When Kakashi leaned in and kissed Iruka, Iruka felt his spine stiffen. He leaned back, but Kakashi's head followed him. When Kakashi finally ended the kiss and pulled back, Iruka kept his wide eyes on the older Shinobi.
"You don't need to be so freaked out," Kakashi said with a smile in his eye. "I only kissed you because I like you."
Iruka swallowed his nervousness before he said, "Funny, you like Naruto but he's never told me about you kissing him."
Iruka couldn't help it; the unadulterated disgust on Kakashi's face at the idea of kissing Naruto made him chuckle. Then he started to laugh. Then he couldn't breathe because he was cracking up so bad. Kakashi just stood on the step in the entryway staring at Iruka as if the Chunin had grown an extra head. The laughter sounded a bit hysterical to the Jounin's ears.
"I'm sorry, Kakashi-sensei, but you just looked like Sakura did when Ino told her to kiss Naruto one time when they were still in the Academy. If he hadn't been pushed into Sasuke once, I doubt the poor boy would ever have received a first kiss."
"That's a little harsh, Iruka," Kakashi said.
Hearing his name without an honorific attached to it snapped Iruka out of his giggle fit. "I'm sorry, Kakashi-sensei, but Naruto does keep up such high defenses with his loud voice and obnoxious behaviors that most people aren't willing to look at the desperately lonely boy underneath. Surprisingly, he reminds me of you," Iruka all but snapped.
"Of me?" Kakashi asked. His voice was sharp, almost as if he were angry.
"Yes," Iruka replied. "Naruto reminds me of you because you keep your defenses up so high that no one can see the real you. You want people to see 'underneath the underneath' but you never give them a glimpse of any kind of underneath."
Kakashi seemed to be frozen in place at Iruka's harsh words and snippy tone. The Jounin was standing up straight with his arms hanging rigidly at his sides. Anger gleamed from his one visible eye, and Iruka knew that he'd see evidence of a clenched jaw under the mask if he bothered to move forward for a closer look. So he softened his voice and relaxed his spine when he said, "That's why I was so surprised you let me stay here, and that's why I felt so honored when you told me you like men. The fact that you let me see underneath the underneath showed that you trusted me more than anyone else, and it made me feel special."
Kakashi seemed to relax a little at that. "Maa, Iruka, you lead me to the question: do you like me back?"
Iruka hesitated. Honesty was the best policy, even if it could hurt his roommate's feelings. "I'm not really sure how I feel, Kakashi-sensei. I've been thinking about it for the last several days, and I'm not any closer to solving that problem than I was when you asked me to move in with you permanently."
Kakashi blinked. "What does that have to do with anything?" he asked in confusion.
Iruka couldn't help but stare at Kakashi unblinkingly for a few moments. "Isn't that when you first started liking me? I thought that's what prompted you to ask me to move in with you."
If Kakashi's mouth hadn't been held shut by his mask he was pretty sure that his jaw would have hit the floor. "How the HELL could you have known that if I didn't even figure it out until the next day!"
Iruka moved around Kakashi into the kitchen awkwardly. How could he answer that awfully awkward question? "It just… made sense," he said without looking at Kakashi. He started rummaging around in the pantry cupboards looking for the sake. When he found the bottle he pulled two cups out of the cupboard and brought them to the table. "Have a drink?" he offered.
Kakashi made his way over to the table and sat down in his usual spot. Iruka sat across from him, pouring the alcohol generously into the juice glasses. Kakashi wondered if Iruka had done that intentionally because he wanted to get drunk of if he simply hadn't noticed. Kakashi doubted it was the latter.
When Iruka handed Kakashi his drink Kakashi sipped it slowly, watching as Iruka downed the whole glass like he was slamming down a beer. Then the academy teacher poured another and downed it, too. Then, when he filled it for a third time, Iruka just held it between his hands as it sat on the table, staring at it contemplatively. "Although… I'm wondering why you like me," Iruka said almost as if it wasn't really a question.
