|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 20:59:00
Side Effects, Chapter 14
And... mission complete.
Kakashi leapt down from the tree with a box containing his
latest target; his client was overjoyed, and flung her arms around him.
"Thank you! Thank you so much..."
Now if she was about twice her age, I might appreciate
this more. "Not a problem," Kakashi said, and ruffled the little
The girl plucked the box out of his hands, opened it up, and
fastened a leash onto the collar of the indignantly squirming kitten inside,
then scooped out the kitten and snuggled it close. "Don't you ever
go chasing robins like that again, you hear me, Furball?"
"...Furball?" Kakashi echoed, one eyebrow arched.
"Well, she is," the child pointed out with
impeccable logic, then looped the kitten's leash around her wrist and looked up
at him soberly. "I need to pay you, don't I."
"Yep." He could have said no, of course;
he'd been fairly - ahem - 'lucky' last night, 'investigating' a local gambling
den, which was full of people who had no idea what a jounin's speed and
reflexes were good for. But it wouldn't do for word to get around that he was a
complete softie when it came to kids with lost pets... particularly since a lot
of those had been coming to find him recently.
The little girl said, "Um... you're Iruka-sensei's
husband, and Iruka-sensei's going to have a baby..."
The girl nodded, and with just a bit of reluctance, she took
off her backpack and opened it up and brought out a soft, fluffy white stuffed
bunny that had obviously been carefully washed and brushed with a new bow tied
around its rather older bell.
"Here," she said, bravely. "Mr. Bun is for
your baby. ...He's very soft. And he's good at keeping away the monsters under
the bed... so... here."
Touched, Kakashi knelt in front of the little girl and
ruffled Mr. Bun's ears. "Are you sure about this? I'd be just as happy
with a couple gumballs, you know." Gumballs were his usual fee for
retrieving lost kittens; he'd acquired a sizable collection of gumballs lately,
and tended to use the surplus as bribes for extracting information from various
pre-teens. (They also had an assortment of tactical applications, from
weighting the noses of paper airplanes to holding explosives in place long
enough to get away from the blast radius. Kakashi was nothing if not
practical... for a certain distinctively skewed definition of practical.)
But the little girl said with determination, "I'm sure.
I'm almost grown up now, you know. I... I can handle the bed monsters by
myself... and the baby will need someone to look after it when the bed monsters
come out, right? It's still pretty little. I mean, it hasn't even been born
yet. That's really little. So the baby needs Mr. Bun more than I do.
And... maybe... I can come visit Mr. Bun once in a while after school...?"
"I'm sure that would be fine," Kakashi said.
"And if you change your mind later, the gumball offer still stands."
She nodded again, and gave her kitten another good snuggling
despite an indignant little mew, and said, "Thank you again, Iruka-sensei's-husband
Kakashi waved cheerfully as she headed down the street,
amused despite himself. 'Iruka-sensei's-husband sir,' eh... well, I like the
sound of that. But that would explain the sudden rash of preteens with
lost pets who've come looking for me lately...
As the summer passed, the various villagers had gotten used
to the idea of Kakashi as someone who knew things, someone to be asked about
missing things and needed information, rather than someone who just
wandered around eavesdropping and taking up space at the local ramen shop. And
the bank had been quite appreciative of a couple of his demonstrations
of their flaws in security.
And as a private investigator, he felt morally compelled --
Kakashi had recently realized that some carefully chosen moral compulsions made
very convenient excuses when they were spun a certain way -- anyway, he
was now officially morally compelled to 'investigate' the shadier areas of the
village life every so often. Gambling dens and bars were naturally on that list.
The bar patrons had learned fairly quickly that there was nothing
he couldn't do with a throwing dart and a dartboard; once in a while, when some
poor uninitiated soul wandered into the place, both Kakashi and the regulars
could make a fair amount of pocket money with bets about the dartboard.
The gamblers, though, hadn't picked up on Kakashi's talents
yet. Kakashi had been quite careful to keep it that way, in fact. Because the
secret to cheating well meant not winning all the time -- and in
fact, strategically losing games was part of what kept him enthusiastically
invited to a lot of their gambling nights, and therefore talked to about all
kinds of subjects. Both of the aforementioned side effects were financially
valuable, both as a pseudo-gambler and as a private investigator. Kakashi
didn't classify himself as a gambler, of course; first, Iruka would have
lectured him for a week, and second, it was hardly a gamble when he could
control the outcome of any game he wished...
