|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 20:49:00
Side Effects, chapter 7
For the rest of the week, the children learned as many
baby-related kanji as Iruka could explain to them -- blanket, cradle, bottle,
toy; they liked 'toy,' not surprisingly. And then there were tiny leaves
starting to peek out of the little pots lined up on the teacher's desk, and so
Iruka started on the plant-related words. Leaves, seeds, roots, flowers,
colors, fragrances -- and somehow he managed to negotiate with them so that
they only insisted on tracing his stomach first thing Monday mornings, and left
him alone the rest of the week. Part of it was that several Mondays went by
without any perceptible difference in his waistline, of course.
Megumi, who had been eating watermelon for lunch ever since
the day of The Talk, looked up at Iruka with the beginnings of betrayed
suspicion in her eyes. "Are you sure you're having a baby?"
"Reasonably sure, yes," Iruka said, trying for a
That evening, as they lay beside each other beneath the
moonlight, Kakashi reached over and ran a hand over Iruka's still-flat belly,
then pressed a little, very gently. They could both feel the growing firmness
within, the mass of the ripening womb; Iruka placed his hand over Kakashi's,
"Are you that impatient for me to start to bulge?"
"You're strong," Kakashi said, and sounded almost
disappointed about it. "Tsunade says that women who fight often don't show
their condition until later, because their stomach muscles are strong enough to
resist the pressure for longer. But then when it happens, it happens very
suddenly. She calls it 'flowering.'"
"I should have planted something for you too,"
Iruka said, and leaned over to brush a kiss against the tip of Kakashi's nose.
"No need," Kakashi replied, closing his arms
gently about his lover's waist. "I'm quite happy waiting for the seed I
planted in you."
The children's seedlings stretched and grew, and began to
develop distinct leaves; Iruka taught them how to tell when they needed water,
and how not to water too much or too little, and some of the little plants
became identifiably herbs from the scent when someone brushed a fingertip
against the little leaves. Others still kept their natures a secret, without
flowers or fragrances to give themselves away; and Megumi kept eating watermelon,
and glaring in impatient dismay at the line she'd traced on the wall.
And then, one Monday, the line that Jirou traced was a bit
different than the others had been.
Kakashi teased him mercilessly for the entire evening;
blushing like the sunrise, Iruka curled up under the blankets and buried his
head under the pillow and refused to come out, and so Kakashi cheerfully
crawled in with him.
But the time passed, inexorably, and summer grew near, and
the little plants flourished; many of them had received their names, carefully
written in Iruka's neat hand on little tags that he attached to their pots.
Others still kept their secrets. But Megumi no longer needed to glare at the
wall, because each Monday brought a new line. And she still ate watermelon
And then, one day, Iruka froze motionless in the middle of a
lesson, and the chalk slipped out of numb fingertips to shatter on the floor.
Kakashi was down the stairs and holding him before any of
them quite realized what was going on, even Iruka. "What is it? What's
wrong? --Megumi-chan, do you know where the doctor lives?"
"Wait," Iruka said, both hands up, half laughing.
"Just wait. No doctors, Megumi-chan. I'm fine. I'm fine... it... it
was just that... it's the first time I've felt the baby move..."
For about three seconds, they all stared at Iruka. And then
there was a whooping, hollering mass stampede toward the front of the room.
Kakashi, waist-deep in children, didn't know which way to step without crushing
someone's feet; Iruka was laughing wholeheartedly now, with a dozen little
hands patting the still-slight, gentle pout of his belly, and others on tiptoe
reaching toward him too. His laughter made his stomach quiver, and it set off a
round of delighted squeals from children who were convinced they'd felt the
baby moving as well; Iruka and Kakashi traded an indulgent look, and neither of
them quite had the heart to explain the difference just then.
The rest of the afternoon was a lost cause; Kakashi
half-carried Iruka into the middle of the room and then sat on the floor and
settled their teacher into his lap quite possessively, hands clasped around
Iruka's no-longer-quite-so-slender waist. And Iruka coaxed stories of their
families out of the children, and told stories of his own childhood -- not the
ones that involved war and blood and pain, of course; just the happier ones,
when his parents had been alive to hold him. Kakashi never let go, not even
when Iruka insisted on walking the children to the door and saying goodbye for the
day, so that each of them could take the opportunity to pat the baby if they
wished, even if they'd been too slow in the mad giggling chase earlier.
Watching the last of them trail off toward their houses,
Kakashi sighed, and brought Iruka's back closer to his chest, and cupped his
hands gently to the ripening curve of his abdomen.
"What does it feel like?" he asked, a little
"Like... bubbles, a little bit. Like butterfly wings.
