by Chate Noire
Rating: PG (a tiny bit of cursing and some mentioning of nothing, really)
Disclaimer: Iruka and Kakashi, as much as I hate it, are not mine. If they were they'd be covered in whipped cream and would never leave the house. But, as it were, they belong to Masashi Kishimoto, who I hope is enjoying them just as much as I would, though, I imagine, not quite in the same way. They are of course from Naruto, which is a brilliant Anime.
"Will I ever get to see your face?"
Iruka laid his head on Kakashi's chest. They were lying on Kakashi's bed, with which Iruka had become increasingly familiar over the past few weeks. Indeed, the two ninjas have lived in the Village of the Leaf for more than twenty years and have often served it skillfully side by side, but it was only recently that they allowed long-suppressed emotions rise to the surface. As discreet as only a ninja can be, they were fairly certain that no one in the village knew of their relationship, but in such a small place as Konoha news got around, especially ones that had rumors and speculations so deeply rooted that some people had actually placed bets on it. Discreetly, of course.
He was always a sort of a sensei to him, Hatake Kakashi. As a younger, inferior and less experienced shinobi, Iruka have always felt both humbled and honored that the white-haired man, often spoken of as no less than a genius in the arts of combat, had chosen him as friend. He'd learned so much from Kakashi that he simply wouldn't have been the same man he was today without him. To his surprise and immense pleasure, the past couple of weeks have shown him much different and wonderfully enjoyable sides of his friend and teacher, and yes, once more he learned things quite unlike anything he's ever experienced.
He loved the man, truly and deeply. At first as a fellow ninja, then as a friend, and now as a lover. And Kakashi had shown him the same affection, with both words and actions, as only he could. Being able to lie here, so close to him, feel the slow rise and fall of his chest and the light touch of his hand, it was bliss.
...There was only this one little thing...
For as long as Iruka knew him, Kakashi had never taken off his mask. Iruka heard that no one has ever seen more than half of the man's face, and only an unlucky few got to even see his left eye, so often hidden. He counsidered himself part of those few, though quite lucky indeed as to see it in a much more pleasant occasions than those who saw it once and could see no more. But the mask stayed on. Morning, evening, night and day, in the house and outdoors, at missions or sitting idly in a bar. It was a real wonder how Kakashi managed to eat without anyone ever seeing his face, but nevertheless he did. He never much liked to have company over for dinner, though. The stories of what might be under that mask were spread across the village like urban legends; some say they have actually seen his face once, others merely conjure up complex theories of genetics and bloodlines. Iruka had always been curious himself, of course, but he never dared to invade the man's privacy by asking. Now, however, he felt he had some right to know.
"Iruka-kun..." Kakashi started affectionately. He ran his fingers through the man's hair and sighed. "You know it hurts me every time you ask that - which has been around eighty five times this week - because I hate to say no to you. But I must," he added after a second's pause, in which he could almost hear Iruka's hopes rise.
"But why? Why do you keep secrets from me? I thought we were--"
"Iruka." Kakashi interrupted. Determination filled his voice, but warm undertones assured Iruka, for the eighty-fifth time this week, that he was not angry at him. But he wasn't going to give in any time soon either. Iruka sighed and put his head back on the strong chest.
"Alright, sensei. I'm sorry." He tossed his arm over the man's body for a decent cuddling position and nuzzled his chin playfully. "I just bet you look so beautiful under there."
Kakashi smiled at this. He held Iruka and slowly drifted to sleep, a smile still adorning his face, invisible to the world.
Kakashi woke. He slowly became aware of his surroundings - the empty bed beside him, the quiet movement behind and the suprising feeling of his wrists being tied to the bedpost. He felt his lover's fingers lightly touching his own and smiled again. His eyes remained shut, his breath levelled, so as not to disturb Iruka in his mischievous late-night schemes. The knots were tied quickly and skillfully, and Kakashi could spot his own training in Iruka's work; he had been an attentive student, he thought with some teacherly pride.
Kakashi chose that moment to make his awareness known to the other man.
"Well well, Iruka-san...isn't it a little too late and far too early for such games?"
His lover smiled and pecked him fondly on the forehead.
"How long have you been awake?"
"Just long enough to marvel at your knotwork. Very impressive. I recognize it, of course, and you know I can undo it in less than five seconds."
"I was counting on you not wanting to remove it," said the other man, joining the tied ninja on the bed. "But in case you might, I added a twist or two to the one you taught me. Ever the student," he added with a smile, seeing Kakashi struggle a little with the rope.
Kakashi left the ropes be. He'd find a way out of them if he needed, no doubt. But why spoil the fun?
"Alright," he conceded, "show me what sort of deviousness you had in mind."
"I think you'll find it a bit more devious than you might like," said Iruka carefully, and saw Kakashi's experssion change a little from playful tease to puzzled curiosity.
It's not that he wanted to upset Kakashi; Gods knew he would do anything in his power to make this man as happy as he could. It was just that he felt he had the right to know. After all, no one came as close as he did to Hatake Kakashi in years, so didn't this earn him the unravelling of a few well-kept secrets? He was certain they'd both feel better with all secrets and uncertainties removed. Besides, Iruka was so goddamn curious. Curious as to why this is such a big deal, why did Kakashi put on that mask in the first place, but mainly and most importantly - what's underneath it. Is a man not entitled to see the face of his lover? He was sure that Kakashi trusted him with everything, so probably all that was needed to break down all the barriers between them was a little push. A little push Iruka was more than willing to give.
