|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 20:50:00
Side Effects, Chapter 8
There was one huge, inescapable, undeniable problem with
being a pair of ninja living undercover in an otherwise apparently
entirely-ninja-less town, Iruka thought, wrapped in a blanket and shivering as
he listened to the sirens wailing.
In a ninja-less town, when things like pieces of houses and
school buildings exploded in geysers of water and flame, people had an
unnerving habit of noticing.
And, even worse, they paid attention. Lots of attention.
Very quickly, with lots of emergency vehicles, lots of anxious neighbors, and
lots of official questions.
In Konoha, nobody would have blinked twice. Particularly if
something like this happened to a person who was in any way even remotely
associated with Naruto, who somehow brought his own portable collateral-damage
blast radius with him wherever he went. But here, there were two or three dozen
people standing in the yard staring and gesticulating and chattering
And it was just one house blowing up. Just one
wall of one house, at that.
And the attention had started coming so quickly that he and
Kakashi hadn't even had the opportunity to work out a cover story. And they
were going to need a cover story, because in a normal town, people didn't do
things like summoning geysers of water to extinguish cooking mishaps. Or at
least, Iruka had to assume they didn't, because nobody looked as though it was
supposed to be normal for a back yard to contain a forty-foot-long path of
destruction plowed by the tangle of the
stove, the trees, and the pieces of the kitchen wall.
Apparently, the policewoman in charge of the scene was as
overwhelmed by the noise and clamor and hysteria as Iruka was. She pulled out a
bullhorn and shouted at the top of her lungs, "Will you all please SHUT
It cut the noise by several decibels -- but then all the
heads started to swivel to look at the policewoman, and, by extension, at Iruka
and Kakashi beside her.
"Now, then," she said to Iruka, whom she had
somehow instantly identified as the more responsible of the two -- apparently
police instincts for troublemakers were universal. "You're the new
teacher, I assume? I'm sorry, I haven't gotten your name yet."
She wrote it down. "All right, Umino-sensei, what
"I... we... it... um..." Iruka stopped, and shook
his head, and tried to start over. His teeth were starting to chatter from the
combination of chill, belated shock, and sheer terrorized hysteria. "M-my
husband was... cooking dinner... b-because I'm... I'm... I'm p-pregnant and he
thought he'd h-help but then the eggs -- I mean -- it wouldn't have been so bad
if it was just the eggs on fire but he thought flour would stifle it
The policewoman held up a hand sharply; the other had gone
to her temples. "Stop right there, ma'am."
"You poor, poor dear--!" The policewoman put her
arm around Iruka's shoulders and led him over to the remnants of the back
porch, patting his arm in a distinctly maternal fashion. "Why didn't you
say so to start with? I swear, there should be a worldwide ban on any
idiot who thinks an industrial pressure cooker makes a great wedding gift!
They're practically as dangerous as band saws, which means men just can't
keep their hands off the things, and they never read the directions, and
then when you get pregnant it's twice as bad because they stop listening
to a word you say, all those male hormones go straight to their brains and turn
them into grunting apes that have to prove their hunter-gatherer manliness to
the poor fragile woman, and the next thing you know there's a hole straight
through the roof and the entire first floor has been repainted with burning
boysenberry jam that you spent a month picking berries in the garden for, and I
swear there should be a law preventing men from setting foot in a
kitchen without a woman armed with a tazer standing right behind him..."
And she kept going. For quite a while. Helplessly, Iruka
stared at Kakashi, silently begging for some sort of explanation; Kakashi just
shrugged, equally at a loss for words.
I suppose I can't really blame her for talking to me like I'm female, Iruka thought. I'm acting female, and... well... pregnancy IS more extensive method acting than I ever anticipated I'd be doing. But I've really got to complain to Naruto-kun that his technique still has a major flaw -- even with sexy-no-jutsu I still have no idea how to speak girl-talk...
"...anyway, enough about that, we'll take care of
everything, dear, don't you worry. How far along are you?"
"The baby," the policewoman said patiently,
patting Iruka's arm again. "Tell me about the baby! How far along are
"I... um... I think... about four months...? Maybe four
and a half..."
