Iruka closed his eyes and thought hard. What had brought this on? Why was Kakashi suddenly asking about his first kiss?

He'd been playing in the schoolyard with his friends, in the happy days, long before the kyuubi had wrought destruction on all their lives. They were running and chasing as little kids always have and always will. Not caring a hoot for the scorching sun or the humidity that will wilt an adult, sipping iced tea in the shade. And suddenly he'd felt something, a fluttering, like a butterfly trapped in his heart. Anko must have noticed, because she'd chosen just that moment to plant a wet slobbery kiss on his lips. The feeling had vanished, instantly, destroyed by toxic girl cooties.

"My first kiss? That would have been Anko, when I was about six. Of course she kissed all the boys, just to gross us out. …She still does kiss all the boys, come to think of it."

Iruka felt a velvet breath on his cheek and the butterfly touch of lips. "I don't mean a kiddie kiss. Your first real kiss."

Ah. That was a less comfortable memory, with a different, but at the time much sweeter, poison.

"Mizuki. On my fourteenth birthday. He trapped me up in a tree and wouldn't let me down until I gave him a birthday kiss."

Kakashi felt a dark shadow closing in. Mizuki. It wasn't what he'd wanted to hear. "You're sure there was no one before that?"

"Of course I'm sure. You think I went around kissing so many people that I lost track?"

Iruka paused, letting his mind drift back, refusing to let it balk at the uncomfortable places he knew were still there.

"Although there was someone I wanted to kiss, but he was ANBU, or maybe it was a she. No… I know it was a he. I don't remember where or when, but I know I wanted to grab that mask, pull it off and kiss the person underneath. It would have been a good prank. Suicidal… but good."

He brushed the back of his hand against Kakashi's cheek. "Or maybe I just have a thing for masks."

The soft pitter-pat of water on glass announced the arrival of the summer storm. Kakashi slid from the bed and Iruka watched the shadows on his pale skin, rippling and changing with the flex of his muscles, as he walked over to the window and pulled down the sash. The man's beauty was daunting, frightening, but to him it was just a dim reflection of the far more beautiful and precious person within.

He smiled as another memory stirred. There had been one other kiss, sort of.

It had been a low point in his life, the lowest. He'd been in trouble everyday. Twice on some days. He'd told himself that he didn't care, and he'd believed it. But when he found himself in his old house, in his old room, covered in dust and spiders… he had cared, desperately, wretchedly. And his loss, his pain, and his misery had come pouring out.

He'd sat on the bare floor and cried. For his parents, for himself, for the shinobi that he'd once wanted to be but now never would, because he'd screwed everything up so badly. But most of all for his need for someone to notice him and to offer him even the tiniest crumb of real affection.

And then it had happened. As he wept he'd felt himself pulled into a warm embrace, with impossibly strong arms folded around him, and he'd looked through the blur of his tears to see a magical creature. A spirit surrounded by a halo of silver light. And he had felt the connection between them, known that this wonderful visitor understood his sadness, shared it, and would let him unburden himself onto it. Soaking up his sorrow as it blotted up his tears

Then, when he had cried himself out and was limp and numb, it had pressed its perfect face against his and kissed him. A real kiss, tentative, maybe even clumsy, as if the spirit wasn't sure how to kiss a human boy, but full of tenderness and perhaps even love. It had made him feel lovable again. And more. The spirit had kindled something inside him. A spark that made him warm in places where he wasn't used to feeling warmth, and others where he'd grown icy cold. And the butterfly was back in his heart, beating its wings in such a frenzy that in no time it had fanned the spark into a flame.

That flame was still there, it had never left him. It had been the very flame that Kakashi's love had fuelled into a fire.

Of course he knew it was only a dream, the fevered imaginings of his overwrought mind. But even so, just thinking about it still had the power to make him glow.

He felt a dark disturbance in Kakashi's aura, as he slipped back into bed beside him, and he realised that his lover was scowling at him.

"Iruka! You aren't thinking about Mizuki are you?"

"Hell no!" Iruka cuffed him playfully. "That's for even considering such a thing."

He let the glow spread over him, arching his back and stretching so that it flowed all the way into his toes and his fingertips.

"If you must know there was one other kiss, except it doesn't count. I mean it wasn't real. It was just the hallucination of a kiss."

Kakashi's frown turned into a toothy grin. "You hallucinated kisses? And they say I'm crazy."

He sat up on the bed, cross-legged, in his best kindergartner waiting for the teacher to tell a story impression. Except that kindergartners were rarely quite so naked. "I've gotta hear this."

Iruka snorted and rested his head in his lap, staring up into his face and deliberately draping him in an apron of black hair.

"It's really silly, you'll think I'm an idiot."

Kakashi folded his way too flexible body to place a soft peck on his lips. "Try me."

"Well ok, if you insist. It was a little while after my parents died, and I was in my old house and I was crying… "