The hours that lay behind Kakashi had seen the evening storm weaken to a thin rain, three wanted shinobi of Lightning country terminated, and fifty-four miles of soaked, muddy terrain crossed on foot. Though obscured by thick layers of heavy clouds, the moon had risen high in the night sky by the time the elite ANBU cell began to set up camp.

Nights among the ANBU all seemed strikingly similar to Kakashi, as though mandated by some arcane fiat. First, the area was scouted for traps, which, on that particular evening, meant sifting through trenches of mud and piles of rotting, water-logged leaves before leaping into the canopies of the trees to inspect each dripping branch. Secondly, the canvas tents were constructed on the most level ground available; such was hardly manageable given the marsh-like state of the ground. Lastly, shifts consisting of two-hour increments were decided upon by some decisive mechanism, be it drawing straws, calling, or rock-paper-scissors.

First shift was always coveted: at the start of the night, one had enough adrenaline still rushing about in their body to remain comfortably awake for two hours, and it was quite enticing to have en entire night's sleep as opposed to interrupted slumber. Second shift was hated only slightly less than third, as both called for an agonizing interruption of vital sleep, and an unfortunate necessity for the utmost vigilance in the deepest dark of the night. Fourth shift was regarded merely as a nuisance - it simply meant waking up early.

Kakashi was rarely picky about which shift he served. Periodically, when his body ached little from the mission and mostly from his need, he asked specifically for second or third shift simply so he could be among the other ANBU as they settled into their tents. There, in the lightless quiet, they would roughly tear off the constricting armor and force down the cloth under layers to grasp at one anothers' genitals, stroking out hollow climaxes and occasionally engaging in outright intercourse.

No name was given to the practice, though it was entirely endemic and well understood. There were unspoken rules: the masks always stayed on; no names were spoken; the encounters were never to be discussed; things were to be kept fast and quiet. Some of the most unsatisfactory sexual events in Kakashi's life had taken place within the confines of those rules and those tents. Sometimes, as he passed through the sunny streets of Konoha, he would catch the glance of a comrade and find himself holding it for a little longer than usual, looking a little deeper than necessary as he wondered if they had been last week's conquest.

Yet it all went unspoken in that way. Kakashi simply thought of it as 'fucking'. He wasn't at all interested in knowing what the others thought of it, especially on that night.

As he fished his meager rations out of his backpack, the others bickered over shift assignments. He, however, remained entirely silent, fearing that speech would somehow rob him of the taste that still lingered lightly on his lips, sweet and addictive and intoxicating. The mask, it seemed to him, was becoming more functional by the moment: not only had it protected his skin from a sound chapping due to the cold wind and rain, but it had also retained the scent and taste of Iruka, keeping the image of the brunette alive and constant in Kakashi's mind. At the start of the mission, he had worried that the brief burst of euphoria and the resulting possibilities that flooded his consciousness would cloud his judgement and compromise his performance. Yet, Iruka's presence in his thoughts had quite the opposite effect: for once, Kakashi sensed a purpose behind the mission.

Mud began to seep through his pants as he knelt on the ground. Rain had begun to fall heavily again, turning the loose earth into runny masses of slippery sludge. Kakashi grimaced as the cold filth penetrated his sandals as well, causing an uncomfortable film to develop on his feet. As the arguments over shifts died down, he swiftly tugged his mask outward to devour the bits of dried fruits and nuts he had concealed in his pack, downing them quickly with a few gulps of water. He adjusted his mask back into place and stood as the others approached.

"We've got first shift." The man in the fox mask gestured to his dog-masked companion, who nodded resolutely.

"Me and you got second, buddy." The rather disappointed shinobi hidden behind the cat mask sighed. Kakashi nodded, though the idea didn't particularly appeal to him. It wasn't an issue of sleep or energy - after his meeting with Iruka, he felt as though he could stay awake for days. It was a matter of the nature of the tents during first shift - the groping, the grasping, the heat, the desperation.

