A/N: I am sorry! This chapter would have been out earlier, but work was piling up in the last week with the never ending meetings, negotiations and what's not. But well, I guessed I still managed to have this out. ^_^
Ah... Thanks to KakashiKrazed, RetickLover, DevilishDeity, Ryu Earth, Serenityofthematrix, Arukas Sato, SemperVenice, kerumica, Heihachi-Katayama, XxxdarkpearlxxX, LeftMeSpeechless, heavensangelQ, Wordsplat, ChibiOokamiGirl, dark1977, WorstCaseScenario, LoretaW, Belladonna-LaMorte, Paradox1313, deviltiger, Gossamerisred, shadowstar-gazn, 24sakura, Fire-Shadow246, tearfularcher, jazzy2may, banspurpleboxers, XxSaKuSaSuXx99, FlyinGShadoW1314, DeathRow609, Balance-The-Moon-And-Stars, Rem10124, Gasanechi, sara, gigi, chida, eve, storybookpuppy and HH for all your constructive comments, critics and encouragements.
I hope you had enjoyed this story and here is the last chapter. I have plans for an epilogue, but I don't really have the time to write it now. I guess that would really take a while to get it out. So for now, enjoy this chapter. Thanks again and until the next story. ^_^
My final disclaimer: No, I own nothing except probably part of the plot. =.=
Chapter 11: Sealing the Pact
Iruka leaned back into the strong chest as he felt the muscular arms wound themselves tighter around his waist, holding him securely. It had been a long time since he had reveled in such warmth and he had missed it. He turned his head slightly to observe the man behind him and watched as the single grey eye stared blankly ahead as its owner was lost in his own thoughts. He shifted a little and planted a soft kiss on the masked cheek, catching the attention of his companion.
Kakashi gave him a small smile. But other than that, he spoke no words.
The chunin laid a hand on the gloved one holding him, his eyes soft with understanding. No one had expected that to happen, but it had and Kakashi needed his time to think.
The copy nin had brought Naruto back to the waiting village and Iruka had never a prouder moment in his life when he saw the shinobi and children clamoring around the blonde, praising him, thanking him and cheering his victory. The blonde had finally made his mark to have the entire village acknowledge his presence and his contribution. When his gaze had met the jounin's, the same pride had been reflected in that single grey eye.
But then, their happy moments had ended there.
Tsunade had fallen into a coma after the battle, having exhausted all her chakra in an attempt to protect her people. Not many people at this point knew about it. Kakashi, Yamato, Naruto and Sakura were probably the only ones who knew other than Iruka and Shizune herself. It just wouldn't do to unsettle the people while they are still recovering from the aftermath of the attack.
Iruka entwined his fingers with Kakashi and gave it a light squeeze.
"She will be fine."
"I know." Kakashi leaned back against the tree, watching as the setting sun painted the sky orange. Beautiful; yet it greatly contradicted the current situation that the village was in. He sighed deeply. "I'm more worried about Naruto and Sakura. They had always been close to Tsunade-sama. They might not take it that well."
"They are strong children. You've witnessed it for yourself." Iruka said softly. "And we will be there for them."
"You are right." Kakashi smiled and pressed a kiss on the chunin's neck. "Thank you, Iruka. For giving us a chance to work this out."
The chunin ran his fingers lightly over the gloved hand. "Losing you at that moment, made me realize more than I would otherwise have. When I thought I had lost you forever, whatever that had happened between us previously suddenly seemed so trivial. I would have done anything to get you back then." He entwined his fingers with the older man's. "And I'm glad you came back."
"I won't leave you again." Kakashi rested his chin on the chunin's shoulder. "At least not willingly."
"I know." Iruka turned and smiled at the jounin. "Shall we get back and see how Yamato-san is getting on with getting the temporary quarters up?"
"I'm sure he's managing fine." Kakashi grinned. "Wood style jutsus are his expertise after all. There's nothing we can help in that."
