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The Search

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The Present:

 

"It's okay Sensei, I took care of that bastard Mizuki, I'm going to get you some help." Desperation laced Naruto's voice. 

 

Iruka could only nod at the boy's words. Naruto was reluctant to leave his beloved teacher in this state, but he desperately needed medical attention. He quickly took off towards the village.

 

"You can come out now Mizuki, he's gone." Iruka rasped out.

 

A kunai flew past Iruka's ear and hit the trunk behind him. Disoriented, he couldn't make out the sounds and figures around him. The chunin tried to reach behind him but let out a pained gasp instead. A wave of dizziness hit him, making Iruka shut his eyes. 

 

Suddenly he felt a pair of arms around him pulling him up and onto their back. The last thing he was aware of was rough hair tickling his nose. 

 

Mizuki pushed through the dense forest, periodically looking behind his back for any Hunter-nin. Finally, seeing his destination, he slowed down. The chunin let go of Iruka's arms and let him fall with a loud thud. Seeing that the fall didn't wake up the brunette, he pulls out a Kunai, twirls it while he kicks Iruka's leg.

 

 "Wake up." 

 

Mizuki crouches and digs the Kunai into Iruka's leg, immediately Iruka wakes and screams as Mizuki moves the blade inside his leg. The white-haired Chunin covers Iruka's mouth with his hand. "Shut up, idiot, you'll wake up the village." Wide eyes harden as they focus on Mizuki.

 

"Do you recognize where we are?" Iruka shakes his head no.

 

"Good, that's good." Mizuki gets up from his crouch and paces, "Good, good."

 

He abruptly turns back to Iruka, he starts kicking at his stomach. "You. Weren't. Supposed. To. Get. In. The. Way."

 

Mizuki started to pace again, rubbing his face, he panted "This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to kill the brat, and then you'd take the blame. I'd get the recognition."

 

The Chunin crouched in front of his victim and grabbed him by the chin. "I was supposed to be the hero that killed the nine-tailed beast, the one who took down a rouge teacher." His face contorted into a snarl, "But sweet, weak little Iruka Umino just had to get in the way. Had to take the fucking shuriken in the back and save the demon."

 

Mizuki let go of Iruka's face and got up, "It doesn't matter anymore. At least tonight, I'll finally be rid of you. Goodbye, Iruka, say hi to my parents for me." Mizuki gave him a last blow to the head, and Iruka's world went black.

 

 

 

"Little one, little one, it's time to wake up." A hand brushed back the hair from his face. "I don't feel good, mama. It's hot." The young child mumbled. A hand brushed his forehead, "He feels a bit warm, Kohari, maybe we should leave him be." Voices continued around him, but Iruka couldn't make them out. 

 

After some time, a wet cloth is placed on his forehead, and Iruka whimpers from the cold. 

 

A soft voice whispered in his ear, "It's alright little one, everything will be alright."

 

 

The first thing the brunette felt was the pain. Pain radiating from his upper back, he tried to move, but calloused hands stopped him.

 

"You'll reopen your wound. Don't make this poor man redo it."

 

Iruka opens his eyes and sees that he is lying on his stomach on the floor. Disoriented, Iruka looks around the room, the old man who spoke to is was on his left on a chair. He is on the floor in front of a fire. An unmade bed on the other side of the room; it was a utilitarian room and was unfamiliar to the young man. 

 

The young man swallowed and rasped, "Where am I?"

 

The old man pulls out a pipe from his robes and lights it. "We're in my home." He sits in his chair while Iruka becomes more aware of his surroundings. After a while, the old man gave Iruka a questioning glance, "Do you remember me?" Iruka shook his head, the man nodded, "I'm not surprised. With your trauma, I wouldn't expect you to remember the past week." 

 

"Week?" Iruka rasped. 

 

"I found you beaten to a pulp on the outskirts of the village. With no belongings but the pants you had on." The old man gets up and pours a glass of water for Iruka.

 

"So, you don't know who I am then." The brunette stated.

The man shakes his head no, "I don't know your name, but I can give you mine. My name is Toshiro." Toshiro places a cup of water next to the bedroll. 

 

"Thank you, Toshiro-San."

 

Screams rebound through Torture and Interrogation, the staff being used to Anko's techniques, grab their earplugs, and put them in. Anko is currently in charge of Mizuki's interrogation, deaf to her superior's reluctancy to hand it off to someone so close to the case. 

 

 

"I won't ask you again, bastard. Where did you leave Iruka?" Anko kicked Mizuki's chair over; she walked over and dug her foot into the traitor's chest. 

 

Mizuki panted, "Go to hell." He smiled, showing his blood-stained teeth.

 

Anko gave him a sweet smile, "You first" and kicked him in the temple. The purple-haired Kunochi sighed and wiped her hands on a towel. It's been a week since Mizuki's betrayal, and she hasn't gotten any closer to finding Iruka.

 

Anko left the interrogation room and walked towards Ibiki's office. These last few days have been tough on her; losing your best friend to his psycho friend wasn't doing wonders about her mood.

 

 

Anko busts into her superior's office, "IBIKI! I think I killed him."

 

Without looking up from his work, he replied, "Did you at least get more information out of him beforehand?" Anko sits down and shakes her head, perching her feet up on the desk. "Only confirmation that Iruka was not involved with the bastard. His story corroborates with the papers we found in his apartment." Ibiki nods, "I expect your report  tomorrow morning, and I'll brief the Hokage tonight." He looks up from his papers, "Go home Mitarashi, you look like shit."

 

Anko mocks salutes and heads out of the office, once outside she looks up toward the sky. Seeing that it was a little after midday, she decides to find Kakashi. Nodding to herself, she makes her way through the village. 

 

Breathe. Move forward. Breathe. Kick. Breathe. Crouch. Breathe. 

 

Beads of sweat roll down Kakashi's face. He's been at the training grounds since he got back from his mission this morning.

7 days. 7 days since  his  disappearance, and they haven't gotten close to finding him. The joinin was barred from interrogating Mizuki, so he had no choice but to continue his regular missions.

 

Throw. Dodge. Crouch. 

