A/N: This is my first Naruto fic, and much thanks goes to the lovely Shakstergrrl, for pre-reading it for me and giving me ideas the whole way through. Most of the jokes are probably hers, lol.

Spoilers/Warnings: Tentatively set during the three-year time skip, but no major spoilers.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.


When Umino Iruka's superiors first informed him about the new "guest-lecturer" day, he had been pleased. Listening to Konoha's elite jounin give accounts of their missions to the students seemed like a good idea, at first. Iruka had thought it was an opportunity to get a much-needed reprieve from the daily grind of teaching, as well as a chance to hopefully improve his own skills by listening to the jounin's helpful advice, and he began making plans to adjust his curriculum so that he could include the speaker's tips later in the year.

When Iruka learned that the jounin addressing his class would be the legendary Hatake Kakashi, he was excited. He had always admired the Copy Ninja, even liked him despite the disagreements they had had in the past regarding Team 7, and surely a genius ninja like Kakashi would have plenty of insights to share with Iruka's academy students. Plus, Iruka had hoped for a chance to speak to Kakashi privately after the session and ask if the jounin had heard anything new concerning Naruto that the blond's former Academy sensei might have missed.

When Iruka woke on the morning of Kakashi's visit to his class, he hurried through his morning routine so he could get to class early and make sure that his already spotless classroom shone in honor of his guest. His students piled in not long after, equally eager and chatting amongst themselves about getting the opportunity to talk to a high-level ninja like Kakashi. Iruka smiled indulgently to himself and let them talk, deciding to be lenient on this one, special day.

When Kakashi finally strolled into the classroom three hours later, Iruka was far less happy.

"You're late!" he snapped, too annoyed to remember to be respectful. Half of his students were asleep at their desks, and Konohamaru had been attempting to cut the hair of the girl who sat in front of him with a kunai for the past hour.

Kakashi's one visible eye curved and he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, further mussing his already wild gray hair. "Maa, well I found a goldfish struggling for life in the middle of the road, so I went to the store and bought a bowl for it… but then it looked so sad, captive like that, so I had to take it to a pond on the far side of town where it could be free. It was hard to let it go by then, though… I named him Kakashi Junior. Pakkun wasn't too happy about that, but I told him—"

"Kakashi," Iruka hissed, rubbing the horizontal scar across his nose in frustration. "Never mind. Let's just get started, please." The gray-haired jounin granted him a cheerful nod and a mask-covered smile, so Iruka sighed and turned to his students, who were once again alert and whispering amongst themselves. "Alright everyone, pay attention! This is Hatake Kakashi-san, our guest speaker for today, so I expect you to treat him with respect."

A chorus of "Yes, Iruka-sensei's" answered him as he stepped aside, gesturing toward Kakashi with a slightly strained smile. The jounin winked at him as he strode past and Iruka suppressed a groan, sinking into his chair and rubbing his scar once again while he watched Kakashi introduce himself to the class. Iruka supposed he shouldn't be surprised; after all, how many times had he listened to Naruto complain about his chronically-late sensei? The man was a horrible liar, too; not only did he not bother showing up on time, he had to come up with some terrible excuse that only an idiot would believe…

"Ah, a question already?" Kakashi pointed to the red-haired little boy in the front row who was waving his hand in the air. "What is it?"

"What happened to the goldfish?"

This time Iruka couldn't fully suppress the groan.

"Aaa, he went back to his family," Kakashi replied solemnly, looking up at the ceiling and rubbing his chin. "In fact, a pretty speckled fish seemed quite happy to see him. I think she was his wife."

A chorus of "Aww's" came from the girls in the class and a few more hands shot up eagerly.

"You, with the crooked teeth." Kakashi pointed to a boy near the back – who indeed had rather large teeth, the front two of which boasted a sizable gap between them – and the boy scowled but asked his question anyway.

"Why do you have on a mask?"

Kakashi's one visible eye curved in a smile and he pointed to another child. "I believe you had a question?"

"Why does your hair look like that? Are you really old?"

"I'm old enough to throw a kunai at exactly the right spot to instantly sever the brain and spinal cord, not to mention the many thousands of ways I could torture nosy children which could never be traced back to me."

The students paused, glanced at each other, and then all of a sudden the chattering rose to a roar and nearly every child waved their hands, some standing up in their chairs to catch Kakashi's attention.

