Title: Picture Perfect
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. I'm just using the characters to express my mounting love for the show.
Warning: Contains shonen-ai—mildly sexual interactions between two males. There is also a character death.
A/N: The events that are taking place in italics go from past to present, so the most recent one would take place at the bottom. They're sectioned off to hopefully make for an easier read. Also... this is a deathfic... I couldn't even stop the tears from forming in my eyes as I wrote it out. I'm a sentimental fool...
Iruka looked up from his bowl of miso ramen as the stool beside him became occupied. It was well into the night—paperwork had kept him way after his usual nightly hours—and he really didn't need to see this specific Jounin.
"Anything I can help you with? the elderly owner of Ichiraku questioned his new customer.
"No. Not tonight."
Iruka pushed his empty bowl aside and fished around in his pocket for the money. He halted his actions as the masked man slid the money across the counter, and raised glaring eyes to a single, happily curved one. "Is that a bribe to stay out of your hair?" the Chuunin scoffed, nodding at the young girl to accept payment. He excused himself without waiting for an answer and stepped down from his seat.
"It's more like a peace offering," Kakashi stated, following.
Iruka thrust his hands into his pockets, trying to ignore the other as he hurried along. Smiling beneath his mask, Kakashi fell in step with the young teacher. Iruka glowered at him after he'd stopped.
The Jounin raised his hands defensively. "G'night, Iruka-sensei." He nodded his head and disappeared in a cloud of smoke, leaving the aggravated brunet to his thoughts.
The dolphin looked up from the paperwork he'd carried out onto the field with him to see Naruto running over. He laughed as the boy collided with him. "I thought you were going on a mission."
"I am!" the blonde said with a wide grin. "I mean, I'm going on it. But Kakashi-sensei told me to tell you I was leaving. Dunno why," he mumbled.
Iruka focused his gaze beyond the boy and noticed the remainder of Team 7 standing in the distance. He frowned. Associating with the Sharingan-wielding Jounin was not topping his list of things to do—it was far from his mind, unlike the embarrassment he felt he had suffered that day Naruto and the others were admitted to take the Chuunin exam.
"Come see me when you get back," Iruka told the boy with a smile, tousling his hair. "I'll treat you to ramen."
"Yay, yay, yay!"
Kakashi smiled to himself as he witnessed the display of feelings and justified the ones that had been manifesting inside of him. Even if they wouldn't be reciprocated, he recognized them. Naruto ran back over to join them, but not before offering the Chuunin another energetic wave. Kakashi kept his hands in his pockets and just hoped there would be a time where he could also wave and receive one in return with a smile. He turned away slowly and left with his students.
"That's not funny!"
Kakashi could only blink his wide eye, surprised that the young man would hit him—and in a public area. "Iruka-sensei—"
He grabbed the flailing arms and pined them to the dolphin's sides. Iruka's eyes held tumultuous rage and he wanted nothing more than to beat the man before him into a bloody pulp. To walk up to him on his day off—while he was shopping for groceries—and tell him something so absurd was not the actions of a genius, but of a...
"...idiot!" Iruka cried, freeing his arms. He pushed the Jounin aside roughly and knelt to pick up the items that could be salvaged.
"Iruka-sensei..." Kakashi sighed as the brunet's body stiffened, taking the sign to mean "leave me alone" , and turned, walking down the path provided for him as the large crowd parted.
Iruka lifted his head enough to stare after the man out of the corner of his eye. The Copy Ninja's shoulders were slouched in defeat and his steps lack their normal laziness; they were now being dragged. He sighed, standing, and admitted he had been a little harsh in his dealings. The dark-haired, dark-eyed Chuunin smiled reassuringly to the remaining townspeople that seemed concerned about him.
‡ ‡ ‡
Ready for sleep and dressed in a light gray jumpsuit, Kakashi opened his eyes at the knocking on his door. He slid his bare feet from the wall and pulled his mask back on, making his way tot he front of the house. Because there were a few ninja who are fueled by natural courage or are just plain fools, he had left his forehead protector off; driven, they would want to walk into his house to do away from him. The silver-haired shinobi opened his door and blinked in genuine surprise. "Iruka—"
"Sorry!" the flustered brunet rushed out, head bowed.
Kakashi scratched the back of his head, laughing out of incredulity.
Iruka looked up, a blush tingeing his bronze cheeks. "I realize I was out of line this afternoon, but... well... The only feasible excuse I can come up with is that you caught me at a bad time."
The Jounin shook his head, eye curved. "I deserved it; springing something like that on you so suddenly."
