Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, and I have nothing of value, far as I know, so sueing won't get you too far. Maybe some dust bunnies and lint balls? If you're lucky and I haven't cleaned out my pockets from the dryer yet.

Warnings: This does contain KakaIru slash, and a few scenes that were rather disturbing for me, which is why it is rated as it is. If you feel it is misrated, let me know and I'll take it into consideration. There is nothing overly graphic in this fic, as far as I can tell, but it is just enough for me not to want to rate it lower without good reasons.

Author's Note: This is a one shot, though if someone else wants to add on, just ask, because I really don't care. The ending might be a little cliched, but I think I needed that. This fic was something of therapy for me, I think, and while I'm not going to get into it, I'm am going to admit that the rating is because of my own experiences and not necessarily content. Don't get me wrong, it was nothign as dark as this, but it still affected it.

Also, I want to admit that this fic was also an expiriment for me. The scene cuts are something I've been playing with, and I would like feedback on how the dreams and memories colliding with real life work in this fic. So, please let me know if they are too confusing and ways to maybe recitify the problem. I am always looking for ways to improve!

So, do tell, ne? I appreciate all the reviews, and I hope that you all enjoy this!

Iruka half turned, a smile lighting his soft features. His chocolate colored hair was pulled into a high, busy pony tail, his black eyes slightly crinked in amused happiness. The long, black coat fell all the way to his ankles, lightly flaired with a kick slit in the back for walking. The front had a mandrin collar with chinese closure that took a diagonal line, at first, then finished by falling down the side. It was closed with silver clasps that winked at Kakashi in the fading moonlight. Iruka's hands were clasped behind him, making him lean foward slightly, in a teasing pose.

And he was laughing.

The ground buckled and collapsed, chunks of roiling stone rolling and breaking like waves on the sea. Black eyes met indigo.

Kakashi screamed as he woke, both eyes wide, looking for enemies. Something was happening. Something big. But he had no idea what. Gasping and panting, Kakashi clutched his heavily beating heart. What was going on? And why was he dreaming about a laughing Iruka? He didn't even know the teacher very well. Shaking his head, the prodigy rolled out of bed, splashing water on his face to rid himself of the grogginess that often acompanied him when he woke.

Kakashi sighed and removed the eyepatch he wore for bed, replacing it with his hitae-ate. His visable eyelid slid down, appearing tired, as he allowed his mind to take in all the information in his little apartment. Folding his futon with quick, robotic movements, his mind slipped into scenarios that the dream could have meant. Was that normal? Kakashi's movements paused for the briefest of moments. He really couldn't say, he decided. Dreaming about a teacher he barely knew, and then stopping to ask himself if his brain working overtime to figure out if there was a hidden meaning in his dream was normal, at least for him.

Shaking his head to clear it, he hurried to the small kitchen portion of his apartment to get himself some breakfast. The tiny apartment was empty but for himself, which suited Kakashi fine. He hadn't found anyone willing to put up with his eccentricities, and had a feeling Obito would have been disappointed, but also would have understood. Glancing around, Kakashi took in his tiny gallery-style apartment.

It wasn't large, with one wall taken up with a sectioned off area for a bathroom--complete with a bathtub, which had been one of the main selling points to Kakashi--next to a wall of storage. Drawers, cupboards, and a large closet made the wall an ideal place to keep all his things. In the corner opposite the bathroom was the kitchen, allowing Kakashi to use the cupboards filling one wall for cookware. The stove, sink, and refridgerator sat closely together, forcing the toaster and microwave to share the minimum counterspace. That was fine, Kakashi used his table for a counter anyway.

Next to the kitchen area was a small seating area. A small loveseat and chair were sat around the television, and several beanbag chairs stacked neatly in the corner provided extra seating, should the need arise. His bed was on the final corner, when it was open. When his futon had been neatly folded, however, it allowed him a nice, if small, area for a few indoor kata. Bookshelves lined whatever wallspace was left, though Kakashi had made sure to keep the large window unblocked, even going so far as to put a seat in front of it. He liked to read in front of the window, after all.

Kakashi finished his breakfast of rice and coffee--a strange concotion, but he liked it--and grabbed one of his scrolls to study. Team Seven probably would have been surprised to see Kakashi's apartment, he wagered. Only one shelf had Icha Icha Paradise on it, and he really only read them to get a rise out of people. It had started as an expiriment, but he decided he enjoyed it so much, he'd simply continued. Not to say he didn't like Ichia Icha, but it was so much more fun to read them in public.

The genius made his way towards the mission desk after that, knowing that whatever mission he was given would be easy enough for his skills, especially since he was showing up so late in the morning, after all the difficult ones had been handed to others already. That was fine, Kakashi had made a lot of money on missions when he was younger, and didn't need much to live on, choosing to save most of it instead of spend it. Unless he bought scrolls. That was probably his biggest weakness.

In any case, he needed a mission. Even if his students had the day off, he did not. "Kakashi-sensei." A pretty kunoichi Kakashi didn't know the name of handed him a scroll. "Tsunade-sama says not to have the report late this time, or she'll make you deal with Iruka."

