Title: Missed Opportunities

Author: Tali

Summary: Kakashi & Iruka are having trouble getting the timing right.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or its fandom. I am not making any money off of this fiction. This story in no way represents canon.

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Iruka swallowed looking out at the hot springs. He could do this. It wasn't like 'he' was the only one in there. Shikaku, Inoichi, and Shibi were also present. Swallowing Iruka turned to go back to dress, he couldn't do it. Had 'he' not been in there Iruka would have joined the others but Iruka was sure he would embarrass himself if he went into the water now. He was tip toeing back toward the showers when his face turned red as a tomato. He really did need to put a muzzle on that kid.

"Iruka-sensei!" Naruto hollered coming out of the showers with Shikamaru pushing him.

"Move Naruto, I'm not going to stand here in a towel all day." He muttered a vague 'troublesome' as he passed us.

"Are you coming into the pool too?" Naruto grinned. He was always glad to see me and it lightened my heart a little. Of course the Nara brat outted me and I sighed, if the others hadn't heard Naruto's yell they had definitely heard Shikamaru telling them that Naruto caught me on my way in. That kid had to know my secret. He spent far too much time in the office these days thanks to his giant genius stupid brain.

"Iruka!" Three of the four jounin called him in.

"I guess I am, Naruto. Let's go." He smiled nervously but moved to the water. Iruka did his very best not to blush as he slid into the water lifting the towel only seconds before the water touched it. He sat trying to relax. Eventually he closed his eyes and listened to the stories being traded. He even smiled at a few of Naruto's, chuckling when Shikamaru told the truthful version of the same story. Eventually the others started to leave and Iruka sighed as silence came over the pool. This was what he loved, being alone in the hot soothing waters with just the bubbling waters and crickets.

Of course his mind finally moved to its favorite subject to fantasize about. The rumors of his prowess in bed were everywhere and if he'd really slept with everyone who claimed to know how talented he was, Iruka didn't think he would have time for missions. Of course Hatake was late to everything so maybe he was getting to half of those people. Shaking his head Iruka sighed a frown tugging his lips. Not that it mattered really. All of the people who seemed to have any truth to their descriptions had one thing in common they had something unique about them. Kakashi was a collector of sorts. It was also no secret that his last relationship had been in his ANBU days with Itachi Uchiha who was not only unique but beautiful.

Iruka was just Iruka. Plain Iruka, there was nothing unique about him. He never surpassed Chunin, he taught school, and worked in the Hokage's office. He was a background character in the story of his own life. Letting a sad sort ofnoise out Iruka pulled his pony tail down and sunk under the water before coming back up and blinking the water out of his face. Relaxing back against the rocks once more he allowed his body to float in the bubbling waters. He had to stop that train of thought or he'd end up at his apartment crying into his tea at his sad lonely life which was just more then he could take. He should date, he should accept one of the offers he'd gotten. He hated dates, they usually ended in him allowing the man who would ask him out to go too far and leave before Iruka woke that morning. It was unfulfilling and humiliating when the man would smile and collect his assignments as if nothing had ever happened. Not that he could blame them if the situation were reversed he would likely question the honor or intentions of such a man. In the end Iruka believed he had no one but himself to blame for his current situation. Yes, that's what he would do he would accept a date and NOT give into his body's needs. He would pursue a relationship with someone. Of course he had no desire to have anything with anyone who was not the positively breathtaking Kakashi Hatike. The ninja teased him relentlessly, his good eye always held a smile, and despite being a complete pervert or perhaps because he was a complete pervert he had the air of a man who knew exactly how to make a man happy.

A smile drifted over his face. He could only imagine the things that man could do with his hands. He knew from various occasion of having seen the jounin shirtless that his body was fit with a slight tan. Iruka wondered if he had tan lines and blushed. There had been many scars on his torso and Iruka had to sit on his hands not to touch and kiss them learning each one. He couldn't help but wonder what lay beneath that mask. If his lover's were to be believed the only time he removed it was to shower and in bed. Another sad frown marred his face, he would never know but maybe he would let Kaiuske take him out. The ninja had been asking almost every week and every time Iruka had politely requested a rain check.

