Kotetsu and Izumo skipped into the mission room, cheerful grins lighting up their faces.

"What's got you two so happy?" Iruka chuckled in amusement.

"Audio porn!" Kotetsu chirped.

"…" Iruka closed his eyes tightly, then turned to Izumo, "And you?"

"Me too!"

"…I'm surrounded by degenerates."

"Aw, don't be like that! You should be happy too, Iruka-kun!" Kotetsu grinned.

"Yeah! Though, maybe not…"

"True. I mean, it's gotta be pretty painful…"

"Hm?" Iruka raised a confused eyebrow.

"I mean, I don't even know how you managed to drag yourself to work…"

"I'd have called in sick for work without a doubt."

"Izumo, you call in sick if it's raining." Iruka rolled his eyes, "Or if you try a new kind of food. Or if—"

"Okay, okay, I know, I call in a lot." Izumo pouted.

"Yeah, but even you should have called in today, Iruka-kun!" Kotetsu protested.

"Oh really?" Iruka didn't bother looking up; there was no point in asking what they were talking about, they'd get to the point…eventually. For now, Iruka continued examining the mission requests.

"Yeah. I mean, did you even sleep last night?"

Iruka froze.

"Kami only knows how you're sitting down."

"We already knew you were like a stamina champion…"

"But we're mighty impressed with Kakashi."

"Who'd have thought he could keep up, huh?"

"Are you doubting me, hm?" A new voice interjected.

Kotetsu and Izumo jumped a good foot in the air, and whirled around with wide eyes. Kakashi was standing behind them, one eyebrow raised. Iruka gave a small smile, but the duo was too busy pleading for their lives to notice.

"Eh heh heh…no, no, just saying…"

"Iruka-kun's just very talented at endurance…"

"That much I know." Kakashi smirked under his mask, but it went unnoticed by the duo, "The question is, how do you know?"

"Ehhh…"

"Alright," Kakashi cracked his knuckles, "Which one do I have to maim, Ruka?"

"Wedidn'tdoanything!"

"Youguysarejustreallyloud!"

"We'rerightnextdoor!"

"Itwasn'tourfault!" They pled in unison.

"Kashi-chan, play nice!" Anko chided as she entered the mission room.

Kakashi just groaned at the nickname, and Kotetsu and Izumo raced over to hover near Anko for protection.

"Good morning to you too, Anko." Iruka sighed.

"So, I hear the make-up sex was smokin'…now how in the seven hells are you sitting down? Ko and Zumo said they fell asleep before you did, and they were up til like 3 in the morning. You can't tell me that didn't hurt." Anko laughed.

"…thank you, Anko, for sufficiently destroying any sense of personal privacy I ever had delusions of." Iruka groaned, "And I'm fine, thanks."

"Oh puh-lease. No way." Anko narrowed her eyes, then snatched Iruka's papers away from him and dangled them high.

"Give them back." Iruka warned, but didn't make any moves to get up and grab them back.

"If you're so perfectly "fine", Ruru-oto, then why dontcha come and get em?" Anko taunted knowingly.

Iruka glared at her, but she just whistled innocently, unfazed. After a moment, it became quite obvious he was incapable of doing so. Anko just grinned wider.

"…you suck." Iruka dropped his head with a thud on his desk.

Kakashi smirked.

"Jerk." Iruka muttered, knowing exactly what his face would look like if he were to look up.

"I love you." Kakashi chirped happily.

"Love you too, you smug bastard."

"…so, just for the record…" Anko drawled, putting Iruka's papers back on his desk with a satisfied grin, "I was totally and completely right?"

"Um…no. The first thing you did when we dated was throw popcorn at us!" Iruka snorted.

"Which was totally my sign of approval." Anko scoffed.

"I was supposed to know that…how?"

"Duh. Isn't that what you throw at weddings?"
"That's rice. And we didn't get married, we kissed."

"Whatever. Same thing."

"…I pray for Ibiki's sanity." Iruka shook his head.

"Excuse you?" Anko shot him a glare.

"Nothing." Iruka chirped innocently.

"Wanna try that again?"
"Well, if that poor soul really does like you, he's in for a hell of a ride."

"Ibiki likes me?!" Anko shrieked.

"…seriously?" Iruka turned to the others, "She seriously is unaware of this?"

"She didn't even know we were going out." Kotetsu snorted.

"You think she caught on to Mr. Master of Subtle? Hell no." Izumo laughed.

"Yes, Anko, he likes you." Iruka rolled his eyes, "What am I, a matchmaker?"

"I'd say you did a pretty good job with me." Kakashi grinned.

"It's not matchmaking if it's for yourself." Iruka laughed.

"Hey, that one was all us!" Kotetsu protested.

"Yeah, we called it waaay back." Izumo nodded.

"At the chunnin exams, wasn't it?" Kotetsu tilted his head.

"Yep. When Kakashi saved Iruka from that guard guy." Izumo reminded him.

"It was super cute. Plus, he didn't even know it was Iruka."

"Instinctive, I'd bet anything." Izumo nodded knowingly.

