Well, since I'm out of town when I normally would post, here's the last chapter--early, no less! I thought about submitting it later, but decided that since people have been so great about giving me reviews and support that I'd give it you early. So, why are you still reading this? Go! Read!
Kakashi woke up with his front deliciously warm and his back fairly chilled. He shifted and winced. A hot shower was definitely going to be in order. That and some painkillers.
He opened his eyes slowly and smiled slightly at the broad expanse of tanned skin that spread out under his cheek. Briefly, he wondered if he could get use to this and whether it would be healthy for his reflexes and instincts, and then decided he didn't care.
The clock told him he'd have to get up soon; he'd planned on visiting Asuma and after that, seeing if Raidou's long standing invitation to join his weekly rummy game was still open (and if the alcohol was free-flowing as everyone swore it was; drunk ninjas made for great blackmail material). Then there was the issue of finding a cabin by a hot spring and getting vacation time and starting his working his way up to 'anything he wanted' out of Iruka. Put that on top of visiting the Memorial Stone, hiding from Gai's challenges, feeding his dogs, and making sure that Iruka got where he needed to be, it lead for a very full day.
But he'd start it in a moment. Iruka's breathing was relaxing and the heart that pulsed under his nose when he nuzzled the throat was a delightful reminder of life. It was a good way to start out the day, reminding him why he still lived and why he did what he did.
He wondered if Iruka was up to conserving some water…
A change in the chakra underneath his cheek told him that his pillow was waking up. Despite the fact that his back was cold (it seemed the blanket had gone on a vacation to the floor during the night), Kakashi wasn't quite ready to get up. He burrowed closer to the other man.
Iruka's eyes were muzzy with sleep, but warm with contentment. He murmured something that vaguely resembled a salutation, and carefully smoothed his fingers down Kakashi's pale back. He frowned suddenly. "Back's freezing!"
"It was for a good cause."
"What, keeping me warm?" Iruka rubbed the cold flesh, encouraging blood to flow in the muscles.
"I think that's a good enough cause."
He smiled, but tried to make it leave quickly. "But it won't do me any good if you get sick from being cold."
Kakashi leered. "You'd help me get better."
"I don't kiss sick people." Iruka said firmly. "Much less do anything else of that nature with them." Kakashi managed to look horrified. "It will just have to encourage you to stay healthy, now won't it?"
"Cruelty." Kakashi grumbled. "That's just plain cruel."
The soft laughter rumbled through his body. "I'm a heartless boyfriend, I know."
Boyfriend. The great Kakashi Hatake had a boyfriend. It felt good, but definitely strange. He never thought he'd get one, never thought he'd ever let someone close enough to consider that as a possibility.
"Iruka?" Kakashi asked a few moments later. "May I ask you something?"
The corner of Iruka's mouth twitched. "Yes, you may." "What were you doing on that mission?"
He could feel Iruka rolling his eyes. "You've been dying for an answer for that one, haven't you?"
Kakashi shrugged. "I'm not questioning your skills. I just want to know what happened."
"Are confidential, I know. I just…can't figure out what happened to make things turn out the way that they did."
The hand that was petting his back slowed. Silence fell over the two. Kakashi waited patiently.
"I…guess that I'm good at making myself seem less of a threat than others." Iruka finally murmured. "People are more inclined to trust me then they are, say, Izumo-kun. I also appear less…violent than most ninjas to others, I guess."
"Mm, haven't heard you threaten people." Kakashi let Iruka hold him tighter.
"I don't threaten people." Iruka sounded mildly indignant. "I tell them what consequences their actions will bring about."
"A statement of facts?"
"Of course." There was another pause in the conversation before Iruka took a deep breath. "I want an honest answer out of you if I say any more about this. It's a fair trade."
Kakashi pondered the option for a moment. "Am I allowed to not answer the question if I don't want to?"
"Only if I get another question."
"So you'd keep asking until I got to one that I'd want to answer?"
"Not one that you want to answer, but one you will answer honestly."
"I suppose that's fair enough. But you still get to go first."
Iruka rolled his eyes again. "Paranoid much?" He muttered. Kakashi bit his tan healthy shoulder lightly in revenge.
"I was picked for to accompany the others for a couple of reasons." Iruka finally said, a few moments later. "Partially for the aforementioned reasons, but also because since I'm a chunin and a teacher, I'm not very visible to others as a ninja and that made me a good choice. I was to be the cover for an information-gathering mission. All we were doing was seeing what was being said on the streets in another country about how open they were interested in…doing some political dealings and things like that." A small smile flickered over his face. "I've dealt with enough challenging children that I can imitate the spoiled rich lordings very well. The others were to act as my hired guards, my concubine, or my manservant."
