Chapter 40


Tenzo knew he'd have to get over to Gai's apartment early if he wanted to catch his teammate at home, so he left right after he finished breakfast with Bensaku. Gai's apartment was only ten minutes away by rooftop. Tenzo half-expected it to be green, but it was an unassuming off-white color, with the typical red tile roof. He landed on the street and walked into the apartment building properly because he wasn't Kakashi.

Maito Gai was on the registry of names in the lobby, so Tenzo didn't have any trouble. He went to the right door and knocked.

"Who's there?" a familiar voice called.

"Tenzo."

"Tenzo? I'll be right there!" The door flung open almost before Gai finished his sentence.

Tenzo flinched back at the suddenness and the gust of wind. "H-Hi."

"Good morning!" Gai beamed. "What are you doing here?"

Tenzo straightened with immense self-control. "Well...you did say you hoped you could see me again soon."

Gai brightened, which Tenzo hadn't thought was possible. "That's right. I did." He gave Tenzo a hug and dragged him inside.

Tenzo allowed himself to be cheerfully manhandled and looked around with awe. Gai's apartment wasn't at all what he expected. He'd thought there would be dirty clothes and gym equipment lying around. Instead, he found a sunlit space full of antique furniture and potted plants. In a nook where he'd expected a small dining room table was a low, square table and two pillows for sitting on, one at either end. "You've got some really nice stuff in here. Is that a shogi table?"

Gai laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "Thank you! It was my grandpa's. I was his only living relative, so I got all his stuff when he died. I didn't want to get rid of it. I loved him too much."

It must be nice to have that kind of history, Tenzo thought. He tried to imagine himself with a grandpa and failed. "What was he like? Your grandpa?"

Gai looked startled for an instant, but then a warm smile bloomed on his face. "Great. Really great. He taught me everything I know. Sort of. I went to school and everything, but I really learned the most from him. He was a teacher, you know. They called him the Turtle Sage. He fought on a mission wth Jiraiya-sensei once. I remember he told me the story. He and Crane Sage and Toad Sage – that's Jiraiya, you know – had to fight this guy who could make eyes sprout all over his body. It was really weird."

Tenzo was reeling.

Gai added, "They call the oldest person who holds a certain summon the 'Sage' of it."

Tenzo furrowed his brow. "Doesn't that make you the Turtle Sage?"

Gai laughed. "No! You have to be old."

Tenzo assessed that logic dubiously. "If you say so." That would make Sempai the Dog Sage, too. He wondered if anyone would ever call Kakashi that.

"Anyway, you didn't come to talk about that," Gai said apologetically. He gestured to his sofa. "Won't you sit down and have something to drink?"

Tenzo bowed, reminded of his manners. "Thank you very much. I don't need anything to drink, but I appreciate the offer."

"Are you sure?" Gai asked.

Tenzo straightened with a smile. "Well, if you insist. Thanks."

"It's no problem," Gai declared.

Tenzo sat down on the only modern piece of furniture. It was a sofa built like a bench with large square cushions. In a corner he could see a traditional futon, which was nothing more than a thin mattress with a matching blanket and pillow. I guess Gai grew up traditional. Wow. His foster mother's place was very modern. He'd slept on a bunk bed while he was there.

Gai marched into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. "What would you like? I have water, juice, and tea."

Tenzo was startled. "Juice?"

"Yeah." There was a smile in Gai's voice. "I've got orange, apple, carrot, and juice I make myself."

"Orange," Tenzo said hastily. He didn't want to know what kind of juice Gai made himself. His teammate had mentioned making juice a few times before, and it was always stuff like tomato-apple-banana juice. "Thank you."

"No problem," Gai said. He brought Tenzo a bottle of orange juice and a bottle of apple juice for himself. He sat down beside Tenzo on the sofa and leaned back comfortably.

Tenzo popped the lid and took a drink. "It's very good."

"I get it from the market down the street," Gai said. "Fresh Juice Co." He paused. "What can I help you with? It's very unusual for you to come to me instead of Kakashi, isn't it?"

Tenzo shifted. His time had come. "I was wondering if you would give me private tutoring lessons. So I can surprise Kakashi-sempai."

"I'd love to," Gai said, brightening. "What do you want to learn?"

"Taijutsu. You know mine's really weak."

Gai laid a warm hand on his shoulder. "Nonsense. Underdeveloped is the right word. Hard work will fix that."

"Is that how you learned taijutsu?" Tenzo asked.

Gai beamed. "Of course! There's no other way to learn. Other jutsu take special talents, but taijutsu is all effort."

Tenzo tilted his head, confused. "Are you sure? You mean, there aren't any taijutsu geniuses?"

Gai chuckled. "The only way someone can be a genius at taijutsu is to be a genius of hard work."

