torch, flambeau@strangeplaces.net
February 10-15, 2014

Disclaimer: I really have no idea how to label non-prurient and with-no-actual-evil-intent non-consensual sex drugging. Written for Porn Battle XV, for the prompt misunderstanding. Do not archive without permission.

Rice

Kakashi quite liked missions like this, not that he would have told anyone. There was nothing to do except eat and smile, and since his hosts never saw him do either one, they appeared to be completely unnerved by him. Kakashi didn't think it mattered; Guy smiled enough for two.

This had been designated an S-class mission, just in case. The small village of Fukuda, rumored to have some kind of powerful secret protection that had kept it independent for many years, had made shy overtures to Konoha, saying that a couple of shinobi would be welcome to see and share in their secrets, and Konoha had responded by sending Kakashi and Guy, which was an admirably layered statement: two reputable jounin, so Fukuda would know Konoha took it seriously; two very reputable jounin, so Fukuda would know that if it tried anything, Kakashi and Guy would probably be the ones to walk away out of the smoking ruins.

Two reputable jounin who of course arrived two days before they were due, and spent that time stealthing around the village, checking it out for oddities, hidden missing-nin, secret meetings, unsuitable graveyard shenanigans. Kakashi was quite impressed with Guy's henge as a gravestone. (Truth be told, he had a weakness for seeing Guy trying to disguise himself as anything, and he still had fond memories of the time Guy, in a rural community, had pulled off a flawless henge of a pig -- the problem with that being, of course, that the farmer knew perfectly well how many pigs he had, and when he saw four of them at the trough instead of three, his response had been to hit the fourth one with the slop bucket. Kakashi had spent the whole way back to Konoha commiserating with Guy's bad luck. From upwind.)

They hadn't found anything that could be considered suspicious, and so had gone on to 'arrive' at the correct date as well, walking up to the village gates in full view of anyone who happened to look that way, meeting the mayor and being introduced to a lot of people Kakashi hoped he wasn't supposed to remember the names of. The mayor looked at them a bit oddly, but then broke into a warm smile and said this might mark the beginning of a new time and perhaps it was only fitting that Konoha would bring them the challenge of a new bond.

Which was an odd speech, but then nothing had happened, except for rather a lot of food. The people of Fukuda seemed a bit unsure what to do with them, apart from hinting that all their secret traditional jutsu would be Konoha's if this alliance worked out. As far as Kakashi could tell, they didn't have any secret traditional jutsu. If they did, they were hiding it extremely well.

Kakashi and Guy had seen the village school, with rows of industrious children, and the rice fields, with rows of industrious workers, and a temple with some interesting reliefs, if you were interested in that kind of thing, that is -- praying maidens and rice-planting youths, mainly, framed by rows of stout, capped, distinctly phallic objects. One official kindly explained to Guy that no, they were not, in fact, oddly shaped mushrooms. The Fukuda officials talked to them as if Kakashi was a diplomat masquerading as a shinobi and Guy his bodyguard, and the mushroom incident seemed to reinforce that.

Which meant that Kakashi had to do a great deal more of the talking than he really wanted to, not to mention be politely enthusiastic about everything at close range, including maidens and not-mushrooms, while Guy could hang back a little and observe. (And blush.) Since Kakashi wasn't a diplomat masquerading as a shinobi, and had never presented himself as anything of the kind, it was more wearing for him. Guy, on the other hand, made a fine bodyguard.

They were housed in a small guesthouse that had been a part of the local lord's residential complex before he lost a lot of money gambling and sold of his estate, going off to try his luck in other gambling houses farther west and leaving the village in the hands of the mayor and the village council. The guesthouse belonged to the village as a whole now, or that's what Kakashi had gathered from the lengthy explanation the mayor's wife had given him. He thought he might have slept through five minutes in the middle.

The guesthouse was strikingly elegant -- the lord must have fitted it up in one of his more affluent periods, because the furnishings were simple but of very high quality, and the calligraphy scrolls on one wall were probably worth more than the house itself, Kakashi guessed.

