Well, his lover wasn't going to disappoint. The chuunin had hastily arranged to swap duty shifts in the mission room and cancelled his Saturday morning office hours - his students could do without him for a day or two. He was thankful it was a Friday when he'd received the message - of course Kashi-kun was considerate about that, he thought. On his way home he'd stopped to pick up a bottle of Kakashi's favorite sake, nesting two fragile cups into a padded pocket on his vest. He'd bathed and shaved and packed extra food and a change of clothes for Kakashi, who was probably feeling road-weary. And he'd left his apartment before the sun was up, whistling with happiness as he skimmed across the rooftops of the Leaf village. Kakashi was probably still sleeping under a tree and a genjutsu screen somewhere along the road home, he thought, smiling at the image of the sleep-mussed silver hair and masked, dreaming face under pine boughs.
The going was easy, and the first several kilometers well known to Iruka. He let the rhythm of his rocking hips lull him as he went, settling into a kind of moving meditation. It wasn't all that often that the chuunin got to spend time alone, outside the gates of the city, running with the wind in his hair, and he was loving it. He'd waved at the gate guards as he passed, chuunin like himself, just finishing night watch and waiting for the change of shift. "He's way too fuckin' happy for this time of day," groused one to the other as he waved the grinning fool out.
The sun had climbed into the lemon-yellow clouds and begun to burn them away when Iruka came to an abrupt halt, then soundlessly slid into the undergrowth along the road. A flash of orange caught his eye. Was he being followed? It would be just like Naruto or Konohamaru to try to tail their former teacher, especially if he was taking a day off for himself, Iruka groaned at the thought. He waited in tense silence, but heard only bird song and the early autumn breeze rustling foliage on the high mountain road. After twenty minutes, he began to noiselessly prowl the nearby forest, doubling back, criss-crossing his tracks, checking for any sign of another human, but there was none.
'I'm getting paranoid, working with troublemakers and pranksters all the time,' Iruka told himself with a sigh, 'It's probably nothing.' But as he started back on his way he employed a little more caution, his senses a little heightened, his muscles a little tenser. He was still within the Fire Country's borders, and he was pretty sure it was just his imagination, but he was a ninja, after all.
ooo ooo ooo
Iruka and Kakashi both spent Saturday night under the stars, one man tired but self-satisfied, enjoying a vacation day, the other bone-weary and filthy from days of travel and an exhausting mission. Kakashi looked down at himself as he settled into a natural cup at the base of a stand of pines and groaned. His body ached, his clothes were spattered with muck and blood. 'I reek,' he thought. 'Iruka will freak if I show up looking like this; a gore-covered assassin's hardly a vision of loveliness, even to another ninja. Maybe I can clean up a little.' He picked up a bent twig and let it twirl in his grasp, channelling his chakra into it as he directed his thoughts towards finding water. When he felt the twig twitch under his thumb, he opened his eye; pushing himself to his feet with a sigh, the silver-haired ninja followed its lead through the trees.
He was soon rewarded with the sound of running water, a thin mountain stream plunging over moss-covered stones between the pines. The water was bracingly cold on his skin and in his empty stomach, which contracted sharply when he swallowed a mouthful. He'd already stripped off his vest and top, the cool evening air raising goosebumps over his bruised, naked flesh. He squatted on the bank and scrubbed at himself with a wet strip of cloth. Bracing himself on his hands, he dropped his face into the rushing water, pulled out with a gasp, glittering drops flying from his dripping silver locks. Then, stepping into the stream, he let the water swirl around his shins, trails of rusty brown flushing away the evidence of his profession. His sleepy eye watched the snow-melt wash away his sins, but his mind was turned to more practical matters. 'Can't do much about my clothes unless I want to sleep wet,' he thought, 'but at least the worst of the grime is off.' His mask rinsed and refreshed, the bandages around his ankles washed out and replaced, the jounin stretched, then stepped back into the trees.