Kakashi had refined his theory of intelligent cheating over
many years of practice. He brought a little money with him each week, and
commiserated with the men about being on the wife's leash and getting lectured
about family responsibility and the changes needed for the baby, and they
groaned with him. Kakashi lost a few, won a few, lost a few more, and always
ended up with a little more money than he came with -- specifically a little
more money; never more than twice whatever amount he'd started the evening
with. And he was careful almost never to take a large pot -- not unless there
had been several large pots in the evening and others had won them first; and
sometimes he had to nudge things to make sure he didn't win the first large pot
of the evening.
The consensus among the gamblers was that Kakashi was a
henpecked man with an entirely too virtuous wife and an unfortunate burden of
responsibility caused by her pregnancy; anyone in that position naturally
needed manly distractions from the surfeit of family purity in the rest of his
world. He obviously didn't have that much luck or he'd never have gotten
her pregnant in the first place; now that she was pregnant, of course,
there was nothing to do but put up with it, and come and complain to the rest
of the guys once or twice a week. His luck in gambling was considered as
boringly average as his luck in his life; and nobody begrudged him winning a
little bit, since it seemed like everyone won some and lost some, and Kakashi
was never the biggest winner of any given night. (He was quite careful to
manage that, too.)
So all in all, they provided him with a carefully managed
and steady source of sideline income, a steady source of information, and the
occasional beer on the house when the bartender felt too sorry for a man whose
wife was such a paragon of all the sweet and pure family virtues.
"She's a pregnant grade school teacher, for the love of
God," the bartender had said once, slipping a mug onto the table beside
Kakashi's elbow. "It doesn't get any more disgustingly saintly than that,
you poor bastard. Don't worry; whenever it gets too sugary to take it for an
evening, we're right here for you, man."
And so, 'reassured' that he had the support of the local
underworld in the effort to keep his soul suitably tarnished, Kakashi quietly
arranged for the gamblers to subsidize his 'investigation' fees in cash,
whether or not they quite realized that was what they were doing. He considered
their 'informant' fees to be covered by the bets he helpfully redistributed in
the direction of anyone whose tips had proven particularly valuable.
And he had the children pay in either gumballs or
information. Hatake Kakashi was not a pushover. Not in any sense of the word.
...And the fact that he was walking down the street carrying
a fluffy white stuffed bunny that jingled was no impediment to his
Really. No, really.
He had no problem with walking around in public with the
cutest bit of little-girly fluff anywhere in a twenty-mile radius, given to him
to keep the bed monsters away from his still-unborn child... and anyone who did
have a problem with him walking around with the aforementioned bit of fluff
would get a swift and painful reeducation.
And besides, Iruka would like it. Iruka didn't have
to be sheepish or embarrassed about whether or not he thought it was an
extraordinarily sweet gesture from a little girl he barely knew, to offer their
child what was clearly a well-loved toy. Iruka could be the sappily delighted
one; Kakashi could just stand there and grin at Iruka's reaction; that would
work just fine...
When Kakashi walked around the schoolhouse to take a look at
the backyard, his first reflex was a quick head count: ...nine, ten, eleven,
twelve... thirteen... fourteen, but that one looks like someone's babysitter...
fifteen, sixteen... all right, looks accounted for.
Kakashi's summer job had taken them a lot of work and
thought to discover. And Kakashi hadn't wanted Iruka to take a summer job,
partially to let him rest while he could, and partially to salve his own pride
about being able to be the responsible one for a little while. But even that
very first Monday after school let out, Megumi and four of her friends had
shown up with pencils in hand -- because it was Monday, Megumi informed
them gravely -- and Iruka had realized that Monday meant 'the day of seeing how
much the baby had grown' to some of his more sentimental students.
And so Iruka took them inside and made them tea, and they
carefully traced the shape of the baby's growth on their wall chart, and sat
down with their tea to talk. Megumi asked him whether cherry seeds were any
good for getting babies from, because her mother said they were but her mother
had only had one child so clearly she couldn't be a real authority, and Iruka
tried to explain as much as he could about different types of seeds, and it
somehow snowballed from there into Iruka spending two or three days a week with
several of his schooltime students.
