Notes:If anyone's interested, in about the fourth section, when Jiraiya mentions Sakumo - that's where the Positive Tension one-shot came in. See? Doesn't fit!
Thank you to everyone who's read/reviewed. Have played with PoV's again. I know I should stop, but one day I'll get it right!
Further notes for chapter 8:
In respects to a timeline - when (when) this actually ends I'll post something with the last chapter, maybe? I've tried to shove a date reference in each section as clearly as possible; at some point I'll go back and make those clearer. As for the last chapter, Tuesday the 14th is the day of the Anbu meeting; Kakashi breaks on the Thursday - the day of Shikamaru's meeting; Jiraiya picks him up on the following Sunday; The hazing is the 20th/Monday night. That brings us to the start of this chapter.
Hope that cleared it up slightly and my apologies for the confusion XD!
For Telosphilos, I think. She has WAY too many intriguing ideas!
But the sun was a funny thing; and while the earth itself may bask and bathe and bow to its healing rays, there were some creatures that did not.
Hijiri Shimon had not been the first ANBU operative to lose consciousness last night, but he had been the one to suggest the forfeit. He had also been the one who spent the whole night flirting with Yuugao-chan - in front of Shiranui Genma as well - and if that wasn't just begging for some well formulated repercussion, then Shimon didn't know what was.
The Chuunin groaned loudly as a bright ray of sunlight forced his eyes open and then shut. A strong wave of nausea hit him - but he could do nothing but lift his chin and swallow the feeling back, working on soothing his gag reflex. A gentle breeze stirred his lower body, and his eyes flew open as the fact hit home that yes, thanks, he really was tied naked to a scarecrow in the ANBU training fields.
And some witty little smart-arse had written "Whipped by Morino Ibiki" across his bare abdomen. Not to mention the countless other drunken scribbles across his arms, legs and torso.
How about that?
A low groan attracted his attention, and Shimon squinted past the sun's arresting glare to see - oh god - none other than Uzuki Yuugao - oh fuck - tied to a scarecrow opposite - oh no!
Any joy he might have felt about that evaporated as she moaned awake - apparently just as sorely hungover as he was - but, in his brain-dead state the combination of the cool breeze, her utter nakedness and the guttural groans she was making went straight to his groin.
His very very naked groin.
Ohnoohnoohnoohnoohnoohno, He thought. I am never ever gonna live this one down!
She seemed to go through the same initial motions as he had done - the bright strips of aluminium on the scarecrows worked its reflective magic on Yuugao as well as the birds, so her impression of his light-related nausea was spot on. It would only be a minute or so until she realised she wasn't alone - and the nervous anticipation certainly didn't - ah - aid Shimon's situation.
Her normally sharp eyes focused blearily on Shimon, and she blushed a delicate pink, setting off the streaks of violet in her hair. Well, reflected Shimon, if hangovers don't turn me into a sentimental bastard!
That embarrassed grin turned into a smirk as her eyes fell upon - ran up and down - gave him the once over, (He tried to find a phrase that didn't make his cock twitch.) and then widen in accompaniment to her shocked squawk as she realised that she, too, was entirely, magnificently naked. She tried to cross her legs without looking like she was trying to cross her legs.
In her momentary madness Yuugao failed to realise how her futile shifting against Anbu bonds affected her comrade, who forced himself to take deep, calming breaths.
Deep breath in, deep breath out. Breath in, breath out. In, out. In. Out.
"So." Shimon would, at that moment, done anything to break the awkward silence. "Have fun last night?"
Even with bloodshot eyes, her glare was impressive. He briefly wondered if all the kunoichi's were taught that in pre-Gennin training, because Anko and Kurenai had perfected that look too.
"Apparently so." Yuugao paused, nervously. "I have a vague recollection of you stopping from falling out of the window last night... Thanks."
"Yeah. No problem." That tense silence again; punctuated only by the occasional huff of laughter as Yuugao tried to read the scrawled messages along her arms.