His hands slowly returned to stroking Kakashi's back, the movement unconscious. "We had thought that we had done a good job and had a good grasp on what was happening. We didn't blow cover once and had no slip-ups. I don't know how they knew we weren't what we said we were, but we were just outside the boarders when they hit us hard. We hadn't fooled them at all."
Kakashi braided his fingers through Iruka's and let the man cling to him. It was easier for him to see Iruka as a competent and strong ninja now, but it still seemed wrong for him to be just a killing tool, a tool like Kakashi was.
"It was…a bloody fight." Iruka finally said, voice quieter and further away. "I…can't really tell you much more than that, without going into details that would compromise the mission."
"It was a terrain influenced battle?"
The warm body relaxed almost imperceptivity. "Very much so." Iruka's strong hands slid over his back again. "Does that answer your question?"
"It was more than I was expecting."
"Maybe you'll keep that in mind," he muttered. Kakashi suddenly found himself on the receiving end of one of Iruka's 'Stern Teacher' gazes. "What were you really doing that day you were gone?"
Kakashi blinked. "Is…that your question?"
"I want you to be honest about it."
He tried to keep his smugness down. This was going to much easier than he thought. "I told you, Mr Ukki had been looking droopy and lonely, so I went looking for someone to keep him company and I found Mortimer. The two are getting along swimmingly, by the way. They'll be glad to know you asked about them."
Iruka looked suspicious. "Who are Mr Ukki and Mortimer?"
Kakashi debated being annoying and telling Iruka that he had used up his question, but since Iruka had very good access to parts that he'd like to keep, Kakashi kept that thought to himself. "You'd like to meet them?" He grinned. "They've heard so much about you!"
He wasn't messing with Iruka's head.
Not at all.
Iruka appeared more perplexed as Kakashi sat up and yanked his mask on before pulling his curtains open all the way. He grinned to himself. This was going to be fun. "Oh Mr Ukki! Mortimer! There's someone who'd like to meet you!"
Slowly sitting up, Iruka carefully looked over Kakashi's shoulder. "Kakashi, there's nothing there."
"Now Iruka-sensei, don't say that. Mortimer is very sensitive about his height, and we wouldn't want this relationship to start off on a bad foot, now would we?"
The chunin stared at the two plants that were growing cheerfully on Kakashi's window sill. "You vanished for over a day for a plant."
"Mr Ukki isn't just a plant! He's a very good pet. He's cleaner than Pakkun and the other dogs are, doesn't demand steaks, and I never have to worry about him being affected by the spring or female dogs. And Mortimer keeps the bugs down, so I'm glad that he gets along with Mr Ukki."
"A whole day for a plant?!"
"Naruto would be very angry if I let Mr Ukki die or be miserable. Anyhow, I think it's perfectly reasonable to be gone for a whole day to take care of my pets."
"It's a plant—wait, what does Naruto have to do with this?"
Kakashi inwardly smirked. He knew that would derail the teacher. "Naruto gave me Mr Ukki and he'd be very upset with me if I didn't take good care of him."
Iruka stared at him. He finally shook his head. "You're crazy," he said, but the corner of his lip twitched with amusement. "And I'm telling Pakkun that you said that a plant makes a better companion than he does."
"He already knows that Mr Ukki and Mortimer are cleaner and quieter than him." Kakashi pulled the curtains shut again while Iruka's sure fingers yanked his mask off. "He also knows if he gives me too much grief, he won't get any more steaks or new shampoo."
"Of course." Kakashi got the distinct impression that Iruka wasn't devoting his full attention to the conversation any more as he had started to nuzzle the spot behind Kakashi's ear. "So now you see why it was so important that I find someone for Mr Ukki. I think he's happier now that he has someone he can—"
"Kakashi." Ou, it was the 'listen up now!' teacher voice. Kakashi resisted the urge to shudder.
"Lose the mask and get down here."
Kakashi grinned slowly.
Maybe working up to 'any fantasy he wanted' was going to happen quicker than he thought it was going to.
x Fin x
I hope that you all enjoyed this! I'm sort of working on another piece right now, and I'm tentiviely penning a sequel 'The End of the Honeymoon', but hopefully, one or both will pan out and I'll be posting here againd soon. Either way, everyone who has read, reviewd, and/or favourited this, I want to thank you all for letting me know that you enjoyed this. Even more points go to you who pointed out my numerous grammatical errors and such constructive feedback so I can continue to get better as a writer. You all are the best. Thank you all.