A little over nineteen and a half years later.


Iruka had his head stuck in the fridge and was in the process of fishing out a head of cabbage when he heard the sound of his front door opening.

"Dry yourself off before you come in, Naruto!" he yelled, pointing blindly behind himself to where he had hung a towel right in the entrance-way. Konoha was experiencing its third straight day of rain and he did not want to have his floor dripped on.

"Maa, you're always so strict, sensei."

Iruka jerked at the familiar drawl and nearly brained himself on one of the low refrigerator shelves. "Kakashi?" He stood and turned, gaping at the jounin. "You're back from the mission already?"

Kakashi waved two fingers lightly at him in greeting, head mostly hidden as he scrub-dried his hair with the towel. When he was done his silver hair stuck up even more than usual. "I'm back from the mission already," he confirmed.

Which was either a very good thing or a very bad one. Iruka swallowed. "Dinner's almost ready. I was expecting Naruto sometime tonight so there will be more than enough." And he ducked back to retrieve the cabbage again.

As he cooked, he felt more than heard Kakashi's presence inside the small house – their house, which they had shared for almost three years now. No wonder Naruto had not wanted to show his child-self where he had lived – first visiting the bathroom and then ambling back to recline upon their low couch.

Iruka brought dinner out and Kakashi ate like he'd had nothing but ration bars for days.

Smiling slightly, Iruka watched him and thought again of the younger version of Kakashi: the proud, stubborn genius who had carried his shinobi way in his heart and loved his sensei like a father. True, it had not been an authentic representation of Kakashi as a child, but some mix of a young body with adult wisdom.

The jutsu which had hit them both had been cast by the last dying nin on the battlefield – incomplete – and succeeding in turning them into ten-year-olds instead of ten-month-olds, as had been intended.

Looking back now, safely within hindsight, Iruka knew there were threads of his adult self in his child form; some of his fighting ability, a little more maturity perhaps, and of course his love for Kakashi.

Kakashi finally slowed down eating enough to catch Iruka watching him. With a lecherous grin he sat his empty plate down, gripped Iruka by the waist and pulled him nearly into his lap. Iruka made a surprised sound; it took all of his ninja skill not to tip his own plate and instead put it safely to the side.

Kakashi's mask was still lowered below his chin from his meal and he bit lightly at Iruka's exposed neck. When the other man squirmed, he licked a hot line up to his jaw. "My hero," he murmured.

He flushed. "Don't call me that."

"Hmm," Kakashi rumbled against him. "You stayed by my side when you easily could have run, when I ordered you to. Seems pretty heroic to me, sensei." And he tipped his head up, mouth moving against Iruka's, and gave him a proper welcoming kiss.

Iruka wanted to argue the point, but the heat of Kakashi's lips – the missed and familiar scent of him – drove those thoughts from his mind. Iruka's fingers wound themselves into Kakashi's wiry hair, and the other hand became busy unzipping the jounin's flack jacket. He pushed it away and resettled himself more comfortably on Kakashi's lap, knees on either side of the other man's thighs.

It had been too long since they had a moment like this: Kakashi had been assigned for a mop-up and rescue mission only an hour after they had been restored to adulthood. Once Iruka and Kakashi had given their full reports, Tsunade had known there hadn't been any time to spare.

The kiss ended slowly, reluctantly, and Kakashi didn't fully pull away, but instead pressed upwards so that his lips were a bare inch from Iruka's ear.

"We were able to double-back to our previous location," Kakashi whispered and Iruka went still, knowing he was hearing the secrets of an S-class mission – one he was no longer a part of – but he didn't ask Kakashi to stop.

"Your guess was right, sensei," Kakashi said.

Iruka closed his eyes. "We had been betrayed." His suspicion was the reason why Kakashi had insisted on double-locking the scroll with both of their chakra signatures.

Kakashi's brief silence was as good as a yes. "Souta-san has been carrying classified information to the outpost about Leaf. Presumably there are other traitors from the other countries who have been missing shinobi. Apparently, someone has been indeed continuing Orochimaru's work, and decided to stock up their population with proven shinobi of their own."

Iruka clenched his fists. "How many?"

Again, Kakashi was quiet a moment before he spoke. "We found thirty-four infants and toddlers. Of those, we were able to restore seven using the counter-jusu. Apparently, there is a time limit." He sighed against Iruka's ear and pulled back, Sharingan eye closed, and a humorless smile on his face. "I'm afraid you'll be seeing some familiar faces in your class in a few years."

"…I see."

It would be difficult, he knew, not to treat the children as the adults they once were, but as brand new students, free of any baggage from their past.

Kakashi's soft smile said that he understood and when he kissed Iruka again, it was something slow, something profoundly grateful. Two children should not have been able to survive a day out in enemy territory – working together, they had nearly made it three. And against all odds, they had gotten themselves out, intact. Shinobi life was filled with peril. Coming back alive was a celebration.

And Kakashi set about showing Iruka just how heroic he thought he was.

Naruto wisely found somewhere else to eat that night.

~ Fin ~