I do not own Naruto. This is a fanfic for entertainment only. Spoilers for Kakashi Gaiden


I had always found Kakashi to be interesting, but I never had a reason to start a conversation with him. I was merely a chunin, and he was a jonin and a former ANBU, we were on two completely different levels. Other than tell him he should turn mission reports in on time, I've never spoken to him. Now that he's leading Naruto, I might just have my chance.

"What? Hatake's never passed a team?"

"Yes. His test might be a little difficult, since children obey orders," Hokage replied.

"But he's failed everyone. What is it that he wants from them?"

"You should ask him that, not me, Iruka."

Knowing Naruto, I've lost my chance at having a reason to speak with the legendary jonin. I excused myself and left to wait for Naruto to come tell me the bad news. I was at home grading papers when a knock was at my door. Expecting Naruto, I grabbed my wallet and put on my shoes so we could go eat at Ichiraku. Instead of finding a weeping boy at my door, Naruto gave me a huge grin and thumbs-up.

"We passed."

A gapped at him for a moment. "What? You passed?"

"Yeah, we start training first thing tomorrow."

I was speechless. Dumbfounded. Mind completely blank.

"Can we go eat? I'm starved."

"Of course, let's go celebrate." I definitely had to talk with Kakashi now.

For once I was glad Kakashi is perpetually late. He came to hand in team 7's mission report just when I was getting off. "Hatake-san, I hope you don't pass your tardiness on to your students."

"But I had to help an old lady carry heavy bags, and it turned out she wasn't done shopping yet."

"Sure," I said rolling my eyes. "So how are they working out for you?"

"They each have unique strengths and weaknesses, though the biggest problem is teamwork."

"I figured as much." Kakashi turned to leave; I had to make my move now. "Wait, I'm getting off now. Would you mind grabbing a bite to eat with me so we could talk about your team?"

"I thought that's what we just did Umino-san." With most of Kakashi's face covered it's impossible to know what his face is expressing. His visible eye seemed to hold amusement.

I faltered and almost didn't continue. "I was hoping for something a little more in depth, actually."

"Fine, but if this is a date I expect you to pay."

I know I turned scarlet, I could feel the blood rush into my face. I wish I could tell if he was joking, or laughing at me. There were still other people here, and I couldn't leave with out a response. I willed the color to leave my cheeks so I wouldn't look embarrassed when I said this. "Well, since I invited you, I fully expected to pay. If you're that desperate for a date, I won't mind if you want to believe it as such."

I grabbed up my stuff and walked out of the room as fast as possible, hoping Kakashi would leave things at that. I let out a sigh as he followed me out of the room without further incident. I hadn't really thought this plan out to the point of where to go eat, so I automatically headed for the ramen stand. Kakashi walked behind me for a short ways before coming up to my side.

"So, when was the last time you went on a date? You might be just as desperate as I am, Umino-san"

"I don't think that's any of your business. Besides, we're ninja; we don't have time for things like romance. If the clans didn't arrange marriages, the bloodlines would never be passed on." I tried to study him as we walked along. He had a slight advantage over me in height, but it seemed exaggerated from his wild silver hair sticking up. I had a sudden urge to touch his hair and pinched myself to keep from blushing. He was solidly built, but then what ninja isn't. Even though I'm a teacher I make sure to train for at least one hour a day. I knew enough about him to know that the forehead protector covered a sharingan eye, which is what gave him the title of "copy ninja," but I had no idea why the rest of his face was covered.

I directed him to a seat at the ramen stand and sat next to him. "I come here a lot with Naruto, so I know the food is good."

"Is that so? I had heard about your incident with him and Mizuki. What exactly is your relationship with that boy?" Kakashi asked while studying the menu.

"I guess that I'm the closest thing he has to a guardian. He reminds me of me at that age. I pulled a lot of pranks to get attention too. I want to help steer him down the right path."

We ordered our food while a silence crept up on us.

Kakashi sighed, "So when are you going to ask me about whatever it was that is so important it has to be done over dinner?"

"I wanted to know what you had tested them on. Since you had never passed any team before I was more than a little shocked when Naruto said he made it."

"It's quite simple, really. I was testing their teamwork, seeing if the well being of comrades is more important than following orders. It's been an issue for me in the past."

Our food had arrived and around a mouthful of noodles I asked, "Issue?"

"It's none of your business," he replied in a voice that clearly said not to push it. "I told them to cooperate or they wouldn't be able to get the bells from me. I said if they fed Naruto it would be an automatic failure. Sasuke's the first student to ever realize that if he didn't give his comrade food they would be in no condition to help and it would be a useless fight anyway. I was surprised he was the first one to ever show that compassion, given his past. Though in reality I'm sure it was only do to strategic planning rather than real concern."

