Title: Fatal

Rating: M

Warning: Language, Implications

Disclaimer: If you haven't gotten it yet, then I question you're intelligence – But, it should be painfully obvious I do not own Naruto in any way, shape or form.

A/N: Pretty sure this is going to be the end of this emotionally destructive story. I just don't have anywhere to go with it, because I accomplished what I wanted. Emotional turmoil, expression of how love can find the least likely of people, and just how strong friendship can be, in the end. Anyways, hope you enjoy it! Leave a review, and I'm always open to requests.

On a side note: I have already started on another story, Kakashi-Centric, back when he was younger and in ANBU. It's going to be a quite bit darker, longer, and more consuming that anything I've tried to tackle before – But, I've gotten the beginning written down, and I already adore it. It's still yet to be posted, but keep a look out for it! And if anyone's interested in being a Beta for me, shoot me a PM.

Chapter Five: Always

Genma was awoken suddenly by a familiar yet new pulsing presence within his apartment. It took him a few moments to process the cause of his numb arms and pinned down leg. He forced the panic back, and blinked eyes open slowly, taking in the blinking and slightly shocked faces of his two favorite chunin lackeys. It took him another moment to realize that they had no clue how he felt about the two younger men currently snuggled against him, and then the blush flooded across his face before he had a chance of fighting it back.

"Uh," Genma said sleepily, as he tried to wiggle out of Kakashi and Hayate clutches. "What are you doing here?"

"We, um" Izumo started, seeming to have forgotten why they were there in the first place.

"Shut up," came Kakashi's muffled yet annoyed voice from its hiding place against Genma's neck. Genma took a moment to realize that though Kakashi's face was mostly hidden, it was obvious that his mask was down. Genma growled and glared at the two chunin so suddenly they stared back with wide uncertain eyes.

"Turn around, now." Genma said harshly, his voice causing Kakashi and Hayate to come to almost full awaken awareness in an instant, the two still open mouthed chunin jumped quickly into action, turning around so suddenly that Kotetsu stumbled as Izumo stuttered a broken apology. Genma wiggled his arms free before sitting up and turning towards Kakashi who was now sleepily blinking up at him. Genma smiled softly, before reaching down and pulling Kakashi's mask up into its proper place. Genma watched as recognition washed Kakashi's face, and a dark narrowed eye turned towards the chunin. "They saw nothing, I promise."

"Better not have," Kakashi said slowly, his voice harsh.

"You can turn around now, you two troublemakers." Hayate said slowly, his voice hoarse as he coughed softly, pushing himself up into a sitting position. The three watched as Kotetsu and Izumo seemed to hesitate before turning around slowly peeking over their shoulders. "What did you need?"

"Oh right," Izumo said suddenly, his body relaxing. "We came to ge-"

"This is a pretty impressive surprise," Kotetsu said suddenly, officially cutting off Izumo. Izumo's eyes hardened as he turned to glare at Kotetsu just daring him to continue on that line of thought.

"You came to tell us a surprise?" Hayate said, his face a mask of confusion as his head tilted slightly. Kakashi continued to watch the two chunin cautiously as Genma leaned back against his head board, stretching out his legs.

"No, we came to –"

"No, I meant you three, in bed together." Kotetsu said, cutting off an irritated Izumo yet again. Izumo huffed in annoyance, but also with embarrassment at Kotetsu blunt nature. His friends were usually alright with it, but Izumo knew that Kakashi wasn't always as forgiving or open about his privacy being brought to light. And he'd noticed also the even sharper awareness that Kakashi held when Hayate or Genma were spoken about in a manner he didn't appreciate, and talking about one of them being in any bed was far beyond Kakashi's boundaries. Izumo wanted to reach over and smack a hand across Kotetsu's mouth forcefully, but he was frozen in place so suddenly by the deepening tension filling the room that he could barely even catch his breath.

"What do you mean, exactly?" Kakashi said slowly, his face tight and his body tense. Genma instantly and without thought, placed a hand on Kakashi's back rubbing slightly. Kotetsu's eyes narrowed in on the movement and smirked.