They were in for a lengthy banquet in the evening, but right now they had a few late-afternoon hours to themselves -- to rest up after the day's excursion to the rice fields, as their hosts politely put it. Guy had insisted that he wasn't tired at all, of course (Kakashi half expected him to offer to walk around the nearest rice field on his hands), so it was up to Kakashi to look languid and say that rest would be quite welcome. Right now they were spending those resting hours on the roof, on the side that sloped away from the main part of the compound. No one was close enough to listen to them.

"I just don't know what they want," Kakashi muttered.

"Protection?" Guy offered. "But there's no sign that they need to be protected from anything. No obvious enemies, and the people all seem very calm and happy."

"Yes." Kakashi lay on his back and stared up at the sky."I haven't seen anyone using any kind of jutsu since we came here. I've no idea what this secret of theirs is, or why they've decided to let Konoha have it."

"Didn't it seem to you," Guy said slowly, "that they were expecting more questions about that temple, when we were there?"

"Oh, I think those are remarkably big mushrooms took care of the important things," Kakashi said, and rolled out of the way when Guy tried to kick him. "It seems we'll just have to be a bit more direct."

So when they went to the mayor's house that night, Kakashi was prepared to ask some simple, straightforward questions, starting with what do you really want out of an alliance with Konoha. But the mayor met them at the door with a warm smile and said, "Because you have been such kind and patient guests, the village council is convinced of your honest intentions, and although this is unconventional, we will share the golden rice with you tonight, so you'll understand our concerns better."

All of Kakashi's questions died in his throat, and he shared a swift, alarmed look with Guy. But he managed to preserve a calm facade as he said, as neutrally as he could, "I don't believe you've mentioned the golden rice before."

"And you've been very polite not to ask us about it. But we've been unable to completely hide that it is the secret of our prosperity," the mayor said. "All our rice is excellent, of course, but there are particular ways we have of planting and harvesting that makes some of it... different." He frowned a little as he led the way into a very plain room, not at all the opulent dining hall that Kakashi had been more than half expecting. "We have no control over what others do with our rice when we send it as a gift, or in tribute. We've only sent the golden rice a handful of times, you understand. I've heard that some places have cooked and served it like any other rice, but at least one burned it like incense, which apparently gives some interesting effects."

"Really," Kakashi said, and was about to ask what effects, when the mayor went on talking.

"But here in Fukuda, we know how it should be done properly, of course, and after observing you for several days, my wife has prepared the rice with her own hands. We know Konoha sent us a challenge, but Fukuda is up to it!"

Kakashi and Guy exchanged another look. That could have been a declaration of hostility, but there was nothing hostile, or even faintly unfriendly, in the mayor's voice, and he was talking about his wife cooking rice for them.

On the other hand, he was talking about his wife cooking rice for them. As if that was Fukuda village's great and well-kept secret, and really, it couldn't be. Kakashi crossed his arms. "Fuji-san, what is going on here?"

"Please," the mayor said, gesturing towards the waiting table, "let us show you."

About ten people were present, mostly the same officials from the village council that had accompanied Kakashi and Guy on their inspection tours of the village. All of them had the same look at the mayor, pleased and warm and very friendly and just a little tense. They didn't look as if they were about to poison the Konoha shinobi; Kakashi had seen that look several times, and abandoned several excellent meals because of it. But clearly, something was up.

He and Guy took their seats, since there was nothing to be gained by making a scene, and perhaps they'd get an explanation if they stayed. Everything was plain here, Kakashi saw, the tablecloth, the bowls and mugs, the chopsticks. No decorations anywhere, and the walls bore faint but clear signs of having been stripped of their hangings.

Kakashi expected servants to bring in the food, as they had before, but instead the mayor's wife came into the room, carrying a large, plain dish of... well, rice. Just rice. It looked like every other dish of rice that Kakashi had seen in his life. Maybe a little plainer. She smiled warmly at her husband, and then at Kakashi and Guy. "May your time together be happy and... May your time be happy," she said, taking her own place at the table.