I ate while he explained this to me. As I emptied my bowl I had begun to wonder if he was going to eat or if he had simply ordered so I wouldn't be embarrassed. I turned my attention back to him only to discover his bowl was already empty. I tried to keep my jaw from dropping out of surprise, but he noticed my confusion.

He closed his eye in what I imagine is a smile and said, "It's just something I do."

"Oh, well then I guess that's it." I paid for our food and we walked back out into the night. "I had a good time, perhaps I could invite you to join me again sometime?"

Kakashi stared at me for a while. I stared right back, my two brown eyes locked on to his one blue one. I knew I should look away, not only was he my elder, but he was in a much more advanced position than me. I couldn't turn away though. I felt I had to prove something to him, prove that being a teacher hadn't made me weak, that I could face a situation without fear.

Eventually his eye closed into the smile again. "Sure, I don't mind." He turned and walked away, pulling out the dirty novel he keeps with him.

I leaned against the side of the building as the adrenaline released itself from my body. I was pleased; I had expected him to refuse my offer earlier. As I walked home I mused over the events. Why does he cover his face? Is it disfigured? But that's common for ninja. What's he trying to hide so much that he found a way to eat without anyone seeing him do it? Is he just being mysterious, so that women become intrigued and throw themselves at him? And what are the issues he's had before that he refused to talk about? And why the hell did he bring out that book when it's too dark for him to possibly read it?

I got to my apartment and stopped to look at the stars before I entered. 'Iruka, Iruka, you've been curious about him for a long time, are you sure it's not infatuation?' I thought and sighed. Relationships just lead to pain. I envy the civilian families, not having to worry if their loved ones will make it back from that day's job. Mother, father, is the time of pain and worry worth the time of joy?

A while later I went to see the Hokage in his office. "Sir, I would like to ask you about something."

"Of course Iruka, what's on your mind?"

"I was wondering if you could tell me about Hatake-"

"No" Hokage replied firmly.

"But you don't even know what I want to ask."

"You want personal information about him. As you are not going on a mission with him I have no reason to disclose such information to you."

I know I started pouting and quickly regained control of my emotions.

"You're just going to have to ask him out to eat again."

"What?! You know about that?" I was shocked.

"Of course, I am hokage after all," he said with a chuckle. He regarded me for a moment. "I wonder if you'll be able to do it."

"Do what sir?"

"Get through Kakashi's barrier. He's been a loner ever since that time. It would be good for him to have a real friend again."

"Well, thank you for your time." I took my leave, knowing that if I asked further into what he meant I would just be told to leave. Kakashi was just becoming more mysterious and I wondered why I found that to be so intriguing.

I waited awhile before asking Kakashi out again. I didn't want him to think I was desperate. I didn't want to think I was desperate. When I found out the C-rank mission we gave them to protect the bridge builder turned out to be so advanced I just had to talk to him about it. Again, he came to turn in the mission report when I was able to leave.

"Is Naruto doing well? I've been busy lately and haven't seen him for a while. I'm worried about him getting along with his teammates."

"Naruto and Sasuke see each other as rivals and constantly argue, but it gives them a reason to work hard. Their improvement is almost enough to surpass you."

He says everything in such a calm and even manner I don't know whether he's joking or insulting me. "Is that so? Perhaps we should discuss this over dinner."

Kakashi looked at me for a moment before doing the eye smile thing. "Sure. I was beginning to think you were never going to ask again."

I got my things and we headed for the ramen stand again. On the way there Kakashi asked, "Why don't you just ask Naruto about the mission?"

"Well, I did actually run into Naruto, ah, briefly," damn, I had just said earlier that I hadn't seen Naruto, "and he just gave such a one sided story about saving 'that weakling Sasuke' that I couldn't get any real information."

"Yeah, that sounds like Naruto's account of the events alright."

We ordered our food quickly this time and I started the conversation back up. "Hatake-san, could I call you Kakashi-san?"

He looked at me while he replied. "I don't really care about such formalities, how about just Iruka and Kakashi?"

I blushed and had to turn away. That was such and intimate thing to call each other. I didn't think I could say that if we were with a group of people. They might take it the wrong way. But what if we got to a point where it wouldn't be taken the wrong way? Man, I'm blushing harder now, change topics.

"So what happened on this mission? I heard there were injuries."

"Well, Sakura didn't get injured, but that's because she didn't do any fighting. Naruto heals himself, so there wasn't anything to worry about with him. It did seem that Sasuke had been killed though. Luckily the person he was fighting was intentionally not trying to kill him."

"And you?"

"Uh-un, you have to say my name if you want to know that."

Our food arrived then and I tried to burry my embarrassment in the bowl. "Were you injured, Kakashi?"

"It was part of my strategy to be wounded, so my biggest problem was really chakra depletion."

