This is the final chapter here. Thanks everyone for reading! I am writing the GenIru prequel to this and "Hiding" soon, so keep an eye out for that if you're interested! :)

Chapter 7: Beginning and Ending

Genma woke alone, but the smell of coffee wafting through his house reassured him that Raidou hadn't left. He sat up, and then wished he hadn't. He was sore, very sore, and he wondered if he was going to be able to get anything useful done that day. Hell, he was starting to wonder about walking to the kitchen to get the coffee.

Turned out he didn't have to. He heard the footsteps in the hallway, and then Raidou was in the bedroom pressing a cup of coffee into his hands. Raidou had thrown on a pair of scruffy old jeans but hadn't gone any further towards getting dressed, and he sat back down on the bed to drink his own coffee while Genma was drinking his. They didn't speak, but Raidou's arm curled itself around Genma's waist, and that was enough.

After Genma managed to finish his cup of coffee, he felt more alert, but just as sore. "I don't really want to work today," he mumbled.

"Can you just not work?" asked Raidou.

Genma shrugged. "Any day I don't work, I run the risk of missing something important. But it's not like I have set hours, or even a set place I have to work. While I typically choose the mission room because it's a good place for gossip, I can 'work' just as much when at the bar or the market or anywhere else people gather. It's not like Tsunade knows exactly when I am or am not working, but if I'm going to be missing much, I'm supposed to let Iruka know. Iruka has had a hard time lately, though, and I won't involve him again until I have to."

Raidou nodded. He'd been trying to grasp the intricacies of Genma's job, but it was pretty confusing for him. He was used to missions, with exact objectives, that you did and then came back and reported on. This ongoing gossip game wasn't his style. "Is there anything I can do for you/"

Genma leered. "That, every day for the rest of our lives. I don't care if I never get out of this bed again."

Instead of laughing, Raidou frowned. "That isn't what I wanted it to be like, you know." He set down his empty coffee cup and leaned forward to kiss Genma's lips, still tasting blood on them through the coffee from where the other man had bitten himself last night. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Gen-chan."

"Hurt me? Are you kidding, Rai? Please tell me you're kidding."

Raidou shrugged. "Yeah, I know. You like it rough sometimes. It's not like I haven't heard all the gossip about your sex life, not to mention when we were younger and I was always around you and Iruka, and the things you two did then…" Raidou shuddered. "I'm not really the kinky type of guy normally I guess."

Genma smiled contentedly. "None of that matters, Rai. Really. I love you."

Raidou grinned at him, hearing the difference again, hearing how Genma's "I love you" had changed in intonation and intention. "Thanks, Gen-chan," he said softly. "Now, I'll ask you again, is there anything I can do for you today?"

"You're too good to me, Rai. How about we start with some painkillers, and then you can come by the mission room with me and hang out while I make an appearance. Just enough to give anyone actively for a chance to gossip with me to get it, since people tend to do that. I can't believe no one's seen through this silly ruse yet, when Sandaime started us on this he figured it wouldn't last until we were out of our teens, but somehow people still think I'm just a gossipmonger…"

Raidou laughed. "You're too good at the role for your own good, Genma. Besides, I think at heart you are a gossipmonger, and that's why you do so well, even if that's not all you are."

Laughing, the two got up to begin their day.

"It's not going to work," Genma smiled, twitching his senbon at Iruka later that day.

"Oh?" asked Iruka, pouting a little and pulling his ponytail free, arranging the strands of hair around his face alluringly.

"Nope, still don't care," said Genma breezily.

Iruka jumped up and down like a little kid, ignoring the curious stares from everyone in the mission room. "Does that mean Rai finally gave you some? And if so… wait a second, I haven't seen you move from this spot on the wall the entire time you've been here!"

Genma grinned. "Definitely not moving from this spot. Until I go home. And then I'm teleporting," he confirmed.

