Exceptionnally, author comments are at the end of the chapter. Or rather, the epilogue. Or whatever.
Anyway. Enjoy everyone.
Kurenai was quietly looking for a place to set the huge punch bowl she was holding on the already overcrowded with food tables when her friend Hanako came out of the kitchen with a bowl of pretzels and a huge salad - she frowned, wondering how she was supposed to put all that food on such ridiculously small tables. She couldn't believe those were the longest tables Asuma had found – obviously, he had not looked hard enough. Never ask a man to do something you can do yourself, she mentally noted.
"Asuma, I think we'll need another table - those ones aren't big enough," she said half-reproachfully to her boyfriend, who had the nerve to look exasperated.
"The tables are perfect. It's you who made far too much food - look at all this stuff, there is enough food to feed half of the village here," the beared man said, waving his arms at the table for good mesure, "I thought we were supposed to have a small party to celebrate Raidou's promotion!"
"We are!" the kunoichi replied crossly. "And there is not too much food, the tables are too small. So make yourself useful for once and find another table before the guests start arriving. Pronto."
Asuma rolled his eyes but complied to his girlfriend demand; he knew better than to twart her when she was in that kind of mood. As he left, Kurenai returned to the kitchen to put down the punch bowl and busied herself with some last-minute decorations, her friend following her with an amused smirk.
"You had him well-trained."
"Not well enough yet, it seems," the jounin mumbled darkly as she rearraged for the nineth time the flower bouquet and Hanako laughed.
"By the way, who are we having over?"
At the thought of her guests, Kurenai's face lightened. "Well, of course there's the Yamanaka and the Namida - couldn't really not invite them, couldn't we?"
"And then there's the Kimigo, Yao Ishare, Genma, Izumi and Kotetsu, that blondie working at the gate, what's her name again - oh yeah, Abi - Wusha Okyu, Hudana Kao..." the red-eyed female counted on her fingers, frowning.
"You invited Jisha and his fiancée, didn't you?"
"Of course. Them, and the Guymacho - I don't know them very well, but they are friends of Raidou's. Nishimika Yuuhe is coming as well; she just got dumped, I thought she could do with a little fun. Oh, and I was almost forgetting - Hatake Kakashi and Umino Iruka will be there as well."
"WHAT! Kakashi and Iruka are coming?!" Hanako asked with incredulous glee. "Why didn't you say it earlier!?"
Kurenai smirked somewhat smugly to her flower bouquet. "I know; those two don't go out much – at first I couldn't believe it when Asuma told me he convinced them to come. But apparently they're good friends of Raidou's and Iruka didn't want to miss the party, so Kakashi decided to tag along. But I didn't want to spread the news – we would have ended up with a bunch of uninvited guests and that's something Asuma and me wanted to avoid at all cost..." the jounin trailed on a softer tone, and by the way she avoided her best friend's eyes, Hanako guessed that Kurenai's desire to protect the intimacy of Konoha's most famous couple was more due to her boyfriend insistence than to anything else. But honestly, who could blame her? Hanako could only imagine how much it had cost the compulsive party organizer to keep that piece of information for herself! Having Kakashi and Iruka coming to a party together, that was unheard of!
"This is great! It's about time these two start to socialize and go out a bit, if you want my advise."
"Of course. But you've got to understand them. With the whole village constantly prying into their relationship, it's only natural for those two to be a little secretive and seek privacy."
"I totally agree. What they had to go through is really horrible, when you think about it," Hanako said disapprovingly, and her red-eyed friend nodded vigorously. "With the whole village knowing about them...!"
"You know that there are still people giving them disgusted looks and making up scandalous stories about them? They really have it hard, especially since they are both men. You'd think that people would be more open-minded, or at least keep their disapprovement to themselves!"
"My thought exactly. And it's not like they go out of their way to annoy or shock people - on the opposite, they are quite discreet about their relationship, given the situation. They never talk about it and they don't even act like a couple in public. If it wasn't for the fact that half of the village seems to have stalked them on a date at least once, I'd never believe those two are actually going out together."
"I personally think that's what make them such a lovely couple," Kurenai said with conviction, and her friend looked mildly puzzled. "I mean, have you seen them when they are together? They just walk side by side silently, looking calm and content just to be together... As if they don't even feel the need to talk. I think it's just so romantic..."
Kurenai sighed enviously and her best friend grimaced; obviously, she did not agree with the red-eyed jounin's idea of romanticism.