"That's good to here. So how did Naruto and Sasuke improve so much that they're better than me now?" I said teasingly. That's right; I need to catch him in the act of eating this time.

"During the battle Sasuke's sharingan appeared. That makes him better than just about anyone without a bloodline. More surprising though was the fact that he jumped in front of Naruto to protect him. I expected his need to avenge his family would be his greatest downfall because he would value his life above all else until he kills his brother. It seems he does still have some compassion in his heart."

"And Naruto?" I asked through a mouthful of noodles. I was keeping an eye on him and I had yet to see Kakashi try to take a bite.

"Naruto managed to pull out the nine-tail's chakra."

My eyes went wide and I almost started choking. I can easily recall the intense fear from the day that demon attacked our village.

"I was concerned at first," he continued in a reassuring tone. "I thought the seal might have broken, but that wasn't it. Naruto used that chakra for his own benefit. If he can learn to do that at will, he will easily become one of the most powerful ninja Hidden Leaf has ever had."

"That's amazing. No wonder you told me they were surpassing me so calmly in the mission room. I thought you might be insulting me, but you were just stating a fact." I pushed the rest of the food away. The thought of the fox demon being out had ruined my appetite.

"Iruka, why would I insult you?" he asked in a soft voice.

"It was just one of the reasons I had thought of about why you said that. Isn't your food getting cold?"

He smiled at me. "Food?"

I looked at his bowl and it was empty. "But, but, I was watching the whole time!"

"I told you, it's something I do."

"Why? Why are you so concerned with hiding your face that you can't even eat a meal like a normal person?"

"That's none of your business."

I want it to be my business. I paid for the food so we could leave. Outside I stopped him from just walking off. I couldn't stare him down like last time, so I stood with my side to him.

"I had said before that the life of a ninja didn't leave much time for romance. It also doesn't leave much time for us to be picky about trivial things like gender. Either you're interested in a person or not. So I was wondering if the next time we went out it could be a date." I paused and glanced at him, but didn't have the courage to let him answer yet. "It's cool if you don't want it to be a date. I'm just saying that I would like to get to know you more intimately, instead of being brushed off like earlier. What do you think, Kakashi?"

He came to stand next to me. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye instead of head on. "I told you when you first asked me out that I didn't mind it being a date, Iruka. However," he whispered. "Since it will be our third time out, if you want it to be a date I'll expect a goodnight kiss."

I felt myself turn scarlet immediately. "Ah, of course. But only if you're open with me."

"It's a date then," he said and walked off. He pulled out his book and called back behind him, "try not to wait so long this time."

I nearly passed out. I don't even remember how I got home afterwards.

I couldn't bring myself to ask him out right away. I couldn't even think about kissing him without blushing and stammering, so I couldn't believe I'd be able to do it in reality. So I waited. Then the chunin exams came up. We were all there simply as a formality. The three rookie teams wouldn't be experienced enough yet, but the Hokage had to ask anyhow.

"Under the name Hatake Kakashi I nominate all three to enter the exams."

"Under the name Yuuhi Kurenai I nominate all three to enter."

"Under the name Sarutobi Asuma I nominate all three to enter."

"Hold on a second." I thought what in the world are they doing? "Hokage please let me speak. Most of these students were mine at the academy. They may have talent, but it is too soon for them. They should build up experience for another year like the rest. I can't understand what reasons they have for thinking these students are ready."

"I was already a chunin six years younger than Naruto is now," Kakashi said.

"Naruto is not you! Are you trying to crush them?"

"Always complaining about the missions we're on, it would be good for them to experience pain. Crushing them might not be bad." Kakashi said it without emotion.

"What!"

"I'm joking," he said tiredly. "I can understand your feeling, but as much as it may upset you, you need to stay out of this. They are no longer your students, they are my soldiers."

"You think them getting through one high level mission was enough? Participants in this exam will try to kill, and this time they won't have anyone there to protect them!"

"Iruka-sensei that's enough," Hokage cut in. "You are too emotional to take part in this, please leave."

I stood there dumbfounded for a moment while that sunk in. I was even more pissed off now; everyone was just going to let it happen. It was all I could do to keep from punching a hole in the wall on my way out. I went to the training area to burn off my anger, imagining the wooden post as Kakashi as I practiced my aim. Damn him! If something happens to Naruto during this exam I might just challenge Kakashi to a fight. See if I ever ask him out again.

I told Hokage I wanted to be the one that came out when Naruto's team opened their scroll. I figured he'd take the disappointment of failing better if I was the one to let him know. But my expectations were wrong. I got to tell them they passed instead.

"But the third test is harder yet, don't push yourselves to hard. Naruto I worry about you."

