|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 20:46:00
Side Effects, Chapter 6
The next morning, Kakashi found an excuse to lounge on the
landing at the top of the stairs, so that he could peek down through the
ventilation grate into the living room/classroom where Iruka was valiantly
trying to endure two dozen bright-eyed little monsters chattering away about
what their mommies had said about the origins of Iruka-sensei's baby.
"...My mommy said it was a stork..."
"...no, a cabbage!"
"It's not a cabbage, it's a tulip. Cabbages would be
"My mommy said I came from the back of a barn."
Poor Iruka looked as though he'd just been slapped with a
dead fish. "...Did she now...?"
"Not a tulip, stupid," another one
corrected, with the voice of authority. "Everybody knows babies
come from coconuts..."
Several heads swiveled to stare at that one; Kakashi stuffed
a fist into his mouth to keep from laughing loudly enough to be heard.
Sitting very cautiously on the edge of the desk to keep from
falling over, Iruka said very carefully, "Maybe everyone's mothers got
their babies from different places."
Kakashi thumped a hand weakly against his knee, still biting
his knuckles. Like the back seat of a hay wagon?
"So where did yours come from, Iruka-sensei?" one
of the little monsters asked brightly.
"I... I... um..." Iruka was white as a sheet. He
curved his hands carefully around the edge of the desk, hung on for dear life,
and said, "I swallowed a watermelon seed."
There was a great deal of bemused and skeptical silence.
"You did what?"
"I swallowed a watermelon seed," Iruka said again,
rather desperately. "And it... decided to grow into a baby inside me.
Seeds... do things like... growing... I mean..." He gulped hard, and tried
again. "I mean... over the next several months... you'll be able to see
it. As... as the baby gets bigger inside me... my middle will grow bigger too.
So don't be surprised when I start to become... well... rather fat. Because the
baby needs room to grow inside me, you see."
There was another long, thoughtful silence, broken by a little
girl raising her hand.
"Wouldn't it have been easier to get a cabbage?"
Iruka looked like he was on the verge of either hysterics or
tears. "...Yes, Megumi-chan, I'm sure it would have been much easier to
get a cabbage. That's... just not... not the way that... my baby...
One of the little boys burst into heartwrenching sobs.
"...Oh, no; Jirou-chan, what's wrong...?"
"I... I... I s-swallowed a m-melon seed toooooo -- and
-- and -- I don't wanna -- I don't wanna have a baby, I don't
"Oh, Jirou-chan--" Iruka hurried across the room
and gathered the sobbing little boy into his arms, rocking him back and forth.
"You're not going to have a baby. I promise. I promise, Jirou-chan -- it's
not like that. It..." Iruka coughed a little, but managed to say with an
almost steady voice, "It only happens to girls..."
Megumi looked at her lunchbox with a far too contemplative
look on her face.
"And only when they're old enough," Iruka said, a
little desperately. "And... it's not just any watermelon seed. It has to
be... a special type of seed. You have to find it together with someone you
love very much..."
Megumi was still looking at her lunchbox. Silently,
Kakashi thanked any god that was listening for the fact that Iruka had had the
wits to come up with a cover story that was neither lethal nor particularly
appetizing, but it looked like Megumi was determined to try it anyway.
Sniffling in his arms, Jirou asked, "W-who did you find
yours with, Iruka-sensei?"
Iruka smiled and rumpled the little boy's hair. "With
Kakashi-san, of course."
Kakashi didn't spot the voice responsible for that amount of
sheer skeptical disbelief, but it might have been a good thing that he didn't.
Mothers didn't generally like it when their children were returned from school
hog-tied and flayed with a kitchen mop.
Iruka laughed a little, and set Jirou down again, and said,
"Yes, little ones, him."
"But he's... he's... lazy and sloppy and he never works
on anything and Mama says never to get too close to him because he's a pervert
and she says you should do a lot better than that, Iruka-sensei, and she says
Makoto-oniichan is going to open his own shop soon and he even likes
"But Kakashi-san likes books too," Iruka said,
with far too much mirth in his voice. "Very, very much. So much that he
doesn't let anyone else even look at some of his books."
The little cynic heaved a huge sigh. "...You're determined
about this, Iruka-sensei?"
"Oh, yes," Iruka replied, smiling. "Quite
determined, I'm afraid. But I'm sure there will be someone else in the village
who likes books just as much as Makoto-kun does."
Several little faces showed a great deal of skepticism about
that prospect, but none of them said it aloud.
Megumi raised her hand again.
"My mommy makes marks on the wall when I grow,"
she said. "Can we make marks on the wall for the baby growing?"
"My mommy does that too!"
"I want to watch the baby growing..."
