Night Pursuit

by paxnirvana

Fandom: Naruto N05

Characters: Kakashi Iruka

Rating: PG-13

Date: 10/23/04

Notes: Manga continuity, if you please (for minor differences).

Disclaimer: Belongs to Masahi Kishimoto, Shueisha, and VIZ. I just make people love them more and want to buy stuff to show it.

The evening became a blur to him after meeting that steady gaze, but a few things registered dimly in Iruka's mind. There was food. There was the beaming old woman bringing sake again. And there was the unmasked face across the table, mismatched eyes watching him with cool, if discreet, expectation.

Waiting. He knew the other was waiting for something other than his frightened-rabbit stare, but he couldn't find anything to say. Not with those words still ringing inside him, so raw and unexpected and soul-shaking.

There was no one who had wanted him, his presence, enough to pursue him before. As he now realized Kakashi had been. Lingering. Meeting him in odd places. Watching him interact with Naruto. The powerful jounin who had become chuunin in childhood. The Hokage's only choice to take Naruto through this most difficult stage of training. Just as the Hokage had chosen Iruka to help Naruto become genin. And now the Hokage had warned Kakashi to be careful. With him.

The canny old bastard. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. It was just one more thing added to the confused swirl of emotion inside of him.

They finished the meal in silence, a tension like the subtlest jutsu hanging in the air between them.

The old woman bustled up to bow them out the door once they stood, finished at last; the chef waved heartily to them from behind his counter. Iruka bowed deeply to them both, feeling as if he had done them a grave injustice by being too distracted to properly taste the food served to him. Even the sake had tasted like nothing to him. Only the occasional flash of Kakashi's bi-colored gaze had registered on his senses, making his nerves tingle and tighten further each time. The old couple smiled at him happily and wished him a peaceful evening, oblivious to the apprehension he felt as he walked to the draped doorway.

Then he heard Kakashi answer the old woman's entreaty for them to return again some day with a quiet assurance that of course they would. And soon.

As if it were a given they would return together. Iruka's heart leaped in his chest again, his throat going unaccountably tight.

But when he glanced sharply back at his companion, blood pounding in his ears, Kakashi's face was an impassive blank, the red eye and scarred cheek hidden behind the shield of hitai-ate and mask once more. The single visible brow rose in silent query, but Iruka turned away without a word, stepping quickly outside.

The jounin was beside him in seconds, standing slouched with his hands already stuffed deep into his pockets.

"Walk with me?"

The restaurant was on a narrow side street, but even so it wasn't completely void of traffic. Sunset had passed already, leaving the gloaming light to slowly fade. Iruka tilted his head back and stared beyond the tops of the close-set buildings that surrounded the street. A tangle of power lines interrupted the darkening view of the cliff face behind the city carved with the profiles of past Hokage. He took a deep breath of the cooling evening air and let it out slowly. Felt his nerves settle as he did so, calm returning to him at last. This was home. His village. The place he had been born. And he was shinobi; living the life his parents had wished for him to the best of his ability. He only hoped their spirits were at peace and viewed his efforts to honor their memories with compassion. For the proud, lonely boy who needed him so very badly. And now this man...

A lightness filled him. He scarcely recognized it as hope.

Iruka glanced sideways at Kakashi, the corner of his mouth curving up slightly as he saw the other man start.

"If you catch me," he said, and leapt up the side of the building across the way in an eyeblink.

A long stretch, a hasty grab and he was over the roof and gone. The wind of his passage sounded loud in his ears, along with the laughter that came spilling from his own throat, surprising him. It had been years since he'd indulged his own prankster side. It felt good. He ran. Free-running for the sheer joy of it through the fading light across the jumbled roofs and balconies and terraces of Konoha. Aware of the steady flow of his own chakra, the sure movement of his limbs; mind focused on nothing more than the next step, the next foothold, the next jump. His destination uncertain, but his goal clear.

To run fast and far. To prove his own strength. And then to be caught, heady with the knowledge that the one pursing him wanted to catch him.

He jumped high, drew hard on his chakra and summersaulted even higher with the fluid grace of his training, a sandal barely skimming a window ledge as he pressed upwards. Speeding further into the city, racing across tiled roofs and leaping alleys. He sensed the pursuer beside him only a fraction of an instant before he saw him from the corner of his eye. Kakashi. Flowing with terrible grace and deadly ease across the unpredictable terrain. Silver hair a soft smear in the fading light that mingled easily with distant shadows. Iruka changed direction, darting away, flipped himself from one hand high into the air off a drainpipe to land, crouched, on a domed rooftop strung with the tattered remnants of festival banners.

He gathered himself to leap forward again, to continue on, but a dark shape appeared in front of him, blocking his way. Crouched low, braced forward on a single fist, the other akimbo on a thigh. From the shadows beneath the shock of pale hair, one eye glittered at him brightly.

"Not fast enough, chuunin."

To his mild chagrin, the other man wasn't even breathing hard, while he was already panting faintly for breath. But he knew this place. Recognized it from years past.

"Not cunning enough, jounin," he retorted with a smirk and dived for a false panel that he hoped was still unravaged enough by time to function properly. He hit the thin wood hard, felt it groan under his shoulder a moment before deciding to spin and spill him down a short slide into the high-ceiling attic below.

Four narrow, high-arched and unglazed windows pierced the dome at the compass points, letting in the last of the evening light and a touch of a cross breeze. As he landed, he heard a frantic burst of wings and saw several shadowy shapes dart out through the archways. Birds startled from their nests by his entrance. A pang of guilt struck, making him pause just long enough in his crouch for a hand to clench tight in the back of his vest and yank him backwards, spinning him toward a wall.

His shoulder struck sun-warped wood hard, one knee bent beneath him. He was already gathering himself to leap away when a lean form loomed above him, hands slapping sharply against the wood to either side of his shoulders to cage him in, chakra flaring bright and wild across his senses. To his shock, he had to fight back the instinct to draw a weapon, so strong was that burst of energy. He stared up at the other, faintly daunted when he caught a trailing hint of peril even as it faded from the other man's eye. Another dangerous one... like Naruto...

"Enough," Kakashi murmured, bending closer, clawing his mask down. "I'll always catch you."

"Yes," Iruka managed, breathlessness catching up to him as his chakra's aura was breached. A half-gloved hand cupped his chin, a hard thumb rubbing across his lower lip and drawing his mouth open. He smelled leather and dust and sake. Lifted his head, and strained up to meet the mouth that descended to his.

Hot and hard. Open, devouring. Mouth on mouth, wet, slick, tongues tangling immediately. He reached up and combed his fingers through the short hair on the back of Kakashi's neck to press him even closer. Urgent. Longing. Felt the hand on his chin slide down to cup his throat, thumb running along his wildly racing pulse.

His own hand clenched in the other's vest, drawing him down, sliding himself sideways until he was flat on the floor, the other crouched above him. Their mouths still meshed, breath mingled. His pulse was racing eagerly, his body tingling with life, with rare pleasure.

Somewhere outside, a street lantern flickered slowly to life, it's orange glow creeping across the arched roof above. Kakashi pulled back, his uncovered eye glittering warmly in the faint light.

"No objections then, sensei?"

Iruka laughed huskily as he met that intent gaze, mouth curving wide, hand pressing down on the other man's neck to bring his lips back to his.

"Hm. Ask me later."

-- end --