Iruka's captors had decided it was easier to carry him than to deal with his clumsy stumbling. He was beginning to hate whatever that stupid serum was.

Consciousness came to him in fits. He caught flashes of trees and the forest floor. Nothing told him where he was, or where they were going, but wherever it was they were going there pretty fast. His arms were tied behind his back but each jolt that woke him brought a little more feeling back.

He woke again as he collided with the forest floor. He thought at first that they had reached their destination, but as he blinked his eyes open he realized that their halt hadn't been intentional. The Mist ninja that had been carried him was busy dodging an attack from Kakashi, while the other was trapped in a rather impressive taijutsu fight with Gai.

Iruka wanted to cry with relief. He was being rescued.

His limbs tingled. They were still partially numb, but not enough that he couldn't move them. He wiggled, twisting on the forest floor until he got his arms under him, slipping them under his legs and out around to his front. He lifted his arms in front of him and started to chew at the knot.

Kakashi sent a flurry of blows at his opponent, making him stagger within range of Iruka. It was a stupid thing to do, deadly under other circumstances, but Iruka lunged, wrapping his bound arms around his captor's throat and giving Kakashi the opening he needed to gut the Mist ninja.

They both fell. The Mist ninja landed on top of Iruka, a heavy dead weight pinning him to the ground.

"A little help please?" Iruka wiggled his arms free from the corpse.

Kakashi leaned down and hauled the Mist ninja off one handed. There was a loud crash a few feet away and Iruka turned just in time to see the other Mist ninja slum to the ground at the base of a cracked tree.

"Are you alright?" Kakashi asked as he knelt and pulled Iruka's bound arms towards him. He slit through the bonds with a quick flick of his kunai.

"Still a little numb," Iruka said. "They gave me something. It hasn't worn off yet."

Kakashi extended a hand to help Iruka up, but instead of just pulling him to his feet, he pulled him into a tight hug. "I'm so glad you're okay."

Iruka's laugh came out shaky. "Me too." He pulled away from Kakashi reluctantly and only wavered a little bit on his feet. "Come on. Let's get back to the village."

Iruka spent the first few hours once he was back in the village being checked out by the medical nin and then, once he was released from there, being debriefed by Tsunade. Both Makitomo and Yukio – Yukimoto, Iruka learned – were in custody and would likely be imprisoned for a long time. Iruka felt a little bad about what had happened but he had to remind himself that their actions were not his fault.

When he finally made it home to his apartment, he was surprised to find Kakashi sitting on his porch railing, waiting for him.


"Hi." Kakashi waved.

Iruka unlocked his door and hesitated with his hand on the knob. "Would you like to come in?"

"Of course." Kakashi grinned at him and a little bit of Iruka melted inside.

Iruka led the way inside and flopped on his couch with a groan. Kakashi settled next to him. His arm slid under Iruka's neck to rub lightly at the skin there. Iruka groaned a second time and shifted to give Kakashi better access to his neck. "You have no idea how sore I am," Iruka complained.

"I think I can imagine."

"I never want to do that again."

"I would agree with that." Kakashi leaned forward to place a light kiss on Iruka's forehead.

Iruka shifted to look up at Kakashi. "Are we dating now?"

Kakashi grinned. "I'd like to think so."

"Me too."

Kakashi shifted closer and leaned down to take Iruka's lips in a chaste kiss. "I'll never hurt you. Never."

Iruka leaned his head against Kakashi's shoulder. "I know that." There was no guarantee that Kakashi would never hurt him, but Iruka believed Kakashi. They didn't have to worry about Kakashi becoming abusive. "I'd like to keep training, if we could."

Kakashi grinned. "I'd like that too."

A large yawn interrupted what Iruka was going to say next.

"We should probably go to bed."

Iruka raised an eyebrow.

"To sleep."

Iruka and Kakashi shared a grin.

Kakashi's grin turned lecherous. "For now."

"For now," Iruka agreed.

Kakashi helped Iruka to his feet and they walked hand in hand to the bedroom.

Kakashi was, for a change, not losing horribly at poker. He attributed it to Iruka at his back, occasionally picking out cards for Kakashi to keep or toss. They made a good pair.

"I don't think it needs said," Genma said, "but if you hurt Iruka, they'll never find your body."

Kakashi snorted. "That was implied." He tossed out two cards and received two more in return.

"Good," Anko said.

"I know quite well how vindictive you all are towards people who hurt Iruka," Kakashi said. "I'm surprised no one's worried about Iruka hurting me."

"That's because if Iruka hurts you, you deserved it," Genma said.

"And they won't find your body," Anko added.

Kakashi snorted again. "I can feel the love."

Iruka's arms wrapped around him from behind and he kissed Kakashi on the forehead. "How about now?"

Kakashi turned his face up to kiss Iruka properly. They were rewarded with a round of catcalls and clinking beer bottles. "Yep," Kakashi said once the kiss was over. "Now I feel loved."

"Good." Iruka rubbed his cheek against Kakashi's hair before sitting back a little. His arms stayed on Kakashi's shoulders.


Kakashi grinned and laid out his cards. "Full house."

He had a feeling this was the beginning of a long winning streak. He had Iruka to thank for it, and he would later once they were in bed.

He had a lot of things to be thankful for.