Feeling a little less wretched, Kakashi returned to his hollow near the Eastern Tiger Road and hid himself in a simple genjutsu: a passerby would see only branches and pine needles. Dismissing the idea of trapping and cooking as too much effort for too little reward, he settled for a chalky-textured protein bar from a pocket of his vest, his canteen refilled with icy water from the stream. "Gah, do they really have to make these taste so lovely?" he wondered out loud, chewing his inelegant meal. Stomach satisfied, even if his taste buds were not, he lay down on his back, his arms crossed above his head, and gazed up through the pine branches at the silver glow of a waning moon lighting wisps of cloud in the early night sky. He made his mind deliberately blank, feeling for the chakra of the trees and wildlife around him, communing with it, embracing it. "I am a stone. I am grass. I am tied to the heart of the Earth," he meditated.
He lay long motionless in the soul-renewing trance, his visible eye staring unseeingly at the stars slowly revolving overhead. Then, with a yawn, Kakashi rolled onto his side, his back pressed against the rough bark of the tree. He flinched as his movement grated aching ribs, dragged raw, rope-burned skin through the dried, brown needles on the ground, shivering as the details of the last few days came crashing back into his consciousness. 'Get a grip, Hatake,' he chided himself, 'This mission is over. You're safe, and tomorrow, if you're lucky, you'll be with him.'
He closed his eyes and envisioned the dark-haired chuunin. His friend. His lover. Iruka was a good-looking man, fit and graceful as most ninja were, sexy and alive under his slightly reserved teacher persona. He was an imp with a wickedly dry sense of humor, and had been a real hellion before he became chuunin. Kakashi could easily see what bound the teacher to the fox-boy Naruto - they were two peas in a pod.
'Ruka-kun's damn good in bed, too,' he thought with a smirk. Wonder what his fellow academy sensei would think if they knew about the wanton, lustful side of their blushing, righteous teacher.
But it was something more that made Iruka so important, the jounin mused. The way he made Kakashi feel alive himself, alive and human and safe, even when he had just returned from doing the most inhuman of things in the name of duty; been the closest to Death. When Iruka greeted him with a crushing embrace and whispered "okaeri," Kakashi felt like a real person, like his life was really worth something. Iruka was there, laughing at Kakashi's stupid jokes, blushing at his suggestive quips, moaning into his passionate kisses. And when he woke up screaming, reliving old torture, panicked and sweating, Iruka was there to bring him back to the present, wash his face with a cool rag, rub his back like a frightened child.
It seemed unfathomable that Iruka could really be his, but he was. This good man, good to the core of his soul, somehow found it possible to love and accept Kakashi - a man who had become a ninja at the age of five, killed his first man at eight, lost his best friends, his family, his lovers - a man so bloodstained, so dangerous, that it was almost inconceivable to consider loving him. Perhaps it was because Iruka was also a shinobi that he was able to see past the mask to the real Kakashi. Bring to life the human being inside the untouchable genius, the joking slacker, the scarred killer. And because Iruka loved him, accepted him, Kakashi could begin, just a little, to forgive himself. He pictured Iruka's scarred nose, his smiling face, his warm, compassionate eyes, and with a feeling a little like redemption, he fell into an exhausted and dreamless sleep.
END Chapter 2
heno-heno scarecrow face - short for heno-heno-moheji, a face made from the hiragana characters he, no, mo, and ji, and used for scarecrows, graffiti, etc. If you've read the manga, you've seen it on the back of the shirt of one of Kakashi's nin-dogs. (Kakashi means scarecrow in Japanese.)
okaeri - welcome home
Timeframe is a few years after the current manga, so possible spoilers if you aren't there yet.
Attitude about sex (borrowed from Paxnirvana, whose explanation makes perfect sense. Read her short, "Sharing Sake") - Ninjas mostly die young, and having children can be a serious liability both to the parent and child. "Live for today, for tomorrow you will surely die," is taken very much to heart. For this reason, it is common for ninjas to have same-sex as well as het relationships, and for high-profile shinobi to conceal the existence of any offspring.
Thank you for your reviews. This is my first fanfic, so I'm looking for both constructive criticism and encouragement.
Back to team seven
Back to Chuunin and Jounin
Back to the main page