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One disaster less

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The last thing on your mind
The last word on your breath
I'll be the one to keep you
I'll keep you at your best

The last thing on your mind
'Cause I don't need your mess
I'll be the one to keep you
One disaster less

"The Last Thing On Your Mind," LIGHTS


"Resign as a shinobi? Are you sure about this?"

Kakashi peered at Yamato above clasped hands, and the doubt in his eyes was like a knife twisting in Yamato's heart. But Yamato pushed aside the pain and focused only completing his task.

He stood ramrod straight, hands clasped behind his back, the perfect posture of a shinobi at alert attention. When he spoke, he kept his voice even and emotionless.

"I'm certain, Hokage-sama."

"Hmm." Kakashi sighed, and was it Yamato's imagination or did he sound disappointed? Well, he had every right to it. He was yet another person whom Yamato had failed.

"Far be it from me to stop you if that's what you really want, but...why this, all of a sudden?" Kakashi lifted his head slightly. "We're only just beginning to rebuild after the war. We need as many shinobi as we can get, and I'd hate to lose one as fine as you, Tenzo."

It hurt, it hurt so damn much, and not for the first time did Yamato find himself almost missing Root. It had been so simple back then, when he had never had to feel anything. How he wanted to reach for his conditioning now and retreat to the safety of emotionlessness - but he couldn't. He'd forgotten how. Or was because this was Kakashi.

Even so, Yamato was proud of how calm he managed to sound. "I believe I am unfit to continue serving Konoha as I am now, Hokage-sama."

Kakashi blinked. Then he sat up straighter and leaned toward Yamato, his eyes serious. "This isn't about you getting captured, is it? There's no reason to quit for that - it happens to the best of us."

"It isn't that." Not good; for the first time Yamato's control cracked. He took a deep breath, centered himself. "It wasn't just getting captured. I understand that's a possibility all shinobi face."

"Then what's - "

There was no way Kakashi could be this dense. That he was pretending not to see the problem only infuriated Yamato further. "I wasn't just captured. I betrayed Konoha," he snapped before he could stop himself. "Because - because of my Wood Style - "

And though he'd done his best to hold the memories at bay, they began seeping back into his mind. The darkness. The silence. It was like death - there was nothing. He couldn't even move. He could only lie there, helpless, feeling his own chakra drain away, and it wasn't giving life to new growth or structures that could protect people; no, it was strengthening an army of beings that should never have existed in the first place.

And he couldn't do anything to stop it.

While he was trapped there, Kakashi and Naruto and Sakura and Sai, no, everyone was risking their lives fighting the creatures that he had helped create. People had lost their lives.

Because of his weakness. His powerlessness.

In the end he'd come full circle. Back in that tube, trapped, useless. Only able to watch as others died. I thought I could protect someone. How presumptuous of him. The war had proven the truth: he wasn't the First Hokage's successor or Naruto's mentor or anything like that. He was Orochimaru's experiment and he'd never be anything more.

"Tenzo." With a rustle of robes, Kakashi stood up. "Don't - "

"My codename is Yamato," Yamato found himself saying, spewing meaningless words to keep himself from crumbling even further.

"Tenzo," Kakashi repeated, more emphatically. "It's not your fault."

"You may say that, but you know the truth. If it wasn't for me, the Zetsu army would never have been as successful as it had."

"Well, they lost," Kakashi said, "so I wouldn't say they were successful at all."

"People still died."

"It's war." Something in Kakashi's voice hardened. "People are always going to die in war."

No, this wasn't the same as watching a comrade fall in battle - he'd lived through that, he understood it, he knew how to deal with it. But this time he hadn't just watched. He had - he had contributed to their deaths, and just thinking about it made him feel like he was being torn apart from the inside out.

"I allowed this power that was supposed to be for the village to be turned against the village. Against the entire shinobi world," Yamato said, addressing some point over Kakashi's shoulder. "I can't continue being a shinobi like this anymore."

"What are you even going to do, Tenzo?" Kakashi sounded wary. "Do you have a plan?"