 

A kunai flies past his ear and embeds into the tree behind him. He looked towards the origin and sees Anko walking towards him. "You're a hard man to find Hatake."

 

Kakashi grabs his water canteen and takes a swing, averting his eyes from the kunoichi. "I bring new information from T&I." This gets Kaskashi's attention, he gestures for Anko to continue. 

 

"I know you've been away this whole week, so I'll give the shortened report I'm supposed to hand into Ibiki tomorrow." She clears her throat, "Mizuki's original plan was to make Naruto steal the scroll and meet him in the forest. He went to Iruka's apartment and told him directly." Anko looked Kakashi in the eye for the next part, "Mizuki wanted to kill Naruto, and while Iruka looked for the boy, he'd kill Iruka and have him take the blame." She rubbed her eye and sighed, "We found his plans in some sealed scrolls in his apartment, so we have evidence that Iruka wasn't working with him." 

 

"That wasn't obvious to you, his lifelong friend? You honestly thought he was working with that bastard?" Kakashi hissed, Anko shrugs. Kakashi clenches the canteen, fingers turning white.

 

"I should have been here, I could have helped, I could've—"

 

Anko scoffed, interrupting him, "Don't be ridiculous Kakashi that was his plan, he made sure we were all out of the village so there would no be obstacles." The two grow quiet, Anko looks over the line of the trees where the academy is visible. Anko shoves her hands in her pockets. "My first day back from—" Anko stops and swallows. "My first day back Iruka wouldn't leave me alone in my apartment, he would drag me everywhere he went. Errands, doing homework, cooking, we even did laundry together."

 

Anko turns to the tree next to her and passes a hand over the trunk. "Do you remember the time the missions desk smelled like shit for a whole week?" Kakashi nods, "That was him and me." 

 

She clenches her fist and starts, "What's fucking frustrating is that the place where they fought is clean." She punches the trunk, "No fucking trace of him dragging his body or burning it or-or fucking eating it." Anko pulls a kunai out and stabs the tree with each breath, gaining speed and volume with each stab, "No. fucking. TRACE." She pants as she stares at the blade. 

 

Kakashi walks towards her and places a hand on her shoulder, "We'll get him back."

 

 

The Past:

 

Iruka dusts the debris off the memorial stone and sits down. "I'm sorry it's been so long since I last visited." Iruka's eyes twinkled as he bit back a smile, "My application was accepted! I'll be starting as a teaching assistant soon." Iruka's smile turned bittersweet, "I know you were both  accomplished jonin, but I have no doubt that you would be proud of me. I feel like I've found my place in the world. I wish you both could be here with me." A lump grew in the brunette's throat, he missed them more every day. He shook his head, none of that now, today was about celebrating his acceptance and celebrating with his friends. Speaking of friends, they were supposed to meet up at the bar next to his apartment. 

 

"I have to go now, but I'll come back more often." With that Iruka sent a quick prayer and got up. Not looking where he was going, he collided with a tall figure. Said figure let out a soft 'oof' but straightened him and Iruka, so they don't fall. Iruka immediately moves away and apologizes profusely. "I'm so sorry, Jonin-san." 

 

"Kakashi." 

 

"Pardon?"

 

 "The name's Kakashi, and there's no trouble Iruka." Iruka splutters, and Kakashi smiles.

 

 "Well, Kakashi-san, I'm sorry for bumping into you." Blushing, Iruka moves out of the way and walks onto the street. 

 

"Where are you off to?" Iruka jumps, turning to find Kakashi walking next to him with an obnoxiously orange book out. Huffing, Iruka replies, "I'm meeting up with some friends to celebrate me becoming a teacher's aide."

 

 "Can I join?" Kakashi drawls, giving a side glance to the chunin. 

 

Iruka chuckles, eyeing the Jonin warily, "Sure, why not?"

 

"Oh fuck my head." Iruka cradles his head in his hand as a hand claps him on the back, "What's the matter, Ru? You're only on your second shot! You gotta catch up to  hic  Kotetsu and me." Izumo slurs, not letting go of Iruka. He hears a chuckle coming from across the table.

 

"Do all your celebrations with your friends end with you guys drunk out of your minds?" Iruka, still holding his head, laughs and shakes his head, immediately regretting it. Deciding it was easier to talk, he replies, "No, no only career changing celebrations." Kakashi perked his head, "Promoted to jonin?" Iruka laugs again, "No, I was accepted into the academy's program for teachers. I'm starting as a teacher's aide next month."

 

Kakashi nods, "It suits you, Iruka-san, well, I should say Iruka-sensei. Congratulations. You have a fire in your eyes that I'm sure you will instill in future generations."

Blushing at Kakashi's words, he replies, "Thank you? I can't wait to start teaching, I figured out long ago that being an active shinobi is not for me, it wasn't until recently that I found that teaching was for me."

Moving forward to better hear Iruka over the commotion in the bar, Kakashi asks, "How did you find out teaching was for you?" The Chunin scratched his scar, "I've been teaching kids at the orphanage basic math and writing for years, it didn't really click until a couple of weeks ago. I woke up one day and realized that the highlight of my week was seeing the kid's excitement when they've learned a new concept." Iruka left out the part that half the time he spent there, he was an orphan too.

 

"You must be some kind of saint, volunteering to teach little hellions in your spare time." Kakashi smiles to soften his words. Iruka takes a swing of his cup, smiling back at the Jonin in from of him, "No, the kids make it worth it. And stop calling them that they're not bad."

 

Iruka looked around the table, most of his friends were long gone, leaving him and Kakashi alone in their booth. The silver man's company tonight was pleasant. He didn't think he'd make a friend of him this morning, but here they are, laughing and enjoying each other's company.

 

"As nice as this has been Kakashi-san, it's time for me to go, I hope you enjoy the rest of your night." Iruka smiles politely and gets up to pay his tab at the bar. Once he is outside, he turns his face to the sky and inhales the fresh air. He takes a moment to let the breeze cool his hot skin from tonight's alcohol. After a moment, he hears the scuffling of sandals and looks to his left. 

 

Kakashi, without looking up from his book, asks, "Sensei, I've heard there is an abundance of black cats on the south side of the village, let me walk you home and scare any away." 