He wanted no part of it.

"We'll head out at six." The fox-masked man announced. He jutted a thumb over his shoulder, in the direction they were to travel the following morning. "Three down tonight. Other two should be about twenty miles north of here, near the old outpost. If we can get 'em by eight tomorrow, we'll have this shit wrapped up and be back in Konoha by tomorrow night. Got it?"

Mumbled noises of assent followed, and the first-shift sentries each moved to high branches to take up watch.

Kakashi pressed his concealed lips tightly together as he took to his knees to crawl into one of the tents. Rain coursed down the canvas covering; leaks began to emerge from great soaked spots near the corners and seams. The ground beneath him gave slightly as he drew his knees up to his body and pressed his shoulders against the flimsy flooring. After a moment of resting his head, he began to realize just how much his body ached: while tight tension lingered in every muscle, he suspected he had pulled something in his left calf due to inadequate stretching before beginning the trek; his sinuses burned from breathing in the cold air; fatigue weighed on him like a heavy shroud; a chakra-string wound sustained in the earlier scuffle stung from the introduction of mud, rain, and cloth fibers. Still, the thought of being with Iruka in a mere matter of hours seemed to dull the pain to a low hum throbbing just beneath his thoughts...

The realization that he had begun to fall asleep only set in when a rudely questing hand settled abruptly between his legs. The feeling of those anonymous fingers roughly massaging his sex caused immediate nausea to develop in the pit of his stomach, and he snapped his legs together as he scrambled to deter his unknown teammate.

"Hard to get, huh?" The other man snickered, forcing his hand back between Kakashi's thighs.

Scowling and rather irritated, Kakashi grasped his wrist and then pushed him away, growling 'no'.

"Aw, come on." The masked man drawled. "Whassamatter? Got a girl back home? Nobody has to know." As he drew closer, Kakashi slipped a kunai out of his hip pouch.

When the hand settled on the underside of his thigh, he simply reached up, removed his ANBU mask, and clearly brandished the kunai.

"I said no." He stated flatly, though the threat was clearly stated. At once the other man drew back as though he'd been burnt, curling defensively with his well-armored back to the copy nin.

Satisfied, Kakashi slid his mask back on with a sigh, and lowered his head to the ground. With the kunai still loosely grasped, he crossed his arms over his chest, and listened to the falling rain, waiting for his shift to begin and end, for the sun to rise, for the day to pass, for the night to come, and to finally be with Iruka.

After the kiss, Iruka had remained seated in shock for a few short moments, hardly minding the raging storm or the darkness of the school building. When the haze in his mind lifted, all he could feel was a nearly unbearable lightness in his heart, a fluttering, euphoric feeling that quickened his breath and brought tears to his eyes. Never before had he felt such a strong desire to be held, to be touched, to be encompassed in the presence of a single person. His need for Kakashi burned brightly within him, and as he haphazardly gathered his things into his portfolio, he prayed to any God that cared to listen for Kakashi's safety and swift return.

Portfolio tucked beneath his arm, he strode through the door of his room, feeling inordinately unburdened by the darkness. Without the lights to worry about, he could simply walk out of the building, right through the doors, moving without a second glance into the world of water and slush outside.

As a matter of fact, he almost did just that.

However, a certain obstacle blocked his path as he headed toward the metal double-doors at the end of the main corridor: the old janitor and his rusty bucket of varios cleaning liquids and instruments. Iruka stopped just short of the man, coming to an abrupt halt only a few inches from him. Through either age, habit or the demands of his occupation, the man had a slumped posture that kept his face almost eternally obscured. Thus, Iruka had rarely seen the deep brown eyes that presently met his, nor the heavily entrenched lines that curved into the softest shades of happiness as the elderly custodian held their gaze.

"It's good to see you in such a rush." He said. The voice was rugged and tired, but tinged with gentle, paternal affection. At once, Iruka felt as though he'd known the man for years - and in a way, he had. Since he had begun to teach, the squeaking bucket and shuffling feet had been his only companions on those otherwise unbearably silent nights.