Truthfully, Yamato didn't. He'd spent his whole life as a shinobi. All his memories were of training, battles, orders, missions. It was what he was meant to be, Danzo had said, and he had never imagined a different life for himself, not even after he had left Root's influence.

It didn't matter; he'd find something. Maybe life on the sea. He'd enjoyed that voyage he'd taken with Naruto, so long ago. One way or another, he just had to get away from here....

"You don't, do you?" Kakashi's voice cut through his thoughts, making him realize he'd taken too long to answer.

Yamato cloaked himself in the shield of formality once again. "Once I'm no longer in your service, my life should be of no interest to you, Hokage-sama."

"Quit it with the 'Hokage-sama' stuff, will you?" Kakashi said, exasperated.

"You are the Hokage. I'm asking you to approve my resignation."

"Well, if that's the way you want it...." Kakashi glanced up at the ceiling before looking back at Yamato, his eyes closed in a familiar cheeky smile. "No, I don't think I will."

"Senpai!" Yamato burst out before he could stop himself. "I mean, I mean, Hokage-sama - "

"Listen, Tenzo." Kakashi began to walk around the desk, heading toward Yamato. "I don't think running away's going to fix anything."

"I'm not running away!" His voice came out taut, strained.

"No, I think you are. The only reason you don't want to be a shinobi anymore is shame, isn't it? You can't face your shame, so you're running away from it."

With each step Kakashi took closer, with each word he spoke, Yamato felt weaker and more helpless. It took all of his effort to remain in place, stiff and at attention, instead of stepping back as Kakashi approached. Running away.

And Kakashi was gazing into his eyes with that same fierce resolve Yamato had seen before, the day when Kakashi had broken into the Root headquarters just to save him. Now it only made Yamato feel sick. Kakashi, of all people, should not be looking at him like that. Kakashi, the Sixth Hokage, hero of the war, indispensable to their victory - he shouldn't look at a failure like Yamato as if he actually mattered to him.

"I'm a failure," Yamato said, low and desperate. He had to make Kakashi understand. "What use is there for a shinobi who can't even fulfill the reason for his existence?"

"The reason for your existence." For the first time, a hint of anger slipped into Kakashi's voice. "And what might that be?"

"To serve Konoha as a valued weapon." And even while he was speaking the words here in the Hokage's office, some part of him was standing before Danzo-sama in the darkness of Root's headquarters, a child overwhelmed by the world outside of the glass cage that formed his only memory. He had looked up at Danzo, half in awe and half afraid, but had felt a warm glow at the thought that even he could be useful....

"Is that it?" Kakashi definitely sounded angry now. "A valued weapon. Is that what you think you are, Tenzo?"

"It's what I'm supposed to be," Yamato choked out. "But I - I - I couldn't - "

It was going to crush him, this guilt, this shame. He was amazed he could even still breathe through it. Once again he was imprisoned in Kabuto's lair - no, he was inside the tube in Orochimaru's lab - and what did it matter, it was all one and the same. The screams of the dying soldiers on the battlefield. The children disappearing, one after another, the lights going out. Danzo's voice, cold and terrible.

"My missions are absolute."

Then a hand closed around his wrist, the grip solid and tight and familiar, and a shudder raced through Yamato's entire body. Kakashi was so close; Yamato could feel the heat from his body. He didn't want to look into Kakashi's face. Didn't want to see what was in his eyes.

"A weapon. All this time, that's what you thought you were?"

"It's - it's the same for you too, isn't it, Kakashi-senpai?" Something was burning behind Yamato's eyes, something he steadfastedly refused to let out. No emotions, no name, no past, no future, he told himself over and over again, a desperate mantra. "Because we're shinobi."

Kakashi's grip tightened. He pulled Yamato closer and Yamato turned his head away, trying not to breathe in Kakashi's scent, refusing to look into his eyes.

"There was a time, once, when I would have thought the same about myself." Kakashi's voice was outwardly calm, but Yamato didn't miss the fury trembling behind every word. "But it's different now. I'm the Hokage, and it's not because I'm a perfect weapon or anything like that. It's because of the bonds I made. With the villagers, with my teammates, with my friends. With you."

