Well... What can I say? I wrote this as a challenge from a friend who didn't think I had what it took to write a lemon. And now I'm too embarrassed to leave the lemon there. But it was there. I just sort of cut it out. Anyway! This is a side story to my Embrace of Solitude story, but you don't need to read Embrace to understand this (although I wish you would and leave a review and make me want to write more, please. *desperate whining ensues*). This is just the before stuff I left out on Kakashi and Iruka's courtship as the story plot of that fic is not focused on either. Anyway, standard disclaimers! I don't own Naruto, I don't own any characters and I ain't rich. *sniff* Please read and review this story!

Warnings: Yaoi! Kakashi/Iruka pairing (just in case you couldn't tell from the upper paragraph). Um. Fluff. This story should leave you with a simple, yet happy and all around nice feeling. You may want to brush your teeth after wards.

Embrace of the Scarecrow

"Oyasumi..." Iruka purred as Kakashi's lips parted from his own for the final time that night.

Kakashi smiled underneath his already-back-in-place mask. "Oyasumi, Iruka. Until tomorrow." And with that said, Kakashi jumped away into the night.
Iruka leaned against the doorway to his apartment, watching Kakashi's retreating figure until he was far out of sight, then he sighed and closed his front door. "Maybe I'm being silly..." He mused out loud as he began picking up the dishes from the night's meal. "I'm happier than I've ever been in my life, but..." Iruka shook his head as he scrubbed the dishes a little too vigorously. "But nothing! He makes me feel things that I never thought I'd feel. The way he looks at me..." Iruka's hands paused in their duties, as he raised one soapy hand to his lips, a bright blush covering his face. "He's an amazing kisser... I just... Is it wrong to want to move to the next level?" Iruka looked around, but his empty apartment offered no answers.

Shaking his head at his own foolishness, Iruka dried and put away the last dish, then walked to the table. "Kuso! The leftovers! He's a damn good cook, too." Iruka, mentally berating himself for forgetting, began scraping the remainder of the meal into a smaller bowl and wrapped it up. "I'll just leave the rest of the dishes for tomorrow..." Suddenly feeling very weary, Iruka headed for the bathroom. "I need to soak."

Sinking down into the hot bath water, Iruka allowed his mind to wander over the only thing he seemed to be able to think about these days. "Kakashi... What were you thinking when you asked me... What? What is our relationship? You just appeared on my doorstep one day and asked to make me dinner. It was after that awful mission... I thought maybe you just wanted someone to talk to- about the kids. I didn't expect you to end the evening with that passionate kiss or the promise of the next night's meal in the air. How could I say no? How could I say anything? And now it's been the same every night for two weeks..." Sinking deep down into the bath, he allowed the water to flow over his head. He stayed that way for a long while before re-emerging. "And now... What? Every night, for the rest of our lives, he'll make me dinner and kiss me, then just jump away home? I've barely gotten a good look at his face... But what I have seen is-" A terrible thought struck Iruka as he broke from that line of thought. "Or maybe I'm just a distraction until he finds... someone else? A woman, perhaps... Someone that can give him a child?" A deep emptiness filled the man. "That would explain why we always eat here. Why I've never been to his place. Why we've never..." Iruka blushed. Even all alone it was hard to say 'made love' out loud.

He stepped out of the bath. "I have to ask Kakashi. Sitting here, thinking about what his intentions may be is stupid." Grabbing a towel, he began to efficiently wipe the water away. "And if he doesn't want anything more... I'll tell him I'm not interested..." He said this decisively, but the back of his mind nagged at him. "But if Kakashi says he's not interested... Can I really just send him away that easily?"


Iruka awake early with an anxious feeling in his heart. "Thank God it's there's no classes today... I don't think I could survive with all the kids..."

By three he was wishing for the distraction. He had already planned the next week's course schedule, reviewed his current student's progress reports and alphabetized his past student's records. "God, how am I going to last until six?" He was considering going to find Naruto and take the boy out to Raman, when there was a pounding on the door. "HAI!" Iruka called, wondering who it could be.

Opening the door, smile already in place, "Yes, can I help- Kakashi?"

"Yes, you can!" Kakashi smiled. "Are you ready?"

