A/N: There's not much to say about this, other than this is simply a collection of my entries for the 55Themes challenge community on LJ. I selected KakaIru/IruKaka as my pairing, though some entries could contain other side couples. Nothing should be rated above PG-13; anything that breaks that barrier will probably just be edited with the real version posted on LJ, because I don't want to change the rating of this entire fic just for one entry.

The 55Themes community is located here: http / www . livejournal . com / community / 55themes.

Specific notes about this one-shot: fans of KakaNaru probably shouldn't read. A lame attempt at a humorous debut. And all that jazz.

(Edit 6/29/06) Oops, forgot a disclaimer. I don't own Naruto or any of its characters.

Title: The Bet

Themes: #25 – Rejection; #47 – Comedy; #53 - Mischief

Umino Iruka awoke with the distinct feeling that things just weren't quite right.

His pillow wasn't supposed to be this hard, and the blanket wasn't supposed to be so heavy. And the sunlight now streaming over his closed eyelids was supposed to be shining through a window on the other side of the room, not through the wall he was supposed to be facing.

Bottom line: this wasn't his apartment. Or at least, this wasn't his bedroom.

Very slowly, the chuunin opened his eyes, and immediately became aware of three facts.

One, it really wasn't his bedroom. It looked vaguely familiar because it was one of those standard-issue shinobi bachelor apartments, the same as Iruka's own, but the decorations were different and the furniture was out of place.

Second, he had a very bad headache. In fact, it felt like his skull was splitting open, or at least was receiving repeated blows from some sort of mallet. And his stomach was churning in that way they only did when they were about to spill out their contents through the wrong end of the body.

But before he really registered that he was, indeed, hungover like a drunken skunk, he realized Fact Number Three.

Namely, that he was naked under the covers. And it was very warm for some reason.

Iruka froze when something shifted next to him. Something heavy. Something warm. Something that gave a slight, sleepy groan as it moved.


And then it clicked in Iruka's mind.


Suddenly the Evil Migraine From Hell and the Nausea of Doom seemed very, very trivial. In fact, death by bile began to look very appealing. As did leaping off of a cliff, or maybe slitting his throat with a kunai, or maybe—

He had just had sex with someone while he was drunk.

Iruka whimpered, bringing his hands up to cover his face. This couldn't be happening—he was a respectable Academy teacher, after all! He wasn't supposed to get drunk at parties—because now he remembered that the previous night he had come to the annual jounin and chuunin drinking party, and had perhaps had a few too many drinks—and then go home with someone he had probably never met before and screw the living daylights out of her.

Or him. Because that groan had sounded suspiciously masculine.

Oh, Iruka was so going to hang himself.

Lowering his hands, he shut his eyes tight and slowly turned his head toward his companion, praying silently in his mind that the person next to him would be some sort of kind-hearted female who would perhaps forgive him after he had showered her with apologies and watched her kids for her and let her children pass his class with flying colors even though they had misbehaved all year and—

Very slowly, he opened his eyes. And promptly decided that, by this time tomorrow, he would most definitely be dead.

Lying next to him in the bed, more or less still asleep and naked as the day he was born except for a thin cloth mask covering the bottom portion of his face, was Hatake Kakashi, the great Copy-Nin of Konoha.

Now, a logical man would have 1) steeled himself for the worst, 2) woken Kakashi up (without being killed by the jounin's scary reflexes), and 3) asked him what the hell happened the previous night.

A slightly less logical man would not have survived Step 2.

A completely illogical, certifiably insane man would have merrily woken Kakashi up in a rather unorthodox way, therefore bypassing Steps 1 and 3, and shirking his way around the conditional of Step 2.

But Iruka was neither Logical Man, nor Slightly Less Logical Man, nor even, unfortunately for the fangirls, Completely Illogical Certifiably Insane Man.

He was, quite simply, Iruka.

Which meant he did what any Iruka would do.

A piercing yell rang out through Konoha, upsetting the birds from their morning roosts and causing not a few ninja to draw their kunai, and scaring small children as far as Sunagakure.

Well, Hatake Kakashi definitely couldn't pretend to sleep through that. Sighing quietly, he opened his eyes and turned slowly toward Iruka. The chuunin, to his amusement, seemed to be having a first-rate panic attack.

The jounin blinked, rubbing at one eye sleepily. "Morning," he mumbled.

"You—wha—" Iruka was spluttering, which Kakashi found infinitely cute. "Wh—What are you doing here?"

"Mm?" Kakashi shifted, propping himself up on one elbow and regarding Iruka calmly. "This is my apartment, Iruka. Why shouldn't I be here?"

"Your apart—then what am I doing here?" Iruka demanded.

Kakashi shrugged. "You got drunk at the party last night," he said, "So I took you home. Then you got horny, so we had sex."