"That's what I mean," Kotetsu said, crossing his arms over his chest smugly. "I understand the possibility of Hayate and Kakashi together, as would anyone else that has eyes, you know," Genma instantly tensed, his arm dropping from Kakashi's back as he seemed to almost fold in on himself. Hayate's eyes narrowed harshly, as Kakashi looked surprised and then suddenly pissed beyond belief. Kotetsu didn't seem to notice any of that, as he continued on, waving a hand enthusiastically. "It's hard not to see that, you know. You two aren't nearly as sneaky as you believe!" He said with a wink. "They are always together, and Kakashi's always fun with Hayate around, not so scary, y'know. But Gen? I'm not sure how you even fit in there, it's like unbalanced then."

The entire room got even tenser in an instant. Genma's eyes widened and the pain from before yesterday's confession session came back with a vicious vengeance. Kakashi's entire being seemed to be cloaked with an evil intent aimed at nothing but the hopeless and emotionally stunted chunin before him. Hayate's soft eyes were filled with a kind of painful betrayal, as Izumo watched and was instantly overcome with the urge to smack Kotetsu so hard that his brain rattled. Izumo then began to notice the hurt welling up in Genma's overly expressive eyes, and his own heart clenched painfully. Everything was silent, and completely still for a few moments as if no one even dared to breathe. And then, Genma suddenly couldn't agree more with the statement, and to rectify his moment of foolishness instantly removed himself from the situation before anyone could even blink.

Genma fled the room, slamming his way into the bathroom, before securely shutting and locking the door behind him. Once hidden away, he broke down, the tears flowing instantly and the pain rushing throughout his body viciously. He tried to push the uneasiness back, tried to overcome the fact that whatever they thought didn't matter. But Kotetsu and Izumo had always mattered, and the fact that they believed him to be some unbalancing force in Hayate and Kakashi's relationship hurt more than he was willing to recognize at the current moment.

"And you know I'm not even sure how it would work. Because Gen is such a –" Kotetsu continued on before stopping suddenly, eyes blinking in confusion. "Wait. What? Where the hell did –"

Kotetsu's sentence was cut off instantly by a strong hand around his throat, as he was pushed harshly into the wall. He blinked rapidly, trying to clear his vision before he came face to face with a side of Kakashi most didn't to survive. Kotetsu tried to piece together what he'd done, but the lack of oxygen to his brain wasn't helping at all. He noticed Hayate sitting on the bed, his face looked broken and there were tears falling from those sad eyes slowly. Kotetsu could also see Izumo standing off to the side, his eyes wide and scared, but also angry and disappointed. Kotetsu didn't see Genma, and was more than aware enough of Kakashi was currently looking at him with blazing mix matched eyes.

Kakashi could barely even breathe around the anger that was slowly overcoming him, his hand squeezing tighter and tighter around that delicate throat, wanting to see the pain, the struggle. Kakashi's control was about to snap and he wasn't even close to feeling sorry for that small fact. He wanted nothing more to absolutely destroy the worthless waste of space in his hand, the despicable being that had hurt Genma so completely that he could feel it reflected within his own heart. Hayate suddenly jumped to action, worried and scared for everyone's sake. Hayate latched onto Kakashi's arm, pulling harshly and pleading.

"Please no, Kashi stop," Hayate pulled harder.

"He hurt him," Kakashi said slowly, his gaze never wavering from the struggling chunin in his grasp. "He hurt him, 'Yate. He hurt Genma!"

"I know," Hayate whispered. "I know, but Gen needs you. I need you. We both do, please. Come on, please Kashi. Stop please!"

Kakashi seemed to find some sense of control over his arm as he slowly removed his hand from the gasping chunin's neck. Kotetsu fell to the floor, leaning against the wall and panting harshly. Kakashi was still staring at him, eyes angry and hateful.

"You ever, ever even think of hurting him again. Or saying something as stupid as that, I won't even hesitate. It'll be over before anyone can even blink. Got that?" Kakashi said slowly. Kotetsu understood enough to nod his head slowly, eyes planted on the ground evenly, forcing his body not to move at all. Kakashi suddenly vanished from sight, leaving nothing but a panting Kotetsu, a crying Hayate and a shaking Izumo within the room.