"I like you because…" Crap! What was he going to say? "I like you because every time I talk to you I see more of what's underneath your underneath, and what I see intrigues me."
"That's good, Kakashi-sensei, but what happens when you've uncovered all my layers?" Iruka asked without looking Kakashi in the eye. "Will you still be interested then?"
Kakashi frowned at his roommate. "Where is this coming from?" he asked. "We have interesting conversations and you have a lot to bring to a relationship. Interesting things happen to you and interesting things happen to me, so I doubt that we'll run out of things to talk about – especially if you and I read similar literature."
"I'm not going to read Icha Icha," Iruka said to his glass of sake.
"I'm not talking about that," Kakashi appeased.
"Because I read the first three novels out of curiosity," Iruka explained as if Kakashi hadn't said anything. "They were pretty poorly written and I don't think the smut was very… possible. I'll give Jiraiya points on creativity, but plausibility gives him negative points, so I'd rather not read it. That's why it's just trash."
"Iruka, would you please quit avoiding the issue?" Kakashi asked, lost in the direction the conversation had turned to. "I'd like to start dating you and kissing you, but we'll never be able to do that if you keep talking about Icha Icha."
"Sorry, Kakashi-sensei. I didn't mean to lose track of the conversation. I just… drank too much too quickly and I'm feeling a bit buzzed." Iruka shook his head quickly and seemed to sway a little. "Okay, maybe I'm a little more than buzzed. What was it you wanted to ask me?"
"I was just saying that I don't think I'll find you boring once I get to know you because you're a good conversationalist. You're also very intelligent, despite your propensity toward guzzling alcohol when you're having a bad day.
"Yeah… I need to stop doing this," Iruka said as he rested his forehead in his hand. "Last time I lost my apartment. This time, I may lose my bed."
"Well, you're always welcome in mine," Kakashi flirted. When Iruka's glassy eyes met Kakashi's, the Jounin wondered how much of this was going to be remembered the next day. "I can't help it if I find you attractive."
"I find you attractive, too," Iruka admitted as he pushed his glass of sake away. "It's a little odd reading the first gay sex scene in my life and I'm putting you in place of the hero and me in place of the other hero, so please understand I'm not just having issues with the idea of dating a man not known for being reliable to anyone but Konoha Village – which from what I hear you're completely unreliable except when you're on a mission and your teammates need you – I'm also dealing with the fact that until last week I thought I was straight."
"You did?" Kakashi asked, completely amused with the thought that maybe he could get a drunken Iruka to spill all of this juiciest thoughts and secrets.
"Well…" Iruka mumbled, looking away from Kakashi's amused eye. "I may have admitted to myself on a few drunken occasions that I may be bi-curious, but since I'd never been attracted to a man before I never had to examine those feelings."
"That doesn't sound too bad," Kakashi muttered more to himself than Iruka.
"I'm also not too comfortable with the idea of someone's penis up my ass," Iruka said. It was almost as if he were thinking out loud to himself, the way he was mumbling into his hand and avoiding eye contact with Kakashi. "It sounds really painful."
Kakashi couldn't argue with that. After all, it did hurt the first few times, especially if it wasn't done properly.
"And then how can I trust someone who doesn't even trust me enough to show me his face," Iruka mumbled to himself. "It's not that it's any of my business, yet if I see it since we're only roommates and he doesn't have a reason to trust me with that, but if he's hiding his face because of some form of low self-esteem or self-hatred then he's got more issues than I may be willing to deal with. But on the other hand if he's just hiding it to keep the mystery alive and the rumor mill going then he shouldn't have a problem revealing his face when we're at home. But then again, it may be somewhere in between where he doesn't feel secure showing it to me for some random reason like he looks like his father or something, and he's afraid of my rejection…"
Wow… Iruka sure put a lot of thought into that kind of thing! Kakashi wondered absently if these were the thoughts that had been running around Iruka's head for the past three and a half days – it was Wednesday and the day wasn't even over yet since it was still just early evening/late afternoon. If this was just a sampling of Iruka's thoughts, then it was safe to say that Iruka had some serious concerns about their future together.