"Then we should at least collect our supplies. I'm not too keen on sleeping in the cold air tonight." Iruka pulled out of the jounin's arms and stood up. "Come on."
Kakashi smiled and stood, taking the younger man's hand in his, as they headed towards the quarters which Yamato had summoned up with his wood jutsus. They stopped at the entrance of the shinobi temporary living quarters and greeted the ex-ANBU who was taking a rest.
"How's everything going?" Kakashi took a quick glance at the buildings around him.
"Good." Yamato groused. "Though the people seemed to think I have limitless chakra." He looked up at the two men and raised an eyebrow when he spotted the close proximity and the laced fingers. "Jounin quarters; top level, right hand side. Chunin quarters; top level, left hand side. Genin are on the second level, though I think those brats have probably dragged Naruto with them to the Chunin quarters. You can look for him there if you want." A grin formed on his lips. "And of course, I supposed the jounin quarters are spacious enough if you two want to bunk in together."
Iruka turned red. Kakashi snorted. "I don't need you to tell me that."
"Right." Yamato stood up and gestured for them to enter the building. "Kotetsu and Izumo are managing the supplies in the first room on the second level."
Kakashi nodded and entered through the door with Iruka behind him. Both men headed up the stairs and came to a stop outside an overcrowded room.
"I will go get what we need. Wait for me here." Kakashi gave a light squeeze to the chunin's hand and entered the room. Iruka smiled and stepped to the side, leaning against a wall as he waited in silence.
Kakashi stepped in and scanned the room in a quick glance. He raised an eyebrow when someone waved wildly at him.
"Kakashi, over here!"
The jounin sighed and walked over to his exuberant friend. Genma gave him a slap on the back and a grin before it quickly faded and replaced by a solemn look.
"I've heard. Good to have you back."
"Here you go, Kakashi-san." Izumo smiled as he handed over a change of clean uniform and a blanket. Kakashi took it with a murmured thanks.
"I'm placing Iruka in your care." The long-haired chunin grinned as he handed over another set of supplies. "If you should ever let him down again, remember, you won't be only dealing with him."
Kakashi balanced the stack in his arms and eyed the chunin solemnly. "I would be a fool if I ever let him go again."
The chunin turned from his spot against the wall towards the person who had called out to him.
"You are alright!" The kunoichi ran towards the man and before Iruka could even blink, Inaho had wrapped her arms tightly around him.
Iruka tensed. Inaho buried her face in the teacher's shoulder and laughed in relief.
"Thank god, you are alright. I was so worried."
Iruka felt wetness against his neck and he was at a loss of what to do. He couldn't push Inaho away like this when the girl had been worried sick about him. But Kakashi would come out from the room soon and it just wouldn't do to have the older man see him in such a position with another girl.
Taking in a deep breath, he laid a gentle hand on the kunoichi's shoulder and pulled away slightly.
"Are you alright, Inaho-san?"
A tinge of red covered the lady's cheeks as she swiped at her tears. "Yes, I'm sorry. I was just so glad to see you."
Iruka smiled warmly. "Good to see you are alright too."
Inaho glanced up at the man and took in a deep breath. She grabbed Iruka's wrist and smiled sweetly.
"I was at the chunin quarters earlier on to look for you. But I don't see you anywhere. I really feared that something had happened to you." She sighed happily and tugged at the man's hand. "Anyway, when I was there, it seemed to me that the quarters are all full. If you would like, perhaps you would like to sleep in the genin quarters with us. My teammates and I have gotten a cozy corner for ourselves."
Iruka's eyes widened and for a moment, he was unsure of how to answer to the kunoichi's invitation.
Kakashi came out from the supplies' room with Genma, only to be greeted by a shocking sight.
A kunoichi was hugging Iruka and the chunin didn't seem too keen to pull away. Kakashi recognized the girl instantly and he felt something lodged in his throat. Hadn't Iruka agreed to give them both a chance?
Genma laid a hand on his shoulder and tugged at the man, pulling him back into the room's doorway. The honey-haired man's gaze never left the chunin in front of them.
