Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. I don't receive money for writing this story.

Summary: Iruka seems to hate Kakashi's book. Kakashi likes Iruka; he just doesn't know how to show it. Coffee turns out to be the solution.

Warnings: non-explicit shounen ai

A/N: This is a story (for a lack of a better description) that belongs to my cache of pointless plotbunnies. It's fluffy and relaxing. I think.

x

Spontaneous Combustion

x

"That man!" Iruka hissed through gritted teeth, throwing a stack of marked homework he had only just saved from a mud bath onto his desk.

"What did I do now?" Kakashi inquired from the corner of the mission room where he stood – almost inconspicuous if not for the fact that he had his nose buried in a bright orange book.

Iruka had a special orange-book-detection skill honed by long years of acquaintance with the infamous Copy Ninja: this was the reason why he wasn't startled by the man's presence. Oddly enough, his familiar low-simmering annoyance with Kakashi helped calm his incandescent rage at Tsunade – eh, Tsunade-sama, of course, except at those times when she was drunk like a fish and still drinking, even though she definitely wasn't conscious enough to even taste the sake, and it was only-

He checked his watch.

-ten minutes past nine in the morning. She must have been sitting there since yesterday evening. So, no, it wasn't really Gai's fault that he had made his Dynamic Entrance into the square just as Iruka was trying to make a fast and unproblematic – so much for that hope – transition from one of his jobs to the other.

"Not you, surprisingly," he said, once Kakashi went to the trouble of looking away from his porn to quizzically squint at the chuunin.

"Ah," Kakashi announced, and went back to his reading.

Iruka sighed and sank into the chair at the Mission Desk. Technically it shouldn't have remained unmanned at any time, except that Chihiro-kun had been called away to a diplomacy-related emergency at the Wall, and Iruka couldn't just run out of his class and leave twenty shinobi hopefuls unsupervised. Chances were that a child would have been dead within minutes.

"That spotty kid asked me to keep an eye on things here," Kakashi remarked, describing Chihiro-kun unflatteringly but concisely. "To make sure no one illicitly does the paperwork on the sly or something."

Why did this man have to go and be chatty today, of all days? Iruka hid his face in his palms, and concentrated on the way the mud slowly soaked through his trousers. There was no way he would react to an eye-related comment from Kakashi. Not for an A-rank's worth of credits.

"I'll leave you to it, then," Kakashi concluded.

The thin strands hair that had escaped from Iruka's pony tail moved slightly in a displacement of air. Iruka's orange-book-detection sense reported that safe distance had been attained. Iruka took this to mean that the jounin was gone.

He should get to work.

He would, sure. Just… just five more minutes. Let him have a micro-nap. Let him have just a little time to take a breather, because as he was, he would probably bite the head off of the first shinobi to come for a mission assignment-

"Here."

There was a soft clink. The heavenly scent of coffee assaulted Iruka's nose; when he opened his eyes, there was a cup standing in front of him, with a wisp of steam steadily rising out of it toward the tall, tiled ceiling. He blinked. The vision didn't change.

This was a truly heinously insidious genjutsu.

"Coffee," Kakashi explained, watching the scene askance, as though Iruka's reaction was new and unexpected and interesting.

"Why?" Iruka asked, but his hand was already reaching out and his fingers were enveloping the cup and then bringing it up to his mouth. The coffee was hot. He scalded his tongue. It was worth it.

He still turned suspiciously to his unanticipated benefactor.

Kakashi shrugged.

A kunoichi entered then, with a team of little gennin trotting behind her like chicks, fresh out of the Academy. It was all Iruka could do to maintain a veneer of professionalism in the face of the unison 'hi, Iruka-sensei' from the gennin contingent, and the amused smile on the kunoichi's pretty face. He subtly snuck the Tora mission lower in the stack and handed over some baby-sitting.

"Thank you, sensei," said the woman, well-aware of what he had done and why. She was a jounin, after all.

Iruka watched them go, and decided that he wouldn't let a bit of mud mess up his entire day. He surveyed the available scrolls for A-ranks. "Is there anything you would prefer, Kakashi-san?" he asked. He would have been shocked if the jounin hadn't gone through the entire box in those few minutes he had been left here unsupervised; letting him pick what he liked was the least Iruka could do in thanks for the coffee.

"Interesting," Kakashi said. Within a single instance he was standing close, hip pressed to the edge of the desk, and leaning yet closer, once again giving the impression that Iruka was some new, so-far undiscovered species of insect. "I was under the impression that you hated me, sensei."

"I don't hate you, Kakashi-san." Iruka was glad for the training he received from teaching school-children, because it now allowed him to stamp down on his exasperation and not roll his eyes.

"But you do hate my books." The orange book was presently not visible, but it as good as pulsed within the shinobi's belt pouch. "With passion," the jounin added, with an infinitesimal suggestion of a double-entendre (please, note Iruka's sarcasm here).

