Horrible way to start an AN/Disclaimer, but here's the obligatory 'I've never written a fanfiction before', it's not my style. I respect these characters far too much to create situations that they wouldn't approve of, so I'm trying my best to stay true to their characters and to the storyline of the manga/anime. That said, don't forgive me my mistakes. Point them out. The only reason I'm writing this is because I promised someone that I would, and I don't break my promises easily. I'm going to try my best to finish this story, because I refuse to start something I don't intend on finishing at some point, but know that it will be taking a hell of a lot out of me to do so because of the whole 'fanfiction' thing.

As I've said elsewhere, I am more than willing to discuss with people who may find subject matter not to their taste (to be more blunt, those who disagree with Iruka and Kakashi as a legitimate pairing; to be even blunter, those who disagree with male x male relations). And yes, this story will eventually evolve into a kakairu pairing that will take place during the two year absence of Naruto. Unfortunately I have not yet read interaction between these two characters after Naruto returns so I can't base this on anything but what I have read. (And I am keeping up with the series as fast as it comes out)

As for rating…I highly doubt that there will be any lemons in this, mainly because I'm not a gay male (as 98 of all fanfiction writers) so I can't write from experience (and because asking the ones I know about it would result in more ruptured blood cells than I have left). Maybe, that's all I can say at this point. (And it depends on if Iruka will let me)

Obligatory Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, which is why this isn't canon in the first place. Come on Mishimoto-san, give the fangirls another moment.

Repository

Umino Iruka was well accustomed to working late. This being true, it hadn't bothered him unduly the first few times in which he was forced to complete his paperwork far into the dead hours of the night. To be truthful, in a village filled with shinobi, no hours during the night could ever be considered completely silent or unwatched; noise meant life, and eyes meant safety, both of which were precious commodities for villages that traded on lives. Iruka knew this; knew that he was not the only one who set aside sleep to serve Konoha. But after weeks of such nights, the brown-haired chuunin was finally beginning to feel the strain.

He could appreciate why he had as much work as he did, between sporadic teaching, the mission room and now even the occasional mission himself. The Godaime had to make use of who she could, and did so as efficiently as possible. Classes at the academy were slotted into whatever available time there was; they could hardly afford to keep the school closed for very long, not if they needed trained soldiers ready to face their new threats. Chuunins were taking higher ranked missions now, and pushing themselves to complete them as efficiently as possible, even if they were in far deeper than they could handle. The genins even were being forced into tasks far beyond what they would have during Sandaime's reign. And miraculously they seemed to be coming back relatively unscathed, though it left one to wonder what kind of marks the experiences had left on their souls; what stains they could never wash clean.

Iruka couldn't help but notice the horrible similarities between now and the last secret war; the war that had made assassins of six year olds. Because war had a way of turning children into men, and young men into corpses. They were poised once more on the pinnacle, and once more everything was being asked of them.

Thoughts like these were what kept him up at night, even after all his paperwork and grading had been completed; after his mission wounds were treated, and far past the time he needed in order to keep his body functional.

So he found it completely within his right to nod every so often as he rested his head upon his folded arms, making non-committal sounds at reasonable points, Konohamaru rambling on at the counter of Ichiraku. Udon and Mohegi were giving him enough rapt attention for three of him anyhow.

He had felt that he had been pulling away from the children recently -- ever since Naruto had left with Jiraiya, and the monumental strain had been placed on everyone who remained. Iruka knew that he had it easy though, compared to some of the elite forces and special Jounin. He had heard rumours that some of them had dusted off their porcelain masks and rejoined the ranks, and he found it difficult not to work diligently for their sakes. Many risks were being taken to assure Konoha's place on the world stage, and that knowledge brought along a devastating amount of worry for the inhabitants.

Naturally, Iruka had invited Konohamaru out for dinner as he had once before, long ago, for a young troublemaker that had reminded him so much of himself. He had hoped for a small respite from his worries, perhaps be reminded of a time not so long ago when the sun had sat where this young child had sat, and there had been no concern of snakes and the coming of the moon. But because it was Konohamaru, Iruka found himself seated with his inseparable companions, Udon and Mohegi, as well. Not that he minded really, the others were rather well mannered and followed the miniature Naruto quite compliantly.

"Ano…Iruka-sensei?"

He gave a start as a gloved hand came down on his shoulder, and raised his head groggily from its comfortable position. His eyes met a green flak jacket which he followed upwards, past the scroll pouches, past a glaringly orange rectangle, past the mask until they rested on a single blue eye which slowly closed into a happy arc.

