A Mutual Misunderstanding

Disclaimer: If you haven't noticed it yet, I don't own Naruto.

Summary: KakashiXIruka. Underneath, Kakashi is a very confused person while Iruka is a very clueless one. One shot.

Warning: This sucks. This is a stupid, nonsensical fic. I know it more than anyone else does. It's an utter cliché. It's crap or whatever synonym you have for it. So yeah. Plus, dialogues are reduced to a minimum. I suck at writing dialogues.

And…my sister keeps on saying that there are no hints whatsoever to this pairing. Though it may be so, it's quite undeniable that Kakashi and Iruka look hot together. Read at your own discretion.


Whether or not Kakashi openly expressed his irritation towards Iruka didn't change the fact that the latter was definitely among the things that constantly kept him awake at night. He never expected his face mask to have dual purpose; lately, he found pulling it up just a little below his eye convenient. That way no one—and he made sure that no one—would note the large black circle that hung like a crescent moon below it. He didn't want people to learn that he had become apoplectic with pseudo-insomnia. It was stupid, utterly so, and it sounded even more stupid if he said it was because he had been thinking non-stop of a certain student-loving, stick-in-the-mud person. Of course, ninjas—especially a first-rate ninja like Hatake Kakashi—were quite used to sleepless nights. They had mastered the art of no-sleeping even if plagued with deadly fatigue, even if they had whatever substantial excuse at their disposal. Like near death or something. Kakashi was well past all those, having been the glorified leader of Anbu a few years prior. Insomnia shouldn't be a trouble, really, but…

But something about not being able to sleep grated on him. For starters, no one was forcing him NOT to sleep. Tsunade didn't assign him to a sleepless mission. Even Naruto had ceased bugging him and had therefore allowed him the privacy he had wished for. For another, he hadn't been able to concentrate on the novel he was poring on at the time. The past few weeks saw him a listless reader. He seemed to breeze right through the pages of Icha Icha Paradise as though he had gone through them a hundred times before, which he probably did already. But even so, he had said again and again that rereading said novel was his favorite pastime; 'it's always as good as the first time around.' It's a wonder why the book had all of a sudden lost its steam.

The person in question, the culprit behind Kakashi's insomnia, had done well to anger Kakashi one time when the former protested against Team Kakashi's entrance to the previous Chuunin exams. How dare he oppose the genius Kakashi? That was when the tension loomed between them, or maybe the tension was just one-sided. At any rate, Iruka's objection didn't have the power to prevent the team from entering. Basically, it was a useless plea. But Kakashi had told him off then, coldly saying that Naruto 'is now the least of your worries'. Indeed, it was the price Iruka should pay for letting Naruto to graduate. Kakashi would've said more if only he didn't need a clean surface to show. Everyone knew him as this regular cool guy with his nose frequently stuck on an adult book, and he wasn't about to risk that hard-earned reputation by blaring off-tempered at a non-elite ninja who apparently couldn't do anything better than remaining a Chuunin for life and seeking quality time with his students, those brats at the academy. Ha! He knew it; Iruka was a pathetic wimp-bag, no less, no more.

Kakashi got up from his bed, blowing hot and cold. The tea at his bedside had turned cold overnight; he wasn't even able to touch it the night before. Somehow, a cup of tea in the midst of his lack of slumber wasn't a good prospect. To him, at least. He sat topless on the sheets, haggard and scarcely in the mood for physical movements. Semiconsciously, he wished not to be found in this state. He was barely alive and he wasn't even mortally injured, not as far as his missions were concerned. Then he heard a gentle knock on his door, which made him scowl because right then, a well-meaning visitor witnessing his unspeakable condition was the least he needed. Besides, didn't he just wish for quite the opposite? God, even my luck's gone deaf.

The knock persisted, much to Kakashi's dismay. When he didn't respond, the knock grew louder and the sound of knuckles banging against the wood threatened Kakashi's psyche until he couldn't take it anymore he thought he'd collapse on the bed.