"How can you say that? After I - "

"I know more than anyone what it's like to fail someone, Tenzo. Many times, there were people I couldn't protect...but I became stronger so I wouldn't lose anyone else. Do you understand?"

Yamato thought about the tree that had given Yukimi back her life, the kunai he had refused to use to gouge Kakashi's sharingan out. The strain wracking his entire body as he struggled to hold in the Kyuubi, Naruto's smiles and thanks afterwards.

But it didn't matter, he wanted to say, it didn't mean anything because during what should have been the biggest battle of his life he had been busy aiding the enemy. How could Naruto even stand to look at him? How could Kakashi stand to touch him?

"Let go, Kakashi-senpai," he said, low with despair. "Please. You don't deserve...."

"Now, now, I think I can decide what I deserve for myself," Kakashi said playfully. His grip on Yamato's wrist didn't relax. Yamato found himself remembering countless touches, caresses, kisses, and his insides curled in on themselves in disgust. No, not because he had hated it - he never had - but because as he was now, he and Kakashi - couldn't -

"Tenzo. Come on. Look at me." He sounded so gentle, and it made Yamato even more furious and ashamed. Why couldn't Kakashi be angry? He'd always been like this, never blaming Yamato for a mission gone wrong, only encouraging him to do better next time.

But that wasn't what Yamato wanted now - what he needed. He needed Kakashi to hate him just as much as he hated himself.

He needed to cut all ties to Konoha so it wouldn't hurt so damn much when he left.

No emotions, no name, no past, no future, the Root mantra repeated in his head, but it was meaningless. He'd long passed the point when he could easily discard his bond with Kakashi, if he ever had been able to.

Kakashi had been the one to lead him from the darkness, to show him the true power of bonds. It was all Kakashi's fault that he was like this now. It was all Kakashi's fault that he wanted with a terrifying intensity to stay here and lean against his shoulder and feel like he belonged. Instead of doing what was best for Kakashi, for Konoha....

"Tenzo." Kakashi said his name with a tenderness that made his heart feel raw as a bruise. "I don't blame you for anything, okay? Nobody does. If you leave, I'm sure Naruto and Sakura and the rest of them would be sad."

"Is that so?" Yamato said to the floor. "They're heroes now."

"If it wasn't for your help, they wouldn't have come as far as they have. And me. I need you, Tenzo."

"Even after I used my Wood Style to - "

"Wood Style." Kakashi spoke the words with a contemptuous edge. "As if that's the only reason I want you around."

"It's the reason I was made a shinobi," Yamato said. The floor was beginning to blur in his vision.

Yes, the reason Danzo had saved him, the reason the Third Hokage had taken him in, the reason he'd been made the new leader of Team 7. The reason Kabuto had captured him. It all boiled down to that one simple fact.

And he hadn't minded, he'd even been proud of it. With his Wood Style, he could be useful. He could help people. People would want him.

Kakashi wanted him now. Yes, it made sense; the Hokage wouldn't want the Wood Style user to leave Konoha's hands, especially after seeing the damage he was capable of.

Yamato wanted to believe this. He had to believe it.

"Maybe so," Kakashi said, soft and contemplative, "but that's not why I want you here. Look, if you tell me you never want to use Wood Style again, I'm fine with that."

Yamato's willpower broke; he lifted his head and stared at Kakashi incredulously. "Senpai, you don't - "

"What, you doubt my sincerity? I'm offended!" There was a familiar twinkle in Kakashi's eyes, and more than that - a warmth that seemed to fill every empty space of Yamato's body. He'd looked at Yamato like that countless times before, like he couldn't believe how lucky he was to be by Yamato's side, and Yamato would always think that no, he was the lucky one.

Kakashi was looking at him like that now. When he'd never deserved it less.

He was frozen. He couldn't move, not even as Kakashi moved a hand to his face and touched his cheek tenderly, gently, as if afraid he'd hurt Yamato if he used even the slightest more pressure.

"I don't need you to be a weapon for Konoha," Kakashi said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I just need you to be by my side, Tenzo. The war's over. It's time to build the future, and maybe I'm just selfish, but I can't imagine doing it without you."

