Glancing around his office one final time, Kakashi sighed. He wasn't going to get this work done tonight even if he did stay late. And with the rate new work came in, he wasn't going to get it done, period. Only a few months into his tenure as Hokage, Kakashi already knew it was a losing battle. Maybe Naruto would find a way to deal with the ever-present piles of paperwork when he took over.
Kakashi stood and stretched, his spine cracking in multiple places as he did. How was sitting at a desk all day more exhausting than most of the S-rank missions he'd taken? He was going to have to rethink how missions were categorized if this continued. He should consider giving the Hokage Tower workers hazard pay. Sitting at the mission desk day in and day out could not be good for one's health. He'd have to ask Iruka.
Just not tonight.
He'd promised he'd leave his job and all the responsibilities that came with it at work tonight.
Iruka's exact words had been, "If I need to march into that Tower and force you to take a night off to celebrate your own damn birthday, so help me, I will."
Kakashi didn't think it was an idle threat, and as little as he cared about his own reputation, he wasn't sure getting dragged across the Village by his baggy robes of office while Iruka yelled, "It's time to eat cake, damn it!" would fit with the supposed dignity of his still-new title. Better to take the night off like Iruka had suggested. The paperwork would be there in the morning, after all.
He had a good idea of what he was walking into. Iruka had probably invited a few of their friends over, and Naruto would be there. There'd be presents, cake, the whole generic birthday party thing. It'd be the same thing Iruka had done nearly every year since they'd gotten together.
It wasn't that Kakashi disliked the parties. Some years they'd been more fun than Kakashi was willing to admit to anyone other than Iruka. However, after a painfully long day at work, it wasn't how he would choose to spend his evening. But the parties made Iruka happy, and that was enough of a present for Kakashi. So he steeled himself as he reached their apartment, took a deep breath, and opened the door.
It was dim inside, only a few low lights on, and for a moment, Kakashi braced himself for an explosion of light and sound and confetti as people jumped out of their hiding places and yelled, "Happy Birthday!"
It didn't come.
Instead, Iruka stepped out of the bathroom. He was wearing his usual worn bathrobe, and a flickering light spilled from the door behind him. Kakashi was mesmerized by the sight of him. No matter how many times he saw Iruka like this, he couldn't get enough of it. His hair down, his uniform off, completely unguarded. Just himself, all the airs of bright cheerfulness that he wore in public, as concealing as Kakashi's mask, discarded for something quieter, more subdued, only shown in these moments alone together.
They wouldn't be having any company over tonight.
Iruka grinned at him. "You expected a dozen people in here, didn't you?"
Kakashi let out a chuckle. He couldn't deny it; Iruka knew him too well. "Something like that."
Iruka walked up to him and tugged Kakashi's mask down before wrapping his arms around his shoulders. Kakashi slid his hands over the soft material of Iruka's robe and around his waist to bring him close. With as thin as the material was, it was easy to tell Iruka wasn't wearing anything underneath. This was already looking more promising than cake.
"Happy Birthday," Iruka said against his lips, then gave him a slow kiss.
Kakashi had never been one for kissing before Iruka; there weren't many people he was willing to remove his mask for. With Iruka, he could do it all day. The slide of their tongues against each other, the feel of Iruka pressed against him, the way Iruka would always tilt his head back a little further whenever Kakashi ran his fingers through his hair and cupped the nape of his neck.
Iruka pulled back enough to look him in the eye. "No parties tonight, but I still have a little surprise for you."
He stepped away and tugged Kakashi towards their bathroom. Kakashi could do nothing but follow, ready for any surprise Iruka had in store.
But when he stepped inside the bathroom, his breath was stolen by what was waiting inside.
Dozens of candles lit the small room, and rose petals floated on the warm water that filled the bathtub.
He stared at the sight before him. This was just like... But no, Iruka had never read Icha Icha Paradise; he'd been adamant about not wanting to. And even if he had read it, there was no way he could know. Kakashi didn't talk about it. He'd never told Iruka. Every time he'd tried, his cheeks had started to burn, and he couldn't get the words out.
