Sukea

BY : MisatosPenPen
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Kakashi/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 2580
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Kakashi wasn’t enthusiastic about waking up this morning, but he sat up and rubbed life into his hair and scalp. He should probably take a handful of photos on the way to the shop to use up the film and pretend that he’d taken even more than the dozen he showed Sasuke. Maybe with more mundane photos, the developer wouldn’t notice the personal photos.

He was about to get out of bed when he was startled by a bird pecking at his window. A summons.

-----

Sasuke was disgruntled when he opened his door.

“I know I promised you a few days off, but the two of us are needed on this mission,” Kakashi said.

“Now?”

“I’m afraid so. Front gate, thirty minutes.”

“Hn. You’re the one who won’t be on time.” Sasuke turned back into his apartment and shut the door, dismissing his captain. Sasuke might as well have slammed it in his face.

Kakashi was waiting at the gate when Sasuke arrived, not late for once.

Sasuke cocked an eyebrow at him. “So, you can be on time.”

“Let’s go,” Kakashi said with a little hostility.

“Wait, how long will this mission last?”

It was Kakashi’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “You’ve never cared before.”

“I was going to meet up with someone today.”

Kakashi sighed. “It will take at least a day to get there, so two to three. I can give you twenty minutes to go let them know.”

“I don’t know where he lives. You know Sukea, right?”

“Sukea?”

“The photographer. He was in ANBU with you. He was with Naruto, Sakura, and I when we broke into the records room.”

“Oh, him. Is Sukea his real name? I thought it was his code name. What about him?”

“Do you know how to contact him? He’s the one I was going to meet.”

“Another mission into the classified files?” Kakashi asked with amusement. “No, I don’t know where he is. He’s a shinobi, he’ll know you were sent on mission.”

“I told him we were off for a few days.”

“Things come up. He’ll understand. We should go.”

Unhappy, Sasuke complied. Kakashi was jealous of Sukea.

-----

The two powerful lightning users were needed against a gang of former Iwa-nin, powerful Earth style users planning a coup d'etat. Sasuke and Kakashi were the best duo to defeat them.

After a day of travel, it took them half a day to find the group. When they found them, Sasuke was vicious. Normally, he tried to avoid killing, but not today. His sword had never been bloodier, nor had his Chidori killed so many. Even Kakashi was afraid of him.

They started with over forty enemies, but the pair’s first wave of attacks whittled it down to just under thirty. Kakashi and Sasuke were leagues ahead in power to begin with, but their lightning style obliterated anything the earth style users threw at them. Kakashi was also skilled in earth style, being his second nature affinity, so he understood the ins and outs of their jutsu and—even without his Sharingan—out jutsued their jutsu. He even used the headhunter jutsu he’d used against Sasuke during the bell test in its intended way: loping off the man’s head that was left sticking out of the ground.

Sasuke was at home using primarily lightning jutsu, showing off all the variations of his Chidori. Against shinobi like these, he didn’t bother pulling out anything more than his Chidori techniques and his simple Sharingan. They weren’t worth anything more than that.

Kakashi grabbed the younger man’s wrist before he could deliver the coup de gras to the last man. “That’s enough, Sasuke. You’re just wasting chakra now.”

“Tch.” His Chidori flickered out. Kakashi released him and Sasuke turned away.

Kakashi looked down at the man Sasuke was about to impale. He was already dead. That fury scared Kakashi; it was the same as a few months ago, except Sasuke could be stopped these days. They weren’t planning on leaving anyone alive, but still. Sasuke was ruthless when he was angry.

On their way home, Sasuke was irritated, closest to impatient as he could be.

“If you want to run all the way home overnight, be my guest,” Kakashi said as he got the fire going.

Sasuke settled back against a tree, his sword against his shoulder.

“So, why were you meeting with that guy?” Kakashi asked as he pulled out some rations from his pouch. It was a short mission, so they didn’t need to hunt for food with just the two of them.

Sasuke was hesitant to answer. “I happened to run into him, and we got to talking. I enjoy talking with him.”

“About what? I can’t imagine you would have much in common.” Kakashi tossed Sasuke a small pack of rations.

“The state of things. Our fears for the village when you become Hokage.”

“Hmmm. That concerns me too.” That drew a small smirk from Sasuke. “Just be careful with him. I didn’t know him well, but he was ANBU. Don’t trust him too easily.”

“You have a low opinion of your comrades. ANBU is intelligence and assassination. Not a whole lot different from the rest of us. Unless you go about killing rooms full of children, I don’t see a difference.”

That made Kakashi pause. “I’ve killed two children. I’m sure he’s killed his share. Of course, I didn’t want to kill either of them. It just occurred to me, they both jumped in front of my Raikiri.” Thoughts of Rin and Haku silenced him for a moment. “ANBU and Root aren’t really all that different, sometimes it was just a difference of who gave the order. ANBU could be just as brutal.”

“Tell me everything you know about him.”

“Eh? Why?”

“Tell me everything.”

“He was in ANBU.”

Sasuke just stared at him.

“I can’t tell you anything about ANBU.”

Sasuke narrowed his eyes. Kakashi could see him calculating. Would he admit he was trying to sleep with him to spark Kakashi’s paternal instinct as his sensei?

“Tell me what you know of him after he and/or you left ANBU.”

Kakashi smiled. “No.”

The glare turned into scowl.

Kakashi was trying to act like his normal self. He crossed his arms. “Why do you want to know?”

“Fuck you.”

Kakashi laughed for obvious reasons. He sobered and rubbed his masked chin. “We were in ANBU at the same time. He’s an orphan and was recruited into ANBU by the fourth Hokage, like me.” He considered. “I’m not sure what else I can tell you. Is there something in particular you want to know?”

Sasuke’s eyes had eased. Now he thought. There was probably nothing he could think to ask that wasn’t about ANBU. After their conversation, the question he wanted to ask was what horrible things Sukea had done while in ANBU.

“You don’t even know? Then why’d you ask?”

The glare was back.

Kakashi stood up and mused Sasuke’s hair. “When you think of something to ask, find me and maybe I’ll answer. There’s not much I can tell you. I will try.”

Instead of pissing the young Uchiha off, he’d calmed down. Kakashi continued over to prepare his bedroll.

“Get some sleep, Sasuke.”

Kakashi was about to fall asleep when he felt that he was being stared at. He looked over at Sasuke. He was staring at him. “Need something, Uchiha?”

“No.” He looked away and relaxed.

Kakashi knew Sasuke would not sleep tonight but meditate. Sasuke would stay on guard, half awake; it was enough on short missions like this. Now that he wasn’t being stared at, Kakashi could sleep.

-----

Luckily, Sasuke had about the same stamina as Kakashi, so he didn’t outpace him on the way home.

As the gates of the village came into view, Kakashi said, “You can go home, I’ll make our report.”

Sasuke ran off, but not toward his apartment. Kakashi was suspicious, but he hid his disguise under his floorboards, so even if Sasuke suspected Kakashi was Sukea, he wouldn’t find evidence in his room. Maybe.

Sukea stayed away tonight.

Kakashi wasn’t exactly a pauper but eating out with Sasuke so much was adding up. He went home to a bowl of ramen and rice. Not a lot of food options that would keep in the cupboard during long missions. Despite the meager meal, he really wished he could be sharing it with Sasuke.

