A/N: I wanted to finish this in time for Christmas as a gift to you awesome readers. Also, I bumped this up to an M rating just to be safe. It's my first time writing a real touchy feely scene, so I wasn't sure (also would love feedback on that bit, please with puppy-shaped sprinkles on top?).

Also, in case anyone was curious, the dog I was comparing Kakashi to in the first chapter was something like a small long-haired Whippet. And the puppy Iruka picked out is based off of a Shiba Inu, apparently a popular breed in Japan (according to the World Wide Web and its infinite wisdom) that's cute and fluffy and has this funny curly tail.

Now, on with the chapter.

The second time Kakashi wound up in Iruka's bed he was fully clothed and could somewhat remember how he'd gotten there and why. He couldn't say if this was an improvement or not.

It started when Kakashi was cleared for mission work sooner than he expected. Well, mission work any higher than a D or C-rank that required him to drag Naruto off of Sasuke every other second and deal with Sakura's shouting. His Genin Team had actually been on their best behavior when he got over having an extra set of legs, still overjoyed to have him back. Unsurprisingly, this had not lasted long.

But this was a simple mission and Kakashi was sent with two other Jounin he hadn't worked with before. Machio, a young man who had recently been promoted, and Ichi, a Yamanaka with the healing corps, also recently promoted to Jounin status. Both were in need of experience, thus, their teaming with Kakashi on a relatively straightforward assignment. The three of them were to retrieve a scroll stolen by a single missing nin who was suspected to still be in the area.


A cakewalk for three Leaf Jounin to tackle one missing nin.

Until it turned out that that one missing nin had five S-ranked friends just as interested in keeping the scroll to themselves. Six against three were less than cakewalk odds, even for Kakashi. With Gai or another senior Jounin, maybe it was doable, but Machio and Ichi were neither.

They retrieved the scroll but the missing nins gave chase. They'd cut the number of enemies down to three but Kakashi had sustained a deep wound to his thigh and senbon sprouted out of his shoulder like porcupine needles. He'd used the Sharingan almost past his limit and had to stop before he collapsed. Machio had a head-wound and was bleeding from too many other places as he leaned heavily on Kakashi's uninjured shoulder for support. As the healer of the group, Ichi was in the best shape, although her leg was ready to give out on her.

It was no longer a battle, but simply the three of them running for whatever cover they could find. Cover came in the form of a river the Kakashi hadn't hesitated to shove Ichi into and jump in with Machio, now unconscious, in tow. The water was fast flowing and cold enough to shock Machio back to consciousness, which was good because Kakashi only gave him time to suck in a single breath before he dived under the water's surface. A storm of sharp metal followed them curtesy of the missing-nin, but the river pulled them out of the way, downstream and to safety.

They stayed under until Kakashi's lungs burned, Machio was squirming in his grasp, and Ichi finally tugged weekly on his shoulder with the signal that she thought it was safe to surface. When they emerged onto the bank, Ichi healed what she could of Machio's head wound, enough so that he wouldn't bleed to death. She was too depleted to do much else, though, so they had to stabilize the rest of their various wounds the old fashioned way and quickly.

It was dark when Kakashi and his team finally made their way back to the gates of Konoha, and as night fell is when his memory got a little fuzzy. He remembered the gate guards and passing Machio off the one of them, Ichi limping heavily but following them to the hospital. He passed the scroll to the other gate guard with instructions to take it straight to the Hokage.

The next part was a complete mystery to him, his memory only coalescing into garbled voices and blurred faces. The two guards had gone to the hospital and the tower respectively, either thinking Machio and the scroll were in more dire need of attention or assuming Kakashi was well enough to make it to the hospital on his own.

If it was the latter, they were right. Kakashi could have made it to the hospital on his own.

Instead, Kakashi's feet, tired and stumbling as they were, decided to lead him right to Iruka's apartment.

His next clearest memory was looking down at Iruka as the Chunin slept, Kakashi having somehow not woken him as he broke into his apartment. In his right mind, Kakashi would have known how stupid and, frankly, creepy this little stunt was, but chakra/blood loss was a real, grade-A bitch like that.

As it was Kakashi all but collapse onto Iruka. He thought he was aiming for the nice, open spot right between Iruka and the wall, but ended up landing on Iruka's abdomen, effectively waking him and knocking the air out of the unsuspecting Chunin at the same time.

After that there was a lot of gasping, flailing, general panic, and Kakashi briefly saw a kunai in Iruka's hand (How did he get all the way across the room?) before the Chunin recognized who it was and what was happening. A dog was yapping frantically (and annoyingly) somewhere and there was another, younger voice, shouting over Iruka's.

Nevertheless, Kakashi forced his eyes open (When had they closed?) when Iruka rolled him over on his back, "Kakashi, what the – you're bleeding!" There was some colorful swearing after that, and Iruka turned away from him to bark over his shoulder.

Kakashi didn't catch the words as his hearing seemed to be going in and out but he was too distracted by loose brown locks swinging above him as Iruka bent over the Copy-nin. Kakashi's whole body felt pretty numb at that point and he knew he should be concerned about that, but he couldn't find it in himself to care when brown eyes turned back to him in concern.

"You idiot," he heard Iruka say, "What the hell did you come here for?" Kakashi thought he might have giggled in answer, but he wasn't sure.

Iruka just shook his head and pushed his long hair out of his face irritably. Kakashi suddenly found the strength to move his arm. Iruka was examining the wound to his leg when Kakashi reached out and ran his sticky fingers through the Chunin's hair. Iruka blinked in confusion, freezing in his ministrations for a second to look up at Kakashi, eyes wide.

Kakashi managed to run his thumb over Iruka's cheek before his arm lost it's strength and flopped back down on the bed, disappointed in himself for smearing blood on his person's face. He tried to murmur a real explanation to Iruka's question but wasn't sure he got it out.

Then Iruka looked distressed and shook his head again, turning back to Kakashi's leg and the cut there. The teacher's hand glowed green and he pressed down on the wound until it hurt. Kakashi sucked in a breath and must have blacked out again.

Soon, too quick for Kakashi to track, there were more people, more jostling, and Kakashi couldn't keep up with any of it except that when he opened his eyes again Shizune's face had replaced Iruka's above him and he wanted his person back.

Shizune's hands glowed green and then there was only darkness and the lingering scent of Iruka's sheets.

Kakashi knew immediately he had woken up in the hospital from the sterile air and stiff blankets. His brain was sluggish with any other information, though, so he focused on assessing his body, twitching fingers and toes if only to make sure they were still there. His eyes were also refusing to open.

He did not expect the movement to his left and a wonderfully familiar and sleepy voice to say, "Don't move, Kakashi. Let me get someone first." There was a light brush of fingers against his wrist and soft footsteps moving to the door.

Kakashi cracked an eye open just in time to see Iruka's ponytail slip out the door, something like relief blossoming in the Jounin's chest as he recalled parts of his return. His wrist tingled.

Kakashi mentally shook himself and managed to glance around the room, moving his head slowly despite Iruka's order not to move. He spotted a blob of orange in a far corner and blinked until it coalesced into Naruto asleep in an overstuffed chair. Miso, the little white rat, was curled up in his student's lap. Any of his annoyance was overpowered by the fact that Naruto had wanted to stay.

Iruka's footsteps were back moments later, this time followed by two other sets. Two sets wearing heels, by the sound of it.

Kakashi was just trying to remember how to move his legs and feet when the door was flung open, startling Naruto out of his slumber with small eep, and Tsunade bustled in with a scowl.

"How is it," The Hokage asked with enough vitriol to choke a horse, "That I give you one simple job and you manage to come back in this state, brat?"

Shizune and Iruka were right behind her, the latter the only one apparently worried about Kakashi's well-being and the former holding back laughter.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto shouted, but not as loudly as he could have, which meant he was being considerate. The little puff-ball in his lap, Miso, yipped with him, curly tail wagging.

