Here's the final part to what started off as a Christmas gift. And I'm glad it's finally over! Soory guys it took me so much time to write that final chapter, but I suffered from lack of inspiration and time lately.

NO, there won't be any sequel or epilogue. I like the ending the way it is, and if you want more then you can imagine it; I'm pretty sure you have enough imagination to make their relationship evolve by yourself.

Tomorrow morning, I start working again on my main story, Clueless teacher. It had been left over for way too long now. Until then, please enjoy that final chapter and leave me reviews to tell me what you think about it ;)


PART IX

Drastic measures

The mission room was as busy as usual, nins bustling in and out with affaired looks on their faces. But although everything seemed to be totally normaly in the small room, when given a closer look, people realized there was something wrong going on. Because one of the desk men, the academy teacher Iruka, was zoning out. Umino Iruka. Zoning out.

There was definitely something wrong there.

His coworkers kept on giving him worried sideglances, but the said man was too unfocused to even notice. He merely accepted every mission report he was given, not even bothering to check them throughfully. Which was actually more disturbing than all the rest: Iruka-sensei, the stern and serious academy teacher, was not doing his job properly. Umino Iruka, imagine!

Of course, his coworkers should have at least tried to shake him out of his reverie, but neighter of them had the gust to. Because the chuunin looked somewhat annoyed, which they had always believed to be impossible to happen to the said nice and caring man. And that wasn't a good sign... So instead, they kept on exchanging worried glances between one another, wondering what was bothering so much the chuunin, not courageous enough to find out by themselves.

Iruka was approving yet another mission report absent-mindely, still frowning to himself at the remembrance of the discussion he just had with the Copy nin. That had been just... wierd. He surely didn't expect the jounin to say such things... And those unexpected words had somehow arisen Iruka's curiosity. He mildly wondered what the silver-haired had meant back then, playing again their last discussion in his head, trying to find the hidden meaning behind those strange words. But no matter how many times he thought it over, he still had no clue what had truly been said between them. And, to some point, his ignorance annoyed him.

Even though he felt curious, Iruka still didn't want to have to confront the jounin - at least not any time soon. He prefered avoiding him, and at the same time fleeing the so called important and mysterious discussion the silver-haired man wanted so much to have with him. Kakashi had looked quite pissed about that attitude of his, too... At that thought, Iruka felt remorseful for snapping at the Copy nin earlier that day. Afterall, he had been right...

He was such a coward.

Iruka sighed and approved yet another mission report absent-mindely, grunting the usual courtesy formula to its owner dully as he did so. Somehow, Iruka was so drown in his sorrowful thoughts that he missed to notice the room had suddenly turned abnormally silent. He did notice there was something abnormal going on though when something big suddenly landed on the desk in front of him, effectively shaking him out of his daydream.

Laying on his desk was a HUGE bouquet of colourful flowers.

Flowers.

Iruka stared dumbly at the beautiful - and probably very expensive - bouquet resting in front of him, obviously meant to be his. And, judging to the sudden quietness of the whole room, he was not the only one to stare at it blankly. At that thought, Iruka felt heat creep to his tanned cheeks. Who the hell would...? Looking up, the brown-haired chuunin almost chocked on his saliva when he saw the person standing behind the bouquet of flower in front of him.

Hatake Kakashi, the one and only. Looking rather smug, for a matter of fact.

Iruka felt his cheeks burning from embarrassment, his heart pounding in his chest as he saw the smiling man standing so casually in front of him.

"Yo, Iruka-sensei," the jounin greeted him in his usual carefree way. The silver-haired man looked as calm and collected as usual, as if... as if he hadn't given a MAN an enormous bouquet of flowers - in a crowded public place, too!

"K-Kakashi-sensei!" the chuunin spluttered loudly as he jumped up from his chair, not knowing exacly if he felt more embarrassed or angry at the man's newest twisted idea. "What's that?!"

"Maa," the jounin answered lazily, tilting his head in an innocent way, "It seems pretty obvious to me, Iruka-sensei. It's a bouquet of flowers."

"T-that's not what I mean!" the brown-haired man stammered angrily, his face turning even redded at those words. "What's the meaning of this!"

Kakashi stared blankly at the blushing man, blinking. "Well, that also seem quite obvious, no? I'm not exactly the kind of guy who gives flowers just for the fun of it. But... seeing your reaction, maybe I should do it more often. If your face gets any redder, I think it might turn purple."

