"Want one?"

Kakashi, being an elite shinobi and a genius to boot, managed not to recoil from whatever it was that their client's daughter thrust under his nose. He was justifiably proud of his non-reaction, too, because at first glance, the whatever-it-was looked a lot like a dead cockroach. He didn't consider himself squeamish when it came to bugs - he'd run missions with an Aburame more than once in his ANBU days and never batted an eye - but that didn't mean he was particularly keen on having deceased roaches waved in his face.

Yamato peered over his shoulder curiously. "What is it?"

"It's a date," the girl said, in a tone that implied they shouldn't have had to ask. "Y'know, the fruits that grow on the palms?" She pointed to the branchless trees standing at various angles all around the oasis where they'd camped - in breezy, shady, open-sided wooden pavilions courtesy of Yamato - to wait out the hottest part of the day.

The Suna shinobi currently assigned to babysit the girl coughed politely by way of interjection. "I don't think date palms grow in Fire Country," she said, glancing at Kakashi for confirmation.

"Nope." Kakashi gingerly took the offering, holding it up to eye-level. It still looked an awful lot like a cockroach, just without legs or antennae and such. A glance sideways at Yamato's expression said he saw the same thing. "Soo...what does it taste like?"

The little girl rolled her eyes. "Just try it," she said. "You'll like it."

"It's sweet," the Suna-nin added, obviously working the diplomacy angle since it was her village that had requested Konoha's cooperation on this escort mission. She offered a small smile that may or may not have masked a grin of amusement. "Just peel off the outer skin and eat the fibrous bit inside. Oh, and mind the seed."

Kakashi blinked at the small fruit, words of polite refusal lining up on his tongue. He wasn't all that fond of sweet things, generally, and the look of it was still terribly off-putting -

"Well, go ahead, Senpai." Yamato nudged him lightly in the ribs, voice all guileless innocence. "You're not afraid to try new things, are you?"

...Yamato teasing him. Kakashi couldn't let that stand; it would upset the entire balance of the universe.

He pinched the date in two and managed not to shudder in revulsion when the papery outer skin split with a gentle crackling noise that reminded him far too much of the crunch roaches made when stepped on.

"Here," he said, waving the half with the seed at Yamato. "I'll share it with you."

Yamato, admirably enough, only recoiled a fraction of a centimeter. "Um, that's okay, thanks anyway - you go ahead."

Kakashi knew it wasn't exactly playing nice - Yamato looked up to him, had an old case of hero-worship bordering on an all-out crush that gave the Copy Ninja something of an unfair advantage over his kouhai - but he wasn't above laying on the charm for all he was worth in situations like this.

"Oh come now, Yamato," Kakashi all but purred, still holding out the half-a-date. He lowered his eyelid a smidgen more than usual, shifting his standard barely-interested stare into something that could almost be termed 'sultry', and turned Yamato's taunt back on him. "You're not afraid to try new things, are you?"

Yamato's cheeks colored slightly and he ducked his head with an embarrassed huff, swiping the date from between Kakashi's fingertips. He peeled off the skin and pulled the sticky flesh away from the pit, then held up the edible bit between his thumb and forefinger, glancing at Kakashi with a look somewhere between sullen and apprehensive. "After you."

The Suna-nin was watching them with a solemn expression but clear amusement in her eyes; their client's daughter just looked bored.

Obligingly, Kakashi peeled his own fruit out of its crackly skin and held it up, other hand poised at his mask. He glanced at Yamato. "Ready?"

"Itadakimasu," Yamato muttered, resigned and sardonic, then screwed his eyes shut and popped the date into his mouth.

Kakashi pulled his mask out just far enough to let the date drop onto his tongue, too fast for the action to really register with anyone who might be trying to get a look at his face; decades of practice made it effortless. He chewed the fibrous fruit stoically, thinking of anything but stringy bug guts - because bug guts weren't really stringy so much as squishy - and tried to focus on the flavor.

Which was...tolerable, he decided. It was sweet, yes, but mildly so, with a sort of earthy-green thing happening in the background. He couldn't say it was all that appealing, but it could have been worse.

Yamato, however, obviously thought that it was worse; Kakashi was sure that his kouhai's manners and sense of decorum were the only thing keeping Yamato from spitting the unpleasant fruit back out again. He managed to swallow it with difficulty, trying very hard (and failing, but he totally earned points for effort) not to grimace.

"Well?" the little girl asked, glancing back and forth between them.

"It's...different," Kakashi offered with laconic diplomacy.

Yamato flashed the kid a pained, sheepish smile. "It's not for me, I'm afraid, but thank you for sharing all the same."

The girl blew out a breath and waved a hand at them dismissively. "Man, they're good. You Konoha people just have weird taste."

"C'mon, kiddo, let's go check on your dad," the Suna-nin interjected, climbing to her feet. She shot Kakashi and Yamato an apologetic half-smile, though her eyes were still full of laughter, and led their client's daughter over to one of the other pavilions.

"Water," Yamato muttered, unbuckling one of the canteens from the pack beside him. "I haven't tasted anything that foul in a very long time. It's like something dead started rotting in my mouth." He took a sizeable swig, swishing it around vigorously to wash the taste away before swallowing.

"I've had worse," Kakashi mused, thinking of the power dumplings Gai had insisted would speed his recovery that one time years ago.

"And the texture - " Yamato shuddered. "Next time some kid offers you foreign fruit, Senpai, do me a favor and don't drag me into it?" His expression was an odd blend of annoyed, pleading and amused.

"Mah, well," Kakashi said, as an interesting thought popped into his head, "no promises."

"Of course not," Yamato muttered, lifting the canteen to his lips again.

Kakashi waited until his kouhai had a mouthful of water, then leaned in casually behind him. "Nah, Tehn~zou - " He drew the name out flirtatiously, the way that always flustered Yamato the worst, and got exactly the reaction he was trying for.

Yamato choked, coughed, sprayed the water he hadn't managed to swallow all over the wooden floor. "Dammit, Kakashi!" Kakashi always counted it a point scored in his favor when he pushed Yamato to the point that the 'senpai' got dropped. "Don't do that! We're in the middle of the desert - wasting water is a very bad idea!"

"Sorry, sorry," Kakashi said, even though he wasn't really, "but something just occurred to me."

Yamato looked suitably wary. "Do I want to know?"

Kakashi leaned in close, doing the 'sultry' thing with his eye again, and purred, "You and I just had our first date."

Yamato blinked, floundering, flushing bright red, and then groaned as the pun registered. "Oh, ha hah," he muttered, splaying a hand over his heated face in exasperation.

Kakashi just beamed, ignoring him. "Think I'll go check in with Suna's captain, see when we're heading out," he said, rising to his feet.

"Don't hurry back," Yamato groused, blush beginning to fade.

Kakashi tossed him a lazy salute with two fingers and sauntered off, satisfied that the balance of the universe was properly restored.

Originally Posted: 5/26/11