Hi all! Though this story is completed, I thought some of you might like a look at some scenes I had to take out. As you can probably tell from the way the chapters are arranged, I write by throwing together a bunch of connected scenes, then picking out the ones I want to keep. Some are removed because they're too long, sort of crappy, or focus too heavily on one particular moment, which messes up the pace of the story. As I come across the ones I chose not to include in my drafts, I'll post them, since some of you were very, very kind in praise of the writing style, and I thought you might enjoy browsing them.
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Asato arrived half an hour late accompanied by a burst of cold wind.
"It's really terrible out there," he complained, offering up an apologetic smile, "sorry I'm late."
Iruka had been prepared to leave for the last thirty minutes, and did not intend to be delayed any further.
"It's no trouble," he replied graciously, rounding the mission control desk, "everything is filed and ready to go. Stay warm, Asato-sensei."
"You too," Asato called to the closing door.
Iruka fought against the driving wind with his collar turned up, arriving at the bar chafed and disheveled by the cold.
Hayate remained, sequestered among a mountain of empty bottles and glasses, Yugao leaning close to whisper in his ear. The gesture gave Iruka a moment's pause, but he advanced anyhow, emboldened when he spotted Mizuki seated nearby.
Mizuki met Iruka's eyes as he approached, and from his expression of genial concern Iruka supposed he had seen Yugao murmur into Hayate's ear. He mustered a smile anyhow.
"Happy birthday, Hayate-san," he greeted.
"Oi, Iruka! Long time, no see. Have a drink, eh? Sit down, stay a while…"
Hayate was clearly drunk. Mizuki rose and rounded the table, clapping a hand on Iruka's shoulder.
"Let's get a drink," he suggested, to Hayate's enthusiastic approval. Yugao returned to her whispering as the two chuunin headed to the bar.
"Sorry about that," Mizuki sighed, now out of Hayate's earshot.
Iruka shrugged numbly.
"Is it what I think?"
The bartender arrived and took their orders, then disappeared for a moment to fulfill them.
"You know how women are," Mizuki replied, "it's always gossip. It'll die down soon enough."
Iruka paid for his beer and gulped half of it before Mizuki stopped him with a gentle nudge to his shoulder.
"How are you doing, anyway?" he asked, "You've been scarce."
Iruka scanned the bar for the cause of his scarcity, but found no Kakashi. He drowned his disappointment in another swig of beer, and glanced noncommittally at Mizuki.
"I'm getting better," he said. After a moment he added: "I've just been busy."
"Speaking of…" Iruka had nearly finished his beer, and could stomach the idea of returning to Hayate and Yugao even less than he could before drinking. His gaze flickered toward the door.
"Not so soon," Mizuki said pleadingly.
"I just…have a lot to get done."
Mizuki seemed to sense that Iruka did not intend to stay, and nodded toward Hayate and Yugao.
"I'll handle them," he offered.
"Thanks, Mizuki." Iruka left his empty bottle on the bar with a tip, and waved over his shoulder to a perplexed Hayate before setting off into the bitter cold.
First there was a moment of shock, and then an explosion of throbbing pain, and then blood streamed into his eyes. Someone jerked his hitai-ate down over them, obscuring his vision totally. Then they covered his mouth.
They transferred him somewhere, from the tent he had been preparing for himself and his teammate, dragging him through soft terrain. He thrashed wildly, and fought with what remained of his faculties; when they began stripping his clothes away, he thought he was being disarmed.
Someone spit on him. Iruka twisted his body and was punished with a fierce blow to his stomach that he could not curl against. Hands grasped his wrists and ankles and spread them outward, over-extending his joints.
A blade pressed into the flesh of his throat as the hand was drawn away from his mouth. He swallowed against the dryness in his mouth and struggled to even his breathing, but then there were fingers at the corners of his lips, prying his jaw open.
"If you fucking bite, I'll cut your fucking head off," someone warned remotely, and then his mouth was filled with flesh.
Iruka woke with a start and immediately covered his mouth, desperately hoping that he had not made any sound. The room was unfamiliar to him, but after a moment, memories of the previous night began to filter through his panic.
It's Kakashi's place, he told himself, just a nightmare.
