Iruka opened the door to find a strange man with spiky white hair standing on his welcome mat. His hand hovered over the alarm plate but there was something vaguely familiar about the strange man that made him hesitate. There was no obvious insignia on the stranger's plain black clothes to hint of why he was here, but the cut of his clothing and the discreet bulges in certain places screamed military. His face was completely covered save for a small triangle of skin around one blue eye.

Sometimes bluntness was the best approach. "Are you here to kill me?" Iruka asked, affecting a bored tone. If he was, that would make the stranger the third this week. It was starting to get rather annoying. Expensive, too. The standard bribe for the local constables had gone up considerably in recent years.

The stranger raised an eyebrow. There was a subtle shift in his blank expression, almost imperceptible. He seemed faintly amused. "No." The stranger had a nice voice. Iruka found that he liked it, which made him hope all the more that the stranger wasn't here for a nefarious purpose. Silence stretched between them, broken only by the occasional hum of a craft taking off from the nearby spaceport. Iruka stared, hoping that his expression made it obvious that he expected the stranger to elaborate. It worked. "Your son sent me."

Iruka reappraised the man. He was too old to be one of Naruto's classmates or one of his squad. Given Naruto's sense of humor, and his last video chat in which he'd gone on and on about how worried he was that Iruka was alone and unattached, that brought a few possibilities to mind. "You're not a hooker are you?" A growing part of him hoped the answer was 'yes'.

The man's expression shifted even closer to outright amusement, but it was a strange transition, almost as if emotions weren't entirely native to him. "No. He said you might be able to fix me."

Iruka's eyes widened and he ran his eyes over the stranger's form once more. There was nothing to hint that the stranger was anything but an ordinary human. He'd heard rumors that someone had built a line of robots that could pass for humans, but they'd been just that – rumors. But this, this was real and right in front of him and he could barely believe his luck. He stepped aside. "Come in, come in. Make yourself at home."

The stranger had to duck slightly to get through the door. Iruka's apartment, like most of the district was old, predating the Mars colony, and it had been made for much shorter people. Travelling on a spaceship must have been hell on the poor man. The door slid shut as soon as the stranger was through.

"What's your name?" Did he even have a name or was it just a designation? Suddenly his strange expression made so much more sense. A million questions flashed through Iruka's mind and he bit his lip to keep them all in.

"Kakashi."

Iruka ushered Kakashi over towards the couch. There were a few magazines scattered on one of the cushions, and he quickly scooped them into his arms and dumped them onto a side table. He hadn't been expecting company, at least not the kind that would make it past the front door.

"If you don't mind my asking, what's your model number? I've never encountered someone quite so..." Iruka waved at Kakashi's body as words failed him. Kakashi took a seat on the couch. The stiff way he held his body seemed uncomfortable but it was likely that he'd simply never learned to relax his posture. He probably didn't even feel the tension, or was used to it. Iruka wondered if Kakashi got much off time at all and what he did with it. Did he have hobbies? Likes and dislikes?

"Project Live Wire. Konohagakure Model Number 009720."

Iruka marveled at how natural the words sounded. Whoever had built Kakashi's language processor had done an amazing job. There wasn't the slightest hint of machine in the way he spoke.

"Remarkable." Iruka sat on the coffee table opposite Kakashi. Their knees touched and it didn't feel at all like brushing against metal. "I would never have guessed that you weren't..." Iruka blushed and silently cursed his mouth. He shouldn't have said that. It was rude to call out differences. There were commercials and everything, about how they were just as good as the rest of society.

Kakashi quirked an eyebrow once more, not seeming the least bit offended. "Human? I get that a lot."

"Right." Iruka released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding with an uneasy laugh. It came out a bit strangled. He really shouldn't waste Kakashi's time too much more or he might be in danger of being smitten. Genma would just love that. The teasing would never end. "So, you needed something repaired?"