"I'm sorry I - I nearly trampled you." Iruka returned his kind smile, thanking the man for his subtle company. The janitor merely chuckled lightly and moved aside, nodding his typical good-bye. Iruka responded with his customary wave, and continued on his way, heart light, mind racing.

Eight had been a gross underestimation for the completion time of the mission.

At six, Kakashi had been awake and ready to move out, albeit a bit sore from a night of broken sleep on muddy ground.

At seven, Kakashi had been cursing early spring rainstorms due to the mud that seemed to mire down his teammates at frequent intervals.

At eight, Kakashi and the rest of the ANBU squadron had reached the old outpost that was suspected to be the lair of the last two Lightning country targets.

At nine, Kakashi was still engaged in battle with the sixteen Lightning shinobi that, while present at the outpost, had been excluded from the mission description.

He assessed the situation with cold speed. Sixteen - fifteen, due to a well-thrown kunai - shinobi in a circular enclosure, the mission control center of the old outpost; their main tactics consisted of common weapons usage, hand-to-hand combat and weak seals. It wasn't particularly difficult to oppose them: he had taken quite a few senbon and kunai in his day. However, it was impossible to tell, among the flashes of silver and glinting of grey, which tip might just be poisoned, and which might just hit the one weak spot in one's armor. They seemed to be banking on probability, he noted, simply throwing as much as they could and hoping that the movement of the over-alert ANBU crew would help secure hits.

As he dodged a senbon to the neck and felt the edge of a kunai graze his thigh, he decided that it would not be entirely out of line to utilize chidori. True, the move was much more than enough to slay fifteen relatively unskilled shinobi, and it sapped quite a bit of chakra. However, it would finish things quickly if executed correctly, and vindicate the one ANBU member who had already lost his life due to a vicious, artery-rending slice to his groin via windmill shuriken.

Kakashi ducked slightly to protect his neck for the split seconds he'd be busy with his scroll. The sheet unfurled nearly effortlessly, and he marked it with the necessary blood mark in the same seamless movement. His arm guard deflected a few senbon with a deceptively small amount of sound; still, trenches were dug into the metal from the sheer force behind the sharp tips. Kakashi's adept hands flew through the summoning seals as the other ANBU held off the ever decreasing number of Lightning shinobi. In a cloud of smoke, the copy nin's dogs sprang forward with their snouts drawn up into fierce snarls.

"Round them up!" Kakashi hissed, and at once, the pack responded, charging forward in a rush of angry barking and sharp howls. The element of surprise and the primal response of all humans to dangerous animals gave Kakashi exactly the time he needed to work up his chakra into a crackling ball of white-hot energy amassed at his left hand. Privy to his plan at the sight of the signature attack, the remaining ANBU made swift last efforts at herding the Lightning shinobi into one general location before quickly darting to locations of relative safety.

The nin dogs each disappeared into nothingness before Kakashi landed the attack.

White light exploded to the sound of thousands of screaming birds. In that single, violent flash, most of the Lightning shinobi met their ends in a fiery hell, dying either of the crushing force of the energy, the resultant destruction to the wooden beams and cement pillars around them, the furious heat of the electricity, or some combination thereof. When the air again cleared enough to allow slight visibility, all that remained of those who had borne the brunt of the jutsu were smears of black, burnt blood caked on the charred cement, strips of intestine splashed against the cracked walls, fragments of bone and heavy, foul-smelling smoke.

Kakashi cradled his left hand in his right as he observed the carnage, pleased with the range of that particular execution. Wincing behind their masks due to the disgusting scent of torched flesh and scorched hair, the other ANBU made short work of surveying the dog tags of those killed.

"Got 'em." The man in the fox mask declared. "That's it; this makes all five from the mission. Got 'em."

"Should we chase 'em?" Another inquired, plucking out the four senbon lodged in his upper-arm.