At first it was just called 'visiting,' because Iruka knew
that Kakashi was feeling protective and underappreciated, but when the visiting
started to become a regular occurrence, several of the mothers got together and
argued Iruka into accepting babysitting and tutoring fees -- "honestly,
it's a bargain for all of us; you'll have more of a nest egg for your baby, and
we can pay you quite nicely while still spending less than we'd have to if
every last one of us had to find our own babysitters; and if you feel that
guilty you can buy them snacks or something. Here, just take the money and take
them!" Megumi's mother had said.
So, every other day, they held summer school, and Iruka
worked to find new and different things for his summer school students to do --
something unlike their regular schoolwork, but still educational. One day it
might be visiting the bakery to see how Chidori-chan's favorite cookies were
made, another day it might be a walk in the park to learn the names of the
flowers, another day it might be playacting a bit of history, with the children
playing some of their favorite heroes and heroines in the schoolyard. Chidori's
elder sister Satori sometimes came to help Iruka ride herd on them in exchange
for some of the tutoring fees; as the summer passed, and Iruka's final
trimester grew near, their schoolteacher tired more easily, and was grateful
for the opportunity to rest a bit in the afternoon.
Fifteen children were a few more than usual, but there was
another girl about Satori's age romping with them; Satori looked up from her
gaggle of midgets and waved at Kakashi, then let herself be dragged back into
Iruka was curled up half napping in a hammock-like sling
chair on the back porch, listening more than watching for anything untoward
that needed a teacher's attention; in the relaxed unselfconsciousness of the
nearly asleep, he'd managed to drag a floppy hat down over his face rather than
atop his head, shading his eyes from the bright afternoon sun. Rather than
sitting on the shaded end of the porch, though, he'd deliberately pulled the
chair over to the sunny side; the sun's warmth was comforting, Iruka had told
him rather shyly once. The baby liked being sun-warm, like a kitten, and the
gentle warmth also helped relax and ease the stretched muscles of his gradually
Kakashi stood behind Iruka's chair and held the bunny upside
down over his head, so that ear-shaped shadows crept over his face; Iruka made
a drowsily perplexed sound, and pulled the hat off, and blinked up at the
fluffy bunny face hovering over his.
"...That is unbelievably cute," Iruka said
around a yawn, struggling a bit to sit up straighter in the shapeless fabric of
the sling-chair. "Where on earth...?"
"Finder's fee for rescuing a kitten," Kakashi
said, and plumped the bunny into Iruka's lap; it toppled over to rest against
the curve of his abdomen. "His name is Mr. Bun, I'm told."
Iruka chuckled, and snuggled his cheek against the bunny's
soft fur. "I thought you ordinarily got paid in gumballs?"
"She insisted," Kakashi said with a shrug.
"He's reputed to be a fearsome vanquisher of bed monsters, and I have it
on good authority that our baby will require a valiant bed-monster guardian
like Mr. Bun here."
There was so much unbridled cuteness rampaging around that
Kakashi couldn't help himself. He sat on his heels beside Iruka's chair and
rubbed his fingertips lightly over the baby-fullness, 'tickling' the baby with
a little flare of chakra, and asked, "How about it, you in there? Does Mr.
Bun look fearsome enough for you?"
The baby pushed against Kakashi's fingers, almost like a
puppy asking to play; smiling in delight, Iruka placed a tanned hand over his
lover's paler one, and murmured, "She knows her father's touch."
"Of course he does," Kakashi replied, grinning.
"I can make myself a tangible nuisance to anyone, anywhere, anytime."
Iruka rolled his eyes, and said to Mr. Bun, "I suppose
that probably is the first thing you'll need to learn about life on duty
in this household..."
Satori and her friend were trying to herd the squealing
children inside for some lemonade and some rest; 'try' was, of course, the
operative word, since several of them had spotted Mr. Bun and were producing
shrieks of delight in such piercingly high voices that they approached the
supersonic range. Iruka traded a rueful look with Kakashi, and began to
struggle his way out of the comfortable but rather awkwardly deep sling-chair.
"Let's go inside with Satori-san and Emiko-san, and
I'll introduce all of you to Mr. Bun with our lemonade, all right...?"