"I can't believe I passed out before the newbies did!" Yuugao's hoarse voice sounded mortified.
"If it makes you feel better, they're all in the next field." Shimon smirked, holding his dizzy head into the breeze. "Except for Genma-san. Kakashi said it was Shiranui's idea! He'll end up a prankster; you just know it!"
"Hell yeah. Genma's great, he looked after us a lot when Hayate got sick...and then... after..." She looked lost for a moment, and Shimon gave up his almost-love at the realisation that he could never compete with ghosts. "It'll be difficult acting as his superior, though. Genma's Genma, you know?"
Shimon bowed his head, shaking out dark bangs to hide his gaze, taking her in as he gave her up. Of course, that was when he saw the clear message on her inner thigh - in Genma's clear scrawl. "Go for it!"
"Yeah." Shimon snapped out of his daze, quickly ridding himself of the ropes that held him up, letting himself drop to the ground rather than risking his already distinctly flimsy balance. After a few minutes, as he helped her down, he caught her bleary eyes with his; decision made. "I know."
When Shimon lagged behind slightly to covertly check out Yuugao's rounded assets more thoroughly, he wasn't quite sure how he could safely explain that some witty little smart-arse had drawn a smirking heno-heno-moheji figure.
On her right buttock.
The training was obviously multi-purposed, that much was clear. Jiraiya's own worry would be eased at giving the seemingly broken shinobi extra focus and new skills; The added skills would be put to good use considering the extra missions the Jounin would inevitably have to take in order to ensure to safety of Konoha in this awkward political atmosphere; Kakashi thought that maybe Jiraiya's concern extended to their mutual student - perhaps he wondered over the intelligence of leaving an insane man in charge of a potential demon?
However, no matter how plausible each scenario seemed, Kakashi just... didn't buy it. Each plan seemed too obvious, too practical - not at all Jiraiya's style.
The Jounin knew that Jiraiya considered himself a Kakashi expert, but he underestimated just how well Kakashi, in turn, knew the Sannin. In all his perverse wisdom, it had been Jiraiya himself that taught the young Hatake to look beneath the underneath. The half-arsed command - yelled across a river at the nine year boy sent to find the Toad Hermit - had been taken quickly to heart, especially when Kakashi had discovered the strange old man's identity.
Kakashi didn't know though, and it bugged him. He didn't have a clue why Jiraiya was so insistent on training him - and as the infamously powerful ninja all but materialised before the Copy Nin - the lack of knowledge made him extremely nervous.
"Hatake Kakashi." Kakashi bowed instinctively at the formality of the Sannin's tone. He refused to look shocked, no matter how he felt - if this was to be a physical training session the Copy Nin was about to be crushed, he did not want to lose face any other way.
"Jiraiya-sama." Kakashi's nose twitched as he caught a familiar scent. "Godaime Hokage-sama."
He didn't need to look behind him to see the impressed arch of a golden eyebrow. Jiraiya's usually expressive face didn't so much as twitch.
"You know our policy, no doubt, of allowing the shinobi of our village to progress, as they might, with no undue pressure due to lineage, gender or creed?" Jiraiya's business voice made Kakashi's back straighten, made him drop the impeccable slouch in favour of an actual stance. He gave an affirmative sharp nod -silver hair twitching before falling back into its erratic mess.
"Kakashi," Jiraiya took a step forward, the Jounin unconsciously took one back. "We can no longer sit back and do the same for you. You waste the skills you have inherited. You put to shame the reputation of the White Fang and the teachings of the Yellow Flash - the Yondaime Hokage."
The Copy Nin was staggered. Tensing his jaw to avoid voicing any protest, Kakashi began to dissemble the hurtful provocation. Don't rise to the bait.
What was Jiraiya trying to say?
As if reading the Copy Nin's mind, Jiraiya pulled himself into an aggressive stance, finally allowing himself to grin.
"If you do not come at me with the intent to kill," Kakashi recognised the mockery for what it was. "You can never hope to defeat me."
