Author Notes: Christmas festival song fic challenge entry (from Kakairu lj community). Song: "Wintersong" by Sarah Mclachlan. Special thanks to pgrape and don amoeba for their awesome beta help :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its characters. I do not make any profit from this text.


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Chapter 1: Visions in the Snow

Lake is frozen over,
Trees are white with snow.
And all around reminders of you,
are everywhere I go. –
Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan

Kakashi was muddy, bloody, and cold. He continued to run as fast as the heavy snow would allow, his boots sinking into the powdery terrain with each step. This was a miserable time to do mission, and he was eager to be home. Long missions during the worst of winter made him nervous, now.

He pressed his clammy lips together behind his mask as the dark memories fought to break free. He shook off that melancholy train of thought with a twitch of his shoulders. "Must concentrate on getting home—got to let Iruka know I survived another mission," the copynin reminded himself as he continued slogging towards Konoha.

Iruka always had a way of making things better, no matter the occasion. His presence was like a warm balm to Kakashi's soul when he felt enclosed in darkness after a harsh mission. The copynin would crawl through the window—or creep in the door, if his injuries were more serious—then head towards their bedroom. Iruka always managed to ignore the worst of the mess he'd make, the blood and mud he'd track all through the apartment. His lover would gently cup his cheeks, studying the visible parts of his face carefully as he determined what was required. The tumultuous emotions would show through in his clear blue eye, or at least that's what Iruka had told him the only time they'd discussed it.

The chuunin would then begin to hum soothingly, his strong and sure hands carefully rolling down the black fabric covering his lover's face. Iruka was always slow and deliberate in all of his actions, understanding that anything could spook Kakashi while he adjusted from mission mode to realizing he was safely back at home. His lover was so calm, never raising his voice or complaining, even if his eyes spoke of the pain and anger at seeing what the village had again taken from the jounin. After Kakashi had been eased out of his dirty uniform, Iruka would begin to whisper words of comfort and safety as he carefully checked the copynin over. He always seemed able to grasp the gist of the fight by mapping where the worst of the damage lay.

Iruka never seemed to mind that Kakashi was usually silent these times. He'd lead the jounin into the bathroom and start the water running for him. After helping him into the shower, the chuunin would slip out to clean up the mess and give his lover a few minutes alone to collect himself.

Kakashi found he couldn't perfectly recall how Iruka looked during his ministrations. He assumed it was due to his system crashing after being revved up for so long, coupled with chakra depletion. He didn't have a clear memory of exactly how Iruka's face looked as he carefully studied the jounin, the mix of love, anxiety, and protectiveness that would twist his features into an odd half smile while he fingered any particularly nasty bruise or cut.

Thankfully, Kakashi could clearly remember what would come afterwards. After carefully scrubbing himself clean, Kakashi would get out of the bath and towel himself off. He'd bandage anything that was actively bleeding, then gratefully slip on the soft black eye patch he used at home and head into their bedroom again. A patiently waiting Iruka would be found sitting on their bed, his hair down and freshly brushed, naked as the day he was born. Kakashi would spend a few minutes fingering the soft chestnut locks before they'd share a tender kiss.

Then, Iruka would take charge again, gently urging Kakashi down onto the bed. Suddenly, calloused hands would begin caressing his face, then chest, bypassing his sensitive nipples to work their way down to his solid abs. Kakashi was all sinewy muscle, his lithe pale torso contrasting to Iruka's darker muscular arms and hands. Iruka's hands always felt so warm and alive against Kakashi's cool skin, another reminder that he had made it back safe, again. Iruka would then begin to kiss and lick him, making sure to delicately brush his lips over any of his injuries, reclaiming his lover. God, it felt amazing when Iruka would spend time kissing each knuckle and fingertip, letting his tongue lave the digits and the sensitive skin between them till Kakashi was choking back moans and squirming with need. He could easily picture how beautiful Iruka looked, leaning over him, the silky dark strands falling forward over his shoulders to just barely graze the jounin's chest.

