|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2005-07-13 21:11:00
"Souvenirs, of course!" Sakura sniffed.
"Mom's always wanted a new rice cooker with a handle for picnics, and
Ino-chan would never forgive me if I didn't get her that purple dress, they
don't make that color of dye anywhere but the Wave Country, and of course if
I'm getting something for Ino-chan I've got to get something for Hinata-chan
and the rest of the girls from our class too, and--"
"Wait a minute. Does that mean I have to buy
stuff like this too?"
"That's why they call them souvenirs," Sakura
said. "Hasn't anyone ever come back from a vacation and given you
"No," Naruto said.
Sakura's eyes widened for a moment. "...No?"
"Iruka-sensei doesn't go many places 'cause of all the
teaching and doing paperwork all the time, and nobody else would bother,"
Naruto said. "Oh yeah. Once Iruka-sensei gave me this paper pine tree
thing when he came back from somewhere. But I think it was supposed to make my
kitchen trash can not stink. Is that a souvenir?"
"That's a hint about your housekeeping," Sakura
said with half-lidded eyes. Something else settled itself into place behind her
eyes, and she nodded to herself firmly. "All right. Somebody's obviously
got to teach you how to shop!"
"Er... do you have to?"
"Of course! Everyone has to know how to shop!"
Sakura rubbed her hands together. "Okay. Who do you want to buy souvenirs
"...Iruka-sensei and Kakashi-sensei and you and that
bastard. And maybe the Hokage." Naruto scratched his head, then nodded.
"Yep. I'd buy Iruka-sensei some good beef ramen. --I don't know about the
rest of you. I'm not old enough to buy the kinds of books Kakashi-sensei
"Beef ramen doesn't survive in a suitcase very
well," Kakashi observed thoughtfully.
"And Iruka-sensei's here!" Sakura added. "And
so are we."
"Yeah, but Iruka-sensei's not here here."
Naruto juggled bags to free up a finger to scratch his head. "You mean it
has to go in a suitcase?"
"Souvenirs are things you take back from the place you
visit, for the people who aren't there to see it with you," Kakashi said.
"It helps if they're transportable."
"Don't worry about us," Kakashi said, rueful.
"We're here to see it too, remember? The Hokage might like something, but
the rest of us can find our own souvenirs."
"But I wanna get a souvenir for Iruka-sensei to make
sure I did it right, since h- I mean-- she! She -- since she's
gotta babysit the bastard and everything! Since Iruka-sensei's a she
now, and getting all pregnant and stuff... yeah!" He shot a victorious
look at Sakura and added, "See, I remembered!"
Sakura had her face in both hands and was whimpering
Kakashi silently nudged "large quantities of
alcohol" higher up on the shopping list. If nothing else, the bottles
could be used to knock Naruto over the head with.
"So if I can't get Iruka-sensei ramen... hmmmm..."
Naruto set down the bags, plonked down in the middle of the road, and rubbed
his chin thoughtfully with one hand. "What else is there to get h-her?
I mean, saying 'no ramen' ought to be against the rules or something!"
"Surely there's something else you think
Iruka-sensei might like."
"But nothing's as good as nice hot steaming
"So let's go for second-best," Sakura said gamely.
"What's second-best to hot ramen?"
Naruto rubbed his chin again, and then brightened.
"Instant ramen! You can fit a whole lot of that in a suitcase! I'm a
Sakura threw both hands into the air, said to Kakashi,
"You handle this one, I give up," and stalked off down the
aisle of shops and stalls.
Kakashi sat on his heels by Naruto, and said, "Let's
think creatively here. What do you think Iruka would really adore, but would
never think to buy for herself?"
Naruto scratched his head, tipping it to one side and the
other, then squinting up at the sky, then heaving a huge sigh. "I would've
said a baby, except s-she's like already taking care of that part."
"Not to mention that you can't buy babies,"
Kakashi reminded him, silently regretting that Sakura had had the reflexes to
dump this project on him before he could dodge.
"Oh yeah, that too I guess..." Stumped, Naruto
propped his chin in both hands. "I know h-she reads a lot. Except
s-s-she's got so many books I don't know all their names."
"You could get her a book to read to the baby,"
Naruto brightened for a moment, and then slouched again.
