A/N: I'm not in the mood to start on Chapter 9 of 'Broken Pieces' just yet, so instead you guys get this angst filled one shot. You should all be happy. Really. I also know this theme has been used frequently, but I liked it anyway. I liked emotionally killing Iruka a little bit.

Warning: This is Kakashi/Iruka. That means shonen-ai. Don't like it? Don't read it then.

Disclaimer: Naruto is owned by Kishimoto-sama. I am not Kishimoto-sama. I'm just borrowing Kakashi and Iruka so I can torture them.

Holding Fast
By: Reggie

Kakashi trudged his way through the swiftly falling rain, walking through the silent streets as if he were the spirit of the storm itself moving about.

He was late. He was beyond late. The mission was supposed to last only a week, and here he was getting back nearly three months later. Tsunade had informed him that, up until he'd walked through the main gates they had assumed he was dead. They'd even had his funeral two days ago.

He wasn't sure whether to be insulted or not. True, he had been gone an excessively long time with no way to contact the village, but success on the mission had required that. He'd gotten back as fast as he could, really.

Seeing that he was uninjured, if to exhausted to simply teleport himself home, Tsunade had told him to go rest. She'd offered to have someone take him home, but he'd declined. There was somewhere he had to go first.

He walked toward the row of small houses were the single academy sensei's lived. Most of the houses were dark, which made sense. It was nearly one in the morning after all. In one of the houses, however, there was still one light on.

"I'll leave the light on for you. Until you get back from your missions. That will be our thing. As long as you're gone, the light stays on so you can find your way home again."

Kakashi smiled slightly to himself. His lover was always like that. Sentimental thoughts that the Copy Nin pretended to hate but really couldn't live without. He reached up and removed a thin flaxen thread from under his uniform. Attached to that was a key, which Kakashi slid easily into the lock.

Before he turned the key, however, he glanced in the window. From the light pouring out from the small kitchen, he could make out the details of the small living room. Instead of being in bed, as Kakashi thought he would be, Iruka was lying down on the couch. He looked awful, and Kakashi was even biased in the chuunin's favor. His brown hair hung limp and unbound around his face, which was thin and drawn. His brown eyes were red from tears that were still sliding down his face, and there were dark circles underneath them as if he hadn't slept in far too long. He was wearing a pair of Kakashi's dark blue pajamas, and even though the differences in their weight and height were actually very small they seemed to be drowning him. In his hand, Iruka was clutching up to his mouth something thin and black.

Kakashi realized with a start that it was one of his masks, and Iruka was using it to muffle his sobs as the chuunin's shoulders shook.

This was too much for Kakashi. He was overprotective of Iruka and he knew it, but he hated to see someone he loved in pain. If he could have, he would have protected Iruka with his life from a paper-cut. He quickly turned his key and opened the door silently.

He'd been expecting Iruka to jump up and run to him. That's what he usually did when upset. Instead, he remained perfectly still on the couch.

"No, Anko," he said softly, his voice sounding wet and raw. "I'm not turning off the light. It's my electric bill, I can leave it on if I want to."

It took Kakashi several long moments to figure out what Iruka meant by that. It sounded like it was an argument he'd had with his childhood friend several times, but why could she possibly want him to turn off the light?

"We thought you were dead, Hatake. We even had your funeral a few days ago. Do you know how much of a hassle it's going to be to bring you back to life?"

Kakashi's eye widened as the meaning of those words final sunk in. They'd thought he was dead. They had told Iruka he was dead.

The silver haired Jounin closed the distance between himself and the couch as quickly as he could.

"Anko, I told you…"

Iruka sat up and his brown eyes widened considerably, his face turning a ghastly shade of grey-white that would have matched Kakashi's hair.

Unable to think of anything to say, Kakashi simply raised his hand. "Yo."

Iruka was on top of him faster than the exhausted Jounin could react to. They crashed to the ground, Iruka kneeling on Kakashi's arms so they were pinned and a kunai to the Jounin's throat.

"I don't know who you are," Iruka said, his teeth grinding so hard Kakashi was afraid he was going to break them, "but this isn't funny. Change back now or I will kill you."

That was, once more, a reaction that Kakashi had not been expecting- though in retrospect he knew he probably should have. If he thought Iruka had been dead and he then proceeded to walk through the door he probably would have considered killing him as well.

"Ruki-kun…" Kakashi whispered, wishing his arms were free so he could remove his mask.

