|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 21:04:00
Side Effects, Chapter 17
Chibi-Naruto (groovin'): Go me! Go me! I'm a special treat!
Go me! Oh yeah...
Chibi-Sakura: As if. Now, if it was Sasuke-kun,
then that would've been a special treat...
Chibi-Sasuke (practicing the Chibi Glare of Death on a tree
that seems distinctly unimpressed): ...
Chibi-Sakura: See? Wasn't that totally cute?
(Chibi-Sasuke tries the Chibi Glare of Death again. The
fundamental problem with this, of course, is that chibi eyes are just too darn
cute to petrify anything properly. Chibi-Sasuke is somewhat distressed by this,
but tries not to let it show.)
Chibi-Sasuke (petulant): ...
Chibi-Sakura: Awww~~ isn't that just adorable? <3
(Chibi-Naruto is torn between protesting why Chibi-Sakura
isn't glomping him and breaking a rib laughing at how cute, cuddly, and totally
not intimidating grouchy!Chibi-Sasuke looks.)
Chibi-Kakashi: Good, the kids are squabbling amongst
themselves. Now, let's get back to the actual special treat that got so
rudely interrupted -- the fan service from yours truly, of course. Curse the
limitations of this PG-13 rating; I'll simply need to (flexing fingers) stretch my range
more, to push the boundaries of insinuation...
Chibi-Sakura: I think you've pushed those boundaries quite
far enough, you know.
Chibi-Kakashi: Excuse me. Go back to glomping your
grouchy-chibi-victim over there. --Hey, Iruka, I was the special treat, wasn't
I? (snuggle snuggle)
Chibi-Iruka (dreamy-eyed sparkle, faintly pink cheeks,
rubbing two fingertips together a la Hinata-chan): ...I thought it was the chocolate ice
(Chibi-Kakashi and Chibi-Naruto trade absolutely betrayed
Chibi-Kakashi: So what are we, chopped liver?
Chibi-Iruka (hastily): Of course I love you both! It's just
that I hadn't had ice cream for six months... or caramel! Mmmm, caramel...
(off in sparkly-eyed fantasy land again)
(Chibi-Naruto and Chibi-Kakashi look at each other again,
Chibi-Kakashi (slipping a hand around to get some groping in
while Chibi-Iruka is distracted): I can think of all kinds of better
places to put caramel, you know...
Chibi-Naruto (groovin' again): So anyway! Go me! Go
me! Oh yeah--!
Iruka stared down in shock at the boy who was attempting to
hug both Kakashi and himself at once and chattering a mile a minute.
"...So there was this huge bear, it must have
been twenty feet tall, and it was gonna rip my head off and everything!
Except I got it in a headlock and I body-slammed it -- er, okay, actually maybe
it kinda sat on me -- but I still kicked its ass a good one and then
Iruka looked up at Kakashi, unable to speak, utterly
overwhelmed. Whatever hopes they might have had of being able to come up with a
plausible explanation of adopting a foundling when they returned to Konoha-- well,
those had just vanished like a puff of chakra smoke.
So had the rest of what he thought he'd be able to count on
here, actually. Being able to live quietly as a married couple, being able to
pretend that it was all right for him to be their smiling, female Iruka-sensei
rather than a man in love with another man... able to enjoy the escape from the
prejudices, and the pressures of their lives. Being able to teach young
children only the gentle things in the world -- having the luxury to simply
enjoy the pregnancy and their peaceful shared life together, as though they belonged
here... and to forget, for a little while, that they didn't belong
Iruka bit his lip hard, fighting back a wave of tears,
overwhelmed by shame that burned hot enough to scald.
Kakashi squeezed his hand gently; then a moment later, he
hauled Naruto off of them by the scruff of his neck and tossed him a couple
yards away, both hands planted on his hips with his best drill-sergeant glare.
"Naruto, you idiot--"
But before he could get through with the rest of the
lecture, they both realized he'd picked up a soprano echo -- from Sakura, who
was seething so visibly it looked as though her hair might burst into flame:
"Naruto, you idiot -- you don't use flying tackles on ladies!"
"I know that!" he said, annoyed. "Where do
you see a lady around here?"
Sakura burst into incoherent howls of rage.
Kakashi said, with remarkable self-control, "Naruto, I
want you to look carefully." He wrapped his arm around the boy's neck in a
gesture somewhere between a hug and a headlock, then aimed his chin at Iruka,
who wanted nothing more than to curl up in a hole in the ground and die.