"Please serve yourselves," the mayor said, "and then pass the dish that way." Everyone served themselves, in fact, except a young woman among the officials, who was served by her husband. This drew several indulgent smiles. Kakashi tried to figure out what it meant.

At a gesture from the mayor, everyone started eating at once. Kakashi looked at Guy again; he would have liked an explanation first, they both would have, but everyone else was eating and he very much doubted the mayor's wife would be so cheerful about poisoning her husband and her neighbors. Oh, and herself. In fact, everyone seemed rather as if they were in on a wonderful secret.

The rice tasted like rice. Very good rice, but not, Kakashi thought, trade-secret good. And it certainly wouldn't occur to him to burn it as incense.

Kakashi turned to the mayor. "Can you tell us--"

The mayor held up a hand. "We don't talk during this meal," he said, but he still looked completely friendly and non-threatening.

When everyone had finished, the mayor's wife stood up again, bowed to the company, and carried the rice dish back out. Down the table, the young woman bent over her bowl and an amulet around her neck fell forward, the only ornament anywhere in this room; she swiftly tucked it out of sight again, but not before Kakashi had seen that it was a carved version of the not-a-mushroom reliefs in the temple.

Kakashi tried the mayor again. "Well, now that the meal is over, can you tell us about the significance of this rice?"

"We try to keep it a secret, because everyone who finds out about it wants it," the mayor said. "Some for prosperity and some for less savory purposes." Kakashi tried to work out what was unsavory about the incense thing. It mostly sounded absurd to him. "But it can only be grown here. We have used it as a form of tribute when necessary, yes, but we'd rather ally ourselves with Konoha, so that our prosperity becomes your prosperity and your strength will be our strength."

Kakashi knew, with a sinking feeling, that he'd have to explain to Tsunade that Fukuda wanted its rice fields defended. In exchange, apparently, for food. It was good rice, yes, and of course all villages wanted their livelihood defended, but this really wasn't what they'd hoped for, coming here. And he still wasn't a diplomat.

"Fuji-san, I can't make any promises on behalf of either the hokage or the daimyo."

"Oh, no," the mayor said quickly, "of course not." He looked at the assembled guests, and then Kakashi and Guy. "I think it would be best if we sat down to a serious discussion about this tomorrow. It would be my honor to come down to the guesthouse and fetch you myself -- not too early, of course."

"Of course," Kakashi echoed, as if this somehow made sense.

The mayor escorted everyone out from what had to be the shortest formal meal Kakashi had ever taken part in, and all the guests started back for their own homes as quickly as politeness would let them. Guy cocked an eyebrow at Kakashi and flashed a few quick field signs at him: follow stay watch.

Stay, Kakashi signed back, and they slipped into the shadows together and went around the side of the house. It was a pleasantly warm night, and most of the windows were open. The mayor's wife stood in front of a painted screen, which clashed with her kimono. She turned her head; her husband came into the room; she smiled. It was a different smile from before, warmer and deeper. The mayor caught her hands and kissed the insides of her wrists.

"No one prepares the golden rice like you do," he said.

She blushed a little. "Perhaps we should retire."

He caught her around the waist and kissed her on the mouth instead, and her blush deepened. "Perhaps we should." But they didn't go anywhere, instead sinking deeper into the kiss, and their hands began to wander. The mayor jumped a little as his wife pinched his behind in a surprisingly earthy gesture. He retaliated by groping her breast, wrinkling the front of her kimono.

Next to Kakashi, Guy shifted just barely enough for him to notice. Kakashi wondered what the best way might be to convey, in silence, that Guy was a bit of a prude, but as he thought that, he realized that the back of his own neck was heating up. That was ridiculous; he'd watched much more explicit scenes than this -- as explicit as scenes could possibly get, really -- without raising an eyebrow. Getting embarrassed about having to witness sexual intimacy at times was something a shinobi generally got over after two years in the field, max. Guy shouldn't be so bothered by it, either. And this was just, it felt... strange?

