Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just like to take them out to play.

Iruka fidgeted as he walked, fingers twisting nervously around each other. A gloved hand slid neatly into his, squeezed once and dropped away. He blinked, fingers stilling, and took a deep breath. Just say it, he thought, before you change your mind again.

"I think I'm falling in love with you."

Kakashi didn't say anything for a few agonizing seconds, then leaned forward and brushed a quick, cloth-covered kiss to his cheek. "That sounds serious. Sure you don't want to think about it more?"

Iruka gaped. What kind of answer was that?

But before he could say anything, Kakashi's gaze flickered to the mid-day sun and he held up a hand in parting. "We'll finish this later. I need to meet the kids."

That's it, Iruka thought, as he watched Kakashi run away. You managed to scare off the love of your life. Congratulations.

He kicked the ground viciously, and then spent the next few seconds hopping around until the pain receded. Sandals really weren't made for kicking things. Unless it's someone's head, he thought darkly. Stupid perverted idiot.

He sighed and stared at the ground. Just a few hours until Kakashi tired of tormenting his students and came back to finish their conversation. And break up with me. 'We'll finish this later'? There's no way this can end well.

Iruka groaned. Why did I tell him? Everything was fine and now I've messed it up. Maybe I can say it was a joke. He grimaced at the thought. I spent days working up the nerve to say something. I'm not taking it back now. Even if he doesn't love me.

He didn't want to go home and wait for the inevitable rejection, but didn't want to socialize either so he headed towards the Academy. Maybe he'd draft a new lesson for his students. That would make him feel better and with any luck, the cold, heavy weight in his heart would leave as well.

Except that the Academy was closed.

"Sorry, Iruka, but one of the other classes had extra lessons today and they were practicing exploding notes."

Iruka eyed the smoke billowing out of gaping holes in the walls. "I can work somewhere else."


"Do you need any help?" He stepped back as the front gate burst into flames.

"No, it's under control. Only a C rank demolishing this time."

"Oh, that's lucky. So are classes cancelled tomorrow?"

He snorted. "Are classes ever cancelled? We'll just put some boards up and it'll be good as new. We can even make the kids do some of it and call it training."

Iruka laughed. "Everything's training. I don't think the parents want their kids doing slave labor when they're supposed to be learning."

"I guess," he sighed.

Iruka punched him lightly in the shoulder. "It was a good idea anyway," he said and both teachers shared an evil grin. Nothing like forcing one's students to perform menial chores to make the day pass faster.

"I'll leave you to it, then. See you tomorrow." Iruka waved.

"Hey, wait. If you're heading that way, can you drop this off at headquarters?"

"What is it?"

"Monthly damage report."

"Ah." Iruka hefted the package; it felt lighter than normal.

"Yeah. We were almost under budget, too," he said as part of the south wall caved in.

"It's still better than the Naruto Years," Iruka said.

"Don't remind me. I'm still having nightmares."

Iruka tucked the bulging packet under his arm as he walked to headquarters, glad for an excuse to visit. There was always filing and work to be done in the office. He was sure they wouldn't turn down an extra pair of hands, and mind-numbing work had a nearly meditative effect on him. He thought that was part of the reason why he hadn't gone insane from teaching yet.

The office was unusually empty as Iruka approached the front desk where a young woman sat, staring off into space. He couldn't remember her name and coughed to get her attention instead. Her eyes snapped to him and she grinned, nodding at the package he held.

"Hi, Iruka. Over budget again?"

"Yeah," he said, scratching the back of his head. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it. We'll just take it out of Naruto's pay. He's the reason for most of your property damage in the past, and since he's earning money now..." she trailed off suggestively and winked.

"You can't do that," he cried, horrified.

"Relax, relax. I was joking. Naruto's still got you wrapped around his finger, I see," she said, laughing.

"He does not," Iruka huffed. "I just worry about him. I've finally convinced him to eat vegetables. If you docked his pay, he'll go back to eating cheap ramen all the time. It's not healthy!"

She didn't seem to have anything to say to this so they lapsed into awkward silence. Iruka cleared his throat and offered, "Ah. Do you need any help today? I've got some free time." He smiled, trying not to appear desperate for something to do.

"Oh. Um, no, sorry. There's nothing to do. You're actually the first person I've seen today."

"But there's always something to do," he pressed.

