Iruka felt like an idiot sitting alone at a table for two in one of the nicer restaurants in town. The waiter had asked him if he was ready to order three times already, and Iruka had said he was waiting for someone each time. The waiter probably thought he had been stood up. Hell, Iruka was starting to think that too.
He couldn't believe he'd let Naruto talk him into this ridiculousness, but then again there wasn't much he wouldn't do for the boy. Even if that something was getting set up with and then stood up by Hatake Kakashi.
Iruka rolled the remaining water around in his glass, staring at it like it might hold the answer to all his questions. Would Kakashi even show up? Probably not. How many water refills would they give him before they made him order or kicked him out? After an hour, he was on his third glass, he didn't think he'd get another. How long was it appropriate to wait before declaring this whole thing the failure that it was destined to be? Ninety minutes seemed like it might be enough.
Objectively, he knew Kakashi was a good person and he trusted Naruto's character judgment, but he could not even begin to fathom why Naruto would think they were "perfect for each other." Iruka blamed the matchmaking kick Naruto had been on ever since he'd gotten engaged. Iruka knew he just wanted everyone to be as happy as he was, but that didn't make this situation any less preposterous.
He'd finally agreed to the date just to get Naruto to drop it and he had a suspicion that Kakashi had done the same. They could go on one date, prove they just didn't click and then they could move on. Everyone would understand. It was the only logical outcome. Sure, Iruka might have to sit Naruto down afterwards and explain to him gently that "you like guys and were my teacher and he likes guys and was my teacher" did not mean two people were meant to be together, but he was fairly sure Naruto would take it well enough. Especially if Iruka told him over ramen. He was more worried about any other 'appropriate' candidates Naruto might try to find after they proved to him they wouldn't work.
He wasn't even surprised that Kakashi was late. Of course he was late. Now that he was hokage, he probably even had a good reason, a real one, but Iruka had heard enough of Naruto's stories to know he'd be late even without the promotion.
The waiter was making his way over to Iruka's table again, expression annoyed, when Kakashi walked into the restaurant.
"We'll just need a few more minutes," Iruka told the waiter as he gestured to Kakashi. The waiter turned around to see who Iruka was gesturing to and Iruka couldn't help feeling amused at the way his eyes nearly pop out of his head when he registered who it was exactly that Iruka had been waiting for. He bowed away from the table, leaving Iruka to watch Kakashi's approach.
Kakashi had the same lazy slouch he always had, the same bored expression, the same messy hair, the same everything. He looked and moved exactly the way he always did, but there was something off about him and Iruka couldn't put his finger on it immediately. Then it hit him. There were no ANBU following Kakashi.
Kakashi was notorious for slipping away from his ANBU guards, but Iruka knew for a fact that Naruto had written this date in bright orange marker on the hokage's official schedule. He'd told Iruka about it, clearly pleased with himself. Their date was official. The ANBU should know about the date. If this were the real Kakashi, they would be following him. Which only meant one thing. Kakashi had sent a damn clone on their date.
Iruka tried not to yell or throw things. The almost empty water glass in his hand felt like it had a good balance for throwing. He set it down on the table to resist the temptation. He taught students how to make clones on a regular basis, for fuck's sake. Did Kakashi think he was an idiot and wouldn't notice the difference?
He was just about to dispel it when he realized that if he did that, he couldn't tell Naruto that yes, he did go on a full date with Kakashi, but sadly it just didn't work out. If he dispelled the clone, he might have to do this all again.
The little trickster part of himself that had never completely grown up was pouting in the corner of his mind, upset that they hadn't thought of sending a clone as well. Stupid geniuses with their stupid genius ideas.
"You're late," he bit out as Kakashi's clone sat down. He'd go through this date, but that didn't mean he had to be a pushover about it.
"Paperwork," the clone said in a tone normally reserved for describing the battle with the kyuubi or the Fourth Shinobi World War. Its eyes looked haunted. Both of them, and Iruka still wasn't quite used to that. Not that he had spent much time looking into Kakashi's eyes before the war. Or had plans to change that now.