Inside the room, the mayor's wife bared one shoulder, then the other.

Kakashi looked at Guy, and Guy signed poison and then shook his head. Kakashi agreed. It didn't feel like poison. The mayor and his wife certainly weren't acting like it was poison. Kakashi jerked his head back in the direction of the guesthouse, Guy nodded, and they left.

It was only a very short way back to their guesthouse, and Kakashi didn't expect anything to happen. But he could feel himself getting warmer, no, hotter. Walking an insignificant distance at a reasonable pace wasn't precisely physically taxing, but he still felt as though he was too heavily dressed for it. He could see that Guy, too, was uncomfortable, and as soon as they were inside the guesthouse, Guy said, "An invigorating rub-down with cool water would be refreshing on an evening like this, don't you think?"

Normally Kakashi would have disagreed with a suggestion like that, but right now it sounded like the best idea he'd ever heard. He had a sensation of being all wrong in his skin, and while he knew he hadn't been sweating and couldn't possibly be sticky with it, no matter what it felt like, cool water ought to clear his head.

The guesthouse didn't have running water, and Kakashi had thought more than once that the money spent on furnishings and artwork might have been better spent on plumbing, but it did have a small room set aside for the guests to wash it, with basins and ewers and towels and even an old tin tub, though so far both Kakashi and Guy had preferred to wash themselves bit by bit.

At the moment, all Kakashi cared about was getting out of his clothes and... well, whatever the next step was. He started by shrugging off his vest and pulling his shirt over his head, because air felt much better on his skin. Then he sat down on a low wooden stool and began the laborious process of unwinding the bandages around his calves. Touching himself felt oddly better than he would have expected, not that he sat around touching himself all the time to see what it was like. He looked up to say something to Guy, but the words died on his tongue.

Kakashi had no illusions about his own body. He'd always aimed for functionality, not aesthetics, and he knew the years had left him all whipcord and scars, but as long as he could move faster than the enemy, he really didn't care what he looked like.

He also would have said he really didn't care what anyone else looked like, but that was obviously not true. Across the room, Guy was busy stripping off his clothing, quickly and efficiently, and Kakashi was looking at him. There was a lot of Guy to look at. He wasn't that much taller than Kakashi, and probably not all that much heavier, but he was definitely built on different lines, broad-shouldered and deep-chested, solidly muscular. It made him look as though he should be slow, but Kakashi knew very well that was not the case at all.

And the heat was not fading. On the contrary, looking at Guy made Kakashi feel it even more intensely than before. He shook his head. "Pass me that washcloth," he said.

"This one?" Guy handed it over. Their fingers brushed, and both of them jerked back.

"Yes, fine, thank you," Kakashi said, rubbing the washcloth over his shoulder and only realizing after a few moments that it was still dry. He dipped it in water and tried again, and even though the water was room-temperature, the way it felt on his skin was very soothing. Kakashi turned the cloth over in his hand and wiped his other shoulder, and began to feel a little more clear-headed, just as he'd hoped.

Guy, wearing only one orange leg-warmer and some rather alarmingly minimalist underwear that made Kakashi grateful the other man had his back turned, also seemed to feel the beneficial effects of cool water. He shook his head slowly. "Something is wrong, Kakashi," he said. "Not poison, but..."

No, not poison. Kakashi squeezed the washcloth over his head and felt water trickle down his face and neck. His skin yearned to be touched some more. Or to touch Guy's skin.

And that thought finally made him add up all the odd little details over the past few days, not to mention the odd little details of that evening. The temple, the rice fields, the phallic imagery, the mayor and his wife. Every incomprehensible thing that had been said. Tribute. Protection. Incense. "This golden rice is an aphrodisiac," he said. "One that actually works. No wonder they said that everyone wants it."

Guy turned around, which made it very clear that Kakashi was, in fact, right. He looked utterly appalled. "And they gave it to us? That is an outrage!" he said. "We must advise the hokage that no alliance can be considered with people who would commit such an underhanded--"

Kakashi held up a hand, stemming the flow of words. "Imagine this in the hands of our enemies."