In spite of Gai's playfully dismissive tone, Tenzo found a kind of logic in that explanation. If that's true, then you're as much a genius as Kakashi.

He suffered a pang of inferiority complex. How come I'm the only non-genius here? He knew it was an irrational thought. Bensaku was pretty ordinary, too. And Kakashi and Gai paid for their talents in weirdness. Tenzo wasn't sure he ever wanted to be as weird as they were.

"Can you help me work hard at improving my taijutsu?" Tenzo asked aloud. "I kind of need a schedule and someone to drive me."

Gai beamed. "I can do that. When are you free? It doesn't have to be the same time every day, but I will caution you that consistency is best. Taijutsu is all about practicing rigorously until an action is imprinted in your body's memory."

"My body's memory?" Tenzo asked, distracted.

Gai nodded enthusiastically. "Your body is a powerful ally and can think for you in stressful situations. Knowing your body has the right thoughts is a huge relief going into battle."

"Oh...kay..." Tenzo doubtfully accepted that.

They got down to discussing times. Almost every day Tenzo got up between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, spent ten to eleven doing chores, noon relaxing and cooking, and his favorite show came on at two. From three o'clock until dinner time he did nothing at all. So they planned to meet at Gai's training grounds at four o'clock every day, after Gai and Kakashi were done doing their training.

Tenzo figured that once they were companionably engaged in training he could pump Gai for all kinds of information about Kakashi. It would be only natural to discuss their teammate. And then he would know Gai's attitudes about things and know how to convince Gai to throw Kakashi a birthday party.

xXx

Kakashi had an idle day leading up to training with Gai. He washed a few dishes and did a small load of laundry, then sat in front of the TV reading comics. Finally, at one o'clock, he got properly dressed in his work clothes and idled over to the woods.

When he arrived at the training grounds, Gai was already there letting the wooden posts know who was boss. Kakashi snorted at Gai's vigor.

After another thirty seconds Gai leapt back, wiped his brow with his towel, and walked over to Kakashi. "I was just getting warmed up."

"I could see that," Kakashi said wryly. For most people, that would be their entire workout.

Gai twisted this way and that, stretching. "Young Tenzo visited me today."

Kakashi hadn't thought Tenzo was particularly comfortable with Gai. "Why did he do that?"

"He wants private tutoring so he can surprise you," Gai said.

"Don't you think that telling me undermines the surprise?" Kakashi asked.

Gai paused in his stretches, looking perplexed. "No."

"It does, a little," Kakashi explained. He held up a hand before Gai could say anything. "Don't apologize. Just don't give me status reports, and I'll be fine." Usually he wouldn't bother to act surprised for someone, but Tenzo was different. "I'll practice my surprised face."

"Why do you need to practice?" Gai asked.

"Because when I look surprised, people think I am surprised, and when I am surprised, no one knows it. My face freezes up." It was a little inconvenient that Tenzo was set on surprising him, given that surprise was the emotion he conveyed least well of all out of all of them. But he'd do his best.

Gai rubbed his chin. "Come to think of it, I've noticed that. Every time I surprised you as a kid, you just stared at me for a moment and then glared. I never knew if I managed to surprise you or not. But you said that I did."

"Nn." Kakashi started on his own stretches.

"Ne, Kakashi, how come your face freezes up?"

Kakashi froze. Flashes of memory too quick to follow flickered across his senses like a bird's wing as it fled. He unclenched his body with habitual control. "Nothing."

Gai looked concerned. He laid a hand on Kakashi's shoulder. "What is it?"

Kakashi shook his head. "Nothing. No reason."

Gai just stood there.

Kakashi sighed. I should have known I couldn't get rid of you that way. "It relates to what I said about ninjas and honesty."

Gai squeezed his shoulder gently. "So you mean that someone taught you how to keep from making faces. That's why you only seem to have three expressions until we're alone."

Kakashi nodded, not looking at him. "Yeah."

Gai hugged him and held him for a while. Kakashi didn't mind. Finally, Gai asked timidly, "Were they mean?"

Kakashi sighed. "Oh, Gai." He wondered how Gai had led such a sheltered life. Part of it must be that grandfather of his. Somehow, Gai must have learned to ignore people or be oblivious of their opinions. Or, perhaps, to be eternally optimistic about being able to change their opinions through hard work.

Gai waited.

Kakashi was forced to actually consider the question. "Maa...Mean isn't the right word. It's more like..." If 'mean' was out of the question, he didn't know what word to pick. But 'mean' had a whole host of assumptions and contextual meanings that he wasn't sure applied. "Pragmatic," he decided.

Gai was silent.

Kakashi knew this was because 'pragmatic' implied that the behavior was necessary, and Gai disagreed. He had the uncomfortable feeling that he was, in fact, trying to justify the behavior that in a lot of ways still hurt. And yet he couldn't help saying, "My father always wanted me to join ANBU someday. He was just giving me advanced training early. To give me an advantage. He always did that."