Hayate understood instantly that Kakashi wanted and needed to deal with this alone with Genma, so he fell to the floor on a broken sob. Genma was always getting hurt, even before yesterday it was always Genma taking the brunt of the pain, of the heartache. When would it stop? When would people realize how much they were hurting the usually strong and stoic shinobi, their friend that was breaking and falling apart because they all just figured he could handle whatever.

"I know you don't understand," Hayate said slowly. "But what you said, what you were saying, implying. It's so cruel Ko, so cruel even for you and your jokes. How could you?"

Kotetsu felt instantly chastised, as he looked up at Hayate just out of his reach, crying softly and staring down at his own shaking hands. Kotetsu opened his mouth, only to close it again as he looked up at Izumo who was staring back at him with sad frightened eyes. He wanted to crawl over to him, wanted to ask for his forgiveness, because he could feel the disappointment still rolling of him, and all of it was directed towards him and his big mouth.

"I'm so sorry," Kotetsu said finally.

"I'm not sure that's enough this time," Hayate whispered, his voice so soft and broken that Kotetsu wanted to apologize over and over, but he knew that it would change nothing. What he'd done, this time he'd gone too far and he knew that. He just hoped that eventually he would be able to salvage what had happened, what he'd done to his friendships with all of the people currently within the apartment.

"Genma didn't realize, how much me and Kakashi cared about him. He always puts himself out there, for all of us. Every time he's protecting us, willing us to live, making sure we survive even at the cost of his own sacrifice, his own life, his own happiness. He's been locking up how he felt; I'm not even sure how long he's been suppressing all the pain and hurt. We've just finally gotten him to realize, gotten the courage to go forward, and we've hurt him. Me and Kakashi both, we hurt him so much. And now, you've been unusually cruel Ko, you've never before said something so hurtful and vicious, especially not about Genma. He's always been there for you, he's helped you more than you could ever realize. He's never pushed you and Zu away, he's always welcomed your fascination, your affection and care for him, for me." Hayate's voice broke suddenly. "If it was jealousy, I'm sorry. If it was a joke, you should be ashamed. If it was pointless cruelty, I don't ever want to see you again. Do you understand me?"

Kotetsu not only felt chastised now, but he felt immensely terrible about himself. Hayate was right, how could he have hurt and betrayed the unwavering friendship and affection that Genma had always returned, to both him and Izumo. The countless times that Genma had been there, without having to be asked, the endless amounts of himself that Genma gave up for everyone around him.

"I never meant to, I didn't mean to hurt him. He's always so strong." Kotetsu said thoroughly ashamed of himself, ashamed of his actions, and overwhelmed by the emotions swirling almost tangibly around the room. "It might have been jealousy." Kotetsu finally acknowledged, looking up at Izumo who was looking down at him intently, with tearful eyes of reflected pain.

"He didn't mean to hurt anyone," Izumo finally said. "He never does. He cares too much for that Hayate, you know that better than most. I've noticed it, quite a while ago. Kotetsu loves Genma, in his own way. Not in the way you and Kakashi do, not in the way that I love Ko or that Ko loves me. Kotetsu has this urge to protect Genma, in the same breath as wanting to prove how strong he is to Genma. It in turn, causes Kotetsu to hurt Genma more often than he realizes. And because Genma is too affectionate, too caring he'd never tell Ko how much it really hurts him. This is partially my fault, I should have said something, long ago."

Hayate tilted his head to the side, finally finding the courage to look at Kotetsu. He saw the sadness and regret in those open yet wild eyes that were staring straight back at him. Hayate knew it would be a struggle, as everything was in life. But affection and care didn't always come easily in the life they led. And Hayate knew in that moment, he would do whatever it took to make sure that their bond, as a whole never broke in a way that had no hope of being fixed.

"It will all be okay," Hayate said slowly. And then silence enveloped the room of friends, and nothing was heard except for Hayate's continued sobbing and Kotetsu almost couldn't handle the pain it caused within his own heart.

