Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Long Way Around

Dare Not Breathe

by Virgo 0 reviews

KakaIru. From friends to lovers and all that's in between

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Romance - Characters:  Iruka, Kakashi - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2005-05-08 - Updated: 2005-05-08 - 3788 words

Dare not Breath

"We passed! Iruka-sensei, we passed!"

Iruka could only let out an odd sound of surprise before he was nearly bowled over by an ecstatic bundle of hyper energy and sealed Nine-Tails. Nearly being the operative word.

"Keeping Hokage-sama company, I see." Drawled out a careless, rumbling voice in his ear. Iruka couldn't help but to blush slightly as the older ninja draped an arm so familiarly across his shoulders, propping the off balanced teacher against his chest.

"Er," he quickly stood, not looking Kakashi in the face, sounding somewhat disproving. "He was just explaining to me your... impeccable track record."

Naruto blinked, arms still wrapped around Iruka's waist. "Eh? 'Track record'?"

His teammate, Sakura, looked just as confused. "What do you mean by that, Iruka-sensei?" Sasuke just eyed the two teachers coolly.

"I mean," Iruka continued, gently prying Naruto away by the shoulders, "that he has never passed a student before."

The trio's surprised looks were impressive, to say the least. Even Sasuke's shock was evident. "EH!?"

Kakashi gave a partially embarrassed chuckle. "Come now, you give me too much credit."

"Is that something to be proud of?" Naruto asked suspiciously.

"Maa, maa. Does it matter? I told you what you needed to do to pass and you did. So you passed. Is that not what's important?"

"You tricked us, though." Came Sasuke's quiet voice. "You deceived us."

"But you passed." The one eye's intensity seemed to capture all their breaths. "It's a ninja's duty to see through deception."


He found Kakashi standing outside the ramen stand, reading the menu passingly- the air of someone who frequently visited the stand but wondering if they should try something different.

He turned at the sound of his name. With a smile, he raised his hand in greeting. "Ah, Iruka-sensei."

The younger ninja's smile grew slightly. "Good day for ramen, I take it?"

"It's always a good day for ramen." Kakashi smiled behind his mask.

"Of course. Are you going to eat?"

The jounin looked back up at the hanging signs in contemplation. "Mmm. Not quite hungry enough, I believe." The statement was punctuated by a loud protest from his stomach. Iruka's eyebrow arched up as Kakashi's smile- though it hadn't changed -was slowly being crept up upon by a blush.

"You mean you don't have the money."

Kakashi still smiled, though the blush was more evident.

He sighed, unable to keep himself from smiling. "Come on. My treat."

The two sat at a both along the far wall, placing their orders at the counter as they passed.

"So," Iruka started, a cup of tea in hand, "how're the children doing?"

"Very well. The only problem they have is they are still too stubborn to come together as a team." Iruka believed he could see Kakashi frown behind the mask. "It's discouraging to a person like me."

The other looked curious, head cocked slightly. "You put a lot of emphasis on teamwork, don't you?"

"Teamwork is important to me." He said, a thumb raising to trace the lower half of his bandanna. "I've learned it the hard way."

"Ninja are suppose to depend on themselves, though."

"They have to be competent, but they have to learn how to work with others. That is my lesson." For a moment, Kakashi's carefree attitude had totally vanished, a scarred man, bitter at an old wound that still festered taking his place. He seemed to realize his mask had slipped for a moment and straightened a bit, bright smile back on his hidden face. "But one thing they've certainly gotten in unison is the complaining."

Iruka's smile was soft, understanding what had just passed. "They're children yet. They'll learn to deal with it."

Kakashi shrugged, leaning back as their food was finally placed before them. "Food is so important to kids nowadays. I'm surprised."

"They probably realized that you were eating all their food."

"Ninja have to learn to get by with little food."

"No, you just eat a lot." Iruka grinned. "Because you always eat so fast, you don't give your body time enough to realize how much it's eaten."

He looked vaguely insulted. "I have to eat fast. It's part of my 'mystic'."

"Hai, hai."

Kakashi watched Iruka for a moment, chopsticks still unbroken in his hand. The younger instructor didn't seem to notice the scrutiny, mixing his noodles in the broth, content smile on his face. Tinged with something that didn't normally show up on Iruka's mild expression.

It was a rather odd change of pace for him, he suddenly being teased instead of Iruka. He wasn't sure if he enjoyed being the one verbally prodded by his junior or not, but he certainly wouldn't just sit there and take it.

So, instead, Kakashi rested his jaw on the curved backs of his hands, his usual happy smile on his face. "Ne, Iruka-sensei."

"Mm?" Came the intelligent reply. Kakashi couldn't help but to laugh to himself, Iruka's surprised expression and mouthful of ramen too priceless to forget.

"Don't you think it's odd?"