"From the moment you gave me my forehead protector I stopped being an academy student, so you don't need to worry. This is the symbol that I've grown up, I'm not at kid anymore, I am a ninja!"

"Naruto, I'm sorry I doubted you." I may need to apologies to Kakashi too. It seems that in this short period of time, you already know them better than me.

We went to the preliminaries and I stayed to watch the fights. I wasn't too surprised by Sasuke's win, but I was happy to see Sakura put so much into her fight. If she hadn't fought Ino I don't think she would have put so much effort into it. Naruto amazed me though, strategizing the fight and being able to change forms so quickly. He had never shone such potential at the academy. I guess he's the type that learns best by doing. I had always thought his dream of being Hokage was wistful thinking, but if this is how much he's improved already it may really be possible. I left after Naruto's fight so I could think about how to apologize to Kakashi.

I came across Kakashi at the training area a few days later while he was busy throwing shurikens. It was after school and I didn't have to work at the mission desk that night, so I had decided to practice before grading papers. Kakashi didn't seem happy with the fact that he was hitting the target head on every time. Not wanting to bother him I set up to practice a ways down from him.

"Bunshin no Jutsu," Kakashi said creating about twenty clones. They ran around franticly as Kakashi started to throw the weapons with more energy at the moving targets. I watched him, hoping it wasn't too obvious, as I waited for signs of him stopping. After creating groups of clones five times he finally went out to collect his fallen weapons. I threw a few more before doing likewise.

Kakashi finished before me and was sitting on the bench drinking some water. I went over to join him. "I'm surprised to see you doing such routine training."

"I did some heavy training the past two days, so I wanted to ease up a little today." Kakashi replied.

"So, you're worried about Orochimaru?"

"Yeah, I had a personal encounter with one of his spies and he was good, damn good. I wanted to make sure I was in top shape. And Orochimaru is going after Sasuke, so I'm going to need to give him special training too."

"I heard about that. I wonder why he's interested in Sasuke."

"I'm sorry, Iruka. I'm not dismissing Naruto, there's just not enough time to train all three of us the way we need to. If it weren't for Sasuke's sharingan I doubt I'd even bother with training him. I would just focus on trying to protect everyone instead."

I was shocked. "What? You don't have anything to apologize to me for. I'm the one who came over to apologize to you. You really did understand their strength better than me. It seems that all three students blossomed under your care, as well as the other groups. I made a complete ass out of myself in front of everyone. I'm sorry for yelling at you, and I'm sorry for underestimating you."

"Does this mean I can expect you to ask me out on a date again?"

How does he always manage to say something that leaves me flabbergasted? I blushed slightly. "If you're still willing to agree to it, then yes."

"I'm free now."

"Oh, okay." I turned away and cleared my throat before going back to look him straight in the eye. "Kakashi, would you like to meet me for dinner at Alexandra's in two hours?"

"Two hours?" he looked at me confused. "You take that long to get ready?"

"Ah, no. I figured you would need time to, you know, get lost and then maybe come across a stray dog. Then the dog would need food so you'd have to go to the store to buy it a steak. And you'd have to run all around town to find a store still open. But then you'd have to cook the steak, and I don't know. Whatever it is that makes you late all the time."

Kakashi just stared at me and I couldn't read his expression. I blushed harder. "What?"

"That had to be the sweetest and most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me. You are without a doubt the kindest and most considerate person I have met in a long time." Kakashi got up and stood next to me. "I'll be there in an hour. I don't always get lost in the road of life, you know. If it's important then I don't take detours."

With that he left me standing there. My face was burning. He had complemented me. Everyone tells me that I'm kind and considerate, but when he said it, it seemed like he was confessing something from the bottom of his sole. Plus, he said meeting with me was important to him. I wanted to stay there in that moment forever, but then I realized I had to get going if I didn't want to be the late one. I rushed back to my house quickly.

I took the fastest shower ever and brushed my teeth. Picking out what to wear proved much more difficult. 'Casual, casual. No uniform, need civilian clothes. Do I still have any? Ah, here's a pair of jeans I hope they fit. Yatta! Now a shirt, this black one should be good. Black always works and is sexy. Wait, do I want to be sexy? I don't want him to think I'm gonna give it away after one date. Good, it's not form fitting, so I guess it's not overly sexy. Plus the black color will hide a stain if I manage to be nervous enough to spill something on myself. God, I hope he thinks I'm sexy.' I combed my hair back into a ponytail and headed out.

I arrived with ten minutes to spare and put our names down for a table. Kakashi came up five minutes later wearing light blue jeans and a dark blue long sleeve shirt that matched the color of his mask. Instead of the forehead protector he had a piece of the same dark blue fabric covering his eye. We were seated and began looking over the menus.

"I don't eat Italian food often, how about you?" I asked Kakashi.