"Kakashi-san! Kakashi-san! How old are you really?"

"Depends on whether you ask me before or after my birthday, and whether a time-travel jutsu was involved."

"Are you older than Iruka-sensei? Were you Iruka-sensei's sensei?"

"Not officially, though you might say that I was since I'm sure he's learned quite a bit from me over the years." Iruka frowned at that particular answer – and the smug expression visible through Kakashi's mask as he said it – though he didn't bother to contradict the jounin. Instead he rose from his seat and placed both palms on the desk, giving his students his most serious disapproving glare, until all but the rowdiest ones lowered themselves into their seats and a great many hands faltered and sank.

"Class, I thought you had better manners than this. Kakashi-san is here to teach you, not to answer irrelevant questions. If you need to ask him a question it should pertain to ninja skills, not his personal life." With that Iruka sat once again, ignoring the loud whisper of 'what's pertain mean?' and nodded to Kakashi to continue.

The masked jounin beamed at him. "Thank you, Iruka, but I don't mind. They can ask me whatever they want."

"Not that you'll answer," Iruka muttered under his breath, but Kakashi either didn't hear or ignored it.

The few brave students still undaunted by Iruka's speech waved their hands expectantly. "Kakashi-san!" one of them shouted, leaning forward on his desk and balancing on his tiptoes. "Can you show us some cool jutsus?"

The Copy-nin seemed to ponder this a moment, tapping his chin with his index finger, before he made a quick, indiscernible hand signal and disappeared in a puff of smoke – only to reappear in almost exactly the same spot, now staring intently at a lurid orange book he held in one hand.

The classroom erupted in chaos. "Hey! You didn't do anything!"

"Not true; I moved at least ten centimeters to the left," Kakashi replied, flipping a page in his book.

"What's that book? Why are you reading it?" a girl near the back cried shrilly.

"It's the newest in the Icha Icha series. I'm reading it because I want to see what happens next, of course."

"Aren't you supposed to be teaching us something?" another child asked, immediately ducking and wincing at the bombardment of fists and paper-wads – laced with the odd shuriken – that came flying at him from his peers.

"I'm sure you learn more than enough from Iruka-sensei," Kakashi answered, and Iruka wasn't sure whether to flush at the compliment or be annoyed that the jounin apparently didn't intend to do his job.

He began mentally rearranging his curriculum for the rest of the year so that he would never have to mention this day again.

"Kakashi-san," Iruka sighed, "why don't you tell the children about some of the missions you've done? I'm sure they'd enjoy hearing about your personal experiences."

"Alright, Iruka-sensei, anything you want." Iruka glanced at him sharply, unsure what to make of his tone, but before he could say anything else Kakashi had already launched into his tale.

"Speaking of time-travel jutsus, I met a lovely young lady once who was from the future. Sandaime called me in specially to send her home, since I was the only one he could trust not to ask for secrets from her time— she was from the year 3,897, I believe she said, and I kept my promise even though I was very much interested in finding out if the women from her time still wore clothes; she did, but she said she was one of the more conservative women she knew. That actually helped her fit in with us, although there were a few awkward moments when she met strangers… and in the end it turned out it wasn't a time-travel jutsu at all, but she was stuck here because she'd stumbled upon a rip in time and fallen through, and we had to find the rip again – it kept changing location, you know – so that she could go home. The first thing we did…"

Iruka shook his head and settled back into his chair to listen to the jounin's speech, a half-smile gracing his lips in spite of himself. He really should have known all Kakashi would do was come up with bizarre lies, and it would definitely be hell trying to explain all this to his students the next day. But, for now anyway, he could at least try to get a bit of amusement out of Kakashi's tall tales.


When the end of the day finally arrived, the only evidence of Iruka's students left in his classroom the wads of paper and gum they left behind, Kakashi of course was nowhere to be found. After the second hour or so of listening to the jounin's pointless stories and watching the faces of his students grow more and more confused, Iruka had resolved to confront Kakashi after class ended and let him know exactly what he thought – as well as hopefully talk Kakashi into coming back the next day and telling the students he'd been lying; otherwise Iruka would have to spend way more time than he wanted trying to explain that someone couldn't really find a time portal in the bottom of a milk carton, and as far as he knew time travel jutsus didn't actually exist at all.