After a long, reflective moment, Kakashi attacked.
If there was one feeling, he thought, that should be made illegal - that should just not exist; it was the gut twisting, hung-over feel of absolute worry that came with stupid Jounin doing stupid things. The rumours about the Copy Nin, which had reached Iruka's ears, were easy to dismiss - very easy. They would have been much easier if he hadn't seen those shaking hands for himself - the lost look in that expressionless eye - the horrifying need in Kakashi's voice that Iruka had thought of as beautiful! Fuck! What was wrong with him?
Iruka hadn't seen Kakashi for seven days. He knew the other man was alright because he'd seen Genma in the staff toilets this morning, puking his guts up - and knowing he was a regular drinking partner of the Copy Nin's, Iruka had asked. And Genma - through his good-humoured retching - had replied that yeah, Kakashi was just great, his limbo skills were excellent - though Sushi was a menace.
Iruka hadn't bothered to try to understand the other man's gibberish, just handed him a glass of water, taken a piss, and left to teach his morning class. Within half an hour, Iruka thoughts were firmly centred on Hatake Kakashi.
His morning demonstrations for Weapons Practise had been harsher and more accurate than normal - each target, in Iruka's mind's eye, baring the same masked face. Kakashi had just fucking gone and disappeared for seven days. Seven entire days, and it wasn't that Iruka was concerned or any of that tripe - it wasn't that he was jealous - he was used to not knowing where he stood with the Jounin, it was comforting, almost. It was just... (and Iruka struggled to find a way to admit it, even to himself) ...he wanted the other man. Quite desperately, actually. He wanted Kakashi to want him. He wanted the Copy Nin to think about his hands and his mouth and his voice and need him, the way that he was started to crave Kakashi.
And he didn't think that was too big a deal, not really. Iruka had spent seven long days torturing himself with images of last Tuesday night - no, of Shourei's party the week before. How they'd spent the entire night practically in each other's pockets, teasing, testing. How they'd stumbled quickly to Iruka's apartment - more in their haste for privacy than any real level of inebriation - neither had drunk much at the party itself. How Iruka had poured cheap wine into cheap glasses - spilling down his shirt when Kakashi had leant in too quickly to lap the sweet red stain from the other man's mouth. How they'd found that a convenient excuse to remove Iruka's shirt, following with his insistence that it was only fair that Kakashi take his off as well; then a hair-tie for a mask...
Iruka found himself fighting a blush at the recollection of their hot kisses; how alcohol warm, easy lust had left him thinking of the perfect way in which their bodies fit; how blind, languid luck - more so than any real amount of skill - had led them both to the perfect rhythm, the perfect patch of skin, the perfect angle.
Flushing deeply, Iruka pushed an annoyingly consistent bit of hair savagely back behind his ear, considering the kunai in his drawer and how simple it would be to just cut the offending locks off. But then, he reflected, it'd be too short to push behind his ears when it fell into his face and would only end up irritating him more. He started rapping his short nails menacingly upon the desk-top again as he remembered the way Kakashi's fingers had pulled at his loose hair...
Iruka wasn't some naïve schoolboy - he understood lust; he knew that sexual desire could be fulfilled without the lurid flourishes of romance or forever and still help form a strong bond between two people; create a healthy slant of a friendship, so long as both parties knew where they stood. But Iruka didn't know where he stood. And he wasn't all that sure Kakashi was interested in moving their friendship along. Maybe, in Kakashi's illogical, mixed-up head, this was what you did with friends.
If you thought about it, considered Iruka, that would explain why the majority of Kakashi's were the Elite Jounin.
Iruka had measured the whole situation from every angle, but even when he worked the strange, upside down logic to its end - even then - there was nothing to explain the snuggling!
Iruka felt himself start to growl.
The silent rows of children stared fearfully at their teacher's strange glare, wondering exactly what they had done wrong. He hadn't looked this angry since they had filled the teacher's desk drawers with bees. How were they supposed to know that their substitute, Namiashi-san, had allergies? Really, the man hadn't actually been stung, and, if they sat and thought about it, it was hardly their fault.