"Wait and see, Kakashi. It may not be what we think." Genma said softly, though he himself wasn't too convicted about his statement. He sighed inwardly when he felt his friend's shoulder tensing under his hand.
There was a long moment of pause before they heard Iruka's voice again.
"Are you alright, Inaho-san?"
Kakashi closed his eyes, trying to decipher his lover's train of thoughts. He felt Genma's grip tightened and he snapped his eye open, followed his friend's gaze and his uncertainty hiked up when he saw the kunoichi holding Iruka's hand and smiling at him lovingly.
He heard the kunoichi asking the chunin if he would like to join them in the genin quarters.
There was no answer from Iruka. Kakashi wasn't sure if he was thinking about how to turn the kunoichi down, or how he should explain to the jounin why he wouldn't be joining for the night.
And then he saw Iruka slowly pulling his hand away from the other lady and in a hesitant voice, rejected the kunoichi.
Iruka tugged his hand gently out from the grasp and smiled at Inaho awkwardly. It wasn't fair to the kunoichi, but it hadn't been easy either for him to finally get back together with Kakashi. He did not want to try breaking again the pieces that they had tried so hard to put back together. Taking a step back, he bowed apologetically.
"I think that won't be necessary, Inaho-san. Or so I've heard, the jounin quarters have plenty of empty spaces. I supposed it will be more appropriate for me to bunk in…" He took in a deep breath and eyed the kunoichi. "… with my partner."
The short-haired girl turned confused as she eyed the man tentatively. "Your partner?"
"Yes." Iruka rubbed at his scar awkwardly, wondering if this was really the right time to be telling Inaho that. "We got back together recently."
The hurt look on Inaho's face threw the chunin on a guilt trip. He sighed deeply. "I'm sorry."
There was a moment of silence. Then, Inaho let out a strained laugh. "Um, Iruka, it's alright you know, if you don't want to… I mean…"
"No, it's not that, Inaho-san. I really do have a…" He paused and then spoke hesitantly. "Boyfriend."
The utter look of hurt and confusion on Inaho's face sent Iruka into an exasperated sigh. He shoved his hands into his pocket and eyed the lady uncertainly. "I'm sorry if I had given you the wrong idea about anything. But, I've only regarded you as a friend."
"But…" The kunoichi frowned. "But, I've never heard about you being with anyone."
"My lover and I, we had some misunderstanding previously and we went our separate ways. But, we have made up. Just today, in fact." Iruka scratched his scar in embarrassment. It felt awkward having to confess when he still wasn't quite sure where his relationship with Kakashi stood. Sure, they had in a way cleared things up. But still…
A hand snaked across his waist and he was pulled against a strong body, snapping from his reverie. He turned around, surprised.
Kakashi pressed a masked kiss on his cheek and smiled. "Sorry to keep you waiting." He cocked his head and eyed the kunoichi. "Your friend?"
"Um, yes." Iruka gestured towards Inaho. "Kakashi, this is Inaho-san. I got to know her through Kotetsu." He took in a deep breath and smiled at the kunoichi. "Inaho-san, this is my lover, Hatake Kakashi."
The kunoichi stared at the two men in disbelief for a long moment. Iruka was beginning to wonder if she was even going to say anything when anger took over and she turned heated glares towards the brunette. "You led me on for so long, making me think that we have a chance together. And now, you are telling me you are attached?"
Iruka sighed. He felt a gentle squeeze on his hand and he turned towards the older man with a soft smile. Lacing his fingers with the other man, he directed his attention back to the kunoichi. "I'm really sorry, Inaho-san. You are a nice girl. I'm sure you will find someone who's truly worth your affections someday."
"You – " Inaho was speechless.
"Come on, Iruka. Let's go." Kakashi smiled. "Genma is waiting for us."
The chunin nodded and turned away. He had barely taken two steps when the kunoichi spoke spitefully.