"Not today there isn't. No missions to hand out, nothing to file, no reports coming in." She scowled and waved a hand at the empty to-do box sitting on the desk.

"There must be some late ones arriving." Iruka was aware that he was practically begging.

"Mm, that's what I thought, too, but no. Even Kakashi turned his in on time. Amazing, isn't it?"

"Kakashi did?"


"My Kakashi?" She grinned and Iruka slapped a hand over his eyes. I didn't just say that. He felt his face burning and comforted himself with the thought that if any more blood rushed to his head, he would black out and be free from this situation.

"I'd heard the rumors but I didn't actually believe them," she said, tapping a finger against her chin. "Guess he managed to catch you after all."

Iruka snapped out of his humiliation-induced stupor. "What? What did you say?"

"Huh? Oh, just that I need to take your name out of the betting pool now. Having inside information's cheating."

Iruka frowned in confusion. "No, not that. What did you say about Kakashi catching me?"

She looked up from the scroll she was writing on. "You know. How he was chasing you and flirting with you and dropping hints like bricks," she said, listing the points with her fingers. "Some people thought you had to be the stupidest or most naïve person ever to not notice but I guess you were just playing hard to get, hm?"

He opened his mouth to speak but it took a few tries before anything came out. "Uh, yes. Playing hard to get. Exactly," he said with a strained laugh. "I'd have to be blind to not notice something so obvious."

"Mm hm," she nodded and flipped the scroll over so he could read it. "There, all done. You'll get your money back, of course, but I need you to sign here agreeing to cancel your bet first."

Iruka scanned the paper quickly. "Wait. This is- tell me I didn't actually participate in this," he pleaded, cringing.

"Sure did. We had to get you a little drunk first, though. You really don't remember?" She unrolled the scroll; it covered the entire length of the table and spilled onto the floor. The words 'Copy Ninja Kakashi- Underneath the Mask! Hideous or Heavenly? Place Your Bets Now!' were scrawled across the top of the scroll. And beneath this, in smaller print: Contest officials not liable for loss of life or limb resulting from any attempts of unmasking. Please play responsibly.

"Your bet's right here." She pointed to a small square in the enormous grid and sure enough there was his name. Along with his guess.

He groaned and dropped his head onto the table, blindly reaching for a pen. One was pressed into his hand and he scribbled his cancellation without looking.

"Sorry, Iruka," she said, sounding concerned. "Rules are rules."

"I know. Don't worry about it. I'm not really that upset." He smiled at her and straightened up to leave.

"So your guess was wrong?" she called at his back.

"No," Iruka said, "I would've won."

He grinned, and walked out, not needing to turn around to know she was reading his guess. "I bet he's fucking gorgeous," he whispered and laughed in dismay. He'd actually been right.

He found a shady, comfortable spot under a tree and stretched out on the ground. Smiling up at the leaves, he blew out a deep breath. He was relaxed for the first time in hours. The queasy anxiety that gripped him every time he thought of Kakashi still remained, though the tension wound through his muscles was gone. And all because of that bet, he thought.

As soon as he saw it, he'd remembered. Not how the other chuunins had managed to get him to participate, but why he'd written what he had. Because Kakashi was gorgeous. Iruka hadn't known it at the time, but Kakashi really was incredibly good-looking.

But what Iruka found so attractive about the other man was, just him. Everything about Kakashi, from genius to pervert to lonely soul, was beautiful to him. The way he made Iruka feel alive with the knowledge in his very bones that this person- this maddening, wonderful person- understood him without even trying.

The familiar, tingling warmth that often accompanied thoughts of Kakashi flooded through him and he grinned foolishly. He couldn't help it; as much as he wished it weren't true, Kakashi made him happy. And not just the laughing, in-love-with-the-world happy but also the comfortable, secure happiness that he hadn't felt since his parents died.

He turned on his side and pulled haphazardly on the grass, rolling the blades between his fingers as he thought. I love him. And he doesn't feel the same. Fine. This isn't the first time it's happened. I'll get over it. So what if it feels like I can't breathe? Or that the thought of him with someone else makes me want to kill things? I can live without him. I have been for over two decades! It's not the end of the world.

"Just the end of my life," he muttered to himself and laughed a little at how melodramatic he sounded. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. This pain won't last forever no matter how much it hurts now.