"I've had some before on a mission, but I've never come to this restaurant."

"I've come here once for a teacher party and the food was good. That outfit looks good on you," I tried to slip in.

"Thank you. You look nice tonight too."

I was glad I had the menu to hold up to hide my face. It wasn't fair that Kakashi wore a mask so I could never see if he was blushing. The waiter came and took our order before we continued talking.

"I was wondering why earlier when I asked about the two hours you made up the story about the stray dog. You never seemed to like the excuses I came up with when I'm late," a curious Kakashi inquired.

"I'm a teacher. No matter how much I enjoy a student's antics I can never act in a way to encourage their bad behavior. I approached your tardiness the same way. There where times I would laugh after you left because of the story you came up with, but that behavior is not exactly appropriate for a ninja."

"So why did you become a teacher Iruka? Do you like kids?" Kakashi asked.

"There are days that I like them more than others. They can be a handful, there's always a prankster in a class. That was me when I was in school, actually. The reason I got into it was because I hate it actually. I don't think it's right that we teach children how to fight, kill, and survive. I think they should be out there playing, discovering, realizing the opposite sex isn't so bad, that kind of stuff. Deal with issues like death and survival once they grow up some more. But I understand its necessity. I decided that the best way to deal with my issues would be to become the one to teach these kids how to do it. That way I can assure myself that even if they are not emotionally ready for battle, they will be mentally and physically. And I have no regrets about failing a student because of that. Naruto failed three times you know. If Mizuki hadn't set him up Naruto never would have learned the jutsu that got him to pass. And I never would have had a reason to talk to you."

"I really do hope your whole reason for speaking to me is not because I'm Naruto's sensei."

"Of course not," I started blushing. "I meant that I wouldn't have known what to talk to you about, and not have the confidence to start a conversation with you. He was an ice breaker."

"Your reason for becoming a teacher is strange, but it's good. I've heard that your one of the best teachers at the academy, and I guess that's why. You're concerned with giving the children the best future possible, instead of creating the most ninjas. I understand your issues. Look at Sakura for example, she has memorized every rule, has great control over chakra and weapons, but her emotions towards Sasuke are no where near desirable for a ninja. But if we wait until their emotions have matured more it would be harder to teach them. Young children have such eager minds compared to adults."

"I'm glad you feel that way, Kakashi. Only the hokage knows why I wanted to become a teacher. I was afraid it would seem ridiculous or something."

Our food arrived and we started eating the delicious meal. Or at least I ate, since I don't know when or how Kakashi eats. I asked him a question for him to talk about while I ate. "Why are you always reading that book?"

"It started years ago. I was getting tired of having meaningless conversations with people. Women would ask me out twice a day if not more often. I tried to look like I was in a rush everywhere I went, but that clashed too much with my lazy style. I tried transporting everywhere, but that burned too much of my chakra. I tried reading a book, I do like to read after all, and found that it stopped all but the boldest people. I was in the bookstore one day picking out what I wanted to read next when I happened upon that book. I wondered how people would react to it. Sure enough, once someone got close enough to read the title they either blushed and looked away or looked at me in disgust. I was able to freely move about town at my own pace. Plus, I find the plot lines in the book to be ridiculously funny. The reasons why these characters have suddenly fallen madly in love and are tearing off each other's clothes can be so outlandish I just have to laugh. This is why I continue to reread them."

I finished eating and pushed my plate to the side of the table. Noticing Kakashi doing the same I saw that his food had once again vanished. The waiter came to take our dishes and ask if we wanted dessert. We declined and he went to get the bill. I gave him thirty five dollars and told him to keep the change.

"So that's why you have the book out at night? Even though you can't read the book it will deter anyone from bothering you unless necessary?"

"Yeah, I feel life is easier that way."

I gathered up all my courage. "Kakashi, would you tell me about your eye?"

He sighed. "When I was around Naruto's age I was in a team that wasn't too different from the one he's in. Our sensei was the fourth, though it was before he became hokage of course. I would have been the Sasuke on the team, the 'I'm better than you so leave me alone' bastard. Rin was like Sakura with a strange undying love for me. She was learning to be a medical ninja and she was very good at it. Obito, even though he's an Uchiha, was more like Naruto with his outgoing and happy personality. He always wanted to help people and was constantly late because of some good deed. It frustrated me so much; it's ironic that I am always late now. We were on a mission. I had already been a chunin for half my life and I had just been promoted to jonin so I was the leader. Our sensei had another mission. Rin was captured by the enemy and Obito wanted to go rescue her. I wanted to finish the mission. My father had killed himself because of the disapproval he faced for saving his teammates instead of completing the mission. Obito and I separated. I thought it was best to finish the mission, but I felt it was best to help my teammate and eventually I went after Obito. So now you understand my bell test, right?"