Kakashi nodded, frowning. Iruka. . . that was Team Seven's old teacher, right? Nodding to himself, Kakashi took off towards the edge of the city to examine his new mission. It would only take a day and a half, and his students didn't need to know he'd be late anyway. Still, since it would make him later than usual, he moved the meeting back a few hours before gathering his pack and taking off, hardly suspected this mission would change his life.

Tsunade grabbed him as soon as he entered, dragging him to the back room. "I'm sorry to do this," Tsunade sighed, shaking her head. "But I need Hound."

"Excuse me?" Kakashi blinked at the woman, automatically forming the seals that would allow him to henge into his ANBU uniform until he could put it on. It wasn't unheard of for an ex-ANBU member to be replaced on active duty, but it really wasn't common, either.

"I need Hound. For Iruka." Tsunade sighed and rubbed her temples. "Iruka. . . was hit with an unknown jutsu, protecting two of his students that thought a good pranks would be to run around outside the city walls."

"And you need Hound why?" Kakashi frowned. It didn't sound like something she would need Hound for, any ANBU could have protected Iruka,it didn't need to be him.

"It seems that Iruka used to have an imaginary friend," Tsunade sighed. "Until he was nearly eighteen. Caused by the mental trauma of the death of his parents."

"Huh?" The genius frowned. That made no sense.

"Iruka saw his parents die, that night. He wasn't taken away until afterward. Barely saved from the fox. He was. . . lost. . . for a time, and then he cracked. It never affected his ability as a ninja, if anything, it helped him. But his imaginary friend. . ."

"Was me." Kakashi knew it. "As Hound."

"He knew who you were, Kakashi." Tsunade sighed. "We don't know how. No one ever told him. He just. . . knew. Sarutobi once suspected that Iruka walked in dreams--"

Kakashi nodded absently. Iruka's mental state, if Iruka had the ability to dream walk, certainly explained the dream he'd had the night before. The laughing Iruka had been healthy and safe. When the rocks started moving and collapsing, it had indicated the loss of Iruka's sanity. But how would Iruka have know about Kakashi being Hound--

"You're always so different without your mask."

--unless he had seen it in his dreams.

"Let me see him." Kakashi agreed, following Tsunade into Iruka's room.

"You would hate me if you knew who I was."

Kakashi shook his head, looking at the pale chunnin. Iruka looked up, his dark eyes widening slightly, but said nothing, only gave Kakashi a secret smile. A subtle twitch of his finger made Kakashi move closer almost automatically. Like his heart knew what the motion meant--

"Kakashi, I'm sorry to bother you, but I need your help."

--even if his head did not. Iruka didn't look at him, didn't acknowledge him. Tsunade nodded, signing for Kakashi to simply shadow Iruka, as though Kakashi were invisible to everyone but Iruka. "You may leave now, Iruka-kun," Tsunade told the teacher, moving to let him go.

"Thank you very much, Hokage-sama," Iruka grinned, standing. He was already mostly dressed, just grabbed his vest off the chair next to the bed and hurried to the door, linking his pinky finger with Kakashi's on his way out. Kakashi said nothing, but didn't resist as Iruka pulled him.

"Slow down," Kakashi complained, huffing.

"Sorry, Hound." Iruka glanced around. "Can you take me home?"

"Can I do that?"

"Don't be silly." Iruka snorted. "You know as well as I do that you can. I'm tired. Please, Hound? I know you think I should build up my chakra, but I don't have any right now."

"How do you know me?"

"I met you. . . in our dreams. I was training myself, since. . . my parents can't train me. . . and I got lost while I was headed back to my body. Ka--Sorry, Hound, you know that. I've told you a thousand times. And it's not my fault you never remember the dreams. I wish you did. I wish you knew who I was when you were awake." Iruka sighed. "Most of the time, at least. Now teleport me!"

"All right, all right. But you do it next time." Kakashi formed the seals and took them to Iruka's apartment, settling in on the couch.

"You're acting weird." Iruka set a cup of tea on front of the ANBU. "And take off that stupid mask, Kakashi. I already know who you are. That isn't going to help."

"Forgive my confusion." Kakashi told Iruka dryly, removing the henge.

"I know." Iruka sighed. "Just like everyone else is confused. I know you're not really my Kakashi. I don't know why Tsunade thought you would make me feel better."

"What do you mean?" Kakashi frowned, mind working overtime to figure out how to salvage the mission.

"You're not my Kakashi. You're awake and really here. You don't know anything about me, and you have no idea what I know about you. Of what you can do. You don't feel safe near me, like my Kakashi does. You don't. . . care what happens to me."

"You dream of me a lot, then?"

"You don't know it." Iruka shrugged and picked up his tea. "Forgive me if I feel like I lost my best friend, please, Kakashi-sensei. And it's okay to take down your mask. I've seen you without it. I won't look anyway. Look. . . My Kakashi isn't you. The jutsu didn't set back my mind, or do anything weird like that. It simply broke a bond that I was used to. You don't need to worry about me."

"Broke a bond?"

"When I wandered into your dreams, you and I bonded, somehow. A part of you was always with me. If I exerted enough Chakra, I could even see you in the real world. Just me, though. It wasn't reciprocal, though. We never could figure out why. I'm sorry to inconveinice you, Kakashi. You needn't stay to watch me. I don't need a baby-sitter."

"Tsunade said to stay here. Surely I can sleep on your couch, or something." Kakashi raised an eyebrow.