Kakashi nodded and then lifted up his shirt, revealing a pale expanse of well-muscled chest. Iruka barely stopped himself from drooling. There was a large square of bandage on Kakashi's side, which Kakashi slowly peeled away. Iruka unconsciously leaned closer, marveling at the way the bandage pulled against Kakashi's skin. He knew it wasn't real skin but it looked like it and moved like it. He ached to touch it and find out just how real it felt.

The bandage fell away to reveal a large gash, maybe about a foot long and an inch wide, exposing the circuitry inside. The cut looked pretty deep. Sparks glistened inside the wound from cut wires. Iruka almost expected to see blood lining the edge of the wound but it was strangely clean save for a small drip of grease leaking from the inside. He reached forward automatically and stopped himself centimeters from the gash. "Does it hurt?"

"No. It's just... uncomfortable." Iruka looked up into a face that was surprisingly close. He hadn't realized how far forward he'd moved. He was practically sitting in Kakashi's lap, though Kakashi didn't seem to mind. He didn't seem much of anything at the moment. Now that they were closer, Iruka could make out thin gold wiring running through the blue of Kakashi's eye. It was gorgeous. "Can you fix it?"

Iruka blushed and leaned back quickly, putting a safe distance between them lest the urge to touch overwhelm him again. "Yeah, I should be able to. What's your timeframe?"

Kakashi's expression soured. "I'm on indefinite leave at the moment, so there's no great rush."

Iruka nodded. "I've got a guest room you can use. It might take me some time to get everything working again." He glanced down at the complex series of wires visible beneath Kakashi's skin. "I'm not used to working with anything quite as complex."

Kakashi nodded and pressed the bandage back into place. Iruka felt a slight pang of sadness as Kakashi pulled his shirt back down. "Why did you think I was here to kill you?"

"Oh." Iruka blinked. "That." He'd forgotten he'd even mentioned it. "No idea. The last two assassins weren't much of the talking type. Don't tell Naruto. He'll only worry."

Kakashi's eyebrow arched elegantly. Iruka somewhat envied him for that. His eyebrows were nowhere near as expressive. "I think that's something worthy of worrying about."

"I can protect myself." Iruka frowned and leaned back further away from Kakashi. "I did serve in the war, even if Naruto likes to conveniently forget that. I've got a friend in the constabulary who's looking into it." That was technically true if burying the bodies so deep in bureaucratic nonsense that they'd never be traced back to Iruka counted. Any attempt at identifying who his would be assassins were or where they'd come from had dead-ended.

Kakashi looked faintly interested. "Which war were you part of?"

Iruka stared. His mouth fell open and he closed it after a moment with a loud snap. "What do you mean, 'which war'? There was only one."

Kakashi almost smiled and didn't answer. Iruka stared harder. He frowned.

"There was only one war. I would have noticed if there were any others. The news would have reported it."

Amusement crept onto Kakashi's face, so close to imitating an honest human expression. If Iruka hadn't known to look for the slight differences, he almost would have been fooled. "Some wars don't make the news."

Iruka started to argue and then stopped himself as it clicked in place – the lack of a fully developed personality, the subtle military clothing, his designation. "ANBU. You're ANBU aren't you? I'd heard... I mean, there were rumors about secret wars but I didn't think..." Kakashi didn't deny it, just kept smiling that not-really-a-smile-but-close. Then Iruka's brain connected the fact that his beloved, troublemaking, foolhardy son had sent an ANBU here for help, which meant Naruto knew Kakashi at least moderately well, possibly even worked with him. Naruto. ANBU. "Shit."

"I would appreciate if you would keep my classification a secret. It's supposed to be confidential."

"Supposed to be?"

Kakashi shrugged with a faint grin. Iruka could imagine how fetching – and infuriating – that expression would be if Kakashi ever learned to fully form his smiles. "Mistakes happen. I was told you still hold decently high clearance."

No one was supposed to know about that, but Iruka guessed it was a day for sharing things that weren't supposed to be known. He stood before Kakashi could surprise him with something else, like a sexy strip tease dance or something equally as implausible. "Well. On that note, let me show you to your room."