"You shouldn't sleep outside, Sensei, you'll be sorry in the morning." Kakashi snapped the glaringly orange rectangle shut, which Iruka now registered as his infamous reading material, "Also, I believe the owner of this establishment is prepared to go home for the night."

"I wasn't asleep," he muttered, "just resting."

"You eat quite a bit when you're 'just resting'." Kakashi prodded the mountains of bowls piled around the man who had been 'just resting' with the spine of his book.

Kakashi watched in amusement as Iruka quite visibly paled, knowing that he was quickly doing a mental count and calculation. "I'm surprised you can afford to be so generous, Sensei, even with the extra workload. "

He glanced at Iruka sidelong and noticed that the man was still staring at the bowls, though now he seemed to be slightly angled to one side. It was then that Kakashi realized he was passing out, and hastily caught the chuunin before he fell off the stool.

When Iruka opened his eyes for the second time that night, he found himself lying on his couch, staring up at his bare ceiling. He shot up as he heard a clatter and looked warily around. He was slightly confused to discover that the sound had come from his kitchen, and even more so when Kakashi emerged with a teapot in one hand and two mugs in the other.

"Kakashi-san…what are you doing in my home?" was all he could manage to say. He hadn't thought the other man had even known where he lived, though he supposed Naruto was hardly inconspicuous in his visits.

Kakashi placed the cups on the low coffee table next to the pot and settled himself on the floor quite comfortably before answering. "You fainted. I brought you here."

"I did not faint!" Iruka said indignantly, ignoring the fact that Kakashi had broken into his home. That wasn't important at the moment.

"You fainted."

"I passed out, I didn't faint!"

"Whatever." Kakashi shrugged and began to pour the tea.

"…thank you for bringing me home." Iruka was quite certain that had been a difficult choice for the masked man rather than leaving him in the streets, which would have resulted badly if he was still around by the time Iruka woke up. He met Kakashi's eye for a moment as he held out one of the cups. Iruka could tell he had considered it.

"…you're welcome."

Iruka raised his cup, planning how to address the fact that the man was still in him home after breaking in.

"There is, however, the matter of repayment."

"What?" Iruka nearly spilt the hot liquid as he looked up.

"For all those bowls I paid for."

"I'm so sorry!" Iruka felt heat rising in his face and hoped he wasn't blushing obviously. "How…how much was it?"

Iruka felt like the floor had opened beneath him when Kakashi spoke, and dangerously close to falling over once again.

"…but," Iruka blinked, focusing on Kakashi as he continued, wanting to shrink under his scrutiny, "I don't expect you to be able to pay that amount any time soon. A chuunin can only make so much."

Iruka fought to hold back a sigh of relief.

"I am willing to ignore the amount of money however," Kakashi's eye arced into a teasing smile as he saw Iruka relax, "if you give me a kiss."

This time much to Kakashi's amusement, Iruka did drop his cup, letting out a string of curses as the boiling tea hit his hands.

"What the hell, Kakashi!" Iruka sprang to his feet, all thoughts of honorary titles gone from his mind. "You pervert!"

With an amused smile, Kakashi said the price again, and Iruka felt his heart drop. He stormed from the room and slammed his bathroom door.

Kakashi sat peacefully in his spot on the floor, finally taking a sip of his own tea as he waited, watching the spilt liquid soak into the carpet.

He had nearly finished his cup by the time Iruka re-emerged, resolute and an interesting shade of red.

"Fine, I accept."

"Wonderful" the silver-haired man replied agreeably without missing a beat. He was in fact rather surprised. From what he had learned from his genins, the young scarred teacher had quite the fiery temperament and stubborn personality. He hadn't expected the chuunin to agree at all, at which point he would have suggested something equally as ludicrous and waited for the man to haggle his way to a better deal. Looked like he was stuck.

Iruka stood in the middle of the room, and Kakashi sat resolutely where he was, now reading his infamous book.

"Well?" Iruka said impatiently after many long minutes of silence.

"I think I'll save it for later." Kakashi continued reading.

"You can't do that!"

"Why not?" He glanced at the irate chuunin over his book.

"Because, I want to get this whole embarrassing situation over and done with!"

"I only asked for a kiss, Iruka-sensei, I didn't specify when or where." He said calmly, maddeningly turning a page. "You should clean up your spill; I think it might ruin your carpet."