Six years later. (Eight years after Iruka and Kakashi's blind date.)
"Alright. Get ready."
Iruka stepped out of the hallway and into the living room. He immediately decided that astonished was a good look on Kakashi bare face, chuckling to himself as his the Copy-nin stared. "Um, Kashi?"
"You look...you...Shit, I love you, you know...but I can't let you out in public like that!"
Iruka's brow furrowed in confusion. "What's wrong with it?" He'd bought the new dark green kimono specifically for the festival. The obi was a soft cream color and a chrysanthemum of the same shade was embroidered across the back. He thought Kakashi would like it.
Leaning into Iruka, Kakashi kissed him gently, running his hand along his back and down to his ass in one fluid motion. "It's too damn sexy."
Pushing the man away so as not to ruin his outfit, as Kakashi was apt to do, Iruka laughed and poked a finger at his lover's black hakama-shita. "Ha! You're one to talk. I'm just glad we're going together, then."
"Shall we go?" Kakashi offered his arm, inclining his head toward Iruka.
They swung by Ichiraku on their way to the Hokage tower, dutifully retrieving a few containers of pork ramen to-go. With the prospect of so much festival food ahead, someone needed to ensure the Hokage ate a somewhat proper meal beforehand.
In the entry hall of the Hokage tower, Kotetsu greeted them with a grin and a wave, immediately turning his attention back to his papers and doodles. "Hey, Ko-kun, you know the ANBU will get angry if they see you just waving us through like this?"
"Nah. I know it's you. And if you're around, then Kakashi-san's right behind. Go on up. They're waiting."
They mounted the large red staircase, carrying dinner to the Hokage's office. The ANBU stationed there nodded and Kakashi held the door open so Iruka could get the containers inside without spilling. He set them down on the desk and looked around, but Rokudaime was nowhere in the room. "Kashi?"
"Eh, don't look now..."
"Iruka-sensei!!" Iruka had only seconds to brace before Naruto bounded in from balcony and straight into him. He had hoped the boy--man, he corrected himself--would have grown out of this, but over the years, he'd simply accepted that some things never changed. The blond was still the same rambunctious ball of energy he had always been, though age had taken the edge off of his temper and experience had taught him to think before he spoke. He was a man, a good man, as well as the Sixth Hokage of Konohagakure.
And currently squeezing the life out of his former sensei.
Kakashi called out, "Oi, Naruto..RAMEN!" and suddenly Iruka found himself able to breath again.
Shooting a thankful glance at Kakashi, he smoothed his kimono with an indignant snort as Naruto yelled the ritual "Itadakimasu!" and started in on his ramen, seemingly focused to the exclusion of all else...except, of course..."Sasuke, you want some? Iruka-sensei and Kakashi-sensei brought it."
Kakashi and Iruka both turned to find the head of ANBU leaned against the wall behind them. Neither had sensed his entrance.
"Dobe, someone has to watch out for you while you stuff your face." At their inquisitive looks, Sasuke granted a small smile. "Guard duty. It's my mission to guard to the Hokage during the festival."
"I'm an A-rank!" Naruto added, mouth half-full of noodles. "Hey, thanks for bringing the ramen, sensei. I was starving. They won't bring me any food from the festival." He shot a glare at Sasuke before smiling at his teachers. "You guys come eat, too."
Settling down in the Hokage's office, the four ate their dinner amidst laughter and reminiscing. It was an odd gathering--a chuunin teacher, the head of ANBU, the famous Copy-nin, and the Sixth Hokage--but it was natural, too. They were inexplicably connected, far beyond the adoptive relationships of fathers and sons, the only lasting, official connections between the younger men and their seniors. They were like a family.
Eventually, there was a knock at the door. Naruto grimaced and glared in the direction of the knock, but his voice held no annoyance when he called, "Enter."
"Rokudaime-sama, it is nearly time for your speech." The advisor bowed and fidgeted so much Iruka nearly offered the man a chair.
"Yeah, okay. Thank you." With another bow, the advisor disappeared out the door. "Well, let's head out?" Naruto hopped to his feet and was already half-way to the door by the time Kakashi and Iruka started to get up. They noticed Sasuke had beaten Naruto or, more likely, anticipated his spouse's movement ahead of time.
"You guys getting slow in your old age? Tsunade-baachan will be pissed if I'm late." Naruto's laughter carried them all down the stairs and out the door.
Walking down a public street with the Hokage was like being put behind glass and displayed as an novelty. Iruka and Naruto, flanked by Kakashi and Sasuke respectively, meandered through the crowds, chattering about various happenings in the village. As they walked, Iruka tried to effect a relaxed mood, but he felt a bit out-classed by his colleagues when the quiet comments started filtering through the conversation--"Is that the Sharingan user? Ooh, he's so mysterious looking!" "Hey, look, it's the Hokage!" "That Uchiha Sasuke gives me the creeps." The last one got a quick glare from Sasuke that Iruka was sure Ibiki must have taught him.