Guy could express outrage with his eyebrows better than any other man Kakashi knew. "Surely the people of Fukuda would not-- They turned to us." The eyebrows quivered. "But if we turn them away..."

"Yes," Kakashi said. "So I think we'd better not. And as outrages go, this one's almost considerate. It's not as if they kept us up at the mayor's house for an orgy."

"That," Guy said stiffly, "would not have been possible for me to forgive." He squared his shoulders, muscles on full and clear display. "Well! I'm certain I can purge these unanticipated sensations of, er, youthful intensity by going for a run all around the village!"

If Guy's body was experiencing the same feelings that Kakashi's body was, which seemed likely, given that the underwear didn't hide anything at this point, his statement was downright heroic, and the way he resolutely strode for the door doubly so. Kakashi leaped after him. He caught up with Guy in the next room, which was the one they'd been sleeping in (and going in and out the window of), and managed to hook a foot around Guy's ankle.

Guy, taijutsu master and Konoha's pinnacle of physical mastery, crashed full-length on the futon they'd carelessly left out that morning; Kakashi landed on Guy's feet, and shifted at once to a more comfortable spot. "You can't do that," Kakashi said before Guy could bound up again. "It's all too likely you'd run into someone on the way, and the way they emphasize fertility here, there'd probably be a high risk of a mini-Guy as a result, with the rice helping out and everything."

"I would not," Guy said, "force myself on any woman in such a manner that-- Kakashi, this implication is unworthy of you!"

"You're the one who's all riced up," Kakashi pointed out. "If anything, they'd be taking advantage of you."

Guy muttered something and rolled over on his back. Kakashi wished he hadn't. Particularly when he lifted his leg effortlessly until he could reach to pull off the one remaining leg warmer. "I suppose we had better divide the water in the house between us, then. And I assume you won't object if I try to work out this artificial boost to my more ardent feelings by doing a few hundred pushups. Or if that doesn't work, I vow I will--"

"Or you could try to work it out on me instead," Kakashi suggested.

At those words, Guy's eyes went almost as round as his student Lee's. "Kakashi!" he sputtered. "But--but-- That you would imagine that I would force myself on you--"

"Well, no," Kakashi said. "I don't imagine you would do anything of the kind." He sighed. "You're not the only one who ate that rice, you know. I thought we could help each other out a bit. Of course, if you'd rather do pushups, I won't get in the way of that."

"You're attempting to be modern and cool again," Guy said accusingly. "This offer of a casual physical liaison--" He rose up on one elbow and looked more closely at Kakashi's face, as if trying to see through the mask. "That is what you're offering, isn't it? I wouldn't want to misinterpret your words."

Kakashi gave up on being subtle and lay down next to Guy, kicking the abandoned leg-warmer away. "Yes," he said. "There's been enough misinterpretation here. That's what I'm offering, but if you'd rather do pushups, as I said, it's your choice."

Guy reached out one hand and let it hover in the air a couple of inches above Kakashi's bare shoulder. "Are you certain?"

"Yes," Kakashi said, about the same distance away from losing control of his voice as Guy was from touching his skin. He felt hot enough to set the futon on fire, his nipples were tight and achingly hard, and he knew it was only because he still wore his pants that he retained any claim to decency. "Yes, I'm certain. I'm your mission leader, I can't order you to do this, you have to come to a decision, Guy."

Unexpectedly, Guy smiled, one of the over-bright good-guy smiles that struck fear into the hearts of evildoers and the unprepared, which was practically everyone. "I understand," he said. "I accept full responsibility, Kakashi, you know that. If there is any blame in this situation, let it fall on me, and I will bear it gladly."

Kakashi couldn't stand it any more. "Oh, shut up," he said, leaned into Guy, and kissed him. Then he drew back, tugged his mask down, and leaned in and did it again. That worked much better. Guy laughed into his mouth, and his hands were on Kakashi's sides, his back, pulling him forward and up to lie sprawled across Guy's nearly naked body.