He knew it was ridiculous. He could read the books in public without a problem, but there was something about discussing them in detail, or even worse, reading them out loud, that was too personal, too embarrassing. Particularly the scenes he wanted to experience himself. Admitting his deepest fantasies felt like it was giving too much of himself away, even to Iruka. So he'd never asked, never said what he really wanted.
He turned and looked at Iruka, questions in his eyes.
Iruka looked back, that soft smile still in place. "I thought you might like it."
He held Kakashi's gaze as he opened his belt, then let the robe slip off his shoulders and pool around his feet, joining the flower petals that had been scattered on the floor. The candlelight flickered across his skin, over his muscles, painting him in light and shadow.
He stepped closer to Kakashi, hands coming up to his vest. "You've had a long day. Let me help you with that."
Kakashi swallowed hard and nodded.
You've had a long day. Let me help you with that.
Even the words. They weren't uncommon. It could be a coincidence. But this was exactly like the scene near the end of Icha Icha Paradise, the first time the main couple had let themselves admit their feelings, the first time they'd done more than just fuck. They'd made love in that scene, and Kakashi had read it more times than he could count.
He let Iruka strip him. With Iruka naked, he didn't have much else to do but run his fingers through Iruka's hair and trace them over his skin as Iruka removed his clothing.
But then, maybe that was what he was supposed to do. Hiiro hadn't done more than that in the book, too overwhelmed by the sight of his lover before him, too relieved that they were home safe after their long journey together.
When they moved to the shower, Kakashi's hands had more to do. The soap let their bodies slide together in easy, smooth motions as they washed each other, distracted by kisses as the water poured over them.
Iruka didn't let him do this often; their schedules didn't line up well enough in the evening to allow it, and mornings were out of the question. They both enjoyed it a little too much for that. No matter how good they tried to be, there was no such thing as a quick morning shower if they were in there together. Brief kisses stretched longer, a hand on a shoulder as they switched places under the spray turned into full-body contact.
There was something irresistible about Iruka in water that made it impossible not to reach out and touch him. Even when those touches started as casual, they didn't stay that way. Casual turned to teasing, and since they both had hidden competitive streaks, they could never leave it at that. Kakashi might get close enough to slide his dick against Iruka's hip as they traded places, Iruka might return the favor by pressing up against Kakashi's back as he reached around him to grab the shampoo. Quick would always get replaced by one of them pressed against the shower wall, time forgotten as they moved together.
Iruka had put his foot down after he'd needed to body flicker to get to the Academy on time one morning, his hair still dripping wet, his vest only halfway zipped. Everyone expected Kakashi to show up to Hokage Tower late; the same courtesy was not given to respected Academy teachers.
Having Iruka like this, with nowhere they had to be, was a gift in and of itself, but Kakashi had a feeling they were only on page one of this scene.
The way Iruka moved signaled they had all the time in the world. His caresses were languid and easy, enough that the hum of arousal was running low and thrilling through Kakashi's veins, but nothing about it felt urgent. They were both getting hard, but he didn't feel the need to make this about getting off just yet. There'd be time enough for that later.
After washing off the day, they settled into the bath together, Kakashi leaning against Iruka's chest, melting into his touch as Iruka trailed kisses along the side of his neck, up to his ear and back down, his fingers tracing unhurried patterns over Kakashi's skin.
He paused for a moment, his breath ghosting over Kakashi's ear, making him want to shiver even in the warm water.
"You know I love you, right?" Iruka asked. His voice was so quiet, Kakashi almost didn't catch it, but he knew this scene, knew it was coming, knew to listen for it. Iruka had said it to him dozens of times before, but with the scene so present in his mind, with the characters' emotions mixed with his own, it felt like the first time all over again.
He twisted and kissed Iruka at that same leisurely pace until they were both breathless.
"Take me to bed. Make love to me," Kakashi said when they broke apart, remembering the next lines from the book. For once, too immersed in the moment to be embarrassed by speaking the words out loud.