 

Chuckling at Kakashi's antics, Iruka agrees. "You're right; their bad luck is worst than any trial we will face as shinobi." 

 

"I'm glad you agree."

 

Chapter Text

The Present:

The sun beat down on the four travelers. Sweat drags along their necks, Naruto lifts his forehead protector and wipes the sweat from his brow. It's been two weeks since the incident with Mizuki, and the kids have been on nonstop missions since they passed their test. They're currently walking back from a mission, tired and hungry, desperate to get out of the sweltering heat.


As they near the gates, Sasuke sees Naruto play with Iruka's headband, Sasuke scoffs and aggravates Naruto, "Playing around with the headband won't bring him back dobe." 


Naruto flinches but does not rise to the bait. Seeing that he didn't get his point across, Sasuke adds, "If he were still alive, don't you think he'd be back by now? Iruka-sensei is stronger than Mizuki, but he was badly injured- face it dobe he's—" 

Naruto sees red and lunges for Sasuke. "Don't you DARE finish that thought." 

Kakashi grabs the two boys by their collars and separates them. He hands the mission scroll to Sasuke, "Sakura, run ahead with Sasuke and make sure he turns in the scroll properly filled out." Sakura agrees quickly and runs off with the raven-haired boy. Naruto watches his teammates with a blank expression, Kakashi sighs and starts walking towards the village. Naruto follows behind him, not standing the silence between them, the jonin pulls out his book. 

After several minutes of walking, Naruto mumbles, "It's all my fault." Not looking up from his book, Kakashi glances at the boy. Naruto doesn't meet his eye, "If I hadn't left him, he'd be waiting for us at the village, at home yelling at me for tracking mud into the apartment." Naruto breaks at the last words and wipes his eyes, "It's all my fault."

Kakashi wrapped his arm around Naruto. He sighs and wishes it was Iruka who had to comfort the boy, knowing his boyfriend would have the right words to soothe any heartbroken child. 

"You left Mizuki in a pool of his own blood, and your sensei was gravely injured. You did what was right at that moment, you couldn't have known the traitor would take him." Kakashi paused and contemplates his next words. "His scent leads out of the forest, I— I couldn't follow it, but I sent my pack out to find him— and I will find him Naruto, I have to find him." 

Naruto could only nod his head.

 

 

Once Kakashi drops Naruto off at his and Iruka's apartment, he turns to walk to his home. Ever since Iruka's disappearance, he hasn't been able to process it. He doesn't let himself do it— he can't do it. Because if he does, it means that another person he loves is dead. 

Kakashi reaches his apartment and heads straight to the bathroom. With robotic movements, he strips and steps into the shower, letting the hot water wash away the day's tension. 

He steps out of the shower and enters his bedroom. Walking over to his dresser, he finds it bare of clean clothes. "Fuck." He forgot that most of his clothes were at Iruka's apartment. 

"Kakashi, what have I told you about leaving your junk in my home! Do your own laundry!" Iruka pushes past him with a pile of clothes in his arms. "Tomorrow, when I come back from my shift, we're buying you a new washer, and you're doing both of our laundries since you had no problem pushing it on me." Iruka placed the pile on the bed, "For now, you can fold this while I grade."

Kakashi walks over to the chunin, a glint in his eye, "Ma Sensei, the water from your apartment leaves my uniform softer, and doesn't leave a scent on my mask." He wraps his arms around Iruka. 

The brunette tilts his head back and laughs, he grabs onto Kakashi's shoulders, shaking the man with his laughter, "Fine then, we can buy a washer and put it in my home. But that means you have to come over to do our laundry." 

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

 

 

Kakashi shakes his head, clearing his mind, he got dressed. 

He hears frantic scratching at the front door, Kakashi tenses at the sound but relaxes recognizing who it is, he walks over and opens the door. Three of his ninken rush in crowding their owner. All out once they start to speak, "We found it, boss!", "Guys, let me tell it," "It was mixed with the traitor's stench, but we found it!" Kakashi raised his voice over the commotion, "Pakkun, report."

The ninken quiet down as Pakkun begins to speak. "We followed the scent out of the forest, the traitor covered his tracks by circling for a couple miles, but it ultimately leads 3 miles out onto a road. The rest of the pack is still searching, but we decided to come back and relay the news." 

Kakashi nods, "Urushi, go back with Pakkun and continue searching, Shiba you stay with me." He got up and moved to his room to get his gear ready. "What are you gonna do, boss?" Pakkun asked. Without stopping his work, Kakashi answers, "I'll meet up with you guys in a few hours once I brief the Hokage."

 

After the Nine-Tails attack, Anko moved in with Iruka, they both lost their parents that day and knew it was important to keep the ones you love close. After a week, Iruka was ready to kick the girl out. 

"Anko, I think, no-no-no. I know, the next village over can hear you snore." Iruka squints and tilts his head, "I hear if you wash your nose with salt water, it'll help with snoring." Anko sputtered, "I'm not snorting salt water because you're a light sleeper."

"But you're so loud!" 

 

Kakashi bangs on Anko's front door, ending the loud snoring from inside. Impatient, he knocks again, not stopping until he heard yelling from inside, "Alright, alright!" Anko opens the door and rubs her eyes while trying to look up at the jonin. "where's the fire?"

"You've got an hour to meet in at the front gate. My ninken found his scent, and it leads out of the forest."

Anko straightens. Nods, "I'll meet you there in ten."


The Past:

Iruka contemplates how his life suddenly got so weird, well weirder since his best friend is Anko. What Iruka is referring to is Kakashi. He had met the joinin a few weeks ago, since then they have entered into a weird friendship. When Iruka comes home from the mission desk, he finds Kakashi reading in the tree in front of his home. Iruka, being polite, strikes up a conversation, which always leads to Kakashi asking him about his dinner plans. When Iruka replies that he has none, Kakashi recommends a dish, and they end up preparing it together. 

This has gone on for several weeks, and Iruka is tired of spending so much money on groceries. With his small salary, he barely has any left for his other expenses. Not aware of his surroundings, he walks right into said jonin. 

"We have to stop meeting like this, Iruka-sensei." Kakashi chuckles as he steadies himself and the brunette. 