"Yes. If you help the teammate you may blow the mission. But if you don't help the teammate you have to live with the guilt of their pain. New missions are easy to come by, new teammates are not. It is a tough dilemma if they have not thought about it before."

"When I caught up with Obito he was being attacked by a ninja using invisibility jutsu. I managed to jump in and save him from the enemy, but my eye was cut out in the process. Then Obito's sharingan activated and the enemy didn't have a chance. We found Rin in a cave and rescued her from another enemy, but before we could leave he made the cave collapse with an earth jutsu. Obito pushed me out of the way only to be crushed himself. His final wish was for Rin to implant his activated eye into me so he could continue to help even after death. Rin did a very good job transferring the eye and the effect was immediate. But since I can't deactivate the sharingan my chakra is drained so I have to keep my eye closed when I don't need to use it."

"Was it hard getting use to the world in a one eye view?"

"There were some accidents in the beginning. I found that my weapons were not going in the direction I expected them to. But I got use to it quickly."

"May I see the eye?" I asked hesitantly.

Kakashi pushed the sash up to reveal a red eye with black dots. It contrasted sharply with his other eye. He also pulled the mask down slightly so I could see the scar that ran from his forehead to below his cheekbone. I felt drawn to it and without even thinking about what I was doing my hand went to rest against his head. He closed the eye and I began caressing the scar with my thumb.

"Does it still hurt?"

"Yes."

"Bad?"

"No. My body wants to reject it, but Rin did something to make sure that wouldn't happen. It's a constant dull pain," he told me.

I don't know how long we sat like that, with me running my thumb along the length of the scar, staring at the eye but not thinking about what I was doing, and Kakashi starring at me with a curious look.

Eventually he asked, "You know how to have your chakra heal?"

Realizing that I had been flowing chakra into him I quickly pulled my hand away. "Ah, no, not really." I said embarrassed. 'Why was I doing that? An action so intimate. I can still feel the heat of his face.' I looked away. "I picked up a little over the years, but nothing like what a medic ninja can do."

"Why do you bandage your students' cuts instead of healing them with chakra?" He asked while repositioning the mask and sash.

"Because they need to learn how to use a first aid kit. They may have a solo mission one day, or get separated from their teammates. Teaching them how to properly bandage a wound is a lesson. I studied healing in case one of the students became seriously injured I could help them on the way to the hospital."

"While I hope you never have to use it in that situation, I thank you for learning the technique. My eye feels good for the moment."

My cheeks colored. "You're welcome. Perhaps we should get going. I'm sure the restaurant would like their table back."

"Sure."

We got up and left. "I'll walk you to your house if you lead the way Kakashi."

We walk in silence most of the way. I don't know what Kakashi was thinking about, but my heart was racing as I thought about the goodnight kiss I was supposed to give him.

Ultimately Kakashi broke the silence. "My apartment's on the third floor."

"Okay." We climbed the stairs. "I had a nice time tonight, Kakashi. I was hoping that if you were free on Friday night, we could get together again."

"I would like that. I don't currently have plans."

"Great! How about Zackly's at 7:00?"

"Sounds good to me. This is my apartment."

The moment has come. I walked over to him rather stiffly and planted a small kiss on the patch of uncovered skin.

"You can be bolder than that, you know." Kakashi teased.

I put my hands on his shoulders and closed my eyes. "Good, but I'm not going to kiss clothe. Please help guide me when you're ready."

I felt him move and then our lips were touching. Softly at first, we gently pressed against one another. Then I ran my tongue across his lips which he parted. Our kiss deepened until we had to stop for air. I felt him shift again.

"Since you're asking me out, does that mean I'll be the bottom?" he asked simply.

I opened my eyes and looked at him confused. "I don't get it. What do you mean bot- oh." 'He couldn't be referring to that, right?' He seemed to be looking at me in amusement. 'This is Kakashi, would he ask if he's going to be uke just to see my reaction? Well, yes.' "Oh, ah, goodnight Kakashi."

I stepped back and did the teleportation jutsu. Before I left completely I heard him say surprised, "I didn't know he could do that jutsu."

I landed hard on a branch not far from his apartment building. This is why I don't use this technique, I can't get very far and even when I can concentrate I can't be certain where I'll end up. With the hectic state Kakashi had put my mind in I could have ended up just a few feet from him, which would have been embarrassing, or I could have ended up in someone's apartment, which could have been devastating. I got myself out of the tree and headed for home, while new mental images racked my brain.

