Hi all! I have lots of heavy/dark stuff in the works right now, so I wanted to post something a little lighter. I hope you like this! It was a lot of fun to write.

Disclaimers: don't own.

Warnings: graphic violence, anal.

By the second of February, the thaw had begun. Frost that had accumulated in gutters and eaves and between the creases of roof shingles over the last several months melted and dripped over windowpanes and doorframes, pooling in the softening earth. The days shyly prolonged, and young buds appeared on some of the heartier trees.

From his classroom window, Iruka watched his students flood out into the courtyard at the behest of the day's last bell. Some waved tests in the air triumphantly while others slunk slope-shouldered toward their parents, but all seemed to be at least somewhat enlivened by the change in weather. He kept an eye on the emptying courtyard as he tidied up his classroom and gathered his things, looping a scarf loosely over his neck before locking up behind himself.

A few bubblegum wrappers were strewn about the concrete path into the courtyard. Frowning, Iruka knelt to gather them up, making a mental note to scold his students for their messiness on Monday. As he rose to deposit the litter into the rubbish bin, he noticed a faint swaying in the shadow of the stately tree near the entry gate.


Iruka's footsteps were soft and steady as he approached the huddled orange mass seated sideways in the simple swing suspended from a tree branch. Naruto peered up blearily, thoroughly worn out by a long day's schooling.

"Oi, Iruka-sensei," he greeted, leaning heavily against the rope.

"Are you feeling well?" Iruka's first impulse was to lift the boy's hitai-ate and lay his palm over his forehead, but he hesitated, well aware that Naruto objected to being babied on all fronts.

"Tired," Naruto yawned.

"Oh yeah?" he glanced at the empty lane leading away from the academy, and pondered his finances. He had put in a few extra hours at the mission control center recently as Kakashi had been tied up with a string of involved missions, so he had a touch more money at his disposal than was usual. "Did you eat lunch?"

"Choji gave me some chips," he recalled.

"That hardly counts as a meal," Iruka chided, then softening: "how does ramen sound?"

Naruto perked up immediately.

"I don't have any coupons," he warned, jumping off the swing with renewed energy.

"I'll pick it up this time," Iruka assured him, though the boy had already raced through the academy gate and into the street.

It was fruitless advising him to slow down, so Iruka kept pace close behind him, keeping an eye out for obstacles Naruto overlooked. Puddles, stones and potholes were no trouble for Naruto whether he saw them ahead of time or not; Iruka mutely envied his youthful agility. There were other environmental hazards he hoped the boy missed: whispered words, dirty looks, sneers, swiftly turned heads.

Naruto rounded the corner to Ichiraku at a sprint with Iruka close behind him. He scrambled up a stool and bellied up to the bar, scouring the menu for specials.

"Iruka-sensei!" he shouted over his shoulder, "look!"

Iruka waved apologetically to Teuchi and settled in beside Naruto.

"Quiet down," he advised, "what's the matter?"

"Free seconds!" Naruto thrust a finger towards a promotional sign hanging at the back of the shop. Iruka pulled him back onto his rear with a firm tug on his jacket.

"Ah, well, lucky us," he remarked, quietly relieved.

"I'm gonna eat until I puke," Naruto declared, to Teuchi's overt dismay.

"No, you're not," Iruka snatched the menu away and tapped him on the forehead with it, "or I'll never bring you back."

"No fun!" the boy argued, "What's the point of free seconds if you don't eat 'til you puke?"

"Who plans to puke?" Iruka turned his incredulous glare from Naruto to Teuchi and ordered for them both.

With food on the way, the boy seemed practically jittery. Iruka caught roughly every other word he said, and even less of the content of it; nonetheless he listened, leaning in and smiling as the streets grew dark and the lanterns lit up.

"Two orders of miso ramen with roast pork," Ayame announced, sliding a heavy bowl in front of each of them. Naruto dug in immediately, hissing and cursing as the broth burned his tongue; Iruka chuckled and waited patiently for some of the steam to die down.

