-Plotbunny-napped by request from Penbrydd-

A/N: Quite frankly, I'd never even heard of this pairing. It makes about as much sense to me as Iru/Kaka, seeing as how these guys never really interact either. But I saw an opportunity to write for my two favorite background characters, so I obliged to plotbunny-nap it. I just mean to warn you to my lack of involvement with this couple. Also, don't get offended by the OC (original author's, not mine) until at least paragraph 8…

Please note also that Hayate has by some miracle survived his encounter with Baki. It really only worked that way. A/N end

Gekko Hayate sat on Ebisu's couch, settled between him and his drunken ANBU wife. Hayate was the closest to sober of the three, but the shochu(1) hadn't missed him. Ebisu had invited Hayate over for a drink, as an opportunity to bond as co-workers, but the hour had run a little late, and the drink had turned into many. In fact, Hayate and Ebisu alike were finding it difficult to remember Ebisu ever having a wife.

"You know, you're really attractive." said wife addressed Hayate, looking into his eyes as she rubbed her hand over his shoulder.

He had another coughing fit, a bad one, and clutched at both his chest and his mouth as he leaned over his knees to regain his breath and balance. After a couple of minutes, he sat back up and wiped his mouth on his fist. "Uh…you think? Even with all my coughing? I know most people feel that it adds to my, um, 'sickly demeanor', whatever they mean by that."

The woman tittered softly. "Yes, even with the coughing. I like the coughing. I think it adds something." She nodded at him, perfectly serious.

He stared at her, simultaneously amused and unsettled by the comment. "Well, ah, I ... umm ... I guess that, ah, counts for something."

At this point, the conversation ended suddenly as Ebisu wrapped a hand around the back of Hayate's neck and pulled him forward, drowning him in a deep kiss. Hayate jumped mildly and fought his way out of it, then covered his mouth as the coughing returned.

"No, it's nothing…I'm fine. Just…my guard." He wasn't quite sure at the moment, but there was no real need to raise alarm. "Really, I'm alright."

The coughing fit having sobered him slightly, Hayate suddenly noted, "Oh, hey…now I remember…Ebisu doesn't have a wife…where did we pick you up..?"

'Damn! Discovered!' the woman thought, sweatdropping. In a cloud of smoke, she was suddenly gone. Blinking, and being the easy-going guy he was, Hayate passed it off as unimportant. If it was necessary, he'd find out later.

Looking back at Ebisu, Hayate found him slumped over in a drunken slumber. 'Ah.' Hayate thought, 'So it was the shochu..' Hacking a couple more times into his fist, Hayate shifted Ebisu into a proper sleeping position, took his glass and put it on the table, then stood by and scratched his head awkwardly. After a few seconds he decided he wasn't needed anymore, and headed out the door.

…………………………………

"Ooooh, it hurts…" moaned Ebisu, gripping his head as he somewhat stumbled toward the training grounds. As he approached, a disgruntled Konohamaru leapt up from the grass and pointed an accusing finger at him.

"Hey, stupid teacher! You're late!" the small child yelled, "I was just about to leave and go train with Naruto instead!"

Ebisu's eyebrow twitched. He really didn't need any impudence right now, especially if it involved Naruto. "My apologies, Honorable Grandson," he replied, "but it seems I have a bit of a headache this morning…"

Konohamaru's face broke into a knowing sneer. "Teacher was up drinking late, wasn't he? Tell me, teacher, did you score any babes..?"

Ebisu's limbs contorted as he desperately declared, "What?! Of course not! Such vulgar and impudent thoughts! Where did you learn such language?"

Konohamaru merely placed his hands behind his head and shrugged.

"A-at any rate," Ebisu said more quietly, pushing his sunglasses up his nose, "today I'm to teach you how to properly do a Substitution. Pay attention, as it takes much concentration and skill..!"

"Awww!" Konohamaru groaned, "Come on, teacher, that stuff's boring! Can't we learn something cool? Like how to blow your enemy away in one big chakra blast! Hyaa!" He demonstrated by putting his arms together and pretending to blast the air.

"No. Now pay attention." Ebisu scolded, and Konohamaru slumped. His teacher went on, "Now, this exercise is meant to help you learn at an accelerated level. You already know the basics on how to do a Substitution, but not under real pressure. That's why here, I will be throwing ninja weapons at you, and you will try and do a Substitution before they hit you."