Kakashi was still shaking so badly, standing just outside of the door to the bathroom, he needed to get himself under control. He closed his eyes, pulling down the soft cloth to cover his gifted eye once again. He could faintly hear the murmur of Hayate's voice down the hallway, catching a few words and then Izumo softly shaking voice started and Kakashi couldn't quite handle what those words implied. He knew in reality that he shouldn't have threatened Kotetsu as he had, but he also knew that if he hadn't then his own body wouldn't have come to Genma like it needed to. In a constant battle for control, Kakashi sighed and pulled his mask down before knocking softly on the bathroom door, listening as Genma sobbed for the second day in a row, all alone.

"Gen-Gen, please," Kakashi whispered. "Please just let me in." There was nothing but silence for a while, before Kakashi heard the distinct sounds of shuffling and then the click of the door unlocking. Kakashi pushed into the room, quickly shutting the door behind him and scooping Genma into his arms harshly. They stood there, just holding each other for a while, content if only for a few moments as they got lost within their own little world. Genma nuzzled into Kakashi's cheek, enjoying the soft skin against his own, as Kakashi slowly ran lean fingers through Genma's hair, slowly in an almost petting motion.

"Will it hurt forever?" Genma asked softly, his voice sounded much younger than usual, slightly broken and shaky. Kakashi closed his eyes against the pain and willed the tears away, clamping down against them yet again.

"No Gen, it won't hurt forever. Me and Hayate won't let it. We love you." Kakashi said, leaning back slightly he grabbed Genma's face within his hands carefully, forcing the older man to look up at him. "We love you. Nothing will take that away. Nothing will change that. Do you understand me?"

"I understand." Genma said, throat tight with emotion. "I love you, too."

Kakashi nodded, feeling overwhelmed. It had been such a rough week, his mission had been an assassination, then yesterday getting back only to find out Hayate was abnormally ill and this morning with the big mouthed chunin. The tears, the pain, the bitter cruelty of their life it was pulling at him, latching tightly onto things he thought long buried away. Kakashi felt himself wearing thin and he wasn't sure how much more of this he could honestly take. He leaned forward kissing Genma harshly, enjoying the warmth and life of the man before him, the soft push and pull of the mouth against him, the strong hands grabbing at his back pulling him forcefully forward, searching and seeking more. More, more, more, it was the only thought that kept pounding through Kakashi's head, suddenly overwhelmed and drowning within all the senses sparking to life.

Genma took control almost in an instant pushing Kakashi against the wall, as if he could somehow sense this was what Kakashi needed. Kakashi allowed the domination, allowed himself to be pushed and pulled and petted. He allowed the sweep of hot tongue to enter his mouth without resistance, allowed the pulling of his hair, the arching of his neck and back. He allowed the control to melt away, allowed the warmth to calm his racing emotions.

Genma dominated him entirely, overpowering him in a way that he'd only ever allow Genma too. He could trust no one else with this power, and they both knew that. Kakashi knew that Genma needed to feel this control, this power, this dominance. Just as Genma knew that Kakashi needed to be pushed, needed to be controlled and leashed. They allowed themselves a few more heated moments of indulgence, burying the pain and diving into the momentary escape. The stress faded away, as they continued to take and take and take from one another willingly giving up what the other needed without complaint.

Genma leaned back, dark eyes fixated on the younger man in his arms, noting the vulnerability in the one uncovered eye, the slight tremble to pouted lips. Genma leaned forward placing soft chaste kisses across Kakashi's jaw, before placing one last lingering and soothing kiss against those reddened lips.

"It's all going to be okay," Genma said softly, eyes locking yet again with Kakashi's. Genma knew that Kakashi needed him to take over, he could see the breaking signs, and Genma knew Kakashi all too well to be fooled by his air of dominance and arrogance. Kakashi was anything but secure with himself. Kakashi sighed and his body visibly sagged into Genma's arms even further, basking in the comfortable feeling of just finally being able to let go. "Everything will be okay, and we'll all be perfectly fine. Okay?"

