It happened on a Wednesday, several years after they’d been partnered for ANBU missions, which for Tenzou translated as several years of unspoken yearnings for his heroic Senpai. Maybe Tenzou could blame it on chakra exhaustion, which was known to happen to him on the occasional mission, but that wasn’t really it. He’d just… simply run out of the energy necessary to keep pretending his feelings weren’t too big to contain within his skin, that he wasn’t lovesick and pathetic and a fool.
There they stood in the locker room, stacking the segments of their armor on their individual locker shelves, and peeling the grimy mesh-reinforced shirts and gloves from their arms and chests. Tenzou eyed the faint tan lines that wrapped around the curves of Kakashi’s arms and upper body, and bisected his Senpai’s beautiful face, like he always did. Then something inside him had just loosened, like stepping and then sliding into quicksand, and the next moment he’d closed the distance and touched his fingertip to the mole beside Kakashi’s mouth, like it would fall off if he didn’t hold it there.
Kakashi didn’t move. Tenzou suddenly realized what he’d done — what the hell had he done? — and yanked his finger away like he’d poked it into a fire ant’s nest.
Kakashi just looked at him, not saying anything, and Tenzou didn’t dare to look away but he knew from the feel of the flames licking at his cheeks that he was turning red as a summer strawberry, and his head felt like it was full of helium and might float away on up to the ceiling.
After a long pause, Kakashi spoke. “You’ve got one too, you know.”
Kakashi came towards him, and Tenzou froze. His heart started thumping and he flinched when Kakashi reached for him, unsure if he’d crossed some boundary and was now going to be reprimanded, but Kakashi was not one to be deterred. He slipped his arm beneath Tenzou’s and slid his palm into the space between his shoulder blades, circling his fingertip in the exact center and pressing down.
Tenzou swallowed. They were so close right now.
“It’s right here,” Kakashi murmured, his uncovered eye dipping down from Tenzou’s gaze to his mouth, and then back up. “Bet you didn’t know that, Kinoe.”
“It’s Tenzou now,” he corrected automatically, and then flustered. “I mean, uh, really? Haha, I didn’t know I had a mole right there–”
Kakashi used the hand on his back to pull their bodies flush, bare skin on bare skin. Tenzou put tentative hands on Kakashi’s shoulders and grabbed hold, needing to brace himself in some way as his insides squirmed and fluttered and threatened to disintegrate him from the inside.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Tenzou blurted. Then he wanted to disappear, certain he was turning redder than pickled beets.
Kakashi’s lips smirked, and he tilted Tenzou’s head up by the chin. “Nobody’s perfect,” he said. Then leaned in and whispered, “Though you’re pretty close…”
Tenzou didn’t finish before Kakashi’s lips sealed his mouth and stole all the strength from his legs. He held on to Kakashi’s neck, determined to savor every moment for as long as it lasted, although this right here was already so much more than he’d ever hoped could happen.
Later, at Senpai’s place, Tenzou’s head rested perfectly between Kakashi’s shoulder blades as they lay twined together and caught their breath. Kakashi’s skin was warm, and scented with sweat and male musk and maybe a pleasant undertone of ninken, like the rest of his apartment. It was a good smell. He nuzzled into it and Kakashi chuckled and turned in his arms, gently pushing him over onto his back. Kakashi propped himself on an elbow so he could look down at Tenzou, expression fond.
“There’s no going back,” Kakashi teased, stroking a finger down Tenzou’s nose, lips, chin, and throat. “Now that we’ve moved forward.”
“Yeah,” Tenzou said, a bit dreamy still. “Wednesday should be our special day, Senpai.”
Kakashi laughed. “Well, maybe we got the order wrong for a first date, but how about I whip up some dinner?”
Tenzou grinned, then lifted a brow. “Sure. But I’ll supervise.”
The hard part about S ranked ANBU missions was the waiting. It could take days to stakeout the target’s environment, hiding up in gnarled trees or flattened and camouflaged against rooftops baked in the sun, all in order to choose the best course for getting in, getting it done, and getting the hell out. The days and nights could drag on, seemingly endless. Kakashi on watch, then Tenzou, then Kakashi again, rotating hourly shifts to catch any snatch of sleep without impairing their defenses, while a layer of grime and silt builds up on their skin and gear.