Iruka huffs and smiles, "I never hear you coming or feel your presence" Iruka furrows his brows and brings his had to his face. "Hmm… maybe we need to put a bell on you like they do to domesticated cats, that way we know when you're around." The silver-haired man laughs and replies, "If you do that, then my enemies will surely defeat me in no time."

Iruka smiles at jonin. "Then I guess you'll be stuck in the village with me then." 

"There's no one else I'd like to be with."

Iruka is the first to break eye contact and smiles self consciously. "What brings you to this side of the village, Kakashi? Here to mooch off my poor salary?"

Kakashi smirks and picks up a bag full of food next to him, "Ma Sensei, I hoped that you and I could enjoy a lovely saury this fine afternoon." 
Blushing, Iruka nods and leads Kakashi up to his home, born of frequent visits, Kakashi feels at ease in the teacher's tiny apartment. He kicks off his sandals and walks towards the kitchen to prepare the fish. 

Iruka shakes his head and sighs at the strewn sandals and places his satchel and shoes away. "Kakashi, I don't care how good your cooking is; be more respectful of my home!"

Kakashi, without looking up from his work, replies, "Apologies Sensei, I saw how famished you looked, and I couldn't leave you in this state any longer. No worries, dinner will be ready shortly."

Chuckling at Kakashi's tone Iruka let it slide, he puls his grade book out and got to work on his latest assignments. 

Once Iruka was engrossed in his work, Kakashi sneaks a glance towards the brunette. After weeks of this nightly routine, Kakashi still relishes in the domesticity their evenings turn too. It would be so easy for there to be more between them. For him to take the next step, he could see it clearly. 

Kakashi would wipe his hands on the dishtowel, cross the distance between them. Iruka would look up from his work and smile at Kakashi. The silver-haired man would caress the brunette's jaw as he leans into the touch, guiding his head, Kakashi would lower the mask and capture the chunin's lips. Calloused hands would pull the jonin down— getting lost in the feeling of each other. 

"Is there something on my face Kakashi-san?"

Blushing, having being caught staring, Kakashi shakes his head and replies, "Nothing sensei. Just trying to see if I could find out your favorite dessert by the color of your hair." 

Iruka snorted and turned his head back to his work, amused by Kakashi's antics. After a while, Iruka got up and stretched. He walks over to the stove where Kakashi was now getting ready to fry the saury. He washes his hands and asks if there was anything he could help with. "You can start cooking the rice while I get the main dish ready."

For the next few minutes, they worked in compatible silence, comfortable just being in each other's presence. 

Kakashi grabs a wooden spoon, grabs some soup, and turns to the chunin, and asks, "Iruka taste this and tell me if it needs anything." Iruka tasts the soup and replies, "it's delicious, Kakashi it doesn't need anything else." Before Iruka could turn back to his pan, Kakashi grabs him by the lapels of his jacket and kisses the residual soup off his lips.

Dazed, Iruka asks, "So do you think it needs anything?" Kakashi fakes contemplation, "Hmmm.. you know what, I think I'll need another taste, just to be sure." Iruka nods and licks his lips, bringing his hands to Kakashi's neck and pulls him in for another kiss.

Breaking for breath, Kakashi smiles, "You're right Sensei, it is just right." 

Chapter Text

"Alright, class, don't forget to have your parents sign your permission slips for this year's trip outside the village! Class dismissed." As the children packed their belongings, a young boy at the back of the class struck a match, lighting an explosive. 

BOOM!

A green cloud of smoke engulfed the classroom, coughs, and screams erupt from all directions. 


"Sensei, it stings!"


"Kotetsu! Where are you? Try to grab my hand!"

"Awwww, I just did laundry last night!"

The children try to run towards the door, but the green cloud is too dense for them to see. Loud thuds are heard from children running into each other and hitting the desks.


A cackling was heard from the back of the classroom, the young boy enjoys the scene of chaos in front of him. Unlike his classmates, he was prepared with googles and oils to protect himself from his creation. 


"UMINO!" His sensei yelled, trying to cover his face from the foul smell. 


Hearing his name, the brunette opened the window and took off, deaf to the threats that were thrown by his classmates. 
The young boy took off running, laughing, and loving the exhilaration he got when pulling a successful prank. As soon as he got to the center of the village he disposed of his goggles and wiped his nose from the oil. He scanned the market and smiled when he found his target. The pre-genin ran to the dango shop and sat next to the purple-haired girl with a sweet waiting for him.


"Did it go well? The young girl asked. 


"It was amazing Anko, you should've seen Izumo's face when he saw me light the match." The brunette cackled and wiped an errant tear, "Sensei screamed my name before I left, but I don't think anyone will be looking for me for a while."


"If you keep this up, they probably won't let you graduate, and you'll still be mooching off of me for rent money," Anko said, with a mouth full of dango.

"Fuck becoming a shinobi." Iruka huffed, looking away, a frown tugging down his lips.


Iruka continued, "I've been selling my parent's old tags, and I've been developing them to my client's needs. I make enough for now, so I'm not worried about money."


Anko shrugged and kept eating. 



The young man slowly opened his eyes and took a breath, trying to remember as much of his dream as possible. Umino. Anko. He looked around the room, looking for Toshiro. 


He stretched his arms, and gingerly sat up. He heard shuffling from the other side of the front door; a second later, Toshiro walked in with fishing equipment. 

"You're awake. Good, I wanted to change your bandages before I left." 

The sun was beginning to rise, chasing the chill of the night with it. Born from a routine set these past two weeks, Toshiro began to pull out clean bandages while Iruka moved onto his stomach. The old man dragged a chair over to Iruka's bedroll and sat down with a sigh. Calloused fingers began to remove the dirty bandages from the young man's back, with a wet towel Toshiro cleaned the salve and blood from the wound. The old man grabs a bottle of ointment and rubs it into the bruises painting the Iruka's back. Once he finishes, he places the clean bandages on the healing wound. 


"Toshiro-san, is there a Umino family that lives in the village?" Iruka asked. The old man paused to think. He shook his head, "The only Uminos I've known lived in Uzushiogakure, but that village was destroyed decades ago." The old man continued with his work, "Did you remember anything, Katsura?" 