"What?" Iruka mumbled, chewing on the vestige of noodle in his mouth.

"I never knew you to tease anyone. And yet, somehow, you managed to reverse our roles today."

His smile grew a bit sly. "Do you not enjoy being the one teased?"

"Should I?"

Iruka pushed himself back in his seat a bit. "Honestly, I never really understood the popularity of teasing someone." He had too much of that- mild teasing to bullying to extreme pranks -as a child. Even as an adult, such a pastime had never grown on him. "However, teasing you, I think I'm beginning to understand."

"Oh?" Kakashi's only visible eyebrow arched.

"Someone of your stature is rarely ever seen as such. How could I pass such an opportunity by?" Iruka's smile dropped into a thoughtful look- almost like a pout, Kakashi thought. "Though I don't really understand why you enjoy teasing me."

Kakashi's smile widened. "Because you're cute when you blush."

Iruka stiffened, blinking wide eyes as a flush darkened his face. It darkened further as he frowned, realizing what had just happened.

Kakashi just grinned, finally able to eat comfortably, and unspoken 'got ya' floating between them.


"I heard the children completed their first mission flawlessly."

"Flawless enough for trainees, I suppose."

The two instructors sat atop a roof that rested on one of the steep slopes of the cliff face, rising high above all the trees. It had mildly surprised Kakashi to hear Iruka call him from so far up. Roof sitting on someone else's house seemed out of Iruka's ethical range- so Kakashi thought.

But then, one had to make some pardons if it came into good use. And sitting on the higher roofs did give Iruka a better vantage point to see what sort of havoc Naruto was causing this hour. The habit stuck with him, even if the cause was no longer his responsibility.

Kakashi sighed and leaned back, cushioning his head on his arms. "But then again, returning a lost dog is hardly what I'd call an actual 'mission'. More like a..."

"Side job?"

He shrugged. "Close enough, I suppose."

Iruka watched the lounging ninja mildly. "Tired?"

"A bit." The sentence held a hint of a captured yawn somewhere in the back. "It's hard to keep up with the three of them. Sasuke's no trouble and Sakura is pretty calm herself, but..."

"Where Naruto is concerned..." Iruka continued for him, ironic smile on his face, "his recklessness and stupidity seems contagious."

"Goodness me," said Kakashi in a sort of thoughtfulness, "I certainly hope I haven't gotten it."

With a grin, Iruka patted Kakashi's arm consolingly. "Don't worry. I'll tell you if you start acting stupid and you can ask Hokage-sama for a vacation."

Kakashi didn't say anything in response, just closed his eye. And, before, Iruka could pull away, his head lolled to the side, pinning the younger's hand between clothed cheek and bicep. He blushed, nearly jerking his hand back until he heard Kakashi's breath coming out deep and slow.

He blinked. He just... fell asleep. Out in the open with Iruka right next to him.

The young teacher couldn't help but break out into a wide smile at such a great gesture of trust. It almost felt like a privilege, being next to the jounin as he slept.

He tried to wriggle his fingers experimentally, wondering how long it would take for them to fall asleep. But then, watching the peaceful face, he wondered why that even mattered. So he twisted, lying comfortably on his belly. Watching Kakashi sleep for a couple moments more, Iruka dozed into a light sleep, laying contently next to the ninja.


It was an unexplainably brisk day, wind stronger than the norm this time of year. But they didn't mind, walking along the tree line at the outskirts of the village. Neither man really had much time off from their schedules, even less time to spend together. But they tried. Iruka's younger class had come to call Kakashi their second teacher for all the times he had snuck into the class, just to set a 'date'- as he was so fond of saying, much to Iruka's embarrassment. And each time he was accosted by the youngsters, wanting to see another demonstration or other.

But, as often as he was on the embarrassed end of Kakashi's wordplay, he enjoyed being with his elder. Not simply because of the thoughtful insight he would give on teaching or techniques- they spent too much time at work to want to talk about it as it was -but simply because of the fact that Kakashi enjoyed having fun. Just his version of fun... came generally at Iruka's expense. Nothing cruel, of course, just teasing or a few simple gestures that set his face burning.

And then there were the times when they'd be like this, just together. No talking, not doing much of anything, no goals in mind. Just together. And it was fine by the both of them.

They walked side by side. It was the simple things that made Iruka happy to be with him. What others would consider normal, everyday acts were gestures of trust and equality to their culture. Being able to sleep in each other's company, walking shoulder to shoulder with a higher-up, being able to talk so familiarly together. Even the rare times when Kakashi would talk about... something... it was hard to explain. Something that gave insight to his thoughts, his past, his feelings... It was something next to no one knew- despite his friendly nature, Kakashi was a perfect mystery to just about everyone.

But he had shown that side to Iruka. Granted, only enough times to be counted on one hand- or a couple fingers, rather -but it was something that showed that he trusted Iruka, to be able to say something to him that no one else knew about.