"As you will, then." Iruka shrugged. "I'm showering."

Setting his teacup in the kitchen, Iruka made his way towards the bathroom, eyes sad. Kakashi frowned. Maybe he really did know Iruka. Even if it was only in his dreams.

Kakashi knew it was a dream, but he didn't mind so much. Relaxing at the stream, as he usually did, he smiled. "Hey, Iruka."

"Kakashi." Iruka's smile was bright. "So you still remember me in your dreams."

"As I always do. I wish I remembered you in real life." Kakashi laughed, stretching. "Maybe then I would trust you as much there as here."

Iruka shook his head, tracing a finger down Kakashi's scar, pressing a kiss to the Sharingan. "Maybe. I wish you did. It hurts to know I'm your lover here. . . and nothing out there. Not even a memory."

"I was remembering. I don't remember my dreams, I told you that. I warned you. But you insisted. But today, being around you, I remembered. Not much, just flashes, but there may yet be hope." Kakashi smiled. "And I remembered my dream last night, about loosing the bond. Maybe that's a good sign."

"I still miss you." Iruka pressed a kiss to his Lover's open mouth. "Just. . . make me forget. Just for now."

"As you wish." Kakashi pressed Iruka back, nuzzling the other. "And someday--"

"Kakashi," Iruka never pleaded, never begged. "Don't."

Kakashi said nothing, just leaned back in to comply.

Kakashi woke with a start, rubbing his head. The dream had been crazy. . . something about him and Iruka. He searched his memory, trying to understand. He knew it was important. He and Iruka had been talking, and Iruka had said something about him not remembering. . . But there was something he was missing. Something important. Why couldn't he remember?

"You're awake, then," Iruka's soft voice made him turn. The chunin looked. . . sad. . . somehow. Did it have something to do with the--

". . . And nothing out there. Not even a memory."

--dream? Kakashi frowned, standing and calmingly walking towards the chunin, studying him. Iruka's dark eyes grew wide as he stepped back, hitting the wall as the jounin leaned into his personal space. "What are you to me?"

"Nothing." Iruka's words were hurt and sad. "The same thing I've always been."

"No." Kakashi pinned him to the wall as he tried to get away. "Don't give me that. I know I'm missing something. And whatever it is, it involved what you are to me, in my dreams. What are you to me?"


Kakashi pressed Iruka back, nuzzling the other--


"Don't lie to me," Kakashi hissed, applying pressure to bruises and cuts. "Stop telling me you are nothing to me. You are something. I dream about you. They are important dreams! Where the hell do you get off saying that you're nothing in those dreams?"

"I'm your lover!" Iruka snarled, then clapped his hands over his mouth, his eyes growing wide. Kakashi's visable eye lit with an inner fire and he slammed Iruka roughly into the wall, backhanding him. The smaller man's head snapped to the side, a trickle of blood dripping down his chin where his teeth had cut into his lip.

"Don't fuck with me!" Kakashi snapped, shaking the other.

Iruka stared up at him with wide, dark eyes, terror evident as Kakashi shook him. Small hands grabbed Kakashi's larger ones, and Iruka choked slightly. "I'm not!"

Kakashi drew a fist back, and Iruka cried out, throwing his arms up to protect his face. "I could never be with someone so weak," Kakashi sneered, dropping the smaller. Iruka slid to the ground, tears dripping slowly down his cheeks.

"I'm not weak." Iruka's voice made him pause. "I just can't bear the thought of hurting you. Because even if you don't remember it. . . I do."

"I wouldn't get involved. . ." Kakashi's knees buckled. "I wouldn't."

"I'm a dream, Hatake-san. There's obviously nothing to get involved with." Painfully, Iruka pulled himself to his feet, stumbling into his bedroom. Kakashi stared after him, wondering if there was anything left to say.

Kakashi closed his eyes, half remembered images flickering across his eyelids as he desprately sought to block out the chunin's soft words. He wanted them to be true, yet he didn't. How could he have an affair with someone he didn't know and didn't remember? How could anything happen when he knew he wouldn't remember? Who would want a relationship--

"You know I won't remember you in the real world, right?"

--with someone that they didn't know? Kakashi's mind raced. There was no logical explanation. He had never wanted a second half. He had never wanted a lover. Gathering information was more important that to find someone to settle down with. And, unlike most of the clans, he didn't have to find someone to settle down with. He couldn't pass on his Sharingan, and his bloodline. . . he wasn't sure he wanted to pass it on.

He stared at Iruka's closed door, leaning slowly into it, wondering if he could learn anything further. Soft sobs met his ears and his jaw dropped. Iruka was. . . crying? But. . . but why? Kakashi had hurt him, sure, but nothing all that painful. Yet. . . those soft sobs hurt him as nothing else could. Kakashi had taken a lot of injuries, but none had hurt so much as his heart to hear the one he loved in such pain.

Sighing, he slid down the wall, burying his head in his hands. Why did it hurt so much to hear Iruka sobbing and--wait. . . the one he loved? When had that come into play? Kakashi groaned as his mind began to work overtime. People always said he was lucky to be a genius, but he didn't understand why. Didn't they know how annoying it was to be unable to turn his mind off? Didn't they understand that it was impossible for him to be like normal people because if he wasn't multitasking he was bored? Why did they think he read those books anyway? Aside from enjoyment, of course.