He checked the sun's position and his stomach clenched into a hard knot. Almost time. He stood up and brushed himself off before heading for his apartment. If Kakashi was going to rip out his heart, Iruka would be damned before he let him do it while Iruka was scruffy and nerve-wracked.

After a shower and a change of clothes, Iruka was clean, but no less nervous. He scrubbed a hand through wet hair and wandered around the apartment, picking up stray clothes. He shoved them into a pile and decided on doing laundry to pass the time. Sorting through the mess, he found that there were more of Kakashi's clothes than his own. He pushed the clothes away and went to find something else to do.

Like hell I'm washing his clothes. Although I should get mine out of that mess. Kakashi always uses the wrong soap and my clothes smell wrong afterwards.

He went to the kitchen, saw the sink full of dishes and smiled. Minutes later, he was soaped up to the elbows and nearly distracted enough to not think about his impending heartbreak every few seconds. He collected the dishes still on the table and winced at the residue caked on them. Stupid Kakashi and his stupid habit of mashing all his leftovers together when he was finished eating. Leaving the plates to soak, he walked to the bedroom for cups he knew were on the bedside table; Kakashi liked to drink tea while reading his disgusting porn before bed.

He blushed slightly when he saw the book. He'd read it once when Kakashi was on a mission and had never told the other man. It wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. It was entertaining at least, and there were even helpful pictures to highlight the really interesting parts. But what Iruka had found especially fascinating were the little notes Kakashi wrote to himself on the margins. Little arrows pointing to the more detailed descriptions and short messages saying the most appalling things. Things like 'must try on Iruka,' 'need to buy rope for this, maybe chains,' and 'can use in Iruka fantasy #11.'

Iruka had stared, blushed and then laughed. He didn't think of himself as a prude, and really, with his troubled childhood, he wondered why people believed he was as naive as he sometimes pretended to be. He grinned, remembering. Kakashi got one hell of a surprising welcome when he had returned.

Appearances can be deceiving, as Kakashi had certainly learned that night. At this thought, Iruka frowned, still holding the cups in his hands. He dumped them in the sink and went back to the bedroom, actually paying attention to his surroundings this time. Opening the drawers and closet, he saw that almost all his clothes were mixed with Kakashi's. He paled at a sudden realization and pushed down the waist of his pants. He was wearing Kakashi's underwear.

I am not embarrassed about this, he thought, feeling heat rush to his cheeks. It's an understandable mistake; we share the same drawer. Of course I'd accidentally grab his clothes instead.

Only... what were Kakashi's things doing with his, anyway? He left the bedroom, where Kakashi's porn and more innocent belongings were laying all around waiting for his return and stood at the entrance to the living room.

There was the new table in front of the futon, sturdier and closer to the ground because Kakashi knew Iruka liked working on the floor and had complained about sore shoulders. Kakashi's plant sat on a windowsill, next to crudely shaped clay models of kunai and shuriken molded by some of the younger Academy students.

Iruka ducked into the kitchen. There were two aprons hanging on the wall. Looking through the cabinets and refrigerator, he found snacks and foods he would never eat but had bought because Kakashi liked them. And his refrigerator was fully stocked. He knew he hadn't done it; Iruka didn't like to cook.

He shut the door and wandered slowly to the bathroom, mind reeling. There was Kakashi's note wishing him a good morning, still stuck on the mirror. He left similar notes for Iruka to find everyday since he was normally gone or asleep when Iruka woke. He surveyed the room, noting the towels hanging side by side, the pair of toothbrushes on the sink, and the myriad of medicine bottles, bandages, antiseptics, and other medical supplies he rarely needed scattered on the counter.

Shaking his head, Iruka went back to the living room. He averted his eyes from the life-size poster announcing the upcoming installment of Kakashi's dirty novel series, tacked neatly to the hallway wall. Kakashi had been beaming when he brought it home and Iruka didn't have the heart to burn it. He had still taped slips of paper to cover all the naughty bits, though.

Sitting on his futon, Iruka rubbed the bridge of his nose and thought about everything he'd just seen. Bit by bit, Kakashi had infiltrated his life and Iruka hadn't even noticed. Sneaky bastard, he thought fondly. But why had he done it? So I could slowly get used to him? Because it was more convenient to leave some clothes here since he spent almost every night with me?