"Of course," Kakashi answered. "You'd never let us be any other way."

Genma smiled then, a soft smile that finally reached his eyes and Kakashi felt another icicle melt away and another door open. Believing for the first time in so long that he was finally doing something right with his life, and so Kakashi smiled back.

"Don't be too mad at Ko," Genma said finally, watching Kakashi closely. Kakashi looked away, the anger coming back a little as his body tensed slightly in Genma's arm, before the older man tightened his hold. "Kashi, Kotetsu never means any harm. He just gets a little excited and ahead of his own mind sometimes."

"He loves you," Kakashi said finally, slowly tilting his head and watching the play of emotions as they flashed through Genma's eyes. Genma's mouth slowly stretched quirking up into an almost devious smirk. Kakashi watched in fascination as Genma's eyes narrowed, alight with an almost playfulness he'd yet to ever see.

"Are you being possessive?" Genma said, and chuckled when color bloomed across Kakashi's unmasked cheeks. Grumbling to himself Kakashi glared half-heartedly. "Kotetsu may love me, but he isn't and never will be in love with me Kakashi. There's a difference, you can love someone without the attachment or attraction that You, Hayate and I have for one another."

"He still loves you," Kakashi mumbled miserably, his resolve to hate Kotetsu forever fading away quickly.

"And I love him," Genma said, watching as Kakashi's eyes widened and a flash of hurt crossed his face almost too quickly for Genma to detect, before he guarded and locked it away tightly. "You keep that all locked up and this will never work out. I love Kotetsu in the same way that you loved Obito." Kakashi's hands tightened against Genma's back, as he gasped softly.

"You would dare to –"

"Yes, I would dare to. Who the hell do you think you are?" Genma said harshly. "You just expect me and Hayate to open up to you further and further, to just give and give to you? Are you just going to take then Kakashi? Take and take until there's nothing left for us? I love you Kakashi, I love you so yes I dare to bring Obito up, to compare him to Kotetsu. I dare because I know you, and I care, and I love you."

"I love you, too." Kakashi whispered softly, pressing his lips against Genma's cheek as his eyes brimmed with tears.

"I care about Kotetsu and Izumo as if they were my younger brothers, I feel the urge and need to protect them. Both of them matter to me, in a slightly different and unique way. I'd never put them before you or Hayate, but I put them before nearly everyone else in my life. Can you understand that?"

"Yes," Kakashi said softly, and for the first time he began to finally understand the true depth and power of Genma's heart. "Yes, I can understand." Kakashi lifted his eyes, meeting Genma's to show him just how much he did finally understand. Genma's face softened instantly, brushing a finger down the side of Kakashi's face slowly.

"Good, I may love them. But I am in love with you and Hayate, I hope you understand that also Kakashi. Kotetsu's fascination and adoration of me is completely harmless. He loves me in a way a younger brother would, one that truly understands the depth of such a gift. Kotetsu would never ever purposely harm me in any way, he'd rather stab himself," Genma said slowly, his voice deep with emotion and his eyes open as Kakashi continued to stare into their endless depths.

"I do. I understand, I'm in love with you both, also." Kakashi whispered his voice low and tortured. His chest burning and bursting with emotions he'd kept under complete control for far too long. And Genma realized for the first time just how young Kakashi still was, just how lost his soul was, how hurt his heart was. Genma allowed himself a moment of sadness for the man in his arms, the strong and silent man that never let Genma see all this hurt and despair.

"We should go back, make sure 'Yate's okay." Genma said softly, pulling Kakashi into his arms holding him before making a decision and lifting the younger man up into his arms. Kakashi didn't struggle or make any attempts to protest the action he merely wrapped his arms around Genma's neck and buried his face into the warm, soft skin there. As they made their way back to the bedroom, Kakashi realized that he'd finally stopped putting Hayate's health before Genma's.

"You know it feels odd to be carried by a man, smaller than myself," Kakashi teased softly, smiling to himself as he nipped at Genma's neck.