The chuunin's hands were shaking and the knees of the pajamas were getting wet from Kakashi's soaked uniform. "I don't know who you are, or how you know that, but you're sick. Sick for walking in here like that. Sick for thinking you can CALL me that. You have no right. Change back. Now."

'He's not kidding,' Kakashi realized, as the deadly steel was pressed closer to his throat. "Iruka, it's me. I can't change back, really."

"Liar! Kakashi is…" He couldn't finish the sentence, and his hands started to shake harder. The Jounin was now afraid Iruka was accidentally going to decapitate him. A part of him wondered if Tsunade wouldn't appreciate that, as then she wouldn't have to go through all the trouble of bringing him back to life.


"Kakashi isn't coming back," it was a whisper, hollow and with the feeling that the words had been ripped from the speaker's lungs by force.

"I came back," Kakashi responded, wanting nothing more than to reach up and brush back the wayward tear that had found its way past Iruka's fury and onto his cheek.

"No. No, you aren't coming back. Tsunade-sama and everyone said so. We had…and I was there…"

Kakashi took a deep breath, steadying himself against the guilt that was seeping through him. Iruka needed him now. Self-hatred could come later.

"If you believe that, then why is the light still on?"

Iruka's eyes snapped open fully as he looked down at the man pinned below him. His breathing was ragged, and as he shifted his weight Kakashi realized he wasn't nearly as heavy as he should have been. "No one knows about that."

Had it not been contrary to his goal, Kakashi would have pointed out that anyone observant enough would have seen the pattern. Whenever Kakashi was away on a mission, Iruka's kitchen light was constantly on until he returned. The reverse was also true. Once Iruka was home safely, Kakashi would turn off that light and not a moment sooner.

"If you really believed I was dead," Kakashi said slowly, "you would have turned off that light."

"You don't know why it was on!" Iruka's voice sounded slightly hysterical now. "You have no idea!"

"Prove it to me," Kakashi was getting progressively quieter as Iruka got louder, attempting to soothe him with his words. "Turn off the light and prove it to me."

"You're just looking for a chance to escape."

"I swear I won't. Shinobi's honor."

"No one pretending to be a dead man has honor." Iruka's voice lacked conviction, though. He was obviously too tired to really care if the man pinned below him stayed or not. He got unsteadily to his feet and walked into the kitchen. Kakashi sat up, watching him.

Iruka took a shaky breath, steadying himself as his hand reached for the light switch. It was slow going, and he hesitated before resting his hand against it. Kakashi stared at his face as Iruka tried to bring himself to bring his hand down and flip the switch to off. It started with simply biting his lower lip, and then the chuunin's whole body started shaking. Brown eyes closed as the academy teacher began to sob, his legs giving out from under him.

Kakashi caught him before he'd hit the ground, and lowered them both gently to the floor.

Iruka buried his head in Kakashi's chest, obviously not caring whether he was the real Kakashi or not anymore. He shook with sobs as his fingers wound tightly into the green material of Kakashi's vest.

"I can't…I can't do it. He promised! Promised me he'd come back. What if he does, and the light is off? He'll think I abandoned him. I'd let him down…"

"You could never let me down, 'Ruki-kun," Kakashi whispered, using one hand to gently stroke the man's hair while the other reached up and lowered his mask. "I'm here now, and you're safe. I came back, just like I promised."

"I want to believe you," the voice was small and nearly broken. "I want you to be here with me…but I can't…not when they told me so many times…that if you'd been alive you would have contacted them. Told me I had to accept it…but I can't."

Kakashi clutched the chuunin to him, burying his nose in Iruka's hair and breathing in everything about the smaller man. "I'm so sorry, Iruka. I wanted to contact them, but I couldn't. The mission depended on me taking no risks of exposing myself. I had to."

Iruka said nothing in response, just sobbed into Kakashi's chest, as he was held tight. "Stay with me. Please. I…I can't be alone."

Kakashi nodded, gently kissing Iruka's forehead. "I'm not going anywhere, 'Ruki-kun."

He would have added an 'I promise' but didn't really think that would help given the situation. He picked up Iruka, noting again how thin he'd gotten in the Jounin's absence. Suddenly, he had more reason to keep himself alive on missions. If this was what was going to happen to Iruka after he died…

He reached over to flip off the light, but a trembling hand stopped him.

"Not yet…please. I'm not sure you're real yet…and I don't want to let go. Not yet."

Kakashi simply nodded, carrying Iruka to bed and curling up with him. He held the younger man tight, kissing him gently now and then, and reassuring him that he wasn't leaving long after the other had fallen asleep.