Tsunade leveled a glare at the two of them that had even Naruto shrinking back a bit in his chair and saying quickly, "Uh, glad you're awake, Kakashi-sensei. I'm, uh, I've gotta – " the boys face brightened as he finally found a reason to leave the room, "I gotta tell Sasuke and Sakura you're all right! Okay, see you!" The blonde bolted, Miso wrapped in his arms, also looking grateful to have gotten out alive.

Iruka watched Naruto leave, threw one last glance a Kakashi with an apologetic smile and went after the boy. Kakashi sighed. That meant he was on his own. Not that he blamed them.

Looking a little more pleased with herself now that she didn't have so many extra bodies to deal with, Tsunade wheeled back to Kakashi with a slightly less murderous glare, "You'll give me a briefing while I check you over."

"So direct, Lady Hokage. At least buy me dinner first," Kakashi quipped, wondering what the hospital had given him to make him that suicidal. And also wondering where Iruka was when he was using lines like that.

Tsunade's eyebrow twitched, but her practiced eyes found the label on his IV drip so she didn't kill him immediately, "I'm just going to blame that on the fact that you were poisoned and the nurses gave you some serious stuff for the pain in your leg."

Kakashi breathed a sigh of relief and looked up at her again, "Poisoned?"

Shizune, at the foot of his bed, answered for Tsunade, who was concentrating on focusing her chakra and checking Kakashi over, "The senbon needles in your shoulder. It was a common poison, though, and you seem to be mostly immune. We were still worried because you got hit with multiple doses."

"And you would," Tsunade grumbled, "But you got the scroll and completed your mission. So good job, I guess. Report?"

Kakashi sighed, but reported. By the time he was done, Tsunade and Shizune had gone over him twice and Kakashi was feeling pretty twitchy from all the touching and needling, loopy drugs or not.

When he finished Tsunade nodded and asked Shizune to do the follow-up at her office.

"How's Machio and Ichi?" Kakashi asked after a beat.

"They'll recover just fine," Tsunade said promptly, "But they came straight to the hospital." Her brown eyes shot Kakashi a glare that would have made lesser men crawl under the hospital bed. Kakashi was more or less used to it.

The Godaime then turned to Kakashi with a sly smile that never failed to strike horror into ninjas everywhere. Or at least the non-drugged ones, because now that he wasn't being molested Kakashi was once again feeling pretty mellow.

That is, until Tsunade leaned a hand on the side-bar of his hospital bed and asked, "So, Iruka-sensei, huh?"

Kakashi blinked a little too slowly, shifting his legs under the blankets with a brilliant, "Uhm," as his reply.

Tsunade rolled her eyes, "Don't be such a school girl. I already heard about that little stunt you pulled in the Mission Room a while back. Why didn't you just pee a circle around his desk to mark your territory?"

Kakashi glared at her and said dully, "Put the stick down, Lady Hokage. That horse is dead," he paused and thought for a second, "Or, in this case, that dog is dead."

She held her hands up in surrender but didn't reply as the door slid open again. Kakashi looked and was incredibly pleased to see that Iruka had come back, never having left in the first place.

"Oh," the Chunin said as he saw the Hokage still in the room, "Forgive me, Hokage-sama, I was just – "

Tsunade waved the apology off with a brusque, "Get in here, Sensei, I was just finishing up." Iruka tentatively stepped through the door, respectfully staying back as Tsunade turned back to Kakashi, "You're staying here for the rest of the day only because I know that's about how long it'll take your legs to start functioning properly again and you'll run off. When that inevitably happens, I want you to at least stop by the nurses' station and get the prescription I'm leaving for you."

Tsunade paused to sigh in resignation as she then said, "I'd also suggest you stay with a friend until we know you won't drop dead any second – "

She paused again, glaring when Kakashi made a little sound of protest at that, the Copy-nin imagining Gai 'helping' to Rehabilitate his Eternal Rival and physically shuddering.

He didn't expect Iruka to speak up so quickly, though.

"He'll stay with me, Hokage-sama," the teacher said, as if it were a forgone conclusion that he was already prepared for. Tsunade turned to Iruka with a raised eyebrow and something sneaky in those brown eyes that Kakashi didn't like. Iruka continued, nonetheless, "I have a spare room. Normally, it's Naruto's when he wants to stay over, but he agreed to sleep at his own place for a while so Kakashi could have the bed."

Kakashi knew he was gaping like an idiot, but Iruka had said it so casually as if the teacher didn't understand that Kakashi would be living in his house. Or maybe Kakashi was the one reading more into it than there was . . .

Even Tsunade looked a bit surprised as she replied, "Oh, well, good for you. I'm sure if Kakashi had a tail it would be wagging," she ignored Kakashi's indignant noise, "If you kill him, just send the ashes straight to my office, I have an empty spot on my shelf that needs just the right touch."

Tsunade patted Iruka on the arm consolingly or encouragingly, Kakashi couldn't tell, as she walked passed him and out the door, shutting it behind her.

Iruka rolled his eyes and walked over to Kakashi's bedside, looking him over in a way that reminded Kakashi of Tsunade and Shizune's technical gazes, asking, "How're you feeling?"

"Dopey," Kakashi answered, shooting a heatless scowl at the IV drip, "But okay, thanks." He was going to say thank you for Iruka's offer as well, and apologize for breaking into his apartment, and probably a number of other things he couldn't remember, but the Chunin leaned in a little closer and cut him off.

"You sure?" Iruka asked, worry written in the lines of his face, "No pain?"

Kakashi paused and shook his head, "Uh, no, not really," he answered, distracted by how close Iruka's hand was to his where it rested on the bed.

Iruka smiled a little, "Good." And the next thing Kakashi knew, one of the pillows behind his head had been snatched out from under him and he was being smacked repeatedly in the face with it. He yelped, and held his one arm up in defense (belatedly noticing the other was trapped in a sling), but Iruka kept pummeling him, words punctuating each fluffy blow, "Then. What. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. You!"

At the last word Iruka slapped the pillow down into Kakashi's lap, breathing hard from his small exertion and rising anger. Kakashi slowly lowered his arm, unharmed, because Iruka chose his weapon to suit the wounded and had only put enough force behind it to vent his frustrations. Iruka stood glaring at him, scar standing out pale against the redness of his face.

"You'll have to be more specific," Kakashi muttered, letting his good arm fall when he believed Iruka's assault to be over.

"You scared me, you jerk," Iruka shot back, "Showing up in the middle of the night half-dead, bleeding everywhere. You're lucky Naruto was there to run for help so I could stay and slow the bleeding. And you scared him too, by the way. We only just got you back and then you go and pull this." Iruka smacked Kakashi's chest with the pillow once more for good measure. He then flopped gracelessly into the chair he'd apparently occupied while Kakashi was asleep, turning his face away and twisting his arms and legs together as if he could physically hold in his temper.

Kakashi decided he could read as much into that 'we' comment as he wanted later.

"I'm sorry," Kakashi said, because it was all he could think of to say when he couldn't feel his own head, "I didn't mean to scare you. I really don't know why I went to your apartment instead of – "

"Don't worry about that," Iruka said quickly, swiping a hand across his eyes, like he was tired, "You were injured and poisoned."

"Still sorry," Kakashi mumbled and Iruka's mouth trembled into something like a smile, "And thanks for the save. I hate this place."

"Well, obviously I can't trust you to take care of yourself," Iruka smiled for real and Kakashi was happy for it.

So happy, in fact, he started grinning like an idiot and then laughing a little bit, because he was about to be babysat by Iruka. And the man had volunteered for it, like it was nothing, when it possibly mean everything and it was just really funny.

So, Kakashi giggled like an idiot and Iruka watched, his own amusement (or concern) showing through, until Kakashi drunkenly chuckled himself to sleep.