Iruka nearly jumped out of his shoes. "Aren't you earlier than usual? What about Team 7? Training?"

"I called everything off for the day. I thought we could go out for a change."

"O-out? Like, not just sitting in my apartment?" Iruka's face broke into an innocent smile.

Kakashi scratched his masked cheek, the small visible areas of his face showed a bright blush. "Why not?"

"But it's too early for dinner." Iruka protested weakly, as Kakashi began to push him out the door. "What are we going to do for the next three hours?"

"I'm sure we can find something. For starters a quick stop at the book store."

A 'quick' stop at the comic book store, for Kakashi's... 'indulgence' turned into a lengthy conversation between Kakashi, Iruka and the shop owner, who was apparently a long-time friend of Kakashi's. The man's name was Takashi and he was a large, well-muscled, bald man. His large smile, loud laugh and booming voice reminded Iruka a bit of his most troublesome student ever.

As the conversation wound to an end Kakashi's face turned serious. "So, do you have what I really came here for?" A glint appeared in his eye.

Takashi laughed. "Hai, Hai... You know where I keep the new shipments."

The shop owner watched Kakashi slink into the back room before turning a serious face to Iruka. "You know..."

Iruka dragged his eyes away from the doorway Kakashi disappeared through, startled by the other man's sudden serious tone. "What?"

"He's been my best customer for four years now. Every time he walks in he smiles under that mask, shoots the breeze, hell, once a month he comes over to my house for poker." He paused; making sure Iruka was taking in everything he was saying. "He's more than a pervert weekly customer to me, he's my friend. I'm not sure if I've ever seen him as happy as he is right now, with you."

A slight flush covered Iruka's cheeks. "Takashi-san..."

"I may not know much about his past, but I do know that it's really hard for Kakashi to put himself on the line with a relationship of any kind... It took me two years to just get him to finally agree to come over to my house and meet my wife." The large man raised his fist. "I guess what I'm trying to say is," Iruka stepped back from the menacing gaze, "Don't hurt him."

The sudden desire to hug the man over took Iruka, which he kept down, instead calling out, "Yes sir!" Then he blushed and looked sideways at Takashi. "Do you really think he feels... that strongly?"

The large man laughed loudly, his serious attitude falling away. "Well, he's not as obvious as you were just now, but from what I know about Kakashi... Well, why don't you ask him?"

"Ask me what?" Kakashi said, suddenly appearing back in the room, book clenched in his hand.

Iruka blushed furiously, Takashi just smiled. "Ah, you know, the kind of things I always talk about."

Kakashi smiled as he left the money for the small treasure and directed Iruka out of the shop, "Ah. Meddling."

Iruka's face turned even redder as the boisterous laugh followed them down the street. Kakashi just smiled at his companion. "I figured we could go to the park next."

Iruka blinked, blush fading. "The park?"

The masked man nodded and grabbed Iruka's hand. "Come on."

Happily shocked Iruka allowed Kakashi to drag him around the park until they reached a pond. The dark haired man immediately started watching the fish, while Kakashi placed his back against the rail and leaned back, watching Iruka's smile. "Iruka, I-"

"Kakashi! What are YOU doing here?" The man in question rolled his visible eye from Iruka to the intruding speaker. "OH! Lovely! What a vision you have with you, Kakashi."

Iruka turned his head slowly. Super bowl cut, super eyebrows, a glint in the teeth. "Kakashi-san... Someone strange just appeared..."

"I should have known, Kakashi. Taking your time away from me to find this lovely creature rather than training. No matter! Our next duel will show the superiority of my hard training! Iruka-sensei, I am surprised that you would waste your time with this riff raff."

Iruka guiltily stopped trying to creep away from the bushy eyebrowed man and placed his hand behind his head. "Gai-sensei, what a surprise." Gai took a step closer to Iruka, teeth still glinting.

Kakashi casually placed himself between the two men, in a nonchalant manner. "Well, we should be off, ne Iruka?"

For a moment Gai's face was serious, all pretense dropped, "I see, Kakashi." As the other two men started walking away Gai suddenly pointed his finger and called, "It's your laid back attitude that annoys me the most, Kakashi!"

"Hai!" Kakashi's retreating figure waved as he led Iruka out of the park. "Now for a little more privacy and something to eat." He mumbled near Iruka's ear, pressing his hand into the small of Iruka's back.