"No point." Kakashi replied flatly.

"It's either doing it now or later." The same anxious fellow replied, gazing off in the direction the others had escaped in.

"Precisely." The copy nin answered. An uncomfortable silence passed between all of them as Kakashi slipped off left vambrace and plated, fingerless gauntlet to assess the damage done to his wrist and hand. There was a bit of light burning; nothing serious by his standards. Still, there was a residual tingling that lingered about in his veins, and a slight numbness just near the center of his palm. Frowning, he reapplied the armor and glanced upward.

"We'll deal with that mission when it comes."

If the others thought it was a bad idea, they certainly never voiced such.

In the wake of the rain, only a persistent mist remained, a mere ghost of the previous night's storm. It had hung over Konohakagure throughout the day, thinning slightly at noon only to thicken once more as the moon rose up over the hidden village. At first, Iruka had been perturbed by the sudden quiet, feeling quite bereft in the absence of the sounds of rain rushing along his windowpanes or thunder splitting the night sky. For a moment around dusk, he felt as though the terrible silence might be relieved by the sudden wind that had picked up. Yet the noises and motions he felt so empty without were not those of the storms, and within his heart, he was well aware of that.

Slowly, the minutes of the day passed. Iruka was haunted by a nagging sensation of uselessness, and a sharp anxiety concerning Kakashi's safety that responded to no logic or attempts at supression. Under such conditions, having breakfast was nearly impossible - Iruka only managed to slice an apple and nibble at it briefly before feeling the distinct onset of nausea. The only thing that seemed to be in his favor was the fact that Kakashi's mission had fallen on a weekend, which saved the children of the ninja academy from dealing with an intensely distracted and nervous sensei.

The morning hours were marked by the first traces of that thick, white fog. Iruka considered going out upon waking, possibly to tend to Kakashi's apartment or get a little shopping done or anything to take his mind away from its endless worrying. However, he simply found himself curled on his couch draped in his favorite robe, chewing alternately on his still tingling lip and little bits of sliced apple, brows knit in concern. Somewhere, he knew, Kakashi was suffering for the sake of Konohakagure, and yet he was wrapped in comfortable terrycloth, doing absolutely nothing for the copy nin, the village nor anybody else.

At that point, frustrated by his relative uselessness, Iruka decided to grade all of the papers present in his heavily stuffed portfolio, deciding that educating the future nin of Konoha was his only worthy contribution. It seemed like a good idea in theory. However, even with a cup of hot tea, a red pen equipped with a soft grip and each stack of work meticulously organized, the teacher found himself unable to concentrate on a single question. Each letter simply morphed into another train of thought that lead directly to Kakashi, and then off into the dark world of worries and nightmares.

'He's been on more dangerous missions and made it out absolutely unharmed.' Unfortunately, even that self-assurance was not enough to allow any lunch to stay down. Even though the fog outside had lessened somewhat, Iruka still felt incredibly oppressed, and thus found his body totally devoid of hunger far past lunch time. For the sake of good health, he tried to force a little rice and some vegetables into his system, but it all came up in a rather unpleasant mixture.

Following that painful episode, he showered, cleaned his bathroom a few times over, and then settled back onto the couch feeling impossibly drained but incapable of sleeping.

Most of the afternoon passed that way, in intervals of cleaning, attempts at grading, resting uncomfortably and feebly endeavoring to watch a little television. For the most part, Iruka stayed in motion, switching from one half-completed activity to the next with the erratic current of his anxious mind. In fact, the only things that remained constant among the imaginary scenarios of ill fortune were the hopes for Kakashi's return, the ardent wishes for his safety, and the blush-inducing memory of his kiss.