Getting back to Iruka's apartment that evening was less of an ordeal than Kakashi thought it would be. Shizune simply offered to transport them there, saving Kakashi the awkwardness of leaning on Iruka the whole way back or (Kakashi shuddered) taking a wheelchair.

All the same, Iruka's spare room was a thousand times better than the stark hospital wards, despite the fact that it was decorated with mostly ramen themed memorabilia.

Kakashi had cocked an eyebrow at the ramen posters around the bed and Iruka had laughed and rubbed the back of his neck, "Yeah, like I said, it's mainly for Naruto's use."

The Chunin had one arm around Kakashi's waste and the other hand holding Kakashi's good arm around Iruka's shoulder as he supported the Copy-nin to the bed. Kakashi did his best not to lean into the contact too much even as he reveled in Iruka's warmth pressed into his side.

"At least he's consistent," Kakashi grunted as he was gently deposited onto the comforter by Iruka.

Iruka hummed in agreement, asking, "Are you hungry?" When Kakashi shook his head tiredly, Iruka just pushed on the Jounin's good shoulder until Kakashi was lying propped up on several pillows, "Then go to sleep. I'll just be in the next room, so call if you need anything."

Briefly, Kakashi entertained an Icha Icha fueled daydream about how far he could get with an open-ended request like that, but pushed it away. Instead he replied, "Don't you have classes this week?"

Iruka shrugged, placing the little bag of pills the nurses had given him on the bedside table, "I'll go in the morning to sort out a substitute," sharp brown eyes cut toward Kakashi, "You'll be okay for an hour or so by yourself?"

Kakashi adjusted his arm in that infuriating sling and eye-smiled up at the Chunin, "Of course, Sensei."

Iruka did not look convinced, "I work with Jounin all the time, you know."

Kakashi blinked, "Yes?"

"I've heard the stories, Kakashi," Iruka's eyes narrowed in a way that warned small children of dire consequences, hands on his hips, leaned forward slightly, "Of idiots who like to think they're invincible and jump out of hospital windows before – "

"Now, Sensei," Kakashi interrupted with a grin Iruka could probably see despite the mask, liking the way Iruka's mouth thinned when he was testy, "You've already rescued me from the hospital. It's like I'm home already."

Kakashi blinked when Iruka's cheeks colored lightly, and again when the Chunin's mouth twisted into a smirk as he said, "Well, you'll feel even better when I do this."

For just a second, Kakashi's brain froze, wondering what the hell that could mean with that mischievous smile on the Chunin's face. Then Iruka turned away and strode out the door, leaving it open but Kakashi was unable to see what he was doing when Iruka turned down the hall.

Kakashi heard another door open somewhere and the unmistakable yap of a large white rat pretending to be a dog. Kakashi groaned loudly. Outside the door he heard Iruka laugh and more yapping from Miso as the hellion was carried into the room.

Iruka deposited the fluff-ball on the bed and Kakashi glared, "Why?"

Iruka smiled more gently this time, but still devious at its core, "This is the perfect opportunity for you two to get along better."

"Ugh," Kakashi said, and raised the blanket so the pup couldn't crawl up to his chest and lick his face like it was trying to do.

"You love dogs," Iruka reasoned.

"Precisely," Kakashi said pointedly, poking Miso in the side as he rolled around the comforter, "And I'm not convinced that this thing is a dog."

"You tested him yourself," Iruka said and sat on the edge of the bed so Miso could crawl into his lap.

"That's not what I – "

"I know what you meant," Iruka waved a hand, waiting for Kakashi to slump back into the pillows, "But it's not like you have anything to worry about."

Kakashi paused glaring at Miso (did the mutt even properly appreciate sitting in Iruka's lap?) to ask, "Worry about?"

Then Iruka did something completely unfair. Because the Chunin knew what he was doing, but had no idea that it could easily destroy Kakashi's self-control. And if Kakashi wasn't drugged to the gills and aching in several body-parts, Iruka might have found himself in a much more horizontal position.

Iruka's chin tilted down and he looked up at Kakashi through his lashes, a coy smile playing at his mouth as he leaned forward almost demurely, laughter bubbling in his throat as he teased, "I'll always remember you were my first."

It took maybe a second too long for the words to catch up to the Copy-nin, distracted as he was by the way Iruka's lashes fluttered when he was amused, but when they did Kakashi started sputtering indignantly and Miso jumped as Iruka started cackling.

Iruka had to wipe his eyes when he was finished laughing, Kakashi glaring at him and Miso in turn.

"You and Tsunade," Kakashi grumbled, only slightly gratified when his sour face earned a few more chuckles from Iruka.

Finally, Iruka stood, "Go to sleep. Miso will keep you company. I have to grade papers and I think Naruto trained my dog to actually eat homework."

Kakashi decided he was too tired to try and keep Iruka with him any longer tonight, though he wouldn't admit it out loud. Resisting the urge to 'accidentally' knock Miso to the floor Kakashi murmured a soft, "Yeah," to Iruka's retreating back, "'Night."

A chuckled, "Good night boys," was returned and Iruka turned out the light and left the door open just a crack so he could hear if Kakashi needed him.

Kakashi smiled a little at the parental gesture and burrowed farther down into the warm sheets. There was movement at the foot of the bed as Miso circled to find a comfy place to lay.

Kakashi sat up one last time to direct a glare at the pup, Miso sensing his gaze and lifting his head to meet it. The pup's head cocked to the side curiously as Kakashi pointed a finger in its face, murmuring so Iruka wouldn't hear, "You heard him, rat. I was here first."

There was a small staring contest before Miso yipped cheerfully and wagged that ridiculous curly tail of his.

Kakashi would take that as agreement, "And don't you forget it."

Iruka woke Kakashi the next morning long enough to tell him he'd be back in about an hour to watch Kakashi take his meds with his (admittedly too large) breakfast. Iruka had looked a bit dumbfounded when Kakashi didn't finish it all, saying, "Sorry, Naruto normally eats about three plates to start off." Then Iruka was gone and Kakashi was left with Miso, who kept trying to steal leftovers from the plate in his lap. Begrudgingly, Kakashi fed the mutt a few scraps before curling up to sleep some more.

Despite popular belief, Kakashi was not opposed to passing out for a while after a particularly significant injury. Especially now that he could do it with the smell of Academy Sensei wrapped securely around him.

When Kakashi woke up next it was to Miso's yapping in the kitchen. Even if the rat was not a nin-dog, Kakashi would know the tone of that bark anywhere.


Carefully, Kakashi began the process of getting out of bed as stealthily as possible in his state (which was still pretty effective, even with the bum leg) and creeping to the door and down the hall.

Thankfully, this particular intruder had issues with being quiet.

"Hello, Tiny Pup," Gai's whisper boomed down the hall (yes, even his whisper boomed. If Kakashi didn't know the Green Beast so well he'd wonder how the man had gotten so far as a ninja), "Can you show me where might I find My Most Esteemed Rival?"

Kakashi was leaning on the doorframe heavily, watching Miso stare up at Gai, head cocked in confusion as the Taijutsu Master attempted to communicate with it.

"Not that kind of dog, Gai," Kakashi finally said when Gai started waving his hand in front of Miso's face, "And what are you doing here?"

The Green Beast startled a bit even though Kakashi thought he hadn't been that quiet, and spun to face Kakashi with a sparkling smile and a subtly assessing look, "Aha! There you are, My Most Clever and Wiley Rival! I am here to ask after your well-being, of course."

"I'm still in one piece," Kakashi mumbled and pushed off the doorframe so he could move farther into the room, specifically, the couch. He lowered himself onto the cushions carefully, throwing a glare at Gai when the other man grabbed one of Iruka's throw pillows and slipped it behind Kakashi to support his back. Gai just grinned back, Miso sniffing at his ankles.

"And you are also, once again, in the Loving Care of Your Most Beloved," Gai gushed, leaning over the back of the couch excitedly.