"Now, tell me," Kakashi said, quite
conversationally. "How can you look at someone wearing a dress with a
neckline like that, and not notice that the person wearing it is
"But it's Iruka-sensei!" Naruto said, blithe as
Sakura stormed over and grabbed Naruto by the headband and
shook until his teeth rattled, shouting in his ear, "FIRST OF ALL, I'M
A LADY TOO! Second of all -- so is Iruka-sensei, REMEMBER?!"
"Oh yeah -- I forgot! Ehehehe..."
Sakura ground the heel of her palm into her face with a
groan; Kakashi, whose one visible eye held a peculiar blend of amusement,
exasperation, and resignation, let the boy go and scruffled his hair.
"So now that you remember, now will you go say a
more proper hello to Iruka-sensei?" Without missing a beat, he
added, "It's nice to see you again, Sakura-chan. Quite a surprise, but
"It's a really long story," Sakura said
with a groan, as Naruto stalked over toward Iruka and looked him up and down
Oh, God, just let me die here and now...
He could see the slow bewilderment creeping into Naruto's
face, and tried to brace himself for whatever was going to come out of the
boy's mouth next.
"Iruka-sensei, you got fat!" he exclaimed,
sounding somehow personally betrayed by this.
With a snarl of rage, Sakura grabbed a fallen branch from
the grass and broke it over Naruto's head. "You don't say that to a
woman, you insensitive moron!"
"Ow! But it's true-- OUCH! HEY--"
Shaking, Iruka took a half-step backwards, just one more
thoughtless Naruto-outburst away from breaking and running from this entire
horrible, ludicrous fiasco. But Kakashi was suddenly there beside him, with a
supportive arm about his waist -- and a strength in that hold which said that
he wasn't letting go without a struggle.
"It'll be all right," he murmured. "You can
do this. We can do this. I'm right here."
"I know, but... oh, God..."
"I swear," Kakashi said, very softly. "It'll
all be all right. Just wait and see."
Sakura had finished beating lumps into Naruto's head and
kicked the whimpering huddled-up orange-and-blonde ball into rolling towards
their feet again, then stood over him glaring bloody murder.
"We practiced, remember?" she shouted.
"We practiced your pronouns all the way here!" She looked around
hastily for any villagers who might be in earshot, then bent closer and hissed,
"And you told me you could remember when to say 'he' or 'she',
after spending all that time teaching Sasuke and me your jutsu so you could
practice pronouns on us!"
"That was an excuse to get Sasuke in drag and laugh at
him!" With a leer, he added, "Don't tell me you didn't enjoy
Sasuke in drag too!"
"Sasuke-kun's here too?" Iruka yelped, looking
around; Sakura was too busy blushing and protesting to manage a coherent answer
to the question.
"He thinks he's doing lookout duty or something,"
Naruto scoffed. "Bastard. Probably going to 'guard' us from little kids
with lollipops or something..."
Right now, with the kind of conversation they were having,
being guarded from little kids with lollipops didn't sound like the worst idea
in the world. Far from it, in fact... Iruka clung to Kakashi's hand tightly,
trying to brace himself for the inevitable moment of realization.
Naruto sat up and squinted up at Iruka again, grinning from
ear to ear. "So when did you get so lazy? No wait, I know -- You ate all
the ramen I wasn't here to eat! That means I gotta stick around, and eat your
ramen until you get back in shape, don't I!" He folded his arms and nodded
agreement with his own point.
Kakashi hid his face in one hand with a quiet groan; this
time Iruka squeezed his hand for support.
Sakura hit Naruto over the head one more time for good
measure, panting, and then turned to look at Iruka with her mouth open to
apologize for Naruto -- and the words got stuck in her throat, her eyes
widening. She landed on the ground beside Naruto with a thump, pointing with a
"Oh, God," Iruka said, absolutely
It was nearly drowned out by Sakura's shriek: "Iruka-sensei~~!
Iruka-sensei, you-- you--!"
Naruto looked back and forth between Sakura's finger, the
quietly chuckling Kakashi, and Iruka, who was blushing fiercely enough that it
was visible even by the moonlight. "...Huh?"
Sakura lunged for him; panicked, Iruka tried to back away,
but Kakashi's gentle, inexorable embrace kept him from running or from falling.