"Well you might find it romantic, but I think it's... plain strange. The way they act around each other, I mean. Sometimes I get the feeling that they're not truly happy to be together." The jounin rolled her eyes.
"You're saying that because they're private and don't grope each other in broad daylight," she replied on a teasingly reproachful tone. "It's not because they're not acting like horny rabbits and sucking on each other's tongue in the mission room that they're not happy. I'll let you know that there are more subtle ways to be happy and it's not because you never shared this kind of deep bond with someone and always acted like a horny rabbit yourself that everybody does."
"Hey," the brown-haired kunoichi protested playfully, "I went out with Yoyaku, don't you remember?"
"Yeah, and how long did it last? Two? Three weeks?"
"Which proves my point: horny couples never last long."
"Maybe, but I can't help thinking that these two are gonna break up soon enough."
"You said that when they started dating, don't you remember? You said that they wouldn't tough longer than two weeks. And look at them – they've been together for three months now and they're doing fine. You're the one who's too pessimist!"
Just then, Asuma arrived with a pliable table – borrowed from the neighbors, he explained to the two kunoichi, but they were not even listening. As soon as the table arrived, they took over the beared man and set it against the dinning room wall, quickly covering it with a white tablecloth and filling it with plates and bowls full of food.
As she was setting down the punch bowl on the table, Hanako suddenly came to an alt.
"Kurenai, didn't you say you've invited Genma?" she asked slowly, looking mildly puzzled and anxious.
"Yes, I did."
"But you invited Iruka."
"You invited Genma and Iruka?" the brown-haired kunoichi asked incredulously, staring at her placid friend as if she had grown a second head.
"Yes I did, but I never said Genma was going to come," the woman answered playfully. "I doubt he will – he may be carefree, but he's got enough sense of self-preservation to avoid our little chuunin. Or at least, he's going to avoid him now after what happened!" They both burst out laughing as they settled the last bowl on the already crowded table.
"He just got out of the hospital, didn't he?"
"Does he still have those red blotches?" Hanako asked with amusement and Kurenai smirked.
"No, but I heard he still has pimples though."
"Say, why are we going again?"
From the bathroom where he was preparing himself, Iruka rolled his eyes with mild amusement. If the sulking jounin hadn't asked that question twelve times already, he hadn't asked it once. Sometimes Iruka thought that his boyfriend was too much of an ermit. They both knew they were going to have a great time at Kurenai's – everybody always had a great time at Kurenai's, she was too much of an obsessive party organizer to allow people to be bored – but Kakashi didn't want to leave the comfort of his boyfriend's small but welcoming living room nonetheless. As if attending to this party would require from him a superhuman effort. Iruka snorted at the thought.
"We're going first) to celebrate Raidou's promotion, second) to have fun with friends we haven't seen in a while and third) to give those gossipers something to talk about so that they leave us alone for the rest of the week," Iruka enumerated from the bathroom doorway, watching from afar his boyfriend, who was currently sloutched on the couch reading his newest book, sulking in his nice civilian clothes.
"Well, I'd rather stay home with you, a cup of tea and a good book."
"Then stay here. That way, you'll miss a great time, free food and your lovely boyfriend," Iruka told him simply as he returned into the bathroom to stare at his reflexion and decide wether of not he was going to wear that green pullover. He had worn it the last time he had come at Kurenai and she had told him green was not a color that suited him well... Oh, well. Kurenai aesthetic senses could be screwed.
"D'you think Genma's going to come?" Iruka suddenly asked as he left the bathroom and walked to the living room. Kakashi looked up from his book, looking bored.
"After what you've done to him?"
Iruka chuckled under his breath as he placed himself behind the couch and leaned on it, snatching his lover's book from his hands. "Why do I sense some reproach in that voice? A couple of pimples never killed anyone."
"No, but don't you think you went a little overboard with the itching powder?"
"No, not really."
"AND the red ant colony?"
"... well, okay, maybe I went a little too far..."
"My point exactly."
"But he had it coming."
The jounin didn't say anything and by the nonchalant gaze he was sending to his lover, Iruka knew that he didn't quite agree with him but didn't think of the whole issue as important enough to bother arguing over it. That thought made the chuunin smile: when had he started to know the Copy nin well enough to be able to read through him just by looking into his eyes? But it was true that Kakashi had pretty expressive eyes… When you knew how to read them, of course. Even now that he was used to his boyfriend uncovered face, he still continued to look into the man's eyes to know what he was really thinking.