-----

Going to bed early was a mistake. Several hours before dawn and he was wide awake. He was well acquainted with the ceiling of this relatively new apartment. When he returned from the war, there were finally real buildings to move into, not just the quickly erected barracks with little room beside a bed.

Old and new ceilings were pretty much identical, an almost smooth white painted surface. Whoever painted this ceiling had added a spiral flourish right here in the corner. The last one had just flapped his brush against the surface, leaving a haphazard texture. Well, that had a been a low rent shinobi dorm, not an apartment, not a home. It was a small room for sleeping and storing crap, nothing else. You weren’t meant to live there.

The old dorm was meant to be a transitional place for genin and chunin leaving their parents’ home for the first time. Kakashi moved in when he was in ANBU and just never left. He wasn’t the only shinobi leaving there in their late twenties.

This time he’d chosen a studio not much bigger than the dorm room. He had his own bathroom and a tiny kitchen. Being who he was, the guy helping returning shinobi find places to live tried to get him into a house or a at least a large one bedroom. He’d chosen the smallest place he could find.

So had Sasuke. He sighed and sat up. Looking out his window, he could see only buildings and sky. No trees here. It made his dear little houseplant more special.

A group of civilians were carefully shifting through the rubble blasted around the carter and salvaging what they could. Anything that was somewhat intact and didn’t look like garbage was put on display for people to come and reclaim. Right before Kakashi headed off to the war, he’d checked it out, but nothing looked familiar. Afterward, there were a lot more items. To his surprise, he’d found Ukki-san. His orange pot was glued together, but he was alive. He even found his bells. He was about to leave, happy he’d found at least this much, when a woman called out to him.

“Kakashi-san! Wait! I have some of your items!” She waved him back. Seeing she had his attention she ran behind the wooden stall that displayed everything to grab a box. The box itself was salvage, in worse condition than even more Ukki-san’s pot. She presented the box to him. He set Ukki-san on the ground, the bells in his pocket.

“I’m pretty sure these are all yours. I recognized you in the pictures and one of the books had a handwritten dedication to you.”

He looked inside to see all three Icha Icha books and the Tale of the Gutsy Ninja. Jiraiya had written in the cover of the third Icha Icha book. There were two frames as well which had to be his team photos. She’d even found one of his undershirts with the attached mask.

“Thank you. You found just about everything that meant something to me. Thank you.”

She bowed. “Oh, was there something else important to you? I could keep a look out for it.”

“A broken tanto hilt and its sheath.” The medical pack Rin had given him was with him when Pain attacked, he kept that in one of his usual pouches and it rarely left his person. All that was missing was his father’s tanto. He’d broken the blade but kept the remnants.

“Oh, one second.” She ran behind the stall again. He stood stalk still there with the box in his hands. She was a full minute. “Is this it?”

He was shocked. “Yes.”

“This was in the vicinity of your things. Because of the damage, we weren’t sure we should even put it out.”

“Thank you so much. Everything else I owned is easily replaced. Thank you for finding it all.”

She bowed again. He put Ukki-san’s pot in the box and took it home.

He hadn’t added anything further to his collection of personal items. Clothes and spare gear were all he bothered to buy. And a new comforter. He was pretty sure he’d seen his old one among the rescued items, but he didn’t really want to reuse a blanket that went through so much and might not even be his. The books, frames, and pot showed the hell they’d been through, but he did little to restore them. He even left the cracked glass on the frames. Like scars, they were badges of honor for surviving.

He felt for Sasuke; the Uchiha probably had nothing but his sword and the clothes on his back when he came home after the war ended. Come to think of it, where had Sasuke found that Uchiha banner in his apartment? It didn’t look new.

Kakashi got dressed. He wanted to use up that film in the camera anyway. He slipped the camera into one of his normal pouches and ventured out into the cold night.

It was too dark to take photos, so he just walked. He found himself near the edge of the village. The building where Sasuke escaped to when he couldn’t sleep was right over there. He was too afraid to check.

But as dawn approached, he took one or two photographs of the deserted streets. Then he ventured up near that building, using all his skill to sneak to a vantage point to see if Sasuke was on his perch. It was a low angle, but from here he should be able to see Sasuke’s black hair if he were sitting up there. If he were lying down, he wouldn’t be visible. He was certain the coast was clear and jumped up to that roof. No one there. He looked out to the west. The day would soon be dawning behind him. Once the world was illuminated enough, he took a photograph of the landscape bathed in cool light. Then the sun broke over the horizon, flooding the air around him with warm, golden light. He took another. Then the sun rose enough to gild the trees below him. It was a lovely view. He took another photo.

He jumped back down to ground level and found a few beautiful empty streets fretted with morning light. He hoped these came out well. If they were even half as lovely as the real thing, they would be gorgeous.

Then he went out into the forest outside the village. After realizing there wasn’t a single tree in view from his apartment window, he appreciated these trees even more. The village was changing, modernizing. He used up the film out here then took it over to the shop to be processed, asking for two sets. Might be safer to just get duplicates of them all rather than asking for only those photos of Sasuke.

He returned to the shop a few hours later and was presented with two packets. He eagerly opened one and ignored everything else and looked for the photos he took in Sasuke’s room. The first was a sterile as he thought it would be. Sasuke was handsome of course, but it lacked any life. The second was much more like him with that amused and mischievous smirk. Then there was the third.

Kakashi had looked at his disguised face many times to check his makeup and make sure his scar was covered and his hair safely under the wig. Even when he was alone washing his face and brushing his teeth, he barely glanced at his natural reflection and his expression was never anything but neutral. This was anything but. He’d never seen his own eyes so wide before. He looked a bit ridiculous.

But Sasuke. He wasn’t smirking. He was smiling. Widely and with his whole face. There was a teasing mischievousness to his expression, but his eyes were shut in happy rainbows. He was laughing. Kakashi had never, never, seen him so happy. It made Kakashi happy just as it broke his heart.

-----

Sasuke wasn’t home when Kakashi came to see him. So, he waited outside his building. He really had to wonder why Sasuke lived in such a cheap building in such a small studio. Being warren-like made sense, but why such a cheap place?

He chose his own studio because it was like his old dorm and he didn’t have a lot of possessions. He’d moved into the dorm from his father’s house because he realized he only used the one room and he was wasting the rest. It was too large for a young man living alone. It was filled with bad memories anyway. Not just from his father, but from the grief of Obito and Rin’s deaths.

Kakashi loitered for nearly an hour before Sasuke finally turned up. He was startled when Sasuke ran up to him like a rank genin.

“Sorry, I was sent on a mission.”

“I figured,” Kakashi said lightly. “I assume it was an S rank if they canceled your leave.”

Sasuke scoffed. “Hardly. Kakashi could have done it alone. They just needed lightning users. Kakashi or I could have annihilated the bunch without any help. He doesn’t have a Sharingan anymore and he can still fuck up half the Earth Country.”

Kakashi was a little flattered.

“He could probably do it while reading his fucking porn.”

And offended.

“I don’t even know why I had to join him.”

Kakashi smiled. “Getting lazy?”

Sasuke scoffed again.

