This was written for deathjunke's Valentine's Day at the kakairu comm on lj. Each chapter heading is a prompt.

"The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid. We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we'll lose it."
Richard Bach


01 memories

Iruka remembers the first time he saw Kakashi.

He was thirteen, hiding behind a tree and soaking wet, the dripping water a cover for tears he couldn't stop. He was weary of having to work so hard to draw attention to himself. He was sniffing when he heard footsteps.

The figure stopped in front of him, staring down at him in concern.

Iruka stared, eyes round. That's him…

"What are you staring at?" Iruka asked defiantly.

Kakashi started, lips parting in shocked amusement. He laughed quietly, the soft scuffle of sound unlike anything Iruka had heard. And he wasn't laughing at him, but with him. It was a little new to Iruka

"Need some help?" Kakashi held out his hand.

The masked voice almost scared him, but he'd nodded anyway, smiling carefully back at the older boy. He let Kakashi draw him away while ignoring his tears. He allowed Kakashi, with a careful arm across his shoulders, to walk him home.

»«

02 smiles

They met on the bridge, Iruka going one way, Kakashi the other. Kakashi turned and joined him, strolling alongside him casually, hands in his pockets.

"Good morning, sensei."

Kakashi was cheerful and smiling. At least, Iruka assumed it was a smile. It looked like a smile.

Iruka blushed. "Good morning, Kakashi-san."

He tried to return the smile, but it was hard. Kakashi made him so nervous lately. Ever since that day, he'd not been comfortable around the man. Could hardly look him in the eye. And as much as he wanted to… How man years has it been and I still can't outgrow this childish infatuation? And who doesn't have a crush on Sharingan Kakashi?

"On your way to the Missions Office?"

Iruka nodded.

"I'll join you."

"Ah, sure." What does he want from me?

They walked in silence. At the door, Kakashi didn't come in, only leaned against the frame. He gazed at Iruka from the corner of his eye. "Want to have dinner tonight?"

Iruka stared. "Ah, sure." He couldn't refuse Kakashi, now could he? Of course I can't. Iruka groaned internally, but smiled politely anyway.

Kakashi nodded, waved, and went back the way they came, leaving Iruka alone and smiling. The fake smile had generated a real one, and he found himself looking forward to dinner.

With a small laugh to himself, he went to work.

»«

03 touch

Kakashi whispered, his voice thick and rich, wholly unlike his standard bored drawl.

How did this happen? Iruka knew how it happened; he just couldn't fathom how it happened. He thought back to dinner, Kakashi's surprising wit and polite conversation, and the short walk home.

I invited him. He's just…

"Touch me, Iruka" Kakashi ordered.

He couldn't help but obey, even if the idea—Kakashi undressing, undressing him, on his bed—was ludicrous. Something from dreams he hadn't had since he was a teenager.

Iruka raised a hand to Kakashi's abdomen, nervous, but not shaking. He closed his eyes, running his fingers over hot skin. He could feel the gentle thud of Kakashi's heartbeat, the electric thrum of his chakra, and the invisible weight of his breath.

"More."

Iruka wasn't sure if Kakashi was commanding or begging, but he gave in either way. He raised his other hand, moving closer into the circle of warmth emanating from Kakashi. He smelled of salt, dirt, metal; like night-time leaves opening up to the moon.

Lowering his head to the crook of Kakashi's neck, he opened his mouth wide, tongue tasting the warmth of collarbones, and they sank against the pillows.

Even in his wildest fantasies, he'd never imagined Kakashi making those noises, begging for him, wanting him. Let alone having him.

Kakashi's hands on his body, touching him in places no one else ever had; it was overwhelming, but it felt so good. His heart pounded so loudly that he couldn't hear Kakashi's soft murmurs as he touched, aroused, and tasted him. When Kakashi finally entered him, he'd nearly cried. Not from pain alone, nor from the sheer sense of loneliness—painful in its own way— that Kakashi was fulfilling. He felt the tears because he was knew Kakashi wasn't going to continue this.

This was tenuous, a one-night stand. Iruka knew it before it started, thought it wouldn't matter, and realised, however reticently, that it did matter. A lot.

»«

04 blind

There were times Iruka felt lost, detached from his surroundings, and blind. That he was the one with his eyes covered. That was when he smiled the brightest.

And he found himself smiling a lot around Kakashi. Weeks into their… whatever it was, Kakashi was so busy that Iruka was certain it had simply gone on longer than Kakashi had intended.

But then he'd suggest they go out to eat at the nice Inn on the outskirts of the village. He kissed Iruka's neck as he walked by him in the kitchen, appeared in his window in the middle of the night after a mission.