Iruka remembered just how embarrassed he had been – they both had been – when Kakashi had first taken down his mask in his presence. Feeling embarrassed and awkward, they had both stared away and tried to fake being busy doing something else, making up excuses just to not look at each other while pretending there was nothing special going on. Like two nervous and blushing pre-teen who had just held hands minutes ago and where trying to pretend they had not. After a few minutes, they had both been quite relieved when the silver-haired man had decided to put his mask back on, and they had gone back with their occupations like nothing had happened. Except that that night, Iruka had not been able to sleep well, his mind plagued with stolen glances of a beautiful, pale, delicate yet manly face that stirred odd feelings in him. As the days passed, they gradually got used to this new intimacy they shared and the brown-haired man soon started to like Kakashi's face, to like his straight nose and thin lips that twisted into an amused smirk so often, and his small and almost disturbingly white teeth that shone so radiantly when the man smiled and laughed. And soon enough, when Iruka went to bed, before he started to dose off, his mind would be filled with thoughts of Kakashi's warm and powerful laugh combined with images of the jounin's dazzling smile, and a fond warmth would wash over him as he fell asleep.
Before he even knew it, Iruka woke up one morning to realize that he was in love. He had known it would probably happen one day or another, but he still felt rather uneasy with the idea of his life depending so much so suddenly on the silver-haired jounin's presence. Depending on his warm smile, on the way the he had to blush so cutely or the way Iruka's heart seemed to want to burst when he laughed. Depending on their light discussions late at night over a cup of coffee and on the faint shiver that went up his spine when he felt the jounin's agile fingers lightly brushing against his whenever Kakashi handed in his mission report or helped him to wash the dishes. But whenever he met with Kakashi again, his doubts and fears of abandoning himself to his feelings melted like snow under the April's sun and before long, the academy teacher realized that he had, in fact, long allowed the man in.
It was soon after that realization drew on the chuunin that they had shared their first kiss. Iruka snorted with fond amusement at the thought. He remembered only too well just how much he had panicked when he had first seen Kakashi's nervous and slightly blushing face slowly approach his, his eyes hesitantly asking for the chuunin's permission. When he had realized what was going on, the brown-haired man had frozen on the spot like the 28 year-old scared virgin he was, his panicking brain automatically supplying to him four different escape routes, as if he were fighting an enemy ninja on the field rather than sitting on his couch with his lover. But although he had been nervous as hell at the thought of having his first kiss, Iruka had felt a rush of curiosity along with the tension-induced adrenalin flowing through his veins. So he had stayed still, caught between his desire to flee and his new-found curiousness and Kakashi, who took his boyfriend's stillness for a yes, had slowly closed the distance between them and shyly kissed him. Their lips had merely brushed against each others, but the chuunin had felt so aware of the short contact that his whole body had flushed, an electric jolt spread from the root of his hair to his curling toes at the sensation of his lover's lips on his.
Feeling more confident after Iruka's lack of protestation, the Copy nin had kissed him again, his lips lingering on the chuunin's longer and Iruka, feeling ecstatic from the rush of adrenalin and the whole new sensations, had slowly found himself hesitantly kissing back the man. As their kisses slowly became more confident, the brown-haired man became overly conscious of his suddenly very sensitive body and all those new sensations spreading through it. He could feel with an intensity and a sharpness he had never experienced before the texture of the jounin's warm and humid lips against his, the warm pressure of his wide and calloused hand cupping gently the side of his face and of his other hand firmly gripping his right hip over his t-shirt, these contacts making him feel so warm he felt as if their skin would melt together. He had been also overly aware of their knees rubbing against each other and of his own hands hesitantly gripping at the jounin's shirt, the feeling of Kakashi's wide, warm and muscled back under the shirt he was clutching making his already pounding heart speed up in his chest.
And all too soon, it was over. His boyfriend's wonderful lips were gone and the skin where his strong hands had been seconds ago prickled longingly at the sudden lack of warmth. Feeling slightly dizzy and flushed from their first kiss, both men had stared at each other awkwardly for a long while, not knowing what they were supposed to do after their first make-out session. Maybe it was because of the adrenalin and nervousness they both felt crashing into them now that it was finally over, or maybe it was just because of the sheer irony and strangeness of the whole situation, but they had then both started to laugh.