"But s-... she won't be able to use that for months and months."
"I wouldn't say that," Kakashi said, wryly.
"Some nights, Iruka reads to the baby anyway. It's not silent inside her,
you know. Just like you could hear my heartbeat if you listened -- the baby can
hear things outside too. Iruka says the baby always starts to kick whenever the
alarm goes off in the morning."
"Really?" Naruto's eyes were as wide as
saucers. "...You're not lying again, are you?"
"I've felt it," Kakashi said, smiling at the boy's
amazement. "I tell her that's how we know absolutely for certain he's my
"Who else would father a baby that hates alarm clocks
so much before he's even born?" Kakashi chuckled. "Iruka tells me if
the baby runs too late being born, she's going to strangle me just on
Naruto had a rather goofily fatuous grin on his face. "...Kakashi-sensei,
that's just plain cool. Can I read something to the baby too?"
"If you ask nicely, I'm sure Iruka would be
delighted," Kakashi replied, trying not to let himself look too
sappy at the thought. The mask really was handy sometimes. "So shall
we go find a b--"
Sakura shrieked at the top of her lungs.
On pure reflex, both of them had sprinted half a city block
in less than two seconds, and skidded to a halt staring first at Sakura, then
at each other.
"Isn't that just adorable?" she squealed,
latching onto Kakashi's arm and pointing into a game vendor's stall at a fluffy
little stuffed blue-and-green dolphin, with bright sparkling eyes and a happy
mouth open in a dolphin-grin that looked as though it was meant for "life
is good," or "I want fish," or possibly both.
"That's perfect," Naruto said, elated.
"That's what I'll get for Iruka-sensei!"
"Hold it, I thought you were getting a book to read to
the baby," Kakashi said.
"This is better!"
"I know. That's why I want to get it for her,"
"Hey! I saw it first!"
"Sakura-chan saw it first."
"I don't care, I'm still getting it!" Naruto
crossed his arms in preparation for a good sulk.
"Only if you can beat me at -- ...what is this game
"--My presents! Naruto, you IDIOT, you FORGOT
MY PRESENTS!" Sakura wailed, dashing back up the street toward the
abandoned pile of shopping bags.
Naruto blinked, then yelled after her, "That's because
you were screaming your head off! Jeez. See if I come running the next time you
scream like that--"
Kakashi, meanwhile, was talking to the game-stall dealer.
"So what would someone need to do to win a prize at this anyway?"
"It's just a ring toss game where--"
"--where he's gotta beat me first!" Naruto
cut in, glaring at both of them. "Okay, so what's the rules here
Iruka couldn't resist a half-unwilling,
half-morbidly-curious glance toward the contents of the steaming bowl Sasuke
brought back from the kitchen. It smelled spicy, and there were noodles and
less identifiable vegetables and peppers swimming around in the broth -- but,
mercifully, there were no signs of raspberry jam, baked beans, or cream cheese
anywhere, so Iruka breathed a great sigh of relief and let himself relax.
Sasuke just quirked a brow, humphed a little, and sat down
crosslegged by the sofa again. If Iruka hadn't known better, he would almost
have been tempted to call the quirk at the corner of the boy's lips a
The silence was almost companionable this time; Iruka had
curled up on his side to comfort the baby's protests of the pressure of his
spine, and now that the papers were all graded, his eyes were beginning to
gradually drift closed at the soft chirping of the crickets outside and the
occasional drift of cooler night air through the August-hot house.
So the chime of the kitchen timer twenty minutes later
startled him back from the edge of almost-sleep; Sasuke just waved a hand.
"Perfect timing," he said, taking his empty bowl back to the kitchen.
There were some rattling sounds, dishes being rearranged, and a muffled
half-curse, and a metallic clunk, and then a series of softer, unidentifiable
noises. Just when Iruka's curiosity was starting to nudge him enough toward
waking to contemplate getting up to investigate, Sasuke came back with two
...full of chocolate-covered strawberries. They must have
just come out of the refrigerator; the August humidity was beginning to bead on
the chilled chocolate, and a trickle of dew dripped down the side of one, and Iruka
made a small involuntary whimper.