“Well, I have those pictures from last time.” Kakashi handed Sasuke the envelop. “I included some of the other pictures on that same roll of film.”

Sasuke smiled. “Want to come up? I was planning on making dinner. I didn’t expect that mission and bought quite a few perishables. I need to eat them up.”

“Happy to help,” Kakashi said with a rainbow eyed smile.

As soon as they were in Sasuke apartment, Sasuke pulled out the pictures. He smiled at them. “No talent for portraits? I think you underestimate your abilities.”

“It’s not the photographer, but the subject.”

“Hn.”

His smile broadened when he got to the one his clone took of the two of them. “As I thought, this one is my favorite.” He gave a dark chuckle. “Can I keep these?”

“Yeah, I made duplicates. They’re all duplicates so you can keep whatever you like.”

Sasuke tucked those three photos behind the others to continue perusing the stack. He took his time admiring them. “I really like these as well.” He smiled when he recognized the view from his rooftop perch. “You took these while I was gone?”

“Yeah,” he lied. “I thought about how nice the view would be in the morning light and went up there. I was actually glad not to find you there. I thought it meant you weren’t suffering from insomnia that night.”

“Well, I’ve been able to sleep for the last few days. By the way, you left your photo album.”

“I figured I left it here.”

“So, I can keep all of these?”

“Sure.”

Sasuke looked quite pleased. “I’ll have to buy some frames. Is Vegetable Teppanyaki acceptable?” Sasuke asked as he headed for the kitchen.

“Very. Can I help?”

“I assume you have suitable knife skills.”

“I think so.” Kakashi shed his coat on the way to the kitchen. “Just tell me how you want them cut.”

Doing something so domestic like this with Sasuke felt odd. He wasn’t exactly sure if the silence between them was comfortable or awkward. The fact he was wearing a T-shirt that exposed his arms didn’t help. He didn’t expect to remove his coat tonight. He felt Sasuke’s eyes on his half exposed ANBU tattoo.

Once the vegetables were cut up, it didn’t take long for Sasuke to stir-fry them. They were sitting down to their meal after only a few minutes. They forwent the rice since that would take longer. Sasuke had learned his tastes and didn’t even ask, just brought out the jasmine tea.

They both offered an “Itadakimasu” before starting the meal.

“Are you related to Nohara Rin?” Sasuke asked into the silence.

The question startled Kakashi. “Why ask about her?”

“I was thinking about the shapes on your face. It’s normally a clan thing. I went to the library yesterday to look up clan symbols and designs. I couldn’t find anything like yours. Then I asked around and someone mentioned Nohara had markings like yours. I wondered if you were her brother or cousin.”

Kakashi hadn’t realized that he’d copied Rin. He chose the lines to cover his scar sort of like Jiraiya’s but thicker and only long enough to cover his scar. The color was random. He thought. Maybe he did choose purple because of Rin. “No, I’m not related to Rin. Her markings were different.”

“But you knew her?”

“Yeah, we were in the academy at the same time, but I didn’t know her well. I did notice she had a crush on Kakashi back then. He couldn’t be bothered by such things. Not girls, not even friends.”

Sasuke looked down. “Like me.”

“Probably not a good idea to get into relationships when you’re in your early teens. Puppy love may blossom into something more real, but children don’t make the best decisions.”

“True.”

“But sometimes I wonder,” Kakashi mused. “A few couples worked out. Some might have.”

Sasuke thought. “What were Rin’s markings like?”

Kakashi didn’t like how much Sasuke was bringing her up. “They really weren’t like mine, though they were the same color. Her’s were on the sides of her cheeks, not through her eyes. Kinda like this,” he drew his fingers over his cheeks to illustrate.

“Are your markings for your clan?”

“I don’t really have one. I’m an orphan. Honestly, I sort of copied Jiraiya.”

“The Sanin.” Sasuke’s eyes darkened momentarily. “Sakura has that diamond seal like Tsunade had. Strength of a Hundred Seal I think it’s called. Should I wear makeup around my eyes like Orochimaru?”

“No, please. That guy always creeped me out.”

Sasuke laughed. “Me too. Jiraiya and Orochimaru’s markings are like the orange around Naruto’s eyes when he enters his Sage mode; I’m not sure why Jiraiya and Naruto’s manifest differently. From what I’ve read of Hashirama, he also had markings connected to his Senjutsu. The Dragon Sage charka causes those purple markings. Orochimaru was never able to become a true Sage, but with the curse seal he was able to use Senjutsu. I haven’t committed to becoming a Sage like Naruto, though I can use Senjutsu. Kabuto became a Sage.”

Sasuke mused. “I’m a little surprised Naruto didn’t copy Jiraiya with makeup. Jiraiya wasn’t so bad. More perverted than Kakashi though. Naruto’s perverted in another way than those too. One peeps on the women’s baths and writes porn, the other reads said porn in public, the last transforms into naked women.” He scoffed. “I’m surrounded by perverts.”

Kakashi felt he needed to defend himself. “Those novels aren’t as bad as you make them sound. They’re about a man’s struggles to find love. Of course, there’s plenty of romantic and even sexual scenes, but it’s far more emotional than ‘porn’.”

“So, you’ve read them.”

Kakashi actually blushed. “Yeah. Honestly, it’s the sentimentality in it that embarrasses me. And the sex in a chair.”

“At least you’re not a pervert. Quite the opposite. I’m the one who came onto you. I guess they’ve all rubbed off on me in the worse way.” Sasuke’s smile was ever so slightly sinister.

“Um, so who . . .” Kakashi knew he really shouldn’t ask.

“Who did I sleep with?”

“I’m sorry, it’s rude to ask.”

“Don’t worry, it wasn’t Orochimaru or Kakashi.” It didn’t look like Sasuke was going expound on that, silent for a moment. But then he continued. “I was a horny, inexperienced teenager. Still am,” he admitted. “Arata wasn’t entirely with Orochimaru voluntarily, but he was one of those who didn’t really have anywhere else to go. He always trembled when he was around me; it was obvious he was very attracted to me. I’d already figured out I was bisexual by that time, and I consented. We did it like four times. When I defeated Orochimaru, I looked for him, but he’d run off. Don’t worry, if he did show up, there was nothing between us.”

“I’m not jealous,” Kakashi defended.

Sasuke smirked at him. “Then why ask?”

“You’re so young, I just wondered. You seem awfully experienced.”

“Yeah, I was young, but I don’t have any regrets over it. I appreciate what I learned.”

Kakashi wasn’t lying, he wasn’t jealous. That wasn’t the emotion he was feeling.

They soon finished eating and Sasuke took all the dishes away. He returned with a freshened teapot and rinsed out cups. “Hōjicha tea,” Sasuke said. “It’s my favorite in the evenings.”

“Ahhh.” Kakashi was hesitant, knowing that it was known to have a caramel flavor and he didn’t like sweets. But neither did Sasuke. He took a sip and found it not so much sweet, but nutty, more like roasted coffee.

“It’s dark but low in caffeine.”

“It’s delicious, thank you.”

An easy silence fell over them as they savored the tea. It was still quite cold as spring approached, it even seeped into the room, so the hot tea was welcome.

Kakashi absently looked up at the Uchiha banner hanging on the wall between the bathroom and the kitchen. He was right, it didn’t look new.