Toshiro decided to call him Katsura since the young man couldn't remember his name. He picked the name of his favorite character from his evening show. 


Katsura shook his head, "I had another dream, I think it was a memory. They called me Umino, and I talked to a young girl, her name is Anko." 

Toshiro got up and went to clean his hands in a bowl of water. He then grabs a walking stick, walking back to the man sitting on the floor, he grabs him from the armpits and pulls. Katsura clenches his jaw from the pain as he places weight on his injured leg. Now standing, Toshiro hands him the walking stick and sets him down on the chair. Panting, Katsura nods in thanks.

Toshiro pulls a chair to sit next to the young man, "I don't know a woman named Anko, but I also don't know too many women your age." Toshiro chuckles at his own comment. He looks at Katsura, seeing that the young man is still lost in thought. "What else do you remember? Landmarks? A house, maybe?"

Katsura looks down at the floor, a frown pulling at his face. "Anko said something about graduating and becoming a shinobi? Is there a school in the village?" He looks up; hopefully, a school would have records that could help him decipher the mystery of his identity.

"Ahhh, a shinobi, your wounds make sense now." Toshiro shook his head, frowning at the young man, "I don't know where they educate shinobi, but the closest ninja village is Konohagakure. We don't get much of them here though, we're too far from the main roads, we're closer to the coast, it's rare we have any ninja in this village."

Katsura mouthed the name, Konohagakure, it felt foreign on his tongue. 

Toshiro got up and clapped the young man's shoulder gently, "It'll come in due time, the fact that you remember bit by bit is good."

"I'll be gone for the rest of the day, there is some money for you if you'd like to go into town today." The old man put his hat on and grabbed his equipment, "Don't wait up for me." 

Katsura nods, "Thank you, Toshiro-san, be safe."

The young man gingerly gets up from the chair, testing his injured leg, satisfied that it'll hold him he walks the perimeter of the room. 

Umino. He never thought himself a Umino, it felt foreign, like it belongs to an acquaintance you met years ago. 

Katsura looks around the room and deflates, he's tired of being cooped up in Toshiro's home. He hasn't been well enough to leave, but today he feels strong and with more energy than before. He decides to dress and make a quick trip to the center of town. Hoping that maybe it will trigger some memories in him. 


The brunette dresses and heads towards the bustling market, he ambles slowly, making sure he paces himself to avoid exhaustion. He notices that passing villagers stare and whisper as he passes by. He smiles and waves to some, making them look away quickly and walk faster.

Katsura hears the market before he reached it, sellers were trying to outdo the other, the low hum of people talking and the laughter of children. Seagulls and the cool, crisp breeze passed over the village, bringing in the scent of the sea. Since they are close to the coast, the village was peaceful, wealthy enough that its people wouldn't go hungry, but lacked the funds to invite trouble from bandits and shinobi.

The young man reached the first produce stall, admiring the local vegetables. Smiling to the vendor, he asks about the specials of the day. 

"Well, today's ships brought in some fresh salmon and saury. Hey, you're that young man that's been staying with Toshiro-san, aren't you?" The vendor asks, curious. 

The brunette blushes and rubs his scar, "I am, I was injured, and he was kind enough in taking me in while I heal." Anxious to steer the conversation away from himself, he asks about the price of the fish. Katsura pays for his fish and thanks the vendor. 

The rest of the hour is spent chatting with the vendors, mundane conversations about the weather, and haggling over prices. Feeling a bit fatigued, the young man walks over to a nearby bench on the edge of a park. Settling down, he drops his cargo and grabs an apple to eat. Katsura scans his surroundings, taking in the lush greenery and the laughter of the children from the park. A group of children are running around swinging branches at each other and yelling. He laughs, enjoying the carefree lives they live. He is delighted that these children can have normal childhoods— free of attacks and war. 


The brunette paused mid-bite. How did he know that these children were lucky to live like this? A cry scattered his thoughts, he turned to the children and saw that one was falling from a tree. Without thinking, he jumped and ran towards the tree, catching the child before they hit the ground. Katsura groaned, his back and leg protesting from the swift movement. He carefully set the boy down; he looks down at the child, frightened and confused about how the man was able to catch him before he fell. 

Katsura bent and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder, "Are you hurt?" He spoke in a soft tone. The boy nodded, wiping an errant tear from his face, soon more followed. The brunette wrapped the boy in a hug, soothing, and calming the child. 

"It's alright, it's alright," Katsura repeated, unaware of the crowd that gathered around him. 

A woman pushed past the group and towards Katsura and the boy, "Oh my dear boy, what happened?"

Seeing the woman, the child jumped into her arms and sobbed into her shoulder. 

The brunette set his stick and pulled himself up with it, gingerly, walking with the woman and her child out of dispersing crowd. "He fell out of the tree, but luckily I was able to catch him before he hit the ground, he's fine just scared. 

Placing a protective hand on her child's head, the woman looked at Katsura with thankful eyes. "Thank you so much, I'm sure he would have broken something if you hadn't caught him." 

Katsura ducked his head, blushing, "It was no problem, I'm just glad I was able to get there in time." 
The mother thanked him again and left, leaving Katsura sitting alone on the bench. He checks under the seat for his groceries. Seeing that everything is there, he decides to rest a bit before heading back to Toshiro's home. He leans back and closes his eyes, letting the warm sun chase away the morning chill.

After a few minutes, he heard a loud 'holy shit' from his left and cracks an eye open, seeing two weirdly dressed people walking his way. Thinking they would walk past him, he closed his eye and went back to bask in the sun. 

"You got a lot of nerve Umino, we've been worried sick, and here you are, lazing around in the sun without a care in the world," the woman spoke. 

The brunette tensed and opened his eyes, looking up at the two in front of him. One was a purpled haired woman, with a long coat and armor underneath, the other was a tall silver-haired man with three-quarters of his face covered. Both had expressions of relief and mild amusement to see him lounging on the bench, but happy nonetheless that he was alive. 

Anko slid onto the bench and wrapped an arm around Iruka, The young man tensed and regarded the two with confusion and fear. 