"There is so much paperwork," it continued, in the same traumatized fashion. "Mountains of it. Everywhere."
It was just so... honest. Iruka had been expecting some bullshit excuse about the road of life or cats in trees or helping old ladies paint their houses or whatever Kakashi liked to use these days. He hadn't been expecting honesty. The shell-shocked look the clone was sending him was almost disarming in its genuineness. Almost. Iruka was still irritated, though it did make him wonder if a person could have paperwork induced PTSD.
He cringed as he remembered Kakashi's mission reports and imagined what the man might be doing with the important stuff.
"Considering the usual state of your mission reports, I'm surprised the village is still standing."
The clone slumped in its chair. "I told them that when they made me hokage, but did they listen? No."
"All those years of poorly written reports for nothing?"
"Exactly!" Clone Kakashi said. "I should have called you as witness to my unfit character."
"The entire Desk staff would have been willing, if needed. Your reports are still the horror stories we tell the new kids when they start working the Desk."
"Surely they weren't that bad."
"You wrote an entire report in barely legible haiku," Iruka said flatly.
"Blooming cherry trees,
Three young ninjas search in vain.
A fat cat evades." the clone intoned.
Iruka felt the corner of his mouth twitch up. It was just a little amusing now that he thought about it, at the time it had been less so.
The waiter came back and took their order and Iruka mentally prepared himself for what was likely to be a long, awkward evening.
After the waiter left, the clone told Iruka in a very serious voice that it was convinced a missing-nin had placed a cursed seal somewhere in Hokage Tower that caused all paperwork to replicate exponentially. Thinking about how many forms he had to fill out just to get new chalk for his classroom, Iruka couldn't completely dismiss the theory as nonsense.
It wasn't until midway through the main course that Iruka realized he might actually be enjoying himself. Just a little. Kakashi's clone was smart and funny, their conversation was engaging, and Iruka even felt himself relaxing slightly. It was pretty decent company, he had to admit. Probably better than the real one, he thought uncharitably. He refused to believe that he might enjoy himself just as much if the real Kakashi were there instead.
They walked out of the restaurant together, Iruka nodded to the clone and turned to leave. Having fulfilled his promise to Naruto, he could now go home and be done with this whole thing.
"What? No goodnight kiss?" clone Kakashi called after him in a teasing voice. "I thought we were having such a nice time."
Iruka felt his heartbeat speed up. In irritation, not at the thought of kissing Kakashi, in clone form or otherwise. He had been content to let things be, but this was pushing it too far. Like hell he was kissing a freaking clone.
Kakashi deserved a little payback for all this, Iruka decided, so he schooled his features then turned back around toward the clone. Channeling every single shy, blushing virgin school teacher rumor that had ever been told about him, he looked down at the ground and bit his lip nervously before looking back up at the clone through his eyelashes.
"Okay," he said, voice quiet and tremulous.
The clone closed the distance between them, leaning in for a kiss.
Iruka didn't even hesitate. He stabbed it in the neck with a senbon. The face full of smoke he got as it dispelled was entirely worth it. He was just vindictive enough that he hoped the memory stung a little when it hit Kakashi.
One of his assistants noticed the sudden amusement in his eyes and sent him a questioning look, but Kakashi ignored him. He hadn't expected that at all. He'd sent clones on dates before. No one had ever killed one.
He had meetings from morning to night the following day, but decided to send another clone to meet Iruka after school just to see what he'd do. If anything, waiting to see how long it took Iruka to kill it would give him something to look forward to during the meetings.
The owner of a vegetable stand froze, giving Iruka a suspicious look.
Iruka turned around, grabbing Kakashi by the arm and quickly leading him away.
"Don't say things like that in public!" he hissed.
"Says the guy who tried to kill the hokage last night." Kakashi wasn't even trying to keep his voice down. Two retired kunoichi stopped what they were doing and eyed Iruka.
"I didn't try to kill you," Iruka whispered harshly, pulling Kakashi further away from people. The kunoichi casually followed after them. "I killed your clone. It's different."