Kakashi sighed, head drooping further. Why was it that he just didn't understand? And why was it that this hurt him so much?

Iruka shut the door to his room softly, knowing it wouldn't keep Kakashi out if the jounin so chose to enter, but he really hoped the other didn't come inside. Wincing as he touched his split lip, Iruka wiped his tears away. He hadn't wanted to tell Kakashi. He didn't know why he opened his big mouth. Kakashi didn't need to know, it really didn't make a difference one way or another.

Sighing, Iruka fell back on his bed. He knew he could sleep safely, since Kakashi would likely be awake for awhile, but he didn't want to sleep. Kakashi--in his dreams, at least--had never raised a hand to him. He had never hit him or hurt him. And the slap had hurt. It wasn't the physical pull of his lip as the blood clotted and the bleeding stopped, or the twinge of pain as he touched alcohol to it.

It had been the fact that Kakashi had hit him. He could feel bruises forming where Kakashi had lifted him and thrown his around, and it hurt to realize that Kakashi didn't remember him, at all, or that Kakashi would so readily hurt him. Tears formed in his eyes, and soft sobs broke from his lips as the thought crossed his mind. It made his heart hurt so terribly. Curling into a ball, Iruka found a stuffed dolphin that dream-Kakashi had wanted to buy him once, that Iruka had splurged on--and began to cry in earnest.

He knew Kakashi didn't rememeber him, but why did it hurt so much when the obvious was pointed out? Why had he thought that, maybe somewhere, Kakashi wouldn't hit him or hurt him after as admission like that? What had made him think Kakashi would mind hurting him, anyway? Kakashi was right. He was a worthless, weak chunin. He knew that. He had told his Kakashi that more than once. But. . . his Kakashi didn't care.

Why did that have to change for the real one? Why couldn't the Kakashi that had brought him home and hit him have not cared? Iruka didn't mind the hits, but why did the idea of Kakashi calling him weak hurt so much?

After all, it wasn't like this Kakashi cared.

"I'm sorry, Iruka," Kakashi touched the split lip and kissing the bruises, ignoring Iruka's frightened flinch. Holding him gently, Kakashi felt Iruka gradually relax.

"Do you really think I'm a weak, worthless chunin?" Iruka finally asked, tears streaking down his face. Kakashi kissed them away, holding him close. Tender touches soothed the chunin as his tears continued.

"You are not weak, or worthless, and I wish I could kick my own ass."

Iruka shook his head, still crying. "I'm sorry. I'm being so weak. I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Iruka. It's understandable. You're upset, and I did it. Well, the other me, not this me. Iruka, I'm so sorry. I never throught I might react that way towards you. Never to you. You're so amazing, so beautiful. I never thought I would raise a hand to you like that."

"I know that." Iruka curled against Kakashi. "I know you would never hurt me like that. At least it was just a slap."

"I hurt you."

"No. Never you." Iruka clutched Kakashi. "I knew the risks if you found out, I just never thought. . ."

"I love you, Iruka."

"Kakashi, can you. . . make me forget? Make me remember why I fell in love with you."

"All right," Kakashi murmured, leaning. Iruka met him halfway, mouths pressing together, Iruka moaning into the kiss. Kakashi nearly sighed. This couldn't be healthy, but he would do whatever Iruka asked him. Like always.

Kakashi wasn't sure what woke him, but his stiff back protested his sleeping position. Yawning, he blinked as he tried to remember where he was. He knew it wasn't his apartment. Memories assailed him. This was Iruka's apartment, but it looked so familier. This wasn't the first time he'd been there. This wasn't the first time he'd seen this place. But how could he know this place?

He knew where everything in the kitchen was, if he didn't think too hard about finding it, he knew what kind of music Iruka listened too, he knew what kind of movies Iruka watched. He knew Iruka's favorite TV show. He knew everything about a man he had a grand total of three conversations with. How could he know--

"Kashi! I want to watch this tonight!"

--everything about a man he had only ever spoke to three times. How could he know?

The door slowly swung open, and Iruka poked his head out, offering a soft whimper when he saw Kakashi and nearly slamming the door closed again. Kakashi caught it, sending Iruka slamming into the door when it didn't complete its expected motion. Following slamming into the door, Iruka tumbled to the ground, blinking in confusion as he stared up at Kakashi. Black eyes grew wide, as his breath came in short, terrified pants. Tears blurred his vision as he scrabled backward.

"Please don't," Iruka gasped, covering his head with his hands.

Kakashi's eyes softened as he looked at the terrified chunin curled up on the ground, crying. He knew it wasn't because he couldn't fight back, or that he was weak, but that it was because Iruka couldn't bear the thought of hurting Kakashi, mentally, if not physically. "Iruka?" Kakashi dropped to his knees, gently touching Iruka's face.

"K-kakashi?" Dark eyes looked at him cauthiously. "B-but. . . this isn't. . . "

"Shh," Kakashi wrapped his arms around Iruka. "I know, but. . . even if my head doesn't remember but. . . I think my heart never forgot."