"I'm jealous! I was much bigger than that at eighteen
weeks this last time; my idiot husband never stopped cracking jokes about
whales. It's your first, isn't it? The first ones never show as much; your
muscles haven't just gone and abandoned hope on you yet. Have you started
thinking of names? What about the baby's room? I know the schoolhouse has got
three rooms upstairs; you can keep one as an office and use the other for the
crib and the changing table and such. If you need any help painting and
decorating and things, my brother's got nothing better to do with himself these
days, I'll send him over; you can never have too many hands when it comes to
moving furniture around, and you really oughtn't get up on a ladder now, it
could be dangerous for you to fall. And you won't even want to get up on a
ladder in a month or two, when your tummy starts rounding out more. So I'll just
chase him on over to help you paint and such -- oh, please tell me the
baby's room isn't going to be the one over the kitchen! I'll have to strangle
your husband myself if you've gone and started decorating and they're going to
have to get in there with power saws and all that dust in order to rejoin the
two floors properly..."
Much to Iruka's bemusement, the policewoman never did
finish asking him about what happened in the kitchen. The fact that they'd
unleashed an expectant father with a homemade flaming-egg-and-flour bomb seemed
to be enough of an explanation, somehow or other.
The policewoman scolded Kakashi into going to fetch some of
their clothing as she continued to rumple Iruka's hair dry with the corner of
the blanket, and one of their neighbors had brought a pot of hot tea, and
several others were poking around the hole at the back of the kitchen and
scratching their heads and taking measurements and starting to knock together
enough of a framework to put a tarp over for the night. Several of the neighbor
children were taking turns climbing into the stove and closing the door and
then popping out screaming at each other -- from their shrieks, it sounded like
the game involved one person impersonating and the others vividly slaying the
Schoolhouse Stove Monster. Iruka wondered if there had been a Schoolhouse Stove
Monster before today, but didn't have the nerve left to ask.
Before Iruka quite knew what was going on, the policewoman
had cancelled school for the rest of the week, scheduled a repair crew, bullied
a few more people into the repair crew, and arranged for the schoolteacher and
her kitchen-bombing husband to stay with Megumi's family for a day or two,
until they were confident the building was structurally sound enough to be
repaired and no longer standing open to the elements.
Kakashi didn't know much about carpentry per se, but he was
an expert when it came to collateral damage. He took one glance at the huddle
of people standing around with boards and said helpfully, "Sounded like
three or four cracked joists, and you'll need another load-bearing brace under
the southwest corner within a couple days, but it'll be fine..."
They all turned to glare at him. Kakashi looked around, then
edged behind Iruka.
The policewoman reached over and swatted Kakashi on the head
with her notebook. "What do you think you're doing? You're supposed to be
packing clothes to go stay with the Akino family..."
"Already packed," Kakashi said, jerking a thumb
over his shoulder at his knapsack. The policewoman's mouth thinned into a flat
"Men never pack enough things, do they. I knew I should
have gone with you. She's pregnant, you lout. She'll need extra pillows to put
under her back, and her prenatal vitamins, and...."
"I'm sure it's fine," Iruka said.
"Prenatal vitamins?" Kakashi said.
The policewoman hit him with her notebook again. "Of course
she has prenatal vitamins! With cooking like that, there's no way she'd have
enough actual nuitrition from the food, now is there? I'll just go and
"No, officer, it's all right, really," Iruka said,
and tried to coax the policewoman towards some of the other people who looked
like they belonged with the various sirens and flashing lights. "I'm sure
we've taken enough of your time already..."
"Oh, nonsense; with a husband like that, you need all
the help you can get, dear..."
"...And I'm so tired from all the excitement,"
Iruka added, hoping he wasn't overdoing the simper too much. He'd never
previously paid much attention to Sakura's fine-tuning of the art of emotional
manipulation, and was regretting his inattentiveness. "If you don't mind,
I'd just like to find a place to lie down and rest..."
That did the trick; the next thing he knew, he and Kakashi
were being chased off the premises under guard from Megumi's mother and father.