So there was nothing he could do but wait for the impact -- wait for her to
slap him, or to demand to know how he could do something so -- unnatural, so at
odds with the honesty he tried to instill in his students, so--
Sakura flung her arms around his shoulders and hugged him in
absolute delight, then stepped back and looked at him with an ear-to-ear smile.
"I can't believe it! Why didn't you write
and tell any of us? You know we'd have wanted to know -- if nothing
else, Tsunade-san would love to study the medical implications -- but I can't
believe you didn't tell us, Iruka-sensei! Kakashi-sensei's hopeless, but
I thought you at least would tell us something this important!"
Iruka knew his mouth was hanging open, but he was having a
hard time reorienting himself fast enough to realize that she truly wasn't
revolted or horrified, and he wasn't quite sure about the inquisition but it
didn't sound like she was actually angry either.
With a glint of mischief sparkling in her eyes, Sakura
patted the soft, rounding bulge in the front of the dress, and started an
astounding string of rapid-fire questioning.
"How many months has it been? Have you felt it yet? How
are you doing? If you've been ill in the mornings, Tsunade-san taught me a tea
to make -- of course, you're showing enough that for most people it would have
gone away by this point, but some poor women have to put up with the morning
sickness the entire time, I don't know how they can stand it-- but you look
wonderful, Iruka-sensei; go on, talk! Tell me everything..."
And suddenly, it really was all right. Unable to
speak around the huge knot of relief caught in his throat and the way his heart
was pounding with the release of the fear he hadn't even known how to name,
Iruka reached out and pulled Sakura close enough to hug.
"Thank you, Sakura-kun," he whispered, and
swallowed hard to try to regain control of his voice and his emotions.
"And I'm fine! You're right, the first couple of months were... not very
pleasant, but since then I've been absolutely fine."
"So how far along are you?"
A little pink, he managed, "Beginning my sixth month, I
"Really? You don't look that big! But then I suppose
the dress might hide some things -- it's gorgeous, by the way--"
An extremely left-out Naruto protested at the top of his
lungs, "I said, 'HUH?!'"
Sakura toppled over backwards, one foot sticking up in the
air and vaguely twitching. Kakashi nearly doubled up with laughter.
Iruka shot a half-lidded glare at his hilarity-stricken
lover, then moved to kneel by Naruto's side and stroked the boy's shaggy blonde
hair, a rueful apology for their laughter.
"It's not quite that I'm getting fat, Naruto-kun,"
he said, wry and gentle. "I'm just... I'm going to have a baby."
Naruto's jaw actually hit his knees. It looked painful.
"SAY WHAT? I mean, what the hell-- I
Sakura, who had just started to pick herself up, fell flat
again; Kakashi landed in the grass with a thump, completely convulsed with
He said he was going to help me through this,
dammit. Fat lot of help busting a gut laughing is doing me...
Still, his face was burning so painfully that Iruka half
wondered if it was possible to have gotten a sunburn from force of blushing, as
he fumbled his way awkwardly, delicately through the beginnings of The Talk.
"Naruto-kun... s-sometimes, when two people... um...
when they l-love each other very much..."
"The word is 'pregnant,' Naruto!" Kakashi choked,
still shaking with glee. "Women do have a tendency to get like
that, you know...!"
"But -- but you... but...!" Then his eyes widened,
and he looked at Iruka in absolute horror.
"Women get like that," he whispered. "Women
get-- oh, dammit, Iruka-sensei, I'm sorry--! It's -- it's my fault,
isn't it? It's all my fault--! Dammit -- I -- I'm so, so sorry...!"
As Iruka stared in bemused shock, the boy burst into
heartwrenching, bone-wracking sobs that shook his whole body.
Cautiously, Iruka reached to touch the boy's huddled
shoulder; for a moment, Naruto pulled away, and then suddenly he twisted around
and flung both arms around Iruka and sobbed into his chest.
With a deep soft sigh, Iruka began to rub the trembling
little shoulders, and to smooth the untameable thatch of shaggy sun-blonde hair
-- just to comfort him, not through any misplaced belief that there was any
amount of smoothing which would settle that blonde mop.
"It's all right," Iruka murmured, with a wistful
smile. "It's really all right. You haven't hurt me, Naruto-kun -- you've
given me a truly extraordinary gift. I'm not angry with you. Not at all. In
fact... I think I've never been happier in my life."