Damn, I should've put up a 'no visitors allowed' sign on the door, he thought fervently. Or better yet, a 'beware of dogs' sign. My army of canines would do well to justify it.

But even then, a voice rose and slithered through the keyhole and through the thin space below the door. It was incomprehensible at first, sounding very much like gibberish from another planet. It wasn't until a few seconds flew by when Kakashi realized that it was speaking in a familiar language, that it was he, Kakashi, whose ears were malfunctioning.

'Kakashi, are you in?'

Kakashi stopped dead. He knew that voice, that voice which he scorned for no apparent reason at all, which he unfairly condemned because it sounded too soft and naive. It was the voice that told him that 'Naruto and his team are not yet fit for the Chuunin exam, not strong enough.' It didn't have the same amount of concern as it did then--when he said he didn't like his former students' lives endangered—-but there was no mistake that it was one and the same voice. No other voice had sounded so familiar.

Iruka. Umino Iruka.

Even before he had bidden him entrance, Kakashi began picturing his face, its normal features, almost perfect, save for that stupid horizontal scar, which origin was unknown and which strangely rendered his looks more…appealing? At which thought, Kakashi quickly shook his head as if doing so would erase the memory or nullify it completely like it never existed.

'Kakashi, it's me Iruka. Are you there?'

The voice repeated. The knock simultaneously became intermittent. Kakashi's initial reaction was to pretend absence. He had had enough of Iruka, in his fleeting thoughts, inside his body, everywhere around him as a matter of fact. He had more than enough of him! He wanted to avoid him, for good, but he knew also that he couldn't do that unless either of them died now or in the offing. One way or another, their paths would lead to one point, converging, forcing them to acquaintance. In fact, now it was happening. Kakashi sighed heftily as he decided to indulge on his dread. Someday he could be in a more insecure state, several times more than this; by then it would be a worse meeting for both of them. Better now than later. Nip it in the bud, they say, and maybe this meeting will put a tragic end to the adhesive Iruka-thoughts I've been having.

'Coming,' kakashi said, his voice strained by his tired respiration. He straightened up from his bed and took wangling steps towards the door. Prying it open, he was almost blinded by the insensitive half-smile hovering across Iruka's face. It didn't suggest anxiety, or anything similar thereto; it was polite and formal. It took seconds to sink in that the visit was necessitated by the Hokage's orders.

'State your business quickly. If it has something to do with Tsunade-sama's orders, I'll go to her right away.' Kakashi said. Iruka was staring curiously at him, silently knitting his brows. Kakashi realized that he was wearing nothing but a lousy pair of black pajamas to complement his mask. Good thing he had on his perpetual mask, the better to bar Iruka from the sight of his blush. Indeed, he was blushing to the roots of his hair. And why in the world…?

'What?' Kakashi said once more. Iruka cleared his throat.

'No, Kakashi. I didn't come here for that, rather on personal account.'

It was Kakashi's turn to stare curiously at his interlocutor. Right then he knew that opening the door and giving access to this twit were a bad idea. He didn't ready himself for this, least of all for this person. He noticed that Iruka was sporting his usual Chuunin attire and he wondered vaguely why it looked better on Iruka than on himself. He had watched himself in a full-length mirror before while donning the same outfit, judging the get-up's fashion sense, if it had any. He looked quite okay but there was no satisfaction that could be derived from it. Looking at Iruka now, with more focus than ever before, Kakashi learned that the Chuunin attire was made for this person. It fitted him like a lovely glove…Shit, what am I rambling about?

'About what?' Kakashi hastened to say, pulling the brakes on his idle train of thought.

'The Chuunin exams.' Iruka said. 'Can I have a seat?' He finished and gestured to the stool beside the tea-table. Kakashi admitted him inside. If he was reluctant to do so, he didn't show it. He pulled the chair for Iruka and switched the lights on. He plopped down across the Chuunin, knowing that this was neither going to be a fast-paced talk nor a short one. He was buckling himself down for a long ride.