However, as if he knew that Iruka was planning a confrontation and was avoiding it – and Iruka in general – Kakashi had disappeared in a puff of smoke the instant Iruka had risen and said it was about time to end the day, and by the time Iruka herded his students out the door and picked up the worst of their mess from the floor, he had little hope of finding the Copy-nin.

So, grumbling to himself, Iruka packed up his files and left, deciding to go to Ichiraku's for dinner since after today he definitely didn't feel like cooking, and eating at the ramen stand reminded him of Naruto and always made him feel a bit better. First, however, he would go home and change into something more comfortable… today had been a long day and he had one kunai – or eight – too many stashed in his uniform and it was starting to chafe.

Ten minutes later, the chuunin was almost home when he saw something that made him stop in his tracks. There, on the sidewalk below his apartment, stood Kakashi, leaning against Iruka's apartment building and reading his obnoxiously orange book as if he had been standing there all day and had no plans to move in the future, and the thought had never crossed his mind that he might have made a total mockery of the Academy's newest education idea and left Iruka to clean up the mess.

Iruka growled under his breath. The man was infuriating! Sure, his stories were funny to listen to, but they were pointless – and eighty percent of the time unsuitable for children – and Kakashi seemed to think just because he was a good-looking man with a "hip" attitude, as Gai would put it, that he could just get away with anything and people would label him as "eccentric" and let it go and…

…and Iruka should really be confronting him, as he'd planned, instead of standing here stewing.

"Kakashi."

He didn't look up. "Yo."

Iruka took a deep breath and adjusted his ponytail. "What are you doing here?"

"I was looking for my cat." Kakashi closed the book and stuffed it into the pouch at his side, glancing up at Iruka afterwards with his usual lazy, mask-covered smile.

For a split second, this almost seemed believable. But Iruka, along with everyone else in town, had heard far too many stories about the famous Sharingan Kakashi and his troop of tracking nin-dogs for it to be anything other than an obvious lie. Iruka wondered why Kakashi didn't lie a bit better, if he insisted on doing it. He seemed to prefer creativity over believability, though.

"You don't have a cat," Iruka said dryly.

"It's been missing a long time." After a beat, Kakashi added, "A very long time."

"Uh-huh." Iruka decided he didn't care. "I'm glad you're here, anyway; I wanted to talk to you. I thought you were avoiding me, though, when you left so suddenly after class…"

A sunny smile. "Why would I want to avoid you?"

Iruka gave him a stern look. "Because you spent the entire afternoon telling my students ridiculous stories, which they're now going to pester me about for the rest of the year unless I waste hours of valuable teaching time convincing them that none of it was true and making up some bullshit reason why you lied to them in the first place!"

This speech had been building up for several hours – except for the expletive, which was a last-second add-on, though after he'd said it Iruka decided it was a little inappropriate for addressing a higher-ranked nin, lecture or not. He wasn't going to waste time regretting it though – and the words came out more rushed than Iruka would have wanted, but the chuunin decided he'd gotten his point across anyhow, and waited for Kakashi to show some sign of surprise, anger, or – he hardly dared to hope – remorse at the scolding.

Kakashi just kept smiling. "You should be proud to have such inquisitive students. That's the sign of a good teacher."

"I— that's not the point! You shouldn't have… Your job was to talk to the students about your experiences, not make something up! Why couldn't you just tell them something that really happened to you?"

The other glanced up at the sky, his expression under the mask harder to read at that angle, but Iruka had the nasty feeling that Kakashi was smirking. "Reality is overrated."

"No it's not!" That came out more shrilly than he would have liked. "Kakashi…"

The jounin interrupted before Iruka could finish his sentence – though in all honesty he wasn't certain what he wanted to say anyhow. "As much as I'm enjoying this conversation, I'm sure it would be more comfortable to have it someplace else. Let me take you to dinner so you can lecture me properly."

Iruka blinked. That was a surprise. But… well, he had planned on going to eat anyway, and dinner was always better with company, especially at a restaurant and even if his companion was someone he didn't particularly know and planned on scolding for the majority of their conversation in the near future. So he shrugged, muttered "Fine," and followed Kakashi down the street, the jounin for once actually walking instead of disappearing in a puff of smoke.

Iruka decided he definitely wanted a drink with dinner.