Kakashi towered over him when he stood. He was still grinning. "Naruto said I would like you."

Iruka's face burned red. Maybe Naruto had been trying to set him up after all.


The circuitry inside of Kakashi was far more complicated than anything Iruka had ever dealt with. He relied on Kakashi for the schematics to give him a sense of what went where, though all in all it wasn't too different from the robots Iruka was used to working on. One good thing about having a computer for a brain was that Kakashi was his own user's manual, and a well versed one at that. The main complication came from having such a small area to work with.

It was strangely creepy stretching Kakashi's skin open to give him enough room to work. Kakashi lay on his side on Iruka's work table, a table that had never held a livingish person before. It was strange watching Kakashi's chest move in the imitation of breathing. His skin was as soft as Iruka had hoped, exactly like real skin should feel but colder. He didn't even wince when Iruka clamped his skin back, stretching the gap another inch open.

The work itself wasn't bad once he got room to work. Most of the damage was relatively superficial. It looked horrible – a tangled sparking mess, but he just had to reconnect the wires, re-solder a few parts, and then patch Kakashi back up. If he didn't know any better, he'd say it was done on purpose but the thick layer of metal hiding beneath Kakashi's skin suggested otherwise. It would have taken a strong, purposeful blow to get through that. Iruka didn't want to meet the weapon that caused that wound.

Iruka perched on a stool next to Kakashi's crotch with a soldering gun in one hand and a thin pair of tongs in the other. His life was a strange, strange thing. Through all of Iruka's prodding and soddering, Kakashi remained eerily silent.

It was starting to get on Iruka's nerves.

"So," Iruka said. His voice was too loud in the still workroom. "Tell me about yourself."

Kakashi turned his head to the side and looked up at Iruka with a blank expression. He was a pro at those. "What would you like to know?"

Iruka rolled his shoulders to ease some of the tension. He considered the question while he reconnected one of the many loose wires. He settled for simplicity. "Where are you from?"

"Konohagakure."

"Do you have any family?" Kakashi looked at him for a long, drawn-out moment. "Well, yes, I know you don't have blood family but do you have anything you consider family? Your maker? Others of the same line? I always thought of my robots as children."

Kakashi frowned. "You have Naruto."

Iruka's smile turned wistful. "I didn't always. I adopted him when he was seven. Even then, I still considered my creations my children. I mean, you invest so much time into building something, you put part of yourself into the creation." There was something strange in the way Kakashi was looking at him. Iruka blushed. He must have said too much. He shrugged and turned back to the repairs. "Or at least that's how it is with me."

Silence stretched between them. There were so many wires. It was insane how complex Kakashi's insides were, and he only got to see a little part. He kind of wished he could look at more of it but at the same time it felt far too invasive. Some things were better left mysteries.

"I would have liked that," Kakashi said, long after Iruka had lost any hope of an answer, "if you had been my creator."

Iruka couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.


A noise woke Iruka. He snapped into consciousness in a second but stayed still, feigning sleep while he worked out what had woke him. His room was dark. He could make out the faint shapes of his furniture – dresser, chair, pile of clothes on the floor, scattered tools. The sounds of launching spacecraft whispered through the walls but it was something else that had woken him.

There was a faint rustle of movement. For a brief second, he imagined it was Kakashi sneaking in to cuddle with him but he discarded that fantasy instantly. He doubted Kakashi had any idea what to do in a romantic situation. No, reality was likely much more sinister. Iruka slid his eyes closed and shifted slowly, inching his hand under the pillow towards the dagger he kept there.

The intruder crept closer. Iruka could hear them breathing, which was proof enough that it wasn't actually Kakashi. His hand closed around the hilt of the knife just as the intruder made it to the edge of Iruka's bed. They both acted at the same time. The intruder lunged. Iruka rolled to his knees and started to lash out. A bright flash of light exploded in front of him and he dove to the side rather than completing his strike, his eyes burning.