Now would be the time for Iruka to tenderly prepare his silver-haired lover—never rushing, and always starting with his tongue to help relax the tense and anxious jounin. Kakashi found it strange to lie on his stomach and allow Iruka access to his vulnerable back, but it helped reaffirm that he was out of danger for now. After the silver-haired nin was driven to moaning and trembling, Iruka would begin carefully working in his fingers, massaging a thigh and peppering teasing kisses and licks along Kakashi's lower back and thighs. Iruka would sometimes step it up a notch and have him roll over to take the jounin into his mouth, letting that dexterous tongue trace the raised vein, causing his cock to harden and swell. But, no matter how Iruka chose to arouse him, he was careful to maintain physical contact with the jounin.

Finally, when Kakashi thought he might die if he couldn't get more of something, Iruka would judge him ready. They both liked to have sex facing each other, so Kakashi would roll onto his back and grab his thighs, sometimes with embarrassing little pleas falling from his lips. The chuunin was exquisitely slow when he'd finally enter him, treating the great Sharigan Kakashi as if he was made of glass. Kakashi would growl and moan, fiercely clamping his legs around the chuunin as he was slowly impaled. After giving a pause long enough for the jounin to start bucking in protest, the chuunin would set a languid pace that he'd keep throughout.

The best, however, was how Iruka would whisper to him – softly conveying words of love, acceptance, and possession. Constantly reminding Kakashi of where he was and who he was with. So that even as the copynin's eyes rolled back in his head from the pleasure, he never had to fear where he was or what was happening. His lover's soft voice always grounded him in the present, in their lovemaking.

Kakashi shook his head to clear it, bits of snow and mud flying. Those kinds of thoughts were not going to make his run home any more comfortable! He was impressed by his own stamina when his cock gave a couple halfhearted twinges, though his body was too worn down to show much more interest than that. He was just too tired to fuck, or apparently to fight his memories as thoughts of home washed over him.

Iruka had the best laugh. His boisterous laughter managed to sound cheerful and amused without any undercurrent of malice that often marred others' gaiety. Iruka was never cruel to others for amusement; he preferred finding hilarity in his everyday life. Kakashi always wished he could be more like Iruka in how he was able to express his emotions and not let things get him down. Iruka was able to smile and let out a good belly laugh whenever the mood struck him, even if things weren't going his way at the time.

The chuunin wasn't afraid to talk about the past, even if it sometimes meant dragging up painful memories in the process. One of the funniest memories had been about his father's lessons on catching fish with a five year old Iruka. It had even made Kakashi guffaw when Iruka stood and began pantomiming his efforts to snatch the slippery prey from the water. Iruka had wiped the water from his eyes as he'd struggled through his own laughter to explain how once he'd finally managed to snag one it had opened its spiny fins and painfully cut his hands. He showed Kakashi the light-colored scars that still graced his palms, and let a wistful note creep into his voice as he went on to tell how he'd held on tight to the fish despite the pain, determined to make his father proud.

Kakashi had to wipe his eye, he was laughing so hard and readjusted his eye patch. He'd gently continued holding Iruka's hands as he stroked the scarred and calloused palms, watching Iruka get a far-off, insecure look in his eyes. Kakashi was familiar with how memories could pull someone down as he gently tugged Iruka close. He nuzzled the chuunin's ear before softly speaking,"Your father would be proud of you now, too, just like he was then."

And after sharing a gentle kiss, Iruka in all of his quiet strength had managed another smile and launched into another gut busting story of his youthful prankster days, causing the two lovers to laugh long into the night.

Kakashi chuckled softly to himself, little puffs of steam rising off his mask. He was starting to feel the effects of his mission as he came down from his battle high. His right shoulder was aching something fierce where he'd taken the blunt end of a kunai, and from the feel of it he'd wrenched his knee somewhere during the melee. He'd have to visit a mednin in the morning if it didn't feeling any better then. He knew Iruka would be angry with him if he didn't take care of himself, and everyone knew you avoided raising Iruka's ire.