'What about the Chuunin exams?' Kakashi asked. He knew he was lying; he knew very well the issue or non-issue that revolved around the two of them during the exams, which terminated only two weeks ago. He inhaled deeply again. I can't believe I'm having this conversation, he told himself.

'Well,' Iruka began, placing both elbows on the table and propping his chin on his clasped hands. 'I want to apologize for underestimating your team. I should've had enough hindsight to trust in Naruto and his friends.'

'It's nothing.' Kakashi said.

'No, it's not nothing.' Iruka looked at him sternly.

And Kakashi knew that Iruka was right. It was his, Kakashi's, ability as the team members' teacher that was put to test there. It couldn't be negated just like that; he had too much to do with it.

'In disagreeing to your proposition to enter them in the exams, I not only doubted my students but also your ability as their teacher. I should've known that you were by all means qualified. Hence their passage to the proceeding rounds.' Iruka paused, slightly shaking his head. 'They were perfectly safe in your hands. I envy you.' Something in his eyes glimmered, giving him an air of unawareness to his surrounding.

'Don't get the mistaken notion that I did everything to form. I also miscalculated. You shouldn't forget the terrible incident that befell them there. None of it would've happened if I didn't—'

'Kakashi,' Iruka cut him short. 'No one would've foreseen that Orochimaru would be there. The team did well to survive after the attack. You did well.'

Kakashi leaned back, as if in defeat. He had thought of it that way before, refused to welcome blame on his part, but to hear it from someone else felt oddly relieving. There was no sense in fighting for the ownership of the fault. All's been said and done; all he had to do was look around him and everything would be alright. Or would it?

'You did well to worry too; I understand perfectly. Apology accepted.'

Even as Kakashi said this, he was left with a feeling that mottled him in every single way. He knew this chit-chat wouldn't end his insomnia; he knew that he'd spent more and more long nights thinking of Iruka. Inside him, the knowledge grew, ripping his insides. Outwardly he forced a smile, which was pointless anyway as his face was veiled in stark blackness. He waited for Iruka to reply. His expression of gratitude should end this talk.

'I'm glad. Anyway if you don't mind my saying so, you look old.' Iruka smiled at him.

Of course, you idiot. My hair's white. Took you long enough to notice, didn't it?

'What do you mean?' Kakashi said.

'I mean, you look spent.'

As if you have nothing to do with it.

'I haven't been sleeping sufficiently, if that's what you want to know.' Kakashi said dismissively.

'I see. You know, they say that if someone's thinking of you, you wouldn't be able to sleep at night.' Iruka teased.

'Some unreliable maxim thought of by some equally unreliable hopeless romantic who desperately wants to find pretext for being unable to sleep. I've heard that saying before.' Kakashi said briskly. There was a pause. Somehow, he wished it was true. He didn't know why, but he did. He wished that Iruka would lay himself to sleep thinking of him and would wake up in the morning thinking of him still. He wanted to be the first and last thing on Iruka's mind, as Iruka was to him these past few weeks. He wanted it all along, alas!

'Kakashi, you still with me?'

Kakashi could hear Iruka calling. His dwindling eye-sight couldn't make out the expression on Iruka's face but he hoped to hell that it was full of concern, concern for him to be exact. He could feel the weight of his body crashing on him, pulling him down like a pit-bog, melding the backdrop into a swirl of blurred blackness. His eyelids began to be magnetized downwards, his limbs debilitated to near paralysis. He had never been so tired and limp all his life. There, in the midst of havoc, Kakashi finally regained his somnolence. He slept and slept until sleep got tired of him.

When Kakashi opened his eyes, it was already dark. The blinds were partly drawn, letting a ray of moonlight seep inside the room. The silence that clouded the room resembled the silence after a massacre. No breathing soul seemed to linger around the place. Only the rise and fall of Kakashi's chest were an indication of any movement taking place in the vicinity. He sat up, slowly, marking the improvement of his health. It was no longer a difficulty to use his muscles. As he turned to his side, he caught a crouched figure lounged a few feet away from him.