"How long did you know?"
"From the moment you sat down."
And then Iruka realized. This was a clone too. It had to be. The entire Council was in town and they were probably talking Kakashi's ears off at that very moment. They wouldn't leave him alone long enough to come accuse Iruka of treason on a busy shopping street. Iruka's fingers itched for a kunai but they were in public after all and the two kunoichi were still watching them.
Why Kakashi had sent another clone, Iruka had no idea, but the clone seemed happy enough to follow along as Iruka ran his errands. They fell into conversation and Iruka found he was actually enjoying himself again. Having someone to run errands with was kind of nice for a change. It made the time go faster. It'd be nicer if it weren't a damn clone, though Iruka tried not to dwell on that.
Before he knew it, he was done and turning towards home. Kakashi's clone saw him to his door. If Iruka didn't know any better, he'd say it was almost acting like a gentleman. That image was ruined the next time the clone opened its mouth.
"Can I come inside?" it asked with a leer that made it clear the clone wasn't offering to help Iruka put away his groceries.
Iruka blinked at it for a moment and then smirked back. "Hold these so I can undo my wards?"
"Sure," the clone said, taking the grocery bags. For its trouble, Iruka hit one of its pressure points hard while its hands were full and it couldn't block the attack.
The momentary look of surprise before the clone puffed out of existence was entirely worth the hassle of chasing after all the loose pieces of produce that tumbled out of the one bag he couldn't catch before it hit the ground.
He considered saying no, but honestly, he was pretty hungry and didn't have much food at home. It had been a long day at the Academy and letting the clone buy him dinner would be so much easier than going grocery shopping. He agreed out of want of food, not the company that came with it.
Clone Kakashi told him half a dozen stories about Naruto's training days. Some Naruto had told him, others he'd never heard before. He remembered Naruto telling him about the time Kakashi had hired Team 7 himself for a D-ranked mission to give all his ninken baths. Naruto had made it sound like a battle that he had fought bravely and won single-handedly while Kakashi sat back and read his book. Kakashi's version made it sound like three genin getting washed by a pack of ninken. Iruka was willing to bet that Kakashi's version was closer to the truth.
"They really didn't like getting a bath," the clone concluded.
Iruka snorted and fought back the sudden urge to meet all of Kakashi's ninken. That was something only a real significant other might eventually get to do.
He didn't have time to think about that though, the clone quickly launching into another story.
If Iruka's food got cold before he could finish eating it, he didn't complain.
As the clone walked Iruka back to his place, it reached out like it was going to take his hand. The simple gesture was enough to remind Iruka that this wasn't real. Kakashi wasn't trying to hold his hand, a clone was. He let the clone take his hand, but only for long enough to loop the chakra wire he always stored up his sleeve around the clone's hand and then pull the wire tight. One second he was holding the clone's hand, the next he was holding empty air where the hand had been.
One of his assistants cleared his throat and Kakashi sighed. Right, back to work. The memory of Iruka's laughter stayed with him for the rest of the night.
That didn't stop Iruka from stabbing it in the leg with a dessert fork when it tried to slide too close to him though. Even after it was gone, Iruka could still feel the heat from where their thighs had pressed together.
The waitress came by to ask if they need anything else, looking confused for a moment when she realized Kakashi wasn't there anymore.
Iruka cursed himself. He should have waited until the stupid thing had paid for dinner. If Kakashi was going to mess with him like this, he should at least pick up the tab while he was doing it. Having to pay for food that had just dispersed out of existence was not Iruka's idea of a good time.
Iruka turned on it, not really thinking much beyond how sick of all this he was. He'd just had a long day, his class wild enough that even a tailed beast would shrink away from them in fear. He just wanted to be home and be done with the day, he didn't have the patience to deal with Kakashi's bizarre idea of courtship right now.
"EITHER YOU WANT TO DATE ME OR YOU DON'T," Iruka yelled at the clone then stabbed it in the arm.