Kakashi eventually came to a halt in front of a mid-sized restaurant with tinted glass picture windows making up the entire section of the wall facing the street and a low-hanging sign over the door that boasted a painting of a fox, its nine tails twining boldly around the stark black kanji of the name. Foxtail Bar & Grill. A notoriously jounin hangout.

"Well?" The Copy-nin pushed open the door and gestured inside, where the strains of decidedly mediocre music floated through the dark entryway.

Iruka hesitated. He couldn't go in there; this was a jounin bar, where the elite of Konoha met to rehash the dangers of S-Class missions – well, the parts of them they were allowed to talk about, anyway – and compare battle scars. "Kakashi… I can't eat here. There won't be any other chuunins there. It'll be…"

He didn't want to say 'weird,' since that might offend Kakashi, so Iruka trailed off instead, feeling his unfinished sentence weigh heavily in the air until the other brushed it off with a smile. "Oh, don't worry about that. Even if they cared, and I'm sure they don't, tonight's karaoke night so everyone will probably get smashed and sing embarrassing love songs. You'll fit right in."

Iruka rolled his eyes at that remark but decided to let it pass. "What did you sing?" he jibed instead, letting himself smirk a little.

Kakashi's one visible eye curved in his most innocent smile. "Oh, I've never been here before. I thought this place was a dry cleaner's, so I brought my mask here to have it washed one day, but I left when I saw Asuma standing on the bar singing 'I Touch Myself' to Kurenai."

The brown-haired chuunin cringed at the mental image; then opened his mouth to berate Kakashi for telling yet another stupid lie… but the image stuck in his head and chased away the words. He shuddered and settled for sending Kakashi a disapproving frown before preceding him into the restaurant.

A chorus of greetings erupted as soon as they were inside.

"Kakashi!"

"Hey, about time you got here!"

"Hey, Kakashi's here!"

"Esteemed Rival, you are late! I challenge you to a contest of Vocals! We shall see which of us is the better singer! If I lose, I will take a Vow of Silence for forty days and nights!"

"Sure hope he loses," someone muttered, and several already intoxicated jounin broke into ill-concealed titters as a pretty, pink-haired waitress vaguely resembling Sakura hurried toward Iruka and Kakashi.

"Welcome back, Kakashi-san! Are you two together?" At his nod, she scrunched up her nose and mused, "Your regular table's full, I'm afraid… Would you mind sitting at the bar?"

"That's fine," he replied, and she scurried off back to the kitchen after taking their drink orders – Iruka ordered a rum and coke, after which Kakashi smirked that annoying smirk at him and asked for the same – and showing them their seats.

Finally, after the two of them had been staring at their menus in silence for a couple of minutes, Iruka sighed and set his down, turning to look at the gray-haired nin. "Never been here, hmm?"

"I told you, I thought it was a dry cleaner's," the other answered absently, not looking up from his menu. "Here, try the barbecue. It's not quite as good as that other place, whatever it's called… the one Asuma likes. But they put some kind of sauce on it I think you'll like."

Iruka smiled in spite of himself – then remembered he was here to discourage Kakashi's lies, not egg him on, and quickly summoned a frown. "You stopped to eat barbecue at a dry cleaners?" The chuunin took a long sip of his drink, which had just arrived, and tucked a few loose strands of his hair behind his ears, as a few of the shorter bits had begun to work their way free of his ponytail thanks to the humid heat of the bar. "Kakashi, you know I wouldn't care if you just admitted you like to come here; almost all the jounin in town do, anyway. I don't know why you insist on making up these ridiculous stories—"

"What stories?" Kakashi's glass was significantly emptier, so he must have taken a drink at some point, but Iruka never saw it. "I came here to have my mask dry cleaned, but my cat was with me and it was lunchtime, so I decided to feed her. They didn't have any kibble though so we had to make do with the barbecue."

"That's…" Iruka found himself completely at a loss for words, and the look on his face must have been priceless because Kakashi's eye curved in genuine amusement.

They both ordered the barbecue.


Forty-five minutes later their plates were half-finished and Iruka was on his third drink, Kakashi just finishing his second. The chuunin was starting to feel uncomfortably warm, which might have bothered him if not for the pleasant tingle in his joints and decidedly excellent view in front of him. He'd always thought Kakashi was a nice-looking man… too bad he tended to lean the wrong way towards insanity.

