Iruka glanced around the neighborhood and sighed. The apartment was here somewhere, but it was in the middle of a veritable maze of streets and apartment buildings. He was in the Jounin section of town looking for one apartment that originally he'd thought he'd find easily. Considering the way Gai liked green, he'd figured the whole building would be painted a garish shade of the color.
As it was, he glanced at the slip of paper in his hand and looked up at the street signs. He'd used his power in the Mission Room to gain access to Gai's file – illegally, unfortunately – so that he could look up the man's address. Hanging around the training fields had been a bad idea, and he'd wasted too many days doing that before he found out that the Jounin and his team had been assigned a mission. So, he'd waited for them to get back.
He'd managed to catch Gai in the mission room turning his report in where he asked if he could speak to Gai privately sometime. Gai – being Gai – had made a great speech about youth and vitality before loudly accepting Iruka's offer and promptly leaving the building at a run. Had it been anyone else, Iruka would have thought that the other man had not wanted to meet him. Then Ten-Ten had come up to him and said that Gai had accepted his invitation before she had left as well after turning in their report. So… Iruka felt a little bit justified in illegally looking up Gai's address. He hadn't looked at any of the other things in Gai's file that he wasn't supposed to.
Ah… that was it! He looked at the address on the building in front of him and it matched the numbers he'd written on his paper. The building wasn't green at all! It was just the normal brown of a wooden building. Well, darn it then. He started up the stairs to the third floor landing and knocked on the door. A few moments later a dark-haired man in a comfortable greenish-blue button-down shirt and washed-out jeans came to the door. Some of his black hair was sticking up in the back, as if he'd been lying back and had just risen when he'd heard Iruka's knock.
"Wow, Gai-sensei, I didn't recognize you without your green jumpsuit," Iruka said with a smile.
Gai returned the smile – no sparkle in his teeth – and stepped back to let Iruka in. "I don't want to be that high-maintenance at home, Iruka-sensei. I'd never have the energy to pull it off in public if I did all that shit in private, too."
Gai's apartment was nice and had the same layout as Kakashi's, although the decorations were very different. Kakashi's furnishings had been minimal, but they all seemed to match. Gai's apartment, on the other hand, was stuffed with furniture and mementos. It was clean, but with so much stuff it felt stuffed. The shoe area, though, was very tidy with only Gai's two pairs of ninja sandals. Iruka's sandals joined the others and he went to sit where Gai pointed on the couch.
Gai, for his part, turned off the big television and sat opposite Iruka on the couch. "So, what about Kakashi brings you to my doorstep?" the older man asked as he leaned easily against his armrest. He picked up a cup and started sipping it before he held it out and said, "Would you like some tea?"
Iruka shook his head. In this setting, Gai really did look the thirty years his file had said he was. "I just wanted to let you know that Kakashi and I are officially dating, and he's being totally weird," Iruka said. "I was wondering if you knew of any way I could calm him down? He's been a nervous wreck since the day after we made it official that we're trying each other out."
Gai groaned into his tea cup and rubbed his hair with his free hand. "That's why he's freaking out," Gai said. "He's afraid you're going to reject him."
"Why would I do that?" Iruka asked. "We just started dating, and we haven't even been on a date yet."
"Well, I'm his best friend," Gai said as he flashed his signature sparkly smile. "Everyone else won't put up with his shit."
Wow, Gai, say it like it is, why don't you? Iruka thought. "Okay," he said aloud. "But what do you suggest I do to get him to calm the fuck down? He's psyched himself out so much that he's been avoiding me."
"How Has His Great Youthfulness…. Sorry," Gai said, catching himself as he started to talk in his usual enthusiastic manner. "How has Kakashi-san been avoiding you? It doesn't really sound like him."
"Well…" Iruka scratched the back of his head, thinking. "He's been getting some D-ranked missions for his team this week, but considering their skill levels they shouldn't be taking quite so long to complete. Then, when he comes home, he takes a shower, eats dinner without talking or looking at me, and then he rushes off to bed after we've finished washing up. I was starting to get a little worried, but I decided I needed a little help when Pakkun noticed the other night and seemed worried."
"That pug does seem to understand his human very well," Gai said. "Did Kakashi-san talk to you at all during your dinners?"
Iruka sighed. "He responded in simple sentences when he had to, and I think he keeps blushing. It's so strange, since he's the one who talked me into this!"
"You didn't want to date him?" Gai asked over the rim of his tea mug.
"I wasn't sure," Iruka admitted. "I'd be surer if he wasn't acting like a Nervous Nelly whenever I'm around. It's just that for a guy who seemed so certain that this is what he wanted, his behavior is making me wonder if he really meant what he said or if he was really trying to convince himself of it."
"What do you think?" Gai asked.
Iruka shrugged. "I have no idea. I haven't dated anyone seriously since I was a Genin, and even then it wasn't that big a thing. Then Kakashi-sensei's a little off from everyone else, so I'm not sure what I can do to calm him down."
Gai nodded. "Kakashi-san is eccentric," he said. "I don't think he's ever been on a date, so if you give him a little guidance in what you think a dating relationship would be like he'll follow along like a good little puppy. Anything you do with him or for him I'm sure he'll appreciate."
Iruka mulled that over for a few minutes before he said, "I suppose I can give that a try. It's a direction at least."
"Good, I'm glad I was able to help," Gai said as he stood.