Iruka could barely breathe. Kakashi was standing so close, holding him so gently. Iruka was almost disappointed to leave the protection of the park, sure that when they were in the open Kakashi would move a discreet distance away from him. To his surprise, the older man did not. He instinctively found himself glancing around to make sure no one was watching them, but he felt Kakashi start to back away. 'It's really hard for Kakashi to put himself on the line with a relationship of any kind...' Takashi's words rang true in his head and before Kakashi could withdraw completely Iruka found himself snuggling closer to the tall man, until his back was completely pressed into him.

"I-Iruka..." Kakashi's deep voice sent tingles down Iruka's spine. A soft chuckle and Iruka was forced to turn his head towards the other man. "Don't you think it's going to be hard to walk like this?"

"I don't care..." Eyes dropping closed, he twisted his body to face Kakashi, reaching his arms up, he wrapped them around his love's neck. He could feel Kakashi's arms wrapping around his waist. "Kakashi..." Their lips were so close, and the distance was growing smaller. Resisting the urge to brush his love's facial mask away, he waited the eternity for Kakashi to do it himself. Their lips had barely brushed together when a loud grumbling noise emitted from Iruka's stomach. The two jumped apart in surprise. "Gomen, Kakashi... I didn't eat today and it..." He blushed, looking forlornly at the ground.

Wrapping his arm around the blushing brunette, Kakashi once again began leading him through the emptying streets. "Then we'll just have to feed you."

"Hai." Even though Kakashi didn't seem angry, Iruka still felt slightly... let down. Not that he blamed Kakashi, but... Mentally rebuking himself, Iruka paid no attention to his selfish thoughts as Kakashi led him through the village, into a building and up some stairs.

"Here we are." Kakashi's voice broke Iruka out of his daze. It was a small apartment, there wasn't really anything remarkable about it, it was plain and there were no pictures or pieces of art to decorate the place.

"Where is this?"

Kakashi smiled as he pulled out a dark blue apron with a dolphin on it. Iruka blushed slightly. "We're at my place. Why don't you settle down on the sofa, dinner should be done anytime no-" The sound of a buzzer going off had Kakashi running into the kitchen, dolphin oven mitt in hand.

"At least let me help set the table..." Iruka trailed off as he walked into the dinning area. The table was set, an elegant white table cloth, on top of which was laid what must be Kakashi's good china. Two crystal glasses, two candles and a small bucket holding what looked to be some sort of wine.

Kakashi walked in the room, still wearing the apron, and sat down some sort of pasta dish on the table. Pulling a chair out, Iruka could see his visible eye curve happily. "Please."

The meal was eaten quickly and quietly. Both men simply happy to be in the other's company. When the meal was done Iruka quickly jumped up and gathered the dishes. "Iruka-" The silver haired man's words were cut off by Iruka's hand on his mouth.

"No complaints. You cooked, the least I can do is clean up." That said the brunette grabbed the plates and moved into the kitchen. He worked quickly, trying to keep his mind off what might come next. There was no reason to think that Kakashi had any plans to... Iruka tried to push away the dirty thoughts that were surfacing in his head, instead placing all his focus on the washing. The dishes were washed and placed on the drying rack in no time. Iruka sighed, and then put a determined look on his face as he prepared to find Kakashi. The time was right, he needed to tell the other man how he felt.

"You get so engrossed in what your doing." Hearing Kakashi's voice so close to his ear caused Iruka to jump. Clutching at his chest, he shot a rueful glare at Kakashi, but the man continued speaking, moving closer. "I've watched you, you know... For years I watched you. When you cook, when you clean, when you're on a mission. You loose track of yourself and focus so hard on the task at hand that you forget to pay attention to what's going on around you. It's especially obvious when you're teaching. You are so cute with the children, showing each of them patiently what to do as many times as you have to, just to make sure that they all understand. You pour so much of your love and attention into those children." Kakashi was now standing only an inch away from Iruka, his hand reached up and stroked Iruka's scared face. "Can you really be happy like this?"

Iruka blinked at the man. Even though all he could see was one of his beautiful eyes, there was so much emotion there. "I'm not sure if I understand what you're asking, Kakashi." His voice came out deeper, more emotional than he had intended it.