Kakashi did not need the Sharingan eye to see into Iruka's mind, and his features, that until then crinkled with bemused expectation, became wary. He tugged again at the ropes and learned that Iruka had indeed picked up a few new tricks. He glared at him.
"Iruka, do not."
"On the contrary, sensei. I think I will."
Ignoring the burning eyes of his lover, Iruka reached over and slowly removed Kakashi's mask. He then stared at him flatly as a second mask was revealed.
"Please do not make that mistake again," said Kakashi.
"Kakashi-san, please..." Iruka cupped his lover's face in his palm. "I just want to see you."
Letting the scorching stare pass through him once again, the young man removed the final veil between them. Underneath...was a face; a human face. Not a rotting skull as some had suggested, or the lower half of a beaver's head. Not even a face so profoundly unattractive that it was best kept hidden. No, in fact...he was strikingly handsome. Quite strikingly handsome indeed. Goddamn slap-you-in-the-face-take-your-breath away handsome, to be as exact as verbally possible. A wonderfully-carved jaw, strong chin, lips to fall in love with, straight, perfect nose and slight stubble, making him all the manlier.
"Kakashi," he mumbled, "you're fucking gorgeous."
Kakashi's response to this was a hot, growling, accusive "HEEIISSHA!".
It resounded off the walls and died down, leaving silence that was more than a bit awkward.
"Bless you," said Iruka, who could swear he'd never heard the man sneeze in his life.
"Damn you," said Kakashi, who had indeed never sneezed in Iruka's life. He did, however, sneeze plenty just a bit before that. "You idiot."
"I-I'm sorry--" Iruka was a bit lost for words. What was the problem? No dark secret lay underneath that mask, no awful monstrosity, there wasn't even a hint of a flaw; Kakashi hid near perfection under layers of masks - why? And why was he so angry at him for removing that one little--
"Heiissshh! Heiaashoo! h'ih-h'ih-huh -- HAEESSshhooo!!"
Through misty eyes, Kakashi sent a lethal stare. And Iruka was beginning to understand...he looked at his sensei, who was struggling both the ropes and an elusive sneeze.
"heh-h'ih!...hehh...hah..Heeiiishhooo! Heiish! H'nggmph!"
A stifled one earned him just enough time to skillfully release himself and cover his face with a mask. Behind it, however, his nose had already taken some damage that would not be remedied so easily, and he let out another stifled sneeze, knowing full well each of those only delayed the inevitable, which will be longer and more explosive. In the meantime, though, he took advantage of a moment of clarity and shot Iruka an infuriated glare. It didn't last long. Iruka was looking so devoured by guilt and horror that Kakashi could not bring himself to lash at him. What more, his nose was quickly taking over. He leaned to the other side and half-stifled two loud sneezes into his makeshift handkerchief.
"Bless you...sensei..." Iruka mumbled, in a small and terrified voice. "I'm so sorry..."
"Close the--heitcsssh! Close the window, please," Kakashi asked breathlessly between sneezes. His partner practically lunged at the large window and sealed it shut, swiftly turning around. He went back to the bed and carefully laid his hand on Kakashi's back, removing it briefly as he sneezed again. The white-haired ninja rubbed vigrouosly under his nose, careful not to remove the mask, and looked at him.
"So this is wh-huh...whhah--heh--" Iruka tensed as his sensei teetered on the edge of another explosion. He winced as the sneeze came full force, bending Kakashi at the waist.
"HEEIISSshoo! heh...What the mask is for," he finished, rubbing under his nose. "I've worn it almost as long as I can remember, and I imagine you can see why. Not very effective for a ninja, that sort of thing." He sniffed and threw a soft look and a hint of a smile at Iruka, calming the nervous man down a bit.
"The...the very air makes you sneeze..?" Iruka dared to inquire.
"Not quite the air itself, jusst...huh--h'ih-h'ih! hehh...Just the things in it. Flowers, grass, trees. Especially trees. And we live in the middle of a goddamn...forest...heaaSCHhooo! eeiisssh! heeiish! hi'tshhoo!"
"I'm so sorry, sensei. You're feeling miserable." Iruka was looking staggeringly more miserable than Kakashi felt, and the older ninja reached out and patted him on the shoulder.
"Don't be silly, Iruka-kun. It's just sneezing...and it will be gone as quickly as it...came. hehh...heh-h'ih-h'ih...haEeisssh!" He shook his head and added, "maybe not quite as quickly...but don't you worry about it." He smiled.
They lay for some time, Kakashi leaning against his lover, randomly letting loose a sneeze or five, until they died down. Eventually Iruka spoke.
"Am I an evil man, Kakashi-san...if I wished to see you unmasked once more, some day? It's just that...you're so beautiful."
"Iruka...you couldn't be evil if you tried." Kakashi smiled and shifted so he could look his partner in the eyes. "But do you think we can wait a little while before trying again?.."
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