"Your kind of relationship will not last. I'm sure the first break-up had already hinted that to you."
Iruka tensed and for a moment, was unsure of what to say. What Inaho had said; that was partly true, wasn't it?
Then he felt the jounin's grasp on his hand tightened and he could feel the light trembling from the older man. He turned to meet Kakashi's eye and watched the flitting emotions that passed the returned gaze. But what struck the younger man the most was the hint of uncertainty in the grey depths that spoke of the guilt from the past events.
And it shed a little more light onto the man whom he had found so unfathomable in the past. Ex-ANBU captain, shinobi extraordinaire, legendary genius Hatake Kakashi, was more afraid of letting go than he was.
He felt his previous thumping heartbeat slowing down. He had nothing to fear, because it seemed like the older man won't be letting him go any time soon. Smiling, he gave the gloved hand a reassuring squeeze and turned to the kunoichi.
"I appreciate that advice, Inaho-san. But I also learnt that in a relationship, we should never repeat the same mistakes twice." He smiled at Kakashi. "I believe the lesson that we had both gone through was enough to teach us the values in a relationship and what we should hold on to while we still have it. So, I don't see any cause for worries. And whatever happens in the future, I'm sure we will be able to deal with it well enough."
The jounin visibly relaxed. He returned the smile and leaned forward to plant a masked kiss on the teacher's lips. "Let's go."
Genma was leaning against the stairway, a broad smirk on his face. When the two men approached, he straightened himself and picked up the stack of supplies by his feet. "Took you guys long enough. Come on, Rai is waiting."
Raidou stared in surprise as the silver-haired jounin made his way out of the room with the younger man to change out of their clothes after having claimed their spots in the cozy corner of the room. Genma settled down beside him and stretched tiredly as he lay down on the futon, preparing to catch some sleep. He patted at the mattress, frowning at the stiffness of it. But well, it was better than nothing. At least he still has something to sleep on despite the state of the village.
"Hm?" The honey-haired jounin turned to his friend as he mentally gauged the amount of work he had to get started on the next day to help restore the village.
"When you told me to reserve two spots in a quiet corner, was it for Kakashi and Iruka?" Raidou turned to his friend uncertainly.
"Yeah." Genma stared out of the small window, a small smile on his face.
"But Iruka is a chunin."
Genma frowned. "And your point being?"
"Isn't he supposed to be staying in the chunin quarters?"
"There are always exceptions, Rai."
Raidou rolled his eyes. "Enlighten me."
"Sure." Genma yawned and lay down on his futon. "Simply because no one can say 'no' to Kakashi when he decides to bring his lover to sleep with him in the same room."
Raidou stared at his friend incredulously for a minute. He swallowed hard and whispered quietly. "What?"
"I said – "
"I heard what you said. But Kakashi and Iruka? When did that happen?"
Genma sighed and sat up, a wistful smile on his lips. "I supposed quite a long while ago. Asuma was probably the first and the only person who knew then. But things happened and they went their own ways. And after experimenting with heartbreaks and longing for so many times over, they are back with each other again."
"Oh…" Raidou frowned. "That's pretty good of them, to be able to hide their relationship in a shinobi village."
"Yeah." Genma smiled. "But now that Kakashi has straightened out his thoughts, I supposed the entire village will know about their relationship within two months from now."
Raidou raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure? Kakashi is a pretty private person. He won't like having people prying into his affairs."
"Yes of course." Genma chewed on his ever-present senbon. "But this is different. I'm sure Kakashi would announce it to the world, if he could do that without any negative repercussions."
Raidou shrugged. "And what are your thoughts about their relationship?"
The jounin turned towards the door when the two men in topic walked into the room. He smiled.
"I think they are good for each other."
The two figures sat on the roof, staring up at the moon that casted a soft glow on the ruined village below them. Kakashi sighed and wrapped an arm around his younger lover as the man leaned against him. This was what felt right. No one had ever been able to fit against him as perfectly as the chunin in his arms right now.
