Iruka was not sure what to make of his soulmate mark. He’d had it his entire life but had never been able to decipher the owner of the sword. Iruka knew he shouldn’t complain. Some people were able to determine their soulmate early on and some people went their entire lives never finding their soulmate.
When they were younger, everyone flaunted off their soulmate mark desperate for their other half to recognize the tattoo and claim them. The problem with soulmate marks is that if the person wanted, they could look at their soulmate and turn a blind eye to them if they desired. This was the curse. The soulmate marks were usually seemingly random.
Iruka remembered his mother had quill tattoo on her forearm and his father had a koi fish on his chest. His father was a writer and had used the same quill to write all of his books. The quill on his mother’s arm was an exact replica of the one his father used, down the individual splits in the feathers. His mother grew up with a pond near her home and she would spend many of her afternoons just staring into the pond watching the fish play.
Not everyone loved their soulmate marks, and so they would try and marry without them. But, doing that always caused pain if you eventually found your soulmate. It was said that once you come in physical contact with your soulmate, your marks would heat up almost as if you if it was burning you in order to form the connection. The connection would then allow you to tap into your soulmate’s heartbeat at any time. It was meant to be an act of intimacy and protection.
Even though his parents had died in the nine-tails attack he remembered their love. It was because of that he tried to make sense of his own soul mark. On his side was a tantō, the small blade was indistinguishable for the most part. It could have belonged to anyone, but engraved on the hilt were the initials W.F.
Naturally, Iruka was looking for a person with those initials but had not had any luck. He was only 22 and was not concerned with finding a soulmate yet, but still, it was hard to not think about it when everyone around him was finding their soulmate. Making an educated guess, Iruka was able to deduce that his soulmate was a shinobi. He didn’t know who else would have a blade be something precious to them.
His best friend, Genma had finally found the owner of the necklace that was wrapped around his shoulder. It belonged to Raido. Iruka thought he was lucky considering he knew Genma had always found the man to be attractive. He remembered Genma’s look of awe the day they were training and he had seen the bamboo pot given to him by his grandmother on the man’s leg. It’s always a beautiful thing to see when someone finds their soulmate, as no one really knows what their own mark is. You’re just going about your life and then you see a little piece of you on someone else and know.
Iruka walked into his apartment and dropped his bags, he was exhausted. Today had been a long day at the Academy and the mission desk. Walking into the living room, he saw Naruto was passed out on the couch. Iruka shook his head and smiled, he guessed the boy wasn’t able to make it to his bedroom. Ever since Naruto has graduated from the Academy his sleepovers had been more frequent to the point that Iruka eventually cleaned out his spare bedroom and offered it up to the boy.
He grabbed a blanket to place it over the boy. He could see the boy’s hawk soul mark peeking out of his shirt on his back. As of now, the boy had no idea who the hawk belonged to. Iruka told him it wasn’t a big deal that he didn’t know yet. It would all make sense in time.
Iruka went into the kitchen to begin making dinner. Just as he was setting the table, he heard Naruto head into the kitchen.
“Look who’s finally awake,” he smiled at the younger boy, “How was today?”
“It was awful. Kakashi-sensei was brutal, we’re learning chakra control and I’m so bad at it. The only good thing is Sasuke is bad at it too.” the boy slumped into his char as Iruka placed a plate in front of him.
“Why is that good that Sasuke is bad at it?”
“Because! If he’s good at it then he’ll impress Sakura and I don’t want him to impress Sakura.”
“Hmm, but does it matter if he impresses Sakura? What if she’s not his soulmate?”
“I don’t know if I believe in the soulmate stuff, Iruka. I mean I really like Sakura and her mark is not mine.”
“You’ve seen it?” Iruka asked curiously as he continued to eat his food.
“Yeah, she showed all of us. Sasuke and Kakashi-sensei refuse to show us theirs though.”
“Have you shown them yours?”
“No, I was too upset about Sakura’s.”
Iruka reached and grabbed the boy’s hand to give it a squeeze, “I know you’re upset about Sakura, but I promise that when you find your soulmate you’ll forget all about her.”
Naruto gave him a small smile, “Yeah, we’ll see. I’m not like you Iruka I didn’t have parents that were in love for me to see the power of having a soulmate. I only have you and no offense but you’re soulmate-less.” Naruto’s eyes brightened as he thought of something, “Iruka, why don’t I help you find your soulmate?”
Iruka laughed and looked at the boy with mirth, “That’s sweet Naruto, but you forget I don’t know what to look for on someone else.”