"Eh," Iruka waved his free hand dismissively, minding the woefully miniscule rest of the drink he still had left, "they are far, far from the worst of their genre…" He let the statement hang in the air for a bit, just so that all its implications would have the time to run through the jounin's mind, and then added: "I hate that you read them around children."

Kakashi straightened. He tried very hard to not look stumped as he pointed out: "But you are angry with me every time I see you."

Do not roll your eyes, Iruka told himself. Do not. "I work with children, Kakashi-san. I am usually surrounded by them. You hardly ever see me without a child being around."

"Then how about we changed that?" Kakashi suggested, cocking his hip a little, and managed to make it look almost cute rather than lewd. That was some talent.

Iruka would say the guy was lucky he was pretty, but it was anyone's guess if he actually was hideous under that mask or handsome-but-with-crippling-issues. Neither option was attractive, and Kakashi's personality didn't help.

The guy was lucky Iruka had been apparently dropped on his head too much, and ended up liking him despite the very, very many reasons there were not to like him. On the other hand, there were probably two people in the world who would bring Iruka coffee without being bidden.

More shinobi came in then, and Iruka lowered his voice, for all the good it did him, to dryly quip: "Was that you asking me out?"

Kakashi, like the perfect straight man of the comedy duo, replied: "Yes, Iruka-san," with a straight face. Well, a straight mask.

Iruka hummed thoughtfully and tapped his chin with his finger. He hoped to see a twitch, or maybe a droplet of sweat, but Kakashi was a top jounin for a reason, and eventually Iruka satisfied himself with the educated guess that, on the inside, the man was a tiny bit anxious.

"Pick me up at seven. Do not take me to the Memorial Stone." He handed Kakashi a mission scroll (with a mission that would see him safely back in the village some time in the mid-afternoon) and turned to the team waiting in line behind him before the man could formulate a response.

x

Iruka was genuinely curious about whether Kakashi would be on time. He planned for both alternatives. Actually, he planned for seven alternatives: Kakashi showing up early just to be contrary; Kakashi showing up on time as a gesture; Kakashi showing up a little late pro forma; Kakashi showing up very late true to character; Kakashi not showing up at all because he changed his mind; Kakashi not showing up at all due to being detained by an emergency, because yes, that would be Iruka's typical luck; Iruka being called away due to an emergency, most likely an invasion from Iwa or something Naruto-related… or possibly both.

That amount of planning for contingencies seemed a little excessive for a date, so Iruka made himself stop at that point.

"What made you think I'd take you to the Memorial Stone?"

Iruka jumped, which took some acrobatics, since he was sitting in an armchair, marking essays to pass the time.

He stared wide-eyed at the intruder perched on the sofa.

Damn jounin, he thought, pumped full of adrenalin but already coming down from the scare, growing more irritated by the second. A glance at the clock determined it was ten minutes past seven, which fell somewhere in between alternatives two and three, with an added side of intentional riling… and there was a clear statement on what Kakashi found attractive about Iruka, and Iruka might have taken it as a compliment if not for the breaking-and-entering of his theoretically safe place.

"Did I startle you, Iruka-sensei?" the man asked faux-innocently.

He's just a big kid, Iruka coached himself. They always test boundaries. Stay calm but firm. Do not let them get you angry – that is what they want.

"You went to a lot of effort to startle me, Kakashi-san," Iruka replied as mildly as he could. "I would hate to disappoint you after that. Although, admittedly, flowers are usually recommended instead."

Kakashi's visible eyebrow climbed up and hid behind the hitai-ate and the mess of white hair. "Flowers would endear me to you, sensei?"

Alright, Iruka had to admit that in the context of them, flowers were a little far-fetched. "I wouldn't have minded some candied fruit."

"Noted," Kakashi said matter-of-factly, and Iruka didn't doubt it was the truth. Then he repeated: "What made you think I'd take you to the Memorial Stone?"

Iruka put the stack of essays to the side and laced his fingers together. He looked up at the jounin and found him looking back, aware of the seriousness of their conversation, despite the well-faked lightheartedness. "I may not know you personally, Kakashi-san, but I know who you are as a person. I doubt we would be here otherwise."

Kakashi scowled. "I don't need to be healed."

The rancour in his voice made Iruka wonder how many had tried that in the past. He was fairly certain that Kakashi would benefit from some healing, but that kind of process had to start from the inside and couldn't be forced. If Kakashi genuinely wanted to heal, Iruka would be there to act as his support system. Unless and until that came to pass, Iruka just wanted…

Uhm, he wanted…

Kakashi blinked. His mental regrouping could almost be watched from outside. He stepped off the sofa, came closer, and cupped the side of Iruka's neck. "We could just stay inside."