"Advanced training is advanced because beginners can't do it without hurting themselves," Gai said sternly.

Kakashi flinched.

Gai hugged him tightly and kissed his neck, under his jaw. "If I'd learned Reverse Lotus before I'd learned basic taijutsu, I would have ripped every muscle in my body and broken my neck doing it."

Kakashi knew that was true. But... "Mastering one's own facial expressions is not taijutsu."

"No, it's taijutsu of the heart, which makes it more difficult," Gai declared.

Kakashi knew when he was defeated. "Are you going to fight me or not? I thought you wanted to spar."

Gai smiled and let him change the subject.

xXx

Kakashi won, but it was a hard sparring session,. They both ended up drenched in sweat and panting with exertion. Halfway back to Kakashi's house they resorted to supporting each other down the street instead of stumbling around. Of course, part of the problem was that Gai challenged him do two hundred push-ups as quickly as possible, and he'd been in a competitive mood.

"Oh, thank god," Gai said when Kakashi's house came into view.

Kakashi snorted. "I'm comforted to know it isn't just me."

As soon as Kakashi opened the door they virtually fell inside, and neither one of them said much in the shower except mumbled utterances of, "Pass the soap," and, "This feels good." Kakashi's muscles appreciated the hot water. He sighed in relief as he shut the shower off and rubbed himself dry with a nice, fluffy towel. His laundry this morning had been mostly towels.

Gai followed suit, drying himself off with slow thoroughness. "How do you get your towels so soft?"

"Fabric softener." Kakashi glanced at Gai quizzically.

Gai dried his face again unnecessarily. "It's nice. It smells like lavender too."

"Yep." Kakashi raised an eyebrow.

Gai grinned sheepishly. "I'll have to get fabric softener today. I never thought of what it was for."

Kakashi didn't ask. Instead, he dropped the towel in the hamper and padded into his bedroom. He glanced at the clock on his nightstand. Only three o'clock. At least two hours to go before dinnertime. "What do you want to do before we go to Mogami?" Mogami was a sushi and seafood restaurant he wanted to try out tonight. Since Gai was buying, he wasn't going to worry about the possible price.

Gai's voice dropped into husky registers. "We're clean, we've expended energy in training for the day. What do you want to do?"

The meaning of that question was obvious. Kakashi felt a pulse of arousal. "Well, we can rest on my bed a while."

"Good idea." Gai smiled at him.

Kakashi sat down on his side, feeling warm at the way Gai looked at him. "And we could...touch each other at the same time and make each other feel good."

Gai padded over and sat down beside him. "How do you want to do that?"

"We can lie on our sides," Kakashi said. He lay down. Gai swiftly followed, facing him. He slipped his arm over Gai's hip, measuring to see if he could reach. He thought he could. "Can you reach? Try it."

Gai's warm, callused hand explored his buttocks. "Mm-hmm."

Tingles of arousal made Kakashi half-hard. He squirmed, his face getting hot. "Gai...mmm..."

Gai kissed him, gently and thoroughly exploring, tracing Kakashi's lips with his tongue and sucking on Kakashi's lower lip.

Kakashi moaned in the back of his throat and squeezed Gai's hip.

Gai made an answering noise and slipped his tongue into Kakashi's mouth, slowly caressing.

Kakashi's nipples flared hard, and the tip of his erection pulsed. He felt himself getting wet. A shiver ran through him as he returned the caresses, their tongues sliding together.

Gai squeezed his bottom, and suddenly he couldn't wait any longer.

He sat up and pulled the lubrication out of the top drawer of his nightstand, then rolled back into position, holding the bottle between them. He looked into Gai's eyes, his heart beating faster. Part of him couldn't believe they were going to do this. The rest of him was wound tightly in anticipation.

Gai looked back at him, wide-eyed and interested. Waiting for him.

"We're going to coat our fingers," Kakashi said.

Gai nodded. "I know. Like you had me do before."

"That's right." Kakashi uncapped the lubrication, and they each had their turn. Seeing their fingers glistening in the light made Kakashi's half-hard erection twitch. He put the cap back on the lubrication and shifted. "Alright...now we reach across..."

They draped their arms over each other in almost perfect unison.

"What do I do?" Gai whispered.

A tremor of hot tingles passed through Kakashi. He flushed. "What you did before."

"I mean, who goes first?" Gai asked, still whispering.

Kakashi swallowed. "I will."

"Okay."

Kakashi gingerly parted Gai, his fingers stiff with excitement, and used his slicked up index and middle fingers to rub Gai's entrance. Warmth pooled in his erection at the feeling of Gai's entrance contracting.

Gai moaned.