By the time night fell, he had managed to convince himself that Kakashi would be thoroughly displeased if he looked emaciated upon his return, and thus he made a light, bland meal. Two slices of toasted wheat bread, a small serving of steamed rice, and a half of a banana were all he could consume before feeling uncomfortably full. As the mist outside once more became opaque, Iruka carefully went about preparations for bed, taking every step slowly in case the copy nin were suddenly to return. Somehow, sleeping felt incredibly hopeless to him, as though the night made all the difference between Kakashi's survival and demise. Still, he checked the lock on his door, made sure all appliances were turned off, watered the tiny potted plants he kept on his windowsill, brushed his teeth, and turned back the covers of his well-kept bed. As he lay down in his light pajamas, he felt momentarily frustrated with himself for having showered earlier, wishing he had an excuse to do so again, if only to take up time.

As the night progressed, he fell uneasily into a dreamless sleep.

However, it didn't last particularly long.

Kakashi's heart had begun to feel inexplicably warm near the gates of Konoha, but by the time he was balanced on the convenient tree branch stationed near Iruka's bedroom window, his entire chest felt consumed with the ever-spreading heat. He realized that it wasn't very polite to pick the lock on the window of one's lover in order to sneak into their room as they slept, but with the image of the teacher so peaceful and beautiful just a few yards from him, it was difficult to yield to decorum. Halfway through the process, however, he realized that his intentions with Iruka - for that night, anyhow - were unclear even to himself. He was practically dripping with blood (most of it foreign) and had a few slight wounds of his own.

Before considering anything else, he supposed he needed a shower.

After easing the glass pane up gently with his fingertips, he slid inside, and at once shut it behind him. Iruka's reflexes were not as sharp as they had once been, but he still managed to muster a half-convincing look of awareness as Kakashi stood fully, framed in silhouette by the white mist glowing in the air outside.

"Ka-kakashi." Iruka gasped, his body shaking slightly as he threw his legs over the side of the bed in a scramble to rise to his feet.

"I'm back." The copy nin stated flatly. At once, however, he regretted using his typical dull tone. He was tired of the duality of his being - killer and apathetic loner. There was something, he realized, that remained in between the two personas, and was fundamentally greater than the others on all levels. That was the part of him that Iruka had managed to access, and in his presence, Kakashi felt free to bare it.

"I'll - I'll - I'll go - go make - tea, or do you - do you need anything - I have - I have -"

Kakashi hushed Iruka with a wave of his hand.

"Tea would be appreciated." He replied smoothly, pulling the mask off over his head. There, Iruka became one of the few living people to have seen the sharingan twice. Nodding rapidly, he rushed off to prepare tea to the best of his ability despite his trembling hands. Relief washed through him, bringing that familiar warmth on its tide.

From the kitchen, he heard his shower begin to run.

The cold tile only intensified the shivers coursing up and down Iruka's spine, and the warmth of the tea kettle did little to alleviate them. He rested his fingertips lightly against the smooth glass of the heated container, breathing deeply, seeking some semblance of calm. A glance over his shoulder yielded a rather surprising view: the door to the bathroom was slightly ajar; the weak light within drifted out, reflected in soft clouds of rolling steam. The first thought that came to him as his eyes fixed on the single flow of light across the dark apartment was 'Kakashi must surely want his tea.' Still, he knew better, and at once, as he poured the finished tea into small ceramic cups, he decided to accept it. The tea was ancillary; what Kakashi wanted was him. A tightness settled over his chest and his world spun slightly as he pondered the idea, and yet he wanted it, needed it.

Kakashi, meanwhile, was engaging in an old habit: standing directly in the searing stream of a shower head in full ANBU garb, watching the current turn red-brown before spiralling down the drain. Thoroughly soaked, he began to strip his armor off, starting with the pieces on his arms, hands, and then the breastplate, leaving it all in a heap like shed skin. The skin-tight black shirt followed, revealing his entire upper body and face. Immediately he began to inventory the little nicks and deeper lacerations lacing his finely muscled abdomen and pectorals, running his fingers over the stinging wounds. By the time Iruka knocked politely on the open door and settled the tea tray on the bathroom counter top, Kakashi was entirely nude, leaning against the far wall of the shower, allowing the hot water to rush over all the planes and angles of his body.