Ebisu's pupil glowered at him before declaring, "That's dumb!" Ebisu's temple throbbed. "Be that as it may, that's what we're doing. Starting now..!" He launched a shuriken.

Konohamaru's eyes widened and he bent over backwards, dodging it.

"No, no, Honorable Grandson, you must use a Substitution..!" lectured Ebisu. He threw more weapons, but no matter what, Konohamaru just dodged them all. After a particularly fancy dodge, in which he hit his head on the ground, Konohamaru gripped the forming bump and yelled, "Stupid teacher, you're throwing them way too fast!"

"You must be quick to learn this way. I told you this was an accelerated exercise." was the reply. In reality, he was having trouble controlling his strength.

"Well why should I learn dumb old Substitution if I can just dodge the enemy anyway?!" cried the little boy. "This is stupid, I'm going to find Naruto!"

Ebisu's head throbbed again, and deciding it better to get some much needed relief, he let Konohamaru run off into the trees unpersued.

…………………………………

"Hey, Ebisu, done with your lesson already?" Iruka greeted lightly as he came up beside the aforementioned teacher.

Ebisu sat at a meeting desk, paperwork splayed before him. He was supposed to be doing it, but found himself taking a nap instead. At Iruka's question, he quickly raised his head.

"Yes, er, the Honorable Grandson learned much quicker than expected."

"Huh. Well, I just came to drop off the report form you still need to fill out. Here you go." Iruka placed the sheet of paper before the aghast Ebisu cheerfully, then turned and left. Ebisu stared at the complicated form. His head pulsed. Thunking his head down on the table, he thought, 'Wonderful. That little brat didn't even complete the lesson! How am I supposed to fill this out??' He had a feeling Iruka knew that. As he sat hunched over, gripping his head, an almost silent figure entered the room, coming to a halt where Iruka had previously stood.

"Um…Ebisu." the body's voice said.

"Yaaa!" Ebisu jolted upright. "I'm not sleeping! I'm doing it! I'm doing the paper!" He twisted tersely to find Hayate quirking a brow at him, holding a magenta colored bottle. Ebisu sighed heavily in relief. "Oh, Hayate…I thought you were Iruka-sensei back again. You know how he is…"

Hayate nodded agreeably and cleared his throat with his free hand. Then he placed the bottle he was holding in front of Ebisu. "Um…for your head. I imagine you're hangover is pretty strong."

Oh yes, he had invited Hayate over for a drink last night…

"Um…and in case you were worried, I'm not, uh, mad at you or anything." Hayate assured. Ebisu looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"Should you be?" he asked.

Hayate's face exhibited mild surprise. "You don't remember? Hm." He scratched the side of his face before saying, "Well, you kissed me, so I, um, just wanted to let you know it's fine. I know you were kinda drunk. Um, and you're a pervert."

He was expecting some sort of bite after that remark, as Ebisu greatly valued his 'gentlemanly' reputation, but there was nothing. Taking a look at Ebisu, he found the man frozen in shock, staring straight ahead, mouth hanging cartoonishly open. Hayate gave his head a couple of pokes, but Ebisu did nothing but tilt with his finger and start to have a nosebleed.

Hayate sighed, and left Ebisu with two wads of tissue stuffed up his nose.

…………………………………

Ebisu marched home in a daze. His headache was gone, thanks to the medicine Hayate had dropped off, but consequently his newly cleared brain could remember every detail of the previous night, and was equally alive with a new sensation: disbelief.

His head raced a mile a minute. 'Did I really do that?' 'Did I hear him right?' 'He said I was drunk, but that drunk?' 'Wait a minute. That woman was saying nice things about Hayate. It must've been her fault.' 'But Hayate said he didn't mind, so why am I worrying? Because he didn't mind?' 'He's just being as easygoing as ever.'

Just then, it hit him. 'It's because I liked it.'

His eyes bugged comically. He stopped in the middle of the street and clutched his temples. 'WHAT?! No!' he scolded himself, 'That is a very ungentlemanly thought to be having! You only thought you enjoyed it because you were drunk! Alcohol turns even the most elite of gentleman into perverts. Yes, that's it. You really…really…did enjoy that kiss.'

He reprimanded his brain for being so honest as his nose began to leak again.