When I got home I stopped to muse with the stars again. 'I can't believe I touched Kakashi like that. It seemed so natural I didn't even realize what I was doing. It felt like something I should do for the rest of my life. Or at least the rest of his life. Someday he will not come back from a mission, can I live with him knowing that pain is waiting for me? Do I dare live my life unfulfilled because I'm afraid of losing him? He's going to be gone one day regardless, so why live miserably in the meantime? I'm so tired of being alone, and I think Kakashi is the missing piece of my life. What do you think of me, Kakashi?' I went inside.

Friday night came around quickly and I bought a shirt just for the date. It was a light blue form fitting shirt that clearly defined my muscles. I put it on with a pair of jeans and examined myself in the mirror. 'Oh yeah, I look sexy. Being a teacher keeps me in damn good shape.' I head out anxious to meet with Kakashi.

He arrived at the restaurant just after I did. I put our names down for a table and we sat down to wait. Kakashi wore a tight shirt as well. It was a purple color and he had a matching mask and sash. The bottom of his ANBU tattoo peaked out from under the sleeve. It reminded me that I was with one of the most renowned ninjas in Konoha. I wondered briefly what someone like him could see in me, but I pushed those thoughts away.

"Did you have rough or light training today?" I asked him.

"Light. I was teaching Sasuke to focus his chakra. How were your students?"

"They always get rowdy on Fridays, so I had to deal with a lot of pranks. Naruto apparently taught Konohamaru the sexy jutsu. Luckily I didn't succumb to it again, but I had to spend the whole day cleaning up blood from the students' nosebleeds. And it wasn't just from the boys; Konohamaru came up with a male version so all the girls were getting nosebleeds too."

"I wonder if that will ever come in handy on a mission." Kakashi said.

"I hope not, but it could come up on an undercover information gathering mission."

We were informed a table was ready and followed the waiter. We looked over the menu and quickly decided on what to eat, but the restaurant was crowded and the waiter didn't come back for a while.

"So Ebisu came back to the village today. Apparently Naruto found someone else to be his teacher. Some even better for him than me." Kakashi stated.

"What! Who?"

Kakashi replied amused, "Oh, I don't remember exactly. Something about a hermit and toad master I think."

I racked my brain trying to think of who it could be. There was only one possibility I knew of. "Jiraiya, the legendary sannin?"

"Yup. I don't know how Naruto convinced him to be his trainer, but I expect an interesting fight with Neji when he gets back."

"That's amazing. Jiraiya was the fourth's teacher. It's too bad I'm going to miss that fight."

"You're not going to be there?"

"No, I'll have watch duty that day so the higher level ninjas like you can be there. The hokage's expecting something to happen and wants to be prepared."

The waiter came back at this point and took our order.

"Last time I told you what I was like at Naruto's age, so now you tell me what you were like then," Kakashi said.

"I had a very happy childhood with my parents. When the nine-tail demon attacked, they went to fight with everyone else. And like so many others, they died in the process. I was very depressed and lonely. The hokage eventually comforted my depression, but I was still alone. I began to crave attention, any kind of attention, and so like Naruto I acted out. Being told to stay after school was a reward for me, going home to an empty house was punishment. I hated being there with the memories of the past teasing me and the near nightly bad dreams. I told myself I was weak, for needing attention, for not being able to get over my parents' death, and that I could never become a ninja like that. I told myself I would never be able to honor my parents if I couldn't face the fact that death abounds in a ninja's life. Eventually I worked through the pain of their loss."

"Alone?"

"Yes, in my heart where it counts."

"Have you been in a relationship before?" Kakashi asked.

"Yes, with Mizuki. He asked me out one day and I agreed, even though I only saw him as a friend. I think I wanted to see if it would fill the void I felt in my life. I was happy went he started to get distant and we could break up. Actually, he the one who told me about you," I said to Kakashi. "He was always interested in the genus ninja, like the three sannin, or Uchiha Itachi. He told me how you became a genin at age five and a chunin at age six. His fascination for you rubbed off on me as I began to wonder what kind of person such an individual would grow up to be. Learning to kill before ever learning what a kiss was like. Never getting to experience a proper childhood."

"I'm sure it's overrated," Kakashi said uncomfortably.

I blushed, embarrassed. "I'm sorry, talking about you like you're not present."

The food arrived right on time to break the awkward silence I was sure would follow. I quickly began to eat.

"It's interesting, Mizuki's also the reason I became interested in you, Iruka. I heard about how you protected Naruto from him and I became curious about what kind of person you were. There aren't many people in this village that harbor kind thoughts towards the demon container. I had a strong desire to meet someone else who could respect that boy. I was excited when Naruto became my student and I could ask him about you. Though, he only knew that you were a nice guy that would feed him ramen. I tried the hokage, but he refused to tell me anything. Said unless we went on a mission together he had no reason to divulge personal information about you."

"What, that same thing happened to me! The hokage refused to tell me about you." We looked away from each other and sat quietly thinking about how we were interested in one another. Finally I broke the silence by asking, "so how do you eat without being seen?"