Wordlessly, with his back turned to the open shower stall, Iruka removed his first aid kit from the mirrored cupboard. Kakashi watched him with unveiled interest, though his posture went unaltered. When the chuunin turned, he found himself almost unable to move, to speak. His trembling hands grasped the counter behind him, and for long moments, he said nothing. Intense brown eyes searched all over the copy nin's body, somewhat shamefully, though encouraged ever so slightly by the obvious display.

The sharp, jutting hips. The hardness of him - of every inch of him. The muscular abdominal plane, the lean sculpture of his shoulders and the perfect contours of his face. All of that silver hair, soaked and clinging to his pale skin in streaks of stormy color. The only imperfections present were those angry red slashes, bright and sinister against the white of his flesh.

With an honest timidity about his careful gestures, Iruka slid his shirt up over his head, revealing blush-stained, deeply tanned skin. His form was toned, though it had obviously been years since it had been exposed to vigorous exercise, and thus his muscles were shaped in the fashion of youthful smoothness as opposed to Kakashi's battle-hardened physique. Kakashi's eyes locked on the slightly obscured face of the chuunin as he tugged his hair tie out, allowing the soft brown locks to spill down his narrow shoulders and elegant neck. There was something incredibly arousing to the jounin about watching the man loosen his hair, as if the revelation was on par with the removal of his own mask. Even as Iruka slipped his pajama pants down his slim hips and willowy legs, Kakashi remained ever focused on his face, presently framed with chestnut colored tresses.

Taking a deep breath, Iruka stepped into the shower, doing his best to avoid the copy nin's gaze. He felt as though he would faint if he didn't keep moving, so at once he pressed his fingertips against the pale flesh of Kakashi's abdomen, brushing near the widest of the cuts. Kakashi flinched slightly, but not from the pain; Iruka looked on in purest amazement as gooseflesh arose near the copy nin's shoulders and arms. He blinked up at Kakashi in wonder, dark eyes wide and shining as his breath quickened.

"You must be tired." Iruka breathed, nibbling his bottom lip lightly. "Let me - let me dress these." As he spoke, his fingers trailed downward, passing over the hard ridges of Kakashi's abs and over the angle of his hip, finally coming to rest teasingly on the senbon-graze still marring his thigh. Touching Kakashi in that way, he felt as though he was floating away, as if he would, at any moment, become only a ghost of himself and live the entire experience outside his own consciousness.

Kakashi's hand on his shoulder brought him abruptly back to his senses. The warmth of the man's slightly rough palm slid to his neck, played in the soaked strands for a moment as the warm water poured down between them, and then moved lower to cradle the small of Iruka's back. All sound seemed to mute to the brunette as Kakashi brought his free hand up to his face, cupping his cheek for a moment before tangling gingerly in his hair. Before he could so much as gasp, the jounin pressed their bodies together, and engaged Iruka in a tender kiss.

It was nothing like before. In the place of urgency and desperation, there was passion tempered with a previously unknown gentleness. Held in that way, Iruka readily parted his lips, and draped his arms over Kakashi's shoulders, surrendering the last bit of apprehension. Killer, demon, copy nin - whatever Kakashi was outside of that moment didn't matter in the least to the chuunin; in that place, he was, above all else, the man he loved. The warm, sensual embrace only broke when Iruka sensed Kakashi's growing arousal pressing against him, and let out a rather sharp cry in response. When he again found the jounin's gaze, he was met with two rather wide eyes.

"Iruka...Are you - alright?" The taller man inquired, brushing strands of hair away from the other's temple.

"I just - I just - I've never - done this before." He admitted, proving that even the richest of skin tones could turn bright red given the right incentive.

"With a man?" Kakashi asked gently, dispiritedly surveying the brunette's obvious discomfort.

"With anyone." Iruka replied, lowering his gaze to the floor. At once, Kakashi raked his fingers through those long, dark tresses, and kissed Iruka's lips once more.