Iruka would never be called a saint, not with the temper he had. Kakashi ruefully remembered the times he'd angered his lover and borne the brunt of his fiery displays. Iruka was someone who blew up spectacularly; it was a sight to see when the sensei was in full rant mode. His cheeks would flush so darkly that his scar would begin to disappear, and his eyes would be lit with the cold light of anger. His wavy hair even seemed to share his explosive attitude, sticking out straighter and swinging with his wild gesticulations. And his voice—he could nearly shake the window panes with his booming voice. Years of yelling at misbehaving brats had helped him to temper it into a weapon. The chuunin could go from a drill instructor's bark to a deceptively soft timbre that would whisper threats and promises fit to make one's toes curl. The scariest part about it was that Iruka was likely to carry out whatever threats he uttered. The chuunin had a reputation for being very honest, as far as ninja go, which meant he lied only 25 of the time.

Kakashi enjoyed seeing Iruka in the height of a justified rage only when it wasn't aimed at him. It was best when he could spy on his sensual sensei while he was teaching the rugrats, and observe him really lay into them for some prank gone wrong or thwarted escape attempt. Iruka was fierce when he faced his students. He did not believe in sparing the rod; however, the sensei was also scrupulously fair.

No matter how attractive Kakashi privately thought Iruka was once he was in full rage mode, the jounin had never liked the aftermath—how Iruka would shake from the adrenalin and begin anxiously weighing the harsh words he'd spoken. Kakashi privately knew that Iruka would sometimes agonize about whether he'd been completely just in meting out punishments in the classroom, as well as his treatment of his fellow shinobi in the mission room. That was just Iruka's way, both to be fiery when upset and to care enough to consider if his actions were just, that he'd been fair without hurting someone more than was required.

Kakashi came back to the present when he heard a loud crack, on his right. He froze, foot in mid-air as he looked, trying to see what had disturbed the quiet of the forest. After studying the terrain and shifting his mask to smell the wind, Kakashi figured it was a branch snapping from the heavy weight of the ice and snow. It was unusual to have snow and ice before New Year's.

After taking a swig from his canteen, thankfully kept lukewarm with a jutsu, Kakashi returned to studying his surroundings. He noticed a clearing up ahead, ringed by a few large trees. It reminded him of the training grounds in the village, and his time with his lover there.

The idea of training together had been Iruka's. The sensei had wanted to make sure he stayed in peak condition should his services be needed outside the village, and Kakashi couldn't refuse a chance to test the strength of his chuunin. Kakashi loved the thought of grappling with the chuunin, their sweat-slick skin sliding against each other during taijitsu, or seeing the burning determination in those expressive eyes.

And his lover had turned out to be a fierce and worthy opponent. Iruka fought dirty, and was not above using all manner of tricks against Kakashi to help gain an advantage. It had proven fun for both of them. Kakashi had even picked up a few new moves from the chuunin. Which, honestly, had surprised him, though the copynin would never have admitted it.

Their training also helped Kakashi work off some of his aggression if he was cooped up in Konoha for too long. This didn't happen often—his services were almost always needed by the village—but when it did, Iruka always seemed to know. That's when the chuunin would suggest they spend an hour or two sparring, a devilish gleam in his eyes. Those were the times they'd make bets on the rounds, using different handicapping systems to make sure they were evenly matched. Kakashi would sometimes get stuck doing dishes for a week, or buying dinner (since he could barely cook), while Iruka might be forced to sharpen all of Kakashi's kunais or mend the holes in the jounin's uniforms. Then the ante would be upped, and suddenly Kakashi would become a guest speaker in the classroom, while Iruka would be in charge of bathing all the ninken.

The best part of their sparring matches was when that light of admiration would show in Iruka's eyes in response to Kakashi executing a particularly clever or difficult move. That look always caused a twinge of pride to fill the jounin's chest. He so rarely cared what others thought, but it was a pleasure to think he'd impressed the one person whose opinion mattered. Finally, they'd end up lying tired and sweaty in the grass, and Iruka's warm laughter would wrap around Kakashi, and he'd know there wasn't anywhere else in the world he wanted to be than right there.