"--shi, are you sure you're all right? You jsut got back from a terrible mis--

"--sion is tomorrow, you better not be late, otherw--

"--ise I'm never going to be able to buy you dinner. Besi--

"--des, that stupid dog wasn't going going to let you walk himhe was going to walk you. Why el--"

"--se would I be here telling you not to do th--"

"--is is so stupid, Kaka--"

"--shi, I don't want you to feel like you have to do this just because of what I told you yesterday."

Kakashi blinked at Iruka, his eyes growing wide as dreams began to flood his memories, things he knew, but didn't quite know how, except from the dreams he had never remembered before. "Kakashi?" Iruka's worried face loomed for a moment, and everything went dark.

Iruka gasped as Kakashi went limp, falling into his lap, nearly falling to the floor before Iruka got over his shock to grab the larger man. Iruka was lucky he could lift Kakashi--though it was a little awkward--and set him on the bed, covering him up and checking his vitals. There didn't seem to be anything wrong, but he dropped in a call to Tsunade anyway. What could have happened to Kakashi?

Tsunade didn't find anything wrong with him, other than the fact he was unconscience, of course, and told Iruka to take care of him until he woke. Iruka nodded obediently, watching Tsunade leave and taking Kakashi's hand. "I don't know what happened, Hatake-san, but why do I get the feeling it's my fault?"

Iruka hadn't realized he had fallen asleep watching over Kakashi until he woke, head next to Kakashi's hand, his dark hand curled loosely around Kakashi's pale one. "Ruka-ru?" Kakashi asked, clearly exhausted, as Iruka looked up. Realizing what Kakashi had called him, Iruka blanched.

"Kakashi? Wh--We aren't. . . dreaming. . ."

"I know. I. . . I'm the me that exists in your dreams right now, in my physical body. Iruka, it's me. I somehow remembered, and it brought me to the front."

"But you're not the real Kakashi?"

"I'm still Kakashi, I just remember everything!"

"So why now?"

"There are a lot of things that trigger memories. You, apparently, are one of them." Kakashi smiled, reaching out to run his hands gently over Iruka's face. Iruka shuddered at the real, physical touch and allowed Kakashi to pull him closer, tilting his head and pressing their lips together. Iruka moaned at that, tilting his head to allow Kakashi better access, and gasped when Kakashi's tongue brushed his lips, allowing the other entrance.

Kakashi carefully drew Iruka to lay on him, arms wrapping around Iruka's waist, pulling them closer and closer together. Iruka paused, eyes widening. "You aren't really Kakashi. You're my Kakashi, but you aren't this Kakashi. I can't do this. I can't use his body this way!"

"Iruka, I am Kakashi. We are the same person, I just know something he doesn't." Kakashi paused, pained at Iruka's rejection.

"Kakashi. . ." Iruka's tears dripped on his lover's face.

"It's all right. I'm still me, and I know what I'm doing. Just like he's always felt me, I still feel him. He wants this as much as I do. Please, Iruka."

"Kakashi," Iruka breathed, capturing his lover's lips and allowing Kakashi to flip them. "Please."

"Please continue, or pealse stop?" Kakashi asked, his thigh slipping between Iruka's.

"Go," Iruka panted. "Just. . . be gentle."

"Is your body a virgin?" Kakashi asked, smirking against Iruka's lips.

"Yes," A gasp from Iruka made Kakashi chuckle. Iruka smiled, giving in to Kakashi's questing hands. He knew Kakashi would never hurt him. Kakashi smiled. He would have to remember to be gentle.

After two weeks had passed, Iruka grew more comfortable with the idea that Kakashi was really his Kakashi, the one that held him gently at night after they made love, the one that protected him whenever he could, and the one that spoiled him rotten. Iruka insisted that Kakashi not spend much on him, and Kakashi complied, but Kakashi was very creative and didn't need a lot of money to spoil Iruka rotten. Kakashi had returned to his apartment, now that he was better, though they routinely spent the night at each other's homes.

Iruka smiled into Kakashi's chest, snuggled against the man and offered a soft sigh of happiness. Kakashi stirred, wakefullness pulling at his consciencness. Iruka gave a soft sigh, still asleep. Kakashi blinked, smiling at first, at the soft warmth, then furrowed his brow in confusion. Why was Iruka in his bed--comepletely nude--with him, in his apartment no less, Kakashi wasn't sure, but the gentle tug at his heart made his smile last a few beats further before confusion and anger took over.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Kakashi demanded, finally noticing the state of his undress. He didn't think he had been drinking, and had no hangover, so why couldn't he remember the previous night?

"Kakashi?" Dark eyes widened as Kakashi's angry face loomed over him. "What's wrong, Kashi?"

"You and I," Kakashi hissed, "Are not so familier with each other that we offer each other nicknames. So what the fuck are you doing in my bed?"

Terror was the only word that described Iruka's reacting to the jounin glaring at him. "I--don't you remember anything?"

"I remember passing out in your apartment, and I remember waking here, completely naked and feeling like I've had sex--which is pretty obvious with the way we're dressed--so why are you still here?"

Tears filled Iruka's eyes, startling Kakashi. "I'm sorry," Iruka finally murmured. "I thought. . . you would remember. I guess. . . I should have known it was too good to be true."

"For what to be true? Stop playing with me, dammit?"

"For you to remember your dreams!"

"What, you think you're my lover, you whore?"