Iruka's glare was loosely directed towards the biggest trouble-maker in their class, as if daring her to breathe too loudly. She gave a slight meep, quietly, as if not wishing for her classmates to hear her. The students shifted, restlessly, nervously. The little alarm on their sensei's desk had rung over fifteen minutes ago, signalling the end of their test, and they had each placed their pens politely on the desk, waiting for their teacher to collect their papers. Nothing happened.
Gulping, one student rose silently - collected each paper - walked slowly down to the front of the class - left the papers on neat little pile on Iruka-sensei's desk.
As she slunk back to her seat, reeling from Iruka's absolute indifference, she found herself fighting tears. The end-of-school bell rang out harshly against the silent classroom, and Iruka's students could hear the thundering steps of the other lessons being let out, children running out to play in the beautiful Konoha spring weather. Iruka's brow creased in irritation, his jaw twitched slightly, and not a single student moved to leave.
For his part, Iruka hadn't even noticed the bell, the class' nervousness, the wild fear. He hadn't heard the familiar stampede, the screeching of his colleagues as they tried to keep order in the corridors, the suppressed sniffling of the children in the front row.
Hyuuga Hanabi gathered all her courage, and tugged on Iruka's arm. He snapped out of his thoughts at her miniscule weight, not even shocked at the fierce white eyes staring coldly up at him. "Can we leave, sensei?"
Iruka became immediately aware his surroundings, blushed bright red and waved his class out of the room.
It just had to end.
And had quickly worn the younger nin down.
"This is disappointing, Kakashi. It is obvious now that you're in dire need of my training."
"I don't recall asking you for training, Jiraiya." Kakashi's feathers were distinctly ruffled. His body was a blur as it launched attack after attack on the legendary Toad Hermit, not expecting to even touch the man, just wanting to fucking well hurt something.
Kakashi was still raw from his grief, all of his pent up frustrations and worry and sheer insignificance finally finding an outlet in this shinobi before him - who had somehow felt the right to intrude upon Kakashi's seclusion.
"Your father was infinitely faster than this." Jiraiya drawled as he blocked Kakashi's attacks effortlessly. "He always knew how to make a fight interesting."
"I am not my father." Kakashi didn't even bother to hide the frustration in his voice, his teeth tightly gritted as he threw a well executed - but strategically suicidal - punch towards Jiraiya's smirking face.
The Sannin easily caught the Copy Nin's fist in one of his own, tightening his fist to mash Kakashi's fist in old hands too strong and battle worn.
"It shows." Jiraiya pushed at Kakashi's crushed hand, a light shove accompanying his debilitating words.
Kakashi was shocked at the intensity of his own reaction - even when Jiraiya had left the field, the Jounin remained, wide eyed, clutching his fractured hand.
The idea hadn't been to hit Jiraiya, but to prove a point. When fighting enemy shinobi, purely for dignity's sake, the usual courtesy was to avoid direct hits towards the groin or toes. Inter-village alliances generally extended that to toes, groin, and hair. Konoha's ninja, when fighting their own, had a definitive 'not the face' policy.
For Kakashi to aim at Jiraiya's face denied the tentative familial strength behind their every word. Now, in his absolute defeat, Kakashi realised he'd simply followed Jiraiya's lead the whole time.
"You don't normally come here, sensei." Lee keeps his voice soft, as respectful as he can, having learned from Neji that silence can be just as piercing as any battle cry. "Is it a painful day for you?"
"No! Lee!" Gai strikes a pose, hot tears streaking down his cheeks as a proud smile adorns his face. "Hatake Kakashi, my Eternal Rival since the days of our youth visits this monument every day!" He pauses, placing a large hand on Lee's shoulder, forcing him to stare at each carefully inscribed name. "He visits his beloved dead to pay his respects every day - while he is unable, I will do this for him." The affected tragedy of the man's expression wavers, turning into something more lustful, more devious; "Because I will surpass him."