Each of his words, gentle as they might be, cut Yamato a little bit more. It felt like he was burning from the inside out, shriveling, dying - but a forest needed to burn before new life could take hold. That was true too, wasn't it?

A shinobi lives for his missions, Danzo had told him long ago. I will rely on your Wood Style in the future. He understood it, then: his life only had meaning if he was useful. A useless weapon was discarded.

But here he was, and Kakashi didn't think he was useless. No matter how low he fell, no matter how badly he failed, Kakashi still wanted him.

He'd thought he understood bonds. Understood love. Now he realized he hadn't understood until this very moment.

Yamato didn't think. He flung himself forward, wrapped his arms tight around Kakashi's back. Kakashi tensed, but then he returned the embrace just as fiercely. He was trapped in Kakashi's arms, he couldn't move - but it was nothing like it had been in Kabuto's lair, because here everything was safe and warm and he was wanted. Not because of his chakra or the DNA he carried but simply because he was him.

Yamato felt himself trembling; Kakashi's grip tightened on his back. Comforting him. He buried his face into Kakashi's shoulder, breathing in Kakashi's scent, and finally he surrendered himself to the wild rush of emotions he'd been trying to hold at bay ever since the war had ended. His throat clenched tight and the tears spilled, hot and stinging.

In some dim corner of his mind he heard Danzo lecturing about what a shinobi ought to be - no name, no emotions, no past, no future - but it was easy enough to brush aside. Because Kakashi was here, warm and solid, gently patting his back and letting him cry all over his Hokage robes just like a child, and Yamato was gasping and sputtering, making horrible noises, but it was fine because he didn't need to hide anything from the man he loved. The man who loved him and didn't need a reason for it.

"S-senpai," he gasped into Kakashi's shoulder. "Senpai, I'm so sorry, I - "

"Now, now." Kakashi playfully ruffled his hair. "What do you have to be sorry for?"

So much, but Kakashi wouldn't want to hear it and he didn't need to say it. Not when it didn't matter anymore.

He didn't know how long he clung to Kakashi and cried. Only when it felt like he no longer had any water left in his body, when he felt empty and aching and shriveled, did the tears finally slow, then stop. His sobs settled into pants and whimpers. If it weren't for Kakashi's firm grip, he felt like he would slide down to the floor and melt away into nothing.

For a while Kakashi continued holding him. Against all reason, Yamato started to feel rather sleepy. Before he could drift off completely, though, Kakashi asked, "How are you feeling?"

"I..." Yamato blinked. Even that simple motion made his eyes burn. "I...I feel better. I think."

"Well, that's good." Though Kakashi sounded calm, Yamato didn't miss the genuine relief in his voice, and his heart pounded as he realized just how much Kakashi must have worried about him.

"I'm sorry, senpai," Yamato said quietly, lifting his head from Kakashi's shoulder.

So he got a good look at Kakashi's startled blink. "Hm? I said you didn't have anything to be sorry about."

"I...I made you worry...."

"I'm only worried because I care about you, idiot."

"I know." Yamato said the words without guilt - well, much guilt. Some part of him still believed he didn't deserve anyone's care, but he knew with a certainty that pounded in his bones that part was wrong.

It was because he cared about the villagers, his friends and teammates, that it had hurt him so much to use his powers against them. And it was because Kakashi cared that he'd gone so far to convince Yamato to stay.

Kakashi's grip slowly loosened - but before he could let go, Yamato acted. He leaned forward and pulled down Kakashi's mask and pressed his lips to Kakashi's. The kiss was sloppy and rushed, the angle not quite right, but it sent a rush of excitement through Yamato's body anyway.

"Whoa now," Kakashi said when Yamato drew away. To Yamato's satisfaction, a bright red blush was staining his cheeks. Usually his senpai was the one to make him blush. "Where's this coming from?"

"I want to," Yamato said plainly, and that was the truth. Because you said you wanted me. Because you'll want me no matter what.

It wasn't easy to put into words, so why not let his actions speak instead?

"Hey, if this is your way of trying to prove you're useful, you really don't need to," Kakashi said quickly. "This isn't the only reason I want you to stay, you know."