Kakashi slipped his arms around Iruka's growing waistline
and lifted straight up, and Iruka yelped in astonishment as he found himself
standing in Kakashi's embrace with Mr. Bun between them; Kakashi kissed his
cheek pertly, because nobody could be expected to resist an opportunity like
that, and so while Iruka blushed and stammered and clung to Mr. Bun for
support, Kakashi flicked a hand at the giggling horde of midgets.
"Go on, inside, the lot of you."
In fairly short order, they fed and watered the herd and put
them out to pasture for the day -- that was Kakashi's phrase; Iruka called it
"an afternoon snack before sending the children home", and glared at
Kakashi for his phrase, although Satori-san bit her lip to keep from laughing
her appreciation too loudly. As she and her friend sat on the front porch to
put their shoes back on, she smiled up at Iruka.
"If you'd like some extra help in the afternoons this
fall too, Emiko and I are happy for some pocket money! This is pretty fun, as
part time jobs go. You always think of things to do that get the kids all
Kakashi said helpfully, "I've thought of another
adventure you can take them on, too. Paddling in the pond -- it's shallow this
time of year, and it's hot enough that they'll like splashing around in the
"That sounds great!" Satori said, grinning.
"A summer job that includes hanging out on the beach too? Count me
"I'm sure they'll love that idea," Iruka agreed,
smiling up at Kakashi. "We'll just need to make sure they bring swim-...
oh." And his face fell immediately; but for Satori's sake he tried to
brighten up again. "Bring swimsuits! And if you could bring another friend
to help supervise-- I mean, I won't be able to go in with you..."
"Why not? Emiko asked.
Iruka tugged at the drape of his maternity blouse; despite
the way it was designed to fall loosely from the shoulders and the bustline,
concealing as much as possible, lately there was a slight bulge visible when it
rested a certain way. "I... don't have anything to wear..."
"Ah, but you see, I've been thinking ahead!"
Kakashi proclaimed, and pulled a bikini out of his pocket.
"...Kakashi!" Iruka gasped, absolutely
Emiko giggled; Satori said, "You know, Iruka-sensei,
he's got a point! No fabric in the middle to be too snug; a bikini's a great
Blushing bright crimson, Iruka stammered, "But... I...
I'm... --I couldn't, I just couldn't..."
"Like I said, why not?" Emiko asked with a smile.
"I'm sure it'd feel refreshing for you too, playing in the water with the
kids -- August is so humid..."
Iruka buried his face in both hands, unable to explain any
With a rueful little sigh, Satori stood up and looked Iruka
up and down, then reached over and patted the little bulge of the blouse, so
that the fabric rested more closely against the baby-mound. "Don't be
ashamed of your shape, Iruka-sensei," she said. "It's perfectly
natural to be getting rounder now. The kids are delighted! You know they are.
And they'll be terribly disappointed if you won't come in and play with
"Listen," Satori said. "All right, maybe a
bikini's too embarrassing. I mean, I can understand some people are too shy for
them even when they aren't pregnant. But you can wear a yukata over it or
something, and come and splash around just like the rest of us. And the harvest
festival is this weekend, and I'm expecting to see you there in a pretty dress,
and not tugging at the front of it to try to hide your tummy!
"But... I..." Iruka bit his lip, then looked away,
and then murmured, "I understand; you're very kind and accepting,
"Then it's settled!" Satori said happily.
"Kakashi-san, should I come by tomorrow and help Iruka-sensei go shopping
for a nice party dress?"
"Sounds like a plan to me," Kakashi said, one arm
around Iruka's hips to keep him from bolting for the stairs in shame. "See
After the girls had left, Iruka pulled away from Kakashi's
arm quite sharply, shaking with frustrated humiliation. "...You did that in
public, on purpose, so that I couldn't say no--"
"Of course I did," Kakashi replied lightly.
"You flinch away from me whenever I tell you how sexy you are; I needed
some character witnesses!"
"I'm nearly six months pregnant," Iruka said,
tugging at the blouse again. "I'm not physically attractive right now and
I know it, and I don't appreciate being maneuvered into flaunting my
gracelessness in public--"
"You are attractive right now," Kakashi
said. "And you'll be just as attractive when you're big enough to burst.
If not more so, since there'll be more of you for me to drool over! Haven't you
noticed how hard it is for me to keep my hands off you?"