The touch of skin against skin made everything simultaneously better and worse. Kakashi knew that he could have waited out this feeling, sweated the drug from his body with physical exertion, in the Guy manner, or just kept himself in check with sheer willpower if he had to, but oh, now he didn't have to, and the sensation of touching and being touched was almost painfully intense. He rubbed his face against Guy's chest, partly because he really wanted to investigate all those muscles closer, and partly because it was so sweet to feel something against his cheeks, his jaw, his lips, that wasn't the light, dull pressure of the mask. His face felt different without it.

Guy's hands moved in slow strokes along his back, from his shoulders down to the waistband of his pants. It was like the strokes of the washcloth before. It was the complete opposite of the strokes of the washcloth before: that had been cool and at least marginally soothing, this made the heat in him leap up, made his skin come alive. Kakashi had a level of awareness through touch that he'd only associated with sight before. The Sharingan would let him see everything, with unmatched speed. Now he felt everything.

"Would you consider removing these?" Guy said, his fingers tugging at Kakashi's pants.

Kakashi wasn't sure if he answered in words, but moments later he was naked, and so was Guy, ridiculous underwear gone. They twined together, mouths hectic with kissing, rolled off the futon and back on it without breaking from each other. Everything was one long touch, the press of their bodies against each other more and more urgent, until Guy shuddered in release and pressed his open mouth against Kakashi's shoulder, and the small sting of teeth made Kakashi come as well.

That wasn't the end of it. The first time gave them a little control, a little breathing room, enough to wipe away the mess and to drink some water as well. "Because I think we'll need it," Kakashi said, running a hand up Guy's spine.

Guy turned his head and looked over his shoulder, his pose a parody of a pin-up girl's. It looked ridiculous on him. Then he turned more fully, and no pin-up girl ever flexed quite like that. "Kakashi," he said seriously, "I'm going to carry you back to the futon and lick every part of your body."

Being carried wasn't anything Kakashi yearned for, precisely, but he figured he could live with it for the licking.

Of course it turned into a competition between them, as things were wont to do when Guy was involved, and they each did everything they could think of with mouths and fingers and the slow, sensual writhe of their bodies to make the other come. There was a great deal of pleasure in that, Kakashi found; not just his own pleasure, although that was considerable, but the enjoyment he got from touching and tasting and seeing Guy come apart as a result.

There was a certainty about Guy's body that he found very appealing. No hidden ninja secrets here, nothing to be shielded from a bedmate -- nothing that a bedmate needed to be shielded from -- and as a result, nothing held back. All those muscles, all that strength, and of course all that amazing flexibility. Well, Kakashi was no slouch himself, and this was for once a challenge he truly enjoyed.

It went on for a long time, until the pleasure began to shade into pain. Kakashi was racked by a final dry orgasm that shook him down to his toes, and batted Guy's hands away when they reached for him again. "No," he said, surprised by how wrecked his voice was. "No, really. Just think how bad it will look on the mission report: and then I killed Kakashi with sex."

Guy's chuckle was also a bit rusty. "You are a worthy partner in this as in everything else, Kakashi," he said. "This encounter is no place for rivalry." Which Kakashi understood to mean that Guy, too, would be happy enough to stop.

The responsible thing to do now would be to go out and attempt to overhear the post-coital conversation at the mayor's house, and possibly all of the councillors as well. The at least marginally sensible thing to do would be to clean up and drink more water.

Kakashi put his head down on Guy's chest and went to sleep.

When he woke up again, Guy was clutching him so tightly that Kakashi thought he heard his ribs creak. That was unexpected; Kakashi had always been a very light sleeper, and Guy's presence was not exactly unobtrusive. He supposed after last night, Guy had been slotted into a safe even in very close proximity category in his mind, somehow. Though Kakashi had certainly had sex with people he wouldn't turn his back on a minute later.