"One day," he teased, "you'll burn your tongue all the way off."

Oily black smoke stung his sinuses and threatened his vision. From its stench, Kakashi determined that the source fire must have consumed the perimeter of the hills, scorching through dry grass, sapling trees and the corpses of fallen shinobi.

Damn, he scowled beneath his ash-choked mask, so much for a clean retreat.

Having finished off the targets assigned to him, he had intended to continue back toward the village in order to alert medical staff; in the last six days, his cell of four had incurred a great deal of damage.

That no longer seemed a possibility, given the rapid spread of the flames. Unable to see his teammates' hand signals through the smoke, it wasn't clear whether or not they had completed their objective; he was, therefore, pinned to the spot until they made contact.

He glanced over the ledge of the low, dry ravine he presently concealed himself in, and caught sight of the eerie red glow of the advancing blaze. His immediate suspicion was that someone had been a bit overzealous with the exploding tags, but he could not verify it without revealing his position.

His hands flickered through a series of seals, and a shadow clone appeared suddenly beside him, equally smudged with ash and grime.

Its belly low to the ground, the clone scaled the ravine ledge and crawled through the high grass, pausing with its ear to the soil every few yards to listen for approaching footfalls.

There was heavy commotion in a thicket of trees half-concealed in a haze of thick smoke. The clone rose to kneel and peered intently through the sickly-scented chemical fog, and then approached rapidly when a series of singed green flak jackets became visible. He arrived as Anko lept up from a limp figure she had deposited at the base of a tree.

Assisted by Asuma, she formed a quick barrier of chakra at the edge of the thicket, then returned to attend to the slumped form she had hauled into the small clearing.

"Genma," she tipped his head back by the jaw and scooped a thick chunk of loose tissue out of his mouth with her fingers, "you with me?" A wet, sputtering gurgling erupted from his throat as he struggled to breathe.

"Poison?" Asuma leaned in close to examine the refuse Anko had flung onto the ground. She shook her head.

"He bit his cheek in the fall."

Kakashi's clone examined the horizon intently, and then regarded Asuma as he scanned as well.

"Did you do it?" it asked, and in the dry bed of the ravine Kakashi felt his chakra dissipate by the moment.

"Aa," Asuma replied, "got the last one in the explosion. But Shiranui…"

Kakashi dispelled the clone and climbed out of the ravine in person, dizzy with the loss of energy. He dug into his hip pocket for his first aid pack as he approached, wary of the encroaching fire. Asuma himself had begun to cough, though he among all others was accustomed to smoke flooding his throat.

"What's the damage?" Kakashi dropped to a knee beside Anko.

"At best, a broken rib," she assessed, "at worst, a collapsed lung."

A thick mass of clotted blood and tissue oozed from the corner of Genma's mouth, and he licked weakly at his torn cheek.

"Tell Raidou," he slurred, spitting up fragments of molar, "tell him, that…my pension…"

Anko hushed him.

"Tell him yourself, Genma. You're not dying."

Kakashi had never heard her sound less sure. He lifted Genma's left hand to examine his nail beds; near the cuticle, they had already begun to turn blue.


"Anko, go ahead to the hospital," Kakashi wasn't fond of directing missions comprised entirely of jounin, as he was generally confident in their faculties; nonetheless, the situation seemed to call for central strategizing. He turned to Asuma.

"Carry him. Check him every few paces. If he stops responding…Do your best."

Anko was already gone. Kakashi helped Asuma gather Genma into his arms, and the bitter humor of it was lost on neither of them.

"I've dragged him home drunk like this a hundred times," Asuma muttered, shifting the base of the jounin's neck over his upper arm to clear his airway as much as possible, "what's one more?"

Kakashi struggled to entertain the possibility of it being the last time he would see Genma slurring and barely conscious.