He reached his home not much later and was just entering when another thought struck him. 'Hayate isn't a woman.'

Ebisu's brain exploded again.

'Gah! That makes it even worse! It is not gentlemanly to kiss your male co-workers!' 'It's even less so to enjoy it! Who knows what might be spread..!' 'Calm down, you have nothing to fear. You chase women (in a completely respectful, mannerly way, I might add).' 'You enjoy it. A meaningless drunken kiss shouldn't matter.' 'But…I really did like it…I really don't care if it was a man. And he didn't mind.' '…Pervert.'

He scolded his overly honest brain once more before going off to bed with a heavy head.

…………………………………

Having come to terms with the fact that he had enjoyed kissing Hayate, Ebisu decided that the only logical approach was to avoid said ninja for the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, that proved to be somewhat difficult, seeing as how their jobs were related.

If Ebisu was filing papers in a staff room, Hayate would 'sneak' up behind him to give him another stack of folders to sort through. If Ebisu was training Konohamaru, Hayate would show up and tell him Iruka-san would like to see him. If Ebisu was being chewed out by Iruka, Hayate would come in and say that Tsunade would like to see him instead. If Ebisu was being threatened by Tsunade, who else but Hayate would come to tell him he had more paperwork to do.

Each time they met, Ebisu would seize up and clumsily either try to escape or hide. Something would break, and another chewing out would ensue. The cycle went on for days. Ebisu could swear Hayate was stalking him.

Finally, after about a week, Tsunade called both of them to her office.

Nervous, Ebisu entered the Hokage's office to find the others already present. Hayate stood apathetically in front of the desk, while Tsunade sat with her hands folded over her desk.

"Yes, Lord Hokage?" Ebisu asked as he entered, wondering why she'd called both of them this time.

"Enough pleasantries," she said somewhat coldly, effectively silencing him, "Ebisu, I've noticed you've been having a lot of trouble coordinating yourself around Hayate lately, for whatever reason. We're all a team here, and a team that can't function is useless. That's why I've decided to send you two on a D-rank mission together, so that you might learn to patch up your differences."

Hayate coughed in the background.

"D-D-D-rank mission?" echoed Ebisu, "And with him?"

Tsunade glared. "Yes. Do you dare challenge my authority?" Her eyes drilled so deeply into Ebisu's that he shivered and quickly answered 'No ma'am.'

"Good."

And so, Ebisu found himself buying Tsunade's weekly groceries with Hayate. They turned quite a few heads. It was rather odd to see a fully fledged jonin and an elite tutor out doing such menial tasks for a mission. Ebisu grumbled and tried to hide his face as often as possible, but Hayate merely ignored everyone, giving an occasional cough.

As they neared their mission's completion and were headed back to the Hokage's mansion, Hayate decided to inquire, "So, uh, since it was kinda the point of all this…is there a reason you've been so jumpy around me all week?"

Ebisu jumped. "Jumpy? I haven't been jumpy. An elite ninja does not get jumpy."

Hayate gave him a blank but piercing stare.

Ebisu sighed. "Alright, if you must know…I've been thinking about that night."

Hayate rolled his eyes. "Um, if it's about the kiss, I already told you I wasn't upset. Honestly, you, uh, think about things too much."

"No, you don't understand." Ebisu elaborated, "I liked it..! I barely remember it at all, but I remember it felt great. Thrilling even. That is most definitely not how a gentleman should feel."

Hayate looked at his lemon-puckered face in silence for a few seconds, coughed, and asked, "Really?"

"Of course it isn't! A gentleman must-"

"No, um, not that. You really liked kissing me?"

"Er…yes."

Hayate blinked, cast his eyes upward in thought, then brought them down again and said, "Alright."

Ebisu's face reddened and he went, "Ehhh..??"

"I said, uh, 'alright'." repeated Hayate, "I don't really know you that well, but you seem like an ok guy and all, if not a bit perverted. I wouldn't mind, um, kissing and stuff."

Ebisu stood in a stunned pose. 'Urk! This isn't going the way I expected…now what?'

"T-that's not what I meant! Why, it's even more ungentlemanly! One can't just go around kissing his male co-workers like that!" he argued, trying not to admit he was thrilled by the response.

