Training Kakashi.

Lesson One: Safety.

Iruka set the marker down and stretched, cracking his back as the kink in his neck protested loudly. He felt rather despondent to the prospect of finishing grading the tower of written exams he had handed in earlier in the day – wryly and somewhat fondly, he thought of Naruto's vehement repulsion to those – and wondered again why he had decided a six page questionnaire would make a good punishment for his unruly students; he was the one that had to grade them, after all. It always involved inhuman efforts to translate long strings of ink that vaguely resembled actual characters and a fine work of cryptography to decode the abysmal grammar some of his students nursed. Really, in the end, he was punishing himself as much as he was punishing them.

He glared at the unrelenting stack of scrolls, hoping for a moment that it would disappear under his scrutiny, but merely sighed when they, predictably, remained as impassive and inanimate as scrolls of paper are prone to be.

The teacher sighed, taping his cheek with his index finger as he debated going to bed and leave the exams to be graded the next day or continue until he was done. He could, of course, leave the exams unmarked for a few days and have the anxiety levels raise in the class, but that would also mean jumpier students and Iruka really didn't like jumpier students; they made everything more difficult. On the other hand, he was tired, and the prospect of a good night of sleep was tempting. Very tempting.

A shadow flickered outside his window, beyond the usual movement of the tree by the window, and Iruka twisted smoothly on his seat, kunai held tightly and aiming instinctively at the throat. The flash of silver hair was enough to stop the attack, however, and the tip of the weapon found itself resting almost teasingly against Kakashi's skin. The Jounin's visible eye closed in what Iruka could vaguely recognize as a smile.

"Hi, Iruka-sensei."

When the taller man fell on him, unconscious, Iruka had about point three seconds of blind panic before he blinked and managed to set the unresisting body upright. Kakashi was out cold. Iruka blinked again, but the image did not dispel itself and panic was displaced by worry and faint annoyance.

It turned mostly into embarrassment, when it took him five minutes to actually gather enough wits to call Midori for help.

The stack of exams remained ignored in his desk, staring accusingly at, well, nothing, because generally, paper does not stare at anything, and even if it had been staring, Iruka was too busy trying to figure out what was going on to pay attention to it.

--

Kobayashi Midori, Chuunin and highly skilled medic Nin, studied the man lying awkwardly on Iruka's bed with a mix of amusement and disbelief. Kakashi's body showed clear signs of abuse, mostly byproducts of intense training, but for him to simply drop into unconsciousness… she rubbed the bridge of her nose and tried hard to keep the headache at bay. The fact Iruka was hovering was not helping. Frankly, all she wanted was to slip quietly back to her own apartment and finish her tea. Stupid oath of self-sacrifice, she thought sourly just as Kakashi moaned, slowly coming back to the land of the living. Stupid Jounins that don't know when to stop pushing.

Personally, and away from judging ears, Midori would willingly admit she preferred unconscious patients to awake, alert ones – it was mostly why she worked so well under Ibiki-sama's, the patients there were always either in too much agony to complain or too scared to interrupt, and they always made her work easier. Faster.

Iruka leaned over her shoulder, peeking at the groaning Copy Nin worriedly. It was sort of sweet, she figured rather gloomily, only not.

"Do you know where you are, Kakashi-sensei?" Midori asked politely, folding her hands at her lap and watching attentively every minute movement, reading them expertly as a sign of weakness or distress. Kakashi's visible eyelid lifted minutely, before it slid back close – Midori clenched her teeth while entertaining rather uncharitable thoughts about Iruka, when the Chuunin teacher's knuckles turned white. Kakashi gurgled something or another unintelligible, but the intention was clear enough. "Alright, can you move?"

Again, the eye opened and gave Midori a mildly sheepish expression – it was amazing the ability Kakashi had to communicate non-verbally with others, considering his whole facial expression consisted of an eye – and with visible effort wiggled his toes. And that was pretty much it. Iruka made a small sound in the back of his throat, something between surprise and anguish, and Midori decided that if she never heard it ever again, she would be quite a happy woman.

"…right."

"Is it that bad, Midori-san?" She wanted to smack him, she really wanted to, but medic Nins weren't supposed to, so she contented herself with a very put upon sigh.

"Somewhat," she poked Kakashi's unresponsive side, "I'm kinda surprised he managed to get here in one piece, someone must've spent too much time doing extra training, burning out all his chakra like that. At least you were smart enough to go somewhere you wouldn't be left to die," Kakashi shrugged – or at least, he gave the impression he shrugged, though he remained unmoving – and Iruka made a disapproving noise in the back of his throat, "you're lucky Iruka-sensei is such a caring man, Kakashi-sensei, otherwise you would be dead. As it is," Midori grinned, "you'll recover just fine, though it will be painful."

When she winked, Iruka got a fairly good idea why she worked under Ibiki: the expression was positively sadistic. Kakashi groaned again, torn between exhaustion, pain and the vague sensation he was about to experience something that definitely fell into the 'not nice' category. He also mourned for his Come Come Paradise novel, abandoned in the middle of nowhere – his favorite training ground.