"What are you thinking about?" Iruka traced his fingers across the masked glove resting on his waist and glanced at the older man.
"Nothing important." Kakashi smiled. "Just thinking about how some situations can completely push a person to change his views about matters."
"I met my father." The jounin smiled softly. "When I was caught in the void between the world of the living and the afterlife. Seeing him again made me realized how much I had lost and how many stupid mistakes I had made in the past."
The chunin's eyes softened and he leaned in closer, offering the silent comfort. He laced his fingers together with the hand on his waist and gave it a light squeeze.
"I never thought I would have the chance to apologize to my father. But I supposed fate had other plans in store." The jounin sighed and turned to the younger man. He tugged his mask down and smiled softly at him.
"Fate had many things in store for me. But the only thing that I am most grateful for is that it allowed me to come back to fix what I had damaged." He pressed his forehead against Iruka's and traced the man's jaw. "Thank you, love. What you said earlier to that kunoichi meant a lot to me."
Iruka was silent for a minute, too surprised to answer as his breath caught in his throat. Moisture gathered in the corner of the brown orbs as Iruka raised his hand, cupping the man's face and pressing a light kiss on the chapped lips. He buried his face in the broad shoulder, a small smile on his face.
"It meant a lot to me too." He whispered hoarsely. "You know, even after what you had said, I was still uncertain about where this whole thing was going. I wasn't sure if you would start denying our relationship again. Somehow saying it out, gives me that extra bit of security that I needed. And when you didn't do or say anything to refute it, that was exactly the anchor that I needed to convince me that this is real and that we are not going to hide from public's eyes anymore"
Kakashi tightened his grasp on the younger man. "No more hiding. I promised that, didn't I? I won't hide anymore. Not from you, not from anyone else. They can talk all they like, but I'm not going to back out of this." He pulled back and smiled, one hand burying itself into the brunette's untied hair. "I'm not going to let you go again."
Iruka's smile grew. Kakashi leaned in and pressed his lips against the younger man, slipping his tongue past the chunin's lips as he savored the taste which he had missed for months. The tongues danced in each other's mouths, the gentle caresses drawing sighs from the younger man. Finally, the jounin drew back and pressed a light, feathery kiss on the tanned forehead.
"I'm not letting you go either." Iruka rested his head on the jounin's shoulder, as his breathing began to regulate itself. "If you ever try to dump me, I would hunt you down to the depths of the earth and make you pay for it."
Kakashi chuckled. "I'm not that stupid to repeat this mistake again. Besides, if I ever do that," he smiled affectionately at the younger man and tightened his grasp, pulling Iruka close to his side. "You won't be the only one. I'm sure my father would come after me too."
The chunin glanced at his lover confusedly. Kakashi shifted and pulled the younger man across his laps, cradling him to his chest. "My father gave us his blessings. He asked for you to go with me the next time I visit his grave."
A light shade of red tinted the chunin's cheeks. He shifted uncomfortably and murmured into the copy nin's shoulder. "You make this sound like some meet-the-parents session."
"Isn't that so?" Kakashi grinned. "You are officially going to meet my parents. Which means, they have acknowledged you as their daughter-in-law. You aren't getting out of this."
The chunin flushed. "Kakashi, I'm not a girl!"
The silver-haired man chuckled as his mortified lover swatted at his head. He leaned down and pressed his lips over the younger man's, muffling out all protests. Pulling back slightly, he smiled. "No, you are not. But I love you all the same." He laughed softly. "My, what would my parents say to such a feisty son-in-law?"
Iruka rubbed at his scar in embarrassment. He looped his arms over the jounin's neck and leaned against him. "I'm sure they would be glad that there's someone to keep you in line."
Kakashi's eye softened. He held the younger man in silence, even as he felt Iruka snuggling closer to him. He closed his eyes, a light smile playing on his unmasked face.
'Thank you, dad.'
He glanced down at the half-dozing chunin in his arms and placed a light kiss on his lips.
"I love you, Iruka."