Whatever people are supposed to do after their first make-out session, Iruka was quite sure laughing was not even in the top ten list. But then again, they had never claimed to be a normal couple anyway. How could they be, when you think about the way they ended up dating each other?
Feeling a rush of affection for his lover at the thought, Iruka bent forward and loosely wrapped his arms around the Copy nin's neck, sweetly kissing his lover's unruly hair. The jounin looked up playfully at his boyfriend, his lips turning into another of his sarcastic yet warm smirk.
"What was that for?"
Iruka pretended to look offended. "What do you mean, what was that for? Do I need a reason to kiss my boyfriend now?"
"Don't pretend: I know what you're trying to do."
"Oh, and what am I trying to do?"
"You're trying to bribe me into leaving this comfortable couch and this wonderful book to go to that party of yours," he explained as if it was the most obvious thing of the world. Then, his eyes sparkled playfully and his smirk turned into a lecherous leer. "But if you want to convince me to come with you, you're gonna need to do a lot more than just kissing me."
Not at all embarrassed, Iruka merely smirked back at his perverted boyfriend. "Then, I guess you're gonna stay here. You can always read your entire porn collection to 'comfort' you while I'm out having fun."
"What a cruel boyfriend you are," the jounin pouted like a child who had been denied a huge lollipop and Iruka chuckled.
In spite of what most people thought and what he let on, Kakashi was not a horny man. Perverted? Most definitely. But horny? Not really. It might seem paradoxical to most people, but Iruka had a pretty good theory to explain it. A theory that could be summed up to two words: massive desensitization.
Over the time, he had affectionately nicknamed it the 'addicted porn reader syndrome'. Not that he would admit it to anyone – as a teacher, he was supposed to disapprove of such reading habits, not to feel some sort of fondness for it because he had a sexy, perverted porn-addicted lover. Okay, he may have been a bit lax about the whole reading porn in public issue, but everyone had to do compromises, right? And, unlike what Kakashi had been teasingly pretending for a month or so, it was not because he had given up on lecturing his boyfriend about his bad reading habits that it meant he was getting smitten into pornography and reading Icha Icha when nobody's looking. He was merely being tolerant and no, his boyfriend perversity was not starting to rub on him.
But behind the appearances, Iruka knew perfectly well that his lover offers to enlighten him about what he was missing out not reading the Icha Icha series were only teasings and were not truly serious – as it had been previously exposed, Hatake kakashi was a pervert, but not a horny one. They had been together for three months already, and not even once Kakashi had put pressure on Iruka for their relationship to get bolder. Not once a tentative hand had hazarded itself to some unwelcoming area of his body or had the jounin tried to talk him into doing more than just having loving kisses sessions on the couch. Something Iruka was truly glad for, because although he loved sharing increasingly heated kisses with the man, he still wasn't sure he was ready to go further yet. The simple thought of sex was sometimes enough to make him fell strangely anxious and uncomfortable, so he was glad that his boyfriend was perverted instead of horny – although he was petty sure he would change his mind once they started to actually get some... But that wasn't something he worried too much about for the time being. At any rate, the brown-haired man liked to think that he was pretty open-minded, so he guessed he could deal with whatever embarrassing and/or possibly weird kinks his lover might have. And he guessed that experimenting was not such a bad thing, because no matter what they would do, Iruka knew his boyfriend would never hurt him and would always respect him. So… so why not?
But there was one thing Umino Iruka was adamant about. He would ride, be ridden, be cuffed, be gagged, have chocolate and maple syrup all over his body, play the teacher, do it on the dining table – hell, he would even wear a damn school girl uniform and say 'spank me sensei' if that was what turned Kakashi on. But the silver-haired man was better not even consider doing anything on the academy grounds. It was not even an option.
But that would not happen. Kakashi knew better. Or at least, he knew better than to even hope Iruka was going to give in to such a sick fantasy.
Iruka's chain of thoughts was cut by a sudden question of his lover, who was looking looking up at him with mildly amused eyes.
"What are you thinking about?"
"You were zoning out. What were you thinking about?"
Iruka wisely decided to ignore the tiny suicidal and frivolous part of his mind that was urging him to talk about the school girl uniform and the maple syrup.
Instead, he smirked and said teasingly: "I was thinking about how great it was to have a boyfriend who spends most of his time trying to talk me into his bed but would never actually try to jump me."