The harder part was after the job was done, making the escape. This was the part that could get snarly, once the enemy troops were alerted and went in pursuit; their unified desire for revenge made them extra dangerous. Kakashi and Tenzou streaked back to Fire Country as fast as their bodies could move, as quick as their jutsus would allow. Pushing, pushing, muscles strained and fatigued and energy reserves near to tapping out.
Even crossing the border didn’t mean they could stop — enemy nin had been known to pursue and retaliate quite some distance into the rural outskirts of their home turf. But once they made it inside Konoha’s patrol routes, they could take a chance and breathe, just a little, to stop maintaining such a relentless pace and instead start to replenish all that had been lost.
At the first hint of moisture in the air, Tenzou angled their course and then pulled Kakashi with him into the river’s arms, fully clothed, letting the current buffet their worn out bodies and shake free the dirt and sweat from the fabric now sticking tight to every crevice of their skin. Kakashi tugged on Tenzou’s breastplate and dunked him under the surface, slotting their mouths together in a slippery kiss that felt so warm and delicious under the cool water that tangled the strands of their hair and brought with it a strange and sweet relief.
Their armor was light enough not to sink them into the lowest depths, but the unpleasant weight of their wet uniforms prompted them to strip everything off as soon as possible. They laid their garments over bushes and swaths of wheat grass to dry out somewhat in the summer night while they swam and washed themselves clean.
After a while, they climbed out onto a dry shelf of rock that overlooked the deepest bend in the river, still somewhat on alert for any signs of their pursuers. Tenzou combed his fingers through Kakashi’s wet hair, scratching the pressure points on his tired scalp and smoothing thumbs along his temples. Kakashi looped his arms around Tenzou’s back, rubbing soft circles over the kinks and knots in his muscles, digging in with his fingertips and eliciting quiet sighs as he worked him over.
“Senpai,” Tenzou said, lips curving in a smile. “Do you recall what day it is?”
“Hmmm…” Kakashi traced lazy lines over Tenzou’s shoulder blades. “Then how about we prepare a romantic feast? What would you prefer — rabbit or fish?”
Tenzou smoothed his thumbs over Kakashi’s cheekbones, and nipped the mole by his lips. “Why not both?”
“I like the way you think.” Kakashi grinned, and claimed his mouth for a long interlude.
Tenzou had enough chakra to make some quick utensils, and they feasted on roasted fish with a pine nut crust gathered from the nearby woods, and simmered rabbit with scavenged rosemary and a gooseberry sauce. Bellies full, they stretched out on a wooden bench perfectly sized for spooning beside the small campfire, listening to the cicadas and counting the stars, renaming the constellations with private jokes.
When the moon was full overhead in the vast sky, they donned their damp gear and erased their presence, once again heading home to Konoha at full speed to give their mission report before first light.
Every night between ANBU missions was date night.
Forget going out to movies, or restaurants, or roughing it outdoors — once they arrived in Konoha safely from whatever grueling tasks their ANBU assignment could have entailed, neither Kakashi nor Tenzou had any desire to leave the cozy confines of their shared apartment or the comforts of each other’s company for any reason until the next mission.
The first hours were squandered with the luxuries of indoor plumbing, clean soap and shampoo, a hot bath, and a thorough brushing of teeth. The next hours held the frantic couplings that both had wanted for any number of days, but had been forced to deny, somehow holding out until making it back to their own home. It started in the bathroom, hasty and so urgent that it wasn’t very sexy, really, but the need was so great that even when their teeth clacked in the attempt to kiss and the tile echoed all the weird noises, even then it didn’t matter because the imperfections were still full of deep and abiding affection.
In the bedroom they found more of a groove, and made full use of the nightstand’s well stocked supply of condoms and lube, and any other goodies found in there depending on the mood. They barely left the bed except to change and wash the sheets, or order food delivery and eat it together tangled up on the couch in nothing but their briefs.