"Where're you headed to?" Asuma had already begun to move, Kakashi sprinting a little ahead of him.

"Raidou's," he answered.

"I don't know how you run around after you've eaten like that," Iruka wondered. Naruto continued to dart up and down the alleys like a pinball, propelling himself from wall to wall with peals of laughter.

"I think I ate ten whole bowls!" Naruto grinned, "I didn't even puke!"

"Yet," Iruka warned, "if you keep that up, you will."

They stopped at the small sliver of oblique alleyway that led to Naruto's building, and the boy lingered there, seemingly unwilling to go home.

Iruka remembered the feeling with painful clarity. Though he had never been a particularly talented student, days at school were at least entertaining. Returning to an empty apartment remained one of his chief agonies in life.

"Do you want to stay at my place tonight?" he offered, quickly adding, "I've got some chores I could use a hand with."

Naruto barely concealed his excitement.

"Oh yeah? What kind of chores?"

He was already tagging along behind Iruka, shuffling a crushed beer can along with his toes.

"Oh, laundry…and I need to mop. Come to think of it, I should clean the fridge out, too."

Naruto groaned preemptively.

"Sounds boring, Iruka-sensei."

Iruka gave him a smug grin as he opened his door.

"I don't make you pay rent when you stay over, do I?"

Naruto burst through the door rubbing his hands together for friction, seemingly having just noticed that the February night was cool.

Iruka placed his keys in the front pocket of his flak jacket and hung it on his doorknob as he always did. He raised an eyebrow as he heard his refrigerator open.

"Naruto, you can't possibly –"

He rounded the corner in time to see Naruto curiously poking at the cap of a beer bottle.

"Naruto!" Iruka grabbed it out of his hands at once, placing it firmly on an upper shelf of the refrigerator. "Absolutely not!"

The boy looked only a bit dejected. Iruka put aside a moment to cursorily childproof his kitchen while Naruto rifled through his magazines and movies, wrinkling his nose at the eminently boring collection.

"Don't you have any good movies?" he whined.

"Not until this is done," Iruka declared firmly, settling a rather hefty hamper in the center of the floor.

Naruto planted himself beside his teacher cross-legged and grudgingly helped him sort the light from dark colors, grimacing at socks and undershirts.

"Wait here," Iruka advised, scooping up the hamper to carry it down to the laundry room. He set both loads washing, and returned, the empty hamper under his arm. Given Naruto's interest in the contents of his refrigerator, he opted for mopping the kitchen floor before carrying on to other chores.

It had taken him some time to figure out the nuances of housekeeping as a child. He had suffered through grimy grout, ash-littered ovens and moldy showers for years before he had learned the ins-and-outs, and thus he took great care to instruct Naruto in every step of each chore.

"You want it to be damp, not drippy," Iruka explained, wringing out the mop, "and you always want to start in a corner. Are you listening?"

The toilet flushed as he looked up, and Naruto emerged from his bathroom with an exaggerated yawn. He shuffled over to where Iruka stood and took over, swinging the mop from side to side as he slid around the wet floor in his socks.

"I'll be right back," Iruka called over his shoulder, stepping out to move the wash to the dryer before returning to right the overturned mop bucket and start the process over again.

"Sorry," Naruto giggled sheepishly.

After a rather lengthy battle with the mop bucket, Iruka banished Naruto to the shower while he tidied up and curated his movie selection, leaving only the most child-appropriate options.

By the time Naruto emerged, however, Iruka was immersed in folding laundry, and the boy had mellowed considerably, opting to sit on the couch and bundle socks for half an hour or so before curling against a throw pillow and drifting into sleep.

It was well into the evening, and Kakashi estimated that Raidou would be home rather than milling around mission control or waiting at the standby station. He took the fastest back routes, leaping like a shadow through alleys and abandoned lanes, taking to the sloping rooftops when the need arose.