He glanced over his shoulder, surveying the state of his house, and sadly admitted it was a lost cause, but tried his hand regardless. "Would you... like to... come in?"
"Ah..." Iruka waved his hands, laughing nervously. "I really don't want to impose—"
"You're not imposing!"
He blinked, blush fading only to return as he noticed color on the other's pale cheeks as well. "Well... I guess I could."
Kakashi stepped aside, sweeping his arm to the side as a gesture of politeness. "After you." The Chuunin blushed deeper and the both disappeared into the house.
Iruka shook his head to try and convince himself the voice wasn't real, but Kakashi appeared beside him; the Jounin touched his clothed lips to the brunet's cheek. "Kakashi-sensei!"
The children he'd had doing laps stopped and were staring, gazes curious. "Iruka-sensei, why did—"
"Did I say you could stop?" the Chuunin teacher demanded, face crimson at being caught in such an act. "Five more laps!"
Kakashi laughed as the Academy students groaned and whined, then wrapped an arm around Iruka's shoulder. "It's been three weeks already," he sighed. "Go to bed with me."
"No." Iruka slapped his clipboard in the Jounin's face and moved closer to supervise his running students. Looking over his shoulder, he waited for the silver-haired shinobi to take his hand away from his bruised face and catch his eye; "tonight" was mouthed. Kakashi wished the other could see his broad grin.
‡ ‡ ‡
Iruka opened his eyes partially as the bed shifted and stared up into the mismatched eyes that had appeared above him. "No... No more," he groaned, rolling away.
Kakashi chuckled and placed a kiss to Iruka's collarbone, nipping the flesh gently. "I just wanted to say... I love you." Deep brown eyes widened and instantly brimmed with tears. "G'night," the scarecrow groaned as he settled back onto the bed.
"Night," Iruka sniffled, smiling.
"I'll be back in a week."
Iruka's pout remained and he glared at the ground. It wasn't a mission that had been appointed to Team 7, but one of greater importance that needed skilled Jounin. The Copy Ninja tilted his lover's face upward as he tugged down his mask, placing a gently kiss to the soft lips; he felt them relax under his own. "I'll be back," he repeated softly, replacing his mask.
Iruka sighed, then smiled. Kakashi backed away from the house and raised his hand in a wave. The Chuunin returned the gesture, smile widening, and leaned against the house as the Jounin disappeared. 'Come back to me, Kakashi.'
‡ ‡ ‡
As it had been told, the missions was finished within a week and Iruka bumped into his lover at the Academy. Kakashi had just finished reporting in and the young teacher was delivering files when they crossed paths. Iruka stared at the blood darkening the Jounin's blue bodysuit and hoped that all of it didn't belong to the older man.
"Iruka-sensei." Kakashi nodded.
"Welcome back," the Chuunin mumbled, continuing toward his destination.
Kakashi sighed deeply and turned his body to stare after the young man. He'd stop by later.
‡ ‡ ‡
"Do you think I'm your personal doctor?" the dolphin muttered, fastening the ends of the bandages he'd just wound around the scarecrow's chest.
Kakashi smiled, shrugging his shoulders. "You're more gentle," he replied.
He whimpered as a thumb pressed against his covered wound, then grabbed Iruka, flipping him over onto the bed. Kakashi blinked as the dark eyes looked away from his face. "What's wrong? I came back like I said I would."
"But, the state you were in..."
"Getting hurt is a part of any shinobi's life... so is death."
Iruka squeezed his eyes shut. "I just don't want to lose you."
"You'd still have Naruto."
He stuck two fingers inside the Jounin's nose, yanking. "Could Naruto make love to me?"
"You could try," Kakashi replied nasally. "But Sasuke would kill you. I mean... he would literally rip off all protruding parts of your body, starting first with... you-know-where."
Iruka's eyes flashed with rage and the Copy Ninja found himself sliding across the bedroom floor. Iruka tightened the sheets around himself and closed his eyes. Kakashi stood slowly, dragging himself back to the bed, and dropped down onto it. "How mean... I'm hurt..." he whined.
"Good night," the Chuunin said curtly, eyes remaining closed.
Three more weeks passed in their growing relationship, adding a total of five months they had been together, and a new mission was appointed to Hatake Kakashi. Iruka stood by and watched him unwrap the ANBU mask. He hugged himself, tightly, looking away. "Is it that serious, Kakashi?"
"Two missing-nins, both knowledgeable in forbidden jutsus. I think it is." Kakashi slowly smoothed the cloth back over the canine mask. "Two weeks, at the most, Iruka."