88

Kakashi closed his book because the steam was getting to it. Once the others had abandoned the spring and a quiet had fallen over the area he'd relaxed finally. When he'd heard that Iruka was joining them he'd come close to excusing himself but knew his sudden departure would be noticed. Since the teacher had seated himself at the farthest end of the pool and Naruto was there to block the sounds of the other ninja Kakashi had decided it was safe enough. He'd assumed that Iruka had left as he'd come, with Naruto. It wasn't until he looked up that he noticed the chunin was still present.

The silver haired man watched fascinated by the looks that fell over his face. The brunette was adorably expressive. He remembered the day of decision for the chunin exams. It was rare for anyone to argue with him when he'd made a decision. Kakashi hadn't meant to but he'd begun teasing the younger man and grown to savor the blushes that followed his suggestive comments. His one good eye widened when the pony tail came out and the mousy brown fell to his shoulders. It was beautiful. There was no other word for it.

Unfortunately he'd heard a conversation earlier between two fellow ninja. One had been asking the chunin out every week now for a month but each time been given a rain check. He'd insisted that Iruka had better be a good enough lay to be worth such hassle. To his horror the other man had insisted that the sweet man was. With a pricey meal and enough sake Iruke took only a little kissing and petting before walking him home. The ninja who seemed to have knowledge of Iruka that was starting to give Kakashi violent thoughts instructed his friend to be sure to make the goodnight kiss deep and press the man into the door and open it, from there Iruka would tumble them inside and into bed. The best part Kakashi learned from the soon to be injured ninja was that the next day Iruka would give a few hopeful looks but quickly realize the truth of what the night had been and never say anything or act as if it were a big deal. The two had not been able to continue their conversation as a well placed paper bomb had knocked them both unconscious and only mildly injured.

Kakashi had been in quite a fury when the other jounin had found him and convinced him what he needed was a trip to the springs. They'd talked about students and children and laughed when Kakashi had mentioned that Naruto was going to be the death of him. Adding that he had no idea how Iruka had managed the wild ninja. Of all the people to answer he hadn't expected Shikaku to respond that Iruka had infinite patients that the man was one of his wife's few friends. The two other ninja agreed that Iruka was a great friend and a good ninja. Shibi had informed the group that his wife had been trying to fix the chunin up with her younger brother for months but he always bowed out. Inoichi growled stating quite firmly that there were too many careless ninja who didn't realize their actions were hurtful. Again a round of agreement had gone up and as the conversation continued Kakashi learned that many of the jounin played guard dog against the less reputable ninja who had traded stories of their evenings with Umino to friends. Anyone with caring eyes could see how each failed date and subsequent behavior as if nothing had happened chipped away at the already damaged self worth of the younger man. However none of them knew how to approach the man about it and so instead they just tried to warn off anyone who might further hurt the man who helped turn their children into fine ninja.

When Iruka had come back up from under the water, hair wet, water falling off the beautifully chiseled chest Kakashi had swallowed and his hands had fisted because he'd wanted to touch. A few moments later he watched as more of that amazing physique was literally floated into his view and immediately pulled his head band up. No he had no right to capture that sight but he wasn't stupid enough not to take advantage. He was also very sure the brunette had no clue he still had company. Once more the emotions passed over Iruka's face and his heart tugged when the sad smile returned and this time it stayed.

Suddenly Kakashi hated that look. It didn't belong on Iruka's face. No Iruka should smile and blush and rage but he should never look so sad. He hated who ever had put that look on the teachers face. Without instruction his body moved until it was right next to Iruka's and he let his thumb caress the scar over Iruka's nose.

"AH!" Iruka jerked hitting his head and winced, sitting up. "Ow! Ow! Don't you have any manners?" His eyes opened and widened before he blushed blinking. Oh Kami he'd been there just floating in the water for the whole world, no worse for Kakashi to see. "Kakashi-sensei I didn't realize you were still here. I'm sorry. I wouldn't have ever… mwahmwwa…" Chuckling Kakashi did the only thing he could think of to do, he kissed the smaller man. Much to his surprise and pleasure Iruka returned the kiss and was quite good at it.

"You should never frown, Iruka you are far too beautiful to let such a thing on your face. You should stop calling me sensei I am not your teacher…" He cocked a brow at the brunette suggestively adding. "Unless you want me to be." He felt immense pleasure at the blush that colored Iruka's face.

"Hatake-san that is… thank you. That is very kind of you to say. Ahhh…" His eyes fluttered shut as Kakashi's fingers gently ran through his hair. "Cheat." He muttered as he shivered.