Iruka kissed him again, soft and chaste, before saying, "Anything you want." Just like it was written.
They toweled each other dry, not bothering with clothing, unable to stop touching each other even for the few steps it took to reach their bedroom.
Kakashi figured he knew what he'd be walking into. Something a little more realistic than what had happened in the book. Even he had to admit that scene stretched his suspension of disbelief. There was no way either character would have spent the time and money needed to prepare the room for their romantic night together. Not to mention the sheer fire hazard that night had been.
He'd assumed Iruka would tone it down.
He was wrong and completely unprepared for stepping into a fully recreated version of the scene.
The room was brighter than he'd expected, lit by a hundred candles, each one safely housed in a barrier seal with a hole big enough to let in the oxygen needed to keep the flame going. The petals of dozens of roses lined a path to their bed, which now had sheer curtains hung around it, closed on all but one side, more petals scattered over the sheets.
Kakashi let out a breath. The fact that Iruka must have spent all afternoon, maybe even days, doing this for him made him feel light and loved and unbelievably lucky.
"Do you like it?" Iruka asked, breaking character.
Kakashi pulled him close. "It's perfect. You're perfect."
Iruka grinned. "Good, because it was hellishly difficult trying to find a time I could get to Yamanaka Flowers when Ino wasn't working."
"Didn't want to explain why you needed four dozen roses to your former student?"
"Six," Iruka admitted sheepishly.
Kakashi kissed him harder.
When Iruka pulled away, he asked, "How do you want this to go? I wasn't sure."
Kakashi hesitated. He'd thought about this scene so often, but he didn't always imagine it the same way.
Iruka seemed to understand. "The candles will last more than one night."
That settled it for Kakashi. If he could have both, he knew which one he wanted tonight.
"I want to feel you inside me," he said, going back to the script, his voice low next to Iruka's ear, loving the way it made him shiver.
"Anything you want," Iruka said again, his voice taking on a rough edge.
Iruka walked him to the bed, letting the gauzy curtains fall closed behind them as they moved onto the mattress.
They'd made love before; they'd been romantic. It was always good with Iruka no matter how it went. Nothing ever felt like it was missing.
But there had always been something about this scene, something so hopelessly romantic. It made Kakashi's toes want to curl as he read it, made him want to experience something so unapologetically sentimental and tender.
He knew most people thought the Icha Icha series was nothing but trashy smut, and for the most part, it was. There was as much wild, kinky sex as could possibly fit between the covers. But each book also had at least one scene like this, one moment when the main couple of the book would connect far deeper and more meaningfully than anyone who hadn't read the books would ever guess. Kakashi liked the other scenes, liked the thrill of couples having sex in public spaces, liked the way they'd misuse jutsu, enjoyed the sex even when it was fast and hard and demanding. But it was the quieter, loving scenes that made the books as far as he was concerned.
And Iruka gave him that. That perfect, exquisite moment that he'd always wanted, but had never been able to ask for.
They took their time, exploring already familiar territory. Touching for the sake of touch alone, for connection, not as means of getting off. They whispered words of love between deep kisses, letting time fall away until there was nothing but them and this moment.
Candlelight flickered, a warm glow filtering through the curtains, adding to the illusion that there was no world beyond their bedroom, that there was only them and nothing more.
Iruka was so gentle, so caring with him, like they hadn't done this a hundred times before. They moved as one, reveling in the feel of their bodies pressed together, unhurried and perfect. They stared in each other's eyes as Iruka moved inside him and shared kisses like breath between them.
They let the moment build, slow and glorious. It stretched out like eternity, yet there was no rush, just the steady movement of them rocking together, a constant, reassuring gravity. Pleasure and love pushing them higher, towards an inevitable fall.
And when it finally came, when they tipped off that edge together, no work of fiction had ever captured the beautiful intensity of that moment. Stars didn't explode behind Kakashi's eyes; he and Iruka were among them, burning as bright and ever-lasting.