Iruka's blush only deepened at those words, the poor chuunin too shocked by the silver-haired man's words to even find something to answer back to him. Thus, he gasped silently, his mouth opening and closing itself stupidly like a fish.

"But don't worry, red suits you well," the older man added as an afterthought, his eye curving up into a smile. "I never thought I'd be saying something like that to a man one day, but you do look kinda cute when you blush like that."

Even though he had imagined his face could not turn any hotter, Iruka was surprised to feel heat rise again to his already burning cheeks. Finally snapping out of it, the chuunin slammed his fits powerfully on his desk, anger starting to boil in his veins. "S-stop playing around already!" he spluttered furiously, his face so red it could put into shame a tomato, "If that's a joke, it's not fun! You think you're fun, don't you? Coming here in the middle of my shift and-and acting like you-you're..."

"... like I'm flirting?" Kakashi finished the shorter man's sentence quietly, his voice suddenly devoid of mockery. The academy teacher stared at him blankly, stunned to hear the jounin use such words to describe his own actions. The Sharigan user took advantage of the brown-haired man's sudden loss of words to bend forward, his single gray eye staring at Iruka seriously. "Get the hint already, Iruka-sensei. I AM flirting with you."

Those words left the helpless chuunin flabbergasted. His mouth hanging, Iruka stared with shock at the older nin standing mere inches in front of him, too stunned to even realize he was gaping. Kakashi chuckled softly at the man's reaction, straightening up again as he let the brown-haired man's frozen brain enough time to proceed the new piece of information. When Iruka finally started to catch on what he had said, the jounin spoke up again on a light tone.

"That being said, how about having a nice little chat in a less crowded place? Not that I mind much the attention, mind you, but I guess you would probably prefer to talk it over in a more... let's say intimate ambiance," the jounin gave the silent room a lazy circular glance, and nins who had been shamelessly listening to every word of their discussion suddenly looked around uneasily, trying to busy themselves with something or another. "What about continuing this conversation over a good meal and a bottle or two of sake? How does it sound?"

Iruka blinked, realizing he was expected to answer something. The chuunin's ajar mouth closed and opened itself several times again in an attempt to say something - anything, really - but just then, the Copy nin spoke up once again.

"Since your shift already finished 1 minute and 46 seconds ago, go home, freshen up a bit and change your clothes. I'll be picking you up in half an hour at your place," the silver-haired man winked at Iruka and, before the chuunin could even think it over, he waved and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Gone.

Iruka stared blankly at the empty space where the silver-haired jounin had stood moments ago, blinking. Kakashi... brought him flowers and h-he...? Just then, he...? Oh God...!

He had a date with Hatake Kakashi.

At that thought, he felt a wave of warmth sweep through him, his stomach flustering in the strangest way. Kakashi just... asked him out romantically? So that meant h-he thought...? He wanted...? But, wasn't he supposed to be straight...? He still...? But... But...!

Iruka was shaken out of his daydream when he felt a soft touch on his shoulder. Jerking his head around, he was surprised to find Aza, one of his coworkers, standing next to him with an indescribable smile on her thin lips.

"Iruka?" she spoke out his name quietly, as if she was afraid to wake him from a marvellous dream, "You should go prepare yourself now, you know, if you don't want to make Kakashi-san wait..."

Those innocent words brought the chuunin back on Earth violently. Looking around him, he realized he was still in the mission room, surrounded by a dozen of ninjas. A dozen of ninjas who were stealing glances of him more or less subtly, exchanging amused or shocked murmurs between one another. A dozen of ninjas who had heard every single word of his last discussion with Kakashi. A dozen of ninjas who knew he had been asked out by the Great Hatake "Copy nin" Kakashi.

A dozen of ninjas who would probably spread that news through Konoha before dusk.

Oh. God.

If embarassment could kill, he would have been stroke by death just then. The chuunin truly wished he could just disappear into thin air. Flustered, Iruka cast his eyes on the mission room's floor as he hurriedly put together his belongings to make his way to the exit, trying his best to ignore all those stares and whispers people were exchanging almost excitedly. He wanted to escape that gossip nest as soon as possible before he could embarass himself furthermore. His eyes set on the ground, Iruka stiffly walked toward the mission room's door, the dozen pair of eyes he could feel lingering on his back sending shivers down his spine.