"Do you want to?"

"Can you? You're - hurt..." Again, those soft fingertips grazed near the various lacerations lacing the elder shinobi's pale skin.

"I think I'll make it out of this one." Kakashi laughed lightly, smiling the most genuine smile Iruka believed he had ever seen. It was contagious, it seemed, and within the second, their lips had met again. Kakashi's hand drew away from the small of Iruka's back for a moment, and the water shut off. The jounin held him close then, and briefly leaned out of the stall to pull a towel off of the wall-mounted rack. He draped it around his lover's quivering shoulders and pressed it against his skin, drying him lightly before stealing it away for himself. Once he was satisfied with their relative dryness, he followed the chuunin out of the shower, and downed one of the cups of tea left forgotten on the counter as Iruka rifled through the first aid kit. Before leaving the bathroom, Kakashi scooped his hip pouch off of the floor, taking it along as he followed the chuunin to his bed.

Iruka climbed into bed and took to his knees, and then patted the space beside him as he briefly scanned the back of the ointment tube he'd chosen. Kakashi obediently sat down beside him, grinning a bit as he observed the teacher's nurturing nature. It was endearing, and moreover, provided evidence of a vital truth - that the brunette loved Kakashi, and through his recognition of his humanity, accepted, without disgust or disbelief, his vulnerability. True, the wounds were a very far cry from serious, but the fact that they concerned Iruka all the same was all the more charming to the copy nin.

Little by little, Iruka applied the clear salve to each wound, making sure that not a single one went without being tended to. When he was finished, he placed the small container on his night table, and turned to face Kakashi, biting at his lips again. In those dark eyes, the jounin could easily discern all manner of anxieties; the worries swimming there were mirrored in his fidgeting, and his sudden inability to hold eye contact. At once, Kakashi decided to alleviate that insecurity.

"Lay back." He said quietly, running an open palm up a smooth, bare thigh. Blushing brightly and trembling from such maddening sensation so near his sex, Iruka obeyed. Once reclined fully, the brunette drew his legs toward himself, attempting to obscure his delicate regions out of sheer instinct. However, Kakashi gently urged the man to part his legs by opening his knees slightly, and then caressing his inner thighs with attentive fingertips.

"Oh -! Kakashi...!" Iruka's hips arched abruptly as Kakashi's questing fingers circled the base of his arousal. In all of his nights alone, he had never felt so very alive, so very - sensitive. Each place Kakashi touched him seemed to burst with a warm tingling that left him craving more. Still, he was somewhat embarrassed about writhing, moaning, sharing all of his expressions of intimate pleasure - however, Kakashi quickly worked to rid him of that little inhibition.

"Iruka..." The jounin murmured, voice steeped in a rough huskiness, "Tell me when you're close." As he spoke, he trailed kisses down the other man's body, starting at the pink, swollen lips, and then down to the slim neck, the hardened peaks of silky nipples, the toned stomach, the small, perfectly shaped navel, and finally, the tip of his lover's sex. Naturally, Iruka's breathing immediately sped to panting, and a thin sheen of sweat brought a glistening shimmer to his skin. Instinctively, his legs opened, and his hips gave several small thrusts, all of which Kakashi accepted into his mouth as his fingers stroked the base. All Iruka was aware of was a swimming world of pleasure, flowing through his veins, his consciousness, every part of him, beginning and ending with Kakashi's warm, talented tongue and lips.

Tanned fingers found their way into wild silver hair, frantically stroking and grasping as the pressure in his body built dangerously close to completion.

"Kakashi!" He finally gasped, arching his back as he struggled to regain his breath. The jounin pulled away at once, leaving Iruka's sex dripping little streams of glossy precum. It had not occurred to the younger man yet exactly how Kakashi planned to make love to him; rather, he trusted the man so implicitly that he had simply supposed however it was would be perfect.

Needless to say, he was a bit shocked as slick fingers began to carefully probe his entrance.