Sasuke didn’t have to turn his head to know what Sukea was looking at. Kakashi was embarrassed when he realized Sasuke caught him zoning out staring at it and was now being stared at.

“Sorry.” He finished his cup and Sasuke immediately filled it, taking his eyes off Kakashi for a moment. Sasuke handed him his refilled cup. “Thank you. I was just, well, wondering if it was . . . how old it was.”

“Several decades. I stored several relics in my clan’s shrine right after it happened; that banner is the only thing I brought out. I thought I should have something of my clan with me. Covers a bare wall. I’ve thought about putting it away; it makes the room darker.”

The indifference in Sasuke’s voice was feigned. Kakashi would bet Sasuke really didn’t like having it there. His clan dominated his life the way this banner dominated the room.

“Well, if you want your clan symbol to display, but that’s too dark, you could get it painted or stitched on a white background. Perhaps just as a small framed painting. I’ve seen others display their clan symbol like that.”

“Hn,” Sasuke considered, not once looking over at it, keeping his eyes on Sukea. “The latter sounds good. Naruto has a friend who’s an artist. Perhaps I’ll ask him.”

“It’s a simple enough design. Perhaps you could have something added to it, like the tomoe of your Sharingan or a kanji or something. Something to make it more artistic. Or just on a nice, bright background. An artist should be able to liven it up.”

Sasuke smiled softly. “Good idea. Make it less austere.”

“But if it bothers you, you don’t have to display it at all. I don’t think your clan will feel any disrespect from that. You don’t have anyone to convince or impress. Unless you have guests other than me.” He smiled his rainbow eyed smile at him.

“No, there’s no one else. Even Naruto and Kakashi haven’t been here. Or at least inside. Naruto tried to get himself invited over, but I refused. He’s invaded enough of my life. I tried to keep my address secret from Sakura. So far, she hasn’t shown up.”

Kakashi finished his second cup of tea. “Thank you, I should go.”

“You don’t have to.”

“No, no. I should go. I had a long day.” Kakashi stood. He did want to avoid Sasuke coming onto him again, but he was also a bit sorry to end his time with him. He grabbed his discarded coat and scarf.

Sasuke rose also. “Don’t forget your album this time.”

Kakashi turned to accept it but found himself ambushed; Sasuke stole a brief kiss when he faced him. It was far more innocent than any of the kisses they shared thus far, and that made it far more embarrassing. Kakashi felt the blush dusting his cheeks.

Sasuke eased the album into his hands. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Kakashi wasn’t fleeing this time so he walked slowly and took the long way home. Despite his nervousness at times, he really had fun being with Sasuke. A wistful smile crept across his lips.

-----

“Naruto’s on his way back from Suna,” Tsunade informed Kakashi. He’d been summoned in the late morning to her office. “When he gets back, your team will be going off on an S rank. There’s a situation brewing near the Land of Waterfalls. I’ll have more information ready for you the morning you leave. Naruto will get a night’s rest and then you’re leaving.”

“Understood. Sasuke and I will be ready.”

“I’ll inform Sakura.”

Kakashi headed straight to Sasuke’s apartment. Sasuke looked a little beleaguered when he opened the door. And kind of sexy.

“Naruto’s on his way back. The morning after he returns, we’re going out on an S rank. It’s a three day journey from Suna, so be ready to head out.”

Sasuke took a deep breath. “I am getting bored.”

“Hey, want to get lunch? And/or train?”

Sasuke stared at him blankly. “I’m not hungry. I will train though. I haven’t sparred in days, just working out and katas.”

“Then I’ll meet you down on the training grounds.”

Kakashi was a little disappointed Sasuke didn’t want to have lunch with him. Maybe he’d just had breakfast; he looked like he’d recently woken up.

Kakashi went straight to the training grounds so he wasn’t late. That made Sasuke raise an eyebrow.

“I’m not always late.”

“Yes, you are.”

“I don’t get lost in thought in front of graves that often anymore.” His voice conveyed just a slight bit of acid.

He didn’t know exactly why he felt he needed to lash out and make Sasuke feel bad, but it did make Sasuke look away, ashamed.

“What would you like to work on?” Kakashi asked and they spent the next few hours sparring.

-----

Sasuke eagerly opened his door a few hours later. He was freshly showered and looking perfect. Kakashi had showered too of course, but he didn’t think he was gleaming like Sasuke.

“Dinner in again?” Sasuke asked.

“More ingredients to get through? Well, we can’t have those things go to waste.”

Sasuke smiled and let him in. “Do you like beef?”

“Yeah.”

“I was thinking of a beef bowl. I’ll put on the rice.”

“Can I help?”

“No, just make yourself at home.”

It was a little hard in this tiny studio to do anything but sit on his perch by the wall and look around. What he saw made him blush. Sasuke had framed the pictures. The one of Sasuke was standing next to the one of the two of them on the dresser next to the money plant. His clan banner was gone, replaced with framed pictures from the ones he gave to him with the portrait.

Another small change was that it was warmer here than before. So much so, he removed his coat. Sasuke had turned on his heater. Living underground for several years had probably made Sasuke a little more impervious to cold than a normal person. Since Sukea rarely took off his cost, Sasuke must have assumed it was because he was cold. His consideration was appreciated. Though, he wasn’t thrilled to be so exposed without the security of his mask or coat.

Then he noticed a bottle that was clearly perfume on the nightstand. He thought that strange since Sasuke never wore a scent of any kind. It looked feminine anyway. Expensive perfumes didn’t have the most elaborate bottles; cheap ones had the simplest; fancy, pretty bottles suggested a mid-range quality. This was a pink cylinder with an elegant white label, just a hint of a texture to the bottle itself. Expensive. Why in the world would Sasuke have something like that?

 The strips of meat were thin and took little time for Sasuke to cook. He made a savory sauce rather than the sweet one usually served in beef bowls. Steamed vegetables were a colorful side dish. He served the meat in a spiral on top of the rice bowl and the veggies on a plate with a few dipping sauces. This didn’t look like a spur of the moment meal he whipped up for his guest. It amused Kakashi that Sasuke was trying to look like he wasn’t putting effort into their time together while he was.

It was getting harder to find small talk when alone with the younger man. Kakashi was going to comment on the banner being gone, but it was a stupid question, it was obvious that Sasuke had put it away because he wasn’t keen on keeping it up. Then a question popped up when he looked over at the photos on the dresser.

“Where’s your team photo?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s lost in the rubble. I left it in my apartment when I left nearly four years ago. I would guess my landlord packed it up when I didn’t come back and pay the rent, so who knows where it ended up.”

“I could probably get you a copy. I’m certain the negatives of personnel and team photos are kept in the archives. If they survived, a copy can be made.”

Sasuke considered. Then the corner of his lips lifted. “Yeah, sure. I think I would like it back. You know, I think I’m going to miss Kakashi when he becomes Hokage.”

That piqued his interest considerably. “You just won’t see him as often. As Hokage, I’m sure he’ll be giving you missions.”

“That’s hardly any kind of interaction. I may have cleared the air with him, but I fear I might have alienated him again. He verbally bitch slapped me today. I wish I knew how best to talk to him.”

“What happened?”