"Fuck." Iruka shielded his eyes with his free hand and stared at the space next to his bed. One body had become two, though not for long as Kakashi lowered his glowing hand. The intruder slid off with a wet thud. "What? What did you... Lights!"

The room lit up gradually as the lights turned on. There was a strange woman clad in black on his floor. Blood was rapidly pooling around her due to the fist sized hole in her chest. Kakashi's hand was still glowing, like it was made of pure energy. Iruka tried to stand but his knees gave out, sending him back down onto the bed.

"You... that..."

The light around Kakashi's hand dimmed. "Are you alright?"

Iruka stared up at Kakashi. "There's a dead body in my bedroom. Of course I'm not alright."

Kakashi's lips quirked towards a smile. "I meant, are you hurt?"

"No. Of course not." Iruka stared at the blood. There was a lot of it. That was going to be a bitch to clean up. "Shit." He belatedly realized he still had the knife in his hand. He tossed it onto the pillow. There was a body on his floor. At least the other two had had the decency to die outside. "Fuck me."

Kakashi's eyebrow reached new, unexplored heights. "Right now?"

"What?" Iruka glanced at him, then back at the dead body, then back to Kakashi as the words slowly made their way through his brain. "Wait, what? Did you just..."

Kakashi grinned, and for once he seemed to actually have a hang on the expression. It did look rather good on him. "You offered."

Iruka ran through the last few things he'd said in his head. There'd been a lot of swearing and then... fuck. He blushed bright red. "Well, I wouldn't mind, but not right now. Dead bodies kind of throw me off my game."

"Amateur."

Was Kakashi seriously flirting with him? Maybe Iruka had actually died, caught in the line of fire from whatever that thing that had happened to Kakashi's hand was. It'd gone through the assassin's chest like it was paper. Iruka bet it could probably slice through metal pretty easily too.

Wait.

Iruka narrowed his eyes. "You hurt yourself on purpose, didn't you?"

Kakashi shrugged. Was it just Iruka's imagination or was Kakashi a bit more animated all of a sudden? "Naruto asked me to look after you. He may have given me a few pointers on how to get on your good side."

He'd just been played. By an android. Fuck.

Iruka glared. "I am going to kill you and then I'm going to find Naruto and murder him too." His blush took most of the heat out of the words.

"But then you'd have to clean up the body all by yourself."

"Fuck." Iruka stared at it. What the hell was he going to do about that? He was pretty much out of favors with the local police. They were going to have to arrest him this time. It was much harder to explain away a dead body in his bedroom than one on his lawn.

"I've got it." Iruka glanced up at Kakashi. "You don't have to worry."

"But..."

"ANBU." That would certainly go a long way towards smoothing things over with the police. The ANBU operated above the law. Local law enforcement didn't have the authority to touch them.

"I thought you were on hiatus."

Kakashi's grin turned sly. "Technically it's more of a reassignment."

Iruka stared. He'd been played a lot more than he'd thought. "I really am going to kill Naruto the next time I see him."

"He was worried about you." Kakashi shifted on his feet, inching away from the blood encroaching on his space. "It should work itself out pretty soon. We had some leads on who's behind the assassination attempts – ever heard of a guy named Orochimaru?" Iruka shook his head. "Ah. Well, he'd heard of you. Naruto's team's taking care of him."

Iruka frowned. It sounded like a lot for Naruto to handle, even with a team. "You should be with them."

Kakashi shook his head. "I got the most important job – guarding you."

He didn't know what to say to that. His face felt like it was on fire.

Kakashi stepped closer. His hand – thankfully not the bloodied one – rested lightly on Iruka's chin, tilting his head up. "Maybe while I'm here you can teach me a bit about all that family stuff you keep talking about."

"Okay." Was Kakashi asking what Iruka thought he was asking? There was no way. It was all too surreal. He was used to thinking of Kakashi as an expressionless robot but here he was, emotions on full display. He wondered how much of either was an act.

He didn't wonder for long after Kakashi's lips closed over his. He was okay with a little acting, especially when Kakashi kissed that good.