"Iruka," Kakashi broke in to Iruka's ramblings. "I understand you have some serious concerns about my suitability as a mate." Iruka nodded agreement. "First things first: what kind of relationship are you looking for?"
Iruka seemed to pause for a moment. "I wasn't looking for one," he said. "I'd given up. Girls don't like nice guys like me."
What do you mean that girls don't like nice guys like you, Iruka? Kakashi thought. Chicks dig reliable guys. It's just easy guys like me give guys like you a bad name. "Well, what kind of relationship would you want if you were looking?" Kakashi amended.
"Oh…" the academy teacher seemed to think on this a moment, so Kakashi sipped some more sake through his mask. "I guess I want a close relationship like my parents had" Iruka finally said. "Where I come home every day and my lover is there and says hi, gives me a kiss, and asks me about my day. We'd have dinner and talk, and we'd cuddle in bed after sex or even if we didn't have any sex…"
"So, Iruka, you want a relationship where sex is a perk?" Kakashi asked.
Iruka blushed red, causing a tender smile to appear on Kakashi's hidden lips. "Yeah, I guess I want an emotional relationship more than a carnal one, although I do expect sex to be an important part of the relationship once we get there."
Kakashi thought about that for a long minute while Iruka appeared to stare off into space. He'd only ever had carnal relationships, mostly in the form of one-night-stands or through the purchasing of a whore's time. But wasn't that part of the allure of Iruka? The teacher was interesting to talk to and he felt tender toward the other man. How had he envied his dogs that first night they'd been summoned for dinner and they'd cuddled Iruka on the couch without him? Wasn't that part of his sudden need to be part of the cuddle-fest? He and Iruka didn't have a sexual relationship even though Kakashi wouldn't mind starting one up. He also wouldn't mind waiting until Iruka was ready.
"I think I'd like to have that kind of intimate relationship with you," he said to Iruka, snapping the other man out of his daydream.
"Kakashi, you're way too defensive for that," Iruka said. The Chunin had gotten drunk quickly, but he seemed to be sobering up just as fast. He was still pretty dazed, but his thoughts seemed to be coming out more coherently.
Kakashi nodded in agreement of what Iruka had said. "But then, the kind of relationship you're looking for takes a lot of time to build, doesn't it?" Kakashi asked. Iruka nodded, so Kakashi said, "Then we'll take baby steps."
Kakashi stood up and walked around the table so that he was standing next to Iruka. He kneeled down so that they were both at eye level, and ever so slowly Kakashi started to pull his mask down. Before his nose was fully revealed, though, Iruka put his hand over Kakashi's and asked, "Are you sure you want to do this? Because I will remember this tomorrow."
Kakashi smiled. "That's why I'm not moving my Hitai-ate from over my Sharingan."
Iruka nodded and dropped his hand back to the table. Kakashi finished pulling the mask down so that it hung around his neck and stared at Iruka as the other man seemed to drink in his face with his eyes.
Iruka stared at the strong jawline in front of him and the masculine mouth that hovered over a nice chin. Kakashi's nose was straight and long, but not too long or too straight. He looked masculine, but not butch. He also bore a shocking resemblance to his father, the White Fang. If Iruka hadn't looked at the White Fang's file once when he'd first been assigned to the Mission Room, he wouldn't have known it at all.
"Kakashi-sensei, you're a very handsome man," Iruka finally said.
The smile that tilted Kakashi's mouth upwards completely lit up the Jounin's face. He leaned in slowly until his soft lips fitted themselves comfortably over Iruka's. Without thinking, Iruka felt himself kissing the Jounin back.
When they parted Iruka had to clear his throat. "Okay, I'll give this a try," he said.
Kakashi nodded. "That's all I ask."