It was a cathartic moment for Iruka until he realized that he was standing in the middle of the busiest shopping street in Konoha with over a dozen shinobi staring at him. Sure, they all knew it was a clone now, but that didn't change what it had looked like a moment before it had dispersed.
He shrugged and walked away as casually as he could manage. He did this sort of thing everyday, no treason to see here. But every cell in his body was screaming at him in panic because he had just STABBED THE HOKAGE IN PUBLIC.
He went straight home. Groceries could wait until he knew he'd be around long enough to eat them.
An hour later there was a knock on his door. He edged towards it slowly, imagining ANBU standing on the other side, ready to take him away for questioning. It was a stupid idea, he knew. ANBU didn't knock.
When he finally opened the door, Kakashi was smiling brightly at him. Even with all the worry about being declared a traitor to Konoha, Iruka didn't think, just started to pull a kunai out of his pouch. He couldn't deal with another clone right now.
The movement just seemed to make Kakashi smile brighter. "Now, sensei, haven't you committed enough treason for one day?"
Unlike all the clones, there were two ANBU shadowing this Kakashi, and both seemed to be watching them very intently.
"Oh shit, it's actually you." He put away his kunai with a slow, deliberate motion, keeping his hands in plain sight. The ANBU relaxed ever so slightly.
Kakashi gave him a little wave.
"What, no clone this time?" Iruka asked, still annoyed even through all the worry.
"He's doing paperwork," Kakashi said. Iruka almost felt bad for the poor thing. He wasn't sure if clones were even allowed to do paperwork legally.
They stood there for a moment until Kakashi spoke again.
"I think I owe you dinner."
Iruka raised an eyebrow.
"Or maybe a few?" Kakashi tried again.
Iruka might be willing to accept that.
At the end of the night, after a date that was just as nice as any he'd gone on with Kakashi's clones (if a little more awkward with the ANBU guards shadowing them), Kakashi walked him home.
When they reached Iruka's door, Kakashi stopped and looked at him, eyes searching his face. "If I ask you for a kiss, will you stab me in the neck again?"
Iruka blushed, wondering if Kakashi would ever let him forget that. After a moment, he grinned at Kakashi. If this was his new reputation, he might as well make the best of it. "I make no promises."
That didn't stop Kakashi from leaning in, purpose clear. Iruka closed his eyes tight and kissed him back.
Iruka blushed, he really wasn't going to live that down anytime soon, was he?
"Does that mean you're dating now?" Naruto was looking at him expectantly.
Iruka wondered if he should be worried about the fact that Naruto seemed to think stabbing someone in the middle of the street was a good indicator of dating.
"Yeah, we're giving it a try," Iruka said, rubbing at his scar.
Naruto's smile was blinding and Iruka couldn't help but smile back.
Morning light was filtering through Iruka's bedroom curtains, Kakashi was a warm weight against his side. The last thing he wanted to do was get out of bed and face the day, but the full Council was in town again and he'd promised Kakashi he'd sit in on the morning meetings dealing with the Academy.
He shifted, trying to build up enough motivation to get out of bed. Kakashi threw an arm across Iruka's stomach, clearly not wanting to get up just yet either.
"We need to get ready," Iruka said, voice still rough from sleep.
Kakashi made a noise of protest into his pillow. Their bed was warm and comfortable and Iruka would stay there all morning with Kakashi if he could, maybe into the afternoon if possible.
"Just think," Iruka said, "another year or two of this and then it'll be Naruto's job, not yours."
Kakashi made a happier noise at that, his arm across Iruka's stomach curling around him and pulling him close.
"Come on, let's get up."
Kakashi groaned again, lifting his head up enough to look at Iruka. His eyes were still blurry, his hair even more a mess than usual.
"What if we sent clones?" Kakashi suggested.
It was a ridiculous idea, Iruka knew that, a ridiculous idea that would piss off a lot of people if they were found out, but his inner trickster was waking up as well and he couldn't help the smile that started to spread on his face.
"What if we did?"
Kakashi grinned back and pulled him closer still.
It'd be okay just this once, Iruka told himself. Their clones probably wouldn't start any major incidents. Probably.