Sweat cooled on his skin. He lay still for a moment to let his heart slow and his breathing return to a steady pace. He felt lightheaded, disoriented, and then, finally, ashamed.
There was no stirring beside him, and it gave him some comfort that he had not awoken Kakashi. When he was sure that he would be steady on his feet, Iruka carefully peeled the bedspread away from his body, and slid from the bed.
Earlier, he had glimpsed the door to the jounin's bathroom from the corner of his eye. Now he struggled to grope his way to it in the dark, deploying all his training as a shinobi to remain silent.
From his place in bed, Kakashi watched him go.
Iruka nudged the remnants of sleep from his eyes with his knuckles as he glanced around Kakashi's cramped bathroom. It reeked of copper and ammonia laced with stringent notes of cleanser, and though the surfaces were stained, they appeared to be sterile.
He eased the lid of the toilet closed with his foot anyway. A flash of garish pink and orange caught his eye; upon closer inspection, he discovered a series of half-rolled magazines stuffed in the space between the toilet base and wall. A brief rake of his thumb revealed as many pert breasts as stiff cocks, which did not surprise him.
In only his uniform pants, he folded to sit on the toilet, elbows on his knees, forehead in his palms. It felt unconscionably rude trying to find privacy in someone else's home, especially following such a singularly intimate round of sex.
Intimate? The word seemed as absurd in association with Hatake Kakashi as the entire arrangement, but there it was: Iruka could hardly begin to make sense of it. The pieces of his life did not seem to fit together. He had been happy, and then alone, and then in the most tremendous pain, and after a period of numbness during which he struggled even to do up his leg bindings in the mornings, Kakashi had appeared, apropos of nothing, and made love to him.
No, Iruka corrected himself, fucked me. During their first few encounters, Kakashi had seemed somewhat annoyed to do so much as finger him; yet only hours ago, the jounin had paused mid-thrust to kiss him, long and deep, as though he couldn't finish without it.
It made the guilt worse, not better.
And Iruka was accustomed to that sort of unexpected blow, to the tortured logic of recovery. He knew, and could have explained if asked, that having a nightmare that night was no different than having one any other night, and that Kakashi's tenderness did not cause him to recall what he never really forgot. He could have informed any curious party with perfect clarity that one nightmare after a session of fond, intimate sex did not mean he had become incapable of sharing something healthy with someone.
Still he felt the burden of his guilt press down on his shoulders like a tangible weight. He tilted his head up to scan the tile wall for any remark on the man sleeping outside, some suggestion of affect or personality, but it was blank. Outside the small sliding window high on the opposite wall, freezing rain continued to fall.
There was motion outside the door. Iruka focused instinctively on the thin line of space between the floor and the door, and discerned the sound of footsteps.
He leapt up at once, scrambling to flush the toilet and run the sink, hoping desperately that his fumbling wasn't evident. Turning, he released the lock and flung the door open, revealing Kakashi, impassive as ever.
Before Iruka could interject an apology for waking him, Kakashi spoke.
"Did you hear something?"
"Pardon? Ah, I'm, ah, sorry for waking you –" Iruka stepped out of the bathroom to allow the other inside, but he remained still.
"It's okay," he went on, as though Iruka hadn't spoken a word, "I heard it too."
"W-well," the chuunin stammered, uncertain, but again Kakashi cut in.
"Makes sense to be jumpy, sleeping over here. This line of work, you make your fair share of enemies."
Iruka dropped his gaze to his feet, mutely shaking his head.
"But I've got the place pretty well outfitted," Kakashi concluded, glancing toward the door and window in turn, "so don't sweat it too much."
He settled his hand on the small of the other's back, and Iruka moved without thought, following him back to bed. Kakashi paused for a moment before the window, the rain on the windowpane forming mottled shadows on his white body. He followed the chuunin after a moment, drawing up close behind him.
"It's no reason to let your guard down," he added teasingly as he draped his arm over Iruka's waist.
"Of course not," Iruka agreed, though he knew it wouldn't matter if he did. And it was not, he knew, by nature of the various traps set at the door and windows that he came by such security, but rather by nature of the man currently drifting into sleep beside him, who for all of his cool nonchalance, was one of the more dangerous men in Konohagakure, and possibly the world.
Iruka exhaled a long breath, and slept dreamlessly.
Thanks for the reads; please review!