Guy muttered something incomprehensible in his sleep and flung himself away, settling on his back instead and beginning to snore. Kakashi sighed and sat up, one hand going to his face as he felt unaccustomed air against his cheeks.

The room was completely wrecked. Clothes were scattered everywhere, their packs had been overturned and things were spilling from one of them, a print on the wall had somehow ended up upside down, the screen door to the main part of the house had jumped out of its track and hung crooked, with one of Guy's leg-warmers hanging off it, and as for the futon... well, Kakashi didn't really want to think of the futon. It was badly stained, and one corner had been torn and the stuffing was leaking out.

Kakashi got up and picked up every item of clothing that he could recognize as his and that still seemed to be wearable, and went to see if there was any wash water left. To his relief, he found a crock of water that they'd overlooked the previous night, and set about making himself a little more presentable and a little less itchy. He was covered in dried sweat and semen, and as he washed he noticed he had teeth marks in several places.

Once he was clean and fully dressed again, with mask and forehead protector in place, Kakashi went into the main room of the guest house, where he remembered seeing a bowl of fruit. He was peeling an orange when Guy appeared in the doorway to the bedroom, hair on end and a little cotton stuffing stuck to his shoulder. "Kakashi!" he said, then had to clear his throat and try again. "Kakashi, last night was entirely my fault. I should not have yielded to my baser urges in such a reprehensible manner. If you wish to send me back to Konoha, I can ensure that my replacement is a more reliable teammate for the rest of this mission, and--"

Kakashi tossed him a banana. "Wash up and get dressed," he said. "We'd better try to fix that door before the mayor gets here."

Guy peeled the banana and ate half of it in one gulp. "Yes," he said, "but Kakashi, now that the tempest of physical urges has passed, I know that I took advantage of you in a shameful manner, and--"

"Really, you have to get dressed," Kakashi said. "You have nail scratches all down your back. Sorry about that." He gestured at the other door. "I left you some water."

Swallowing the rest of the banana and tossing the peel back into the bedroom, Guy gave Kakashi a close look, eyebrows drawing down. "You don't have to pretend to be so unconcerned," he said. "I'm prepared to accept all the blame for these unseemly actions, and--"

"Guy," Kakashi said, finally getting the last bit of peel off the orange and splitting it neatly in two. "If I'd been trying to stop you last night, do you imagine this house would still be standing? Or you, for that matter."

Guy's chest puffed out. "The Blue Beast of Konoha is unstoppable!" Then he looked appalled. "No, I didn't mean-- No, I should hope not. But Kakashi, look at what we did." He gestured over his shoulder at the destroyed bedroom.

Kakashi shrugged. "They shouldn't have drugged us," he said. "They're lucky we found an acceptable way to work the frustrations out. We could have wrecked the village instead." He ate a segment of the orange. "If there's any blame to be found here, it's not ours, and it's definitely not yours, so stop talking like you had your way with an unwilling virgin last night."

"Your nobility of spirit overwhelms me!" Guy said.

"What?" Kakashi ate another piece of orange and tossed the untouched half to Guy. "Get dressed. I'm sure the mayor will be here any minute."

Munching on the orange, Guy disappeared into the washroom, and Kakashi had finished all the grapes by the time he came back, looking a good deal more like himself. He came over to the fruit bowl and looked down into it, shook his head, and stole the ripest of the remaining oranges from under Kakashi's fingers. "This is a prosperous and thriving village," he said. "It would be irresponsible of us to let it fall under unsavory influences."

Well, Kakashi agreed with that. "But it's far from Konoha, and definitely not part of the daimyo's territory." He shrugged. "It's still not our decision to make. We need to put all the facts before the hokage and see what she says."

"All of them?" Guy said. "I mean, yes, of course."

Through the window, Kakashi could see the mayor approaching, so he went over and opened the door. There was a sprightly bounce in the mayor's steps. He appeared to have had an excellent night. "Good morning!" he caroled. "I hope I find you both well on such a fine day!" He smiled at Kakashi and then attempted to look over Kakashi's shoulder to see Guy. "And with a greater understanding of our particular concerns here in Fukuda."