Iruka turned away, one palm flat against the wall, and said
in an undertone, "You're both an incorrigible lecher and biased on my
behalf. And I wouldn't be surprised if you thought a telephone pole was
attractive. Standing there naked all the time, you know..."
"Hmm, hadn't thought of that one," Kakashi mused,
rubbing his chin. "I'll have to take a better look... --Iruka, love, don't
pull away. I mean it. I swear to you, you're breathtaking like this. Pregnancy
is one of the sexiest things on the planet."
Iruka struggled for a moment, caught between the certainty
that he was walking into a trap and the sudden shamed need for reassurance that
his body wasn't as repulsive as he feared. "Honestly...?" he
"Of course!" Kakashi said, all self-righteous
Iruka would have been much happier if he'd just left it
there. Unfortunately, Kakashi felt the need to explain his reasoning.
"Pregnancy is obviously the sexiest thing a woman can
do," Kakashi said. "Because pregnancy is absolute, inarguable,
in-your face blatant proof that some lucky man has gotten himself laid!"
"Tell me I'm wrong," he said, slipping both arms
around Iruka's waist to smooth the gown beneath the curve of his belly.
"Tell me a pregnant woman's belly doesn't scream 'I had sex!' to anyone
"To me it says 'I'm having a child,' you pervert!"
"And the only way to get one of those is...?"
Iruka groaned aloud, struggling against the intimacy of
Kakashi's touch, but his hold was both gentle and immovable. "Why does everything
lead back to sex with you...?"
"Why have you become ashamed of the way your body is
ripening with our child?" Kakashi replied, quite seriously. "You
didn't tug at your dresses a month ago."
Iruka sighed. "It's... awkward, right now. I've gotten
big enough that people can see that I'm heavy, but... not so big that it's unmistakably
pregnancy, not yet... and... it's embarrassing, when I think about strangers
looking at me and seeing... this; seeing that I'm so heavy, but not knowing for
certain... I'm their children's
teacher, I want to be sure that I make a good impression, and when I'm not sure
what impression I give them right now..."
"That's all?" Kakashi asked.
"What do you mean, that's all? Isn't that enough?"
"But you don't have to worry about not being big enough
to notice," Kakashi said, mirth thick in his voice. "Trust me. Women
gain most of the weight in the third trimester. You'll definitely get to be big
enough to notice at a glance, I promise you that."
Iruka gulped a little, and said in a small voice, "I
know. It'll be easier when I'm... more distended. When there's nothing else it
could be; when anyone who looks at me knows immediately... --It's just that
right now, it's... just an awkward stage... sort of halfway along; sometimes
strangers stare at me in the village lately, trying to decide about the bulge,
and I wish that either it didn't show at all or that it was obvious
Kakashi considered for a moment, head tipped to one side.
"Well, if you want some camouflage for a little longer, until you bulge
some more -- you could always make those bigger," he suggested, nodding
toward Iruka's chest.
"Don't be absurd."
"You were the one talking about making a good
impression," Kakashi said, far too helpfully. "Those make great
impressions on a lot of men. That's why Naruto came up with sexy-no-jutsu in
the first place."
"Don't try to justify your perversion with Naruto's
jutsu, either!" With a sigh, Iruka said, "Because I know he's very
nearly as perverted as you are, and I shudder to think what he's been getting
into with neither of us around to keep an eye on him for more than half a year
"Eight to one odds says he's been getting into Sasuke.
Or Sasuke's been getting into him, one of the two," Kakashi said.
"Although Sakura-chan might have had a thing or two to do about both of
"You-- you-- auugh!"
Grinning, Kakashi let the back of his knuckles run down the
hollow of Iruka's back at the place which always ached. "I notice you're
not taking the bet. Come on upstairs. I want to show you something."
Reluctantly, Iruka followed Kakashi up to their room, and
stood where Kakashi placed him in front of the mirror. With a sigh, Iruka tried
to straighten the bow in the scarf he'd tied around the knot of his ponytail;
somehow, he'd never mastered Sakura's art of making hair arrangements stay put.
Kakashi reached over and picked up the scarf's mate and a
couple of clips, then busied himself with the back of Iruka's top, drawing the
fabric snug at a certain point and clipping and tying it into place.