Iruka stood, too, and headed for the door. "Thank you, Gai-sensei. Oh, and here you go…" Iruka pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Gai. "I figured that you were probably recuperating from the mission you handed in yesterday. I know all about it because I checked it and filed it for you, so I got you some of the Hokage's Super Healing Chakra Regenerating Powder. Just add the packet in the envelope to a glass of sake and drink up. You'll feel better immediately."
Gai seemed to stare at the gift Iruka gave him for a long minute before a yellow twinkle came to his eye and he said in a subdued version of his normally exuberant jubilation, "I Will Take This Divine Elixir Given By Our Great Hokage! I Could Never Truly Express My Thanks O Wondrous And Youthful Iruka-Sensei!"
"Okay, okay, that's fine. Thank you for your advice, Gai-sensei. Feel better."
With that Iruka pulled the door closed behind him before Gai could try to pull some more of his usual Great Youthful Bullshit.
Iruka stepped in the front door of Kakashi's apartment and froze. There were rose petals covering the floor of the entryway. Looking up, Iruka noticed the petals completely covered the wooden floor of the living room, too. He took off his shoes mechanically and gingerly stepped into the apartment. A few petals squished under his feet, which was a very odd feeling. But everything was covered in the pale pink petals, even the counter! Even his bed!
"Kakashi-sensei?" he called, not sure what he was seeing.
The bedroom door opened and Kakashi came out of his room wearing a nice grey long-sleeved top and some good dark jeans. Briefly Iruka wondered if he'd ever seen Kakashi out of his Jounin uniform, but when Kakashi slouched against the wall all thought were blown from Iruka's mind.
He could see all of Kakashi's muscles when he leaned like that. Well, he couldn't see them per se, but he could see how thin Kakashi's waist was, and broad-shouldered with a curvature to his torso that spoke of an eight pack. His silhouette was simply… beautiful.
"Is something wrong, Iruka?" Kakashi asked, effectively snapping Iruka's attention back up to his face. It was nice to see Iruka's reaction to his street clothes, but now he knew how women felt when he stared at their breasts instead of their eyes. It wasn't as pleasant as he'd thought it would be.
"You're… um…" Iruka started, looking frazzled. "W-what happened to your apartment?"
"Oh, this?" Kakashi asked, scuffing a toe against the ground and scattering a few petals. "The Yamanakas told me that flower petals were a romantic way to set the mood."
Iruka stared around the room. Hundreds of roses must have sacrificed their petals to cover this much surface area. Kakashi seemed to know what Iruka was thinking because he said, "If they hadn't had an order cancellation then I wouldn't have tried this. I don't think the oils I've smashed into the floor when I walked on them are going to come out of the wood very easily."
The Chunin shook his head and huffed a sigh, but that brought an odd fragrance to his nose. "Kakashi, are you burning a scented candle?" he asked.
Kakashi pointed over his shoulder and used the hand sign for "look" that Shinobi used when out in the field for completely silent communication. Iruka looked over his right shoulder and saw about twenty or thirty candles ablaze on the dining table. Fortunately there were no petals on the table, not that Iruka could really tell because so much of the surface was covered in light blue and purple candles and candle holders of varying sizes.
"Kurenai said that candles were romantic, too," Kakashi said by way of explanation. "She also said to choose a seductive scent, but the shop a few blocks down only had 'Ocean Spray' and 'Lilly' scents as options, so I decided that they will have to do."
"Do you think that those are seductive scents?" Iruka asked as Kakashi moved to stand behind him.
They stood watching the blaze atop the table contemplatively for a minute before Kakashi said, "I think I'll pull them out again this winter when it gets cold. This will work pretty well to save the gas bill because I don't have a fireplace anywhere in the apartment." He paused for a second and then added, "And I might put one in the bathroom to light when one of us takes a poop. Kurenai also mentioned that candles help cover those kinds of smells."
"They have a candle in the restroom at the Academy," Iruka said, turning toward his roommate only to discover that the other man was so close behind him that his nose almost touched the Jounin's chin. He backed up a step so he could look up into Kakashi's eyes as he said, "So I guess it works at getting rid of smells, but these scents are making my nose itch."
With a flash of hand seals, a gust of wind blew through the apartment and extinguished the candles. Iruka breathed a sigh of relief before he sneezed.
"Here," Kakashi said as he reached over the little ledge separating the kitchen from where they stood. He brought out a steaming cup of tea and handed it to Iruka. "I figured that if the other things didn't work, we could sit on my bed and watch a movie. I'm told watching a movie with a hot beverage and a savory snack is an acceptable first date."
Iruka couldn't help it: he started to chuckle. "Did you do all of this…" he waved his arm to indicate the apartment and the mess it was in "… so that I'd be okay with the idea of lying in your bed with you to watch a movie?"
"Well," Kakashi said contemplatively as Iruka took his cup of hot tea. "I did originally plan to bring the TV set out here to watch it, but when I realized that we'd still be lying in a bed, I figured that I'd volunteer to be the owner of the bed that would be spilled upon."
Iruka felt himself giggle under his breath as he headed toward the back of the apartment. "I appreciate the effort you put into this," he said over his shoulder. "So… what are we going to watch?"
Kakashi picked up the second cup of tea and a bowl of popcorn as he started following Iruka toward his bedroom. "Well, I think that action comedies are pretty sexy, so I figured we'd watch one where the good guy goes and kills the bad guy, but the bad guy keeps coming back and getting his ass handed to him. Of course, if you don't like that we could watch a rom com. Or porn. I think porn is pretty romantic."
Iruka felt himself laughing as the bedroom door closed behind him and Kakashi. He found that all of the awkwardness had disappeared and he was looking forward to this date. He needn't have bothered Gai-sensei at all!