Iruka found himself wandering around after his workout on Sunday morning. He'd had a good workout doing his extensive routine, which he hadn't done the week before because Kakashi had been watching. He'd been able to wake up early enough throughout the week to avoid his roommate and continue with his normal training regime, but Sundays always gave him time to really work out and train thoroughly.
However, because of the discovery he'd made the day before, his mind hadn't been entirely on his training. Part of him had been back at the apartment wondering when Kakashi had developed his feelings, and how Iruka had been able to figure them out. Normally, Kakashi was a hard book to read. Even with the conversations Iruka had partaken with Kakashi, he still had trouble figuring out what Kakashi might be thinking. That horrible fake smile, although easy enough to read as fake, was hard to see past.
So, after he felt himself good and tired from working on his family's special jutsu, Iruka found he was too restless to go back to the apartment. So, he'd started walking the pathways between the training grounds. It gave him time to cool down some before he did his final stretches, and it afforded him the time to let his mind wander.
How did he feel about Kakashi? How much did Kakashi like him?
How much did Iruka like Kakashi?
The Jounin wasn't really all that bad. He was a good conversationalist and was generous. Sure he teased Iruka mercilessly, but that had all been before he'd moved in with him. Maybe he had changed?
Yeah, and a person with an Air affinity could easily cast Earth jutsu.
Iruka felt the air move around him, jostling him out of his thoughts. He looked to where it had come from and saw nothing. When he turned back to go to Kakashi's, he saw a man with a bowl cut, green spandex suit, and orange leg warmers.
"How Goes It O Youthful Sensei?!" the green beast said.
"I'm fine, Gai. How are you?" Iruka asked politely as he started walking.
"I Am Wonderful! It Is The Springtime Of My Youth And…"
"You know, Gai-sensei, Kakashi told me that you can talk like a normal person if you want. If I promise not to tell anyone, could you please stop talking in capital letters?" Iruka begged as he reached Gai's posed form in the path.
Gai, for his part, dropped his arms to his side and shrugged. "I guess if Kakashi-kun trusts you, then I can trust you as well," he said.
The two men fell into step as Iruka continued on his journey back to the apartment. "So, to what do I owe the honor this visit, Gai-sensei?" Iruka asked pleasantly. "You haven't visited me since I assigned your team to you."
"I wanted to see how you and Kakashi are getting along," Gai said frankly, his eyes never leaving the path before him.
"Are you worried that I'll kill him?" Iruka suggested in a lighthearted tone.
"I'm worried that he will kill you," Gai admitted without looking up. "He's… scarred."
Iruka shot Gai a sideways look before covering it with a smile. "I know he's got a few issues, but he did buy me a bed. He offered to let me move in with him after the Chunin exam. If he didn't want me around, I doubt he would have done any of that."
Gai finally turned to look Iruka in the eye. The black-eyed gaze pinned Iruka to his spot, forcing him to a halt. "I don't doubt that he wants you around," Gai said seriously. "I spoke with him this morning, and he told me about his offer to you about the apartment. He seems very attached to you, which is particularly strange since he hasn't been attached to anyone since the Fourth Hokage died. Then, since it's only been a week…"
"You wonder if I'm a good or bad influence over your friend." Iruka finished for the taijutsu master.
"Oh, Iruka-Sensei, I Know You Are A Marvelous Influence Over My Eternal Friend And Rival!" Gai said, pulling up a sunset and a pose before he seemed to catch himself and dropped the act. "Erm… what I meant to say is that I'm not worried about Kakashi, since you're a good man and I believe that you will be a good influence on Kakashi-kun. I'm worried that you'll be okay.
"Kakashi likes you, but I don't think he knows how much he likes you yet. He feels emotions very intensely, and because of his Shinobi training at such a young age he never learned to manage his feelings without quashing them completely. You couple that with the fact that all of his loved ones have died or betrayed the village, and you can see that he's just an emotional child."
Really? Kakashi didn't seem that stunted to Iruka. But it was something to consider. "I'll keep that in mind, Gai-sensei."
Gai's gaze never wavered away from Iruka's eyes. "Knowing all that bears the question; how do you feel about Kakashi?"
Iruka sighed and looked away. "I was just trying to figure that out."
Kakashi walked on a path through the training grounds. He'd gone to Gai's house for breakfast, but some of the things that Gai said had kind of hurt.
Of course he was sure this wasn't some rebound off of Obito! Obito had died how many decades ago?! It was a little late for a rebound, huh?