Iruka took another drink. "You know," he pronounced solemnly, "you really made a lot of trouble for me today."

"We're finally getting to the lecture, then?" More of Kakashi's food was missing and his glass was suddenly empty, but yet again Iruka hadn't noticed the movement.

"I was looking forward to hearing you speak… You're probably one of the most famous jounin around… but…" Iruka knew there was more he wanted to say but he couldn't think of what it was; he was starting to have trouble stringing sentences together. "I was excited when they picked you for my class," he finally said. "I wanted to hear about your nin-dogs… and… Naruto…"

"Yeah, I heard about that fight between all the chuunin sensei last week."

Iruka blinked. "Huh?"

Kakashi glanced up at the ceiling, rubbing his mask-covered chin as if in deep thought. "Oh yes, the big fight in the teacher's lounge over who got to have me come to their class. Heard it got pretty nasty; you must've fought really dirty to win. Come to think of it, I did see one of the other teachers hopping around with a broken leg…"

"What? Who? That never happened!" Iruka cried indignantly. "The guest speakers were randomly assigned, I—"

"It's okay, Iruka, I know you're stalking me."

"What?"

"I said, 'It's okay, Iruka, I know you're—'"

"I'm not stalking you! Are you insane? Where do you come up with this stuff?"

"You were chasing me after class. And you know everything about me…" The jounin rubbed the back of his head, further mussing his wild gray hair.

"You were waiting outside my apartment! And just because I know when you're making up stupid lies doesn't mean I know everything about you! Everyone knows you anyway!" Iruka could feel his face darkening and he looked away, shoving loose strands of hair behind his ears in annoyance. "Why is it so hot in here, anyway?" he muttered.

"You know, you're cute when you're annoyed," Kakashi's amused-sounding voice commented from over Iruka's shoulder, and he whirled to stare at the other in astonishment.

"What?"

"I said, 'You know, you're cute when you're annoyed,'" Kakashi repeated more slowly, loudly enough to turn several heads from a newly-promoted Neji's extremely drunken rendition of "Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?"

Iruka gaped for a moment; then realization struck him and he narrowed his eyes, exhaling loudly. Of course, Kakashi was just making up something else to shock him. He couldn't figure out the jounin's fascination with that; really; he was either a pathological liar or a sadist who got some sort of strange thrill out of confusing people. Iruka was more inclined to believe the latter.

"That's not funny, Kakashi," Iruka snapped. "You shouldn't joke about things like that."

"You're cute when you're embarrassed, too."

It took Iruka a moment to think up a sufficiently scathing reply to this, but before he had a chance to respond a jounin in a bright green body suit popped up behind Kakashi, the light in the dingy bar reflecting off his shiny black bowl cut and making his smile gleam as the clouds from his transportation jutsu slowly dissipated. "Eternal Rival! Is it true that you are making Confessions of Love to the worthy Iruka-sensei?"

Iruka slouched in his seat. "Hello, Gai," he muttered.

Kakashi, for once, didn't ignore Gai or even try to make something up – unless Iruka counted perpetuating the same lie he'd been on for the last few minutes, the one where he pretended that he thought Iruka was cute – and simply nodded. "Yep, it's true," he said.

Iruka slouched even farther and buried his face in his hands.

At Kakashi's words, tears started streaming thickly down Gai's cheeks and he reached out to hug the other jounin – who quickly vanished and reappeared in the seat on the other side of Iruka, leaving Gai to grasp at nothing but wisps of smoke. "This is cause for celebration!" the green-clad ninja declared, unperturbed. "Two star-crossed lovers, determined to be together despite their different stations in life, not letting their disparity in abilities come between them!"

Iruka thought about objecting to that statement, but decided he really didn't want to draw any more attention to himself. Of course, the next second Gai was dragging Kakashi to the karaoke machine so he could help the Copy-nin declare his True Love through song, so it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway.

A loud, metallic squeal echoed through the bar as Gai wrestled the microphone from its stand and cleared his throat, while Kakashi stood beside him looking bored and ignoring the catcalls of "Wooo! Take it off!" from Anko, who lounged at a table nearby and leered at him.