Iruka flinched as though Kakashi had actually hit him, his tense muscles sagging in defeat. "I suppose not," Iruka whispered, still not moving. Kakashi snorted, thowing him from the bed and sending him flying into the wall from the force. Iruka said nothing, just sat on his knees, hands fisted lightly in his lap. "I'm sorry," Iruka murmured, not moving, his face downturned so his loose hair covered his eyes..

"I don't care. Get the fuck out of my house, you whore."

Iruka gathered his things, bowed to Kakashi one final time, and disappeared. Kakashi shook his head, rolling his eyes, and heaved himself out of bed, hand brushing a rubber band. It had to be the one Iruka usually tied his hair up with. Kakashi slid it onto his wrist, not sure why, and made his way to the shower to clean up.

Kakashi didn't see Iruka again for a month, and the first meeting they had, Kakashi physically ran into him, sending him to the ground and sending the books in his arms flying everywhere. "Sorry," Kakashi didn't even look at who he hit until a a soft gasp made him glance up.

"Kakashi?" Iruka's voice was soft and hopeful.

"Oh, it's you." Kakashi sneered. "I'm surprised you're out so late and not bedding the next man that catches your fancy."

Iruka winced again, silently gathering his books. "I'm sorry I ran into you," Iruka offered. Kakashi glanced around the empty park, then slammed Iruka against a tree, making him drop his books again.

"I want to know, whore, why I was sleeping with you that night? Was I just drunk, or did you actually manage to seduce me?" Kakashi smirked, running a thumb over the chunin's cheek in a parody of affection.

"Please, Hatake-san, stop," Iruka begged softly, trying not to cry. It hurt to look at Kakashi, since his heart broke every time it happened. "Please don't do this."

"Do what?" Kakashi leaned closer, smirking. "I just wanted to know what your rates were, whore."

Iruka choked on his tears, collapsing against Kakashi, hands fisted in the other man's shirt. Comfort he dearly wanted, but knew he couldn't have. Kakashi stiffened in shock, not entirely sure what to do. Iruka just leaned on him for several long seconds, tears soaking into Kakashi's shirt. "I don't have any rates," Iruka finally managed through his tears. "And I never touched anyone but you. If I'm a whore, then it's only to you."

Kakashi shoved him back, sending him violently to the ground as he ran off, leaving a sobbing Iruka on his knees in the park, books still scattered everywhere. Iruka couldn't have meant that. Kakashi didn't do things like that with people! He didn't have relationships. One night stands, maybe, but never relationships. Anyone he loved died, and hurt him over and over again. Iruka would be no different, and he didn't know the chunin anyway.

But where his head said he hated the chunin, his heart was offered a different reply.

Two months after he had seen Iruka in the park, slamming him against the tree and leaving him there, he was summoned into Tsunade's office. She was grave looking, her eyes flicking over a piece of paper. "Kakashi," She looked up. "We have an issue."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Do tell."

"Three of our chunin went on assignment, and two have returned with the information we sought, but the third chunin was taken captive to give his team time to get it back here. I'm organizing a rescue. I don't want his body left in enemy hands, if he's dead, and if he's alive, I'd like to keep him that way. Unfortunately, we can spare only one man for this mission, which happens to be you. I know you've had problems with him in the past, but please, Kakashi, I know you can help him."

Kakashi felt his heart sink. "Who is the chunin?"

"Umino Iruka."

"And what makes you think I can find him?"

"Whether or not you want to believe it, Kakashi, you're connected. We're not sure we can find him without your help anyway. And the only way to do that is if you actually let your heart rule over your head."

"I'm a genius, Tsunade. Surely you don't think being an emotional wreck will help me find him."

"No, Kakashi. I'm saying that your head thinks he's lost while your heart already knows the way."

"Funny," Kakashi muttered, "Because my subconscience had been saying that for three months now."

Kakashi couldn't believe he'd agreed to it. He couldn't believe he'd been conned into it, but he couldn't believe he'd agreed to it either. Now he was running around the forest, trying to figure out which way he was running so the he could find Iruka. Tsunade had said to stop thinking so hard about it, and just follow his heart.

Kakashi had nearly laughed at her. He had never followed his heart without putting some serious though behind it, and now she wanted him to just up and run whereever the hell he thought Iruka might be? Pitching his tent, he sighed and curled up in his sleeping bag. He had summoned a few of his nin dogs to stand watch, and allowed himself to drift off to sleep. If his connection with Iruka was in his dreams, then that's where he'd have to go for answers.

Iruka smiled at him, resting against his chest. "I'm glad it's only the real you that hates me," Iruka murmured, eyes closed. "I don't think I'd survive if you hated me, too."

"The real me is a moron," Kakashi laughed. "Look, Iruka, the real me is looking for you right now. I need you to strengthen the connection as much as you can so that he can find you, all right?"

"He hates me, Kakashi. He doesn't want to find me."

"I do, Iruka. I love you. Please, I don't care if he wants to find you or not. Please, Ruka-ru. Please let me find you." Kakashi begged. "Show me where you are. Let me see. I can find you. I have to."

Iruka nodded, turning to gain protection from the nightmare of his life. The warm landscape turned into a bare room with cold, stone walls. It seemed to be underground, since light leaked in from a trapdoor, and water oozed down the walls. "I lick that," Iruka pointed to the water. "It's nice and cold."