"I thought I told you to stop that," Kakashi grumbled, adjusting the sling on his arm, weighing the consequences of ripping it off and throwing it out.

"I am merely ecstatic to know that our brilliant plan worked," Gai replied, distracted momentarily by Miso bringing him a toy squirrel. Gai chuckled and grabbed one end to initiate a light tug-of-war with the pup.

Kakashi gave Gai a skeptical look, "All you suggested was to bond with Iruka over the dog thing. The rest was all me," The Copy-nin looked down at Miso pulling on the squirrel and growling with all his tiny might, "Kind of regretting that now."

"Yet, you would not have thought of it without my suggestion," Gai said, unruffled. He pulled the squirrel up until Miso was dangling from it by the teeth, still growling, and deposited the puppy into Kakashi's lap before letting go. Miso delightedly shook his hard-won toy from side to side and settled onto Kakashi's uninjured leg, "And look how well it worked."

Kakashi felt his eyebrow tick, but let the mutt be, "This arrangement is thanks to faulty intel and the fact that no one in this village thinks I can take care of myself. Iruka's just volunteering to help a fellow Shinobi." Kakashi hoped he didn't sound too dejected at the thought.

Gai chuckled with something approaching lechery and patted Kakashi's good shoulder conspiratorially, "Of course, Kakashi, that is absolutely the only reason."

Kakashi's eye narrowed at his 'rival' as Gai's stupid grin widened, "It's not like that," no matter how much Kakashi wished it was, "Get you head out of the gutter."

"Alas, My Rival, that is where you live," Gai replied, jumping out of the way as Kakashi swung at him with his good arm.

Iruka made his way back to his apartment, having successfully found a substitute for his classes. It was a surprisingly difficult task when one taught a class full of future Shinobi.

He had also stopped to buy food since, thanks to Naruto's last visit, Iruka's cupboards were decidedly bare. Kakashi was skinny enough without having to live on Iruka's stash of instant ramen for however long he stayed with the Chunin.

Iruka tried not to hurry, knowing Kakashi was a grown man who could take care of himself. The Copy-nin hardly needed Iruka to hover over him even if Kakashi was in recovery. Iruka still worried. He hadn't been lying when he mentioned the horror stories desk ninja exchanged about insane Jounin and their penchant for injuring themselves further because they thought they were invincible.

At those thoughts, Iruka's pace picked up again.

As he neared his apartment building, Iruka paused at a flash of movement on the roof, looking up. The green flicker solidified into the familiar shape of Gai-sensei bounding to the edge of the roof, intent on jumping to the next one. Gai also paused, though, when he spotted Iruka on the ground, stopping long enough to grin and flash the Chunin a thumbs up.

Iruka smiled back and waved, feeling a bit relieved. If Gai had visited while Iruka was away then surely Kakashi couldn't have gotten into too much trouble. Maybe. Iruka started walking again as Gai bounded away.

However, Iruka was stopped again just as he reached the stairs to his building. Someone was running up behind him, a feminine voice calling out a polite but hurried, "Umino-san?"

Iruka's foot was still on the bottom stair as he turned, jostling his bag of groceries on his hip. The young woman stopped a few paces away, smiling as she gave a quick bow, hands behind her back as she said, "I was hoping to catch you, Umino-san."

Iruka smiled back, questioning, "Oh, what for?" even as he thought he recognized the woman.

As Iruka tried to place her she hesitated, rather shyly, looking down at the ground. She was pretty, Iruka noticed distantly, definitely a member of the Yamanaka clan with her dark blonde hair pulled up into the clan's signature ponytail. She was perhaps a cousin of Ino's as she had similar blue eyes. She wore the same uniform as almost every other Jounin Iruka knew, but it almost looked as if it had been tailored to accentuate her figure instead of hanging in the typically androgynous way.

Iruka was vaguely wondering if that was somehow against regulation when the woman said quickly, "The hospital said that Kakashi-senpai was staying with you for the time being."

Ah, that's where he knew her. She was on Kakashi's most recent mission. If Iruka looked more closely he could see the bandages showing just under the collar of her uniform and the stiff way she stood on her left leg.

"He is," Iruka said, smiling a little more understandingly, "How are you and your teammate?"

She almost looked surprised that he had asked, but answered quickly, "Oh, we're both fine. They released me this morning," her eyes shifted downward again as she went on more soberly, "Machio said he would get out soon, too. Tomorrow probably."

"Well, good," Iruka replied, making it sound like that was the only course of action, that her teammate would be fine. It was the same way he spoke to less confident students: Of course you can hit the target, try again. "Kakashi-san will be glad to hear it."

She smiled at his reassurance but when he mentioned Kakashi again, her smile changed somehow as a blush colored her cheeks. Her hands were still behind her back, but Iruka got the distinct impression she was fiddling with something.

One hand came around to brush an imaginary strand of hair out of her face as she said, almost to herself, "Yes. Kakashi-senpai was very brave."

Oh, dear, Iruka suddenly thought, the blush and the smile and the fidgeting finally coming together.

"I was wondering," the woman was still talking, but to the air over Iruka's shoulder where the doors to the apartments were in sight, "If I could go see him?" She was practically craning now, as if she could discern Iruka's apartment number by sight alone.

Iruka couldn't explain what happened next, except that an odd heat filled his stomach. He couldn't place what it was or why this woman's smiling face suddenly seemed so much prettier and so much more irritating.

Iruka felt the heat in his stomach creep up to his face as the words, "No, he's resting," fell out of his mouth without the explicit consent of his brain.

At this the woman blinked and finally tore her eyes away from Iruka's apartment building and focused on Iruka himself, her smile slipping as she said, "Oh."

Giving himself a mental shake, Iruka cleared his throat to try and dislodge whatever seemed stuck there, "That is, maybe you could come back some other time. Kakashi-san was only just released and since he was poisoned and all he's been tired – "

"Oh," the woman repeated as though just realizing something obvious, "Of course he is, I should have – " she paused as her eyes flicked over Iruka's shoulder again, the shy smile coming back as she murmured, "It's just . . . I wanted to, well . . ."

Iruka watched as both her hands came out from behind her back and she held a small bouquet of flowers out to him.

"Would you give these to him for me?" She asked, the blush back in full force, "And tell him 'thank you' from Ichi?" The woman, Ichi apparently, looked so very sincere that Iruka felt a bit of that odd heat recede.

"Sure, yeah," Iruka said dumbly and took the bouquet, "I'll tell him. When he wakes up. From resting." Iruka forcefully shut his mouth.

Ichi beamed at him, "Thank you, Umino-san." She threw one last look at the apartment building and turned away, long blonde hair swinging, hips somehow swaying perfectly even though she limped slightly.

Iruka stood there for a second, until Ichi was out of sight. Then he glanced down at the bouquet sitting innocently in his hand, brightly colored and full of intention that Iruka was suddenly sure Kakashi probably got all the time.

Why had he said that? Iruka knew damn well Kakashi was wide awake if Gai had been anywhere in the vicinity, so why had Iruka said the Copy-nin was resting?

The heat in his abdomen rose to his face again, but for an entirely different reason.

Iruka stared down at the flowers for a moment before mumbling into empty air, "Oh, I'm in so much trouble."

Kakashi was still on the couch when he heard Iruka's lock tumble and the Chunin walked in. Miso hopped off the couch to greet Iruka at the door, yapping all the way. If nothing else the rat-dog made a decent early warning system, Kakashi supposed.

Iruka came into view with a bag of groceries in one hand and Miso in the other, his eyebrows coming together when he saw Kakashi on the couch instead of in the bed.

Kakashi smiled at Iruka's scowl, asking, "Need some help, Sensei?"

Iruka rolled his eyes and set a squirming Miso on the floor, heading to the kitchen as he called over his shoulder, "I hope you at least had help getting to the couch."