Yamato pressed his hand to the back of Kakashi's head and leaned in so close their noses touched. "How mean, senpai. Are you saying I'm not the best lover you've ever had?"

Kakashi turned even redder, and Yamato started to get the slightest inkling of why Kakashi loved teasing him so much. Just the slightest.

Then a familiar predatory smile spread across Kakashi's face, igniting sparks somewhere deep inside Yamato. "Don't get too full of yourself, my adorable little kohai."

With that, he pulled Yamato toward him and kissed him, long and slow and sensual. Yamato felt himself melt beneath the expert movements of Kakashi's mouth, and he only melted further when he parted his lips and let Kakashi's tongue inside. It rubbed wantonly against his own and he thought might drown in the burning hot pleasure.

When Kakashi pulled out of the kiss, Yamato didn't waste time drawing him into another one, and another, each kiss hotter and sweeter than the last. The sound of their lips meeting, their rough breathing, filled the entire office.

"Hey, hey, Tenzo." To his annoyance, Kakashi pushed his face away when he leaned in for another kiss. "Should we - should we really be doing this here?"

"Well, you made me cry so it's only fair you make up for it, right, senpai?"

"What! I made you - hey!" as Yamato pressed a kiss on the underside of his jaw. "Okay, fine, fine. If that's the way it is, it can't be helped."

He was only feigning reluctance, of course; Yamato could feel the violent racing of his heart, hear the breathless excitement in his voice. It really had been too long since the last tme.

And silly as it might be, even though Yamato knew Kakashi wanted him beyond all doubt, he still wanted proof. He wanted to know not just with his heart and mind, but his body too.

With fumbling fingers, they attacked each other's clothes. Kakashi had gotten his shirt off by the time Yamato's hips bumped solid wood and he realized he'd ended up backed into the desk. Fucking on the Hokage's desk - the thought had never crossed Yamato's mind before but now he wanted it like nothing else.

Then Kakashi started planting kisses and bites on the exposed skin of his throat, and Yamato gave up on thinking. "Nh - ah - senpai - ahh!"

His voice vanished into a squeak when Kakashi started rubbing his nipples, teasing the sensitive buds with expert precision. It only got worse when Kakashi replaced his fingers with his mouth; Yamato's entire body tensed and the noise he let out barely sounded human.

"You're always so sensitive here," Kakashi muttered against his skin, driving Yamato even crazier.

Still, he had the presence of mind to gasp when Kakashi started kissing a trail down his chest, "Senpai - senpai, wait, me too - "

He didn't know if Kakashi even heard him - he could barely hear himself above his pounding heartbeat. But then Kakashi pulled him closer and he reached for the front of Kakashi's Hokage robes and drew them open, helping Kakashi shed the heavy layers.

As he exposed Kakashi's chest, Yamato leaned forward to kiss the pale skin, but that was when Kakashi's hand reached the waistband of his pants and yanked down the zipper. Yamato didn't have time to catch a single breath before Kakashi palmed the erection straining inside his underwear.

"Ah!" Yamato tossed his head back, unable to handle the heat surging through his entire body. His cock jumped beneath Kakashi's touch, hardening further. Madly he started thrusting his hips, trying to get even more of the mindless pleasure, but Kakashi gave him a little push and sat him down on top of the desk.

"Senpai, what - "

Kakashi winked. "So impatient, aren't you? It's adorable."

Yamato blushed and sputtered. "Enough - enough teasing!"

"Demanding, too," Kakashi drawled. "Well, I guess you do have a point."

With that, he pulled down Yamato's pants and underwear, fully exposing his erection. The cool air brushing his heated skin made his cock jump. It was just as well that he was sitting now; there was no way he'd be able to continue standing.

All thought fled when Kakashi delivered the throbbing head a firm squeeze. "F-fuck," burst out of Yamato's mouth before he could stop himself.

"Fuck you already? I've just gotten started," Kakashi said, infuriatingly calm, and if Yamato found himself seriously considering slapping the Hokage.