Gai took a moment to pause dramatically, one hand on his hip as he smiled at the audience, before he held the microphone close to his mouth and declared, "This is a song to celebrate my Rival's True Love for Iruka-sensei! They refuse to let their differences stand in the way of Romance!"

A few heads turned in his direction and Iruka lamented the fact he had never learned that instant-transport jutsu. He made a vow to himself to learn it as soon as he got home.

And then Gai was singing. "I say potato, you say…" He held the microphone out to Kakashi, who merely blinked and looked at him. "Kakashi! You missed your cue!"

"What?"

"Listen! I say tomato, you say…"

"Tomato?"

"No, you say 'to-MAH-to!'"

"No I don't."

"Ah, can my Truest Rival not master how to sing a song? It goes, 'I say tomato, you say to-mah-to!"

"But I say it the same way you do."

The other jounin ignored this and attempted to catch back up with the song, which had of course kept playing in the background without them. "Let's call the whole! Thing! Off!"

"Okay." Kakashi turned and walked down from the slight platform holding the karaoke equipment, the roaring laughter of drunken jounin following him as he made his way back to Iruka.

"Kakashi, that's just the song! But what a hip and cool reaction...!"


"So what did you think of my 'true confession of love?'"

"I think you can stop it because it's getting old, that's what." Iruka had made his excuses, paid for his food and left as soon as possible after Kakashi's song, sure he'd never been more humiliated in his life – especially when Anko had made that lewd comment as he and Kakashi left the building. He was still cringing over that. Yet, even though he'd done everything short of outright running away to shake Kakashi after that embarrassing spectacle, the jounin insisted on following him, even now when they were almost back to Iruka's apartment.

"Are all your relationships this short? We've only been in love for about two hours."

Iruka turned and glared at the other before speeding up his steps. "Very funny. I don't care what you let Gai think, we are not in love!"

"Maybe not yet," Kakashi replied. "We should probably date first."

Iruka merely snorted at this. "You're drunk, Kakashi. And I'm home, so you can leave."

"I'm not drunk, and neither are you. But if you want to pretend like you were so you can say I took advantage of you tomorrow morning that's okay with me." And with that Kakashi winked, playful and lascivious and grinning that stupid falsely innocent grin that definitely wouldn't have looked half so endearing if Iruka didn't have that warm buzz of alcohol still swimming through his veins.

As it was, Iruka felt his face warm and he turned quickly so Kakashi wouldn't notice. "Good night, Kakashi." He turned and started up the staircase toward his apartment, only to find the jounin in front of him once again. "Hey!"

"Don't I get a goodnight kiss?" Kakashi teased, but when Iruka started spluttering indignantly he dropped the joking grin and stared at the chuunin with something far closer to intensity than amusement. "Well?"

Iruka gaped; then shook his head to compose himself and asked, congratulating himself on the steadiness of his voice, "Why are you hitting on me?"

Kakashi's eye curved upward as he replied, "Why not?" But, at the disapproving frown from Iruka he sighed and elaborated, "Iruka, we're shinobi. We don't have the luxury of deluding ourselves and wasting time pretending we're not attracted to someone for whatever stupid reason we might come up with not to be together. And I am. Attracted to you, that is. Does that answer your question?"

"Is… this some kind of joke?" Iruka choked out, his head spinning. He couldn't believe how far Kakashi was taking this; it had stopped being remotely funny a long time ago and the chuunin couldn't help but feel simply mortified, since he knew the honest truth was that he could easily be attracted to Kakashi too, if the man was ever interested in anything but jerking him around. Maybe Kakashi realized that and that was the reason he seemed to think it was so funny to tease Iruka this way.

Kakashi scratched the top of his head. "No, of course not, why would it be a joke?"

"Why? Because you don't take anything seriously, that's why! The whole reason I wanted to talk to you was because you lied so thoroughly to my students that they're hopelessly confused and will be asking me about it for the rest of the year! I hoped you would come back and apologize, and maybe set things right, but I can see that's not going to happen so I'd be happy if I could just go home and get some sleep before tomorrow." He pushed around Kakashi and unlocked the door to his apartment, hyper-aware of the fact that the jounin had yet to move away and was most likely still staring at the back of Iruka's neck.

"I'll go talk to them if you want me to."