"You saw that Gai stopped by?" Kakashi didn't-really-answer, because surely Iruka noticed the Green Beast leaving. A blind and deaf person could probably pinpoint Gai at a hundred paces on a crowded street.

Iruka walked back into the room with a confirmative, "Hm," but made no more of it.

For some reason this concerned Kakashi and he looked up at the Chunin more closely, absently helping Miso struggle back onto the couch. The pup got his front end up all right, but Kakashi grabbed him by the tail to get him the rest of the way.

As Iruka walked, Kakashi noticed he was carrying two things that seemed a bit out of character for the teacher: A vase of water and a perfectly arranged bouquet of flowers.

"Didn't know you were such a fan of flora, Iruka," Kakashi commented off-handedly, shifting on the couch to watch Iruka set the vase on the coffee table and arrange the flowers in it.

"I'm not," Iruka said mildly, but something in the set of his shoulders seemed off to Kakashi, "You had a visitor. Ichi, from your mission?" Iruka asked it as if it had been ages ago instead of just days, like Kakashi would have forgotten it already.

"Ah, the Yamanaka," Kakashi nodded.

Somehow, Iruka seemed to fidget and close himself off at the same time. Iruka's normally expressive face was as shuttered as Kakashi had ever seen it. It was disturbing.

Nevertheless, Iruka's voice was perfectly pleasant as he meticulously handled the bouquet until it sat evenly in the vase, "She wanted to come up, but I thought you might still be asleep. I'm sure she isn't far if you wanted to talk to her." It was like Iruka was trying hard not to look in Kakashi's direction even as the teacher's mouth ticked into something like a teasing smile, "I think you have an admirer, Kakashi."

Kakashi felt his eyebrow arch up at that. And then felt his mouth stretch into a smile that was well hidden by the mask. Well, my my, Sensei . . . could it be?

"Do I, now?" Kakashi asked levelly, keeping his growing excitement from his voice.

"Mm-hm," Iruka nodded, eyes still trained on the flowers, "She seemed to think you very . . . brave."

Kakashi shrugged, but stopped as it pulled at his shoulder. His smile remained in place, though, "The senbon I took to the shoulder were meant for Ichi-san. She was engaged with another opponent and wouldn't have reacted in time." He said it as though it was an everyday occurrence. Which it might as well have been, given Kakashi's track record.

"Oh," Iruka said, chancing a look up at Kakashi with a small, encouraging smile that contrasted greatly with the rest of his closed off face, "Well, it was very sweet of her to bring you flowers," Iruka was looking back at the bouquet now, "And she's pretty. From a good family."

"Are you already writing our wedding vows, Sensei?" Kakashi teased, smile widening as Iruka's head shot up.

"No!" Iruka said as if he'd offended the Hatake, eyes widening, "I was just – "

Kakashi took mercy on the Chunin and chuckled, "Maa, Iruka, I'm only joking," Iruka blinked at him owlishly and Kakashi wondered for a moment how much thought the poor man had actually put into a silly flower arrangement, "Ichi-san just has a case of hero worship. Not the first time it's happened. Honestly, it happens with a lot of Jounin teaching new recruits," It was something that had irked Kakashi in the past, but was now a funny side-note to his job for the most part, "But I'm flattered you're so interested in my love life."

Something in Iruka's demeanor relaxed a fraction and his smile became a bit more genuine as he ignored the last bit and asked, "Not the first time, huh?"

"Hm,"Kakashi hummed and reached for his book, pulling it out from under Miso, who had decided Icha Icha made a good cushion, "They usually get over it once they realize I'm just as much of an ass as people say."

Iruka barked a laugh at that and he finally seemed to let go of his tension, "Ichi-san will be so disappointed." The almost relieved smile on Iruka's face made Kakashi want to gather the Chunin into a hug and cuddle him until Iruka was assured that Kakashi had no interest in anyone but mouthy Chunin teachers wearing practical pony-tails and sporting oddly flattering scars across the nose.

But as that might scare the living hell out of Iruka and he couldn't easily get off the couch by himself, Kakashi settled with saying, "Maa, Ichi-san is a fine kunoichi. She'll bounce back. Besides," the Copy-nin paused to open his book to the marked page, "She's not really my type."

"Oh?" Iruka tilted his head curiously as Kakashi trained his eyes on the pages in front of him. Kakashi hummed again but did not answer immediately, listening as Iruka slowly wandered back to the kitchen where his groceries lay, the Chunin intent on seeming nonchalant.

Kakashi still didn't glance up from his book as he said, "Don't get me wrong, she's pretty enough," he peaked over the book at Iruka as the teacher opened the door to the kitchen but looked back down after a second, "But I prefer brunettes."

Kakashi smiled to himself as Iruka quickly ducked through the kitchen door.

If lunch was a little burnt, Kakashi did not comment on it.

It was probably too much for Iruka to expect Kakashi to behave himself during his recovery just because the Copy-nin was in Iruka's apartment instead of the hospital.

Nevertheless, when he woke up the next morning and went into the guest bedroom to check on his injured ward, Iruka had to pause. And then count to ten silently. He got to twenty before he could open his eyes again. When he did, nine dogs and one Copy-nin all looked at him with varying expressions of guilt. Except Miso, hanging from Bull's mouth by the scruff of his neck, the white pup yapping happily at Iruka's entrance.

"Kakashi," Iruka said slowly, eyes taking in each of the eight nin-dogs Kakashi had apparently summoned, wondering why they were all surrounding Miso like it was some weird initiation. Or inspection, Iruka couldn't tell. It was too early for this. At least Kakashi was still in bed.

Kakashi's one visible eye widened innocently, "It's not what it looks like."

"It looks like," Iruka growled, stepping into the room more fully, "You summoned eight nin-dogs – "

"I only summoned Pakkun," Kakashi defended.

"While your chakra is still depleted – "

"Pakkun went and got the rest of the pack, hardly a drain – "

"Because you wanted to further harass my dog?" Iruka asked, voice rising.

"As I've mentioned before, I don't think it's actually a dog," Kakashi said, throwing a suspicious glance at Miso still squirming in Bull's jaws. Bull just sat there calmly, eyes crossed a bit as he looked down at his cargo.

"It looks plenty like a dog to me," Bisuke whispered to Shiba. Iruka had met the nin-kin before and could remember their names well enough. Shiba just shrugged as best a dog can shrug.

"I can't believe you dragged us out of bed for this," Pakkun grumbled from on top of Bull's head.

Kakashi glared at all of them, "Whose side are you all on?"

"Boss," the one Iruka thought was Urushi spoke up, "If it looks, walks, and smells like a dog. Chances are, it's just a dog."

"And a cute one at that," Uhei cooed with a sneaky look at Kakashi.

"Traitors, all of you," Kakashi grumbled.

"I'm going to make breakfast," Iruka spoke over them and turned to leave. He was almost out the door when he thought better of it and walked back to the group, stopping in front of Bull. With a pointed look, Iruka held out his hand to the large dog expectantly.

Bull hesitated, looking beyond Iruka to Kakashi. The Copy-nin shrugged and nodded. Bull gave the doggy version of a chuckle and deposited Miso in Iruka's waiting hands. Iruka nodded to Bull and walked out, pointing at Kakashi on the way, "No more summoning."

Iruka was certain Kakashi was pouting behind that mask of his as he slouched further into the bed. The dogs snickered quietly.

When Iruka shut the door behind him, he looked down at the pup in his arms, Miso wagging his tail cheerfully, "I think you just got initiated into a pack of nin-dogs, but I'm not sure I support such a life choice yet." Miso yapped and licked Iruka's face.

Iruka laughed and carried the pup to the kitchen where he set Miso down into the dog bed. Miso had never had nearly as much trouble with the dog bed as Kakashi/Silver had. Miso gnawed on one of his chew toys as Iruka started on breakfast.

When Iruka closed the refrigerator door and turned back to the kitchen table he jumped, nearly dropping the eggs, with a strangled, "Gah-ah!"