"I love you, Iruka." Iruka sucked his breath in, but remained silent, waiting for Kakashi to explain why he left a silent 'but' hanging in the air. "I've loved you for so long... But can you really be happy with a man? If you want." Kakashi turned his gaze away, "If you want a child, an heir to carry on your family name, I can't provide that..." He trailed off, then turned a steady gaze back to Iruka, but it melted away as he saw the tears in Iruka's eyes.

"How can you ask that?" The tears poured freely down his face, he made no move to hide them, his attention was fully fixed on Kakashi. "What more could I want than what's already here?" He covered Kakashi's hand with his own. "I love you, Kakashi."

The two stood frozen like that for a while, until Iruka's tears subsided. Kakashi used his free hand to pull the mask off his face, leaning closer to Iruka, he began to kiss the tears away.


Iruka settled himself in the bath, waiting eagerly for Kakashi. He sighed softly, "I'm sore..."

"That should be a little better by morning." Kakashi suddenly said in Iruka's ear.

Iruka jumped. "Where the hell'd you come from?"

"You need to learn to pay attention to your surroundings."

Iruka blushed slightly. "I DO pay attention to my surroundings! I just was a little disoriented."

"Hum...? Disoriented?" Kakashi squeezed into the bath tub next to Iruka and smiled. "Well, the best thing for that is..." He trailed off as he pressed a gentile kiss against Iruka's shoulder.

The dolphin moaned slightly and brought his lips to Kakashi's. The shift in his seating caused a slight wince as pain rippled through his body. Kakashi smiled as he pulled away from Iruka slightly. "I don't want to cause any problems. I can wait until tomorrow."

Iruka placed a teasing look on his face. "If you think all it's gonna take is a decent dinner and some sweet talk to get me into bed tomorrow, you have another thing coming."

One thin silver eyebrow rose. "Oh? It worked tonight, didn't it? Anyway, giving you a dinner and some sweet talk was the farthest thing from my mind. Now breakfast, I could see..."

"Well, as long as you don't think the same tired old trick will work every time. Don't think you can take me for granted." He once again closed the distance between the two, sliding up for a kiss.

"I wouldn't dream of it." Came the soft reply, as their bodies pressed together. 'I wouldn't dream of it.'



Post story banter:

Psychic King: *To the readers* so. Did it totally suck? Did it totally rock? Should I give up writing because I suck and nothing could even make me write a good story and I should just die?

Sakura: Yes, you should just die. And stop writing Sasuke in relationships with Naruto.

Psychic King: But this story didn't HAVE Sasuke in a relationship with Naruto!

Sakura: *blushing* Oh. Then it was fine.

Psychic King: I'm beginning to think I need outsider's opinions.

Kakashi: *suddenly appearing* I liked it. Should have kept the lime in, though.

Iruka: *nodding fervently* I agree.

Psychic King: *muttering darkly* Perverts. *looks to readers* I need someone to tell me if they like my stories. I don't trust these people. *gestures to a lip locked Kakashi and Iruka and a determined Sakura* And while you are at it, read Embrace of Solitude. Chapter three is on its way!

Sakura: *shaking head* I don't believe you.

Psychic King: What?

Sakura: Posting this sappy story in a blatant attempt to get reviews. *grabs Psychic King's head and peers closely at her eyes* Bloodshot. I KNEW it! You're a review junkie.

Psychic King: *innocently* I don't know WHAT you're talking about! Now, if you don't mind, my dear lady! *pushes Sakura's hands away* I have more of Embrace of Solitude to write. *attempts to run away quickly*

Sakura: *grabbing Psychic King* Oh no you don't! You're coming with me to a help group! People like you shouldn't be allowed on the streets. *shaking head and muttering* It's not like you get that many reviews anyway. People like you make me sick.

Psychic King: *crying desperately to the audience* NO! Please just a few more reviews! I need em! I can handle it, really! *Sakura drags her off screen still screaming*

Kakashi: *finally coming up for air* Hum. Where'd everyone else go?

Iruka: *smiling sweetly* probably went off to give us some privacy.

Kakashi: How thoughtful. *leans down to kiss Iruka again*