Lee's eyes fill with tears at the nobility of his teacher, the humanity of the gesture. There's more to the tale than Gai will tell; he knows this from the pleasant melodrama of their conversation. Kakashi-sensei must also be noble, for Gai-sensei to find him a worthy opponent; and Lee fills justified yet again in his choosing Uchiha Sasuke to be his rival. Lee has inherited much from his gifted sensei, and knows that Sasuke has no doubt done the same.
He hopes that one day the brooding boy will see him as an equal, but he somehow dreads that same day - the day when he has nothing left to aspire to. Lee knows though, that Hard Work will win over Genius.
His teacher tells him so.
Hatake Kakashi looked, well, rough. He was masked, so she couldn't read his face - the mark of a good man was in his smile, her mother had said - and his visible eye was lazy and disrespectful. No wonder Sakura's become so outspoken! His gloved left hand had remained in the perfect position for his insistent knocking, and upon seeing the Haruno matriarch he waved a cheerful greeting - rather than a respectful 'good evening' or a bow. He was apparently not quite so blind to her appraisal of him, and pulled that left hand to scratch the back of his - tatty - head, asking to see Sakura.
"Is it so important that you need to see her this instant? She's finishing her dinner."
"Shaa..." The woman did not approve of his nervous fill. "It's no problem. Could you tell her I need a favour? To come find me when she gets a chance?"
"Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura, having heard her mother's irritated tone, had decided to come and rescue whoever was attempting to sell something at her door.
"Yo, Sakura!" His eye curled up in a grin, and the older woman bristled at his familiar tone. Sakura tried to hide her worried expression, her relief at seeing her teacher well, already dreading the excuses he would pile upon them tomorrow.
"Your sensei needs a favour, Sakura." Her mother scoffed. "What exactly was it you wanted, Hatake-san?"
Kakashi grinned at the familiar scorn. He had that way with parents. "I had an accident with an iron grip." The Jounin gingerly lifted his crushed right hand, pulling it back from Sakura at her gasp, his voice swiftly turning to a more serious tone. "I can't form the hand seals to fix it; I needed a hand straightening it out."
"Why didn't you just go to the hospital rather than interrupting my daughter's downtime? If you been training her for the last week, rather than gallivanting around -" Sakura cringed at her mother's lecture, noticing how Kakashi's eyes did not waver from her own - a challenge, then.
"I'm sorry for my recent absence, Sakura - something came up that I couldn't avoid."
Sakura was momentarily stunned by Kakashi's straightforward explanation. She didn't really want to pry, aware of her team-mates' speculation and the rumours circling the town. "Please come in, Kakashi-sensei. I don't know how to fix the bones, but I can set the hand for you, if you want?"
"Hn." He followed her through to the house's main room, ignoring the spluttering older woman as he passed. He settled cross-legged on the floor and waited as Sakura fetched a towel, a med-kit and a flat board of wood. Kakashi winced at the thought of it, this was going to suck.
"If I teach you the jutsu, will you heal it?" Sakura looked shocked again; it was a fun look for her. "I need to be able to train tomorrow."
"Ka- Kakashi-sensei. Even if you teach me the jutsu, I might not get it right first time. And with any jutsu - it can only speed up the healing process, not heal it completely!" Her voice was a panicked squeal, a comforting reminder that however much older they got, his students were still brats.
"Maa... It will heal the hand significantly if it's done right. If not...then we just re-break the hand and keep trying." He grinned at the sickened look on her face. "What? That's how I learnt it!"
"Why - Why don't you go to Tsunade-sama?"
"Use a question and I'll tell you - but it's waaay too embarrassing to admit." Kakashi's eye curled up into an exaggerated grin, and Sakura realised the trap.
He either wanted her to ask him so that she'd waste a question on something far less interesting than he made it seem - or, underneath the underneath, Sakura - that was exactly what he wanted her to think,to save him from explaining something painful. Either way, it wasn't worth risking a precious question.