Iruka's face turned a most interesting shade of red that Kakashi didn't think he had ever seen on anyone's face before. "We had sex," the chuunin repeated in a small, almost squeaky voice.

The jounin nodded cheerfully. "Yes, Iruka, we had sex," he said. "Hot, passionate, mind-blowing sex, by the way. Didn't know you could be so kinky. I never expected you to be so good at giving hea—"

Pop! Iruka disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving his clothes, his sandals, and his hitai-ate lying in the various places where they had been scattered the previous night.

Kakashi cocked an eyebrow at the academy teacher's reaction, blinking for a few moments in the calmness of his bedroom before finally allowing a broad smile to break out onto his face.

Umino Iruka hurried down the street, muttering curse after sizzling curse to himself. When Kakashi had told him the disturbing news, he had instinctively bamphed home—only to discover that he had left everything, including his hitai-ate, at the jounin's apartment. And there was no way in hell he was going to go back there. Not after what had happened.

Shaking his head and covering his ears, Iruka tried very hard not to whimper. Of all the people in the village, why did this have to happen to him? Had he angered some vengeful god somehow? Was it karma? Oh, he was going to have to explain it to people soon, because no doubt Kakashi wouldn't be able to keep something like this to himself. Oh no, being the porn-reading pervert that he was, Kakashi was sure to tell everyone he came across about just how good Iruka was in bed—

Hm. Just how good was I in bed?

"Argh!" Giving his inner voice a very sound kick, Iruka turned toward the nearest café—yes, some caffeine sounded very good right about now—and was just about to step inside when he spotted Izumo, Kotetsu, Anko, Asuma and Kurenai sitting at a table.

Instantly he leaped back, feeling a rush of panic beginning to rise. Kakashi was sure to have told at least one of them already—oh, he was never going to hear the end of it! So, Iruka-kun, I heard you and Kakashi were playing the teacher-student thing last night?

He was so going to kill himself. Quickly Iruka turned, intent on escaping before any of the other ninja noticed him, when all of a sudden—

"So Iruka believed him?" Izumo asked.

The chuunin stopped mid-step. Believed what? Turning and bending just a little closer, he was able to catch Anko's reply. "Yep," the purple-haired jounin said. "Teleported himself naked out of the room, from what Kakashi told me."

"Wait a minute, let me get this straight," Kurenai said. "It was all a bet?"

"Yeah," Anko said. "After Iruka got drunk last night, Kakashi made a bet with us that he could make Iruka think that they had had sex. We didn't believe him, of course, because Iruka's supposed to be sensible, so we all bet against him. So he took Iruka home, scattered their clothes, put him to bed, and went to sleep beside him. And according to what he said, Iruka woke up and had a panic attack to end all panic attacks." She paused, and Iruka could almost see her frowning. "I lost the entire payment from my last mission too, because of that bet."

Iruka didn't hear the rest, too busy storming down the street and being utterly, unmistakably pissed off.

Kakashi was going to hang for this.

Fifteen minutes later, Iruka had finally located Naruto and pulled him aside for a private talk. The blond boy looked up at him, blinking in confusion. "What's this about, Iruka-sensei?" he asked.

"Listen, Naruto," Iruka said, "How would you feel about a night of all-you-can-eat ramen, all on me?"

"Really?" Naruto's face lit up. "Are you serious, Iruka-sensei? I'd love it! All-you-can-eat ramen! Yeah! Is it tonight? Or tomorrow night? Or right now? I'm gonna order pork ramen, and beef, and that special spicy kind that's really really good, and—"

"Hold on a second, Naruto," Iruka said, gripping the boy's shoulder to stop his tirade. "I need you to do something for me first."

"Sure, sure, anything you want, Iruka-sensei!"

Iruka smiled. "Okay, it's like this…"

Hatake Kakashi was, all in all, very pleased with himself. Not only had he succeeded in proving that the village's supposedly most levelheaded shinobi was, in fact, highly susceptible to hyperventilation, but he was also several thousand gold richer. Even better, he and Iruka were now "lovers," which meant he no longer had to worry about confessions and courtship and could get right down to the good stuff. Because Kakashi had, in fact, been interested in Iruka for several months now, and now the adorable little chuunin was as good as his, with Kakashi hardly having to raise a finger.

Yes, he loved being a genius.

Turning to glance into a nearby café, Kakashi grinned under his mask. Speak of the devil…

Umino Iruka was sitting quietly at one of the inner tables, stacks of papers piled neatly before him as he carefully went over his students' assignments. The young teacher was the absolute picture of calm and collection, seated at the table, focused on his work, pausing only to take an occasional sip from the cup of decaf beside him.

He didn't look up when Kakashi entered the café, or when the jounin approached the table. Rolling his eyes at the obvious cold shoulder he was being given, Kakashi seated himself comfortably on the edge of Iruka's chair and wrapped his arms around the chuunin's waist. "Surprise!"