It's my imagination.

Iruka started tensing every time he saw Kakashi in public. He was prepared for being humiliated, not that he thought Kakashi would do something like that, he was simply prepared. He wanted it, almost hoping for it, just to end the tension of waiting for Kakashi to calmly and politely end things.

'What's wrong?' Kakashi would ask him in the evenings, and he ignored it. He shook his head distractedly with a brief smile and went back to grading papers.

Insecurity.

When Kakashi pinned him to the bed, in an impossibly thick darkness, he closed his eyes. He could say the darkness was his choice.

When Kakashi laid bare thumbs across his eyelids, holding them shut, kissing him, he could convince himself it was for his own good.

I have no one to blame but myself. I could have said no.

»«

05 moments

There were times, breath-sharp moments, a sudden stilling of the blood, an exhaled breath, a heartbeat that stopped up his ears.

Kakashi was a soldier, a warrior, a weapon, a cause in his own right. Genius. Power incarnate. Revered.

Iruka did not doubt it.

This was where he faltered: Kakashi wounded, in pain, flesh rent, bloody. Near-death.

Here was where he wondered if the blindness was worth it. He did not doubt, did not distrust. But he hurt, ached in longing.

Iruka stared at the sky after leaving the hospital. Open and incredibly expansive, it held no answers, only blue reflections of water vapour.

»«

06 'am I 5?'

"Stop fussing over me, sensei, I'm not five."

Iruka leaned back, momentarily stopped by the title. "Oh, we're formal now?"

"I can't do this, Iruka." Kakashi wasn't looking at him as he spoke. He picked at a bandage on his thigh. His voice was rough. "I won't say it was a mistake, but…" He shrugged. "We should have known better."

Iruka stared at Kakashi, a thick, heavy fluttering in his belly making it hard to breathe.

"Of course," he murmured. He finished the bandages neatly.

Foolish.

"We'll know better next time, won't we?" He smiled, the movement almost bringing tears to his eyes, and left.

At home, safe, he climbed into a too-hot shower, denying the tears meant anything, feeling foolish for even admitting the tears themselves.

I'm too old to cry over a thing like this.

»«

07 crumble

Iruka huffed to himself and hurried across the bridge, knowing, already feeling Kakashi on the other side. It's been two weeks, I can cross a bridge.

They met off center, the glare of the morning sun in Iruka's eyes. He kept his gaze low, watching Kakashi's shadow move closer.

He glimpsed up in time to see Kakashi nod.

Iruka paused in his steps, but Kakashi kept walking.

Iruka took a deep breath and continued on. He breathed carefully through his nose, noticing the slight spring green scent of life.

Things die in winter; return with spring, he told himself, determined not to feel it. Not show it.

But that's just plants, not men, he despaired. He felt lost again already, and he knew why, but he didn't know how to find his way back.

»«

08 rumour has it

"Rumour has it you're with Kakashi. That true?" Genma spoke casually, watching Iruka's reaction from the corner of his eye.

Iruka scowled at him, shaking his head. "No, it isn't true. Where did you hear such a thing?" Iruka took a long drink from the small cup in front of him. He licked his lips, sighed, and poured more.

Genma watched him carefully, moving slightly closer. "You look a little down," he murmured. His slow smile was carefully sly as he leaned against Iruka, bumping him with his shoulder. "Want some cheering up?" His eyebrows moved up as he spoke and Iruka knew exactly what he meant.

Genma wasn't exactly subtle.

"Raidou wouldn't…"

"He's not invited. And I'm not asking you home." Genma's senbon rolled slowly between his lips as his fingers tapped lightly along the inside of Iruka's thigh.

Iruka pushed back suddenly, startling himself, and stood up. He looked over his shoulder. "Well? Come on."

Genma grinned and followed him to the restrooms. As Iruka pushed the door open, he felt Genma behind him, a warm, lean body.

When Genma knelt down before him, it wasn't Genma he thought of, wasn't Genma he felt, nor was it Genma he came for, knuckle between his teeth just to keep himself from whispering Kakashi's name.

»«

09 raining

It was late and the steady chatter of rain had been going on for more than an hour when Iruka heard the knock. It was so late that he was a little annoyed. He had two pages of his book left, and one sip of hot tea remaining. The knocking, the visitor, it ruined the routine, ruined the completeness of his cycle. His annoyance is what led him to answer the door shirtless, clad only in a pair of soft, faded pants.

"What?"

