a girl I wasn't good for me and I'm good for me now. Do you understand that? I'm good for me now." All the words came out in a rush as if Iruka had been holding been trapped with them for a very long time, and he was now free with them. He actually shook Kakashi a little, the short nails of his fingers digging into the flesh of Kakashi's arms.

Kakashi said, "Oh. All right," and Iruka raised his eyebrows. "Right, I mean, that really puts us in a weird spot but...hey, is that why you have that henge running all the time?"

Iruka stared at him. He let go of Kakashi's arms, sat back on his heels and then started to laugh. He laughed until he had to wipe tears from his eyes.

"You idiot," he said with a great deal of affection. "Of course you'd see that."

"I thought it was to cover more scars." Kakashi gave him a cautious smile. "It's a very good henge. I looked with the Sharingan, it's like a bare ripple. Doesn't it make you tired?" He thought it would be like the Sharingan for him, a constant pull on his energy.

Iruka smiled in a wavering fashion. He shifted so that he could sit cross-legged facing Kakashi. "Tsunade-hime taught me how to maintain it without exhausting myself. It's just a matter of increased chakra control."

They sat in silence for a few long moments and then Iruka sighed. "The thing is, I… I always thought about having children. It took me a long time to come to terms with that because--" he gestured to himself with one hand. "I mean, I'm a man. I'm a man," he repeated, giving Kakashi a hard, challenging look. Kakashi nodded.

"Yeah," he answered and the astonished relief of Iruka's face was palpable. Kakashi tilted his head. "I suppose it wasn't that easy with other people?"

Iruka shrugged. "Not really. At first, it was only Sandaime who would use the name I wanted to use. I was always in fights. Always." His face was a block of granite that moment, fists clenched. "It's amazing how something as simple as that just brings out the worst in people."

"Wait...I remember that the council wanted to remove you as a teacher when Sandaime died." Kakashi squinted in concentration. "Something about an inappropriate example? I wasn't listening."

"You never listen when the council is addressing us," Iruka said with a great roll of his eyes, the whole effect withering and fond. "Yeah, they were itching for that. But Tsunade was even worse than Hiruzen." A tiny smile tilted his lips. "I've been lucky to have them."

"And we're lucky to have you," Kakashi said and Iruka smiled shyly.

He cleared his throat. "So..do you want to do this? I mean. I'm not averse to it but I can understand if you would be. I've had enough time to figure myself out."

Kakashi breathed in deeply. He looked at Iruka for a very long time. "I like you a lot," he finally admitted. "A lot. I can see us being in a relationship. A good, solid one."

"Oh. That sounds nice. I… I can see that too." Iruka had a very happy smile for a quick beat, and something in Kakashi's chest went warm at the view. Then, Iruka's eyebrows furrowed a little. "But?"

"But, I'm not sexually attracted to you," Kakashi said, rushing on before Iruka could get the wrong idea: "I'm not sexually attracted to anyone." That was part of the reason he had always put off the council's demands. That, and the fact that there was nothing he enjoyed more than thwarting those buzzards.

"All right." Iruka's smile was easy and Kakashi couldn't stop smiling back at him. He didn't even bring up Icha Icha and Kakashi was suddenly filled with great affection. "I get it."

"But...now that it's you, I think I can handle the idea of kids. If they have you as a father too, they won't turn out as fucked up as I am."

"You're not fucked up," Iruka said immediately, expression very earnest, and Kakashi suddenly couldn't speak at the way his brown eyes shone. "Don't say that."

Kakashi ducked his head, trying to hide his flushed cheeks. "We could pull an Orochimaru. Grow our children in a lab. Look at Tenzō, he's turned out just fine."

"Don't even joke about that," Iruka scolded, shuffling closer and then putting an arm around Kakashi's shoulders in a tentative fashion. Kakashi melted against his side instantly. He so enjoyed being held.

"Like I said, I don't think I'll mind carrying them," Iruka said very slowly. "It's something I've thought about. I even talked to Tsunade-sama about it a few years ago."

Kakashi nodded slowly, cheek moving against Iruka's muscular shoulder. "It won't always be as easy as this."

Iruka hugged him even tighter. "But...I think it might be worth it."