"Gyah—what the hell!"

In the next instant Kakashi was sprawled on the floor, trying to remember why his head was throbbing like that, and wondering why the entire front of his vest was soaked with decaf coffee.

Iruka, meanwhile, was on the other side of the table, not seeming to notice the other guests in the café staring at them as he screamed at the top of his lungs, "What the hell was that for!"

Kakashi managed to get back to his feet, rubbing the side of his head. "You didn't have to hit me so hard…"

"I had every right to, you pervert!" Iruka screamed. "You were molesting me!"

"I have a right to molest you," Kakashi said calmly. "We're lovers now, after all."

"Lov—what?" Iruka glared. "You know, Kakashi-san, whatever this is about, it isn't funny. I don't appreciate you coming up and playing jokes on me like this."

Kakashi rolled his eyes; he was starting to get tired of this. "Now, now, Iruka, that's enough," he said. "Don't tell me you've already forgotten about what happened last night, after the party—"

"If you're talking about the chuunin and jounin party, I wasn't there," Iruka said, walking carefully around the table and collecting his papers. "I don't know what you were told, but I had to grade papers last night so I was at home all evening finishing them up."

Kakashi's single blue eye narrowed dangerously. "It's not going to work, Iruka," he said.

The chuunin glared right back. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about, Kakashi-san," he said, gathering his papers and putting them back into his bag. "Now, you'll excuse me before I decide to report you for your inappropriate behavior." And he walked out of the café.

Kakashi was left standing there for a moment, utterly speechless. Really, who the hell did Iruka think he was, just blowing him off like that? Especially under the circumstances? Was the chuunin really in that much denial, or was he just pissed off?

Either way, Kakashi was going to find him and straighten this out, because even his patience had a limit. Stepping out of the café, he glanced up and down the street just in time to spot Iruka disappearing around a nearby corner. Quickly Kakashi took a step in that direction, but then a slight but familiar chakra disturbance registered on the edge of his chakra field—looking up, he cursed quietly when he saw the white messenger bird circling lazily above his head, giving its distinctive 'the Hokage's summoning you, you poor bastard' call. Okay, so not quite that specific, but you get the point.

Grumbling about certain blond kunoichi and their bad timing, Kakashi decided that he would deal with Iruka later and headed off in the direction of Tsunade's office.

Kakashi didn't think anything was out of the ordinary when he opened the door to Tsunade's office and stepped inside, but he did notice Naruto standing in the corner with a rather guilty look on his face. Instantly Kakashi knew what had happened: Naruto had pulled some sort of prank, had been caught, and had blamed Kakashi for it.

Kakashi mentally shrugged. It wasn't the first time, he reminded himself as he stepped forward and bowed to the Hokage seated regally at her desk. "You summoned me, Hokage-sama?"

Tsunade was silent for a moment; in fact, it was such a long moment that Kakashi eventually straightened, peering curiously at the busty blond. The Godaime Hokage was currently glaring at him, but he didn't find that unusual; she glared at him all the time. It was the silence that bothered him.

"Um…Hokage-sama, what do you need?" he asked.

At this, Tsunade shifted in her chair, lifting a hand and indicating Naruto with her thumb. "Explain," she said simply.

Kakashi blinked. "Explain what?"

Tsunade sighed, turning to Naruto. "Tell him what happened," she said.

"Eh." Naruto shifted uncomfortably, mumbling the words as he stared at the floor. "You see, um…you know that adult ninja party that they hold every year?"

Oh, no, Kakashi thought.

"Well…" Naruto scratched his head, still refusing to look at either Tsunade or Kakashi. "See, we all wanna know what goes on in there, but no one lets us in 'cause we're not old enough. So yesterday, when I heard Iruka-sensei wasn't going, I was all like 'Yeah I'll henge into Iruka-sensei and go' so I did it and then I drank a lot of stuff and fell asleep and, uh, woke up with you, Kakashi-sensei." He seemed to be wanting to shrink right into the wall. "And, uh, yeah. That's it."

There was a moment of silence before Outer Kakashi managed a very calm (under the circumstances) "I see."

Inner Kakashi was busy building a huge bonfire in which he was going to burn himself to death, and was looking for oil to speed up the process.

It was Naruto not Iruka oh holy shit I'm gonna die right here—

"So." Tsunade's voice interrupted his thoughts and he looked up to see the Hokage sitting carefully back in her chair, smiling like a big hungry animal would smile right before it swallowed you whole. "Explain."

Kakashi was silent for a moment, and both Naruto and Tsunade saw the tiny expanse of skin around his right eye that wasn't covered by his mask beginning to visibly pale. "Um…"

Tsunade resisted the urge to grin; Naruto had, of course, told her the whole plan in order to make her go along with it, and she was really enjoying the Hatake brat's reaction to Naruto's story.