"I'm sorry, but who are you?"

Chapter Text

When Iruka is working on a new seal, the people in his life know that they won't be seeing him for days. The chunin locks himself in his apartment during the weekend and doesn't leave until he's ready to test it. Unfortunately for everyone around him, they'll be used as his guinea pigs. 
Kotetsu once made the mistake of going over to his friend's home to see if he wanted to go out for drinks. Iruka locked him in his apartment to see if his new tags worked adequately. Kotetsu emerged with a terrible sunburn and, to this day, wears a bandage across his face. Now that Iruka and Kakashi are dating, his friends are relieved they'll be spared of his attention. 

Iruka is sitting in his living room, books and papers cover his low table. School is on break, and Kakashi is on an extended mission, so he decided to help the Seals team develop a new security system based on barrier seals. He's currently on day three of designing and can't fix a bug in his seals. He's tapping his pen against the table as he flips through his book, unaware of the window in his room being open.

Kakashi steps into Iruka's bedroom, he drops his pack and kicks off his sandals. He walks toward the closet and grabs clean clothes and a towel, heading straight to the restroom. As he walks towards the bathroom, he sees Iruka furiously ripping up a paper. Kakashi chuckles and strolls into the bathroom, not wanting to disturb the chunin while he's in the "zone."

Kakashi's mission was an easy escort mission, the most danger he faced was when a wild bunny scared his client, making him throw a pan his way. Now that he's home, he's hoping to catch up with Iruka and spending as much time as possible with him. 

Iruka sighs as he closes his book, he's been stuck for the past hour and hasn't found any answers. He looks out to the window and sees the sun setting; maybe he should prepare dinner to clear his mind. Before he can get up, warm arms wrap around his torso. Iruka lets out a soft laugh and places his hands over Kakashi's. The jonin nuzzles the chunin's neck, and Iruka rests his weight on him. 
"Welcome home, Kakashi." Iruka greets, bringing their joined hands up for a kiss. Kakashi rearranges them in a comfortable position and replies, "It's good to be home, Sensei."

They stay in this position for a moment, relishing in the warmth of each other. After a while, Kakashi pulls them up to the couch and props his feet on the table. "Ma Iruka I'm in the mood for takeout tonight, where should we order from?" Iruka swats Kakashi's legs as the silver-haired man chuckles and pulls him closer, "I could probably go for the place next to the weapon's shop."

"The one owned by old man Kishi?" Kakashi answered. 

"Yes, that one." The brunette made a move to get up and place the order, but Kakashi's hold tightened. "Kakashi, if you want to get food, I have to get up." Iruka chastised the jonin. 

The silver-haired man shook his head, "No-no-no Iruka-Sensei, today I want to spend as much time as I can with you, screw old man Kishi's food. I have a better idea." With that said, Kakashi pulled his mask down and quickly captured Iruka's lips. 

Iruka laughed between each kiss and pulls Kakashi closer. 

— 

After ordering and eating their meal, Iruka went back to working on his seal. As he worked, Kakashi sat next to him, reading his book. Kakashi rests his head on Iruka's shoulder and looks over to his work. 

"Is this the new system for the Hokage's office you were telling me?" Iruka nodded, continuing to rework his design. "If you want, you can explain your design to me, I'm sure it'll help you in some way." Kakashi drawled. 

A sly smile adorns Iruka's face, "Hmmmm, I don't know if you have this kind of clearance. I mean, we are talking about the security of the Sandiame." Iruka said as he continued to work. He sighs dramatically, "But if you think it'll help me—" Iruka is interrupted by Kakashi grumbling and squeezes his waist playfully.

"Alright, alright, scoot over next to me so I can properly explain this to you, genius, or not you're not familiar with what I'm working with." Iruka made room for the jonin and proceeded to outline the design the Seals team wanted him to create. 

After weeks of being away from Iruka, Kakashi basks in being in the presence of his loved one. When Iruka talks about his passion, seals, he lights up. He has a constant smile tugging at his lips, he moves his whole body, drawing the seals in the air as if the world was his design book. 

Sometimes, in the middle of him talking or explaining a design, he figures out the problem, stops what he's doing, grabs his notes, and scribbles out the notes he needs. He mumbles to himself and forgets the other person is there. Kakashi doesn't mind and understands that he needs space to work and is just grateful he's allowed to be with him.

After a couple of hours, Kakashi stretches and closes his book, he turns to Iruka, seeing him nodding off. Kakashi looks at him fondly and shakes the chunin's shoulder. 

"Hmm?" Iruka hums not bothering to open his eyes. The jonin pulls him down on the floor and wraps an arm around him. Kakashi whispers, not daring to disturb the air around them, "Let's go to bed." Iruka snuggles into Kakashi's chest and shakes his head no, "comfy here." He mumbles.

Kakashi laughs quietly, he concedes and gets up to turn off the lights and grabs a blanket and pillows. He lays back down and rearranges Iruka back into his arms. The silver-haired man looks down at Iruka's face, serene, light snoring coming from the brunette. After months of dating, Kakashi still wonders how he became so lucky to have him in his life. A man with a soul full of melancholy and hands that brings destruction. Regardless of what the chunin sees in him, he's thankful for every moment spent together. 


Iruka wakes slowly, he stretches and pops his back. He groans, "Whose dumbass idea was to sleep on the ground?" He turns to the man sleeping peacefully beside him. He smiles fondly and moves the silver bangs from the jonin's face. In moments like this, Iruka understands what people mean when they say it's the quiet moments that count. 

His relationship with the jonin has not been easy. Both men have been alone for most of their lives, years of solitude made it challenging to let someone in. In Kakashi's case, being insecure and constantly stressed for his loved one had nearly broken it off early in the relationship. Iruka almost let him. 

They got into an argument when Iruka started to do more missions outside of the village with the Seals team. Kakashi was angry with the change in the dynamic of their relationship—he wasn't ready to face the same fear Iruka did when he left for missions. The stifling fear of the unknown, the fragility of life, and the unbearable truth that he could lose everything he loved instantly. He processed this into anger, he aimed snarky remarks and cold shoulders, uncaring how he hurt Iruka. 