"Ruka-ru," Kakashi said softly, stroking his hair. "I'll find you. Is there anything else?"

Flashes of woods drifted through his mind, dizzying and confused from where the men had dragged a drained Iruka through the forest. Iruka saw a small hut near the hole in the ground they threw him in, and blue sky before everything went black in the memory. Kakashi nodded, pressing a kiss to Iruka's lips. "I will find you, Iruka," Kakashi promised. "No matter if he wants to or not."

Iruka nodded, returning the kiss, and smiled at his lover. "Thank you, Kakashi."

In his tent, Kakashi Hatake woke with a start. For the first time, he remembered everything from his dream.

The running was mindless and endless, Kakashi's mind watching only for dangers, but the thread twined with his heart leading him onward. It was a pulse sounding in his ears, telling him to run, telling him where to go. I-ru-ka, the steady beat resounded. I-ru-ka. I-ru-ka.

And as his heart beat, he knew. He knew where Iruka was, he knew where he was going, he knew the path to get there. He knew how to recognize the place, how to follow the trail. He knew everyone there, and what rank they were. And he thought he was crazy for knowing all that because Iruka had told him in a dream.

He had always pretended to be crazy, and he might have occasionally been ready to round that inviting bend, but for the first time in his life, he thought he really had lost it. He was insane. Utterly, completely insane. He was following a dream. Not only a dream, it was a dream about a chunin he didn't even like. A chunin that was nothing but a whore.

And yet, even as he thought that, his heart was screaming at him. He knew that thought was untrue. Yet, Kakashi couldn't figure out what else it could be. He didn't love Iruka, he didn't even know Iruka. Iruka was only after him because of his status. There was nothing about him to love. The only things he was good for was to get people killed. And yet, Iruka had said nothing about even kissing Kakashi to anyone. Most people Kakashi slept with used him as a conquest, but there had been nothing about Iruka sleeping with him. Not even after the two weeks Iruka had--

Wait. . . what two weeks? There had been a two week gap after Kakashi had passed out, but he couldn't remember what happened. Even so, all the same, he knew he and Iruka had spent those two weeks together, and knew no one was talking about it. Iruka had either been very discrete, or people had finally become too afraid to talk. And since ninja were never too afraid to gossip, Iruka had been discrete.

It made Kakashi wonder, if what Iruka had said was really true.

If it was true that Iruka loved him.

Kakashi continued to run.

Iruka choked and coughed as water was poured over his head, spilling into his mouth and clouding his lungs for a moment as he sputtered. "So, we have ourselves a little leaf," A man smirked, lifting him and slamming him into a wall. "A pretty little leaf."

Dark eyes widened as Iruka looked up. "What do you want?" Iruka demanded, grunting as the man slapped him. It didn't hurt nearly as much as when Kakashi did it.

"Do speak unless I order you too, puppy," The man sneered, yanking Iruka's head back by his hair. "Understand, little shit?"

Iruka didn't say anything, invoking another yank on his hair. "I said, understand?"

"You didn't say to speak," Iruka gasped as he was slammed to the ground and kicked viscously several times.

"I want you to tell me everything about Konohagakure," The man demanded, growling as Iruka spat at his feet. Fists and feet met his body as a flurry of blows sent him around the room. Iruka decided he really didn't like birds, since he was well on his way to becoming one with all the flying he was doing.

"F-fuck you," Iruka managed, before he was slammed into the ground again. Belatedly he noticed that the man beating him was very careful to stay away from his face. His heart sank. This was not the first time he had been captured, and Iruka knew he was pretty. The man had said that himself, truthfully. Iruka closed his eyes, clenching his teeth for a moment. Tears gathered in his eyes as he accepted what was going to happen, and defied the man anyway.

"Please, Kakashi," Iruka muttered over the bond, softly, sadly. He knew that if Kakashi had not accepted the idea that Kakashi and he were connected through their dreams, then Kakashi would never hear him. "Please, hurry."

Iruka didn't know how long the beating lasted, or when the man finally left with a promise to return later. Iruka said nothing, just closing his eyes and trying not to think about what would happen when the man returned. There were others, of course, but Iruka didn't want to think about them, either.

Kakashi finally had to stop for the night, but chose to cat-nap rather than sleep, curled up in the branches of a tree. Most people wondered how he slept like that on missions, but he found trees comforting. They were always there when they were needed, and he was from Hidden Leaf, after all. Still it irked him that he had to spend time sleeping when he needed to finish this stupid mission so he could return home and forget all about the chunin.

"Please, Kakashi. Please hurry."

Iruka's voice made Kakashi's eyes snap open and the man sat up, gasping. It was in the wee hours of the morning, but he might as well head out. The sooner he found the chunin, the sooner he could go home. He was just glad he hadn't slept deeply enough to dream. That made his life a lot easier. Taking off, he found he knew the area he was in from the strange dreams two nights before. While the trees weren't spinning dizzily because he wasn't suffering from a concussion, he could figure out where he was. Maybe two hours from the camp.