“I could just take a picture of your mark and then post it everywhere with a sign.”
Iruka shuddered at the thought of having his body out there for anyone to see his mark. Even though most people’s marks were in obvious places soulmate marks were still personal.
“I appreciate it, but how about we just let it happen naturally?”
Naruto nodded and the two of them continued to eat their meal in content silence.
“Naruto? Would you like me to help you with your chakra control?” Iruka asked as the boy was washing dishes while he enjoyed a cup of tea.
“Would you? That’d be awesome!”
“Of course, we’ll go when you finish.”
After he had put away the dishes the two of them headed to one of the training yards. Naruto was keeping up a steady stream of conversation their entire walk over. Iruka glanced over at the boy and smiled, Naruto seemed much happier than before. He remembered how difficult it had been for Naruto, the boy would often crash on his couch after he would treat him to ramen and make comments about how he was in no rush to get back to an empty apartment. It seemed like making a room for the boy was the obvious next step.
Naruto constantly thanked Iruka for taking him in, but Naruto never seemed to understand that this was for Iruka just as much as it was for Naruto. Truth is he loved that boy and he was lonely too.
When they got to the training grounds, he started explaining how to feel the chakra within his body.
“Once you’re able to connect to your chakra network and feel the chakra then you should be able to manipulate it and send it anywhere you want.”
The boy tried a couple of times and failed, before finally managing to grasp it. Iruka led him to a tree. “Alright, try to send the chakra to your feet and then climb.”
He mumbled the first couple of times but then eventually seemed to be able to grasp it.
“Look at me go!” he shouted from up in the leaves.
Iruka laughed, “Be careful!”
Hearing footsteps behind him he grabbed a kunai ready to defend himself only to come face to face with none other than the copy nin.
“Oh, Kakashi-sensei, I thought you were someone else.”
“Maa…it’s alright. Better to be safe than sorry.” He looked up at the tree, “Is that Naruto up there?”
“Yep, he’s practicing chakra control.”
“I see that,” he nodded still looking up at the trees, “It seems sensei that I may need to recruit you to teach my genin team. I’ve been trying to get him to do that all day and you helped him accomplish it in an hour.”
Iruka looked over at the man, he did seem impressed.
“Well, I imagine its easier for me to teach him without the distraction of having other teammates, and… you.”
“Me?” Kakashi turned to stare at him, his visible eye raising in confusion.
“Yes, you.” Iruka laughed at the man’s expression, “Surely you know how much the three of them are mystified by you. They want to know what’s under the mask and of course your soul mark.”
He watched as the man sighed, “Doesn’t everyone?”
“You can’t blame people for being curious. Everyone is curious about people’s soulmate mark.”
Kakashi frowned, “I’m not.”
“Really? You aren’t curious about your soulmate?”
“Should I be?”
“Were your parents a soul match?”
The man shrugged, “I don’t know. My mother died when I was young and my father was more concerned about creating the perfect warrior over passing down sentiments of love.”
“What would you do if you found your match?”
“I don’t know. They may not even be alive, they’re definitely a shinobi. Plus, I’ve been around this village for a long time and I have seen a lot of soul marks.”
“You would know if they were dead. They say it feels as if your own heart is breaking, that’s not a pain I imagine you’d forget.”
“I take it you’re a believer in soulmates, sensei?”
“I am,” Iruka said, there were a number of non-believers but he wasn’t one of them.
“Hmm, well I hope you find your soulmate one day, sensei.”
“You too, Kakashi-sensei.”
The man gave him a final nod and walked away.
Over the course of the next few weeks, he had started to see more and more of Kakashi because of Naruto. Each time when they came back from missions, Iruka began to invite Kakashi to eat ramen with the two of them. At first, he did it because he felt like the man was lonely. Then he did it because he genuinely enjoyed the man’s company.
The dinners were always entertaining for Iruka, he was able to see a different side of Kakashi. Their favorite past time was joking Naruto.
“Oh, Iruka,” Kakashi said hunched over in laugher, “I wish you had been there, it was a simple mission really. They just had to clean up a basement but something was moving in the corner and then out jumped a little cat and Naruto and Sasuke screamed like they were being attacked.”
“No! Iruka, don’t listen to him. It didn’t happen like that! I could sense the chakra of something!”
Iruka was wiping his tears from laughter just thinking about Naruto and Sasuke being scared out of their minds. “Oh, so you’re a sensory type now?”
Naruto grumbled something about not liking being ganged up on. Then the boy stood up.