Because he loves you and thought you felt the same, his mind berated him. Iruka let his head fall back on the futon with a groan and thought of an ordinary night weeks past that suddenly had new significance.

He came home late from the Academy and Kakashi was cooking. Nothing unusual about that, but when Iruka went to the bathroom to wash up, Kakashi's toiletries were sitting snugly next to his own. He was too tired to pay them any mind, and had, in fact, also ignored Kakashi's clothes hanging next to his when he went to change. He dumped his clothes on the floor before shuffling, exhausted, back to the kitchen to eat.

They ate quickly; Iruka because he was starving, Kakashi out of habit, and then went to bed. Iruka assumed Kakashi's unusual silence was out of respect for his exhaustion so he didn't comment on it. Instead, he pillowed his head on the other's chest and fell asleep with Kakashi's hand smoothing through his hair.

He didn't say a single thing about Kakashi's possessions suddenly appearing, and more of them showed up throughout the week until Iruka stopped noticing them.

He took it as acceptance, Iruka thought. He thought because I didn't say anything that I didn't mind. And I don't, but I didn't see either. Kakashi wouldn't randomly move in with a casual partner. He thought we were in love.

I think I'm falling in love with you.

Iruka thought back to the silence and the look in Kakashi's eye before he had responded. He'd joked but his gaze was serious, intent. Sure you don't want to think about it more?

That wasn't Kakashi brushing him off, that was Kakashi offering him a way out. Because he believed this whole time that Iruka loved him and now Iruka was telling him differently. That Iruka wasn't even sure if he thought it really was love.

"I'm an idiot," he said and banged his head on the back of the futon with a muffled thump. Kakashi wasn't the only one fooled by appearances. This whole time and I never realized. He laughed softly. I've really messed up this time. But swift on the heels of that thought was a deliriously giddy one. He loves me. He loves me. I'm an idiot and he still loves me.

He grinned up at the ceiling, stretching languorously with a contented hum. "Oh, Kakashi, you're never getting away now." He chuckled.

A sharp knock on his door roused him from his thoughts. Opening it, he found Kakashi standing there in his familiar, comfortable slouch, hands in his pockets. He hadn't used his key.

Iruka stepped forward purposely, slid one hand to the back of Kakashi's neck, tugged his mask down with the other and kissed him deeply. Arms immediately wound around him, and Iruka smiled against Kakashi's lips. "I'm an idiot. I'm sorry," he said between kisses. "I love you," he whispered, feeling the hand in his hair tighten briefly before he pressed forward again, sealing their mouths together.

They stood there, kissing and holding each other on Iruka's doorstep where anyone could see, and Iruka didn't care at all. He pulled back a little and smiled sheepishly at Kakashi. "Sorry," he offered again.

"Finally figured it out?" Kakashi's fingers were rubbing small circles on his lower back and he arched into the touch, brushing a light kiss along the rim of an ear.

"Yeah. I'm slow that way." Iruka grinned at the tiny smile tugging at Kakashi's lips.

"Well, we can't all be geniuses," he teased and kissed Iruka to forestall retaliation.

Seeing as he'd probably broken previously unknown heights of stupidity, Iruka let him get away with it. He slid his hands down Kakashi's arms to his hands and walked backwards, pulling him into the apartment.

He lifted the gloved hand in his own and kissed the palm, tongue licking around the knuckle of a thumb. "I'll make it up to you," he murmured, locking his eyes with Kakashi's, and sucked the thumb into his mouth, tongue swirling wetly. Kakashi's visible eye widened, and he all but shoved Iruka into the apartment, slamming the door closed and pushing him up against it.

Iruka laughed, dizzy with happiness. "Am I forgiven?"

"Depends on your performance," Kakashi answered, hands busy stripping them both.

Iruka grinned mischievously and pulled Kakashi closer. "I'll let you try Iruka fantasy number eleven," he breathed against his lips.

Kakashi grinned and kissed him fiercely, leaving him breathless. "You really do love me."


Notes: First things first- Hugs and kisses and if I could, a sexual favor of your choice from Kakashi or Iruka (hell, why not both?) to my wonderful beta, Jenna. Thanks, girl. =)

And for everything else: Title refers to Iruka cause he's everything Kakashi deserves for being such a good girl, honey. Don't groan, you know you liked that song too.

Drop a review if you liked it. Thanks for reading.