He arrived breathless and sweat soaked, still half-choking on the ash and smoke lingering in the fabric of his mask. With a closed fist, he pounded on Raidou's door, calling his name so as not to conjure false hope.

Raidou swung the door open and stepped outside ashen and silent.

"Well?" he demanded after a long moment of tense silence, swallowing hard. His eyes grew alert and focused intently on Kakashi's visible one.

"I don't know," Kakashi said slowly, "he's at the hospital."

Raidou's hands curled into white-knuckled fists, and for the brief moment he remained on the landing outside the door to his apartment, Kakashi admired his incredible restraint.

"What happened?"

"There was an explosion," Kakashi explained vaguely, his glance traveling to the dark profile of the back hills, "he…Anko thought it was respiratory, the injury."

"Was he…" Raidou was looking skyward either plaintively or in a last effort to retain control of his emotions. "Was he burned?"

"It happened on impact," Kakashi replied, "that's all I know."

"What room?"

"I don't know," Kakashi admitted again, feeling somewhat helpless.

Within seconds, Raidou had disappeared, leaving his door standing slightly open n the cool February night. Kakashi tugged it shut, shoulders sagging with the weight of the news.

As he turned and followed the familiar route home, his own wounds began to signal their presence in aches and pangs and sharp stings that came and went with shifts in his gait. Early in the mission he had taken a senbon in the shoulder, and though the needle had missed all arteries, it had burrowed deeply into his muscle; unfortunately, he hadn't been able to excuse his right arm from labor, and the ache had steadily grown worse. Then there were the bruises and abrasions that came with heavy travel and hand-to-hand combat, and the grating dryness in his throat that had arisen from breathing the hot, filthy smoke of the forest fire. His eyes still stung with the thick, granular sensation of it.

But the worst indignity was the sense of utter powerlessness rendered by Genma's injury. Under normal circumstances, notifications of next-of-kin were made by Izumo and Kotetsu, who, as far as Kakashi could discern, carried out those errands as a pair for their own safety. But he could not justify letting the news pass through levels of hospital bureaucracy before reaching Raidou, especially when time was of the essence.

He's not dead for sure, Kakashi reminded himself, though it was a weak consolation at best.

Only thing that's certain is that I'm alive.

Iruka lowered the volume of the television until it was nearly mute. The lights and colors of the screen flickered over Naruto's sleeping face without disturbing him in the least. As the chuunin graded a stack of papers in his lap, a substantial puddle of drool collected on his throw pillow.

It hardly bothered him. For some time, that particular pillow had been tacitly designated as Naruto's pillow, and Iruka suspected he would think of it that way long after the boy no longer slept over from time to time.

He rose quietly, stretching for a moment, and tugged an extra blanket down from the top shelf of his linen closet. He shook it out and crept close, draping it over Naruto's huddled form.

The hamper waited at the end of the couch, now stocked with freshly folded clothes. Iruka had consciously put his chores off for sometime, aware both that Kakashi had been particularly busy lately, and that he was less capable of succumbing to anxiety when he had productive work to do. It wasn't like him to be unsure of things; Kakashi's skill was, at the very least, not something he tended to spare much concern over. However, steady as he was, he remained, like one once starved, suspicious of times of plenty.

The sound of metal grating against metal captured his attention as he lifted the hamper to haul it into his bedroom. He emerged into the small entryway in time to catch his door before it slammed against the wall.


An acrid, smoky odor overcame his senses before he registered that Kakashi's lips were cold and cracked and pressed against his as though the jounin were drowning. Kakashi's hands fixed tightly on Iruka's waist, and he moved into the entryway just enough to shut the door with his heel.

"Naruto's –" Iruka gasped against the kiss, feeling Kakashi's lips and teeth affix to his jaw and neck in rapid succession, "Naruto's – asleep –"

His words were registered though not answered in kind. Kakashi maneuvered them into the bedroom, unfastening buttons and parting zippers as they moved through the doorway. By the time he pressed Iruka's back against his own bedroom door, the chuunin was flushed and half-naked, his hair loose around his shoulders.