Iruka glanced over his shoulder and smiled wryly. "Thanks, but there's no point. You'd probably come up with something else I'd have to explain away and—"

"Look, Iruka," Kakashi interrupted impatiently, "those kids are already learning everything they could ever use from you, not to mention some of them have families who might just pass on a little of their specialized knowledge. The ones of them who are actually good enough to pass their preliminary tests with the jounin instructors will learn whatever else they need to know about being a ninja then. They don't need some high-level jounin coming in and telling them about what he does so they can romanticize murdering people. Until then, they'll be better off with a little fantasy – and you'll be better off if you can have a sense of humor about yourself."

Iruka stood in the doorway gaping at Kakashi until the other made an impatient noise and brushed past him, saying something about not arguing out in the hall. It wasn't until the chuunin had shut the door behind him and Kakashi was lounging entirely too comfortably on Iruka's couch that Iruka recovered his righteous indignation and protested Kakashi's speech. "I do have a sense of humor! I think you're funny – well, most of the time – but there's a difference between having a sense of humor about yourself and not doing your job. And it's definitely not funny to pretend you're attracted to someone."

At that Kakashi groaned and rose, pushing up his forehead protector to reveal a red eye and a scar and approached Iruka with an expression so thoroughly intimidating that the chuunin took a few steps back. "How many times do I have to tell you I'm not pretending? Is it that hard to accept that you're sexy? That I might like your ass, your hair… even how uptight you are?"

Iruka's eyes – which had widened enough to resemble saucers – narrowed at this. "I am not uptight! Just because I take pride in my job—"

"Prove it," Kakashi snapped.

So Iruka kissed him.

Kakashi smiled underneath the lips covering his and fumbled along the wall – using this as an excuse to pin the other against said wall – for a light switch. Once the room was acceptably black, the jounin tugged down his mask and kissed Iruka properly, all lips and tongue and jolts of teeth clacking in the dark, only to end it with a startled gasp when the other fondled him between his legs and murmured, "Bedroom?"

The two couldn't be bothered to separate, or even fully halt what they were doing, and thus knocked over several pieces of furniture on their way, though neither minded very much.


The sound of pencils scribbling on paper surrounded Iruka and provided an acceptably peaceful background for the chuunin's wildly spinning thoughts. Iruka knew he'd never be able to focus on a lecture, so he'd given the students busy work – an in-class essay on the proper maintenance and care of weapons. Grading them would mean more work later, but at least for now he could just sit and think about the fact that he'd slept with Kakashi last night.

The jounin had been long gone by the time Iruka woke… though he had left a note promising to come back and speak to Iruka's students at the beginning of class. However, classes had been going on now for almost three hours and there was still no sign of him, and no matter how much he had pretended to himself that he didn't really expect Kakashi to come, Iruka couldn't help being a little disappointed.

The sudden displacement of air that happened right then was so quiet Iruka almost failed to notice it. "Yo."

Iruka blinked – then failed to fight off the grin that instantly appeared on his face. "Kakashi?" The Copy-nin sprawled lazily against the corner of Iruka's desk facing him, Kakashi's visible eye curved in a smile and the ever-present Icha Icha in his hand.

The sound of pencils scribbling was instantly replaced with giggles and loud whispers.

"Kakashi-san's back!"

"It's Kakashi!"

"Maybe we won't have to do any more work today!"

The jounin chuckled quietly. "'Morning, Iruka-sensei. I believe you wanted me to address your students again today?"

Iruka, who had finally schooled his expression into something a little more professional – though his mouth still quirked a bit at the edges – nodded at this and made a vague gesture with his arm toward the students. Kakashi winked at him and his stomach gave a strange little flop, which Iruka did his best to ignore.

"Yo." This was directed toward the children. "My name is Hatake Kakashi. I spoke to most of you yesterday, excluding of course the ones of you who just started class today, or missed yesterday because you were sick or possibly dead. Anyway, Iruka-sensei asked me to come back today to explain to you that ninjas have to look underneath the underneath, and if you had you would realize that many of the things I said to you before were, in fact, not quite true. Naturally, it's possible that what I'm telling you now is the lie and yesterday's lecture was the truth. Like I said, underneath the underneath." He grinned. "Any questions?"

The students were silent for a moment, staring at him wide-eyed and casting furtive glances at each other. Finally, a spiky-haired boy in the back raised his hand.

"Yes?"

"Why do you wear a mask? And how old are you, really?"