Kakashi smiled, his split lip leaking a little blood, but he didn't feel it as his damp mask quickly absorbed it. The wind had long ago numbed his face, and he pressed onward, only stumbling now and then. He had enjoyed sparring and training with Iruka much more than he had thought he would. It had been an added benefit to see the results of their training, how defined and hard his sensei's back and abs became. When Iruka's hips had had the perfect definition, it was so enticing he couldn't keep his hands and mouth off them whenever they were bared. "Ah, what a lovely idea..." thought the jounin as he continued on, comforted by the knowledge that he only had ten more miles to go.

Iruka and Kakashi had always had a healthy and varied sex life. But even at it roughest and wildest, it was always permeated with their love. Kakashi was an adrenalin junkie— after all, how else could he have turned out when he'd been killing and fighting since he was five? He loved it when he was able to dance along the knife's edge. God, the vision Iruka made as his already tanned skin flushed and mottled, his hair tangling beneath his thrashing head, his nipples stiff and swollen and his ripped abs tensing as the jounin pounded into him.

When things got rough like that, the chuunin would brace himself against the headboard as he tried to muffle his whimpers, cries, and moans with his shoulder. Kakashi would snap his hips as hard as he could, viciously slamming into the chuunin as he watched his lover writhe. He was always so happy with how flexible Iruka was. He could practically bend the stocky chuunin in half as he leaned forward, pressing Iruka's legs back towards his shoulders and beginning to bite and lick at his lover's chest. Once he got a few of the harder bites in, ones that would bruise for days, the chuunin would give up trying to stifle his cries and just let his head toss from side to side, calling out his pleasure. Iruka usually finished first when they did it like this, unable to hang on with so many stimuli. Those dark chocolate eyes would fix on him him, full of love and sated passion. Finally, with a bruising grip on his lover's hips, Kakashi would convulse, spewing his seed with an animalistic cry.

"Gah!" muttered Kakashi as another icy trickle of water ran down his neck and a vicious wind cut through the exposed skin on his arms and face. "I guess that's what I need to cool me down from those hot memories, eh?" he muttered wryly. It had started snowing again a few miles back, and the wet flakes were beginning to weigh down Kakashi's gravity-defying mop. After filtering down through his hair, they would start to melt and trickle icy water down his neck and into the soft black fabric of his uniform's collar.

It was a damn cold night here in Konoha. He had marveled at how the body had steamed a bit as he'd gutted the missing nin a few hours ago near the border. His knee was now steadily throbbing and he felt quite chilled. "Think warm thoughts," Kakashi admonished himself as he let his mind wander, passing the farthest training grounds that marked his steady approach to the village.

Iruka loved the kotatsu on cold winter nights like this. Once the weather turned bitter, he'd always be sitting there, his back perfectly straight and his legs neatly folded while he graded homework and worked on lesson plans. Kakashi would watch the progression of his exhaustion, how his posture would change, his back slowly curving until he was hunched over the table, still stubbornly refusing to give up his work. Other ninja might think Iruka had it easy, but Kakashi knew how hard the man worked. Just because he wasn't spilling his own blood on a daily basis far from home didn't mean that Iruka's jobs were any less stressful or tiring.

One quiet, snowy night, Iruka had explained his own ninja way to Kakashi, telling him how he felt his role as instructor of the future generations served a great need and provided a valuable service to Konoha. How he felt he could really make a difference with the kids on the fringe, the Narutos and Sasukes. After all, Iruka had been one of those trouble makers on the edge, another orphan who had behaved so badly because he was desperate for someone to notice him. Iruka hoped that he would be able to provide that acknowledgement to others, and that maybe he could help them as Sandaime had helped him.

Also, Kakashi and Iruka were both realists, and knew that more than half of the kids at the academy would be dead before they were thirty, some before they even made chuunin. Iruka felt his training in the classroom would help give them a solid foundation to build their skills upon, so that perhaps those rates would drop sometime in the future. Iruka had even been willing to give Kakashi some insight into his lonely adolescence and how he had come to the notice of the hokage and be placed in the role of teacher and mission room worker.