"You can't explain," she said when Kakashi failed to produce anything other than confused noises.

"Maa…" Whoa, the Hatake brat was actually beginning to shake. "Well, you see…"

When she heard the hitch in his voice, Tsunade took pity on him. "You're dismissed," she said, feeling like he had had enough torture for one day. In the next instant, Kakashi was gone.

As soon as the smoke had cleared, Tsunade turned to Naruto. "Tell Iruka he owes me a good bottle of sake for this," she said.

It wasn't until he had gotten home, taken a shower, banged his head against the wall several times, called himself an assortment of interesting names, crumpled up his title of 'genius' and flushed it down the toilet, made himself two cups of tea, and reread his latest volume of Icha Icha twice that Kakashi finally felt himself settled enough to think about what had happened.

The first thought that came to his mind: Something's wrong with this picture.

No matter how effective a henge was, there was still a sufficient chakra anomaly to be sensed by any shinobi chuunin or above. And there was no way a henge could last through intoxication; one simply did not lack the mental capacities to keep up the illusion.

Which lead to Only One Thing.

Naruto had lied.

Kakashi frowned, setting the Icha Icha volume onto the nightstand beside his bed. If Naruto had been lying, then it was possible that Tsunade had been playing along as well. Which meant that someone who had ready access to them both was the one responsible for this set-up.

And that person could be none other than…

Rising and snatching up his hitai-ate, Kakashi left his apartment.

A minute or so later found him standing just inside a small alleyway, barely illuminated by the setting sun, listening to Naruto babble about how Iruka-sensei had promised him all-you-can-eat ramen if he made up the story and got Tsunade to go along with it. When the boy was finished, Kakashi nodded. "Very good, Naruto," he said. "Looks like I won't be sending you back to the academy after all."

Naruto gave a sigh of relief before looking up. "Hey, y'know, since Iruka-sensei won't be treating me to that all-you-can-eat ramen anymore, you should do it 'cause I gave you all the information and—"

"Maybe another night," Kakashi said, and walked away.

It didn't take him very long to find Iruka's apartment, one of the many bachelor units in the chuunin housing complex. When the chuunin teacher answered the door, Kakashi might have been impressed by the fact that his hair was down and he looked downright sexy in that yukata, except Kakashi was too busy being royally pissed off to enjoy the view.

Iruka blinked a couple of times before speaking. "Good evening, Kakashi-san," he said. "What can I do for you?"

Kakashi's single blue eye was narrowed almost to a slit. "Gig's up, Iruka," he said. "I know what you did."

Iruka frowned. "I'm sorry, I have no idea—"

"Naruto told me about what you asked him and Hokage-sama to do," Kakashi said.

That effectively shut Iruka up, and they were silent for a few moments before the chuunin finally spoke. "Okay, so you know," he said, shrugging and moving to close the door. "Thanks for telling me. Good night."

Kakashi's hand suddenly shot forward, grabbing the edge of the door and preventing Iruka from closing it. "Listen to me, Iruka," he said.

Iruka glared. "Take it off or I'll break it off," he said. "I mean it, Kakashi-san. I know since you're high and lofty and above us all that you think you can just play a joke like that and expect me to forgive you without a second thought. Well, that's not the way it works. You can't play with people's emotions like that."

He tried to close the door again but Kakashi held on, bracing himself against the doorframe. "Will you just hear me out?" he asked, and Iruka frowned. The jounin sounded tired.

At the silence that followed, Kakashi spoke. "Look," he said, "It was a bet; yes, I'll admit that. But that wasn't the whole of it."

Iruka raised one slim brown eyebrow, an indication for him to continue, and so Kakashi did. "I was going to do something about it sooner, I really was, but I was scared. So when you got drunk last night, I disguised the idea in the form of a bet so that I wouldn't be humiliated if you reacted…the way you did."

Iruka blinked. "I don't follow you."

Kakashi sighed. "Rejection," he said. "I was afraid you'd reject me if I confessed straight out, so I thought I'd skip those stages when you got drunk…but you rejected me anyway. So…So yeah, I guess that's it." He released his hold on the door and turned. "Sorry I bothered you. Good night."

He took about two steps before Iruka's voice stopped him. "Wait."

The jounin paused at the top of the stairs, wavering indecisively for a moment before finally turning, blinking at Iruka who was still standing in the doorway. The chuunin managed a small, shy smile. "I just finished making dinner," he said, "And…And I might've made a little too much, so you know, if you want to join me…?"

Kakashi blinked. "There's no need to feel guilty on my behalf," he said.

"It's not guilt," Iruka answered. "It's…the opposite of a rejection."

"Ah." And very slowly, Kakashi smiled. "Well then, Iruka-sensei, I would love to have dinner with you." And as he stepped into Iruka's warm apartment, he realized it was a start. A baby step, yes, but a start nevertheless.