"Oy, Iruka-sensei!" someone called back at him before he could leave, "You're forgetting your flowers!"

The brown-haired man stoped dead on his track, frozen. Felling his cheeks heating up once again, Iruka turned around stiffly and took the bouquet before leaving the room hastilly, almost running away.

Gah, he wanted to die! Why did Kakashi have to give him those flowers in public like that? And on his workplace, moreover? Everyone saw it! Everybody knew! And now he was walking down the streets with an overly huge bouquet of flowers in his arms. Everyone kept on giving him strange looks... Oh, what he would give to be able to disappear!

But, as he reminded himself, he didn't have time to think about it. Because, no mater how unbelievable it sounded, he had a date with Hatake Kakashi. And he only had 25 minutes left to get ready for it.

That thought made his stomach flutter and he walked faster, jogging down the street leading to his apartment block. He felt totally overwhelmed by what had just happened to him, it was all too... surreal. When the chuunin finally arrived home, he dumped unceremoniously the bouquet in the kitchen sink and headed to the bathroom, scattering pieces of clothing through is apartment as he did so. Without wasting a moment, Iruka entered the shower and turned it on, wincing under the cold jet of water pouring on him. He quickly washed himself and before the water could even warm up, he was already out of the shower, trying to dry himself up with a towel as he ran through is home to gather up all the clothes and various things laying on the ground - just in case the Copy nin would come in. He tossed everything he found under his bed and stopped in front of his dresser, his pulse quickening in his veins at the prospect of having to choose clothes. He had a date with Kakashi-sensei, he couldn't just wear the same clothes he wore on normal off-duty days! Those clothes were far too common for such occasion anyway. And of course his uniform was out of question. The brown-haired man hoped he still had some 'clean' civilian clothes somewhere... Searching furiously through his drawers, Iruka dig up a pair of brown pants, one sweater and one or two miss-matched shirts. Of course, he still had his scarlet pullover - the one he had worn for the Christmas party - but he doubted it was an appropriate thing to wear for a date. Especially such an important one.

Anxiously, Iruka put on some underwear and tried on every 'clean' piece of clothing his old dresser still contained. He kept on sending nervous glances to the clock as time passed by rapidly, not able to decide which pitiful shirt he should wear for his date. God, why hadn't he been brillant enough to go shopping for nice clothes at least once in the past 5 years? If he ever lived down to have another date with the Sharigan user, he swore he would get himself a whole new wardrobe! He would even bring Anko AND Sakura along for shopping if needed be, godammit!

He only had six minutes left when he finally decided on the black shirt - which was so old that it was too small for him anymore. Well, the sleeves were not too short, but the wole shirt felt just a bit too thigh for comfort. Fortunately, he had hardly ever worn it before, so it still looked rather good. Hurrying back to the bathroom, he put on some cologne and started brushing his teeth.

Three minutes left. Iruka put on his black leather shoes - at least those were 'clean' enough for the date. His hands were shaking so much that he had to start lacing them again three times before he finally managed to lace them properly.

Two minutes left. Running back to the bathroom, the academy teacher dried one last time his still rather wet hair with a towel before starting to comb it, fuming with his uncooperative comb. When it finally laid smoothly on his shoulders, he started fidgetting in front of his mirror, trying to figure out if he should tie up his hair or just let it down as if his life depended on it. Would he look like he was trying too much to flirt Kakashi-sensei? Maybe he shouldn't go out of his way...? What if Kakashi thought he looked vain with his hair down? Hell, he wasn't even sure he looked good that way!

Just then, the chuunin's racing heart came to a halt as he heard someone knock at the door. Looking up a the clock in mild horror, he realized that it was already 6 o'clock. It was him! He was there, waiting for him at the doorway! Of all time, why did Kakashi had to be on time today?

Shit. Shit shit shit! His hair was still down! But he didn't have time to tie it up anymore anyway. The chuunin hoped he wouldn't make a fool out of himself with that old shirt and his loose hair... His heart pounding madly in his chest, Iruka raced to his front door and took a few seconds to let his breath calm down. Then he opened the door as normally as he could - if a door could be opened normally, that is - and held his breath.