The brunet walked over and wrapped his arms around the man from behind. "Please... please... come back."
"Aa, alright. I promise." The Copy Ninja turned with the arms still encircling him, and returned the hug, placing a kiss to the loosed chocolate-colored locks. "Two weeks."
Iruka nodded and reluctantly let go. He held one arm across his midsection, wiping at his face with the other. Kakashi pulled up his mask and pulled down his forehead protector, visible eye curving as he smiled. A trembling smile tugged at the Chuunin's lips as he sniffled. He closed his eyes ass the Jounin walked by, shuddering as the door closed softly.
The white canine mask sparsely decorated with colored lines slowly cracked down the middle. The left side fell first, revealing the Sharingan orb, then the right side, exposing a wide dark orb filled with sorrow. A smile that told not happiness, but remorse lay on Sharingan Kakashi's face as he sank to his knees. Blood was already pooling around him.
'I'm sorry, Iruka... my promise... I didn't even get to... say... I lo...'
The dark eye lost all life, both remaining open, and the remorseful smile was still plastered on the blood-covered face.
‡ ‡ ‡
Iruka gasped as the picture fell. He had been cleaning Kakashi's house to surprise him on his return—he would be back tomorrow. He knelt and turned over the fallen frame and his brown eyes widened.
Iruka stared blankly at Tsunade, his fingers clenched tightly around a piece of paper. Her lips were moving, he knew that, but no sounds were coming forth. He inhaled sharply and the Godaime paused in her speech as she noticed the detached, distant look in his eyes.
The Chuunin gasped, stumbling a little as he came back to his senses. He had been called in three day's after Kakashi was initially supposed to return. Tsunade sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose before crossing her arms atop the desk. This was not an easy task—giving such news was just as terrible as receiving it she now realized.
Nodding at the ANBU member closest to Iruka, the masked shinobi walked up and placed something wrapped in a black cloth on the desk. Iruka lowered his eyes as Tsunade unwrapped it. He doubled over, picture fluttering to the ground as he clutched his stomach. 'No... no...'
The broken mask stared up at him, and peeking out from under it was a bloodied copy of Icha Icha Paradise.
"He was killed a day before the mission was officially over," Tsunade explained in a soft voice. "Because of the Sharingan eye he had been transplanted, and thousands of jutsus he had learned, the body was disposed of on the spot."
Iruka's own body jerked and he fell to his knees, eyes wide as he emptied the contents of his stomach. The blonde female Hokage gritted her teeth, tightly clenched knuckles white against the dark wood.
Iruka coughed, tears streaming down his face. "No..." he rasped. "No, that can't be... He told me he would be back... He... Kakashi, you promised me!" He tried to stand, but his knees collapsed from under him. Uncaring, the Chuunin backed himself against the wall and moved a stiffly shaking hand to the holster on his thigh for the single kunai placed there.
"Stop him," Tsunade ordered sharply. In an instant, two ANBU members were at the dolphin's side, locking the movement of his arms. The sight of the animal masks broke him and the young man struggled to be free, anguished screams torn from his lips.
The Jounins out in the hall that had been in Kakashi's squad flinched at the sound, lowering their heads.
Two more ANBU had to join the first pair to keep Iruka pinned as he thrashed about, crying and screaming. In his hysteria, he damned the ANBU for making his lover a part of their squad; he even damned the Hokages.
Tsunade rose from her seat and came around her desk to stand before the young teacher. "I'm sorry."
Iruka's screams died down to sobs, then sniffles, and finally, he fell silent. The Godaime almost swore he had lost conscious or passed on from the mere shock, but the silent tears that fell told her otherwise. "Sunday," she whispered. "Sunday is his service. For your own safety, we're going to admit you to the hospital until then."
Iruka didn't hear: he was staring at the crumpled picture he had dropped; the picture was of himself and a smiling Kakashi. It was the picture that had fallen and whose frame had shattered. His lips parted as he inhaled softly, eyes blank and body lax in the special Jounins' grip.
‡ ‡ ‡
"Cheese," Iruka laughed, smiling at the camera.
Kakashi took the picture, giving him a thumbs-up sign. "Okay. Now one of the two of us." He set the timer after positioning the camera at the right angle to catch them both, then rushed over to joined the dolphin. Pulling down his mask, the Jounin wrapped his arms around the brunet and placed his pale cheek to the bronze one.
"I love you," Kakashi whispered, smiling.
The camera snapped the picture.