Her father was a slightly-built, rather bookish-looking person who kept openly
staring at the back yard; her mother had a great look of forbearance, and saw
to patiently herding her own husband home along with the two kitchen-remodeling
When they arrived, Megumi was overjoyed to see Iruka-sensei
coming to visit. Megumi's mother knew distractions when she saw them, and
chased Iruka into a rocking chair and whisked the knapsack away from Kakashi
and vanished upstairs to put together the guest room. Megumi climbed up into
Iruka's lap happily, and patted his stomach with extravagantly careful little
"Iruka-sensei, my flower has petals on it today!"
she informed him, proud as anything.
"That's wonderful, Megumi-chan," he replied,
She chewed on a finger, and shot a mistrustful look at
Kakashi. "What's he doing here?"
"Your mother is very kindly letting us stay with you
for a couple of days," Iruka said.
"Both of you?"
"'Fraid so, squirt," Kakashi said, grinning.
"Because I blew up the school!" he replied
Megumi looked at him for a long time, blinking.
"Does that mean I don't have to know the kanji for
"Well, it means you don't have to know it
tomorrow," Iruka temporized.
Megumi thought about this for a moment, then climbed down
from Iruka's lap and walked over and flung both arms around Kakashi's waist in
"You're going to make me blush, you little flirt,"
Kakashi said with a chuckle, and reached down to tousle her hair. "Your
poor father's going to be having nightmares about ten years from now, you
She was still clinging to him by the time her mother came
back downstairs to show them to their room; Kakashi found it a little difficult
to climb stairs with someone half glued to his thigh, but he managed somehow.
Megumi's mother caught Iruka's arm before he could follow
them up the stairs; he paused and turned to her.
"What is it, Akino-san?"
"Iruka-sensei... about the watermelon seeds..."
He felt his face burning. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. It
was... just the first thing I thought of..."
"Believe me, I understand," her mother said, with
a certain fond exasperation. "I just... wanted to ask if you could think
of some different seeds to, er, distract her with. We're getting really,
really tired of watermelon..."
"Oh. Yes. Ah... pumpkin seeds can be fun if you toast
them... or maybe you could suggest she might like to try sunflower seeds, since
the watermelon seeds, er, haven't worked...?"
"Yes, I know," her mother replied. "But the
idea is to have you point that out. She thinks I don't know anything
about it, since she hasn't gotten any little brothers or sisters, you
Iruka buried his face in both hands. "...Yes, ma'am.
I'm so sorry, ma'am..."
Megumi's mother laughed. "Don't apologize. I haven't
gotten her to eat this many fruits and vegetables for years. I'm just grateful
you didn't pick ice cream! Come on upstairs; I'll bring you some dinner later,
and I promise I won't let my husband anywhere near the kitchen."
(Author's note: In reply to a very good backstory question,
here's my general idea of this timeline's background on their relationship
before this assignment started.)
Kakashi and Iruka had already been a couple for quite a
while, and the adults knew about it, but under a general nudge from the school
administration, the two teachers kept up the pretense of different houses so as
not to scandalize their students with being two people who couldn't technically
marry but were still romantically involved with each other. Their students,
meanwhile, mostly also knew all about it, and generally took shameless
advantage of the fact that they weren't supposed to know anything...
Obviously, this tactic worked much better with Iruka, who
has the whole 'children's innocence should be protected' complex rather badly.
If one of the ninja students forgot their homework, they'd just mention
something like "I stopped by your place to ask a question last night, but
you weren't there; were you having a slumber party at Kakashi-sensei's house
again?" And Iruka usually spent so much time stammering and blushing and
trying to make up child-slumber-party things for the two of them to have been
doing that he generally doesn't get around to asking for the absent homework...
combined with feeling guilty about not having been at his house to answer his
confused pupil's questions... whether or not the kid actually stopped by, which
he wouldn't have known anyway. Poor Iruka...
(The students all know better than to try it on Kakashi,
though; Kakashi is well-nigh unembarrassable when it comes to students. And the
couple of times one of the genin did try it on him, he gleefully responded with
far more details than any of them could possibly have wanted to know, including
cross-references to the volumes and chapters of Icha Icha Paradise where he got
his ideas from. Again, poor Iruka... ^_~)