So soft I barely realized..." Iruka smiled up over his shoulder, and then
reached up to bring Kakashi's head down close enough to kiss. "I can't
wait for her to grow big enough that you can feel her too."
"Her? I'll bet it's a boy."
"Time will tell." Iruka curved his hands over
Kakashi's, and pressed firmly. "Can you feel that?"
"Not with my hands," he murmured, "but your
whole body sings of life to me right now, love. I want to dance with the music
of your body..."
Caught between being flattered and being scandalized, Iruka
said, "I was just saying goodbye to children so innocent they think
this baby was conceived from a watermelon seed!"
"Everyone needs a little variety in their lives."
"Glad to hear you say it," Iruka replied.
"Next time around, you do the sexy-no-jutsu and I get you
Kakashi choked, coughed, wheezed, and finally managed to
splutter, "Next time?!"
"What happened to everyone needing a little variety in
"Don't you remember?" Kakashi countered. "I'm
a variety all by myself. I'm sure you recall some of the fascinating range of
things you were calling me the last time I bought you a strawberry shortcake
and watched you eat it..."
Iruka groaned aloud. "Why is it I can never, ever
win one of these conversations with you?"
"Because I'm just that good." Kakashi grinned into
the mop of Iruka's wild ponytail and nuzzled it lightly. "So, shall we
Iruka didn't reply; Kakashi could feel the tension in his
body, and shifted one hand to gently kneading the knots out of his shoulders.
"Nothing," Iruka said. "And everything. I
mean... I'm... I can feel it. I'm out of balance again. Both ways. I mean, the
weight's carried so low that I'm starting to arch my back so that my shoulders
counterbalance, except that that makes it worse, and my back always hurts, and
I'm not even very big yet; I don't know how this is going to work next month,
let alone four or five months from now..."
Kakashi shrugged against his back, and kept rubbing. "I
told you, it's a plumbing problem."
"You mean... sexy-no-jutsu? Like this? How could I
possibly think 'sexy' like this? I'm bulging already..."
"I think you're sexy as hell like this," Kakashi
"But... the children are used to me, my face and
my hands, and my way of saying things; I couldn't explain why their teacher
suddenly became a busty, wide-eyed, slender..."
"You keep getting confused on this bathroom remodeling
thing," Kakashi said, chuckling. "Don't get distracted by the
wallpaper. Just think about the plumbing." He ran a hand down Iruka's
side, cupping the palm to the curve of his hip, his thumb stroking a light
pattern against the pout of Iruka's belly.
"You need to stop struggling, and just revel in
it," he murmured. "It doesn't matter whether you redesign your face
without the scar; the makeup is what they're used to anyway. Your hands are
your hands; your eyes are your eyes; none of that matters for this. The changes
you need to accept are internal, not external. To correct your balance in both
senses. Broader hips, to cradle the baby more gently within your body. A
mother's breasts, growing ripe and heavy with milk... "
Trying desperately for a light voice, Iruka quipped,
"And the towel racks?"
Kakashi's voice warmed with the kind of gleefully lascivious
flirtation that he usually saved for inflicting passages from his Icha Icha
Paradise collection on Iruka's defenseless ears.
"Why are you so self-conscious about your towel racks?
Your towel racks are magnificent! Any hot-blooded man would kill for the chance
to get his hands on a well-hung set of towel racks like--"
Iruka drove an elbow into Kakashi's stomach sharply, then
pulled himself free and turned around and started beating the scarecrow over
the head. "HOW do you make TOWEL RACKS sound FILTHY?!"
With both hands arched over his head in a rather futile
attempt at self-defense, Kakashi wheezed, "It's a gift...! Some of us are
just born with pure, raw talent..."
"But what ARE the towel racks...?!" Iruka
Kakashi gave up all attempts at self-preservation at that
point, sliding down the doorframe, too convulsed with laughter to respond.
Iruka threw both hands into the air and stalked inside to
start making dinner.
When Kakashi could breathe again, he dragged himself to his
feet and followed his lover inside, slipping both arms around his waist in
order to take the handle of the pan from him. "I'm the househusband,
remember?" he murmured into the soft skin of Iruka's throat, to feel him
shiver at the tickle. "You've had a long enough day, and you've got more
important things to think about than recipes. I can cook."
"For a certain definition of 'what doesn't kill you
makes you stronger,' I suppose I can call that cooking," Iruka muttered.
"But then you've always enjoyed taking your life into your own
"I was serious, you know," Kakashi replied.