Kakashi sucked blatant purple hickies into Tenzou’s neck, just because it flustered the pizza, Chinese food, ramen, and sushi delivery people, regardless of gender or age or time of day. Tenzou allowed him this childish amusement, but put a few choice marks on Kakashi also, drawing out their afternoon lovemaking through all the colors of the sunset until the windows of their home were black and mirrored once more.
Kakashi groaned into the pillows, Tenzou’s whole body snug against him from shoulders to toes. He rocked their hips in maddeningly slow circles before pounding hard and fast. Kakashi sank further into the mattress, their private love nest, Tenzou’s breath like a sauna on the back of his neck. Like this they consumed, indulged, and spoiled each other with devotion layered like prayers to the heavens, knowing every free moment that they had together in safety and solitude was the most precious commodity of all.
In ANBU they’d often worked as a pair, jutsu and strategy seamlessly in sync. When Kakashi left the Corps to take on a genin team’s training, Tenzou didn’t realize how much things would change once their feet were pointed down different paths.
What aligned so naturally before, now had to be scheduled and coordinated. There were long stretches when Tenzou traveled far outside the village performing his duties, and times when he returned to find Kakashi had left for Wave Country or some other destination with his genin team tagging along. Their paths just never seemed to cross properly, and when they did…
“Yamato! Come join us,” Kakashi waved from inside the tea house, indicating an empty spot at the table where he was sitting with Asuma and Kurenai, the other Jounin who’d received teams to train. Kakashi had been seeing a lot of them lately.
“Sure, Senpai,” Tenzou smiled, secretly annoyed at the constant stream of interlopers.
He didn’t like to share his precious time with Kakashi, and wished he didn’t have to. It felt strange to be beside his partner without being clad in ANBU gear, instead each of them sporting olive flak jackets and standard issue navy pants that just contributed to the feeling that this was new for them, different, and something that would take a lot of time to get used to. Who were they? Tenzou wasn’t sure.
Kakashi’s world had broadened, and Tenzou’s had remained much the same. He didn’t know if he liked this new chapter, if it meant this kind of strain on their relationship, and for the first time, he was worried about the future.
But Kakashi took Tenzou’s hand under the table for a brief squeeze, and linked their fingers tight, as if to say: “I’m still here. I’m still yours.”
By the end of the evening, Tenzou came to realize that outings like this were a rare chance to see Kakashi socializing with their peers in a new environment. Maybe this opened a whole new territory to explore — going to movies, visiting the aquarium, eating Ichiraku ramen with the genin, or Iruka, or Gai, or everyone…
Tenzou slowly relaxed enough to join the conversation, and start to form friendships of his own. Maybe the occasional double or group-date wasn’t so bad after all. Every new side of Kakashi that he discovered, every new emotion and experience he learned at his side, meant that much more fertile ground for their connection to grow and bloom into something even more unique, and strong, and vibrant.
With war brewing, there weren’t many chances to see each other, period, much less plan a rendez-vous. There was too much to do, too much to prepare, too many dangers to ignore.
Tenzou was furious that Kakashi had returned from Sunagakure incapacitated. And he was scared. And then angry again. Nobody wanted to see their lover like that. But he thanked the heavens that he was selected to lead Team 7 while Senpai recovered, even if it meant they’d have even less time together than before, because at least in this small way they were still connected.
It had been so long since their last meeting, that the days and nights helping Naruto train his wind-natured chakra were like a secret honeymoon, one enjoyed through stolen glances, or a brush of hands as they stood and watched over their student’s progress. There was something magical about mentoring a student together, something unexpectedly satisfying. He thought it brought out the best in them, to bring out the best in their young charge.
That first night by the enormous waterfall, Kakashi was the one to set their futons side by side. This small acknowledgement of their relationship swelled Tenzou’s heart, though a part of him wondered if Naruto would realize what it meant.
Kakashi winked at Tenzou as he told Naruto that he was too rowdy of a sleeper and had to keep a reasonable distance from both his sensei. Tenzou and Kakashi slipped into their futons, side by side yet aching for each other, settling for the chance to converse through longing gazes and quiet tension, comforted with the knowledge that for now, the other was just an arm length away.