When Kakashi came back to himself, Iruka was a comforting, grounding weight against his side. Their sweat-soaked bodies pressed against each other.
"How did you know?" Kakashi asked when he finally felt like he could speak again.
Iruka let out a huff against Kakashi's shoulder.
"I cleaned last week," he said like it was a confession.
Kakashi had noticed, he'd been surprised to find their place in nearly perfect order, but he'd gotten home so late that night, Iruka had already been asleep. He hadn't had a chance to thank him.
"And?" Kakashi asked.
"Well," Iruka said. "I cleaned."
It was Kakashi's turn to chuckle. Anyone who knew Iruka well knew he was a disaster waiting to happen when it came to household chores. It wasn't that he was bad at them, he just got distracted easily. And when he was distracted, bad things happened. "What did you break this time?"
"Hey, I'll have you know I broke nothing."
Kakashi waited for it.
"But I did, kind of, managed to knock over the entire bookshelf."
That sounded about right. "But how did that lead to this?"
"Icha Icha Paradise happened to land on top of the pile, open to a certain scene."
Kakashi knew where this was going now.
"It opens so easily to this scene, like an automatic bookmark. I had to read it. I mean, not the whole book, but I had to know what made you reread it so many times." He pushed himself up to look Kakashi in the eye. "You know you can ask for things like this, right? You can tell me. Anything you want," he said, echoing the book.
Iruka continued, "Are there any other scenes you want to act out?"
Kakashi felt his cheeks start to burn, as they did any time he might have to to talk in detail about the books. Whatever protection being in the moment with Iruka had afforded him, it had worn off.
"Or you could accidentally drop Icha Icha Violence or Tactics, and see what happens," Kakashi said to the ceiling more than to Iruka. The spines of both books were nearly as worn as Paradise.
"I think I could manage that," Iruka said with a grin, before leaning in for another kiss.
He really was perfect.
And now Kakashi just needed one more thing.
"Do you have any book recommendations for me?" he asked as he pulled away from the kiss, feeling less embarrassed now that the topic had shifted to Iruka's kinks instead of his own.
It was Iruka's turn to blush, but he still answered. "I might. But I'm pretty careful with the spines on my books. I have, however, been known to leave in a bookmark or two."
Kakashi grinned. He could work with that.
(I was originally going to start with Iruka dropping the books and preparing for the surprise, but in the end, I liked starting with Kakashi coming home to the surprise better. So this doesn't add anything to the story, but I'm including it for the hell of it.)
It'd been a happy accident, really. Iruka hadn't meant to knock over the bookshelf.
He stared at the books scattered on the floor, one book laying open on top of the pile like it was waiting to be read. Nearly begging for it, he thought with a snort.
He picked up Icha Icha Paradise, noticing how worn the spine seemed at that part of the book. He checked the page, closed it, then let it fall open in his hands again. It opened to the same spot.
Well, someone clearly had a favorite scene.
Iruka had never been interested in reading the series, but he couldn't deny that he was curious to find out what Kakashi liked so much he'd worn the binding to the point it opened directly to that page.
Kakashi always got so embarrassed whenever he talked about the books, so Iruka didn't bring them up. He thought it was cute that Kakashi could walk around reading them unflustered, but the moment he had to talk about them or read them out loud, he nearly died of embarrassment.
So instead of picking up the rest of the books he'd knocked over like a responsible adult, Iruka wandered towards their couch with Paradise in his hands.
It wasn't a long scene, just half a dozen explicit pages. As Iruka read, his eyebrows rose. So this was what Kakashi liked? He'd been assuming it'd be something a little less wholesome. Kakashi could have asked for it, but Iruka had been with him long enough to know that wasn't likely to happen.
He grinned to himself as an idea formed in his head. Kakashi's birthday was next week, and he'd promised to get off work in time to celebrate it. And what better way to do that than to bring this scene to life?
But first, Iruka would need to run a few errands. He just hoped Ino wouldn't be working at Yamanaka Flowers when he stopped by.