Still huddled up in guilt-knotted grief, Naruto didn't quite
dare look up yet. "...You mean that...?"
"I promise," Iruka said, and curved a hand to the
boy's cheek to try to coax away the tear-streaks with gentle fingertips and a
gentler smile. "Of course I was surprised -- stunned is more like it,
actually -- but... I love children, I love teaching, but I've always had to say
goodbye. A part of me had always regretted that I would never be able to have a
child of my own, and now... I won't always have to wave goodbye at the end of
the day; I won't always send someone else's children home to other parents! The
chance to have a child, a child of our own, truly... it's the greatest
gift anyone's ever given me. So please -- don't cry. Because the truth is I can
never thank you enough."
"R-really...? Really, for sure...?"
Iruka nodded, still smoothing the boy's hair with a careful
"I... I didn't screw up...? I mean... you're really, really
happy...? You promise...?"
"I'm absolutely delighted," Iruka assured him,
Suddenly, Naruto's face lit up with an ear to ear grin, and
he turned to Sakura, wriggling with excitement.
"Hey Sakura! Iruka-sensei's going to have a baby! And I
helped! Aren't I cool?"
This time Kakashi was the one who fell over flat in
speechless bemusement. Sakura had a distinctly peculiar expression on her face,
somewhere between "bit into a lemon," "what the
(fill-in-the-blank)," and "is that level of stupidity contagious?"
Iruka put a hand over his mouth to try to keep the laughter
from escaping, but he had a feeling it wasn't going to last long.
"You should name it after me!" Naruto nodded
emphatically. "Naruto Number Two. It's got a classy ring to it--"
Sakura broke another branch over Naruto's head. "Just
one of you is far too much for anyone to have to deal with,
moron! And what if Iruka-sensei's having a girl?"
"Uhhh..." Only momentarily thrown off his stride,
Naruto recovered with, "Then we call it 'Naruto's Cute Little Almost
Sister' of course!"
In a voice absolutely choked with barely-suppressed
hilarity, Kakashi gasped, "Don't you think you're taking a little too
much credit for this?"
"But I was the one who taught Iruka-sensei how to do
sexy-no-jutsu! Way to go, me!" He jumped around the clearing excitedly.
Iruka suddenly had a horrible, sinking vision of Naruto's
level of comprehension of what was involved in making a child.
He knows 'pregnant' means 'having a baby.' He knows women
get pregnant. Does he know how? Oh, God... I might have to finish That
And the watermelon seeds just won't help clear
anything up this time...
Iruka cast a desperate look at Kakashi, who'd pried himself
off the ground and was sitting there with what had to be the world's most
evilly smug grin behind that turtleneck's collar.
"Help me," he said, half a plea and half an order.
Kakashi just laughed, in a way that was not at all reassuring, and wandered
over to catch Naruto up in a headlock again.
"So the baby ought to be named after you, eh?"
"Yep! It'll be great!"
"What do you think the father might have to say about
"Oh, Iruka-sensei won't mind!"
With a groan, Iruka buried his face in both hands; Sakura
looked at what was left of her stick as though she were contemplating hitting
herself over the head with it just for a respite.
One eyebrow quirked to a notch somewhere between hilarity
and danger, Kakashi said, "No, Naruto. Iruka's the mother,
Naruto gave a sheepish giggle. "Oh yeah! Gotta work on
"Right," Kakashi agreed, far too tranquilly.
"So. What do you think the father is going to say about that?"
"How should I know?" Then Naruto froze absolutely
dead motionless, not even breathing.
It was suddenly far, far too silent; Iruka looked up despite
himself, in mute dread.
The look on Naruto's face was absolutely indescribable;
Iruka could have sworn he saw each wheel click into place behind the
boy's eyes, accompanied by earth-shatttering quantities of shock and horror and
"I-iruka-sensei... is... the mother... and...
and...--and somebody else has to be the father... so... that only
Sakura scrambled backwards despite herself, through long
experience with Naruto's temper's blast radius. She clutched at Iruka's arm for
reassurance; he clutched at her too, and both of them cowered together,
silently mutually debating whether the washed-up log nearby was sturdy enough
to dive behind for shelter.
Kakashi, meanwhile, was standing at the epicenter, far too
nonchalant, his visible eye arched in a happy curve. Iruka wondered why he
wasn't running for cover yet.