As Hokage, Kakashi thought he was about as diligent as all the previous Hokage had been, though Tenzou seemed to think this wasn’t true.
Those who had known him said that Hashirama had possessed a whimsical side to his temperament, and could be moody on occasion, so Kakashi imagined it more than likely that some paperwork sometimes slipped through the cracks. Tobirama, witnessing the First’s struggles every day as the head advisor, and probably wanting to be an even more strict and proper model Hokage than his elder brother had been, took things too far the other way when he wasn’t stirring up the sparks of war. Hiruzen started out with diligence in mind, but was all too happy to retire. Minato barely had a chance to make his mark before he was just… gone. Hiruzen coming back to the Hokage office after retirement, after such tragedy and widespread grief — who could blame him if his heart wasn’t in it any longer? And Tsunade, for all her diligence with medical jutsu, was all too eager to rush through the mountains of papers with her stamp to free her schedule and go on a sake bender, which meant some details would obviously have been missed.
Tenzou was always fussing and trying to keep him focused on the minutiae, but if he only looked at the village’s history, he’d understand that even if a few things didn’t go so smoothly with the Hokage’s ridiculous workload, ultimately the village had survived and prospered and the main goals had been met.
Kakashi sighed. It was late. Zero-dark-thirty late. He didn’t even know how many hours he’d been in the office that day, and was afraid to ask — Tenzou could be such a slave driver, he’d probably want to break the previous record, whatever it was.
“How’s your progress?” Tenzou asked, coming over to Kakashi’s left side.
Kakashi shrugged, not looking up. “Ohhhhh, you know… It’s going.”
Tenzou chuckled. “Then maybe this will help?”
Kakashi blinked to see a glass of champagne enter his field of vision, offered to him from Tenzou’s hand. He turned to his partner and saw he held a glass as well, an amused smile on his face.
“Why Tenzou,” Kakashi tilted his head, taking the offered glass. “You shouldn’t have.”
Tenzou’s shoulders lifted and fell in a version of a shrug. “It’s just before midnight… Wednesday’s almost over.”
Kakashi leaned back in his chair, holding Tenzou’s gaze. “So we’re having a little date in the Hokage office, hmm?”
“Once in a while won’t hurt. Unless you make me regret it,” Tenzou chuckled.
Kakashi reached for Tenzou’s waist, and guided him closer. Tenzou realized what he wanted and put down his glass on the desk so he could sit sideways across Kakashi’s lap, his long legs dangling off the other side of the chair.
When Tenzou picked up his glass, Kakashi clinked them together, and they looked at each other, smiled, and sipped. Tenzou curled an arm around Kakashi’s neck, and settled into Kakashi’s chest.
“This is nice,” Kakashi commented, enjoying the moment.
“There’s still a bit more work to do, you know,” Tenzou reminded, brushing his lips over Kakashi’s temple.
“Yes, yes,” Kakashi agreed, clinking their glasses a second time. “I’ll get to it. Promise.”
“I’m going to hold you to that,” Tenzou said, voice filled to the brim with affection.
“I know you will.” Kakashi squeezed Tenzou around the middle.
Then he set his glass down on the desk, and gently took Tenzou’s glass from his hand. This, too, he set aside. Tenzou slipped his other arm around Kakashi’s neck, and met him halfway for a kiss that lingered, and seared, and then smouldered with additional promises that would be fulfilled that night… after the remaining paperwork was finished.
Kakashi celebrated his retirement by leaving Konoha with Tenzou for an extended leave of absence to take a long, lazy trip through many different countries, stopping at any village that piqued their fancy.
At first, since they spent a lot of time camping between nights in modest hotels, Tenzou began crafting wooden bowls, and spoons, and other dishware, to make their travels a bit easier. Then they stopped in Chori no Sato, known for its ceramics, and Kakashi noticed a new inspiration and a new passion take hold of his partner.