"Until you distracted me with the magnificence of your towel racks, that
is. But I'm quite serious that on several levels, you're still resisting the
thought of what goes with pregnancy. Not enough to make yourself ill anymore;
just enough to make yourself more uncomfortable than you need to be."
"I'm a man," Iruka said, feeling rather humiliated
at having to remind Kakashi of that. "I'm not wired for this. I'm not
supposed to be."
"Then you won't let yourself give in?"
"To what your body needs in order to accomplish this.
You can keep pretending for a little while longer, if you like; as you said,
you're not very heavy yet. But sooner or later, things like your center of
gravity are going to catch up with you. And... one absolutely essential piece
Despite himself, Iruka took the bait. "Which one? The
"The baby is going to need a way out, you
Iruka could feel all the blood draining out of his face.
Kakashi took one look, caught him by the shoulders, and half-led half-dragged
him over to a chair. Sitting on his knees to look up into Iruka's eyes, Kakashi
looked partly anxious and partly exasperated.
"Please. Please don't tell me that that part hadn't
occurred to you yet. I don't know what I'm going to do with you. --I should
strangle your teachers, for letting you get to be your age without any
kind of proper indoctrination."
Kakashi planted his hands on his hips and tipped his head to
one side a bit, then sighed deeply.
"...I can see I've got a lot of lost time to make up.
All right, youngling, your first assignment from Kakashi-sensei is to read and
understand at least four volumes of Icha Icha Paradise by this weekend. There
will be a quiz on Monday. You can feel free to ask me questions if it gets too
technical for you; I hold office hours all night long..."
"You might want to shut up now. Or else I'm going to
With an odd blend of levity and perfect seriousness on his
face, Kakashi replied, "The only part of this that surprises me is that
you didn't kill me a couple of months ago."
"Like you said, I'm slow on the uptake," Iruka
replied, with a bitter half-grin.
"...I never said that."
Iruka tried to pick up his mug of tea, except that his hands
were shaking so badly he knew better than to try to drink from it. "What
if I can't...? What if I can't hold the balance point of the jutsu -- what if I
can't hold onto it long enough, through labor...?"
"I told you I'd be here for you through every minute of
this," Kakashi said. "If you're too exhausted to hold your balance,
I'll hold it for you. If nothing else... I know I have enough throwing needles
to paralyze and numb you from the neck down, and I have kunai, and I know
enough about the placement of lethal damage to know where not to cut.
I'm not sure which way is less appalling to think about, but... either way, if
you want to be unconscious through the whole thing, we can arrange
Iruka slumped against the table, one palm over his eyes,
shaking all over.
Oddly hesitant, Kakashi said, "I have to ask, because I
can't even try to guess right now. Would it help if I held you? Or would you
rather not see my face for a few hours?"
"Don't leave," Iruka said, an instinctive terror
deeper than thought. "Don't leave me alone with this. Please--"
Kakashi moved closer and crouched at his lover's side,
slipping both arms around his rounding middle, and nestling his cheek against
the frantic pounding of Iruka's heart.
"I'm right here. I'm here as long as you can bear the
sight of me," he murmured. And then, being Kakashi, he added in rueful
honesty, "And probably a lot longer than that, too."
Iruka gave a deep, shivering sigh, and stroked Kakashi's
hair with a light hand. "Help me," he said, half a plea and half an
order. "I've never been able to see the balance in... in Naruto's
jutsu... not the way I need to see it. Help me. Help me find where it is I need
to balance. Tonight."
"I've got to get used to holding onto it," Iruka
replied, eyes closed. "You know the hell or high water thing? I'm hoping
this is the high water. I've got to get used to living through that jutsu,
living with that balance, through anything the world throws at me. At least I
have a few months to practice. I... I just..." His voice shook on the edge
of breaking. "Tell me you love me. As I am. Tell me this wasn't something
you thought up to have an excuse to get a woman into your bed for a few months,
for the variety--"
Kakashi lunged at him so abruptly that Iruka nearly went
over backwards with the reflexive flinch away; but it was an assault of a
rather different sort than his instincts had first feared. With one warm hand
knotted in Iruka's ponytail and the other cupped to the small of his back, the
silver-haired shinobi almost crushed their bodies together, heart to heart,
lips to lips, the slight inward curve of one man's waist cradling the slight
outward curve of the other's, as though they were two sides of the same mold.