Kakashi sped up. He had to find Iruka. Iruka was important to him, his heart whispered, even if he refused to admit it to himself. It was deceptively easy to get into the place. Killing the other ninja around was so simple. They were low level, or maybe not so low level, but nowhere near his caliber. Unfortunately, killing all the attacking ninja didn't tell him where they had hidded Iruka, and there were at least fourteen--mostly abadoned--buildings to dig through.

Unfortunately, digging through fourteen buildings would take time, especially since what the ninja lacked in combat skill they made up for in camoflague. Kakashi spent the next hour hunting for the entrace to the hidden room, not too sure what he was looking for, since he knew light leaked into it, but it was the only thing Iruka hadn't really known.

Kakashi sighed. Of course Iruka would know everything about a place except where they were keeping him. That was just something the chunin would do. Except Kakashi was entirely unsure how he knew such a thing in the first place. Kicking at the ground, Kakashi nearly groaned. Of all the times to be confused. . .

Iruka whimpered softly as the man returned, smirking widely. A smirking man was not a good thing, especially not when Iruka had been interrogated less than an hour ago.

"The pretty little leaf's still here, huh?" The man smiled, pressing Iruka into the wall. "A trapped little leaf that can't get away."

Iruka stepped backward, hitting the wall as he tried to get away, and gulped. The man smiled a little more, leaning in to press his lips against Iruka's. Iruka whimpered, shoving him back, only to have the man backhand him. "Stop!" Iruka screamed, only to have the man shove him down, tearing at his clothes. "Don't, please."

"Is the pretty little leaf a virgin?" The man purred, pinning him to the ground as he cut off Iruka's clothes. Iruka let out a soft sob as he pulled Iruka's clothing off him, callously spreading the chunin's legs. Iruka buried his face in his arms, stifling his sobs. Kakashi already thought he was a whore, getting raped would probably finish convincing Kakashi that it was true.

"Don't," Iruka begged, feeling pathetic and lost. "Please."

"Pretty little leaf doesn't like this?" The man dragged his tongue down Iruka's face. Iruka whimpered, feeling entirely helpless. The man prepared him harshly, with no lubrication and far too quickly.

"Stop," Iruka whispered as the man poised himself. Iruka prepared himself for pain as the trapdoor slammed open.

"Get the fuck away from him," Kakashi snarled as the man tried to get to his feet. But it was already too late, the man was long since dead before he managed to get to his feet. Kakashi knelt next to the fallen chunin. Without thinking, Iruka wrapped his arms around Kakashi, burying his tear-stained face in Kakashi's vest before realizing the jounin was actaul flesh and blood and jerking away.

"I'm sorry," Iruka choked, curling up in a ball. "I won't do it again."

"He almost raped you," Kakashi breathed, reaching towards the chunin and gathering him up in his arms. "If I had been just a few moments later. . . "

"Would it have mattered?" Iruka asked, softly. "I'm just a whore."

"No," Kakashi shook his head, holding Iruka closer, despite the other's struggles. "What happened the two weeks I passed out?"

"The dream you came to the forefront. He said he was you, only he'd remembered the dreams. I never thought it was just him. I never would have done anything if I had."

"So I was screwing you more than just that night," Kakashi mused. "I did wonder, since you never did tell anyone."

"I wouldn't do that," Iruka turned away. "I won't--I won't bother you anymore, Kakashi. I'm sorry. I know I'm a whore, I just proved that, spreading my legs for anyone that came by. . . I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone."

"No, Iruka," Kakashi whispered, pressing a kiss to his head. "I remembered the dream I had the other night, I know that wasn't the first. I'm sorry, Iruka. You deserve better than me, but. . . I'm all I can offer you."

Dark eyes met indigo, and Iruka's small hands fisted in Kakashi's vest. "I just want to go home, Hatake-san," Iruka begged, shivering. Kakashi dug out a blanket, wrapping it around Iruka and racing towards the forest. Iruka was too sore to attempt to run on his own, but refused to speak to Kakashi. Kakashi said nothing, just held Iruka close, making sure he had no nightmares.

Tsunade welcomed them back, grateful Iruka was alive. Kakashi offered her the mission report, with Iruka, still wrapped in a blanket, adding in things once in awhile. "Take him home," Tsunade ordered Kakashi, ruffling Iruka's hair lightly.

Kakashi did so, still refusing to put Iruka down. "Do you feel any better?"

"Just aching bruises," Iruka sighed, getting his feet under him. "I'm sorry I caused you so much trouble."

"Iruka, no," Kakashi gripped the man's arms. "You are amazing. You're beautiful and special, and everything I've ever dreamed of."

Iruka managed a weak laugh. "That was a terrible pun."

"Look, Iruka, I have nothing to offer you but myself, as terrible as it is. I'm not the man you've known in the dreams, though we might be the same person somewhere. I was completely wrong about you. If you'll give this a chance, I'd like to try."

Iruka smiled. "That's all I wanted. I knew you'd never remembered the dreams, but I thought. . . maybe you'd remember me somehow anyway."

Kakashi smiled. "Well, I kind of remembered. Tsunade knew, I think."


"She told me the only way to find you was to ignore my head and listen to my heart."

"Thank you for listening to someone, for once," Iruka whispered. Kakashi shook his head, realizing, for the first time, that he would do anything for Iruka. Anything at all. Sweeping in for a kiss, Kakashi throught that maybe, this time, he might actually be able to protect the one he loved.