Kakashi raised an eyebrow at him with amusement. "Is that a complain or a request?"
"In your dreams, pervert," Iruka answered back, shuffling his already unruly lover's hair fondly.
"Hey," the jounin whined playfully, "what's wrong with being a pervert? I like being a pervert."
"Yes, I know you do."
"Being a pervert is better than being a jerk. Or a sadist. Or a horny teenager, unlike some people we know."
Iruka scolded at the teasing silver-haired man. "They're not-"
"Yes, they are. They're sixteen year-old inexperienced, confused, hormon-laden horny brats."
The chuunin opened his mouth to argue with his boyfriend, but soon closed it. As much as it pained him to admit it, the silver-haired man was right: Sasuke and Naruto were horny teenagers. But Iruka didn't like to see things under such a crude light: his ex-students' arguments and issues were due to far more complex causes than just horniness. Although Iruka guessed that if one wanted to explain really quickly why the village was graced at least once a week by a formidable outburst coming generally from the Uchiha compound…
Not that Iruka was worried about it. Given their past history and personalities, occasional rows were pretty much unavoidable. They were, after all, both proud, stubborn and competitive growing young men who had an history of self-esteem issues caused by a sad, lonely and loveless childhood and who wanted to be respected and recognized for their worth above all. And to top it off, they were inexperienced, anxious and horny teenagers, as Kakashi had crudely but truthfully put it. A very explosive mix, to put it mildly.
But except for their weekly rows, they got along most of the time and made a fine couple – an explosive, unpredictable and anxiously tentative couple, but a fine couple nonetheless. The academy teacher always smiled whenever he saw them walking together in the streets of Konoha: they completed each other in so many ways that whatever happened, he knew they would find a way to make things work together.
Perhaps because people had been so busy gossiping about Iruka and Kakashi's about two week old official relationship, the news of Sasuke's relationship with Naruto nearly went unnoticed. Well, as unnoticed as it could be with Sasuke's fanclub – there were no public destruction and Naruto had to hide at Sasuke's for only three days before the angry fangirls, Sakura at their head, gave up on skinning him alive for taking away their precious Uchiha heir and grudgingly went back to their daily life. Well, they pretty much gave up all hopes of ever getting some beating up done when Sasuke, after being stuck in his own house for three days, warned them that if anybody was to even touch one of his boyfriend hair, he would personally make sure that person suffered the most horrible and painful death ever heard of – and knowing the character, it was not an empty thread. And the fact that the Hokage soon after personally threatened to make them all become her personal assistants if they were to continue to harass Naruto probably helped a lot too. Actually, Iruka wasn't sure which thread had actually managed to scare them away. Kakashi made no secret he thought that it was the possibility of having to hide the Hokage's booze from her on daily basis that did it though.
Ever since, the two teenagers could have been seen together nearly everywhere they went – which was not that much of a change, when Iruka thought about it. Actually, he knew from Naruto that nothing had changed much in their relationship - except for the fact that they now spent their evenings together kissing the daylight out of each other. Which was more information about his ex-students' sex life than he actually was ready to process. But it was not as if he could turn Naruto down when the blonde burst his way in his apartment, his face twisted in a mix and indignant anger, insecurity and helplessness, obviously looking for guidance. Of course, Iruka honestly wanted to help and guide the teenager, and was doing his best to come up with good pieces of advice that would help Naruto's first relationship to blossom. But when the blonde young man had showed up one night nearly one month and half ago and told him hysterically about how Sasuke had groped him while they were snuggling on the couch, the academy teacher had felt a bit helpless about what he was supposed to say to the blonde. In fact, he had truly felt helpless when, after finally calming down a bit, Naruto had told him that back then, he had liked being groped and did not know what to do about it because he didn't want to be, as he had gracefully put it, "Sasuke's bitch".
Iruka hadn't known what to say to his ex-student as he understood only too well Naruto's apprehension: he himself wasn't feeling that great with the thought of being dominated by Kakashi, no matter how experienced, patient and loving the jounin probably was in bed. A man had his pride, and Naruto certainly had more of it than your average young male. That, and he was stubborn. But the true problem was that Sasuke and Naruto were both proud and stubborn, and the issue of who would be the "submissive one", no matter how superficial it truly was, soon became the most important source of tension and outbursts between the two young insecure yet horny lovers.