“Naruto where are you going?”
“I’m going somewhere where I know no one will gang up on me. I’ll find Sasuke, I know he won’t think this is funny.”
“Okay, don’t stay out too late!” Iruka yelled to the boy as he walked out of the restaurant.
He turned to see Kakashi staring at him.
“I think it's really sweet how you’ve taken him in.”
Iruka shrugged, uncomfortable under the praise. “It’s not a big deal.”
“No, it is. There are very few people that would do that. You’re kind of amazing.”
Iruka could feel his face burn at the compliment. He kept his face in his plate, hoping the man didn’t notice. Iruka had been enjoying these dinners a lot. Too much actually. He was starting to feel things, things that should only be felt toward his soulmate. He tried to keep it all hidden away, but he couldn’t help but wonder if the man felt the same way?
“Do you wanna get out of here?”
Iruka laughed, “That sounds like a bad pick up line.”
Kakashi’s smile was visible even from behind his mask, “Maybe it is, would that change your answer?”
“Hmm, I don’t know I’m a little unimpressed the infamous copy nin isn’t good with pick up lines.”
“But you’re saying if I had a better pick up line, you would go out with me?” Kakashi asked him staring intently into his face.
Remember your soulmate! Iruka thought to himself. There was no way he could say yes to Kakashi. Sure, some people dated but he didn’t want to do that.
“Kakashi…” he started, “What about your soulmate?”
“What about them?” Kakashi sighed a look of frustration on his face.
“I don’t think it's fair to them that you’re trying to date someone else.”
Kakashi laughed without humor. “This is why I hate them you know? How is it that I’m supposed to fall head over heels in love with someone that I’ve never met before but the man I’ve been interested in for years won’t give me the time of day.”
His eyebrows shot up. Years? “You’ve been interested in me for years?”
Kakashi’s gaze softened, “You have no idea how happy I was to have Naruto on my team because I knew it would inevitably lead me to you.
“Kakashi, I don’t know what to say.” And he didn’t he knew how he felt, but that didn’t change the fact that they both had soulmates that were out there waiting for them. It wouldn’t be fair to themselves either, they would fall in love and then have to watch the other person fall in love with someone else.
Kakashi gave him a small smile, “It’s okay Iruka, I know what it’s like to not have you. I’ll get over it.”
The man stood up and left the restaurant without a glance back.
It had been a week since the incident at the restaurant. Iruka wanted to find Kakashi but he had been so busy with work. He had only seen the man once and that was at the mission desk, he was picking up a mission scroll and kept his conversation brief.
Now, he was gone on a mission and should be arriving back in a few days. Iruka knew he had to figure out what to say to the man. He had been warring with himself since the man had walked out of the restaurant.
He went to the training ground to try and get a workout in to clear his mind. When he finished he saw his friend Genma sitting on the floor watching him.
“You look like shit.” The man said staring up at his friend.
“I feel like shit,” Iruka responded as he plopped on the ground next to the man.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know, “ he put his head in his hands and groaned. “I think I want to date Kakashi.”
“You know, I imagined you were going to say a lot of different things but somehow that did not make the top fifty,” Genma laughed, “Does he know?”
“Yes, that’s the problem. He really wants to give us a chance, but…Genma he’s not my soulmate. We’re just setting ourselves up for failure.”
“Have you seen his mark? How do you know he’s not your soulmate.”
Iruka thought of his tantō and the initials W.F., “I just know. I’ll know when I meet my soulmate and it’s not him.”
Genma nodded, “You’re right, you may be setting yourself up for failure.”
Iruka just groaned, “This is stupid. I don’t even know why I'm debating this. He’ll thank me whenever he meets his soulmate.”
“What if he never meets his soulmate, what if neither of you does?”
“What are you saying? You met your soulmate, you know first hand what it’s like.”
Genma absently touched his shoulder where his soul mark was. “I know, and it’s amazing I’m not denying that. But, you know Kurenai and Asuma right?”
“Well they aren’t soulmates, but they’ve found each other and I believe their love is just as real as any soulmates. If you could see them together, you’d feel the same way. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t hold yourself back from love because it may hurt down the road. If you want to be with someone then go after them.”
Iruka just stared at Genma, his advice went against everything he had grown up believing but as he thought about Kakashi, he realized he didn’t want to let the man go. Maybe he would find his soulmate, maybe he wouldn't. But, until then he wanted to be with Kakashi.
He gave his friend a big hug, “Genma, you might be the smartest man I know.”