Thoughts like that, for some reason, made his heart flutter. It made him enjoy spending time together all the more.

"I hear you're taking the children out of the village tomorrow." Iruka said, catching a stray leaf as it tried to dart over his shoulder. "Do you think they're ready for it?"

"If they are or not, it makes no difference." Came the reply. "It has to be done, they can't be babied."

"I know. But do you think that they're ready?"

Slowly Kakashi blinked his one eye at him. "What do you mean?"

He sighed. "There are a lot of dangerous people out there, especially for ninja. And for you." He continued, even when Kakashi had stopped walking. "There're a lot of rival villages that want to get rid of any potential threat to their chances of becoming Hokage. Students, teachers, anyone. They'd be more than willing to go after a jounin. Especially one that has students." Iruka stopped and turned. "Especially one with your level of skill."

Kakashi said nothing and only watched him.

"Do you think that they're ready?"

"I will be."


Mm. It was so peaceful here. Nothing to catch his attention, nothing distracting, nothing that would cause alarm. Kakashi sighed contently, flipping through his book as he lounged on the futon. The best part about traveling around, he decided, was coming back to the place you called home and sleeping in a decent bed. Whether it was your own or not was of no consequence in his opinion.

But then there was something else that was quickly becoming the best part, now wasn't there?

He smiled under the mask, and to himself, wondered just what his reaction would be.

"Maa," he said to himself, flipping another page, "how long are you going to take?"

To his easing patience, Kakashi didn't have to wait much longer for the person in question to show up.

He didn't say anything as he stepped through the door, merely pausing for a hairbreadth as he realized who was laying on the blankets. Instead, he just walked up next to him, looking down with an expression that made Kakashi wonder if he had done something wrong.

"I heard you came back today." Iruka said softly.

"So I did."

"I also hear that you got hurt."

Oh. "It's fine, the kids are fine. They were a bit shaken up but-"

"I heard that you got hurt."

Kakashi couldn't help but to look away. It suddenly felt very frightening being watched like that. "I did." So he turned the conversation to something else. "Did classes run late? I half expected you back earlier."

"I left, once I heard."

"Oh." He blinked at his own speechlessness.

"You weren't in your room." Iruka said, moving to shrug out of the thick vest, hanging it over a random piece of furniture. "You weren't anywhere else I could think of."

"I thought that you would've come straight back to your room, first."

"Of course I wouldn't!" He nearly snapped. The chuunin looked away, voice quieter. "How could I knowing that you were hurt?"

"I'm fine now." Kakashi said emptily. He hadn't realized how much it would effect his younger. How strong were feelings of friendship when they were still so new?

"Now..." echoed the whisper he nearly missed. Iruka couldn't say anything else, shoulders tense all down his back. He wanted to cry, say how afraid he was that it was serious, afraid that he could've died. He had heard the close call with Sasuke, and he was ashamed to say that the boy wasn't the one he worried over. When he had heard who it was- who they were -he had feared the worst.

And seeing Kakashi there, laying his bed, as if nothing were wrong, made everything inside want to spill out.

"I can't stand the thought." Iruka said. "Of you being beaten. The thought of you being weak... it hurts. Because I know you're not like that. But I can't help it. And that hurts, too." Something intense built up in his voice. "I worry everyday, and when I heard that you were attacked by someone with such a high skill, I automatically fear the worst. Because the thought of something happening to you frightens me."


He wrapped an arm around his waist, one hand going up to press against his forehead. "Please leave, Kakashi-sensei. I'm glad you're well and that you're back, but..." he bit his lip, "I've had a lot of time to think."

Kakashi's brows knit. "Think about what?"

A shaky smile tried to form on his lips. "I don't know. I haven't figured it out." His voice grew stronger. "Please, Kakashi-sensei. Leave."

Slowly, trying to figure out how exactly such events had come to pass, Kakashi rolled himself to his feet, watching the tense back speculatively.

"All right, Iruka-sensei." He bowed to his back. "I'm sorry for making you upset."

Don't be. Iruka thought. It's not your fault. You're not the problem. I don't know what is, but it's not because of you.

But it didn't matter if he had said it or not because Kakashi had already left.


He couldn't sleep that night. It was as if he were waiting for something in the dark, but he didn't know what. The bed was in disarray, blanket twisted restlessly around his body. Iruka let out a frustrated sigh, forcing himself to calm down, staring at the blank ceiling. He didn't even know what was really bothering him. All he knew was that he was upset with himself.

Because he had pushed Kakashi away. It was the last thing he wanted to do.

Then... why did he do it?

He didn't know. And the answer wasn't coming to him. In a burst of annoyance, he kicked the covers off his body and slunk forlornly towards the wide windows that nearly ellipsed half his room. With a sigh, Iruka folded his arms, sinking his chin in their folds and gazed blindly out into the moon shone world.