For Iruka's part, the sensei felt a bit ashamed at the small twinge of jealousy he felt. No one seemed to notice him sandwiched between Naruto-Rokudaime and Sharingan Kakashi. Still, he knew he shouldn't worry. It wasn't everyone who was seen conversing with the Hokage as he strolled through the village.
He was letting Naruto do most of the talking, listening as he went on about Sakura's twins and asked about their progress at the academy. Iruka assured him that the children had the best chakra control he had ever seen and that they showed more potential than Naruto had at their age. The blond scowled at Iruka for the jab, and for a moment, the old sensei could see a familiar little boy in the face of the man. Wait...old?
When Sasuke started whispering to Naruto, Kakashi slipped his arm around Iruka's waist. "Hey, Iru-chaaaan..." Iruka poked Kakashi in the shoulder. "Ne, okay, okay. Iruka, for you." His other hand was holding up a small, white daisy.
With a contented smile, Iruka slipped the daisy--for 'faithfulness'--into his obi and wrapped his own arm around Kakashi. He remembered how impossible the move would have been just a few years before and the thought made him squeeze the man even closer.
For a while, the walk was almost peaceful...until Naruto turned to them and wrinkled his nose. "Ew, c'mon guys! Stop it!" It was a running joke amongst the four and the young Hokage tried to hold his glare, but couldn't supress his laughter at his own teasing and finally broke into a wide smile. "Ah, we're here!"
He broke away from the group, dragging Sasuke with him, the white jacket with red swirling clouds patterned around the bottom waving behind him. Kakashi chuckled and yelled above the crowd, "He looks just like the Fourth, doesn't he?" Iruka nodded, barely able to hear himself think over the growing knot of people. However, Naruto's uncanny hearing had him marching right back.
Iruka only registered the panic in Kakashi's eye a second before Naruto reached toward the jounin, grinning. He latched onto the Copy-nin and pulled him into a hug in much the same way he'd always done to Iruka. It was very undignified behavior for a Hokage, but it couldn't be denied that such things as decorum held little sway with the young man. Indeed, as always, Naruto couldn't be anything other than himself. It was for this that the villagers adored him.
Iruka watched, laughing, as the blond untangled himself from Kakashi, winked, and recommenced pulling Sasuke by the hand toward the large platform. Kakashi fixed Iruka with a scandalized, one-eyed glare before tugging him closer and kissing his forehead. "Just remember, you helped make him that way, Iruka. He's your kid and your responsibility. Mine's the well-behaved one, you see."
"You mean yours is the sour one who takes things way too seriously? Sounds like the stories Tsunade-sama tells of a certain person when he was a kid." The silver-haired jounin had turned back toward the platform, however, and pretended not to hear him. Iruka smirked and slid his hand into Kakashi's just as a cheer moved through the crowd.
The Hokage was perched on the platform above, watching the villagers with a mischevious grin.
Naruto raised his hands in a gesture asking for silence before he stepped up to the microphone. Sasuke stood just behind and off to the side.
As he began to speak, Iruka witnessed the astonishing transformation from Naruto to Rokudaime. "Welcome to the annual camellia festival. This is my first time opening the festival, so I want to ask you all to be patient with me. The theme for the festival is love, of course, so I thought I'd tell you a little about my own experiences with it.
"You see, I was taught about love from many different people and in many different ways. I learned how to be loved from Umino Iruka, my pre-genin sensei, who taught me about self-worth dining over ramen at Ichiraku. I learned about rejection from Haruno Sakura. I think we all have at least one story like that!" Laughter speckled the crowd, proof of Naruto's words. With a gentle smile, far gentler than most aside from his genin team had ever seen, Naruto continued, "I'm glad to say we're both happier for it. I learned about loyalty and love for my team from Hatake Kakashi. He taught me to depend on those people and trust them with my life. From Uchiha Sasuke, I learned that love has a price, and it's worth fighting for. And when we brought him back to the village, I learned from all of you about forgiveness and the love of this community.
"Finally, I learned the love of the Hokage for Konoha from Sandaime and Yondaime. They sacrificed their lives to ensure Konoha's continuing survival. You can expect no less from me. I love you all, I love this village, and I will defend it and all of you with everything I have to give!"
The spell was broken when, in his customary zealous enthusiasm, Naruto ended the sentence with a ringing dattebayo!, letting it echo across the market square. Whereas this would have been an annoying habit when he was younger, Iruka realized belatedly that Naruto was using his excitement as a tool. It was contagious and spreading through the crowd.
Peering up at the blond, seeing him in a new light, Iruka mumbled, "He has grown up."