“I make fun of how he’s always late and this time he pushed my nose in it, so to speak. I didn’t realize my comments bothered him. He’s always teasing us, so I thought . . . I don’t know what I thought. He was one of the few who tolerates my attitude, but maybe that’s all he does is tolerate it. Sometimes I just want to stop interacting with others all together because I hate it when I say the wrong thing. Like today. I don’t know how to interact with people. I’m sorry I said that to him. Going over it in my mind, I guess I don’t treat him with respect either. That’s probably why he snapped at me. And he was trying to be nice to me, inviting me to lunch and sparring.”

“Why don’t you treat him better?”

“I feel comfortable enough with him not to act polite. I went too far though.”

“Did you apologize?”

“Not really.”

“You probably should. I’m sure you three are like his kids; he probably feels just as bad for snapping at you. But I don’t think you have to worry about completely ruining your relationship with Kakashi; if your relationship survived everything else that happened, being rude to him won’t finish it off.”

“Why is it so much easier to talk to you? I wish I could talk to Kakashi the same way.”

“Have you tried? Maybe if you had a meal with him like you do with me . . .” This was excellent! If he could push Sasuke to open up to Kakashi he might turn from Sukea.

“He’s about to become Hokage. I want him on my side, but it might be a little late to become friends.”

Sasuke stood and retrieved some shoyu for the rice.

Kakashi despaired; Sasuke wasn’t willing to turn to him. When Sasuke returned, Kakashi put some shoyu on his own rice as well. He smiled at the taste; leave it to Sasuke to procure high level ingredients and sauces. The meat was high grade as well. For a moment, he considered that he might come home to meals like this every night. A wonderful homecooked meal, a beautiful companion, and a home more real than a lonely studio apartment.

“So, when is he becoming Hokage?”

“He told me we have an important mission when Naruto gets back. So at least one more mission. I don’t know how much longer after that. I will miss him. The lazy perv.” Sasuke said that with affection. “That reminds me, my leave is over in about two days. I would like to spar with you sometime. The next two days would be the most convenient.”

“Sorry, my days are pretty full.” He was just as afraid of his wig flying off as Sasuke recognizing his fighting style.

“If you’re still a shinobi, I’d love to go on a mission with you.” He held up a hand to stop his response. “I know. But my team is about to break up. We’ll need a new captain. Though, I don’t really want to share you with the other two.”

He said it lightheartedly, but Kakashi felt he was serious. Sasuke never seriously suggested Sukea reunite with Naruto and Sakura, not even for a second demasking mission. Kakashi didn’t really want to share his time with Sasuke with them either.

“With the way things are going, we might not need a new captain. I complain about the missions we go on, but it’s because they are far easier than a team of our talent and power should be sent on. Though that last one was just easy because of who we are; normal shinobi would have been slaughtered. I wouldn’t be surprised if I get assigned to ANBU. Naruto’s too bright to get transferred into ANBU, but I’m a different matter.”

“Kakashi’s not an idiot,” Kakashi said. “He won’t put you in ANBU. ANBU was probably the worst place for him back then. He’ll know that it won’t be good for you. You have the skills and would excel at it, but it wouldn’t be good for you psychologically. If Kakashi and I could get lost in the darkness, it would swallow you.”

“I’ve already wallowed there once. It’s nice sometimes to just surrender to it.” Sasuke thought about it. “You’re probably right. If I got even the least bit comfortable in a dark place like that again, I would probably never want to leave. It was freeing, but a little like being bundled in a black blanket where nothing could touch you or hurt you.”  

Kakashi gave a tiny laugh. “Yeah, you’re right. That is exactly what it’s like. It’s been a long time since I felt like that. It’s kind of like that feeling when you cry, the catharsis.”

“Yeah. If I could do solo missions for ANBU, I might consider it. But you’re right, Kakashi won’t put me there. I’m going to be so bored.”

“Me too.” Kakashi voiced his true feelings there, forgetting he was supposed to be Sukea right now.

“Hn? Are you retiring for real?”

Kakashi felt a pulse of panic. “I don’t want to, but as you said, we may not be needed as much anymore. At least I have something to fall back on,” he said, referring to photography.

Sasuke sighed. “I don’t. I don’t know anything but fighting.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. You are a good cook.”

“Oh? Want a full-time chef?”

Kakashi’s eyes went wide again for a moment. “I couldn’t afford you.”

“I don’t know about that.” Sasuke was giving him bedroom eyes. Though, with Sasuke’s dark eyes, they looked more threatening and predatory than inviting. Not that threatening and predatory wasn’t a turn on.

Sasuke turned those eyes away to continue his meal, fully aware how distracting he was being. They had a meal to finish before they could engage in any extracurricular activities.

“I like cooking, but it’s not something I want to do as a profession.”

“Pity,” Kakashi said, “you’re very good at it.”

“Thank you. It means a lot to me that you enjoy it.”

“You know, you might not end up out of work, you might get your own genin team soon.”

Sasuke looked horrified. “I don’t think anyone will let me be in charge of children.”

Kakashi hummed in agreement. “You might be as bad as Kakashi was,” he mused.

“I disparage him a lot, but he wasn’t that bad. He was given just the worst students. He never should have passed us. Although, there was no way to shake Naruto and Sakura up into being good shinobi without the experiences we had. Our first real mission to the Land of Waves made all three of us realize just how serious and dangerous this line of work is. Sakura grew up during the Chunin Exams. I was just hopeless. The cards were stacked against Kakashi.”

Kakashi had to agree and he nodded. “I know a little about what happened, but why did you leave?”

“My brother goaded me and then I saw how powerful Naruto had become. Kakashi tried to calm me down, but Orochimaru’s men arrived and promised me what I desired most at the time—not family, not friends or connections—power. So, I left. I knew I was tossing those things aside. I felt bad for Sakura, I would miss Naruto, but I felt like I was betraying Kakashi because of how he tried to connect with me. He did convince me, but then Orochimaru’s men took advantage of my mental state that night.”

Kakashi’s heart ached. If he hadn’t left him alone . . . He had convinced him. He felt some pleasure at that thought though. If Sasuke felt bad enough to feel he betrayed Kakashi, then his words had meant something to him.

Sasuke left him with those thoughts as he took their dishes away and returned with tea. It was oolong this time. Kakashi was warm enough, it was the flavor that lured him to drink this tea with relish. They sipped in silence for a few minutes savoring the tea. It put Kakashi at ease despite the fact he knew Sasuke was waiting to seduce him again.

The silence started to feel awkward with the second cup. Kakashi struggled to find something to break it with. Then he remembered.

“Why do you have a bottle of perfume on your nightstand?”

Once again, Sasuke didn’t make the unnecessary movement of looking at it when he knew full well what Kakashi was talking about and where it was. “That girl I told you pretty much raped me, Karin, she gave that to me as a parting gift. It’s her favorite fragrance. I never opened it.”

“Seems like an odd gift for a guy.”

“She collects perfumes. I don’t think there was anything else she could give me to be honest.” He got a little lost in thought. “That day, we finally sat and talked. She finally told me why she was in love with me. She said we took the Chunin Exams together. The task was to bring a Heaven scroll and an Earth scroll to the center of the Forest of Death. She was Kusa-nin and she was separated from her team. She was attacked by a large bear, but I swooped in and killed it, saving her life. She had the same scroll as my team, so I didn’t attack her. She said I smiled at her and that’s when she fell in love with me and all she ever wanted was to see me smile like that again.”