Tired of the constant confrontations between his two students and teammates and of the growing helplessness of his lover, Kakashi had decided to openly confront the two teens about it three weeks ago. He had locked himself with them in Iruka's house and scolded them about how stupid it was for them to see sex as a competition rather than a way of expressing love and trust and told them that being 'dominant' or 'submissive' truly didn't matter when you trusted and cared for each other – and if it damn still made them uneasy, then they could just play heads or tails to decide who would be on top for the first round and then switch positions the next time. Which shocked the teens into a shy and mildly shameful silence. Hell, it shocked Iruka into silence as well; he almost felt bad for feeling anxious about being topped by his lover. Almost.
Ever since that day, Sasuke and Naruto's relationship had been less tense – of course, they still fought once in a while, but not about sex anymore. Naruto had gradually stopped to come rushing for Iruka's guidance whenever the Uchiha heir made a move at him, something the chuunin couldn't help but feel guiltily glad for. Although he had to admit, he sometimes wondered how things were progressing between the two young men. But he would never dare to ask such an intimate question to his favourite ex-student.
"Admit it," his lover suddenly drawled.
"That you're curious about who's gonna let the other fuck him first."
"Kakashi!" the brown-haired man growled indignantly, "It's about your students you are talking!"
"So? Why couldn't I be curious because they're my students? It's not like I said I'd like to watch," the jounin said on a bored tone. Then, his face shifted into a thoughtful expression. "Well, I actually might…"
"Okay. Then tell me that you honestly are not curious at all about who's going to top the other first."
Iruka gaped silently at the smug-looking Kakashi, feeling growingly annoyed at his lover for being right and at himself for not being able to lie decently when he really wanted to.
"... I hate you."
Chuckling, the jounin patted his irritated boyfriend shoulder. "I'm gonna save you the trouble to find out by yourself then. It's gonna be Sasuke. Or maybe it already had been – it's hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure they haven't gone this far yet."
Iruka arched an annoyed eyebrow at his lover. "And what makes you so confident about it?"
"Because Sasuke has that 'I'm gonna sacrifice myself' attitude about pretty much everything he cares about – that, and the fact that he's the one in the couple who has enough gust to actually do it. Takes a lot of guts to deliberately accept to be submissive and dominated by someone else."
"...I guess," Iruka answered quietly, not really knowing what he was supposed to think of such a declaration.
The Copy nin eyed his thoughtful lover silently for a while. Then, he sighed and got up, covering his mask over his naked face.
"So. Are we going to that party or not? We're running late."
Smirking, Iruka followed the silver-haired to the small apartment's entrance, where they both started putting on their coats. "Oh? So you decided to come in the end?"
"Don't make me change my mind about it," the jounin warned teasingly and Iruka laughed lightly as he locked his front door behind them.
"I don't want to mean, but I knew you would come when you showed up with civilian clothes tonight."
"Am I so easy to read?" the jounin asked poutingly.
"Got to do something about it."
A small soft smile on their lips, both men quietly set off, walking side by side in silence. The moon was lightening the street under their feet with its soft glowing light and Iruka found himself staring at the nearly full moon shining prettily in the sky. As they walked, the chuunin suddenly felt incredibly aware of just how much he felt at ease with the Sharigan user. Ever since they had started going out, his life has changed so much, but somehow Iruka couldn't find it in him to miss his previous existence. To miss the lonely nights spent grading homework and the meals he would always prepare and eat alone. To miss telling himself that he as long as he had his job and his students, nothing else mattered. He had long accepted Kakashi as a part of his life and knew pretty well that even if he wanted to, he would not be able to go back to his previous lonely, pervert-free life. And that was perfectly fine with him. He loved Kakashi, loved him more than he ever dreamed he would be able to love someone, and incredibly enough, the jounin loved him back just as much, if not more. And the chuunin could not think of one single thing life could grace him with to make him happier than he was right now.
Suddenly, he did not want to go to that party anymore. He did not want to see his friends, and even the promise of Kurenai's delicious free food wasn't making him enthusiast anymore; all he wanted to do, he realized, was to be with Kakashi. Then, everything became clear in the brown-haired man's man. He did not want to fear anymore. He didn't want to flee anymore. He didn't want to make excuses anymore. At that thought, Iruka suddenly heaved a sigh and stopped on his tracks.
"What's wrong?" the ex-anbu asked his lover, frowning.