“I know,” he shrugged. “Now go get your man. You deserve to be happy Iruka.”
Iruka couldn’t wait for Kakashi to get back from his mission so he could tell the man he was willing to do this. He was willing to date him. Finally the day he was supposed to return came, Iruka had taken the day off of work so he could prepare everything. He was going to take the man out on a date as soon as he stepped back into Konoha.
The day came and went and still no sign of Kakashi and his team. Fearing the worst, he went to the Hokage’s office. Without knocking, he opened the door and saw Asuma, Gai, and another jounin he had ever met before all in the room.
The Sandaime looked at him eyebrow raised, waiting for an explanation as to why the academy school teacher felt he could burst into the Hokage’s office.
“Hokage-sama, I apologize for the…intrusion. It’s just that well Team 7 hasn’t returned and I’m worried something may have happened to them.”
“Yes, we were just discussing that. Kakashi was able to send his ninken to request backup. I’m about to dispatch a team.”
“I would like to be on that team.”
The Sandaime just stared at him, “I already have a team.”
“Please,” he pleaded finally stepping fully into the office. He knew everyone was staring at him but he didn’t care. “Naruto is on that team and I want to be on the relief team.”
He felt like both pieces of his heart were on there and he needed to be the one to help them.
He continued on, “As a sensory type, I think I would be the best person to aid in this search and rescue mission.”
The Sandaime had always used Iruka on search and rescue missions because of that, and he was hoping the man would be able to see his own logic.
Finally, he nodded, “Very well, you leave now. You can be briefed on the way.”
He followed the three jounin out of the room.
“Your willingness to help in this mission is very admirable, Iruka-sensei. I know your youth and vitality will help us greatly.”
“Eh, thanks.” He was never really sure how to react to Gai. The man was interesting.
“Alright, we’ll fill you in on the way let’s head out. Kakashi’s ninken said they were somewhere outside the border somewhere. Iruka, take the lead and let us know when you sense them.”
Everyone nodded as Asuma barked out orders and then they all were on their way. Iruka was antsy, he wanted to hurry up and get there to make sure everyone was okay. He prayed he wasn’t too late.
When he finally felt a strong chakra presence he gave the signal and the three jounin attacked. He could hear the battle happening but he was too busy looking for Naruto and his teammates. Following Naruto’s chakra, since it was the strongest, he finally saw the three of them huddled up in a tree.
They were leaning over Sasuke who seemed to be injured.
“What happened?” Iruka asked dropping down next to his former students.
“Iruka-sensei!” Sakura grabbed his arm and began explaining, “Naruto was fighting the missing nin and then a blast came out of nowhere and Sasuke jumped in front of him and took the full force of the blast. Is he going to be okay?”
Iruka began medical ninjutsu, he was not the best at it but he would be able to tell if the boy was stable. He tried to staunch the bleeding first, then he checked his internal organs. The boy needed a hospital but he would be fine.
He looked over to Naruto, he looked a little scraped up but, all in all, was fine. “Are you okay?”
He stood up and gave Naruto a hug.
“I’m fine, I wanted to go help Kakashi-sensei but he told us to stay here and make sure Sasuke was okay.”
Iruka started to clean up the blood of the boy in front of him. “Okay, can you two go and get some water and something I can use to make a quick sling for him?”
The two of them ran off to get the supplies. As Iruka cleaned the boy up, he prayed Kakashi was okay. Once the two of them returned he would leave them so he could find Kakashi and make sure he was okay.
The boy’s shirt was tattered from the burn of the blast which gave Iruka full access to his stomach and more importantly the mark on his stomach. On his stomach was none other than the nine-tailed fox. The fact surprised Iruka, most soulmate marks were something that wasn’t usually obvious to everyone, but he shouldn’t haven been surprised that Naruto’s soulmate mark was obvious. It made the man smile because now it made more sense why the boy jumped to protect Naruto. He wondered how the boy felt about having Naruto as a soulmate. He heard Naruto and Sakura heading back and immediately took off his shirt to place it on the boy. He wanted to cover the boy’s stomach. It wasn’t fair to the boy to have that knowledge gleaned without his consent.
He instructed them on how to build a sling and then went to find Kakashi. By the time he got there, the fighting had stopped and the sight that awaited him made his heart drop. Kakashi was lying on the floor in the middle of the forest, passed out. The unknown jounin was healing him.
“Is he going to be alright?”
“Yes, he’s fine. It’s mostly just chakra depletion,” the jounin said as she continued to work on him.