Facing this, Iruka canceled their plans whenever they met, made excuses to get out of whatever plans they made to ignore the problems they had. It wasn't until he realized that Kakashi had a problem with him taking on more missions— once he realized this, he saw red. He ran over to the jonin's apartment and didn't leave until he answered the door. Kakashi regarded him with a cautious eye while Iruka stormed inside.

"You know, I would've understood if this had to do with you losing interest in me or-or I just didn't realize when we first started dating how much of an asshole you are." Iruka began, pacing back in forth, his hand rubbing at his scar. "But, you've been distant and cruel with me because I've been going on missions?" Iruka questions, his forehead furrowed and lips turned downwards. 

"Kakashi, we're both shinobi, I have as much responsibility of serving my village as you do. It is not my fault that you cannot handle me leaving the village." 

He quieted suddenly and worried his bottom lip. "If this is too much for you, us. We should stop, I won't change who I am for you, I care for you and don't want to hurt you." Iruka turned to look at Kakashi, desperate to hear his answer. 

Kakashi looked stricken, he swallowed and spoke quietly, "It scares me Iruka, it scares me how much I depend on you for my happiness, I know it's not your fault. But every time I saw you, you were so carefree, happy, it seemed as if you didn't carry the same burden I do. As if you didn't have a constant pressure on your chest, restricting your air until I came back safely because that's what I feel when you leave. I freeze in fear, and I can't bear the thought of losing you." Kakashi looked stricken and spoke in hushed whispers, afraid of waking whatever vengeful god that had wrecked his life so far. 

Iruka frowned, walking closer to Kakashi, stopping an arms length away. "You don't think I don't worry? I lose sleep and pray to whatever god will listen to bring you back in one piece. I miss you deeply. Even before we started to date, I would leave my extra tags in your pack, anything to help you get home safely." At that, Kakashi snapped his head to look at Iruka, studying the raw emotion that painted his face. 

"Kakashi, you need to learn to let others in, you can't base all of your happiness on one person, it's not healthy. And if we're gonna continue to be together, you can't let your anger control you, talk to me, let me in." Iruka moved closer, and at his last words, he tentatively clasped their hands together. 

Kakashi nodded, not having the right words to convey what he was feeling. They stood in silence, the soft bustling of the world coming through the windows. 
"I'm sorry for my behavior Iruka, It was unfair of me to make those assumptions instead of talking with you." He swallows audibly, "I can't promise I won't hurt you again, but if you forgive me, I'll do better." He looks at Iruka, his jaw set for the impending rejection.

Iruka smiles and nods, "We both hurt each other, and we'll have to learn to trust each other again, but I adore you too much to let you go. You're stuck with me as much as I'm stuck with you." 

Kakashi sags at Iruka's words and smiles, wrapping his arms around the chunin.


Iruka is brought back to the present by Kakashi, moving next to him and stretching. Seeing that Iruka is already awake, he smiles at him. "Mornin'," he mumbles.

"Morning." Iruka grins at him runs his fingers through the short grey hair, the jonin covers his hand as he leans in for a chaste kiss. 

Once they break away, Iruka regards Kakashi with amusement, "Whose idea was it to fall asleep on the hard floor? My back is killing me." 

Kakashi chuckles, "Yours, you know I can't say no to you." 

Iruka rolls his eyes and laughs. He pushes himself up, "You can't say no? Well then, how about you go out and do the grocery shopping today while I stay home and enjoy a relaxing Sunday." 

Kakashi laughs and pulls Iruka down for another kiss. "Of course, dear, whatever you say." 

Chapter Text

"You got a lot of nerve Umino, we've been worried sick, and here you are, lazing around in the sun without a care in the world," the woman spoke. 

The brunette tensed and opened his eyes, looking up at the two in front of him. One was a purpled haired woman, with a long coat and armor underneath, the other was a tall silver-haired man with three-quarters of his face covered. Both had expressions of relief and mild amusement to see him lounging on the bench, but happy nonetheless that he was alive. 

Anko slid onto the bench and wrapped an arm around Iruka, The young man tensed and regarded the two with confusion and fear. 

"I'm sorry, but who are you?"

Anko and Kakashi immediately tense at Iruka's words. Anko splutters but keeps her arm around the chunin, "Don't joke like that, we've been worried sick the last few weeks." 

Iruka's forehead creases, he turns aways from Anko and regards the two shinobi with caution. They know who he is, but he is unsure if they are friend or foe. He moves away from Anko and shifts to keep the two shinobi in his line of sight. 

Kakashi stares openly at Iruka, taking in his hollow cheeks and the tense posture he holds. He begins to move towards the bench but stops when Iruka looks towards him with fear. 

"Iruka, it's me, Anko." Desperation laces her voice, digging her nails into the palm of her hand. "We've been friends since we were kids. Through thick and thin throughout the years." Anko searches for any recognition in her friend's eyes; she is met with confusion and wariness.

Iruka reaches for his walking stick and clenches it tightly; he keeps his gaze on the floor. Kakashi clears his throat and shoves his hands in his pockets. "Do you remember how you got here?" Iruka shakes his head no, "I was found by a villager a couple of weeks ago on the village's outskirts. Beaten and half dead. I don't suppose you've come back to finish the job?" Iruka replies acerbically, still not meeting the gaze of the concerned shinobi. 

Kakashi felt something in him break, "No." He swallows. "We've been searching for you. Hoping to find you." Iruka must have heard something in his voice; he turns to Kakashi and meets his gaze. 

Nodding, Iruka turns to Anko, "I dreamt about you, we were eating dango after I set off a stink-bomb—" 

"—In Tanaka-Sensei's classroom. Izumo couldn't get the stench off his clothes for a week, that was the first time the Hokage himself reprimanded you." Anko cut him off, excited that he remembers something about himself.

Iruka gives her a tight smile. "This morning, all I knew about myself was that my family name is Umino and that I had a rebellious side encouraged by my friends." His brow furrows and looks up at Kakashi, "How did you two find me?" The silver-haired man slumps his shoulders, deepening his slouch if possible, "I had my ninken track your scent. It died off two miles from here, and we decided to search the nearby villages. Here we are."