"Nothing. But I think," Iruka muttered mysteriously into the night, "that I'm feeling courageous tonight."
His boyfriend stared at him with surprise, and for a long minute neither of them said anything, a comfortable silence stretching on between the two lovers.
"... this basically means we're heading back home, right?"
"Pretty much. But I feel bad about it – I promised Raidou I'd be there, after all."
"Maa, nothing stops us from arriving a few hours late. It's even fashionable."
At those words, Iruka shook his head and smiled. "For unreliable, lazy bums like you, maybe. But if I start getting late, everybody is going to say that you're having a bad influence on me."
"Iruka, they're already saying it – might as well give them a reason to."
The chuunin chuckled as they turned on their heels and slowly started to head back home. "You know, I think you truly do have a bad influence on me."
The silver-haired man laughed and the echo of his heart-warming laugh resounded through the silent night and Iruka's mind as they made their way back to the apartment. As the academy teacher drew closer with every step he took to his apartment, he started to feel nervousness and anticipation building in him, but strangely enough, he wasn't feeling uneasy. Because for the first time, he wasn't going to just let things happen and accept them afterward.
Because for the first time, he knew what he truly wanted.
As the brown-haired man unlocked his front door, Kakashi sighed heavily.
"To think I went through the trouble of putting on civilian clothes for nothing..." he whined childishly and Iruka snorted.
"Poor little thing."
"Gonna help me to remove them, sensei?"
"Don't push your luck."
Nobody really understood why, that night, Iruka and Kakashi showed up a good three hours late at Kurenai's for Raidou's promotion party. Nor why Iruka had that strangely off look when he apologized for it – like he wasn't really feeling sorry at all. Most people just dismissed it as Kakashi's growing bad influence on the good-hearted teacher. First, he arrived late, and then he didn't really seem to feel sorry about it? Where was the world going? The jounin certainly enough couldn't be good for him. He even pretended their lateness was his fault – just how much the silver-haired man brain-washed the poor chuunin? And sure enough, in the following days the inhabitant of Konoha started to spread the news of how the strict and nice teacher had been corrupted into becoming a shrewd person ever since he had started dating the famous and infamous Copy nin. Some even went as far as to complain to the Hokage about the bad influence of certain high-ranked nins on young, easily influenced chuunins entrusted with the upbringing of the village's children, and got pretty offended when the Godaime actually burst out laughing at the mention of a 'young and easily influenced' Iruka.
But people who knew well both Kakashi and Iruka knew better. As Raidou was going to bed that night – happy, slightly more inebriated than he would have wanted to be and more well-fed that he had probably ever been in his life, thank to Kurenai – he couldn't help but smile at the memory of how the chuunin looked slightly flushed and happy with himself during the evening. Oh, he wasn't about to kiss and tell – he'd keep that piece of information to himself and let the whole village think that the brown-haired man was turning into a reckless person because of the lazy Sharigan user. But, the scarred jounin thought smugly, he knew better.
He knew that his friend Iruka had finally found love, and he couldn't think of a single person in the whole village who deserved it more than him.
Okay, I know, the ending was weird. But I think it's somewhat nice nonetheless – and I didn't know how to end it anyway.
Actually, even as I was almost half-way through the writing of the epilogue, I still didn't know if I would put a sex scene in it or not. I didn't mind not writing one but I knew people would definitely get disappointed if I didn't – you bunch of horny readers! In the end, I was seriously considering squeezing a sex scene somewhere, but then I realized that it wouldn't go with the natural flow of the story – and I fancy my stories to be flowing. I think unnatural and forced sex scenes can ruin a good story like nothing else can. So screw the sex scene, sorry everyone! I know you hate me right now. But I think I can live with the burden lol.
For those who might be wondering, I am NOT planning to write another epilogue or a sequel for this story. Not in the following three years anyway. So don't get your hopes up for nothing: it's not going to happen. Sorry.
I'm planning right now to continue my story Clueless teachers – I might not update often (have I ever updated frequently, anyway? I know, I'm such a bad fanfic writer) because right now I am in Japan. That's right, I'm gonna be in Japan for the following 9 months, so you can guess pretty easily that I'm gonna spend more time visiting the place than staying in front of my computer and writing bl fiction. But I'll try to update whenever I can, so please be patient guys.
Finally, thanks again to all of you who had followed this story for the past two years and encouraged me to keep on writing it – I seriously appreciate it, thank you so much for everything.