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i stay up wondering

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Kakashi drops his pen. It clatters onto his desk and rolls onto the floor. Iruka looks up from his stack of papers, startled.

“Getting clumsy in your old age?” Iruka teases.

“I’m only four years older than you.”

“Practically a lifetime,” Iruka says.

Kakashi never thought he’d be the Hokage, or that his time spent with Iruka would become the most precious to him.

The amount of experiences and echoes of trauma shared between the two of them is enough for three lifetimes.

And Kakashi wants more, looking at the streaks of grey in Iruka’s hair and the smattering of wrinkles.

“Did you ever think about leaving the Academy?” Kakashi asks. “Doing something else with your life?”

Iruka’s brow furrows and he scratches the back of his neck, a gesture Kakashi can visualize as soon as Iruka’s hand starts to move.

“I couldn’t leave Naruto,” Iruka says consideringly, “not when he was young. And where would I go? All my loved ones are here.”

Kakashi’s heart thumps in his chest. He wants to be part of that category; he wants Iruka to love him.

“Did you want something else from life, Kakashi?”

He thinks of his home that gathers dust on most surfaces, and the couch in his office he sleeps on when the emptiness of his house presses into the dark crevices of his mind he tries to ignore.

“I wanted someone to go home to,” Kakashi admits. And I wanted it to be you, he adds privately.

Iruka’s expression pinches minutely and then smooths itself out. “You can still have that. Jokes about your age aside…”

“Do you go home to someone?” he asks. He never assumes he knows every part of a person’s life: maybe the soft smile he sees Iruka wear sometimes when they’re together is for thoughts of them.

“You should know that I don’t,” Iruka replies, slowly. Hair is escaping from the low braid Iruka favors in the evenings they pass doing paperwork.

Kakashi swallows against the anxiety in his gut. “You’re the village’s most eligible bachelor, Iruka.”

That comment causes Iruka to freeze, before he makes eye contact with Kakashi. “No,” Iruka says. “I don’t consider myself available.

“If I’m not at the Academy, or spending time with Naruto, where do you think I am?”


Iruka laughs, the full, boisterous one that Kakashi treasures. “I set myself up for that one,” he admits.

“I’m with you, Kakashi.”

It hangs in the air and Kakashi runs a hand through his hair as he parses Iruka’s words.

“Funny thing,” Kakashi says. He resists the urge to close his eyes, meeting Iruka’s patient yet skittish gaze. “I’m in love with you.”

This time, it’s Iruka’s pen that falls to the floor.

“For years now, I think, isn’t that strange?” He can feel words churning, the need to blabber until Iruka politely makes his excuses. Kakashi can’t keep looking at him and stares at the wood grain of his desk.

The chair Iruka sits in scrapes on the floor and Kakashi flinches. Leaving without a word is uncharacteristic for Iruka, but, if that’s the way he feels—.

A hand touches Kakashi’s cheek, and Iruka sits on his desk. “Kakashi,” Iruka says, and leans down and kisses him.

Kakashi dreamt of this when returning Naruto to Iruka at the end of team seven missions, and after blistering fights of protocol, and when they made their way to Naruto’s wedding together.

“I love you,” Iruka says between kisses. “I thought you knew.”

Kakashi kisses Iruka, hand reaching up to twist in the braid he’s ached to undo.

“Come home with me,” Kakashi says. “Be my home.”