"He'll – hear – us," he panted, biting back a moan as Kakashi's calloused palms brushed over his nipples. He clasped the jounin's wrists and held on tight, regaining his senses for a brief moment.

"Kakashi," he licked his lips and tried to steady his voice, "Naruto doesn't know." What exactly Naruto did not know wasn't something Iruka was ready to expound upon, but he felt sure the category was broad and expansive, encompassing everything from his relationship with Kakashi to the physical mechanics of it.

"Iruka," Kakashi's voice was hoarse and entirely unwavering as he easily jerked his wrists free of the chuunin's grip, "I need it."

It wasn't something he would ever say lightly. Iruka searched his face for a suggestion of what had happened on the mission and found nothing save a speckling of black residue spread over the skin unprotected by his mask or hitai-ate. He could sense in the resolute but somewhat distant fix of Kakashi's gaze that the jounin was done discussing anything for the time being.

Kakashi slung his flak jacket to the floor and peeled his shirt and armor off in one easy tug. Iruka made careful note of the swollen, blood-dappled wound in his shoulder, but said nothing.

A groan caught in his throat as Kakashi's hands worked open the clasp and zipper of his fly, working the fabric of his uniform pants down his hips aggressively.

There was little room to work with Iruka's back pressed against the door, so Kakashi reversed their positions, flattening against the wall and pulling the chuunin flush against him. Iruka could feel the insistent hardness straining underneath Kakashi's clothes, and he did his best to undress his lover, given their tight quarters. He felt the leaking tip of Kakashi's cock against his stomach after a moment of heated fumbling.

Kakashi threaded fingers into the thick mass of dark hair and began to tug as he slid down the wall, bringing Iruka with him. Seated on the floor, he pulled the chuunin into his lap, fixing his mouth on a tightened nipple.

Iruka had expected to keep his composure well enough to stay quiet, but that had been based entirely on his typical post-mission sexual experiences with Kakashi. Normally the man arrived home exhausted but with a sense of accomplishment, and the proceeding sex was long, lingering and intentional.

This was nothing of that sort. He could feel Kakashi's hands at work behind the small of his back; a soft snapping sound suggested that he had recovered a vial of some kind of lubricant from the pocket of his discarded jacket. Iruka exhaled harshly as bruises blossomed up and down his neck and collarbone in the wake of Kakashi's teeth and tongue.

A long, slick finger speared inside him, eliciting a choked gasp. Kakashi's hands were still somewhat cold, and Iruka could feel every inch of his finger as it probed deep inside of him. It was joined shortly by another, and, to his tense surprise, a third; Kakashi's cock leaked precum readily against his thigh as he adjusted to the piercing sensation.

Under normal circumstances, he would have opted to hold his lover's shoulders to steady himself, but given the location of Kakashi's wound, his hands moved instead over the other's chest, searching for purchase.

Kakashi withdrew his fingers and wrapped them around the base of his cock, sliding his lubricated fingers once more over the length of it before settling the head against Iruka's prepared entrance. He gave a guttural groan as the tip pushed past the first ring of muscle. It was enough to elicit the sensation of early orgasm; Kakashi held Iruka's hips tightly to maintain control.

Absent were the usual remarks – fuck, that's tight - and it was, but Kakashi could think of nothing but the impossible closeness of it, the intimacy, the fact that they were naked and defenseless and alive. For nights he had entertained, as most shinobi did, thoughts of that singular, unattainable homecoming fantasy fuck, the one that undid the past for a few pulsing, ecstatic seconds –

Iruka held Kakashi's jaw between his hands and kissed him. The jounin's eyes slid shut and he let out a shuddering sigh, his cock fully sheathed in hot, steady pressure. And then he was holding the other's hips, lifting and pulling in an erratic rhythm, impossible to time, and Iruka was moving with him, his cock smearing streaks of precum against both their midsections.