It was Kakashi, open-mouthed, hand hanging in mid-air as reached up to scratch at his neck. He stared at Iruka's chest.

"Yes?" Iruka was too annoyed to feel or squash the slow unfurling of hope in his belly.

Kakashi stood still, hand drifting down slowly, as if confused, rain dripping onto his hair. "There's a leak in my building. I was wondering…"

Iruka shrugged. "Come in."

Wordlessly, he pulled out a futon and left the room to empty his tea cup. He returned to pick up his book in silence, leaving Kakashi standing alone in the middle of the room.

It was rewarding to see Kakashi's surprised expression—even masked it showed—to act as if he didn't care, but the small bit of hope in his stomach turned queasy as he drifted off to sleep.

»«

10 change

Kakashi had been sleeping on his tiny guest futon for nearly a week. For some reason the leak was taking longer to fix than expected. Iruka knew because other jounin from the building were also temporarily relocated.

He wasn't sure what to make of it. Kakashi was there for sleeping and mornings. He reluctantly shared breakfast after murmuring once, 'I don't want to get in your way.'

'Eating hardly does that.'

'Hmm.'

Iruka had left him alone to dine in private. As he soaked in the bath later, the hot water relaxing and distracting, he pondered Kakashi's questions from earlier that evening.

'Are you sleeping with Genma?'

'What if I am?'

'Did you…'

'Why do you care, Kakashi? We know better.'

Kakashi had paused, but left without an answer.

Iruka was still puzzled. Why did he care? Rather, why did he ask? Genma wasn't anything. He was stolen blow jobs in the men's room, or the supply room. Genma went home to Raidou and Raidou gave Iruka solemn looks whenever they greeted each other. Iruka usually blushed and looked away, unable to look the man in the eye and feeling wretched for it. It was depressing and shameful. He tried to blame it on Kakashi when he knew that Kakashi had nothing to do with his own weakness.

»«

11 yesterday

Iruka woke and dressed slowly. He was hoping Kakashi would leave before he got to the kitchen. He could smell tea brewing. Iruka hoped he'd not made any for him; Kakashi made it too strong, let it sit too long, and ruined it with a heap of sugar.

He took a deep breath, pulling the sleeves of his shirt down, before entering the kitchen. As expected, Kakashi was still there.

He put a box of candy, really nice chocolates Iruka noted, on the table and then stared at it. Iruka glanced at Kakashi's hands and then set about making his own tea, arranging the cup, saucer and spoon in a line on the counter. He tried to imagine Kakashi wasn't there, but he could feel him better than he could feel the heat of the boiling water in front of him.

Iruka sighed and turned around. He touched the box of chocolates idly, lifting a corner and examining it blindly before setting it back down.

If I ignore him long enough, he'll just leave.

"Where were you last night?"

Iruka gave Kakashi a quick glance. "Does it matter?"

Kakashi's head tilted briefly. "No."

Iruka pulled on his vest and turned to leave for the Academy.

"Iruka…"

A warm hand touched his shoulder, drifting down his arm. He turned as Kakashi's fingertips slipped to his elbow, holding him loosely.

"I think I know what my mistake was," Kakashi said simply.

"Oh?" Iruka crossed his arms and waited.

"I shouldn't … it's just that I realised… What are you doing with Genma?" he asked suddenly, his expression truly perplexed.

"Why do you care," Iruka countered.

"Because. I…" Kakashi sighed. "I have a mission this morning. Can we talk tonight?"

Iruka shrugged and Kakashi looked troubled before nodding and leaving as silently as he'd come.

»«

12 strong

Iruka turned as Kakashi entered the apartment. He's earlier than usual. Iruka turned back to his cooking. Ah, but he's here to talk this time, not to stay. He heard Kakashi's footsteps and then silence. He could feel Kakashi behind him.

Kakashi's voice was low as he spoke. "Would you believe me if I told you I was afraid?"

Iruka snorted and turned. Kakashi avoided his gaze. "No. What do you have to be afraid of?"

"That you wouldn't… Rejection, Iruka. It's quite a motivator. Hatred, disgust, fear; I'm just getting warmed up." Kakashi stared at his hands, looking over his fingertips as he spoke.

Iruka stared silently until Kakashi looked up. "I didn't reject you," he said carefully. "Remember? You said… you should've known better?"

"But I should have..." Kakashi swallowed deeply, eyes closing with the effort. "You might not… I couldn't risk it. Here." His hands went to his face, pulling his mask down. "Let me try again."

Iruka blushed, jerking his face away from Kakashi's direction. "No, don't…" He left the room without looking. He escaped to his bedroom, heart pounding as he stared at the window, not certain what to do, if Kakashi would follow him.