In the back of his mind he felt something appear nearby and with a jerk, shot upright and ready.

There, on a further ledge of his great window, was the long body of a ninja, crouched in the dark, silhouetted by the stars. He wore a uniform Iruka had seen very few times, used for the very rare occasions, sans the asigned armor. His gloves covered from fingertips to biceps in dark, he could see how the tight shirt stretched over the intruder's chest, muscled along his back and shoulders rippling in the moon. The light framed his face and hair in silver, face lost in shadow and fabric of a mask.

"Having trouble sleeping, too?" He asked. And Iruka was struck speechless at the voice.

Disbelieving he stuttered out. "Ka-Kakashi-sensei? What're you... doing here?"

He could hear the smile in his voice. "I left my book this afternoon."

"You," he didn't know what emotions ran through him, "you waited until midnight to come get your book? Dressed like that?"

"Why?" Kakashi asked, twisting his body, trying to see if something was wrong, letting the moonlight play seductively across the taunt material. "Does this make me look fat?"

No. Iruka thought, forcing his eyes away as he bit his lip. "Why are you here?" He asked again.

Kakashi understood the meaning behind the words. He let out a quiet breath and bowed his head. "I didn't mean to get you upset earlier. I care a lot about you and seeing you hurt... I-I didn't mean to." Iruka looked up at him. Kakashi stumbling over his words twanged something deep inside. "I just wanted to apologize and... I couldn't sleep, not knowing..." he searched for the right words, forcing them passed his mouth once he found them. Thanks to the night, for covering up his embarrassment. "Where we stood, now."

Concerned, the younger man walked closer, brows drawn, trying to search the shrouded face for something. "What do you mean, 'where we stood'?"

"You were upset with me."

"And?" Kakashi stayed silent. "You think that I would no longer want to be with you? Just for that?"

Again, silence met his question.

"Kakashi," the name sounded so oddly intimate without the title, "I care for you too much to let such a simple thing break us apart."

He saw that one eye glinting softly at him. "...I'm glad."

With little preamble, Kakashi reached out, letting his hand lay gently on Iruka's shoulder. The younger man placed his own hand over, letting the weight reassure him. He was surprised when that hand lifted up, cupping his cheek with its softness like velvet. Suddenly, Iruka felt the nearly insuppressible urge to cry, holding the hand tight against him, nuzzling the palm to subdue the tears.

His face was lifted and a soft, hungry kiss fell on his lips, followed by several more, growing hungrier and more urgent with each breath they took. Iruka hadn't realized when Kakashi had taken off his mask, but the thought floated far from his mind. Suddenly, he couldn't let go, he couldn't pull back. He held the jounin in a tight embrace, knowing that he would fall apart if he let the man go.

The two moved somewhat awkwardly further into Iruka's room, unwilling to stop, barely having enough room to maneuver without falling. Kakashi laid them out on the bed, his greater build pressing Iruka into the matting, delving into his begging mouth as if it were the only thing that mattered in the world.

Iruka didn't dare breath, afraid that if he opened his eyes or made a sound, Kakashi would disappear like a dream. So instead, he just held on, letting the emotions ravage him, letting Kakashi take possession of him. Their bodies rolled together, slick skin on burning hands and mouths that slowly drew themselves into madness.

He couldn't help but to pant his name, growing slowly louder and more urgent as they pushed, nearly crying out loud had Kakashi's mouth not been on his. Hands slack and sleep suddenly pulling him into its dark folds, Iruka tried to hang onto his naked shoulders.

But his hands fell to the bed, his breath slowing to a deep sleep.


He woke up the next morning, disoriented, the night prior clamored in his head, a mix of dreams and reality. Or dream and dream. Mutely he reached next to him, already knowing what was there. Or who wasn't.

Shaking, Iruka sat up. "Ka-" he couldn't managed to say it, already knowing that he wasn't there.

Was it a dream? What exactly had happened? Iruka wrapped his arms around himself, the need to cry suddenly overwhelming as he thought he could smell Kakashi on his body. Dark strains of hair, brushed loose from its band by fingers- that was a dream, it was done by him tossing in his sleep -curtained his face as his eyes etched out the outline of a book sitting by the bed.

Icha Icha Paradise.

Kakashi had left his book here.

Slowly, Iruka got to his feet, shaking slightly as he padded towards the book. He'd have to give it back today. He touched the smooth cover and flashes of the dream came back to him, making him gasp. In frustration, he rubbed the heel of his hand against his face.

If he could even face him.


Phew, that took a while. Anyway, because the idea came from more pretty KakaIru pictures, I just had to do it. It's a prelude to my other KakaIru fic 'One Night'. There's one more piece I have kinda floating in my mind that takes place between this and 'One Night', so go ahead and encourage me if you wanna see it. cackles
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