But then, he hadn't considered that maybe he wasn't really ready for a romantic relationship. He hadn't even tried since Obito's death. Sex was one thing, but love was hard. The people he liked never liked him back. Sure, Obito had wanted to be Kakashi, but he'd made it perfectly clear before their big blow-up fight that he didn't want to be with Kakashi.
Then he'd gone into ANBU, and it had taken years for him to regain enough of his humanity to fail teams of students. Now, after years of training Naruto and the others – and losing Sasuke – was he human enough to try for a boyfriend?
Was he human enough for someone as down-to-earth and caring as Iruka?
And was Gai right? Had he had a crush on Iruka for a while? Shouldn't he have known what his feelings were if he was feeling them? People didn't bother other people the way he bothered Iruka at the Mission Desk. Normal people didn't turn in such horrible reports and tease brown-haired Chunin if they liked them. Did they?
Well, little boys did. Kakashi wouldn't dare call himself mature.
That was when he heard Gai's voice, but it wasn't Gai's voice as he heard it in public. It was soft and deep – serious. Who was he talking to like that? The only person he ever calmed down enough to talk to was Kakashi, so whatever he was saying must be important. Slowly, Kakashi moved forward and cloaked his chakra, just in case he was needed.
As he moved into a tree he spotted Iruka and Gai standing on one of the paths facing each other. Gai was looking Iruka in the eye as he asked, "…bears the question; how do you feel about Kakashi?"
What? What was he talking about?
Then Iruka said, "I was just trying to figure that out."
Little man say what?
"You mean you know about Kakashi's feelings?" Gai asked.
Iruka huffed out a humorless laugh and said, "I wouldn't be trying to figure out my feelings if I didn't suspect that he liked me."
Kakashi's feelings?! How could Iruka know about Kakashi's feelings if even Kakashi didn't know how he really felt?
"Do you like him?" Gai asked. "Do you think you could?"
"I'm not sure," Iruka said. "I can't say that I know him very well yet. I've only been talking with him for a week."
"But… do you think you could?" Gai insisted. Then the older man blinked. "You're gay, right?"
Both Iruka and Kakashi jerked in surprise. "Erm… I've never been with a guy before, if that's what you're asking," Iruka said, his tone one of mild confusion.
Gai seemed to relax at that and the man let out a wry chuckle. "No, Iruka-sensei, that's not what I meant," he said. "I was wondering if you were attracted to men."
"Oh." Iruka seemed to think about it for a long time before he said, "I haven't really been attracted to men before, just a few specific women in my past. I've been thinking about it all morning, but I don't think I'd be opposed to falling in love with a man."
"That Is Wonderful News, Beloved Young Sens…" Gai caught the irritated glare Iruka was shooting at him and said, "Sorry. I just got excited that you could love Kakashi-kun back. He could do well with someone as open-minded and conscientious as you are, Iruka-sensei."
Iruka looked a little surprised at Gai's assessment. "Thank you, Gai-sensei. I'm honored you think so highly of me." Then Iruka bowed, just as Kakashi had expected him to.
"The truth is always worth saying," Gai said modestly. "I now feel that, should you decide to copulate with Kakashi-kun…"
"What?!" Iruka screeched in shock. Kakashi jerked again in surprise.
"…then I will not stand in your way!" Gai finished as if he hadn't heard the teacher's protest. His tone didn't change into capital letters, but it was very close to going in that direction. Kakashi thought that Iruka realized that as well, because the teacher started to beat a hasty retreat.
"Thank you for the talk, Gai-sensei. It was nice to see you and I have a lot to think about. I think I'm going to head back to Kakashi's place and… do some laundry or something." With that Iruka shot another bow at the Green Beast of Konoha and took off toward the village at a remarkably fast walk. Kakashi wasn't entirely sure he could keep up with that pace at a jog.
But then Gai turned his black eyes on Kakashi, and the silver-haired Jounin knew that he'd been spotted – a while ago if he was any judge. He jumped down from his tree branch and landed easily in front of his best friend. "Yo."
"So now you know how he feels," Gai said. Then he shot Kakashi a thumbs up sign and grinned wide enough to show all of his sparkling teeth. "Good Luck My Eternal Rival, For I Wish I Were As Lucky As You To Find A Man Willing To Put Up With All Of My Shit!"
Kakashi blinked a few times before he turned his back on his best friend. "For that interference, I won't accept any more challenges from you for a week."
He heard the thud of Gai's jaw hitting the ground as he casually walked away.