"My name is Kakashi as you well know Iruka." He glanced around and the brow above his black eye raised. "Shall we take this conversation somewhere more appropriate?" He filed away the reaction Iruka had to fingers in his hair for later.

Flushing once more Iruka nodded, "I'll follow in a moment." He first needed to get control of his body before he embarrassed himself.

Chuckling Kakashi moved into Iruka's space. "I have a similar problem. No need to be embarrassed. Would you like me to walk you home?" Iruka nodded and got out wrapping a towel around his waist still flushing, being sure to use the cold water when he rinsed off before dressing.

Biting his lip Iruka looked at Kakashi. "I haven't had dinner yet…"

"No." Kakashi cut the younger man off. "There will be no dinner or sake Iruka. I am going to walk you home." He felt that same tug at his heart when Iruka nodded as if he were struggling with something. They walked to his small apartment and on the doorstep Iruka unlocked the door, then Kakashi watched slightly confused as the brunette hesitated and turned back to him.

"Would you like to come in, Kakashi?" The air left Kakashi's lungs at the look of desperation in Iruka's eyes. They were searching his face for a sign of something and when they didn't find whatever they were looking for, the brunette turned away. "I have some lovely green tea but maybe another time." Blinking the copy-nin was shocked at how quickly the chunin moved and slammed his door shut and flicked the lock.

Scratching the back of his head Kakashi couldn't shake the feeling he'd just screwed up. He was fairly sure he'd done the right things. He hadn't felt the other man up, he hadn't leered, he'd avoided the pratfalls of dinner and sake which he knew would lead to Iruka's bed, and yet he'd nearly had his nose taken off by the door. "Damn." He just hoped Iruka would still talk to him in the morning.

On the other side of the door Iruka swallowed over and over as panic rose in his throat. What had he done? He had made a fool of himself in front of his crush. He as too old for crushes and he was being foolish. Kakashi always teased him. He was a playful silly game for the silver haired man. He'd made a fool of himself and now hoped he'd covered well enough that Kakashi wouldn't bring it up again. Just to be safe he would offer to take Kaiuske up on his rain check if he was still interested. If not he was sure word would get around that he was free that night and he would get an offer for a drink if nothing more promising.

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I didn't intend to write another chapter to this but Kakashi annoyed me until he got his say in things. He also didn't like the way I left Iruka. Evidently I am a mean evil writer.

8

Kakashi sighed watching Iruka work. The silver haired ninja was sitting comfortably in a window one leg stretched out the other dangling lazily with the latest issue of Itcha Itcha in his hand. He had no interest in his beloved novel right now because his favorite hobby had become Iruka watching. It had been since that ridiculous argument over their students. He would arrive early for assignments and wait his turn, using the additional time to find a nice perch and watch Iruka. The brunette was kind and gentle even with the more fierce ninja. Iruka chatted with some about their children and he always remembered their names. Children he was teaching, children he had taught, and children he would teach every name and no one else seemed to notice how miraculous that was. Kakashi could hardly remember the names of all the Rookie's! It was only a matter of time before Kakashi had started flirting, nothing too much he didn't want to scare the Dolphin off but the pink flush was reward enough.

Every day without fail Kakashi would amble in during Iruka's shift and watch. When Iruka didn't work he rarely bothered having someone else pick his assignment up for him. Iruka didn't date much and when he did it appeared he was incredibly picky no man had made it past the first date with him, but Iruka was professional and never hinted at the failed romantic attempt. If he hadn't been so secretly happy about it Kakashi might have felt sorry for the poor bastards who were given a chance and then rejected. Hatake had been working toward asking Iruka out himself when he'd over heard another ninja as and Iruka had politely turned him down. Kakashi watched and listened as week after week the poor SOB was turned down. You'd think he'd give up by now of course had it been Kakashi he wouldn't have given up easily either.

It wasn't until a week later he'd learned why the other ninja had been so persistent. He was fairly sure the creep had gotten off too lightly. Then had come the hot springs and he'd kissed Iruka not once but twice. That had been very nice because Iruka was a surprisingly good kisser. The copy-nin had been expecting something else perhaps more timid but instead Iruka had been like a spark that built to a fire in short order. Then they shared the walk to the teacher's home and absolute failure. He had been invited in. It had struck him as he walked away what Iruka had offered, what he'd been trying to say to Kakashi while completely sober and without some bizarre sense of debt. It was then that the jounin wondered what Iruka really thought of him.