Naruto raised his hands, again requesting quiet. "I hope you all enjoy the festival. And don't forget, if you're ready to make the commitment or if you've been married during the year, go by and sign the village registry. Signing earns you official recognition as a married couple, and it ensures your loved ones the rights that go along with such recognition. It's a big decision, I know, but it's one I've certainly never regretted." He clapped his hands together. "Now, then, let the festivities begin!"
Couples began streaming out of the square, making their way toward the registry booth. Aside from the flower viewings and the pared, the real draw of the camellia festival was that the marriage ceremonies conducted throughout the year were made official by their addition to the registry. Young men and women lined up entwined with one another, a few of the girls crying happy tears. All were seemingly thrilled.
For their part, Iruka and Kakashi trekked in the opposite direction. From what Iruka could make out, Kakashi had heard about a weapons throwing booth where a man claimed no one could hit his targets and Kakashi had made a bet with Tsunade that Iruka could hit them every time.
After a full day of festival-going, the two dragged themselves back to the Hokage's office just after dusk. The younger pair were already there, sake poured and waiting. Around a low table brought in just for the occasion, the odd family watched the fireworks bursting over the village.
"It was a good speech, Naru-kun. You know, I'm really proud of you...both of you; I don't think we tell you that often enough." Iruka knew he was being overly sentimental, but couldn't bring himself to care as the sake infused itself in his bloodstream. It seemed eight years with Kakashi had eroded his tolerance, he noted vaguely at the edge of his consciousness.
"Thanks, sensei. You know, since you guys always had legal guardianship anyway, it's sort of like you're our parents, you know?"
Sasuke smirked and chimed in with, "Who's the dad?"
To which Kakashi responded, "Well, I think that's obvious." The other three just looked at him for a moment before he snorted and muttered, "Okay, okay, sorry. I guess it's not me, then."
Naruto patted the Copy-nin on the shoulder. "Don't worry Kakashi-sensei. Sasuke thinks he's in charge, too. We just let them think that, though, so it's okay." Even Sasuke laughed as he took another drink of sake. They were all beginning to lose count.
Naruto raised his small cup and drank again. "You know, Sasuke and I would like to adopt a child one day. Some kid who needs us like we needed you guys!" Sasuke looked away, smiling, though the others could easily see the blush reaching all the way to the pale Uchiha's ears. "Until then, we'll just have to keep visitng the orphanage. I kind of like to think of them all as ours--"
Sasuke mutter, "Shit, dobe, that's a lot of kids."
"What? You don't think I can handle a bunch of little kids?" Naruto rolled his eyes and turned back to the two sensei. "Ne, Iruka-sensei. Can we go out on the balcony?"
"Uh, yeah, sure. Be right back, Kashi." The other nodded.
On the breezy balcony, Naruto leaned on his arms against the railing. He was silent for many minutes before speaking, and only then in quiet, serious tones. "Sensei, I just wanna say I'm glad for you and Kakashi-sensei. You guys seem really happy. Before, it was like you were always waiting for something. I always wondered what it was, because it made you pretty sad. You've both been lonely for a long time, so if you're happy...then that makes me happy, too!"
The serious mood vanished as quickly as it had appeared, and Naruto straightened up a bit grinning as Sasuke stepped outside followed by Kakashi who was muttering something about "...happier today..." The Hokage raised an inquisitive brow toward his teacher.
"Eh, what Kakashi means to say is...we signed the registry today. It's official, now." There was no way Iruka could hide his blush, so he didn't even try.
Sasuke raised the sake bottle, surprising everyone by giggling as he suggested another round. The others, quite horrified, decided he'd definitely had enough if the Uchiha was giggling, of all things, and Naruto pried the bottle from Sasuke's fingers.
The group said their goodbyes, Kakashi insisting that he had to get Iruka home--immediately--to put him to bed.
And Naruto only laughed again, wishing them well before returning to his drunken mate and bemoaning his demon-enhanced metabolism and his own inability to get drunk with him.
It was about halfway home that Kakashi realized he'd just married a lunatic. Iruka was laughing. Not the boisterous laughter that came so naturally to Naruto, nor Sasuke's drunken giggle that still made the Copy-nin shudder. It was the laugh Iruka reserved for certain special moments, and as he was currently rather single-mindedly intent on getting Iruka home to re-consummate their relationship, Kakashi was only able to identify it as Iruka's after-sex laugh. Which seemed odd and completely out-of-place. "What is it? You okay?"
Iruka nodded, rubbing the scar across his nose in thought. "Kashi, we just had drinks with the Hokage. Maybe, one day, the greatest Hokage ever. And you know what? It was love that made him worthy of that honor. It wasn't the Kyuubi fox or his battle prowess or his temper, though they are all parts of Naruto. It was just love."
For the first time in their eight years together, Kakashi was sure he was seeing Iruka good and truly drunk and he leered maliciously at the younger man. "Really, sensei?" he asked as they stumbled into their apartment, "Care to demonstrate?"