"I'm shorter, not smaller. I have quite a bit more muscle mass than you do. Your body is so slim," Genma whispered softly, pushing Kakashi up against the wall suddenly, sliding a hand down Kakashi's body from neck to knee. Kakashi squirmed between Genma and the wall, breathing harshly as he closed his eyes on a moan. Genma pressed a lingering kiss against Kakashi's pliant mouth, before hefting Kakashi back into his arms and once again making his way towards his room.

"You lousy tease," Kakashi mumbled before he bit Genma's neck harshly. Genma winced, and glared down at Kakashi who merely smiled innocently up at him, looking all too content within his arms. Genma came to a slow stop just outside his room, Kakashi looked up at him curiously.

"Pull your mask up Kashi," Genma said softly, smiling at the man in his arms. Kakashi blinked slowly, chuckling before pulling up the mask quickly, grateful that Genma was always thinking ahead, and keeping track of him. Genma shook his head with affection, before pushing his way into his own room, finding the complete silence instantly suffocating. He noticed how Kotetsu flinched away as they'd entered the room, and Hayate was at his side in an instant worry evident in his dark eyes.

"What happened to Kashi?" Hayate said softly, hand petting down Kakashi's face softly.

"He's okay," Genma said softly, leaning forward to kiss Hayate happy with the knowledge he could now do so whenever he wanted. Genma enjoyed the look of surprise that covered Hayate's face, before he coughed deeply and smiled up at Genma. Standing up on his tip toes, Hayate once more attached his mouth over Genma's. Kakashi mumbled something causing the two to pull back slightly and tilt their heads down.

"What was that?" Genma said on a laugh.

"I said that you two were suffocating me." Kakashi said slowly, mock glaring at the two.

"Poor Kashi," Hayate said slowly, brushing a fleeting kiss against mask covered lips.

"Poor Kashi indeed," Kakashi said on a laugh, tilting his head up towards Genma. "Kiss?" Genma couldn't stop the smile or the laughter that bubbled forward at Kakashi's almost young innocence, as he leaned down to give Kakashi just what he'd asked for.

Izumo had slowly made his way over to Kotetsu, who was still currently sitting against the wall. The two chunin watched in fascination, and wondered how they hadn't noticed all this time. Kotetsu felt even worse then, unable to control the whimper that escaped, and Izumo quickly turned towards his partner who was suddenly shaking with deep sobs.

"Ko?" Izumo said softly, hand lifting to pet at the slightly younger male's wild hair. Kotetsu didn't seem to hear him, just continued to sob and murmur softly. Izumo turned towards his three friends, eyes wide and fearful. Genma sighed and turned away from the two chunin, taking a few steps and laying Kakashi down on the bed softly. He smiled down, before brushing a hand through the gravity defying hair and placing a soft kiss against his cheek. He turned and grabbed Hayate who yelped slightly, placing him next to Kakashi on the bed so swiftly that Hayate had to close his eyes for a moment to stop the world from spinning. Genma then also placed a soft kiss against Hayate's cheek, pulling at the lock of hair that had fallen into dark eyes before smiling yet again. He leaned back pulling the covers up, tucking the two younger men underneath them securely. He leaned down, staring at the two confused boys currently snuggling together under the covers.

"Always you first," Genma whispered, looking at Kakashi intently. Kakashi seemed to realize what Genma was going to do, he whimpered slightly before his eyes darted to where Kotetsu and Izumo currently sat. Secure in the knowledge that neither could see him, he pulled down his mask and then looked up at Genma.

"Kiss," Kakashi said his voice deep and childish, yet loud enough to ring clearly throughout the entire room. Genma leaned down, kissing Kakashi thoroughly.

"Always," Genma said, before tilting his head to look at Hayate, allowing Kakashi to readjust his mask. Hayate smiled slowly, his eyes warm and accepting. "Always." Hayate nodded before reaching for Genma, hands snaking out from underneath the piled on blankets. Genma leaned into the warm arms, brushing his lips across Hayate's, surprised at how erotic the sickly taste of the younger male's mouth really was. Genma slide his tongue slowly across every surface of Hayate's mouth, memorizing the feel and taste of the endless cavern. Hayate whimpered softly as Genma pulled away, dazed eyes staring back at him from underneath the dark fringe of hair that had fallen into his eyes yet again. Genma gave them both a lopsided grin before extracting himself from the tangle of arms, and turning towards the two chunin, one shaking and one concerned.