Pakkun sat on the kitchen table, watching Iruka lazily. The other dogs were nowhere in sight.

"The others are keeping Kakashi busy," Pakkun said as if reading Iruka's mind, "I needed to talk to you on behalf of the pack. Alone."

Iruka blinked, "Okay, uhm, what is it?"

Pakkun stood and took a couple steps closer to Iruka without walking right off the table, "First of all, we wanted to say thanks. It was pretty decent of you to take care of the Boss while he was out of commission, so to speak."

Realization dawned and Iruka felt his face heat, "Like I told Kakashi-san, it was no problem." He chose to skip the part where Iruka hadn't even realized it was Kakashi and not just an injured stray he'd taken in.

"Well, the thanks still stands," Pakkun said with finality, sitting again to scratch an ear with his back paw, "Now, I've got a question for you that's of somewhat more vital importance, Sensei."

Intrigued, Iruka stepped closer to the pug, setting his eggs down and leaning closer when Pakkun beckoned with one paw.

Pakkun threw a look at the kitchen door to make sure no one was coming, then set a paw on Iruka's arm, looking up sincerely, "Iruka-sensei, you gotta be honest with me about this."

Iruka willed his face not to redden again, "Sure, of course." Oh gods, am I that obvious . . .

Pakkun narrowed his eyes at the teacher very seriously and leaned closer, "Sensei," his voice was almost a whisper, "Do you have pictures?"

A beat passed before the question finally clicked in Iruka's brain.

Iruka couldn't help it. He laughed.

"Yes, Pakkun," Iruka chortled to a rather surprised pug, "I have plenty of pictures."

"Seems like a decent enough pup to us, Boss," Akino said, eyeing Kakashi over his sunglasses. Kakashi glowered at him, but didn't protest.

"Yeah," Uhei agreed, "He's still a bit small, but he loves Iruka-sensei."

"Almost as much as the Boss does," Guruko quipped suddenly from the foot of the bed, and if Kakashi wasn't hindered by his stupid leg, the whiskered mutt would have been dangling out a window.

As it was the rest of the pack just laughed.

Kakashi glared at every one of them in turn, "That's it. I'm trading you all for cat summons."

Bisuke was the first to sober, "Aw, Boss, don't be that way." Kakashi's youngest ninken hopped up onto the bed and curled into Kakashi's side, placating.

Kakashi rolled his one visible eye but smiled, mumbling, "Who taught you to cute your way out of things?" Bisuke leaned in as Kakashi scratched his back.

"Pakkun," Shiba said shortly, the other dogs nodding sagely. Kakashi shook his head and began petting each of them warmly. They hadn't gotten to see each other since before Kakashi's latest injury and he missed them. It was a bit more difficult with only one hand, but Kakashi managed. The dogs soaked up the attention until Pakkun trotted back into the room, Kakashi wondering why the little pug had left in the first place. And what was that lump under his cape.

Suspicious, Kakashi watched Pakkun clamber up onto Bull's head, asking, "What did you - ?"

"Well, Boss," Pakkun interrupted blandly, settling between Bull's ears like usual, "Iruka-sensei makes a point, we oughta be going. Don't give him too much of a hard time."

"I do not - ," Kakashi started but was cut off again when the whole pack stood, ready to go, "Hey."

"For the record, Boss," a slow, deep voice spoke up. Kakashi turned in slight surprise to see Bull, the quietest of his pack, continue, "We approve of Iruka-sensei, too."

Kakashi blinked and they were gone in a cloud of smoke. He huffed into the now empty room and flopped back onto the pillows, listening as Iruka's socked feet padded down the hall to his door. He knew the Chunin could tell Kakashi was smiling even through the mask.

A few days later saw Kakashi walking around Iruka's apartment with relative ease and no infuriating sling on his arm. Actually if it were up to Iruka-the-mother-hen Kakashi would still be wearing the sling, but Kakashi had insisted it was no longer necessary. In other words, Iruka had caught Kakashi trying to stuff the infernal thing into the sink's food disposal with a plunger and decided some battles just were not worth it.

In light of this state of recovery, Kakashi had offered to go back to his own home and get out of Iruka's hair, but the Chunin had insisted Kakashi should stay.

In fact, that whole discussion had consisted of less than five sentences, and barely that:

Kakashi: "You know, I'm well enough to go on back to my place."

Iruka: "Don't be ridiculous, you're staying at least until the end of the week. That's how long I told my substitute at the Academy."

Kakashi: "Are you sure?"

Iruka: *annoyed glare*

Kakashi: "Okay."

And so it was settled.

However, Iruka was asked to take a couple of brief shifts in the Mission Room because life went on, no matter who Kakashi was trying to 'woo' in Gai's obnoxious words. The teacher would be gone for a couple hours that afternoon which gave Kakashi the perfect opportunity to cook up a nice surprise/thank you dinner while simultaneously ignoring what a giant sap he was being. In Kakashi's completely biased opinion, Iruka was worth it.

Iruka would probably protest Kakashi's attempts to 'work' while he was still injured but Kakashi hoped a nice meal Iruka didn't have to cook would sway the teacher. Plus, cooking wasn't exactly strenuous in comparison to Kakashi's normal routine. Even if one of the burners on Iruka's stove did malfunction a bit. Kakashi made a note to help the Chunin repaint the wall behind the stove.

He was only a few minutes into his little project when he felt a presence at the kitchen window at about the same time Miso hopped up from his dog bed in the floor and began yapping in that direction. Kakashi refused to call that squeaky sound the mutt emitted 'barking'.

Nevertheless, Miso continued squeaking at the window even though Kakashi didn't turn to look. The presence was familiar and if not technically friendly, Kakashi doubted they were out to harm him. Maybe.

The window slid open and Miso shut up as a small treat was bounced off the sink under the window and arched just enough the pup could catch it. Miso succeeded, and hewed his treat as Anko slipped onto the window sill, her head and torso inside the apartment, her legs dangling outside, "Good catch, squirt." Miso yapped.

"Anko," Kakashi greeted, still not turning.

"Dumbass," Anko replied, craning to see what he was doing.

"Iruka's not home," Kakashi informed her.

"Yeah, I saw him leave," She said blandly, "Took him long enough."

Kakashi finally turned to her in confusion, "Wait, you've been waiting for Iruka to leave?" Anko nodded like Yeah, stupid, keep up, "How long have you been out there?"

Her eyes shifted up and to the side, "Since three a.m. or so."

Kakashi finally turned to her fully, "Are you and Gai members of the same club, or – "

"Oh my damn," Anko interrupted loudly, pointing at the counter behind Kakashi "You sick pervert, what are you doing?"

Kakashi glanced over his shoulder at the food he was preparing and tried to figure out what qualified as 'perverted'. None of it was even penis shaped.

He turned back to Anko, who was glaring now, saying carefully, "Cooking?"

"For who?" Anko asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Miso," Kakashi pointed down to the pup once again sitting in his dog bed, "His diet is pretty one note, I think he should branch out to rice and veggies."

Anko looked absolutely affronted, coming fully into the window and slamming it shut behind her, "I cannot believe you."

"Ah, I don't –," Kakashi started, but Anko just walked right up to him and jabbed a finger at his face.

"You really are just trying to get into Ruka's pants!" She shouted, causing Miso to look up from his dog bed, startled.

Kakashi stared at her finger cross-eyed for a second before glancing up at her face scrunched in fury. Okay, technically, yes, but it's not what you think didn't sound like a great starting argument so Kakashi decided evasive maneuvers were in order, "It's a thank you dinner. Why is everything sex with you?"

Anko scoffed, but pulled her hand back to place both hands on her hips, "Thank you dinner, my adorable ass. You always have ulterior motives, Hatake, so don't try that with me."

Kakashi sighed and rubbed his exposed temple, trying to think of something to say. Anko was like a walking migraine in a way his Genin could only dream of being.