They had all the time in the world to explore whatever they wanted, so Kakashi joined Tenzou for pottery classes and learned to throw on the wheel. When there weren’t many students around, and everyone was left to their own devices in the studio classroom, Kakashi liked to sit right up behind Tenzou, and look over his shoulder at the items he was creating. Sometimes Tenzou let him help center the clay, pulling Kakashi’s hands around his body so they could feel the clay through each other’s hands. It was oddly sensual, and Kakashi usually lost focus pretty quickly from the familiar woodsy smell of Tenzou’s skin, and the steady spin of the soft clay under his fingers. Tenzou could always tell when Kakashi’s thoughts turned to the carnal, and would carefully lift Kakashi’s hands away from the mound of clay and instead slide their sticky hands together, which somehow felt so erotic it was obscene until Tenzou turned around for a hungered press of lips.
The instructor always interrupted at this point with an exaggerated clearing of the throat and tapping of his foot, which amused Kakashi to no end.
Tenzou took what he’d learned from the village’s master potters, and had seen in their galleries, and the wooden forms he made began to change into the types of vessels displayed or presented to guests in high-end tea houses and upscale restaurants that they visited on their travels.
At one point, while camping in one of Tenzou’s cozy cabins, there was a terrible rainstorm that lasted more than two days. The two of them were safe and sound in Tenzou’s impeccably built structure, and enjoyed being able to cuddle and laze about, ration their food stores, enjoying the symphony of the rain and the thunder from the snug confines of their hut. At least twice, however, they fell prey to the frenetic energy of nature’s power surrounding them from all sides, and harnessed it to make love intensely and repeatedly, competing with the storm through the volume of their groans, cries, and guttural, sex-crazed howls.
When the storm passed, they ventured out to survey their surroundings and found the ground was smothered in a blanket of branches and leaves that had been tossed about as far as the eye could see. Tenzou came across a giant tree that had been felled with what looked like twin strikes of lightning. The trunk had been cleaved in two, split open, and the current from the lightning had burned through the wood in an intricate, black pattern that looked surreal, and magical, like calligraphy ink, or dragonfly wings, or the markings that made up any number of sealing jutsu.
Tenzou’s brows lifted, and Kakashi met his gaze. Kakashi bent closer to the wood, and ran his palm over the rough surface, very gently, just to brush away the debris and examine what the lightning had done. Curious, he called lightning chakra to his palm, and then touched his finger to a blank area of the tree trunk, sending the chakra into the wood. The electricity seeped into the wood and spread through the sap and the grain, creating unique patterns that were very pleasing to the eye. When he was finished, Tenzou gasped in awe. Kakashi’s stomach flipped with pride. How unexpected, that his chakra nature could be used this way?
“Senpai!” Tenzou said, all of him sparkling with excitement.
He formed the seals of his mokuton jutsu and created a large wooden bowl, and presented it to Kakashi. Kakashi wasn’t sure if this would turn out well or not, but he was game to try. He held the bowl in two hands, thumbs overhanging the lip, and focused his chakra into his fingertips. He released it slowly, experimenting with different levels of intensity, and when he finished, he was overall pleased with the results.
Kakashi handed the bowl back to Tenzou, who held it reverently and inspected the designs with his fingertip. Then he looked up, and smiled, and held the bowl out so they both could hold it. Kakashi’s heart thumped in his chest, looking at the object they made together.
“We could make a set,” Tenzou said.
That gave Kakashi an idea. “What if they nested, like in size order?”
Tenzou grinned. “Let’s try it right now.”
During the rest of their travels, they made, and sold, several sets of nesting bowls and other artworks combining Tenzou’s wooden forms and Kakashi’s surface decorations. He might not have a Sharingan any longer, but Kakashi learned to be even more precise with his lightning jutsu, and could engrave intricate patterns on almost any wooden surface to meet any customer’s custom specifications. In Konoha, Tenzou put an addition on their house, where they set up a pottery wheel and kiln, and various other equipment and tables for making whatever they wanted.
Some Wednesdays they spent making pottery together. Other Wednesdays they continued to hone their combined crafts, and produce elegant and timeless pieces that became something of a hot commodity. Still other Wednesdays they met up with friends like Gai, or Kakashi’s former genin team, or went to the movies.
But as long as he had Tenzou in his life, every night would be special, and something worth celebrating, for as long as they both should live.