The next day had been like a bucket of cold water dumped on him. Iruka was professional and polite with everyone including him, except those happy eyes were blank for him and never moved past his shoulder. This behavior continued for three days and Kakashi was ready to drag the other ninja to a back room and either shake or kiss some sense into the man. Instead he sat in his window watching Iruka work. When the chunin stood and moved around his table to another man Kakashi fought the urge to move between them. He watched the gentle ninja help the ass hole into a chair, smile at him, whispered discussion was had. When Iruka knelt beside the chair and with soft caresses of the pad of his fingers traced one of the new scars on Keiuske's face Kakashi saw red. He didn't need his sharingon eye to tell him that Iruka had nodded in acceptance of a date.

Sliding silently out of his window the jounin left the tower and headed off to his other thinking place. It had taken a couple of hours but he'd come up with a plan. The sun was setting when Kakashi took up residence against Iruka's door. He heard the pair before he saw them.

"You really are something Iruka. So cute and sexy. You're incredibly lovely all flushed from the sake… I wonder do that glow go farther down?" Kaiuske was pulling Iruka close nuzzling his neck and moving up for a kiss when the book snapped shut as they rounded the corner catching Iruka's attention.

Jerking away at the site of that spikey silver hair and horrid orange book Iruka gave a proper blush, the sort Kakashi loved putting on his face. "Kakashi! What are you doing here at this hour?"

"Yes, Kakashi what are you doing here?" The tall ninja slid a possessive arm around Iruka, who's eyes just widened when he looked down at the arm and back up into an eye that was far too calm.

Relaxing himself purposefully Kakashi held up a bag. "I'm afraid I'm having some problems with Naruto. Every one I've gone to has instructed me that you would be best able to help." He smiled beneath his mask as Iruka straitened and moved away from the man holding him toward his door shaking his head.

"What has Naruto done now? Give me the bag and I'll check it." Iruka was much more serious and moved into the house inviting both men in for tea. He set the kettle on and took the bag out back. After a few moments he returned and smiled. "What was he doing with these?"

"He was setting them up around Sai's bedroom while he slept." Kakashi blinked worriedly. Trust Naruto to be cause and answer to almost any problem he had. "Why?"

Chuckling Iruka put the bag in what appeared to be a chest. "They would have turned the boy orange and made him smell like sour lemon all day. HOW he managed orange and sour lemon I'll ask later." Pouring the tea he looked at his date. "I'm sorry about this evening. Naruto is a special person to me."

"That little trouble maker? Just because you taught him doesn't mean he's still your problem." Keiuske argued glaring at Kakashi. "He's on your team. That makes his your problem and it's a little rude of you to stick around now that you've gotten your answer."

Kakashi was never so greatful for his mask as he was in that moment watching Iruka's irritation rise. "Naruto is NOT a trouble maker. He's a prankster and he never HURTS any one which makes him a very good prankster. Kakashi is currently responsible for Naruto in the field that he cares outside of those duties is noble and Naruto is NOT just a former student. I still spend a good deal of time with him when he's not on missions. I consider him a younger brother." Taking the cup of tea away Iruka moved to the door. "Thank you for a nice evening Kaiuske but I think it's time for you to leave."

Once the other man was gone Iruka turned back and moved to clean the kettle he was thoroughly annoyed. Kakashi moved to wrap arms around Iruka's waist. When the brunette turned to him, Kakashi wasted no time in diving for a kiss. After a few minutes of intense kissing Kakashi found himself planted in a wall.

"YOU! You did that on purpose. You ruined my date!" Iruka was accusing fire back in his eyes.

"Mah, mah Iruka… that man was no good, he was trying to sleep with you!" Kakashi decided the truth was the best option.

"This may come as quite a surprise to you Kakashi Hatake but I am attractive to some men! Also I don't need your help failing on my own dates. I do that quite well. Now if you have finished with whatever game you're playing tonight please leave." Iruka pointed at his door.

"No." Kakashi swallowed wondering how dead he was about to be. "No. I like you. That guy was going to use you and pretend nothing ever happened. You deserve better." Iruka flushed red, looked up at Kakashi blinking as if Kakashi had turned into a dancing koi fish and then fainted right there on the floor. Scratching the back of his head with a sigh the copy ninja frowned. "Not the response I was hoping for but at least I'm still breathing."