“That’s really sweet.”

“Yeah.” He hesitated. “It would be if it were true.”

“Huh?”

“I never saved her during the Chunin Exams. Kusa did send a few teams that year; only one got to the Forest of Death and Orochimaru murdered that team and disguised himself as a Kusa-nin. There was no young girl among their shinobi and certainly no other kunoichi with red or pink hair other than Sakura. If I had asked, I doubt she’d be able to name her teammates. I never saved anyone from a bear; I was never apart from Naruto and Sakura for more than thirty seconds. I believe it was a false memory Orochimaru created to make Karin absolutely loyal to me. He intended to possess my body for my Sharingan; being in my body, he could use Karin’s love and loyalty to me to bend her to his will. She would do anything to protect and heal me and him. I decided not to tell her. I did give her what she wanted though, I smiled when I thanked her for all she’d done for me. She left happy. And she gave me that bottle to remember her by.”

“That’s . . . really tragic.”

“Yeah. He brainwashed her into loving me. She’s free of it now. She still has feelings for me, but she’s not bound by them anymore. She also knows I won’t return her feelings.”

“Did you give her anything?”

Sasuke smirked. “She already stole one of my sweaty shirts. I let that be enough.”

Kakashi laughed. “She really was obsessed.”

“She was. But her tsundere attitude in front of others was annoying. When we were alone, she was even clingier than Sakura. Sakura at least was shy around me; Karin was shameless. I guess I wouldn’t have minded if I loved her back, but I didn’t. She wasn’t my type, physically or personality-wise.”

“I think I know your type when it comes to men, but you said you’re bi, what’s your type for women?”

Sasuke considered. “No woman’s really caught my eye. I guess I like long dark hair, dark eyes, and at least something in the breast. Sakura and Karin are both severely lacking in the bust department and in every other category. Someone quiet and affectionate. I wouldn’t want someone who was merely obedient though, who would simply kowtow to me. I feel those two would always only do what they thought I wanted. I want someone with more spirit than that. For a wife, I would want a partner, not a servant. I see too many wives who defer to their husbands without any backbone of their own. Not to say I want to argue all the time. Agreeable, mild, but not subservient.”

A wife, Kakashi thought. He may not like his obligations to his clan, but Sasuke would need to continue it. That was always important to him, even as a child. If they did have a relationship, how would he fit in Sasuke’s family?

“Don’t worry about it,” Sasuke said, knowing what Kakashi was thinking. “Like I said, there is no one but you who’s caught my interest. Yes, I find you attractive, but that’s merely part of the reason I’m drawn to you.”

Sasuke took in Kakashi’s mostly bare face with large eyes. Kakashi already felt naked without his mask, but those eyes made him feel it more. The decals and makeup helped, but it was like wearing a thong: it covered some things, but little enough that it was almost worse than nothing. He couldn’t help his eyes darting around in discomfort. Sasuke let his eyes drop to the beauty mark on his jaw before looking away.

“You definitely focused more on personality in your description.”

“You’re quiet, though more . . . alive than I am. Though I’ve been the aggressor here, you could have shoved me away at any time. You let things happen between us because you want it too, even if you’re reluctant. You’re intelligent and thoughtful; you share nearly all my opinions and fears for the world. You may not have long black hair or dark eyes, but you are the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. Right down to that beauty mark. But most importantly, I feel comfortable with you. I don’t even feel comfortable with Naruto and he’s my best friend.”

“Beauty mark?” Kakashi touched the dark spot on his jaw. “It’s a mole.”

Sasuke gave him a piteous, condescending look. “It’s a euphemism. But in your case, it’s sincere. You’re handsome, but I think you’d look just a bit plain without it.”

Kakashi blushed. It wasn’t like a raised bump with a hair sticking out of it like a cartoon witch, but he’d still always thought of it as an unattractive mole. Hearing it praised like that made his cheeks flame up.

His cute reaction prompted Sasuke into motion. He shoved the table out the way and crawled toward Kakashi. He wasn’t moving quickly, he gave Kakashi all the time in the world to object or escape, but he only made a feeble attempt to evade him by pressing himself back against the wall; all he did was trap himself.

Seeing how nervous Sukea was, and guessing he was somewhat shy about his appearance, Sasuke weakly threw a kunai at his light switch, weakly and precisely enough that it didn’t harm the switch or wall but turned out the light. The kitchen light was on, but it was behind a corner leaving them in muted light. It did settle Kakashi’s nerves a bit that were nearly in darkness.

The moment Sasuke’s soft lips touched his, Kakashi was lost. It was a gentle kiss that wasn’t demanding or insistent, just affectionate. Sasuke moved his lips to Kakashi’s cheek and down to the mole. He flicked it with his tongue then kissed it. He could feel the heat from Kakashi’s cheeks.

“You should be shy about it,” Sasuke whispered into his ear, “it’s sexy as hell.”

Kakashi groaned at the words as much as the feeling of Sasuke’s breath. So little and Kakashi was already getting hard. Sasuke seemed to sense as much; he rubbed Kakashi’s crotch and sighed at the firmness he found there.

“Sukea,” Sasuke whispered. There was such husky passion in that voice that melted every bone in Kakashi’s body. But Kakashi still had some sense left.

“Sukea isn’t even my real name,” he confessed.

Sasuke pulled his face back to look him in the eye, his hand leaving Kakashi groin to support himself. “Then give me another name to call out.” That left Kakashi dumbfounded. “I suspected that wasn’t your name and knew it for a fact since I’ve been looking into your background. There’s very little about you and it all sounds like the undercover identity of a shinobi. I’m not demanding you tell me anything. I respect anything you want to keep to yourself. But I want to know you, thoroughly.”

And with that, Sasuke gently rubbed his lips against Kakashi’s again. A small lick and then they were in a languid, intimate kiss.

Kakashi brought his hand up to Sasuke’s face, not to push him away, but to keep him there. For nearly a minute, he was paralyzed by Sasuke’s mouth. He loved the way Sasuke kissed. For the moment, he couldn’t conceive sex being any more intimate than Sasuke’s tongue caressing the inside of his mouth. He wanted this moment to last forever.

Kakashi’s hand was drawn to the side of Sasuke’s chest. He had to touch more of him.

Sasuke’s right hand strayed to the hem of Kakashi’s shirt and touched his bare abdomen. In response, Kakashi’s mind on sensual autopilot, he trailed his fingers toward the center of Sasuke’s chest and the opening of his zip up shirt.

Sasuke’s skin was hot against his fingertips. Sasuke pressed a little closer to encourage him further. Kakashi put his hand in the shirt, placing it fully on his chest. Sasuke used his left hand to unzip his shirt completely. As Kakashi slid his hand over Sasuke pec and pert nipple, Sasuke slowly shrugged off his shirt. Sasuke’s right hand slid up, catching Kakashi’s shirt on his wrist and pulling it up, exposing Kakashi’s body, though Sasuke was too preoccupied to look.