He looked down at Kakashi and saw that he was awake.
“Kakashi,” he grabbed his hand. “How are you feeling?”
But, the man wasn’t looking up at him. Instead, his eyes were frozen on Iruka’s chest, or actually his side. The side with his soulmate mark.
“Iruka,” he heard the man say.
“Shh, Kakashi. Don’t strain yourself, I know you’re looking at my mark but that’s what I wanted to tell you I don’t care if you’re not my soulmate. I want to try and make this work. Make us work.”
The man just stared into his eyes as if seeing him for the first time. Then he promptly passed out.
Iruka looked up at the medic nin, ready to hear her explanation. “He’s lost a lot of blood too, let’s get him home.”
She picked him up and then began to head back to the village. Iruka ran to the kids and grabbed Sasuke to carry him back and they all began the journey back to the village.
When they arrived at the hospital, he forced Naruto to get checked out.
“Iruka! I’m fine!”
“Naruto, go with the nurse just to make sure.”
The boy started to grumble, but before he could walk away Iruka pulled him in for a hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
The boy hugged him back tight, “Don’t worry, it takes a lot more than that to get rid of me. But, thanks for coming for me.”
“Always,” Iruka smiled.
When the boy left he went to find Kakashi. He heard voices in the room and peeped in to see Kakashi talking to one of the medic nins. When the woman left, he went in.
He smiled at the man, but Kakashi just stared at him as if he couldn’t comprehend what he was seeing.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” Iruka said coming to stand next to the man’s bed.
“I saw it,” Kakashi said not breaking eye contact with him.
Iruka didn’t have to ask what it was. “Kakashi, I already told you. I don’t care about my soulmate.”
The man was silent for a minute before he spoke.“Iruka, does this mean anything to you?”
Then he reached for his mask as if he was going to pull it down. Iruka’s eyes widened, he was suddenly nervous at being able to see the man’s face. Kakashi just continued to stare at him as he pulled his mask down to his neck and then removed it completely. Then the man tilted his head to the side completely, and Iruka couldn’t stop the gasp that came from his mouth. For on the man’s neck was his hitai ate that was given to him by his father, and that he passed down to Naruto.
His had moved up to trace the tattoo on the man’s neck. Kakashi shivered under his touch. “That’s mine.”
Kakashi nodded, “I hoped so.” His hands went out and touched Iruka’s still naked side where the blade was. “This is mine.”
Kakashi nodded still tracing it, “It was my father’s weapon, ‘The White Light Chakra Sabre’, it was passed on to me after his death.”
“Why does it have the initials WF on it?” Iruka asked slightly distracted by the man’s fingers still on him.
“It’s for White Fang. That’s what people called him.”
“Oh,” Iruka couldn’t stop staring at the man as it all finally sunk in. Kakashi was his soulmate. The one man he was willing to risk it all for was actually his. He couldn’t stop the smile that came to his face.
“You know what this means right?” He asked the jounin.
“I think it means you need to kiss me. Now.” Kakashi said with a smile as he pulled Iruka down to him.
Iruka pressed his lips to his and felt fire. His entire side started to burn, he felt like he was being consumed by the flames. Looking at Kakashi he could tell the man was feeling a similar type of pain. He had his hands resting on the bed and his head pressed against Kakashi’s stomach as he withered in pain. Then it stopped, and he felt nothing but pleasure. He felt lighter, freeing almost.
He looked up and saw Kakashi was practically beaming, his smile was gorgeous.
“You’re gorgeous,” Iruka found himself saying to the man.
Kakashi just laughed and then pulled him closer again. “My dear Iruka, your heart rate is going through the roof are you excited?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” he smiled as he pressed his lips to the man's lips again.
It was odd to feel someone else’s heartbeat in him, but it was a good kind of odd. He knew he would be able to get used to rather quickly.
“My hitai ate, huh?” He asked the man.
“I was shocked too, why is that your most precious possession?”
“It was a gift from my father. He gave it to me when I made genin and I actually gave it to Naruto.”
Kakashi nodded, “I knew Naruto had it but I didn’t know where Naruto had gotten it from. If I’m being honest, I was too nervous to ask. I didn’t want to know who my soulmate was. If I had known it was you, I would’ve asked as soon as I had noticed it.”
Iruka laughed, “Imagine all the time we could have had together if you had only asked Naruto one simple question.”
“It’s alright, my dear Iruka, I plan to generously make it up to you for keeping you waiting.”
Iruka smiled at him, “Oh, you better.”