"Kakashi - wh-what?" He panted, looking down at the man kneeling between his spread legs.

"If I don't get you ready, it'll hurt." He explained shortly, barely able to think rationally himself. His own neglected sex pounded with the force of his arousal, and he fought to resist the urge to take Iruka roughly for the sake of the intense climax that would result. Yet he gently worked his fingers inside the man, lubricating his entrance with the clear oil doled out to ANBU for greasing the hinges of their armor. It wasn't the prime substance for the job, but it would serve a thousand times better than nothing, and for that, Kakashi was grateful. His hips began to strain against his unnaturally still posture as Iruka's body constricted and pulsed against his fingers, tight, slick, hot. Once he was certain the chuunin was ready for him, Kakashi lowered his body, all but draping himself over the younger man as he positioned his sex at his entrance.

As the initial thrust began, Kakashi laced his fingers with Iruka's, and engaged him in a burning kiss. For a moment, he expected it would be the chuunin who would break the kiss in order to cry out, but he instead found himself pulling away to moan sharply in pleasure.

"So - so - so good, ah - Iruka..." Kakashi panted, kissing away the tears that gathered at the corners of his lover's tightly closed eyes.

Iruka, for his part, did his best to relax as his body struggled to accommodate the considerable length buried inside of him. However, Kakashi's little movements began to stimulate a certain place within him that caused his own hips to jerk in response, as if urging the copy nin deeper. Upon the first real thrust, Iruka cried out as waves of pleasure arose from that very sensation, causing his whole body to clench from the intensity of it. His thighs pressed against Kakashi's hips, moving with his rhythm, tightening and relaxing in perfect, quick time. As long as his lover worked that sweet, sensitive spot inside of him, Iruka was suspended in a world of sharp, constant pleasure. Without so much as noting it, he began to cry out upon each thrust, spurring on Kakashi's arousal.

Iruka's orgasm had already begun by the time Kakashi wrapped his hand around his sex. He arched his back, spreading his legs to allow the deepest possible penetration as his climax rolled through him. The sensation that had begun at that small spot inside of him washed all through his body, bringing his senses to a nearly unbearable crescendo. At that moment, Kakashi's orgasm began as well, triggered by the enraptured cries and forceful pulsing of his lover. He thrust in deep one last time, and, with a single, abrupt moan, spilled his seed within Iruka, completing both of them.

In the moments that followed, Kakashi gently pulled out of the chuunin, and laid down beside him, pulling him as close as possible. Iruka was exhausted, naturally, but felt fulfilled in all senses, and deeply peaceful. Kakashi waited for something terrible to come to mind - that Iruka was seeing someone else, that he didn't know his true nature, that he would leave him the next morning, that he was only there for the physical pleasure. Yet nothing of the sort occurred, and thus, he held Iruka as one would cradle a delicate object, with little force but great passion, close to the heart.

Drifting off further and further into the seas of sleep, Iruka gave a yawn and gently caressed Kakashi's hand, noting the slight burns there for the first time.

"Kakashi, what happened?" He asked softly, half-asleep already.

"Well, you got pretty turned on down there..." The copy nin replied, hoping to conceal the hint of a chuckle that tinted his tone.

"I don't think..." Came the confused reply.

"Chidori." Kakashi answered honestly, curling his lover's hand into his own.

"Does it hurt?" Iruka nestled in closer.

"A little bit. But it will heal." He kissed soft brown locks, and listened for a moment to quiet breathing before adding, "I love you."

"I love you, Kakashi." Came the heartfelt reply.

For once, Kakashi found himself fending off sleep, fighting to remain awake in the smallest hours of the morning simply to listen to Iruka's breathing, to the matched rhythms of their hearts, to the perfection of the flow.

Thanks for the reads, fellas. You guys are great. Feel free to throw in any suggestions - a sequel for Flow is currently in the works, featuring more Sasuke, more Naruto, and more grit! As always, please review - and thanks again!