Having hiked his shirt up around Kakashi’s neck, Sasuke pulled at it to remove it. Kakashi, his mind too muddled to object, raised his arms to make removing it easier.

Once the offending garment was removed, Sasuke started to lick at his throat and running his teeth over his skin. It felt wonderful.

Then, Sasuke stunned him by pulling away and then grabbed him by the pants and pulled with enough power to drag Kakashi away from the wall. Sasuke pushed him down—his head now clear of the wall—and licked his way down his chest, pausing briefly to suck at a nipple.

For a moment he feared Sasuke would see the crossed scars on his chest from his fight with Obito, but they were well healed, and it was just dark enough. He wasn’t mapping his skin, so he didn’t take note of the shape and size of his scars, just lapped at one of them. Kakashi relaxed and let Sasuke do as he willed. He wanted to touch him but was hesitant to. Finally, he threaded his fingers into Sasuke’s mane and Sasuke nearly purred.

Sasuke spent some time at his nipple but then ventured down to trace the definition of his abdominal muscles. Kakashi was barely aware of his pants and boxers being pulled at until his ass and cock were freed. He was too lost to care at the moment. Kakashi’s head was swimming. He was drunk on Sasuke and high on endorphins. Sasuke had made it down to Kakashi’s naval and inserted his tongue. It was a strange feeling and made him twitch, but Sasuke was undeterred, kissing it like it was a small mouth.

But when Kakashi felt breath on his cock, he was overwhelmed with panic.

Kakashi pulled his hips back and sat up. Pushing his back against the wall again. Sasuke pushed himself up so he was straight-armed and his eyes nearly eye-level with Kakashi’s.

“I can’t,” Kakashi panted.

“Why?” was Sasuke’s almost desperate reply.

“I—I—I love you.”

What?! That wasn’t Sasuke’s voice, but Kakashi’s own inner voice.

“I mean, I mean,” he was stuttering.

Sasuke crawled closer, his erection straining against gravity under his stomach; Kakashi hadn’t noticed when Sasuke removed the last of his own clothing. There was a little anger in Sasuke’s black eyes, but he was restraining himself. If he were a lesser man, he would be ravaging Kakashi by now, with or without consent, he was so horny. A man couldn’t be blamed for being miffed that a potential sex partner was suddenly denying him, but he was handling it like a gentleman: not insisting, not accusing, not forcing a thing.

“I don’t know what I mean,” Kakashi admitted. “I just can’t.”

Sasuke leaned in a little, giving Kakashi the chance to object, then kissed him. Sasuke moved his hand to Kakashi’s thigh and just rubbed it. It was soothing. Kakashi felt his heart slow from the panic, but it was still beating strongly. The hand slowly moved to his cock and gently started stroking him. Kakashi moaned and put a gentle hand on his cheek. Sasuke pressed his entire body closer and Kakashi got the message. He reached out blindly with his other hand, his fingertips coming in contact with Sasuke’s abs. They trailed down toward the younger man’s cock. He almost pulled his hand back at the heat coming off him. But he let his fingertips touch him and trail down his length a bit before closing his fingers around Sasuke’s shaft. They both moaned.

For the first time, Kakashi became the aggressive one in the kiss, pressing his tongue deep into Sasuke’s mouth, using the hand on his cheek was hold him still so he could deepen the kiss.

Sasuke finally pulled away. “Why don’t you want my mouth on your cock?” His voice was incredibly sexy.

Kakashi couldn’t breathe. He took that time to come up with answer. “Embarrassed, I think. I’m afraid to actually have sex with you.”

Sasuke’s face eased. The anger and disappointment were completely gone now. “Why are you afraid? I promise I won’t hurt you and you won’t hurt me.”

“It’s not that. I don’t know what I’m afraid of.”

Sasuke moved even closer, forcing Kakashi to release his cock. He straddled Kakashi’s thighs, their cocks touching. Sasuke kissed him again, this time also sliding his cock against Kakashi’s. Kakashi moaned and reached his arms around Sasuke’s body. Kakashi’s hips started moving on their own, seeking even more of that delicious friction.

Sasuke put a hand on the back of Kakashi’s head and Kakashi was too enrapt to worry about his wig. “Say it again,” Sasuke whispered against his lips.

Kakashi opened his eyes and could only stare blurrily at those dark eyes in front of him.

“Say it again,” Sasuke insisted.

“Huh?”

Sasuke growled in frustration. “Say it.”

Kakashi finally realized what Sasuke’s referring to. With a blush, Kakashi admitted again, more consciously this time, “I love you.”

Sasuke moaned and his hips quickened. “Again,” he sighed, his head now flung back, exposing a vulnerable column of pale throat.

“I love you,” Kakashi said with more conviction. It was so true it hurt. It also drove him to pull Sasuke’s body closer and gnaw at any skin that he could reach. He loved him, but he also wanted him. He wanted him more than anything else in his life. This was the first time he felt the need to possess something. He wanted Sasuke to be HIS.

Sasuke’s protracted groan signaled his release. He grabbed Kakashi’s shoulder hard and came. Those sounds and the feel of a man orgasming against him set Kakashi off as well. Their semen mixing between them.

Kakashi’s body relaxed against the wall, his arms falling from Sasuke’s body. Sasuke collapsed forward against him. He was breathing against Kakashi’s forehead, then settled down to rest his forehead on Kakashi’s. Sasuke put his hands on Kakashi’s chest, then his cheeks for a long few moments, then back down to his chest, his arms trembling too much to keep them up.

Kakashi’s strength came back enough to tilt his head up and rub Sasuke’s lips with his own. Sasuke reciprocated and they shared a long, slow, intimate kiss. Kakashi put his hands on Sasuke’s waist as they made out.

This was the first time he ever felt so content, satisfied, and . . . happy. He felt a tear slide down his cheek. He was just so happy for this one moment in his life.

He raised his hand to Sasuke’s face and touched his cheek. Sasuke broke the kiss to pant. He was sweaty. Kakashi reached further up to caress his hair, which was dripping with sweat. He only then noticed the moisture under his wig. He smiled and gave a small laugh.

“I love you too,” Sasuke whispered.

That shattered Kakashi’s peace. He was reminded that Sasuke loved Sukea. The second tear that fell down his cheek wasn’t from happiness. He lowered his hand back to Sasuke’s cheek and rubbed his thumb under his eye. Sasuke’s eyes were shut and they stayed shut. It hurt so bad. He swallowed. “I love you deeply.”

Sasuke took Kakashi’s hand in his, pulling it from his face. He opened his eyes and looked down at Kakashi’s face. “Then why do you want to run away?” Sasuke could feel Kakashi’s tension.

“I’m scared,” he admitted.

The smile Sasuke gave him was brittle. His eyes weren’t smiling at all. Kakashi couldn’t decipher that look and the question was clear on his face. Sasuke kissed him rather than answer him.

Sasuke pulled away, but the way he braced his hand on Kakashi’s shoulder seemed to be a signal to stay put. Sasuke merely dismounted to the side and stretched his body to the grab the blanket from the bed. Their body heat was being sapped away as their sweat cooled. The temperature was dropping fast as the evening wore on and the heater at its current setting couldn’t stave it off. Sasuke remounted him, pulling the blanket over his shoulders like a cape.