Naruto jerked his head out of the headlock, jumped three
feet back, and pointed a finger shaking with rage at the cheerfully waiting
jounin. At the top of his lungs, he roared, "WHAT KIND OF PERVERTED
STUFF DID YOU DO TO IRUKA-SENSEI, YOU KINKY BASTARD?!"
Suddenly, every visible piece of land between the pond and
the forest was covered with visibly seething Narutos-- and they all jumped for
Iruka covered his eyes and clung even more tightly to
Sakura's hands, not wanting to see what his lover was going to do to several
hundred outraged copies of his almost-little-brother.
The one semicoherent thought that flickered through his mind
was tinged with relief: Well, if he knows how to connect up that much of the
puzzle, at least I don't have to finish That Talk... I think...
From the middle of nowhere, a shaggy gray dog trotted over
and plonked down beside them to watch the show. A few seconds later, the sky
started raining scraps of orange fabric that poofed into smoke before hitting
the ground. Sakura had her arm around Iruka's shoulders, and was patting him
with horrified sympathy filling enormous green eyes.
"And you've had to put up with them both...? For
how long...? Iruka-sensei, I'm so, so sorry..."
The dog gave her a look, ears laid back flat in
disgust. It scratched behind an ear with one foot, then turned away from her
with a little harrumph; with a tired chuckle, Iruka reached over to scratch
behind the dog's ears.
"It's not that bad," Iruka said, sounding lame
even to himself. "Well... not usually, anyway."
The dog was quite friendly; it leaned into the scratching,
then leaned some more, then started climbing into what remained of Iruka's lap.
The rain of orange shreds was starting to taper off, too.
Struggling not to let the dog's tail-wagging enthusiasm
topple him over backwards, Iruka arched his face away to keep from getting all
the scar-concealing makeup licked off, trying to push the happily wriggling dog
out of his lap a little.
"Down, boy! Sit. Heel. Stay. Down. --Don't you
know anything that means 'get off?' Yes, you're adorable, but I can't
just take you home with me--"
In the middle of the clearing, one last muddy, panting
Naruto was glaring at a still cheerfully smiling-behind-the-turtleneck
"Bastard," he wheezed.
"Oh come now," Kakashi said wryly. "Weren't
you the one dancing around delighted about how you'd helped Iruka-sensei with
the baby? Double standards--"
"Let's see you dance around, you pervert!"
Naruto pulled a double-fistful of kunai out of his jacket and flung them --
--and they all hit; Iruka choked on a scream at a spray of
...a log. It hit the ground and bounced, then rolled to rest
lopsidedly against a couple of the kunai handles.
Naruto's jaw dropped open again. "Dammit, you
kinky-bastard lazy exuse for a teacher, you mean that was a clone THE WHOLE
Iruka pulled his face back from the overfriendly dog yet
again, staring at it in a slowly growing horrified suspicion. It whined quite
pathetically at the glare, tail between its legs, turning the world's most
woeful set of puppy eyes towards him...
...the world's most woeful set of... mismatched... puppy
"Kakashi, you-- you-- ARRGGHHHH~~!"
"Well, it was good while it lasted," the dog said,
and then with a soft poof of smoke Kakashi was sitting in Iruka's
suddenly-much-more-crowded lap and scratching behind an ear with a hand instead
of a paw. "I hadn't realized you had such a soft spot for puppy eyes;
gotta try that one again sometime--"
Iruka indignantly shoved his lover out of his lap,
scrambling to his feet and fuming. Beside him, Sakura was stuck somewhere
between indignation and shaking hilarity.
"Bad Kakashi-sensei! No doggy biscuit! Go sit in the
corner!" she gasped, and then doubled over, clutching her ribs, laughing
her head off. Iruka shot her a half-lidded look, then decided there was just no
salvaging the situation after this and went to try to piece the sulking
Naruto's battered pride back together.
"You know," he said to the boy, rueful, "it's
been almost eight months since I had ramen with you at Ichiraku. And there's a
ramen seller here at the festival. If you're sure you can keep the
pronouns straight -- shall we go see whether or not this village's miso ramen
That did it; Naruto bounced to his feet, all enthusiasm
again, dusting off the worst of the grass and mud and completely ignoring his
otherwise rather bedraggled state. "No way anybody's ramen competes with
Ichiraku! But we gotta go try out the competition, don't we? So we can report
back to home base and all!" Then, with a sheepish grin, he added,
"Hey, Iruka-sensei -- can I ask a favor? Huh?"