She muttered some curse under her breath, cutting away the glove on his hand. If she yanked a little bit too hard at the pieces, Kakashi didn't mention it. "Alright, what first?"
"You have to get the hand into as flat a position as possible for the jutsu to take full effect." Kakashi grinned ruefully under the mask. "So first, you set it."
He placed his hand on the board of wood, palm down, closing his eyes and bracing his teeth gently on his lower lip. He didn't see when Sakura straightened each finger, digging each bone in each curled digit back into its rightful place. He managed not to scream - but his pained grunts almost made Sakura pause. Thankfully for Kakashi, her medical training kicked in and she completed bracing his hand before he'd managed to bite clean through his lip.
Breathing heavily, Kakashi surveyed her careful work. She grinned a little at his breathy hiss of pain - 'ow, ow, fucking ow' - but was knocked back again when he noticed a small flaw in the set - and moved his own thumb into a better position for the jutsu.
"Very nice. Better if you were quicker though, that hurt like-" Sakura was certain it was only the looming presence of her mother keeping Kakashi from finishing that sentence. His voice was strained though, and in spite of his nonchalance she wondered how affected he really was. Did ninja just get used to pain? "Alright. The jutsu."
Kakashi paused, regulating his breathing. Oxygen was a natural healer, and pain killer, and Sakura recognised the chakra flare in her sensei's right hand for what it was - a small medical technique to speed up the recuperation of blood vessels by forcing pure oxygen into the injury. Tsunade-sama had explained to Sakura the benefits of the technique - it required minimal waste of chakra, but it did need a quiet atmosphere, based as it was on meditation - This rendered the technique all but useless on the field. Kakashi must have really been dreading the healing ninjutsu, if he was prepared to muffle the pain of his hand in such a method.
"The hand seals are rat, ox, tiger." Kakashi watched carefully as Sakura formed the seals. "Gather chakra in the right hand - spinning it slightly so it heats - and use the left hand to push it through the bones, fusing each break. Start from as far into the body as possible, leading out to a point - meaning go from my wrist down each finger, for as long you can maintain the jutsu."
Kakashi closed his eyes as Sakura traced the crushed fingers with the jutsu. He didn't tell her to stop, and so, like a dutiful student, she ignored the obvious tension in her teacher's jaw. No matter how crazy Kakashi was, he wouldn't risk his hand for the sake of teaching Sakura a healing jutsu. He wouldn't.
"I - I think that's done, Kakashi-sensei." Her voice was weak and her smile slightly sickly until she saw his trademark grin - the half moon of his visible eye as comically distracting as ever.
"Well done, Sakura." Kakashi began to wrap the jutsu'd hand in bandages before his student slapped his hand away and began to fix the sloppy attempt. When she was done, the Copy Nin immediately rose to leave. "Thank you."
"Kakashi-sensei, before you go -" Sakura fiddled bashfully with a lock of hair, looking for all the world like an innocent child. Kakashi's inner assassin shivered in fear. "You're friends with Iruka-sensei, right?"
"Mmm." Kakashi nodded his assent.
"What are you getting him for his birthday next week?"
Kakashi's eye widened comically, and he distinctly heard a muttered Men! coming from the general direction of Sakura's mother.
Oooohhhhh fuckity, thought Kakashi, I am sooo dead.
"Shaa..." Kakashi laughed slightly nervously as his brain raced for an idea, his hand rose to scratch at his scruffy head. "I wanted to talk to you about that actually..."
Sakura's eyes narrowed significantly.
"I'm putting together a... a thing." Kakashi grasped blindly.
"What kind of thing?" Sakura's foot began a menacing tap.
"Let me get there first!" Kakashi's cheerful exclamation was met by the glare of a fuming kunoichi. "A collection, of sorts..."
"Of what?" Sakura yelled, earning a distant scold from her mother.