In front of him stood casually the Copy nin, wearing dark jeans and a brown winter coat under which Iruka could get a glimpse of an elegant off-white shirt. Some part of Iruka's mind wondered how the silver-haired man managed to look so good so naturally. He certainely didn't spend 20 minutes in front of his mirror wondering what he should wear!

That's when he noticed the other man wasn't wearing his usual black mask and bandana. In front of him stoof a maskless Hatake Kakashi, his handsome features almost glowing under the darkening night. Iruka gulped, feeling his stomach fluttering and his throat tighten at the beautiful sight standing in front of him.

"Kakashi-sensei," Iruka greeted the older man a bit nervously, willing himself not to stare. The jounin tilted his maskless face, smiling.

"Yo, Iruka-sensei," the silver-haired man greeted back casually. "Ready to go?"

"Y-yes!" Iruka spluttered, hastily grabbing his winter jacket and his keys as he headed out with the silver-haired man. Kakashi gave him an amused smile and led the way into the cold evening.

Without a word, Iruka followed him. They walked together in silence, the Sharigan user striding on Konoha streets in a totally casual and relaxed way. Iruka barely walked behind him, having absolutely no clue where the older man was leading him. At that thought, the academy teacher felt anxiety building up in him with every step he took. Truth being told, he was scared. Gulping, Iruka stared at the silver-haired man's large back, trying not to think too much about the moment when he would find himself face to face with the Copy nin. Because if he felt nervous just walking behind him, he didn't want to imagine how he would feel siting in front of Kakashi in a restaurant. Openly on a date with him.

A date.

As a matter of fact, he was still a bit dazzled by that idea. Until now, he hadn't even dared dreaming such a thing would happen to him one day. And now he downright dreaded that surreal moment. If he had been on his right mind, the brown-haired man probably would have found the whole situation highly comical... But he was not. Instead, he felt strangely anxious as he closely followed his date. Which didn't seem bothered at all: in fact, Kakashi looked just like his casual self. Which somehow only increased Iruka's anxiety.

Suddenly, the Copy nin stopped walking. Looking up, Iruka realized the older man had brought him to a small and rather homey-looking restaurant. It was a rather discreet building, located on a small calm street in the east part of th town. From what Iruka could see, it looked like the perfect place for a romantic and intimate date.

The chuunin gulped nervously.

After a few seconds, Kakashi walked up to the door casually and entered the restaurant, the slightly shorter man following him a bit anxiously. The place was small and had a rather warm and somewhat soothing ambiance. Warm, dark colors, subdued light and small wooden tables gave the place an unique, welcoming style. And, however anxious he felt at that moment, Iruka couldn't help but notice the subtil but appealing aroma coming from the kitchens.

Silently, the jounin led the way to a table at the back of the room, next to a small window. Both men removed their coats and sat down in front of each other in silence. Iruka gave the older man a quick look and took note he had been right earlier: the Copy nin looked downright stunning in that sober outfit... His eyes must have lingered a bit too long on the man's torso, because when he looked up Iruka found Kakashi gazing at him with intensity. Damn, he must have caught him staring...! Blushing slightly, the chuunin looked away and mumbled something to the pepperpot.

"... You look good in that shirt, Kakashi-san."

At those words, the jounin sighed soflty. "Is that so? I'm glad then. It means I didn't go over the trouble of going out shopping with Sakura for nothing."

"Eh?" Iruka looked up, mildly surpised. Kakashi chuckled, his mismatched eyes curving.

"Last week, I realized I owned almost no clothes - well, nothing suited for a date. I hate shopping for clothes, I'm not good at that kind of stuff to start with..." started to explain the jounin soflty. "So I asked team seven to help me finding myself some decent civilian clothes. 'Should have gotten the clue when I saw the boys's reaction..." Kakashi snorted.

"It must have been... quite an experience," Iruka said on a mildly amused voice; almost everybody who knew Sakura knew about her terrifying addiction to shopping. But Kakashi obviously didn't. And it seemed he learnt it the hard way.

"Indeed," the jounin chuckled soflty. "When I returned home, my arms were so full with shopping bags that I couldn't even see where I was walking. I stumbled into four people, two cats and one dog on my way home. Nearly killed myself twice."

Both men laughed silently under their breath, the tension that had built up between them slowly dropping. When they stoped laughing, there was a short silence.