Then Kakashi's hand moved down, stroking his shaft, and Yamato gave up on anything besides thrusting his hips, trying to get more of his cock inside Kakashi's expert grip. He dug his nails into the wood of the desktop in a mad attempt to anchor himself, but it was useless - not when Kakashi started rubbing and groping his balls.

"Ka-Kakashi-senpai," he groaned, reaching out blindly. "Please, I - "

"Hmm, are you going to cum right now, Tenzo? Would be a shame, so early...."

"Ah - for you - mm - I also - for you - " Damn it all, it was almost impossible to put together words through the infernal heat melting his brain. "Please - "

A sob tore from his throat as Kakashi trailed a finger up his cock, the feather-light touch making his entire body tremble, and the sob turned into a whimper when Kakashi teased the slit, already leaking precum.

"Senpai, I - please, I want - for you - " Despite everything, Yamato still struggled to push out his words. He didn't just want - if he could show his gratitude to Kakashi in his own way -

To his surprise, Kakashi leaned in close and kissed him. It was brief but electrifying, and it drove Yamato's need even higher. The next thing he knew, he felt Kakashi's hand close around his wrist and pull his hand forward. His palm pressed against slick, burning-hot flesh and a jolt raced down his spine.

"Right there, Tenzo." The hitch in Kakashi's voice made Yamato even more excited. "Your turn."

A grin spread across Yamato's face as he felt Kakashi's cock throb beneath his hand. "Senpai's such a pervert, getting this hard just from touching me."

"You're just too cute. I can't resist." Kakashi's answering smile stirred a different kind of heat inside Yamato - not the searing pleasure, but something softer, gentler. How he loved seeing Kakashi like this, unmasked, vulnerable, his hair in disarray, a lovely pink color staining his cheeks, and his eyes so, so warm.

This was trust. Yamato had earned his long ago, and no matter what happened from here on out, nothing would be able to break it. Even if he fell, Kakashi would be there to help him back up.

And - perhaps it was presumptuous of him, but he thought it anyway - he wanted to do the same for Kakashi.

He didn't want to leave. In his heart, in the place where only truth dwelled, he didn't want to. All he'd ever wanted was to stay by Kakashi's side. He'd believed he no longer deserved it, but he'd been wrong. Kakashi had seen it long before him.

Slowly, Yamato reached up and rested his hand on the back of Kakashi's head, digging his fingers into the soft silver hair. Kakashi blinked, but then Yamato pushed down, bending him closer. All he could see was Kakashi's face, Kakashi's eyes shining with love.

"I love you, Kakashi-senpai," Yamato said with no doubt, no hesitation whatsoever.

Then he tightened his grip on Kakashi's cock - feeling it swell and twitch in his hand - and guided Kakashi closer and pressed Kakashi's hardness against his own.

Kakashi jerked; Yamato felt the motion reverberate through his own body. He opened his mouth like he wanted to say something but before he could, Yamato pulled him into a passionate kiss. As his tongue plunged into Kakashi's mouth, he squeezed both of their erections in his hand and started thrusting his hips, rubbing his cock against Kakashi's.

It didn't take long for Kakashi to start thrusting as well, matching his rhythm perfectly. All Yamato could feel was the blazing heat, Kakashi's skin against his, pressed so close he could hardly tell where he ended and Kakashi began. He gasped and moaned into Kakashi's mouth, sweat trickling down his temples. Kakashi panted too; their breaths mingled, perfectly in sync.

Yamato had never felt like this before. In the tube, in Root, he'd always been alone, watching the world pass by outside his hermetically sealed bubble. Even when he'd joined Kakashi's team, when he and Kakashi started to realize their mutual attraction, there was still a divide between him and everyone else. Because in his heart of hearts, he'd believed that he didn't belong. That he had to prove himself.

Now it was all gone, the divide. He was unraveling and so was Kakashi and they were tangled together and would never come apart again.