"Yes," Kakashi said neutrally, not an agreement so much as an acknowledgment of the words.

The mayor looked undaunted. "I must admit, we thought Konoha would send a more conventional couple in response to our request, but I trust we have dealt as well with you and your companion as we would have with a man and a woman."

"Oh, I hope not," Kakashi said; the mayor blinked at him. "I think you were fortunate to get us." The mayor blinked some more. "Konoha shinobi are not partnered in the field for reasons of sexual compatibility. You should have been explicit about requesting to be visited by a pair of lovers."

That made the mayor frown. "I thought we were." Now his eyes on Kakashi were worried. "Perhaps the phrases we consider obvious here aren't as obvious to the people of Konoha."

Kakashi felt Guy come up behind him. At least he'd been on this mission with someone he could trust completely. "Clearly not," he said. "Fuji-san, we will present your concerns to the hokage. We do understand now that Fukuda possesses some very particular resources. As well as being lacking in others."

At Kakashi's shoulder, Guy ate a banana piece by small piece, strong teeth snapping together. The mayor flinched with every bite, and the look he gave Kakashi had become half awe and half terror. "The meeting with the council-- We have agreed to spend the morning answering all your questions--"

"Those questions would have been more usefully anticipated before," Kakashi said, letting just a hint of his annoyance show in his voice. "You'd be better off writing to the hokage if you want to go into detail now concerning something you feel you should have said more about earlier."

"I see." The mayor's eyes darted between Kakashi and Guy. "So you won't come to the meeting, then."

"We don't feel that's necessary any more," Kakashi said. "We're going to make our report as soon as possible." He looked sharply at the mayor. "Have you invited representatives of any other hidden village or other organisation to come and discover the truth about this golden rice of yours?"

"No!" the mayor said vehemently. Of course, he'd probably say that even if he had Mist envoys coming in on Thursday, Cloud shinobi on Friday, and the Akatsuki over the weekend, Kakashi reflected, but it sounded pretty genuine."Everyone on the council agrees that Konoha is our best choice." He tugged at his sleeves. "May I ask what your recommendation to the hokage will be, at least? This is a very important matter to Fukuda."

"We understand the value of what Fukuda has to offer," Kakashi said, "as well as the importance of giving you an answer within a reasonable time. But the hokage and the daimyo make their own decisions." The hokage did, anyway. The daimyo, as far as Kakashi could tell, had trouble deciding whether to scratch himself when he itched.

The mayor nodded. "Then I wish you a pleasant journey back home," he said. "M-my wife would be happy to pack you each a bento for the trip."

"That would be splendidly kind of her," Guy said, swallowing the last of the banana, "but we really can't ask your good wife to put herself out by doing any more cooking for us."

Kakashi thought about adding that any future visitors from Konoha would bring their own food, but then he decided to take a leaf from Fukuda's book and leave those things unsaid that should be obvious to everyone. Instead he bowed slightly and maintained the same level tone of voice. "Thank you for your hospitality." They had wrecked about half the guesthouse, after all."

"I understand." The mayor looked uncertain, and he probably didn't understand at all, but he bowed back. "It has been our honor to host you. Please convey our most earnest and respectful greetings to the hokage and the daimyo!"

The mayor finally left, and Guy tossed his banana peel after him. "We pack up and leave, then?"

Kakashi nodded. "Well, we have a few things to take care of before we leave. We'd better not leave any genetic material behind, just in case."

"You're so admirably thorough!"

Not too much later, the two mostly-reputable Konoha shinobi stole all the fruit remaining in the bowl, left the village of Fukuda, and started for home, while the mayor of Fukuda sat down to write a rather more explicit and outspoken letter to the hokage than he'd dared to do before. The mayor's wife, after going down to check on the guesthouse, scribbled her own note to add to the letter, but hers was only a brief request to be reimbursed for a futon that the visiting shinobi had inexplicably burned to ashes.

Guy ate all the bananas. Kakashi hated missions like this.

* * *

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