Then he blinked and scrubbed his eyes, because Sasuke had
actually smiled at that. "Are they really that good?" the boy
asked, wry and a little wistful.
"Yes," Iruka said, one hand over his face.
"And Kakashi already fed me two scoops of ice cream and I've been snacking
on peanut butter all evening, and I can't just--"
"Today's a festival." Sasuke sat down in front of
the sofa and set one of the plates right under Iruka's nose. "Besides. If
you don't eat them, how am I supposed to know if I did them right?"
"...Trust me. You did them right."
"So eat them." Sasuke picked up one of his, looked
at it with just a bit of lingering skepticism, and bit into it.
The sweet tang of the strawberry mingling with the rich chocolate
widened his eyes for him, and the boy hastily cupped a hand under the other
half of the strawberry so as not to lose any of the chocolate flecks or berry
juice; he chewed and swallowed with a look of utter astonishment on his face.
"That's... that's just..."
"Decadent?" Iruka suggested wryly.
"Spectacular? Ought to be outlawed?"
"...Any of the above." Sasuke finished his first
strawberry and licked his fingers, then took another. "Go on. Eat."
"I've been eating all evening--"
"I made those for you," Sasuke said. "And if
you don't eat them they're going to melt. And if you let something like this
melt, I'm going to have to hurt you, Iruka-sensei."
With a shivering sigh, Iruka picked up one of the berries
and closed his eyes and bit into it, making a soft, involuntary sound of pure
bliss. Just one. I'll put the rest back in the refrigerator for tomorrow.
Naruto and Sakura-chan would like them too...
...well, maybe just two...
After spending forty-five minutes waiting for Naruto and
Kakashi-sensei to get done with their no-holds-barred ring-toss duel over the
plush toy, Sakura groaned and dropped her bags at Naruto's feet and said
"Don't forget them this time, got it? I'm going to finish shopping, I'll
be back for you two idiots later... I'm sure you'll still be here."
Honestly. Men. You'd think there was only one cute little
stuffed dolphin on the planet.
...Although it was incredibly cute...
Still. Going to those lengths was just ridiculous.
Particularly when they were supposed to be undercover!
Sakura wondered in frustrated resignation whether there was
even anyone in this town who would believe her if she asked the authorities to
break up the ninja ring toss duel before it got into higher-level jutsu.
So far they'd stuck with kawarimi and other
low-noticeability swaps, either trying to improve the aerodynamics of the
"rings" they were throwing or to sabotage the other's rings. But
knowing Naruto, it was just a matter of time until he decided that if throwing
one ring at a time was good, throwing three hundred and fifty clones of it at a
time must be even better, at which point Kakashi-sensei would likely feel
compelled to preserve his chances by either blocking the target with an earth
wall or by nabbing the prize and making off with it directly, and from there...
She'd have to have a good gripe session with Iruka-sensei
later. Iruka-sensei would understand.
Only when she was halfway back with another pair of dresses
did she remember, Oh yeah, Iruka-sensei's a man too.
Kind of. Technically. He used to be, anyway.
...But he just doesn't count. And I've got to have
somebody sane to talk to in this town or I'll just go ballistic. I wonder if
Iruka-sensei would mind being my honorary girl-talk girlfriend for a while? I'm
sure he needs someone to complain to about Kakashi-sensei; anybody would need someone to complain to
about Kakashi-sensei... not to mention Naruto...
There was an all-too-familiar howl from Naruto, and Sakura
knotted both hands around her bags and stalked back toward the combat zone.
I'll have to apologize to Naruto-kun. Of course, knowing
him, he'd be happier with a bowl of ramen anyway...
Sasuke was watching him again, with something completely
unreadable in those dark eyes.
"...Have I got chocolate on my face or
"Oh." Iruka sighed deeply, one hand resting
against the curve of his abdomen. "You and Kakashi, honestly... I must
have gained five pounds just today."
"I don't want to get fat..."
Sasuke snorted. "You're going to get fat whether you
like it or not. You might as well enjoy it."
"That's not what I mean," Iruka said, face
burning. "I mean... I know I'm... going to be... I'll be very big, by the
end. But I shouldn't gain too much that's not for the baby -- I'll need
to lose all the extra weight in about a month, I mean, I can't exactly wear
maternity dresses when we get back to Konoha, and I can't afford to buy new
chuunin uniforms just to be fat for a couple of months, particularly with the
baby to feed, and..."