"Of - of -" Kakashi searched almost desperately for an idea. Any idea. It was too early in his post-angst mentality to be thinking about other people. The world should think about that before it started springing things like birthdays on him!
'What's the one thing Iruka likes most in the world?' Kakashi was grasping at straws. 'Besides being groped in his sleep.'
"Sakura, I'm going to need another favour..."
Ten minutes later, head spinning with half formed plots and plans, Kakashi made his way to a deserted rooftop - settling comfortably on the high building. A wave of melancholy made Kakashi pull his hitae-ate from his forehead, letting the Sharingan breathe a little, letting Obito see the stars.
He dangled his injured hand over the edge of his perch, letting the breeze soothe the aching limb. He waited.
"Hey." Iruka doesn't understand why he is whispering any more than he understands why he can't stop touching Kakashi's dry hair. Spreading his fingers through the short strands that moult and get everywhere; simply watching as Kakashi's lazy, mismatched eyes close even more as some unknown tension dissipates at the caress - like a puppy, maybe. "I feel like I'm always waiting for you; and here you are... just waiting."
"Asuma said that stars are like diamonds." Kakashi's voice is incredibly, achingly young, and Iruka realises why he worries. It is not, as he first thought, because of his own feelings, or the frustration of standing outside of the other man. Kakashi is like a broken vase, hurriedly glued back together, he thinks, and he's found his way close enough to the Copy Nin to notice the cracks. "Kurenai thinks they're like holes in a canopy, and Gai likes to see great fallen heroes looking down on us."
"What do you think?" Iruka is struck as much by the beautiful cadence of his friend's voice as he is by the words themselves, and he has to ask though he fears the answer.
"I think they're just stars." Iruka doesn't understand the rush of emotion at those words; Kakashi's deep rumble is empty and wistful, bittersweet, eyes closing as Iruka tugs down the soft mask, raising a brow as he sees the swollen redness of a recently bitten lip. The young Chuunin is desperate to see that thoughtful pout, as if seeing will make Iruka understand how the man could make the truth sound so beautiful. When Kakashi tells Iruka the truth, it's enough. He hopes they are strong enough for it to remain that way.
Iruka stops questioning it when the man lying beside him opens his mouth to carry on. Eyes closed, face bare, Kakashi is gorgeous bathed in starlight - 'just starlight' - pale, and luminescent.
"I think that they aren't there to be critiqued or judged or analysed. That they're just there, and that people should just stop trying to excuse them and just... just appreciate them, you know?"
Iruka can't help but grin at the petulant purse of Kakashi's lips. He sounds almost like Naruto, though much, much quieter. Iruka thinks that might have been the longest sentence Kakashi has said in his presence without making some dumb sound or break, or joke.
"Where do I start, Kakashi? How can you look at the stars and simply see them for what they are?" Iruka runs his fingers across Kakashi's brow, his cheeks, and smiles in amusement as Kakashi preens on instinct, leaning into Iruka's touch. As cliché and sentimental as it seems, he is fascinated by the look of them together, the way his hands seem so much stronger than Kakashi's pale, delicate skin. The way he knows they're not.
"You just have to stop thinking about kissing me." Kakashi's voice is husky, content. A warm purr, almost, as if anything more would take too much effort. Yet Iruka is shocked into stillness. His hands freeze and he feels caught until the other man continues. "And just kiss me."
The Sandaime Hokage once told Iruka that a good shinobi was open to the experience of the better ninja; and while he's almost certain Saratobi-sama wasn't likely to have meant this, Iruka takes his advice anyway.
The kiss is gentle, like the breeze; beautiful in the way that lips tease lips without needing, for the moment, anything more. For the first time in these strange, exciting, tense weeks, Kakashi lies back and just lets himself be kissed. Iruka is perhaps more grateful than he should be, but he's falling too fast now to keep up with himself.
Kakashi mumbles something against his mouth; some quote that seems off key, off centre, wrong words, forgotten lines but somehow, in this stupid, sentimental moment, Iruka thinks it perfect.
Chuunin and Jounin
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