Iruka glanced across the room at Raidou, who was talking quietly to Kurenai. "He doesn't look as happy as I would expect," the perceptive scar-nosed Chuunin commented.

Genma's grin was wiped away by that comment. "Well, no. You see, he had this romantic image in his mind, and things got a little out of control, and it didn't quite happen that way. All those pent-up emotions, all those years, he lost control. I loved it, you know how I am, but he…"

"He's not that kind of guy," Iruka finished for him, very quietly. "Oh no. Is he okay?"

"He will be," Genma replied, then grabbed Iruka's arm and steered him out of the room, down several hallways to the secret file room, where they could talk in private. "I love him, Iruka. I was bawling my eyes out when he came home, just completely freaking out with worry for him. And I realized, last time I cried like that…"

Iruka wound up finishing for him again. "When he got his scars. I remember. We all thought he wasn't going to live, and then to see him like that was so hard. Not just because he was so handsome before, because he's still handsome. But because it changed his self-image so much, and we were all sad for him, but you cried in a way I'd never seen you cry."

"You knew all along, didn't you, Iruka?" Genma said, plucking his senbon from his mouth and putting it in his vest carefully.

"Do you remember, when we were much younger, kissing him once?" asked Iruka, instead of answering the question.

Genma thought about that one for a moment. "I think I fell on him or something, and I felt bad about it, and I kissed him. Afterwards I wasn't sure why, but I didn't worry about it, because you were right there and you didn't say anything, and he never said anything either. And I've kissed lots of people, so it doesn't mean anything."

Iruka grinned and then did something Genma really didn't expect, leaned forward and kissed him, hard, right on the mouth. Genma responded instantly, deepening the kiss, and it was Iruka who finally pulled away. "Does that still mean something, Gen-chan?" he asked.

Genma was shaken, pulling back from Iruka as if he'd been burned. "You know it does, Ruka. What game are you playing here?"

Iruka just smiled at him. "It does still mean something. And you might have kissed however many people since that time, but when you kissed Raidou the day you fell on him you hadn't yet done so. You had kissed me, and only me, and kissing him on a whim wasn't something that meant nothing, to you or him."

Genma turned and smacked his head into the wall. "You mean you knew then? When we were still together?"

"That he was crazy about you, sure. That you could potentially feel the same way about him if you ever took your eyes off me for long enough, sure. That it would turn out this way… not exactly. I wasn't sure anything would ever come of it. That's why I was surprised when Raidou started acting like he was trying to hint that he liked you, because after all that time I had figured he was going to go the grave with that secret."

"Why didn't you tell me?" asked Genma.

That was a hard question, and Iruka's nose scrunched up in concentration, and he finally reached for his ponytail holder to pull his hair back again while he thought. "Genma, I'm not perfect. I dropped hints only after Raidou started dropping hints himself, partially out of respect for his privacy. But also, even since we broke up, a part of you has always been only mine. That's not the easiest thing in the world to give up."

Iruka had expected a blowup, but Genma smiled at him instead. "You're not perfect!" He jumped suddenly, and turned around in circles in a childlike gesture that seemed one Iruka would have made himself. "You're not perfect! You're just Iruka, and you're not perfect, and you're not my world!"

Iruka laughed, and said, "Are you just figuring that one out, after all the years we've known each other?"

Genma stopped twirling and winked at him, pulling the senbon out of his vest to put it in his mouth again. "Who knows, Ruka? Maybe I knew all along and just didn't tell myself."

The two friends wandered out of the file room and back up to the mission room, laughing all the way, and when they reached the spot where Raidou was still standing with Kurenai, Iruka handed Genma off to him. "I think you lost this, Rai. You might want to be careful about that, he's pretty valuable." With a salute to the two men, he turned and jauntily waltzed out of the room.

Raidou looked after him in silence, and then looked at Genma, who was practically clinging to him. He opened his mouth, and then glanced sideways at Kurenai, who was still standing next to him. "Come on, Gen-chan, I think I've had enough of the gossip game for one day."