When Iruka finally pulled away to gasp for breath, light-headed to the verge of
passing out, Kakashi took his face between both hands and stared at him
"I," he said, far too calmly, "am a
reprehensible bastard with filthy taste in pornographic smut, the moral fiber
of a piece of well-used chewing gum, the punctuality of a water clock in the
middle of the desert, and the general stability and reliability of a chipmunk
on crack. I have no idea what in the hell a respectable, responsible, earnest,
gentle, tender, and all-around disgustingly nice person like you ever
saw in me. But -- being the greedy, devious, and calculating son of a bitch
that I am -- I would sooner die than let a treasure like you slip through my
Iruka knew his mouth was hanging open, but somehow, his lungs
still didn't seem to be acquiring any air; all he could manage was a faint and
somewhat pathetic squeak. And the world was sparkling again. ...Or maybe that
was just Kakashi.
...Or maybe it wasn't.
No, actually, it wasn't--
"I know," Kakashi said, huskily, "I know
that you're the best thing that ever walked into my life. And I live in mortal
terror of the day you finally come to your senses and realize you could do so
much better than me. You were born to be adored. To be loved and to be
delighted in. Gently. Tenderly. By someone who's as good a person as you are.
And even I'm not such a depraved, insensible wretch that I don't understand
that. I love you as well as I am capable of loving anything in this world. I
don't know if it's good enough. It's just... all that I have to give you."
Somehow, Iruka dragged enough air into his lungs to gasp,
"I wish I were a better person," he whispered.
"I wish I knew how to be someone who deserved you. I wish I'd never let my
ridiculous ego badger you into something as stupid as sexy-no-jutsu just so I
could sit back and laugh. I wish I'd dug out my own eye with a shovel rather
than risking your life on an ignorant prank. I just can't change what I am. But
I swear to God that the person I love most in this world is you, no matter what
you look like at the moment -- I don't give a damn about the wallpaper; I don't
even give a damn about the plumbing..."
Iruka shut his eyes tightly, screwed together all the
self-control he could manage, and fought around the mad, desperate pounding of
his heart for a single deep breath of air.
"...I don't think I could live without the way you
smile at me in the mornings, or the way you blush when I watch you eating, or
the way you walk into a room full of squabbling kids and they all turn to watch
you like flowers dazzled by the sun..."
Finally, Iruka had enough oxygen to shout, "Kakashi~~!"
He flinched and let go, sitting back on his heels to ask in
a hurt and shaking voice, "What...?"
"THE EGGS ARE ON FIRE!"
Kakashi whirled to stare at the stove, and the flames that
were licking at the bottom edge of the wooden cupboard, which was starting to
"...Damn, damn, damn, DAMN--!"
"--Not the sink! It's grease -- NOT
the sink--! LID -- BAKING SODA -- stifle it -- NO WATER~~!"
Kakashi grabbed the flour sack and upended it onto the
burning eggs -- and the flour dust exploded into flames.
Kakashi ripped the faucet completely off the sink, shoved
his hand into the resulting spray of water, shaped half a dozen seals in less
than two seconds, and shouted, "Suiton Daibakufu no Jutsu!"
The resulting twelve-foot-wide cyclone of water not only
took out the fire -- it also took out the stove. And the back wall of the
house. And two trees that happened to be in the trajectory path of the stove.
The entire half-liquefied snarl of debris skidded to a halt
about forty feet away, vaguely steaming.
Water was still pouring out of the beheaded sink and
fountaining in a mist all over the ex-kitchen.
Very, very slowly, Kakashi turned around to face
Iruka, with the expectation of a slow, bloody, and agonizing death written
all over his face.
Iruka staggered over to the sink and dropped to his knees
beside the shredded wreckage that had once been the counter by the stove.
Barely a whisper, Kakashi breathed, "Iruka...?"
Iruka pulled a sagging cabinet door off its hinges, reached
in, and twisted the stop-valve of the water pipe until the fountain dwindled to
a spurt, then a dribble, then nothing. Then he sat back on his heels and stared
numbly at the wreckage of the kitchen and the back yard.
Kakashi tried to take a step; his foot skidded in the inch
and a half of water still standing on the floor, and he landed on his backside
with a thump.
Amazingly enough, Iruka found that his voice was almost
"How much carpentry do you know...?"
Staring into the beautifully unobstructed view of their
newly relandscaped back yard, Kakashi said, "Not that much."
"...That's what I was afraid you were going to say.
--Kakashi, when I said 'baking soda,' why did you grab the flour?"
"...it was white."
Iruka ran a dripping palm down his face. "Yes... yes, I
was afraid you were going to say that too."
Author's note: (massive sweatdrop) No, I did NOT see that one coming when I started writing the chapter... it just kind of... happened... ^^;;;
Thank you SO much for the reviews, you guys! (I'm actually amazed I haven't gotten flamed for the subject matter yet...) <3 <3 I'm glad people are having as much fun reading it as I am writing it... ^__^