Iruka swallowed. Shinobi or not, there were some reactions he could not suppress. He felt blood rush to his cheeks and there was suddenly not enough air in his lungs.

Kakashi waited him out.

When Iruka finally spoke, his voice was strangled, and he couldn't be sure if he was telling the truth or just lying to himself: "If it's the first date, sure. If it's the only date, I'd rather not."

Kakashi nodded and pulled down his mask.

It took Iruka a long while to get around to having a good look, but eventually he found that Kakashi was, in fact, fairly handsome.

x

Two back-to-back missions and an Academy-related emergency (Konohamaru's team of hellions blew out a pipe, which flooded two stories) and an introduction to a pack of ninken later, Kakashi did get around to fulfilling his promise.

He picked Iruka up after the staff meeting on Friday in the late afternoon, took one glance at the stiff way Iruka was holding himself, and whispered straight into his ear: "If sensei would like a massage, I would be happy to serve."

Iruka felt the welling heat of blush all the way from his hairline to his chest, but he managed to shake his head, no matter how tempting the offer sounded. "Drinks first," he demanded. There were rules to this kind of thing, and if people never saw them together together in a public place, it meant that both of them were still on the market.

Iruka liked Kakashi, but he wasn't a doormat, which meant they would do this right or not at all.

Kakashi pouted, but didn't even try to argue.

He did try to take Iruka's bag; Iruka very quickly disabused him of that notion, and instead treated him to a stream of chatter about his students, because what else was a boyfriend for if not to listen to him complain? Well, yes, obviously – and he could stop blushing any time now, thanks, stupid body – but aside from that. Coffee and gossip.

"…and Konohamaru finally admitted to setting the explosive tags, but he won't tell me where he got them, even though I know he has them from Naruto. As if that was even in question!" he finished, throwing his hand wide in exasperation.

Kakashi was looking at him with a tiny smile distorting the surface of his mask.

Okay, fine. Whatever. Maybe Iruka liked him a little more than he expected. Maybe he kind of… eh, no way. Too soon.

Iruka grinned, and felt his heart constrain in a good way when Kakashi grabbed him by the hand and dragged him inside the bar at the corner of the street. It looked like a dive from the outside – and it turned out to be a dive inside, too, with an odd mix of civilian and ninja customers scattered around the counter and the mismatched tables.

"Evenin', Hatake," said the barkeep in a voice unusually gravelly for a woman, and slammed two glasses of clear liquid on top of the bar. "Who's ya squeeze?"

"My boyfriend," Kakashi replied nonchalantly, grabbed the glasses, and led the way to a table in the corner, with all the vantage points a paranoid shinobi might like to have. "There," he said as they sat down. "The official part of the evening done."

Iruka glanced over to the other, fuller side of the room. There was very little indication that exciting news had been dropped, but he knew the way rumours travelled in Konoha. He would bet that the Hokage would find out within fifteen minutes-

Alright, no. The Hokage would have found out in fifteen minutes, if she weren't currently busy trying and failing to drink herself under her office desk. Allowing for that, Iruka would guess it might take even as long as twenty minutes.

He picked up his glass, and dryly said: "Kampai."

Kakashi clinked his glass against Iruka's in an ironic way; Iruka couldn't have for the life of him described how that was done, but the infuriating man invariably managed such strange feats.

The drink was sweet and bitter at the same time and, judging by the unfamiliarity, probably a house special. Iruka wasn't sure he liked it enough to come back for more, but he didn't mind it enough to stop drinking it.

After all, there was nothing in the rules about staying for another. One drink was the condition. It would take only until he reached the bottom for him and Kakashi to be officially official in the eyes of their peers.

Kakashi leaned in, then. "Those three have stalked us all the way from the Academy. Voyeurs, do you think?"

Iruka sighed. He didn't know who Kakashi was talking about, and he hadn't noticed anyone following them, but then, he had been a little preoccupied. No students, surely? They wouldn't have been allowed into this establishment, no matter how low-class it might have been…?

"Let's give them something to see, neh, sensei?"

How was he supposed to resist that temptation? Iruka let himself be drawn closer by a strong arm, and Kakashi pulled down his mask, using him as shield from prying eyes. They kissed, both tasting bitter and sweet, and Iruka's head was already swimming with the alcohol, but now he experienced such vertigo that he felt like he needed Kakashi's arms around him, holding him tight, just to stay upright.

His blood heated up.

"Holy crap!" Naruto's voice asked from the shadow of the bar. "What just happened?"

"I think they might have spontaneously combusted," answered Shikamaru, not quite as bored as usual.

"Uhm…"

There was a while of silence during which Iruka was being kissed so intensely that it took him embarrassingly long to come up with the seals for shunshin.

Just before they both disappeared, they heard Hinata victoriously crow: "Ha! I told you Iruka-sensei had it in him!"