Iruka realized exactly how much the fabric was now stretched
taut over both the cleavage and the top of the belly-bulge, and turned to give
Kakashi a piece of his mind; Kakashi stilled him mid-turn with playful but firm
hands on his hips, and said, "Look."
Despite himself, Iruka glanced sideways -- and then felt his
face burning; with both the milk-heavy breasts and the rise of a swelling belly
clearly limned by the fabric, he looked... pregnant. Clearly, noticeably
pregnant, rather than just oddly bulging and overweight.
"...See, if we just put you in skin-tight stuff,
everybody will know immediately -- or else like I said, the bikini shows off
everything! Yep, I think you should definitely wear bikinis for the next three
"That and a sign which says 'Look but don't touch,'
just so all the rest of the lechers wandering around this town know you're mine
and all they can do is envy me," Kakashi said quite contentedly, rubbing a
little circle below the dimple of Iruka's navel.
"No need to thank me," he said grandly. "It
takes a special set of eyes to see things like this."
Despite himself, Iruka felt a grin tugging at the corner of
his lips. "A special set of eyes well honed by years of practice at seeing
everything as a potential sex object?"
"I'm still learning, of course," Kakashi replied.
"It's a skill that takes a lifetime to truly master. But you've got
remarkably good instincts yourself; I'd never thought of telephone poles that
way. The symbolism is rather obvious, though--"
"That's enough, Kakashi," Iruka said. "The joke
can stop there, thanks..."
"--No, seriously. Twenty-foot-high poles of hardwood
sticking straight up all over every town in existence? And running the power
supply of the country? How do people not see the symbolism in that? I'm
ashamed to call myself a semiprofessional pervert, getting to be my age without
"There are plenty of other reasons you could be
ashamed to call yourself a semiprofessional pervert, you know," Iruka
replied with half-lidded eyes.
"So we're agreed?" Kakashi asked, blithely
ignoring that last comment.
Warily, Iruka said, "Agreed about what?"
"You'll wear the bikini and the sign--"
"Only in your dreams, you lech--"
"--or at least go to the swimming pond with the kids
because you just know how devastated they'll be if you
Struggling with himself, Iruka said, "I refuse
to let you guilt-trip me about my students in order to get your kicks watching
me in a bikini! For heaven's sake, what do I do if Satoshi-san and her friends
ask me to come with them to a hot spring? They're girls, and I'm... well... pretending
to be a woman, and there's no reason they'd suspect, and I can't explain,
"What do you mean, what do you do? You go with them and
thank the gods for the opportunity of a lifetime! The best time to take
advantage of anybody is when they don't suspect a thing, of course! In
fact, hell, that's an excellent idea by itself, now I almost wish I had
studied when Naruto was teaching--"
Iruka drove an elbow straight back into Kakashi's stomach.
"You even try it and I'll string you up by the toenails over a pit
of fire ants and paint you with orange juice!"
"So the acid burns after the ants have crawled up to
get at the sugar?" Kakashi asked from across the room, grinning as an
elbowed pillow bounced to the floor. "That's quite creative. Who'd you
first think it up for? Naruto or his little fan club?"
"That one's all for you, honey," Iruka
"So anyway, you'll go to the pond in something,
right? I'd hate to have to tie you up and drag you there kicking and screaming,
you know. Not very good for the professional respectability, a scene like
"I'll go to the pond in something modest,"
Iruka said, arms crossed.
With a blissful sigh, Kakashi said, "You know, actually
that's even better. So I can watch how the fabric changes texture and gets
translucent and starts clinging to your body as the water slides over
Kakashi wagged a finger at him impishly. "Mustn't get
yourself too riled up, you know. You've got to think of the baby--"
The pillow shot across the room and bounced off the wall
half an inch from where his head used to be.
"--And you've got to save your strength for a long day
of shopping tomorrow, too. Remember, you can't disappoint Satori-chan!"
"I'm going to get you for this," Iruka
"If you want to practice the orange juice painting
tonight, I'm sure I can free some time in my schedule," Kakashi offered.
"Of course, it'll lack a little something without the fire ants, but I'm
sure I can provide suitable enticement for you to take a couple of nibbles of
"Oh, I'm sure you can," Iruka agreed far too
tranquilly. "In fact, I'm sure you already have." I wonder if
human teeth can break the skin at the throat enough to get at the jugular vein,
just for example...