"I... er... oh, goodness. Um. We really shouldn't mark
directly on the walls of the schoolhouse, you know--"
There was a universal chorus of "Awwwwwww...!"
Melting under the gaze of that many disappointed little
faces, Iruka said in a very small voice, "But I suppose if I found a piece
of paper we could put up over the wall, then we could mark on that..."
So they found a piece of paper, and taped it up in the
corner of the room. Iruka, fiercely blushing, stood with his back to the corner
and smoothed the dress flat against his abdomen, and Megumi stood beside him
and bit her tongue, fiercely concentrating all her attention on tracing the
line of his stomach.
"There we go," Iruka said, and took the pencil
from her and wrote the date under the line. "Now that we're done talking
about the baby, I don't suppose there's any chance we might have time left to
review your homework?"
"But that's boring," Megumi informed him
"I know it's a lot of kanji to learn," Iruka told
her. "I thought I was never going to learn them all -- and actually, I
still haven't learned all of them; in some other places, they use sixty
thousand of the things! You'll need to learn about three thousand by the time
you're grown up. I know about four or five thousand, but I always like to learn
new ones. Because that way you know the name of another piece of the
Kakashi considered himself impressed by Iruka's eloquence.
Unfortunately, the six-year-olds were a rougher audience.
"Do any of you know how to write the word for my
baby?" Iruka asked, with a particularly gentle smile.
They looked around, and then several heads shook 'no.'
With one hand resting lightly against his stomach, Iruka
said, "There are different words that doctors use for babies as they grow
inside their mothers, to describe how big they've gotten and how long it will
be before they can be safely born. But I'll teach you my favorite one, for a
baby who's just been born."
Iruka turned to the chalkboard and drew the kanji on it,
clear and sure, and then turned again to explain each piece to the class.
"This one is named 'san'. You know the word for life,
and for stand; this puts the two of them together, with the mother standing
guard over her baby's life. And this one is named 'ji.' There's the sun shining
on something being carried, above a person's walking feet -- for the first time
the baby is carried out into the sunlight by loving parents. San-ji. Do you
think you can remember that? ...Let's try writing it down, so that your fingers
Megumi raised her hand again.
"Has the baby gotten any bigger?"
Iruka couldn't help laughing. "It's not that
quick," he said. "Have you ever sat and tried to watch a flower
growing from a seed? It takes a long time. --I'll tell you what. If each of you
can remember how to write the word for the baby after lunch, there will be a
surprise for everyone -- how's that? Let's work on remembering the story in
each character, so that you can remember how to make the shapes this
He handed out paper and pencils to the children and kept an
eye out as they traced the kanji for the first time, correcting the stroke
order here and there; then he wandered out to the hallway and beckoned to
Kakashi from the foot of the stairs.
"Glad to hear you love me for my magnificent literary
taste," Kakashi said, grinning.
"And for your helpfulness around the house too,"
Iruka replied, far too helpfully.
With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Kakashi
said, "What is it this time?"
Ever the alert teacher, Iruka lowered his voice in case any
of his pupils had particularly sharp hearing. "I need a couple dozen
little flowerpots, filled with soil. And seeds. Different kinds of seeds. One
of those packets of wildflowers should do the trick... so that no two of them
will look alike as they sprout and grow. Will you do that by the time they get
back from lunch...?"
"Hmm... tall order there."
Iruka leaned on the railing with a sigh. "Don't tell me
you need 'persuading' right now."
"I always take rain checks," Kakashi replied, with
a rogue's grin.
"I'll persuade you tonight, then."
"Can I get that in writing?"
"It depends." Iruka propped his chin on his hand
and offered a smile that had more to do with sharks than with cheerful,
friendly, and non-lethal dolphins. "Would you like me to write it in blood
on the insides of your eyelids so that you won't forget the instructions even
when you blink?"
Kakashi blinked a couple of times, and silently drastically
revised his assessment of the gentling effect that pregnancy had on a ninja's
personality. "I'll be right back."
"I love you too, sweetheart," Iruka said, still
with that placidly lethal smile. "Get going. And don't be three
hours late this time."
"...Stop doing that. You'll scare the kids."
"...All right, you're scaring me. Better?"
"If it gets you back on time, much," Iruka
replied, and stretched up on tiptoe to brush a kiss against Kakashi's cheek.
"And you're still here. Why is that?"
"I'm going! I'm going already..." Kakashi took the
steps three at a time.
(author's note: My little brother was born when I was three. That was when my mother told me the story about watermelon seeds, and also that it had something to do with kissing Dad. It was at least four more years before I'd eat watermelon OR kiss my father on the lips, I was that traumatized, and it took them that long to figure out something else to tell me... ^^;;; which is why there are no childhood pictures of me with watermelon in my hands until I was at least eight or nine or so...)