'You're awake.' It was Iruka speaking in sotto voce. Was he there all along?

'Have I slept long?' Kakashi asked.

'I thought you weren't waking up.'

'I'm sorry. You should've just left.' Kakashi said, knowing that it wasn't what he wanted to happen.

'You didn't look safe enough. You felt kinda fragile when I carried you in my arms.'

Kakashi could feel warm blood rushing up to his cheeks. Thankfully the shadow of the night was there to his rescue. Part of him regretted that he wasn't conscious when Iruka held him; part of him, on the other hand, felt irrational.

'Thank you, Iruka.' Kakashi said weakly.

'Don't mention it.' Iruka stretched himself up. 'Well, I should be going. And since it would probably take another long while before we had a talk like this, I'd like to give you a parting thought: If there's someone who made me most proud of my students, our students,' Iruka corrected himself as though he was talking about the children they had had together. 'It's you.'

In the nearly opaque blackness, Kakashi looked at him. He didn't need the power of the Sharingan to tell whether or not Iruka meant it. His voice alone was sincere-sounding enough. Then, something tightened around Kakashi's heart. He knew this was happening because Iruka, his warmth, was leaving him. Like he said, it would probably take a long while before they had a talk like this again, before they could be as close as this again. Assessing himself in quiet, Kakashi knew that something had to be let out, like a volcanic eruption, like the feelings, emotions drumming themselves against his ribcage. If he could put them to words, words that Iruka would understand straight away, he would. But then, no amount of words, no other part of the Japanese vocabulary, could express how much Iruka really meant to him.

'Iruka…stay.' Kakashi said entreatingly before he could stop himself. In a twist of perplexity and longing he wished time to be frozen in his hands, by his command.

He had always belonged to Iruka. From the start, it had always been so. He only needed to be claimed. If only Iruka would claim him, now, then he wouldn't have to go through and get lost in these mazes of indecision and fear.

'Kakashi, I don't understand—'

'You know you do. We had this kind of interaction from the beginning. You've read me, only you deny me. But if we could be truthful to each other…If only you would take me…Here I am. I have always been here, it just occurred to me. It's time it does to you.'


'Is it that hard for you to return someone's feelings?'

'It's not. But it's that hard for me to accept…Kakashi, I never imagined it to be this way. You were always there, ahead of me. I have always looked up to you.' Iruka said in a lowered tone.

'And I have always looked at you. I was always watching you. I wonder why you never realized, but even more so I wonder why I never realized. Iruka, be with me.'

Silence took over rapidly like atoms dissipated in the air. In the stillness of the milieu, Iruka strode over to Kakashi's bed. The bed creaked when Iruka settled onto it. Groping, his hand found Kakashi's. Iruka could feel the warmth it exuded as it closed on his fingers.

'Kakashi, I'll be attending a mission in two hours. I have to go but I promise to return soon as I come back. Thanks for the heart to heart.' Iruka said and gradually untangled his fingers from Kakashi's. Unwillingly, he moved further from the bed, turned around and headed to the door. He had twisted the doorknob when he heard Kakashi's voice.

'Iruka, I—'

'I know. Rest well. I'll be back in no time.'

Iruka closed the door. A shaft of light momentarily sifted inside and disappeared quickly. And for the first time in many days, Kakashi smiled to himself and comfortably nestled on the sheets. Liberation, is this how it feels?


A/N: He was going to say that he loves Iruka but apparently the latter already knows. Yeah that's how it ends.

I already know that this is one of the worst 'stories' you've ever read so spare me flames/reviews that say "diz suckz" or "ur storie is a waste of tym" because I don't understand that kind of language. Instead write, "This sucks" or "this story is a waste of time". Copy and paste, do what you like. Thanks for reading.