Genma made his way quietly across the room, his heart hurting slightly at Kotetsu's obvious pain. Kneeling down next to Izumo, he brushed a hand over Izumo's head softly, causing the scared chunin to turn helpless eyes towards him. Genma smiled slightly, tweaking Izumo's nose affectionately before turning all of his attention towards Kotetsu.

"Ko," Genma started softly, one hand still pressed against Izumo's face to offer silent comfort. Kotetsu flinched slightly, but made no move to lift his face towards the other. "Come on KoKo, look at me." Genma whispered, using his own unique nickname for Kotetsu. A nickname no one else dared to use because it angered Genma, and annoyed Kotetsu enough to cause them more trouble than it was worth. Kotetsu was special to Genma in a way that no one else seemed to understand, except for Izumo possibly. Genma glanced at Izumo, and saw the immense hurt and worry etched across his youthful face. Too young, was the only thing Genma could think. They were both too young for this much pain and hurt.

"I'm sorry," Kotetsu finally said, his voice thick with tears but clear enough to understand. He sniffed softly, causing Izumo to sigh in return. Genma smiled softly, even after all these years they still had yet to get out of the habit of their nearly normal sounds. It was almost like a form of silent communication. I'm okay, and I'll always be here. Genma had yet to see anyone work together, live together, fight together, grow together quite like Kotetsu and Izumo. They'd nearly become one person, and to the world outside their closest friends they were one entity. It was always have you seen Kozu? Never Kotetsu and Izumo, just Kozu. Their names combined much like the two chunin themselves, Genma didn't ever want to see what might happen if one of them was lost and the other survived. Because honestly, he didn't believe that the one left behind would actually survive at all.

"Koko, come here," Genma said slowly, lowering himself to sit on the ground and holding his arms out towards the still softly sobbing chunin. Kotetsu peeked at Genma before scrambling into his lap and wrapping thin arms around Genma's neck tightly. Genma sighed, wrapping Kotetsu within his arms securely.

"I'm so sorry," Kotetsu whispered voice breaking and tight. "So sorry."

"It's okay, I know you are." Genma brushed fingers through Kotetsu's wild mane of hair slowly, looking at Izumo over his shoulder who was currently leaning against the wall breathing deeply and staring up at the ceiling as if it held all the answers to life. "I know you didn't mean to hurt me, and I'm okay. It's going to be okay, I promise."

Kotetsu nodded, whimpering into Genma's neck as he continued to hold on for dear life. Kotetsu's mind was a whirl of anger at himself, hysteria over Kakashi's threat, uncertainty from Hayate's earlier words, concern for Izumo, and complete shame for what he'd done to Genma, what he'd said to the first person to ever seen him as something more than just part of Kozu. Genma was the first person to really look at Kotetsu and Izumo, the first person to recognize them as something more than just what they were together. He taught Izumo how to play Shogi, and took him under his wing in all things stealth and seduction. Genma's technique in both subjects were the best and the safest of all the shinobi within their village currently. Whereas Genma had also nurtured Kotestu's more adventurous side, his need for speed, openness and care. Kotetsu acted tougher than he was, and Genma saw all of that. Saw the fierce love between the best friends, the lovers, the partners. And he did nothing but help them up time and time again, wiping away the blood, dusting off the dirt and patting them on the back with nothing but a whispered, Well done boys. And every time it was nothing more and nothing less than what they searched for from the older shinobi, someone they both adored and looked up to in their own ways.

"I love you KoKo," Genma whispered softly, blinking back the pain from the harsh gasp he'd barely heard coming from the direction behind him. Letting it slide for now, knowing that Kakashi wouldn't let it pain Hayate before he had a chance to explain. Genma met Izumo's eyes, and they were looking at him in relief. "And I love you too, Mo." Izumo smiled then, his soft simple smile that was full of acceptance, understanding and openness, everything that Izumo resembled. Genma couldn't help but see so much of himself in Izumo, and he believed that to be one of the reasons Kotetsu was so attached to him, in such a profound way.