"Midori, wha-"

The healing Nin began to perform a series of complicated seals which caught both Jounin and Chuunin's attention.

"This is a jutsu that's been passed down my family for generations; a way to ensure the patient feels no pain while the treatment takes place and which numbs their reaction to the worst part of it;" Midori smiled as she thrust her hands forward, "this is the Ultimate Anesthetic no Jutsu!"

…and since Kakashi and Iruka were too busy being intrigued by her hand movements and the steady release of Chakra, they only noticed Midori's clone when she sneaked behind him and banged Kakashi's head with a thick medicine scroll. Both Midoris cheered a little when he went limp and unconscious.

Iruka stared and stared and stared, and after the longest moment, stared some more.

"Are you out of your mind?!"

"Hey!" The woman seemed fairly miffed – as if it had been her who had been knocked out; "It works, okay? He's unconscious now and he won't feel it when I do this," her index finger sank between Kakashi's ribs, unlocking a cramped chakra flow, "or this," the next point was pressed with the same accuracy and it didn't seem any less painful. Iruka wondered if she was pressing harder than strictly necessary, simply because she was childish like that. "In any way, once his chakra finds its flow again, it'll take him six, maybe seven days to recover completely, but try not to move him much. And he'll need something for the headache, as well."

"But, but—" Iruka fumbled with his words in a pathetic display that almost, almost moved her. "He can't stay here! I can't look after him and he needs… and my classes… and my students…"

"And his porn collection," Midori added somewhat teasingly, though the effect in Iruka was highly amusing: he turned a shade of red she had previously thought impossible to reach naturally. Her expression shifted into something less cheerful and more melancholic as she smiled. "We all need a friend once in a while, Iruka-sensei; it'd do you good, both of you. Ta ta." With a little wave, she left in a puff, leaving Iruka without the chance to reply.

The Chuunin looked at the unconscious Kakashi, who had, at some point during the exchange, slipped into a relatively peaceful, sound sleep.

It seemed those exams would get graded after all.

--

"You know, Iruka-sensei, you don't really need to sleep there."

Kakashi watched with morbid amusement as Iruka struggled to curl under a too small blanket, pressing himself tight against the corner. It was a fairly hilarious sight, but by the dark, peevish glare he was being subjected to, Kakashi was fairly certain his life expectancy would drop dramatically if he laughed.

Underneath the fabric of his mask, he bit his lip and hid a smile.

"I'm fine," Iruka snapped back with far more venom than even his most unruly students ever heard him utter: he was tired, he was cranky, he was nervous and he wanted his bed.

Except his bed was currently occupied by one Copy Nin who made a point of suggesting things that had Iruka's cheeks blazing, and that did not help him with any of his current ailments. The only small mercy was the fact he didn't have class the next morning, and he could, probably, sleep in a little. If he managed to sleep at all in the first place, of course. Admittedly, in his moments of weakness, he had pictured the silver haired Jounin laying right where he was, but this wasn't one of such moments and the reality of his presence in Iruka's apartment – in his bed – was methodically ripping his nerves raw. He didn't want to do something stupid that would make Kakashi uncomfortable or worse, angry; but at the same time, he was getting anxious about revealing too much or being caught or, or…

Kakashi wasn't fazed by the mix of emotions that had Iruka performing a strange cross of sulking and glaring. He thought it was cute.

"I could move over and you could squeeze here…" The glare intensified and outdid the sulking, so the silver haired Jounin concluded, correctly, that finishing that thought would not be wise.

"Midori-san said you shouldn't move," Kakashi wondered if Iruka was not above stabbing his pillow with a kunai, though with all that rough handling, it might not even be necessary, "so you're not moving," the thin fabric got stretched and pulled in a parody of what a mother would do for a child, before Iruka settled back with a huff. "Good night."

Kakashi strained his neck – and dear heavens, it hurt – for a moment longer, taking in the stiff posture and the hunched shoulders, before he sighed. There was a childish, sardonic jab almost dying to get through his lips – it's morning, actually – but by the time he had settled for a simple, honest 'good night', Iruka was snoring softly, head balancing precariously in his sleep. Kakashi couldn't move, his body so sore and his chakra so frail he felt a little breeze would do him in; he couldn't go wrap that blanket properly around the thin shoulders and he couldn't pull Iruka close, explain things. There were many things he couldn't do at the moment, many he had never been able to do before and many he would never really dare to do. So he laid there, ignoring the dull ache of his straining muscles and the burning of the sharingan behind his eyelid, thinking about a thousand things that weren't, wouldn't and hadn't been done and watching the younger man sleep in a way his own active mind wouldn't let him.

He wondered if he should tell Iruka he hadn't had a real destination in mind when he gathered that last burst of chakra, only the hope it would be somewhere safe. He wondered if Iruka would believe him.

Kakashi hoped so, because this truly was the safest place he could think of.