Kakashi didn’t like the silence that had fallen between them. There was one thing he wanted to know. “Why are you moving so fast? I know you well enough at this point to know that it’s out of character for you.”

“Is this fast? I waited a few weeks to come on to you.”

“Maybe it’s not so fast, but you seem—” he hated to use the word, but it was true, “desperate.”

Sasuke’s eyes eased, any pretense gone. They were open and . . .

“I’m frightened,” he admitted with a tremble to his voice. “I don’t know this world. Everything I knew has changed. My peers grew up, the village was destroyed, all the feelings and motives I once had are gone. You and Kakashi are about the only things that haven’t changed. Asuma died, Kurenai got pregnant and retired. Gai’s crippled. Neji died. Tsunade wasn’t Hokage very long before I left and now even she’s about to be replaced. Even that damn monument is about to change. Nothing from my childhood is left. I feel even more alien here than I thought I would.” Sasuke was crumbling before him. “In the end, there was no home to return to. Just another unfamiliar place filled with strangers.”

Kakashi hadn’t realized how Sasuke must feel coming home. It was easier for him since he’d watched most of those changes happen and they hadn’t all come at once, but over weeks, months, and years. Sasuke just returned to find it all happened, as if in one moment.

“The way the world’s changing scares me. Peace will kill our kind. I don’t know anything else. I’ve lived most of my life with enemies to seek, but now . . . I have nothing. It feels like the village and the whole world has turned their backs on me. I feel cast off. Directionless. I don’t know what to do and it terrifies me. I’m afraid of this new world.

“At least you haven’t changed; you’re from I world I knew and understood. You worry about the change in this world too, but you don’t seem as anxious about it. With you at my side, I might survive all this.

“And I do love you. It’s not just desperation, I love you.”

Kakashi pulled Sasuke closer and held him. He never thought he’d see Sasuke collapse like this. He’d seen him at his worst after Danzo died, but this broke his heart even more than when Sasuke broke back then. They both shifted into a more comfortable position, Kakashi better securing his arms around the young man. Sasuke was silent, but Kakashi could feel the despair radiating off him and moisture on his skin. Minutes later, he felt Sasuke fall asleep. He turned his face toward those spiky locks feeling the heat of his scalp and the cold tips of his hair.

Soon, Kakashi fell asleep too, still holding fragile younger man in his arms.

-----

Sleeping on the ground with his back against a wall with another person pretty much on top of him wasn’t the most comfortable position after a few hours. Kakashi woke up to find Sasuke hadn’t moved in the slightest, but he could feel his chest moving against him. His legs were stiff and his ass and shoulder blade numb. He tried to ease away without waking Sasuke, but that was impossible.

“Should move to your bed,” Kakashi said.

Sasuke leaned back, freeing Kakashi. “Stay with me,” he asked. The way he said it didn’t sound like he meant for the night. 

“You don’t even know who I am.”

“Then tell me.”

“I’m more than flattered that you love and trust me so much, but you aren’t in love with who I really am. You wouldn’t love him.”

Sasuke attempted to put his hand in Kakashi’s hair, but Kakashi grabbed his wrist gently to stop him.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Kakashi said. “But knowing who I am will hurt you.”

“I can take care of myself. I can deal with anything as long as you don’t leave.”

“I . . . won’t leave.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

Kakashi started laughing. He couldn’t help it. “I’m a shinobi. I’ve been lying since I could talk.”

Sasuke managed a small smile. It was fragile, so fragile.

“How about this: I will never lie to you from this moment on.”

Sasuke’s smile strengthen. “That could be another lie.”

“It’s not. I will not lie to you anymore. I love you.”

“Tell me everything.”

Kakashi’s eyes widen with fear. “No. I can’t. You would hate me.”

Sasuke’s face grew hard. “Why?” His voice was suddenly chillingly hard.

Kakashi realized what Sasuke thought he meant. “No, I didn’t have anything to do with Uchiha massacre. But I am a former ANBU. I’ve done terrible things.”

“We’re shinobi; we’ve all done terrible things. I’ve done terrible things. But you know those things, don’t you?”

“Most of them, maybe.” He was struggling. “What is it you love about me? You don’t know me.” The last was pleading.

“Why do you love me?”

“Touché.” He closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall. He rested his hand on Sasuke’s thigh next to him. His skin was getting cold. “It’s cold, get into bed. I’ll stay for a while, but I’ll leave before dawn.”

“Leave?”

“Not the village.”

“I’ll settle for that for now.”

Kakashi felt Sasuke was putting up a wall between them. Perhaps that was for the best. But he didn’t want that.

Sasuke stood and went to the bathroom. Kakashi heard the faucet run. Sasuke came back with a damp towel. He tossed it to Kakashi. It was warm. He used it to clean up and tossed it back. Sasuke’s eyes flashed up to his eyes. He had to know the shapes on his face were decals from looking at his face so closely and his eyelids were covered in makeup from the smell. He seemed disappointed Kakashi didn’t wipe his face. He went and shut off the kitchen light, leaving them in darkness.

Sasuke came back and pulled at the sheets, preparing for bed. Kakashi stood and followed Sasuke into bed, bringing the discarded blanket with him. Sasuke lay on his side, his face away from him. Yep, there was wall there now. Sasuke felt rejected.

“Can I hold you?” Kakashi asked.

Despite the chill coming off him, Sasuke said, “Yes.”

Kakashi settled an arm over him. He felt Sasuke melt.

“I do love you more than anything,” Kakashi whispered. “I’ve never loved anyone before, just you.”

“Me too.”

“I knew you were an arrogant, egotist bastard, but that’s extreme.”

Sasuke chuckled. The wall was coming down. “I’ve only loved you, bastard.”

Kakashi tightened his arm around him and kissed his hair. “I will be gone in the morning, but I love you.”

“Hn.”

-----

Kakashi woke up naturally before dawn. He woke up to the smell of Sasuke’s hair and the warmth of his body. He carefully got out of bed with all his stealth to keep Sasuke from waking. He checked that his wig and face decals were still in place. They were. He dressed hurriedly, depending on Sasuke’s hatred of waking up in the mornings.

He escaped and made his way home, again making sure no one, especially Sasuke, followed him.

Entering his apartment felt overwhelmingly lonely. The bathroom light stabbed at his eyes when he turned it on.

Kakashi looked up at the mirror and stared at the purple decals he used to cover his scar. What if he were to kill off ‘Kakashi’ and tattoo those purple shapes on his face and truly become ‘Sukea’? Few would ever be able to see through him. He could dye his hair regularly and learn to style it like his wig. To become Sukea and remain as Sasuke’s lover . . . He’d been able to lose himself temporarily in a fake identity in the past. Could he do that long term? Could he forget his past and truly become the photojournalist? To kill ‘Kakashi’ and become ‘Sukea’?

Kakashi braced himself on the counter and lowered his head. It depressed him because it was possible. Except for his scar, he could easily turn into Sukea. He could even attend his own funeral. Shake off Gai, shed his reputation, forget his past, and claim Sasuke.

But he would be lying to Sasuke for the rest of his life. He could lie to himself, but lying to Sasuke? Could he keep up something like that around Sasuke forever? Sasuke would see through him eventually. That would hurt them both beyond repair.



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