"Love you too," Kotetsu murmured against his neck, and Genma could see the reply in Izumo's eyes both knowing that a response between them was not necessary.

"Now you need to watch that run away mouth of yours, don't you?" Genma said with a smile, tugging on Kotetsu's hair so he would look at him. Kotetsu smiled softly, eyes still unsure and pained. Kotetsu nodded softly, reaching a hand behind him knowing Izumo would latch onto it. Genma couldn't help but smile as Izumo's hand slide into Kotetsu's and pulled the still slightly shaken chunin into his own arms.

"Thank you Gen," Izumo said softly, holding Kotetsu in his arms like a small injured child, petting at his hair once again. "We came to get you, before this disaster. Hokage needs to see you about something by morning; he said it isn't a rush exactly. You know, in his cryptic way."

"Thank you," Genma said softly before rolling to his feet and reaching down to help Izumo up with his bundle. "You take Ko home okay? If you get any crap from Hokage, you tell the old man I said you needed it and forced you both."

"Thanks Genma, really I don't think he could handle you not forgiving him." Izumo said so quietly Genma had strained to hear him.

"Izumo, I will always be there for both of you, always. I care about you too much, so until you either attempt to kill 'Yate or Kakashi, or somehow manage to be stupid enough to get yourself killed I'll always care, I'll always be here." Genma said softly, pulling the two chunin into his arms tightly before kissing each of their foreheads and sending them on their way.

Genma continued to stand at the door, even after the two chunin had already exited his apartment. Allowing the silence to soothe his aching heart, life was just such a bother, such a struggling mess of misery and stumbling attempts at making in through. What were they all even doing? They were doing nothing, nothing at all except blindly tripping their way through this uneven unpredictable journey, hoping for another day, another night, and another happy moment. He sighed leaning his head against the door frame and wondered what the hell was going to happen next, he wasn't sure how much more his body could handle. He felt as if he'd been pulled through an endless torture session with Ibiki, hours and hours of nothing but poking, pulling, pushing, prodding. He shuddered at the mere thought, shaking his head before turning back towards the two men silently watching him from beneath blankets.

Genma was hit with how ridiculous the two feared shinobi really looked, like little kids peeking from beneath blankets, waiting for a treat or a reprimand. Genma chuckled to himself, shaking his head again and wandering towards his bed currently holding his two most important people captive beneath their endless mountains of trapping blankets.

"You're too forgiving," Kakashi said finally, masked pulled down around his neck once again.

"They matter too much," Genma said slowly as he lowered himself to sit on the edge of the bed. "They're too important, and too close. It would hurt me more to lose them, than to put up with a few harshly misplaced words."

"You've got a soft heart Gen," Hayate said smiling softly. "A soft, loving heart that only makes you all the more attractive." Genma blushed slightly at the praise, before shaking his head.

"It was mostly selfishness you know. I'm not sure where I would be without them, they saved me along the way just as much as I may have saved them. Kotetsu's laugh, Izumo's smile. It's just as much a part of me, as my own two hands are." Genma finished, smiling towards the two men that stared at him with open and loving eyes. "Thank you for understanding."

"Always," Kakashi whispered.

"Always," Hayate echoed.

And so it was in those moments, troubled and weary hearts finally found their way to a happiness that could lighten even the darkest of days. They'd found their purpose, their meaning, their Will of Fire. And so, in the morning light with love in their eyes, a slightly bruised and battered weapon, a soft hearted orally fixated man, and a fierce yet sickly shinobi embraced one another and finally felt a level of contentment that many shinobi never live quite long enough to achieve. And it was then, in those moments of softly impractical bliss that three tortured shinobi found their place among a whirl wind of death, blood, pain and loss. They'd been handed something precious, to guard, to fight for, to protect with their very lives if the occasion should ever arise.