"It's quite simple, really. I developed an illusion jutsu when I was younger to make it look like I wasn't doing anything. Even the best ninjas aren't expecting something like that while eating, so they don't notice. Then I learned to eat quickly so I could dispel the jutsu before anyone did actually notice. I'm already done eating; you can dispel the illusion yourself."

I performed the hand signs and sure enough, Kakashi's plate suddenly became empty. "When was the last time someone saw your face?"

"Probably went I was seven, maybe eight."

"Can I ask why you started to wear the mask?"

"When I first started wearing it I told people it was because I expected to become part of ANBU and I wanted to get use to wearing a mask. Once I did join ANBU some people asked me why I continued to wear it. I said that it had become a habit and that it helped keep enemies from knowing who I was."

"What's the real reason?"

Kakashi looked away from me. "Your ideas and concerns are right on, Iruka. Becoming a ninja at that age, mentally and physically I was more than ready for it, but emotionally? That was truly difficult. None of the children would play with me when I had free time. They all looked at me with hatred for being better than them. The adults I worked with didn't respect me. They all looked at me with resentment for being better than them. I didn't think I was better than anyone else; I was just a fast learner. I lived miserably. Somewhere in my childish mind I got the idea to wear a mask. I thought that if no one could see who I was then they would just assume I was a very short adult. It didn't work that way, but at least it kept my emotions in."

"And the reason now?"

"To remind myself not to get involved with people. They're either cruel or going to die on me."

The waiter came and took our empty plates and left the bill. I put some money aside and redirected myself to Kakashi. "So do you ever take it off?"

"Only to bathe in private."

"Sleep?"

"It's on. Never know when someone will enter my room."

"When you're, ah, being intimate with someone?"

"I don't take it off for sex," he said looking at me. "I would take it off to make love to someone."

"And have you ever made love to someone?"

He looked away. "No. I think if Obito had lived that would be different. I don't know if I would have fallen in love with him, but I think I would have been more willing to let people into my life."

What he said upset me and I felt a little sick. "Perhaps we should get going," I said. We got up and went outside. "Well, thank you for spending time with me, Kakashi. Have a good night," I said stiffly and started walking off.

Kakashi was in front of me instantly. "What's the matter?"

I couldn't look at him. "Nothing, I just thought it became clear that you and I wanted two different things."

"What?" asked a confused Kakashi. When I didn't reply he threw his arms around me and blackness engulfed us. Next we were standing in what I assumed was his living room. "I want an explanation," his voice sounded hurt.

I sat down heavily on the couch. 'He wants to know he just broke my heart?' I sighed. "I don't want to just be someone else you've had sex with. I want more. I want to selfishly possess you. I want to know you're only truly intimate with me. I want you to feel the same. I want you to love me."

"And you think I can't do that?" he choked out.

"That's what I gathered from what you told me tonight. Your mask shields you from getting close to anyone. Your friend's death made it so you could never love. You would rather live a life alone than risk the pain of losing someone you can truly be yourself with. I understand Kakashi; the fear of losing you after loving you so much scares me too."

"No, you don't understand. But then, I guess I never did tell you about how much you remind me of Obito."

I look at him, breath suddenly stopping "what do you mean?"

Kakashi sat down next to me and grabbed my hands. "I mean I never would have discussed my past with you like I have if I just wanted to get in your pants. I would have either done so already or given up if that's all I wanted. I already love you. When you gave me time to show up late, that said to me you didn't need me to change who I was and I knew I would fall in love with you. When you tried to comfort my eye with your chakra I knew I would spend the rest of my life with you. When you surprised me with the transportation jutsu I knew I would never get bored being with you. When you told me goodbye tonight I felt like the world was going to end. I didn't understand what had gone wrong."

We both had tears in our eyes. "Oh, Kakashi. I thought you were telling me that you would never be able to love me and I felt my heart get torn to shreds. The moment I touched your face I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life easing your pain, making you laugh, and giving you a reason to come back after missions."

We fell into a silence and just looked at each other. Kakashi released my hands and in one swift motion removed his mask and sash. My hands went up to caress the pale skin that had been exposed to me. My right hand went to caress his scar, once again sending in chakra to try to ease the pain of the cells that were fighting with each other. My left hand ran over his smooth skin, soft lips, and made its way into his surprisingly silky hair. Then I leaned in to kiss him, softly at first. As my desire grew I leaned in more so he had to lie back onto the couch. We quickly repositioned ourselves and I put both hands in his hair. He took out my hair tie so he could play with my hair too. Our kiss grew more passionate as I slid my tongue into his mouth. We kissed eagerly and hungrily, but mostly we kissed lovingly.

(We were both uke that night)