"What is it?"
"I want to buy the baby his first bowl of ramen!"
Scratching behind an ear, he mumbled, "Kinda... kinda like... a
we're-almost-family family tradition or something... y'know..."
Iruka wanted to reply, but all the words had just left him;
instead, he pulled Naruto close enough for a fierce hug.
In achingly overcareful gentleness, Naruto put his arms
very, very lightly around Iruka's waist, and then patted the swollen curve of
his belly with one wistful, wondering hand. And then the boy giggled a little, almost shy. "...Still think
you got pretty fat already."
"That's it. You're paying for the ramen," Iruka
growled, grinning despite himself.
"What's the matter? You said you were going to buy the
baby's first bowl!"
"Yeah, but..." Naruto hesitated, heaved a huge
sigh, and said, "All right."
Iruka blinked, startled by the sudden capitulation.
"It's a festival," Naruto said patiently. "I
can't not buy a bowl of ramen for the baby at his very first festival!
Come on, let's go..."
"It might be a girl, you know," Iruka said wryly.
The look of utter disbelief Naruto turned up to him was
absolutely priceless. "Bad enough Sakura goes talking like that,
Iruka-sensei! Cut it out, you're giving me chills..."
With a rueful shrug, trying not to grin too much,
Iruka said, "Just mentioning the possibility, that's all. By the way --
what on earth are you doing here, Naruto?"
"It's a special super secret mission just for us! Okay
maybe it started out being just for Sasuke but I wasn't about to let that
bastard be cooler than me, and Sakura-chan reminded the Hokage how
Kakashi-sensei was always talking about the importance of teamwork and she
should go along too--"
Oh, I'm QUITE sure she did, Iruka thought, biting his
lip and nodding with what he hoped was a thoughtful-listening expression rather
"And the Hokage said he didn't think I could do it but
I told him I could do anything Sasuke could do and better--"
"...so we all came to practice our undercover-ness
skills! We're supposed to blend in and not let anybody at all know we're
ninjas, just like you guys! I mean you guys and girls -- I mean -- Anyway,
Sasuke's got a sealed scroll and everything, except I told him I could take it
but the bastard wouldn't hand it over of course, so he's supposed to give that
to you for the rest of our orders, and then I don't know what we do except we
work on blending in just like normal people so we don't blow your cover! It's
this really advanced jutsu called suh -- sutter--"
"Subtlety?" Kakashi guessed, eyebrow quirked.
"Yeah, that's the word! And I told the Hokage I could
kick Sasuke's ass at sutterty any day of the week too--"
Sakura was groaning with her face in her hands again. Over
Naruto's head, Iruka shot a sidelong look at Kakashi; even with most of his
face covered by the turtleneck and the eyepatch, it was obvious Kakashi was
thinking the same thing.
Whatever we were doing here up until now, I think we've
just officially started to earn our keep. Sandaime-sama, it is just not
fair to ask anyone to teach Naruto how to work undercover when we've
got a cover of our own to try to maintain... Sakura and Sasuke, fine, but Naruto?!
Well, if nothing else, it gives us motivation to develop a lot of advanced educational techniques very, very quickly...
Sakura tugged on Kakashi's sleeve a little bit, and said in
a quiet voice, "The real story is that the Hokage was getting pretty
desperate to get Sasuke-kun and Naruto out of the village. The two of you are
the only people they'll listen to, after all, and neither of them have parents
to keep them in line, and they were causing enough property damage with all of
Naruto's stupid challenges even before the mountain... er..."
With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Iruka
echoed very faintly, "What about the mountain?"
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto wailed. "What
kind of teamwork is that? I just had Iruka-sensei thinking I was
cool and stuff!"
Sakura shot him a sour green glare, and didn't bother
lowering her voice this time. "You know how Tsunade-san's probably going
to be the next Hokage no matter what Naruto thinks otherwise? Well,
Naruto decided he was going to be 'helpful.' And start on carving her portrait.
Using Rasengan. Starting with her cleavage."
"It was the easiest part to see the shapes of,"
Suddenly, Iruka's feet weren't working correctly anymore.