He and Kakashi rubbed each other almost frictionlessly, slicked by precum; his thighs twitched madly; heat pooled in the pit of his stomach. His hand was in Kakashi's hair and Kakashi's hand was on his back, between his shoulder blades, holding him with a pressure that made Yamato feel more solid and grounded than anything else. And then Kakashi's other hand covered his hand, closing around both of their cocks too, and the intimacy of the touch was too much - all he could feel was Kakashi's skin, warm and alive, all around him -

He thrust harder than ever and the pleasure swept through him like a burning blade and he heard Kakashi grunt and felt Kakashi's cock twitch against his own and Kakashi's nails dug into his back and he moaned Yamato's name at the same time Yamato moaned his and everything came spilling out at once. The hot liquid, slicking their cocks. Their voices, crying out in concert.

Their love, their shared joy and trust and relief.

The force of the orgasm drove Yamato flat on the desk; Kakashi tumbled over him. His warm weight pressed down on Yamato and Yamato sighed, feeling himself come harder. It just wouldn't seem to end. Their lips met in another clumsy, desperate kiss.

And then there was nothing. Kakashi slowly lifted himself from the kiss, his hot breath brushing Yamato's skin. Yamato's hands had ended up along his sides, pressing into the muscled contours of his body. They gazed into each other's eyes as their breathing evened out.

For a while, neither spoke. Yamato couldn't remember ever coming so hard before; he felt like he'd tumbled off a ledge into the sea. The hard wood of the desk pressed into his back but he didn't mind; it was real and solid, just as much as Kakashi above him.

"Tenzo." Kakashi spoke his name with a tenderness that made tears sting his eyes. Unbidden, he found himself remembering Yukimi, her smile. She was the first one to love him, and not the last by far.

There was Kakashi, and not just Kakashi, but Naruto, Sakura, Sai, even Guy, even Tsunade-sama. All the people who tied him more firmly to Konoha than mere loyalty alone. He had not been able to fight for them during the war - but that didn't mean he wanted to give up on fighting for them. Now he understood.

"Tenzo," Kakashi said again, and Yamato realized he'd let his mind drift. "Do you still want to leave?"

Yamato blinked, startled. "Why are you asking that now?"

"Well, that's what you came here for, right? To ask the Hokage for permission to resign."

How long ago that seemed, though it couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes ago. Yamato squeezed Kakashi's sides and smiled. "I changed my mind, senpai."

Kakashi winked and grinned. "I'm that persuasive, huh? And here I thought I'd at least need to go inside to make you - "

"It's not because of that," Yamato protested, blushing. "It's've made me understand. I would miss you if I left. I'd miss everyone, and I would regret it. I didn't fail you, Kakashi-senpai. You've made that more than clear."

"I'm glad." Kakashi's smile became relieved, making Yamato's heart twist. "I'll ask again, Tenzo. Will you stay by my side? Will you face the future with me?"

"What is this, senpai? A proposal?"

Kakashi huffed a laugh. "No, it's me asking you to serve as the Sixth Hokage's bodyguard. Well, you can take it as a proposal if you want."

The Sixth Hokage's bodyguard. Yamato's heart slammed painfully against his ribcage. That tiny voice of self-doubt in him - never silenced, but quieter than before - insisted that it was impossible, when he'd proven he couldn't protect anyone during the war. But Kakashi still had faith in him. He still trusted Yamato with his life.

Who would Yamato be if he regretted that trust?

His chest felt too tight to speak - but he didn't need to. He lifted his head, leaned forward, and kissed Kakashi, slow and gentle. He could feel Kakashi's heartbeat pound against his own chest. just as quick and excited. As hopeful.

"I think I'll wait until later to formally swear myself into your service, Hokage-sama," Yamato said dryly when he pulled out of the kiss. "Now hardly seems like the most dignified time."

After all, they were lying naked on the Hokage's desk, and they'd probably gotten cum all over it besides. Incredibly, in spite of everything, he felt a laugh beginning to bubble in his throat.

"Fine by me." When Yamato pushed at Kakashi, trying to get him off, Kakashi wrapped his arms tighter around Yamato and buried his face into Yamato's shoulder. "Now, now. I'm in no hurry. Let's stay like this a little while longer."

Yamato wanted to protest - what if somebody came in? - but most of him felt too warm and comfortable and safe in Kakashi's arms.

After all, it was where he belonged.