The door to the Hokage's office wasn't usually so heavy, but then again, everything felt heavier. His feet might have been made of stone, he had to drag them along the carpeted floor as he crossed the room.

"K-Kakashi?" Tsunade's mouth fell open as he shuffled to a stop on the other side of the desk from her. She was holding a pen poised over some official looking paperwork, but Kakashi could barely even see the ink upon the parchment, he couldn't focus his eye that much.

"Mission completed, Hokage-sama," Kakashi smiled tiredly as he patted his flak jacket, "hmm… where did I put it?"

"K-Kakashi?" Tsunade blinked, as though the image of him would disappear if she hid behind her eyelids.

"You've said that already Hokage-sama," Kakashi chuckled, "ah… here it is." He pulled the scroll from the pouch on the left of his flak jacket and dropped it unceremoniously onto the desk in front of Tsunade, "that contains all of the information you asked for…"

"You're not due back for three days!" Tsunade cried in disbelief.

Kakashi shrugged, "I ran all the way back."

"You…" Tsunade shook her head and rubbed her eyes, "no… I don't want to know. Get out."

Kakashi smiled as he shoved his hands into his pockets. He had been planning to go straight to Iruka and letting one of his dogs deliver the scroll to the Hokage, but the look on the woman's face was enough to make him glad he had come himself.

"I simply couldn't wait to get back and see your smiling face, Hokage-sama…"


Kakashi darted through the door before the Hokage could throw anything at him and winked at the ANBU standing guard outside.

"She wants me," he grinned, "isn't it obvious?"


The fog clung to the air, curling in wisps as Narumi moved through it. It was getting dark, and the mist was thicker than usual, but she would know her way even if she was blind. She would be able to find their names even if she was searching in her sleep. If the world was broken apart and the pieces scattered to the wind, she would still be able to find the small engravings in the Wall of the Dead that honoured her friends.

The Mizukage hadn't wanted to know what had happened when they found Shinichi. She thought she understood why, and she envied him his ignorance. She wished she could wipe the stain of what he had done from her mind. Only Narumi and her sensei knew how Shinichi had died, only they knew why Narumi now wore armour weaved from strands of golden hair.

She came to rest beneath a blueberry tree, and turned to face the dark surface of the wall. They were right there, at eye level, Shinichi's name carved above Jin's. At first she hadn't wanted Shinichi's name etched into the Wall of the Dead, she hadn't thought he deserved to be honoured amongst those who had bled and died for their comrades. But he belonged there, despite what he had done. She could forgive him, because she knew that Jin would.

She pressed her fingertips to their names and smiled. One day there would be no one to seek out these names, they would be among the countless forgotten who had once upon a time been mourned. But she would remember them for as long as she breathed, and she would tell the genin team that she would be getting soon about two boys who had been brothers, who fought and laughed and were home to one another. Who were home to her.

They would be forgotten eventually. But never by Narumi.


His teacup was empty. Iruka leant onto the table and propped his head up in his hand, staring at the dregs of his tea and contemplating going to make another one. There was a pile of unmarked essays near his elbow and a green pen in his hand. He had been using a red pen, until the ink became blood and the words became weapons. He hadn't written a single word since he had fetched the green pen, just sat staring into his teacup, wondering if he could get past the wards around Kakashi's apartment so that he could go to sleep in the jounin's bed.

He felt empty. Devoid of purpose. Utterly apathetic. And he knew that he would be useless for the next three days. That was if Kakashi deigned to get back on time.

A knock at the door startled him out of his musings. He didn't move for a few moments, pondering if he could get away with pretending that he wasn't home. But the lights were on, whoever was at his door would know he was there. With a heartfelt sigh Iruka rose to his feet, dropped the green pen onto the table and strode towards the door.

He had only just opened the door when Kakashi fell into him and clung. His heart made a valiant attempt to spiral up his throat and leap out of his mouth. Kakashi wrapped his arms around his neck and went boneless, leaving Iruka to carry all of his weight.

"I'm home," the jounin mumbled into Iruka's collar.

Iruka remembered how to breathe as he clutched the jounin against him and pulled him into the warmth of the house, "you're back! You're early!"

"I ran," Kakashi chuckled around a yawn.

"Ran?" Iruka grinned when Kakashi pressed his face into Iruka's neck. All of the colour in the world seemed to be brighter suddenly.

"Mmm," Kakashi sighed, "my feet are killing me."

Iruka almost had to drag him to the couch. Kakashi smelled like smoke and salt, and beneath that was the delicate layer of orange blossoms and sandalwood that Iruka recognised as distinctly Kakashi.

"Are you hurt?" he asked as he pressed Kakashi into the cushions, "have you seen the Hokage? Did she say you're alright?"

"I'm fine," Kakashi pulled his mask down, and Iruka saw exhaustion written into each inch of Kakashi's face, "tired."

"Because you ran," Iruka smiled. His heart swelled to three times its normal size.

"I missed you," Kakashi replied.

Iruka's smile tried to split his face in two. He couldn't make his lungs work. He felt lightheaded. Kakashi sagged back into the couch and closed his eyes, a small, weary smile playing upon his lips. Now that Iruka had him back, right in front of him and perfectly fine, if exhausted, he allowed himself to admit how worried he had been. He would have to get used to sleepless nights if he was going to be with a jounin. Iruka dropped onto the couch in relief and leant into Kakashi, because the only time his lungs seemed to work was when he was breathing him in.

"I missed you too," he replied softly against Kakashi's lips. They parted eagerly beneath his, warm and supple, and Iruka moaned low in his throat as he dipped his tongue into Kakashi's mouth.

Kakashi nudged him back suddenly, forcing Iruka to end the kiss. He blinked into the jounin's unmasked face in confusion, desperate to taste him again and fill the hole Kakashi had made inside him when he had been gone.

"Iruka," Kakashi whispered, as though he was about to impart the secrets of the universe, "I love you."

A gasp left Iruka's lips before he could stop it. Kakashi's eyes were full of hope and fear and his hands were careful as they cupped Iruka's face. It felt as though everything inside him had started singing, his soul felt too big to be contained by his body.

He groped for something to say, but he hadn't needed to, because Kakashi had only voiced what was already sitting upon Iruka's tongue. He had had the answer before he even knew the question, and his reply was already formed by his heart before his lips knew the words. He didn't need to think about it, he already knew, he had given his heart wings and let it fly away, and despite how vulnerable that made him feel, he had never been so happy.

"I love you too," he whispered, and he returned Kakashi's smile.