Kakashi lunged for him before he could fall; Iruka clutched at his shirt
Not... going to... kill...! NOT going to kill my student.. but.... but...!
"...Besides! The pervert sennin said he thought I got
the perspective down good and everything!"
"Jiraiya-san is not a reliable judge when it
comes to women's bustlines!" Sakura yelled. "And anyway, even
if you did somehow think that ridiculous stunt was 'helping,' you should
have left some CLOTHES on her!"
"But all the sculptors say you start with a piece of
rock and then carve away everything that doesn't look like it! So I just carved
away everything that didn't look like the old lady and--"
Kakashi hastily pulled Iruka into a passionate embrace,
kissing him through the turtleneck and murmuring against his lips,
"Breathe. Just breathe. Don't pass out."
"Don't rip his head off either," he added under
his breath. "I'm sure we're second and third in line behind Tsunade for that
particular privilege. Just keep breathing... in, out; in, out -- there, that's
And he kept holding onto Iruka quite tightly, as a
precaution; even with just one eye, the man saw far too much for Iruka's
currently somewhat bloodthirsty taste.
Sakura was not-quite-watching the two of them and blushing;
Naruto had a distinctly nonplussed look on.
"Come on, you guys, do that somewhere else or
something. --I mean you guys and girls! I mean... aw, hell... just -- just do
that somewhere else..."
Through grated teeth, Iruka said with a fixed and rather
toothy grin, "Then I suppose that means you aren't wanting the ramen after
"Heck yeah I want the ramen after all! All right, change
of plans, you two stop k-k-kissing like that and we go get ramen and then
you go someplace, er, else..."
"Poor, poor Sasuke-kun," Iruka said, half a sigh
and half a groan. No wonder he's still playing 'lookout' in the trees; I
can't honestly blame him for not wanting to be seen anywhere around this
Looking unerringly up at a certain point in one of the
trees, Kakashi observed in a lazy drawl, "You know, Sasuke-kun, it'll be a
lot easier to stay on unobtrusive lookout duty in a village when you're on the
ground like the rest of us. You're not supposed to advertise that we're ninja,
There was a certain distinctive silence coming from the
"Come on down," Kakashi said. "That's an
order, by the way."
After a moment, there was a rustle, and Sasuke dropped to
the ground a few feet away from the rest of them. He was staring fixedly off to
one side. A little too fixedly.
"Sasuke-kun?" Iruka asked.
He didn't flinch. But to anyone who knew him, it was clearly
taking so much effort not to flinch that he might as well have. His dark eyes
flickered wildly toward Naruto, then toward Kakashi -- and then sharply away
from Kakashi, because Iruka was right beside him.
...Oh dear. This is going to be more complicated than I
Naruto, meanwhile, was
staring back and forth between Iruka and Sasuke, and then he scowled fiercely.
"Bastard, don't even think about
trying to buy the baby's first bowl of ramen 'cause I already said that was my job!"
"It's not even born
yet, idiot," Sasuke muttered, staring a hole in an otherwise harmless
clump of grass.
Sakura grabbed Naruto by
the collar and said rather loudly and quickly, "We'd better get to the
ramen stall and make sure they haven't run out then, hadn't we? No time to
fight right now!"
From the look on the
girl's face, this had obviously become a well-worn reflex over the months of
their teachers' absence.
"...Right! You're so
smart, Sakura-chan -- all right, bastard, I'll kick your ass after we have the
"You little punk--!"
"Later, Naruto," Iruka said hastily, both hands up.
"Ramen, remember? Miso ramen, all warm and steaming, and waiting for
us..." He knew he wasn't as good with the food-as-distraction skill as
Kakashi was, but then this was Naruto,
so he hoped it would be good enough.
right!" Naruto ran over and seized Iruka's hand and started pulling toward
the village; Iruka was careful to place himself between Naruto and Sasuke just
in case, and Kakashi stayed at Iruka's side, an arm looped amiably about his
shoulders. Sakura was watching Sasuke, of course, but her face held a bit of a
worry-wrinkle between her brows, and Iruka couldn't help glancing toward the
aloof, silent young man.
Sasuke was scanning the
terrain, quite professionally -- and a little too visibly, and his searches
always veered wide of having to look at Iruka and Kakashi. Iruka wasn't quite
sure whether the problem had to do with the two of them or just with himself,
but either way...
Sandaime-san, we are definitely
earning our keep on this one...