"Okay," Kakashi started slowly, changing tact, "Even if I was – Not saying I am! Calm down – Even if I was, what's it to you? Iruka hardly needs you to chivalrously protect his virtue, he's a grown man."

Anko tsked and glanced away, mumbling so that Kakashi almost missed it, "Right, you weren't here for Satan."

Kakashi tried to ask, "What?" but was bowled over once again by Anko leaning into his personal space.

"First of all," Anko's finger was in his chest now, "and most importantly, Iruka is my best friend. That makes it my business. Especially when it concerns his incredibly inactive love life. There are reasons he hasn't dated in a while and I will consider it a personal insult if you screw with him any more than he's already been screwed with."

"Are you really giving me the overprotective-father speech right now?" Kakashi asked incredulously.

"Also," Anko's nail jabbed painfully into his sternum in answer, "Whatever your intentions may be, don't you even think of putting your pervert hands on him without his consent. I'm talking explicit, written consent."


"And notarized."

"Who the hell would notarize something like that?"

"Lastly," Anko said, withdrawing her finger, "I reserve the right to make your death look like a horrible accident if you hurt my Ruka. I know he's not some blushing virgin, but I won't see him jerked around by some overblown Jounin, got it?"

Kakashi stood there a moment, staring at her until he was sure she was finished. Then he pushed away from the counter and stood straight, forcing Anko to take a step back or have her nose plowed into his chest.

"I am not in the habit," Kakashi began carefully, staring Anko directly in the eyes, "Of explaining my motives or actions to other people, because I consider it none of their damn business," he felt his eye narrow pointedly and watched Anko's lips thin in reaction, before he allowed his glare to subside and his typical slouch to reappear, "But, out of respect for your friendship with Iruka, I'll just say this: I believe we are of the same mind concerning Iruka's 'love life' as you say. So, in that regard, I don't think you have anything to worry about."

Kakashi went back to leaning on the kitchen counter as Anko blinked in surprise. Her shoulders did not relax but her scowl lessened as she said, "Well . . . we'll just see about that, won't we?" She didn't wait for an answer, just turned, threw the window open, and hopped up onto the sink. As a parting farewell she said simply, "And Iruka hates mixed rice. Don't ask me why." And she was out the window and gone.

Iruka walked into his apartment and was greeted by a smell so heavenly he immediately wanted to put his head through a wall. Or put Kakashi's head through a wall, either one.

"Kakashi?" He called, bending down to scoop up a barking Miso, cradling his puppy to his chest. Iruka walked farther into his apartment, toward the kitchen, still speaking loud enough Kakashi could hear, "Kakashi, please tell me that's take-out I smell."

"Maa, Sensei," Kakashi's voice soothed as Iruka opened the door to the kitchen and set Miso down, "It's not a proper thank you if someone else does the work."

Iruka sighed and straightened, "But you're still –," Iruka broke off when Kakashi turned away from the stove to face the Chunin. Maskless.

Iruka's eyes widened when that completely registered and he spun away so quickly he nearly toppled over, "Oh, gods, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize . . ."

He trailed off at the sound of a deep chuckle behind him and Kakashi saying, "I'm going to develop a complex if you keep reacting like that. Or did you already forget that you've seen much more than just my face?"

". . . Oh . . . right," Iruka mumbled and knew he was blushing right up to the roots of his hair. Mostly because, yes, he had actually forgotten, "Right." How had he forgotten that?

"Iruka-sensei," Kakashi said, somehow suddenly across the kitchen and behind Iruka without the Chunin realizing he'd moved, mock-hurt lacing his voice, "I'm offended. This entire village has been clamoring to get a look at my face for years and you just forget?"

Iruka could hear the smirk in Kakashi's voice and even though he knew he was still blushing like an idiot, Iruka suddenly just needed to see it.

"Well," Iruka mused apologetically, "I was a bit . . . distracted." Was it his imagination or did Kakashi just swallow? "And I never thought I'd get the chance to refresh my memory."

Kakashi answered the question Iruka hadn't actually asked, Are you sure? "Refresh away, Iruka."

The smirk was still there when Iruka turned, nervous for some reason.

"Ah," Iruka swallowed, "Now I recall." I recall that that mask is a crime against humanity. The Sharingan was still covered by the simple eyepatch Kakashi had taken to wearing in lieu of his hitai-ate, but the rest of his face was perfectly on display. Iruka licked his suddenly dry lips.

The corners of Kakashi's mouth twitched as he said, "Good. Dinner?"

"Alright," Iruka said tearing his eyes away from Kakashi's face to sneak a quick glance at his still healing shoulder, "But I'm doing the dishes."

Kakashi's pout was ten times funnier without the mask, "I'm fine."

"Of course," Iruka said and strode over to his table where Kakashi had laid out the food. Iruka suddenly realized how hungry he was. Miso tried to hop into his lap as Iruka sat down but the teacher pointed to the dog bed in the corner, "No, Miso. Bed." It took a few tries but the pup finally trotted away and flopped into his bed.

"Don't know how he sleeps in that thing," Kakashi mumbled as he put a plate in front of Iruka, "It's lumpy as all hell."

It took a second for that to ping in Iruka's mind, distracted as he was by the curve of Kakashi's jaw as the Jounin leaned over him.

"What's wrong?" Kakashi asked suddenly and Iruka blinked, realizing he'd been giving Kakashi an odd look. And not the Oh, wow, there's your face look he knew he'd been sporting a moment ago.

"Nothing," Iruka said quickly, looking down at the food instead, "I just can't believe you can cook."

Kakashi's eyebrow twitched, but he kindly didn't call Iruka on the lie, "I am a man of many talents, Iruka. You might have heard."

"Hm," Iruka hummed and pulled the nearest dish to him, "What can't the master of a thousand jutsus do?"

Kakashi pretended to think for a moment and then said, "I don't do windows." He smiled when Iruka snorted.

The food was amazing. Seriously, it was unfair, they were both bachelors, how was Kakashi good at this sort of thing?

Kakashi shrugged when Iruka asked, saying, "I get bored."

Iruka rolled his eyes and stood, "You're the one about give someone a complex."

Kakashi reached over and grabbed Iruka's empty plate, "You think you're the only ninja in this village who can be domestic?"

Iruka snatched the plate back, "I'll have you know I take great pride in my carefully cultivated domesticity. Especially in this village," he tried for Kakashi's plate too, but the Jounin was infuriatingly quick, pulling it out of Iruka's reach.

"Part of a thank you dinner is doing the dishes afterward," Kakashi scolded, thin lips pulling into a smirk. Iruka wanted to trace it with his thumb.

Shoving down a blush at that last thought, Iruka tried for a compromise, "You could at least let me dry."

The smirk widened, "Yes, Sensei."

Kakashi should not have agreed to let Iruka help with the dishes.

Not only were they standing in close enough proximity that their arms would brush every now and then, but every time Kakashi handed a plate off to Iruka their hands had the opportunity to touch as well. Not to mention with the mask gone and Iruka standing right there, Kakashi could smell the Chunin's hair every time he turned his head.

Kakashi started scrubbing faster before he either went crazy or ripped that stupid hair-tie out of Iruka's hair and buried his nose in dark locks.

Kakashi was just contemplating if it would be overkill to use a water jutsu on a particularly stubborn piece of food stuck to a plate, when Iruka asked, "Hey, Kakashi?" his voice sounding a little odd. Kakashi paused and looked up at the teacher.

Iruka was quiet for a second before he looked Kakashi directly in the eye, "Will you be completely honest with me about something?"

"Depending on how technical you want to be, I'm always honest," Kakashi answered. When Iruka scowled, he smiled gently, "Maa, Sensei, what is it?"

Iruka hesitated a moment before replying, "You remember more from . . . before," brown eyes flicked meaningfully to Miso asleep in the dog bed, "Than you let on." It was not a question.