"Totally. He probably felt a deep tug within his soul…" Kotetsu pressed his hands to his chest dramatically.

"And he just knew he had to save you!" Izumo grinned.

"I'd forgotten about that, actually." Iruka looked thoughtful, "You did save me from that guard, didn't you? I remember…I was in henge as Shisou."

"Yeah…I remember how surprised I was that you were behind the prank." Kakashi chuckled, "I had a very different impression of you at first, sensei."

"Oh really?" Iruka raised an eyebrow in amusement.

"Really. But I'm glad I was got a chance to see you in different light." Kakashi smiled softly.

"So!" Anko abruptly interrupted the moment without hesitation, "When's the Jounin Exams? You ready yet, Ruru-oto?"

Kakashi and Iruka exchanged a glance.

"I suppose I am. And it's what…six more days?" Iruka questioned.

"Yeah…Ruka, I think we should go train." Kakashi made eye contact with Iruka, trying to send a mental message.

"I agree. Only six days left, huh? Wow." Iruka chuckled, playing along, then turned to Kotetsu, "Mind watching the desk for me?"

"Yeah, no problem. You need to go 'train'." Kotetsu winked.

"C'mon Ruka." Kakashi gestured for Iruka to follow.

When the sensei didn't move, Kakashi raised an eyebrow.

"It's your own fucking fault." Iruka just glared, unwilling to stand up. Kakashi instantly understood.

Laughing, Kakashi helped Iruka up. Then, with a feisty grin, he pulled the chunnin into his arms bridal style, and disappeared in a poof of smoke. The last thing the others heard was Iruka's enraged shouts.

~.~.~.~.~

"Not that I don't trust your improvisational skills, but do have a plan for the Jounin Exams?" Kakashi asked as they reappeared at the bridge.

"Of course. I'll just fail. Plenty of people fail it, usually not even on purpose." Iruka shrugged, "I'll be fine."

"Ah, no, see…Ruka, have you ever been to the Jounin Exams?"

"Kashi?"

"Yeah?"

"You can put me down now."

"I'm okay."

"Funny."

Kakashi let Iruka down with a grin, and they sat on the edge of the bridge, overlooking the water.

"But I haven't been to the Exams, no. I assumed they were like the Chunnin Exams, at least somewhat. Am I wrong?" Iruka questioned.

"Well…not exactly. They just have…higher stakes. The Forest of Death is child's play—literally. The first part of the Jounin Exam is in Area 73, and it's a lot less about getting each other's scrolls, and a whole lot more about taking out enemy nin." Kakashi warned, "The Jounin Exam is just another way for the village's to show off their forces and have a mock-war."

"Area 73, huh? I've been there a few times. Nasty place." Iruka grimaced.

"Yeah. You have to survive two weeks locked in, then they open the gates and you have to get out within two days. And there's no break like in the Chunnin Exam—you go straight from exiting Area 73 to your first round match. You fight whoever came out right before or right after you; they could be in better or worse condition than you, it's all up to chance. It's tournament style; you fight again and again until someone wins, but everyone's considered, as long as they have at least one match."

"How open are they to cheating?" Iruka asked, a thoughtful look on his face.

"It's encouraged. There was a guy back when I tested that snuck a barrier scroll and supplies into Area 73 a day or two before the test, then set up the barrier and camped out in peace for the remainder of the test. They use him as an example to this day, though they did amp up security. Why?"

"Oh, no particular reason." Iruka grinned.

Before Kakashi could say a word, the unthinkable happened.

"My Eternal Rival! I thought I heard your Melodious Voice! How are you and Your Fair Iruka on this Fine and Beautiful Day?" Gai boomed, bursting through the trees.

"Run, save yourself!" Kakashi whispered dramatically to Iruka.

"Be nice." Iruka elbowed him lightly, though he couldn't resist a snicker. He quickly composed himself, "We're fine, Gai-san. And how are you?"

"No, don't ask him tha—!" Kakashi's visible eye went wide, and he leapt to cover Iruka's mouth, but it was too late.

"I am doing Wonderfully Well on this Gorgeous Morning, Fair Iruka! I began my Long Day of Hard Work and Determination with some Strenuous Exercises and a few Laps Around Konoha! However, on this Beautiful Day however, they did not seem to Train and Strengthen my muscles with the usual Grueling Pain! In fact, it only felt like I was wearing 200lb weights, instead of 500lb! Can you imagine? No, that would not do! So I upped my Heavy Weights as much as I could, and now things are Back to Usual, eh? Anyway, after I completed my Arduous and Rigorous Morning Exercises, I continued my Morning Routine and went Grocery Shopping With the Beautiful and Kind Shizune-san! She helped me fill out my Cleansing and Pure Diet of Health, supplying me with many Juicy Fruits and Crunchy Vegetables! Alas, the Wonderful and Sweet Shizune-san had to leave early to help our Hard-Working Hokage do her Honorable and Proud Duty serving our village. It saddened me to see her go, but I suppose it is what is best, ne? That aside, I continued my Morning Routine and stopped by…"

Gai continued to babble, completely unaware that he was now talking to two quite unfortunate logs.