"You look pretty good yourself," Kakashi complimented the younger man after a while on a casual tone. Iruka blushed and looked away, a bit uneasy. Just then, a young red-haired waitress appeared out of nowhere to bring them the menu - the chuunin had never been so glad to have his discussion interrupted by a waitress.

Both men set their attention on the menu. After short discussion, the waitress took their order before heading to the kitchens, leaving them momentarily with nothing to say. Silence streched between the two nins. They both felt it was the moment to bring up the subject, but somehow neither of them seemed willing to speak up first.

"... You know," Kakashi finally started off quietly, "you truly took me by surprise when you confessed to me the other night. At that moment, I was too drunk to think it over, but when I woke up I remembered clearly feeling relieved back then... relieved to learn that you didn't hate me. I have always had high esteem of you and it upset me to think you couldn't stand the sight of me."

There was a short silence. Iruka stared at the silent silver-haired man, who looked like he couldn't find the right words to express himself. After a while, the Sharigan user sighed and set his gaze on the window, letting his eyes wander on the dark street.

"You might not be aware of it, but you are something," Kakashi added quietly as he started into the night. In front of him, Iruka's eyes went wide with surprise. "While I, among too many others, get acknowledged and respected for my power and skills, you managed to get people's respect for who you are. You are aware of the precariousness of life, of its ulgy sides and its hazards. And yet, you manage to keep faith in life, but also to communicate it to people who cross your path... You're probably the nicest guy I was given to met in my life and somehow, I... It may sound strange, but I always thought the woman who would catch your heart would be the luckiest girl in town."

Those words left the brown-haired chuunin speechless. He didn't know what he had expected to hear, but he surely enough hadn't expected something like that.

"So after you confessed, I thought it over for a long time," the jounin continued quietly, turning his head toward Iruka. "And I decided... we could give it a try."

Iruka stared numbly at the Copy nin. "But aren't you...?"

"...Straight?" Kakashi finished the brunette's sentence with an amused smirk. "Most definitely. But I thought that over too, and I found out the whole idea of going out with a guy wasn't disgusting me as much as it should have been... At first it bothered me a bit, but then I realized I didn't mind the gender much. On the other hand, I've always liked you and even admired you a bit. You're nice, reliable, comprehensive... and as if it wasn't enough, you're handsome. You'd make a perfect lover, so I'd be stupid to turn you down, wouldn't I?"

Iruka blushed at those words, looking down at his hands. Then he saw the other man's hand draw near his until white fingers laid lightly on his own tanned right hand, the soft touches sending shivers down his spine and making his stomach flutter. Looking up, the chuunin found the older nin staring intensely at him, a strange soft gleam in his eyes he had never seen before.

"So... Let's give ourself a chance, okay?" the jounin asked softly, making the other man's pulse increase as he took Iruka's hand in his own.

"Okay," the academy teacher answered quietly, holding tightly the silver-haired man's wide hand in his own masculine one. "But... let's make something clear right now," Iruka added after a short silence, slowly becoming more confident. Kakashi's eyebrow rose up in surpirse, mild curiosity showing on his face.

"I am NOT going to be your substitute for a girl," Iruka pressed on with a smirk, almost challenging the older man. Kakashi chuckled under his breath, obviously highly amused as he held the chuunin's gaze.

"Oh, I would never dream of it."

They both started chuckling, squeezing each other's hand over the remote table as they waited for their food to arrive. The rest of their date went well; they talked in a friendly atmosphere, They laughed a lot, and drank a bit. To any outsider, they looked like two friends having a friendly meeting. But anyone who observed them more closely than someone healthy would might have noticed that they fingers brushed more often than they normally should and that their seemingly light discussion held untold promises and hopes.

That night, they decided they would take things slowly, and go one step at a time.

They decided to give themselves a chance.


The End

Iruka: So that's why you were nowhere to find just after the party! You were thinking our relationship over.

Kakashi: No. To tell the truth, I was doing some research.

Iruka: Research?

Kakashi: I had never done anything with a man before, so I needed to have a better knowledge about the way things worked out...

Iruka:...You read gay porn.

Kakashi: You could see it that way.

Iruka: I'm not talking to you anymore.

Kakashi: Come on, let's "try out" my new knowledge together...

Iruka: In your dreams, pervert!

Kakashi: Iruka! Why must you always run away from me...!