He can't do this.

»«

13 euphoria

Kakashi did follow him. Iruka looked up from where he sat on the side of the bed. How many months has it been since he was in here?

"Look at me."

I can't do it. Iruka stared at his toes. His heart pounded. Breathing hearing thinking: it all hurt. "You said I shouldn't—never let me… I can't." He squeezed his eyes shut.

I can't think.

"Please. Iruka."

Kakashi dropped to his knees, voice trembling, begging him, but the action was ingrained, too ingrained; Iruka feared he'd never look up again. He squeezed his eyes shut. His could feel each thud-thud-drop of his heart echoing throughout his body. Kakashi's warmth as he moved his hands to Iruka's knees.

He took a too-deep breath, took another and looked up.

Breathe

"Stop that, you'll hyperventilate."

Iruka stared for a moment, feeling almost dizzy, before smiling at a Kakashi he'd never seen, a strangely calm euphoria settling over him, setting his nerves tingling. "You're beautiful, Kakashi," he whispered, surprised, touching Kakashi's bare face. "I had no idea."

»«

14 love

"So beautiful." Iruka traced the mouth he'd felt so many times, that he dreamt of for months after it was no longer his. He knew what it felt like on his lips, and now under his fingers, under his eyes, laid bare.

Kakashi's skin was slightly rough and there was a gouged spot on the edge of his cheekbone. He raised both hands, touching Kakashi's face; his cheeks, his chin, the lines of his jaw. The tiny imperfections only made the sum of his face more perfect.

Kakashi pulled away from the touches and stood, rolling his eyes as he stepped back. "I'm not a woman," he said, looking down at Iruka.

"I know," said Iruka.

Kakashi frowned, the movement sharp on his face. "And I'm not beautiful."

Iruka nodded.

"But you'll still have me?" Kakashi asked slowly, his tone dry and rhetorical, but Iruka heard the hint of desperation in it. The true question hidden underneath the sarcasm.

"I could try," replied Iruka airily. No sense in letting him off the hook that easily.

"Aren't you afraid I'll push you away again?" Kakashi was looking at his hands. "I might. I'm not very stable, you know."

"I'm not afraid of you, Copycat Nin." Iruka rose and moved closer to Kakashi. He reached out his hands and lifted Kakashi's face to meet his gaze.

Kakashi leaned in, closing the short space between them and kissed Iruka hard. Iruka startled backwards, reaching his hands out, and clutched at Kakashi.

Kakashi caught him and backed him against the wall, hands pushing Iruka's shirt and vest up and clutching at the bare skin underneath. Iruka panted with the kisses, Kakashi's desperation quickly becoming his own.

Kakashi pushed against him, hips pressing hard and Iruka reached for his pants, untying the drawstring. Kakashi was pressed so hard and intently against him, he struggled to get the tie undone, mouthing at the crook of Kakashi's neck as he worked, feeling those gloved hands move down his back, fingers pulling at his ass until he whimpered with frustration.

The tie suddenly slipped and Iruka worked the pants down, fingers wrapping around Kakashi's length, pulling it against him.

Kakashi's voice caught. "Iruka…" he murmured, hands suddenly yanking Iruka's neat trousers down without unzipping them. He pushed as Iruka twisted, his hand now grasping them both.

Kakashi's hand slid into Iruka's hair, pulling hard as he lifted Iruka's face to his and kissed him, muffling the groans and cries as Iruka came against him, hand wet with his own come, covering Kakashi's hand as well.

Iruka dropped forward, his panting mixed with moaning, and hung onto Kakashi, who still moved, almost languidly, against him.

"I'm going to be late."

"I love you."

Iruka laughed, feeling the reverberations flutter against Kakashi's neck and the jerk as Kakashi came against him, a heavy sigh escaping him as he buried his face in Iruka's neck sighing loudly.

"No, really, I do," muttered Kakashi, voice spent, damp hands back on Iruka's ass rubbing weakly but insistently.

"Now I'm really going to be late," said Iruka. I have to change clothes, even. Looking down at Kakashi, he almost decided it would be worth it. When have I ever been late?

"I don't understand what that means," Kakashi responded, this time looking up with a grin on his face.

Iruka stared at him, the face so new, but so familiar, and smiled. "I'll come home for lunch."

Kakashi's grin turned wicked as he pulled away from Iruka, pushing his pants the rest of the way down and stepping out of them. He pulled off his shirt and undid the gloves letting them drop next to his pants. "I'll be waiting."


... to be continued on Valentine's Day!