Iruka can't read the man in front of him. Ignoring that his face completely covered, his posture is casual, shoulders slumped, hands in pockets. But Iruka focuses on the edge in his voice, the silhouette of his mouth's hard-line, and the haunted look he regards him with. 

"Forgive my manners, but I didn't catch your name," Iruka asks, hoping the name would jog his memory. The man gives him a blank look, "My name is Kakashi." 

Kakashi. Iruka felt nothing.

"Well, Kakashi, Anko, this has been an exhausting day for me, why don't we continue our…conversation back at Toshiro-san's house. I have to get back and prepare for dinner soon." Not waiting for a response, Iruka grabs his bags and begins his journey back to Toshiro-san's home. 

Dazed, Kakashi just stares at Iruka's retreating form, next to him, Anko breaths out a soft 'what the fuck'. She stands and shouts, "Wait for me!" and jogs to catch up to Iruka. Kakashi walks behind them at a slower pace. 

The walk home is tense, Iruka leans heavily on his walking stick. He doesn't know what to think of the two who found him. He still worries about whoever attacked him coming back and finishing their job. He glances at Anko beside him; if they wanted to kill him, this was a good time as any. The street is bare except him and his companions, and he cannot defend himself in his current condition. They reach the house, Iruka steps in first, and heads for the kitchen. Anko toes off her sandals and tosses them haphazardly. Kakashi comes in after her and straightens them out next to his own. 

Iruka, not knowing what to do with his guests and excess energy, begins to collect his ingredients for dinner. Kakashi comes in and watches Iruka work. He brings over a chair and sits, raising an eyebrow as he questions the chunin. "I didn't know you could cook." Iruka snorts and continues working. "The first time I tried to cook for Toshiro-san, I left the rice unattended and didn't realize it was still cooking until smoke filled the house." Iruka flushes and gives Kakashi a small smile, "It's a bit embarrassing to know this isn't brought on by the amnesia and that I'm a horrible cook." Kakashi gets up and walks over to Iruka, he sighs dramatically, "You almost burnt my apartment down with your cooking." Iruka gasps caught up in the playful direction their conversation took on. 

"I didn't." 

"You did, we uh" Kakashi cleared his throat, remembering how exactly they were both distracted that night. "We were enjoying each other's company, and you left a dish towel next to the stove. It caught on fire." Iruka tilted his head back and laughed, he shook his head rapidly, "No-no-no you can't blame that solely on me! You just said we were together; it must've been your fault I was so distracted." Iruka smiles up at Kakashi, his earlier unease gone, dislodged by the playful banter. Iruka's face is flushed from his laughter, Kakashi's posture relaxes, leaning into Iruka's personal space. 

Anko walks in and breaks the moment between them. Iruka quickly moves to the other end of the kitchen and chops the vegetables with excessive force. Anko raises an eyebrow at Kakashi, and the man glares. 

The next hour is spent by Iruka trying to cook while Anko tells him all the gossip he's missed while gone. Kakashi left earlier to send a ninken back with news of Iruka's whereabouts. Exasperated Iruka turns to her, "You know none of this makes sense to me, right? I have no idea who Genma is and why it's funny that Gai lent him a uniform, I mean don't you shinobi wear the same thing?"

Before Anko could reply, Toshiro called for Iruka, "Katsura-san, I'm home! It smells good in here, did you buy the Mackerel I told you about yesterday?" Toshiro pauses at the entrance to his kitchen, surprised to see they had a guest. "Ah! Forgive me, I didn't know we had guests." He moves towards Anko and smiles, "The name's Toshiro, please make yourself at home." A glint passes through her eyes, and before Anko could utter a word, Iruka replies, "Toshiro-san, this is Anko, the girl I was telling you about this morning. The one from my dream." Toshiro looks back at Anko and begins to talk her ear off, Iruka frowns, not knowing what came over him. 

The rest of the evening is spent with Anko and Toshiro talking animatedly about the man's favorite show. Apparently, Anko is also a fan and catches up whenever she's home. Iruka watches the two talk, he looks over to the front door, anxious for the silver-haired man to return. As if Kakashi read his thoughts, he appears when Iruka returned with dinner. Kakashi nods to the man and approaches the table, "Well Anko and I should head back to our hotel." He looks back to Iruka and asks, "Since you're still injured, Iruka-san, we should leave early in the morning to cover as much distance during the day as possible." 

Iruka narrows his eyes, "Forgive me, but I never agreed to travel with you two. You may claim to know me, but I have no reason to trust you. For all I know, you're taking me to die." He spoke calmly, aware of the weapons and heavy armor they carried. 

Hearing his words, Anko sped towards the young man, pulls out pictures, and shoves them into Iruka's hands. Her mouth set in a hard line. Iruka examines the images; one features a teenaged Anko and himself, their arms wrapping around each other. Huge smiles gracing their faces. Another picture shows an older Iruka in a classroom, he's standing and holding books to his chest. He's smiling, unaware of the two boys behind him gesturing and posing for the camera. 

Kakashi comes forward and pulls out an orange book, he opens it and hands Iruka a single photo. It's the two of them sitting at a restaurant counter. They're facing each other; relaxed, a candid photo of the two of them mid-conversation.

Kakashi shoves his hands into his pockets, he gestures to the photo with his chin. "I started to carry that after your disappearance." Kakashi swallows, "Let us earn your trust Iruka-san, let us help you remember." 

Iruka worries his bottom lip, at a loss for words. He desperately wants to believe them, but the ache in his back is a reminder of the danger he's in. He looks between Kakashi and Anko, "I… "his sentence dies out, not knowing how to respond. 

Anko nods. "Here, until you can learn to trust us, you can carry these around." She hands Iruka some kunai and shuriken, Iruka clutches the handle of the Kunai. He nods, setting his shoulders straight. "We'll leave tomorrow at sunrise, you'll give me a map and supplies of my own. I don't expect to take you two on in combat, but it'll ease my worries." They both nodded enthusiastically, delighted he'd agreed. Iruka continues, "I expect you two to answer any of the questions I have. And no funny business." 

Anko grins, "Whatever you say, Sensei."