Kakashi felt Gai grow hard, their erections barely brushing. He bit his lip. Gai's fingers, feeling even larger than they were, slipped into his cleft and parted him, exposing his entrance. The tip of his erection burned, and he felt wetness.

Gai paused.

Kakashi thought Gai might need some encouragement. "Gai...yes..." He rubbed Gai's entrance again, shyly, gently circling.

Gai let out another moan, shuddering, and stroked a fingertip down across Kakashi's entrance.

Kakashi's entrance contracted sharply and pulsed. He cried out. His legs were shaking, tingling. His nipples had hardened, too. He moaned again at Gai's second touch and arched his back, pressing back against Gai's fingers. "Yes!" He played with Gai's entrance at the same time.

Gai moaned plaintively and lifted one leg, bending it at the knee, exposing himself more to Kakashi's touches.

Kakashi quivered. Watching Gai do that, eyes squeezed shut and face flushed, was too much for him. "Now slip a fingertip in," he whispered. He circled Gai with the tip of his index finger and leaked as Gai mirrored him, caressing his entrance with intent.

Gai's finger entered him at the same moment he slipped his fingertip into Gai. Lights exploded behind his eyes, his erection surged with heat, and his back arched. He could feel wetness, both from Gai and from him. They leaked on each other.

Neither one of them had the breath to make a noise. The room filled with the sound of their panting. Gai's erection throbbed against his.

They were still, each waiting for the other. Finally, Kakashi whispered, "Gai?"

"Yes?" There was a moan in Gai's voice.

"Do you want me to move?"

"Yes, please."

"I want you to move."

At the same time, they tentatively pulled their fingers out and then rubbed back in, Gai following along so well that Kakashi felt Gai was reading his mind. Gai's entrance took in his finger easier this time, and his own entrance was more relaxed, too. They kept this up, pulling their fingers out, rubbing them back in, each mirroring the other. It was like a sparring match, but much more arousing.

"Kakashi..." Gai was quivering and hot against him.

Kakashi slid his finger all the way in, no longer teasing.

Gai's head snapped back with a wail, and he came.

Kakashi was shocked. He froze, his finger still inside of Gai. His heart was beating so hard it hurt. "Did that feel good?" Was it that good? His ears were hot.

Gasping, Gai slid his finger into Kakashi all the way, making Kakashi's insides turn hot. He moaned, and a shudder ran down his spine. "Yes...more, Gai..."

Gai gently pumped his finger until Kakashi was so amped up he exploded, emptying out. It only took a few moments.

Kakashi blacked out, dizzy with pleasure, and woke up with his cheek against the mattress, feeling flattened in the way of chakra exhaustion, only nicer. His body didn't ache, and he didn't taste metal. Instead, he was heavy and floating at the same time.

Gai looked similarly passed out beside him. Kakashi took in the slack jaw and the wild strands of black hair stuck to Gai's forehead. Gai was incredibly beautiful.

Kakashi suddenly realized his finger was still inside of Gai and pulled it out, embarrassed. He'd passed out still penetrating Gai? Gai had passed out that way, too? He'd never thought it could be comfortable to have someone's fingers in there for too long.

Pulling out his finger woke Gai with a moan. Gai blinked and shivered, trying to focus his eyes several times before he was able to meet Kakashi's eyes and smile in recognition. "That was good..."

Kakashi agreed. He nodded, grinning and blushing.

"Going slowly made it feel better," Gai said.

Kakashi nodded again. "Hai."

Gai furrowed his brow. "Then going even more slowly would feel even better?"

"There is a threshhold," Kakashi said. "At some point the effect plateaus, and exceeding that point and going slower is a form of torture."

"What do you mean?" Gai asked.

Kakashi looked away. "Well, if you never let your partner come, it's called orgasm denial. I personally find the idea disturbing. Some people do it because...they think it's going to make the next time feel better. They think the longer they hold out, the better the eventual orgasm is going to be. I don't know if it's true, but I don't want to try that. I wouldn't like to be tortured, even if there is a reward at the end."

Gai stroked his side with his clean hand. "I'd never torture you, Kashi."

Kakashi looked at Gai and smiled. "I know that. I'd never torture you either."

Gai kissed him.

"Let's get cleaned up," Kakashi said.

"When we can move," Gai said. "My legs are still numb."

Kakashi chuckled. "You must have really liked it, then."

Gai nodded, turning bright red. "I did. It was the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. I want you to do it again."

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Tonight?"

Gai protested, "I didn't say it had to be tonight. We can rest first. I don't want to put you out, either."

Kakashi kissed him. "You're not putting me out. You never do." That was basically the truth, and any times it wasn't true weren't worth mentioning. As long as Gai never wanted to move in with him, he doubted that they could get on each other's nerves.

He imagined fingering Gai again after dinner and grinned. While he never would have thought of it himself, the idea had substantial appeal.