Uh, oh. "How do you mean?" Kakashi asked dismissively, rinsing his hands.

Iruka glanced at Miso again, shrugging, "You remember the dog bed." Kakashi smiled a little at Iruka's unsure tone, simultaneously cursing himself for the slip earlier. The smile seemed to annoy the Chunin so Iruka said more forcefully, "And you remembered that Jounin that attacked me."

"Kurenai and Asuma told me about that," Kakashi defended idly. It was half true. The other half was just too embarrassing to mention.

"Doesn't explain why you got all possessive," Iruka mumbled, but continued before Kakashi could comment, "And it's not just that." Iruka wasn't looking at him anymore, blushing and fiddling with the towel in his hand.

It was endearing enough that Kakashi's curiosity won out over his embarrassment. Besides Iruka was probably the only person in the village Kakashi wouldn't immediately threaten with bodily harm for bringing up the dog thing. Not to mention the only person with any right to ask about it. Might as well be up front.

Kakashi casually leaned on the edge of the sink and tugged the towel away from Iruka in order to dry his hands and urge the teacher to look up, asking kindly, "Then what else is there, Sensei?"

Iruka met his eyes and answered, seeming to choose his words carefully, "The night that you came back," his eyes flicked to Kakashi's shoulder, "And you were hurt. I asked you why you would be so stupid as to come here." Iruka's face softened at Kakashi's grumble of protest and went on, "Do you remember what you answered?"

Kakashi thought for a moment, but that night was almost as fractured as his dog memories. He shook his head and Iruka looked away.

"You said it was because you liked having someone to come home to," Iruka said nervously.

". . . Nice to come home to. Someone to share space with . . ."

A beat passed and Iruka fidgeted, his eyes flicking back up to Kakashi uncertainly, "Say something."

"Alright," Kakashi drawled slowly, fighting the smile tickling the corners of his mouth. He decided to take a chance and grabbed one of Iruka's belt loops, pulling until the Chunin was facing him, "I actually remember more than I let on."

Iruka was blushing and staring down at Kakashi's finger still hooked in his belt loop, "I actually didn't let Ichi-san in because I didn't want her flirting with you." He said it all in one breath.

It was all too cute for Kakashi, "So, I'm not the only possessive one?" he asked teasingly and gave into the smile. Iruka frowned and looked like he was about to protest, so Kakashi chose that moment to kiss him.

Iruka started a bit and sucked in a small breath through his nose. Unwilling to test his luck too much at such a pivotal moment, Kakashi pulled back after only a second of dry contact, looking up at wide, brown eyes, "Okay?"

Relief and something more primal washed over Kakashi as an almost disbelieving grin spread across Iruka's face and he answered, "Okay."

Then Kakashi's arms were full of Chunin as Iruka threw his arms around his neck and pulled him into another kiss. Kakashi happily obliged and wrapped one arm around Iruka's waist, the other immediately going to his hair to get rid of that useless hair-tie.

"Hey," Iruka mumbled distractedly against Kakashi's mouth as the tie was thrown across the room but any protest was cut off by Kakashi's tongue flicking out to swipe Iruka's bottom lip.

Iruka pulled him closer at that, letting his lips part to give Kakashi better access. Kakashi hummed his approval and took up the offer, simultaneously running the fingers of one hand through Iruka's loose hair, the other playing with the hem of Iruka's shirt.

One of Iruka's hands was at the back of Kakashi's neck, playing with the short hair there, trailing down his neck, dipping under his shirt collar briefly and nails grazing back up until Kakashi gave a full body shudder and an involuntary groan. Kakashi pulled back momentarily when Iruka started laughing.

"Nothing," Iruka said to Kakashi's questioning look, "I just remembered something, never mind." Then Iruka's mouth was on his again and Kakashi forgot the question.

He had just gotten up the nerve to push the teacher's shirt up and explore the small of his back when Iruka started to pull away. Kakashi held tighter, confused, "Wait, where – ?"

Iruka kissed Kakashi lightly just to shut him up and said against his lips, "We can either stay here and make-out like horny teenagers or we can go to my room and act like adults."

Iruka laughed again when Kakashi grabbed his wrist and started pulling him along behind him to the bedroom, "Iruka, you have the best ideas."

They were kissing again before they got halfway down the hall, pausing long enough for Iruka to get the door open. Kakashi had just enough presence of mind as they entered Iruka's room to grab the door handle and gently push Miso back into the hallway with his foot before he shut it.

The third time Kakashi woke up in Iruka's bed, he was naked again. But this time, Iruka was too, no one was bleeding, and they were both entirely human. Kakashi wondered what it said about his life that that was his post-coital checklist, but quickly decided it wasn't worth it.

His shoulder and leg ached a bit from overuse, but those particular marks on the checklist were so completely worth it because both were wrapped securely around a sleeping Iruka, and that made everything right with the world. Kakashi smiled sleepily into the top of his Chunin's head, breathing in the clean smell of Iruka's shampoo and reveling in the feel of the other's head pillowed on his shoulder and the arm resting over his waist.

Iruka's breathing was deep and even, the arm Kakashi had slung around him rising and falling with each breath. Iruka's hair was splayed out in a fantastic mess over the pillow and Kakashi did not resist the urge to run his fingers through it, lightly so as not to wake his Chunin.

Iruka made a little humming sound in his sleep and shifted against Kakashi, but otherwise didn't move, apparently content to snuggle into the source of warmth. Kakashi chuckled quietly and continued running his hand through the dark strands while planting a little kiss on top of Iruka's head.

At this Iruka's eyelashes fluttered, so Kakashi gave in and kissed him again on the forehead. Brown eyes opened slowly, blinking as Kakashi twisted to kiss the scar across Iruka's nose. Still not completely awake, Iruka made a little noise of protest that was cut off when Kakashi finally kissed Iruka's mouth, smiling against his lips as Iruka kissed back.

Kakashi broke off when Iruka suddenly chuckled, looking down at the Chunin with a raised eyebrow.

Iruka grinned teasingly and lifted himself up on an elbow so he could see Kakashi better, "Are you glad I didn't pull a weapon on you this time?"

Kakashi shifted also, pretending to think about it, "Mmm, I don't know, Sensei. It's not as exciting without a knife to my throat." He released his own chuckle when Iruka swatted him lightly on the chest.

"Pervert," Iruka accused, but kissed him again.

The sun was shining through the window onto the bed, warming the blankets. Kakashi wrapped his arms around Iruka and pulled him down to his chest, letting dark hair curtain his face as he kissed his way down Iruka's jaw, tracing love bites on his neck and shoulder. He could feel Iruka's laughter in his chest as Kakashi hit ticklish spots, Iruka running fingers through Kakashi's hair, down his chest, over his sides.

It was nice and peaceful and everything Kakashi forgot it could be.

Kakashi had just flipped their positions, holding himself up on his elbows, and nuzzling the sensitive spot under Iruka's ear when he remembered something.

"Hey," Kakashi asked, pulling back enough to look Iruka in the eye, "Can I ask a favor?"

Iruka blinked in surprise, still playing with the hair at the nape of Kakashi's neck distractingly (later, Kakashi would have analyze why that made him go so weak), "Sure."

"How would you feel about signing and notarized document detailing your consent to certain activities?" Kakashi asked.

The look Iruka gave him would have been a lot funnier if Kakashi wasn't so serious.

A/N: And a Happy Holidays to all.

I feel like that last bit went from zero to whoa-now-keep-it-in-your-pants in like 0.00005 seconds, but like I said, this is my first. So, feedback is greatly encouraged. Nothing that smutty happened and I'm still blushing a little, just fyi.

Also, please enjoy this doodle I did while I was supposed to be doing my actual day-job. (Remove spaces)

santana2 . deviantart art/ Kakairu-579549369

Because I have no life. (Iruka has his kid-hair because the hitai-ate looked dumb every time my amateur self tried to draw it)

Have a good one guys.