Kakashi faintly sensed sweat dripping down his temples, stinging in an abrasion on his cheekbone, and on some level he knew the repetitive chorus of fuck – fuck – yes – fuck – was his own voice in his mind or ears or both, but he was consumed with Iruka, and could focus on nothing else.

"Finish in me," Iruka panted, as though he didn't always; regardless, the invitation was well taken, and Kakashi brought a hand up to tangle in sweat-soaked dark hair as he drove his cock in for a few final strokes.

He came harder than he could recall coming in his adult life. His hips bucked off the floor, and his thighs protested the unusual position, but he could feel every inch of the chuunin's body tighten around him as he spilled his seed deep within. For long moments his vision was white and indistinct, and his body tingled gradually until he felt mostly numb.

Iruka was slack against him when he recovered his senses. Warm fluid flowed over the ridges of his abdominal muscles, and given the absence of wounds in that area, he concluded that the other had climaxed as well.

"Iruka," he sighed, his head lolling against the wall.

"Naruto's gonna…" Iruka wasn't totally sure what he was going to do, but he surmised it would include an array of uncomfortable questions.

"This…" Kakashi ran his hand over the other's back, "is probably one of the…healthier things he's overheard."

"You explain it, then."

Kakashi muttered something barely coherent and accepted the hand Iruka offered him upon standing. He collapsed in the chuunin's bed, blissfully unconcerned with the ash and blood he distributed over the freshly washed bedspread.

Iruka slid into his uniform pants with a light wince before tiptoeing into the living room to survey the damage. All manner of possibilities flooded through his mind: would Naruto have simply left? Would he be horrified, afraid, convinced something terrible had gone on? Would he be disgusted, having been advised by schoolboys in the crudest possible terms upon the things men could do in privacy?

On the television screen, a blue monster danced in a cereal bowl full of colorful marshmallows. Iruka switched it off, and observed the miraculously peaceful face of his student.

For once he wanted to praise Naruto's obliviousness. Instead, he tugged the blanket up over his shoulder, and crossed the dark expanse of carpet back to his bedroom, where the only light spilled in from the moonlit window.

"He didn't hear," he murmured, though he was half-sure Kakashi was asleep.

"Call the hospital," Kakashi muttered. For a moment Iruka was certain he was talking in his sleep: both eyes were closed, and save for his lips, his body was motionless.

"Why?" he propped himself up on an elbow.


Iruka lifted the receiver and dialed dutifully, watching Kakashi's eerily motionless form from the corner of his eye.

"I'll hold." A pause. "Yes. A patient's status. Shinobi. Tonight." Another silence. "Shiranui Genma."

Kakashi waited to hear his voice again for what felt like en eternity. He worried that they would refuse to release information so recently after a mission, but Iruka was skilled at the use of his censorious teacher's tone, and very few refused him when he employed it.

"I see. Thank you."

The receiver settled in its cradle, and Iruka reclined onto his pillow, peering at Kakashi's unmoving profile.


"He'll be on oxygen for a while," Iruka relayed calmly, "but he'll recover." He rolled onto his back and drew up closer to Kakashi despite the scent of burning still clinging to his skin. "We should take something tomorrow."

Iruka was too practical to summon appropriately useful but sufficiently symbolic gifts off the top of his head. Kakashi did away with the convention entirely.

"I'll take him some beer," he decided aloud.

He may have raised an eyebrow in the dark, but Kakashi didn't see it, and he didn't bother denying it was what the jounin would want most after a couple of days in the hospital. Iruka draped his arm over Kakashi's chest, spreading his palm over a steadily beating heart.

"Iruka, I…" Kakashi murmured, and this time the chuunin was sure it was sleep-talk, but he didn't need to hear the rest to know it was true.

Thanks for the read! Please review!