"Um, how is it 'ungentlemanly'?" Hayate asked, "You like me, I volunteered to give it a go, um, it seems the only ungentlemanly thing would be not to accept, right?" He hacked a bit.

Ebisu was tied by this infallible logic. He couldn't come up with a reason to say no.

"Er, um, uh, o-o-ok..?" he heard himself reply.

'You're welcome.' his brain said in a sing-song manner.

"So, uh, did you want to try it again, um, sober?" Hayate questioned, "To um, make sure or something?"

Face completely red, Ebisu nodded very robot-like. Taking his cue, Hayate shifted all of his groceries to his left hand and took Ebisu's cheek with his right. He then leaned in and kissed Ebisu, soft and long. Passersby turned their heads even more now. As he finally pulled back, Hayate noted something.

"Nosebleed…" he observed, before breaking into a powerful coughing fit. Ebisu, meanwhile, desperately wiped his nose clean with some of Tsunade's freshly bought tissues.

When both had finished, they turned back to look at each other. Hayate's mouth was in his elbow and his hair was mussed, and Ebisu had several tissues wadded against his nostrils.

"I, uh, guess this means you're still interested?" Hayate asked from behind his arm.

"Er, y-yes." came the tissue-muffled response.

They suddenly noticed that the street's traffic had stopped dead to stare at them. Ebisu turned red again, and, with as much dignity as he could muster, puffed out his chest and marched in the direction of the Hokage's mansion. Hayate followed him just as regularly as if nothing had happened.

…………………………………

Upon presenting her with her groceries, Tsunade greeted them with a, "I take it you've solved whatever the problem was?"

Ebisu gave the usual dutiful nod and 'yes, Lord Hokage'. Hayate gave the usual apathetic 'yes'.

"Good." Tsunade seemed pleased and let them go.

…………………………………

On the way home that evening, Hayate caught up to Ebisu.

"Hey, um, wanna go over to Shushuya for a drink?" he offered, "And I do mean a drink." He smirked.

"Er, uh, ok." Ebisu agreed, caught off-guard. 'I'm not used to this…' he thought.

"Drinking?" came an excited third voice, "Can I come?"

The two turned to meet the newcomer, whose face now showed surprise equal to theirs.

"You!" they all recognized in unison. Hayate coughed. The voice belonged to none other than the ANBU woman who was with them when this whole thing started!

"What are you doing here?" Ebisu challenged, somewhat paranoid, "Are you following us?"

The woman waved her hands in defense. "No, no…I just like to sneak along and join drinking parties..!" She laughed awkwardly.

"Well you're not coming with us." Ebisu pondered for a moment. "Try Jiraiya. He loves drinking with others." Ebisu recommended.

"Really? Great!" the woman chirped, and hopped off to go find the sannin, happy also to have an excuse to leave.

"Um, that wasn't very nice…" Hayate commented as they walked toward their own destination.

…………………………………

Not long after Hayate and Ebisu had sat down in Shushuya, a female shriek followed by a call of 'Nyaaa, where you going, baby? We were having such a good time..!' passed by outside.

"Hm, poor girl." sympathized Hayate. He then coughed into his napkin. Ebisu said nothing about it, but took a sip from his sake glass.

"She did have a point though. That cough does add something." he did say, "It's…attractive." He felt very out of place saying this to anyone, much less Hayate, as evident by his averting eyes and pink cheekbones. Hayate was a bit taken aback by the compliment, but this time he decided he liked it and gave a small smile. He then gave Ebisu a peck on the cheek, making his whole face that uneasy pink.

Hayate, with his uncanny ability to read people, knew Ebisu wanted more, but was far too self-conscious at the moment, what with his 'reputation'. So, not minding to do it, Hayate helped him along by initiating a little make-out session in their booth, which lasted a short while, until Shushuya's manager came and booted them out for disrupting his customers with all that coughing and 'whatnot'.

…………………………………

(1) distilled grain liquor, usually about 50 proof, popular among middle aged men

A/N: Yeah, this turned out to be kind of cookie-cutter. I'm not pleased with that. But I am pleased at how well it turned out for my first plotbunny-napping..! I'm not sure the way I worded some things, though. I couldn't quite think of ways to explain their motives quickly but thoroughly. Not to mention I tried to keep the beginning as original as possible, which may or may not have worked. Oh well. Hope you enjoyed.