Listening to all of this, Kakashi had sat with his unmasked face cradled in his hand and his knee comfortably pressed up against Iruka's under the kotatsu. After thinking a few moments, Kakashi had acknowledged the trust and respect that Iruka had shown him by being willing to share such a personal thing. Iruka had graced him with a lovely smile, leaning over to share a languid kiss before pulling back enough to shift and place a peck on the bottom of the savage scar running across the jounin's eye.

Kakashi had shivered with the feel of lips on the sensitive scar. "Someday... I'll try to tell you about the eye and my beliefs."

They had shared a moment of understanding, Iruka's dark eyes shining in the low light. It had been the start of their relationship deepening, where each had been willing to share more of their private selves.

Another cloud of mist was forming outside his wet and clammy mask as Kakashi started panting from the strain of battling the snow. His decision to reveal his past to Iruka hadn't worked out at all how he'd planned on that night long ago. He grabbed his porcelain mask off of his belt and tied it back on now that he was nearing the gates. It was frigid against his uncovered eye and forehead, causing a full body shiver. He'd envisioned things going so differently, he'd had the nerve to feel so fucking hopeful in his time with Iruka—it nearly made him sick to remember it now. He tiredly waved a one-armed salute to the guards as he infused chakra into his legs to bound over the gate.

A pained grunt escaped Kakashi's lips as he fell when he landed harder than he'd expected. He got up, brushing the snow off as he continued on, now limping to favor his burning knee since he was within the city walls. His physical aches and pains began to fade from his mind as he neared the jounin apartment block.

Finally, their home was in sight. Kakashi's pace slowed even more as he hauled himself up the stairs to the third floor. His injuries meant he'd definitely use the door tonight, his chakra too low to just jutsu in. After a few minutes of careful picking at the lock with his senbon, he could walk inside.

It was a struggle to get his boots off as he leaned against the foyer wall, a soft moan escaping clenched teeth as his knee twisted in the process. Once the boots were off, Kakashi un-strapped the long blade from his back, then untied his porcelain mask, not repressing the wince as the motion pulled on his injured shoulder. He then carefully unbuckled his arm bracers and white chest armor. Finally, he arranged it all to the side of the doorway, ready and waiting to be cleaned and put away in the morning.

Now, clothed only in his ANBU top and pants, Kakashi shivered from the now-melted ice running down his neck. He was grateful that the building was well insulated with the boiler working well in the basement, so the smooth floors were only cool against his feet as he headed towards the living area. The moonlight filtered in through the high, un-shuttered windows, providing plenty of illumination for the jounin to navigate their home.

Muscles began to loosen that he wasn't even aware of tensing as he neared his destination. "You always did know how to get me to relax," said Kakashi in a hoarse voice. Rolling his mask down, the jounin revealed a wry and slightly bitter smile. It melted off his face as he focused on what he'd been seeking and bowed low from the waist.

The next part caused him to clench his jaw in pain; it's difficult to lower yourself to the floor with an injured shoulder and knee. His soft grunt shattered the stillness and silence in the room. However, Kakashi managed, ending up seated on the blue and white striped cushion with one leg bent and tucked up against him while his injured knee remained relatively straight. "Maa, I know you wouldn't mind either way. I bet you're thinking I should be in the bathroom getting warmed up..." Kakashi's face was impassive, though his words had a warmth and sadness to them.

"Iruka, I'm home."

His lone blue eye was trained on the picture in front of him, perched gracefully atop the small gold shrine. Iruka looked so happy in it, turned to the side, looking off camera, and laughing – laughing so hard his eyes were half closed and he just looked so handsome... and free. Finally, Kakashi brought his hands together, palm to palm, bloodstained and mud covered glove to glove before holding them in front of his face. The jounin closed his eyes and let the rest of his words tumble out in a soft whisper.

Kakashi knew Iruka was listening, wherever he was now.