"You worry about everything, don't you?"
Sasuke said, incredulous.
"You angst about everything, so I'd call us even,"
Iruka said, a little sulky. "And I'm serious. I've got to try not to gain
"No you don't. How many times have I got to tell you to
stop worrying?" A little husky-voiced, the boy added, "You
shouldn't think of things like that. You should just... revel in this. In your
child. In peace, and joy, and... and in the pregnancy. Because none of it
lasts. Don't waste a time like this, Iruka-sensei. Just be happy while you can.
The rest of us will take care of everything."
"Kakashi told me the same thing this evening,"
"Kakashi-sensei is a genius, after all."
Iruka chuckled a little. "Because he gives the same
advice you do?"
Was that actually a grin tugging at the corner of the boy's
lips? "Of course," Sasuke replied. "I'm a genius too, you
"Since so many geniuses have told me so, then I'll try
to worry less," Iruka said with a smile, reaching over to rumple the boy's
hair a little. "But in return, will you do something for me? Since you're
taking care of things?"
Sasuke nodded. "Come to the manor when we get back to
Konoha. You don't need to worry about buying anything."
Sasuke's voice was almost steady. Almost, but not quite.
"My uncle Sakaki was about your height. He always wore formal crested kimono. He was... Family pride was
important to him. So there are dozens of his kimono in... in the attic. You can
wear them. The handy thing about kimono is that as long as the height is right,
the waistline is adjustable... and..." Sasuke bent his head a little, and
said, "And it's not like he needs them anymore."
Completely overwhelmed, Iruka whispered,
"They're all marked with the Uchiha mon, though,"
Sasuke murmured. "Do you mind?"
"Mind? I'd -- I'd be honored, if you thought it
wouldn't shame your family's symbol-- if you wouldn't mind me wearing
"Some things are more important than traditions,"
Sasuke said. With a little bit of difficulty, he added, "I think... seeing
you smile as you wait for your child to come... that's one of them."
Iruka couldn't even find his voice, let alone words to speak
Sasuke cleared his throat, and fixed a good solid glare on
his teacher. "So NOW will you stop worrying about having eaten
"Yes," Iruka choked, embarrassed at the way his
voice was breaking. "Thank you. You didn't need to offer something so
important, and I'm... grateful, overwhelmed..." He scrubbed a hand across
his eyes hastily, trying not to embarrass them both with tears. "And that
wasn't at all what I was intending to ask of you!"
"So what were you going to ask?" There it was
again -- a glimmer of something that might almost have been a smile: "More
"No." Iruka gulped, and tried to keep his voice
steady. "No, I wanted to ask... if you could try to trust us a little. To
trust that it's all right to be happy. Not to be afraid of the times
when things change..."
"I'm not afraid," Sasuke said. "That's just
how the world is."
Iruka sighed a little, and said, very carefully, "You
said that you'd wished your brother had killed you too--"
"I said too damn many things," Sasuke said,
reddening a bit with frustration. "Just forget it."
"But you never say anything lightly," Iruka
"Not tonight," the boy said, a little
desperately, almost begging.
"Just... not tonight. We've been walking for a month. I'm worn out. I'm
saying stupid things. --Some other time, all right?"
"All right," Iruka said, gentle. "But if you
ever want to talk about anything, Sasuke-kun, I promise I can stop
lecturing and listen."
"...I know." Sasuke picked up his scroll and sat
with his back to the sofa and pillow again, clearly trying to end the
conversation before it could go into even more uncomfortable territory.
Iruka struggled with himself for a long minute, then finally
gathered the nerve to reach over to stroke the boy's hair lightly, just for the
contact. Sasuke stiffened at the gentle touch; but when Iruka held his silence,
Sasuke began to relax a little. Iruka wasn't sure whether the boy was enduring
it or enjoying it; but as long as he didn't pull away, it was good enough for
The little stuffed dolphin which had been the source of such
fierce and prolonged combat was now happily peeking out of the collar of
But Naruto was happily skipping along the road with another
little plushie in his hands -- an even littler bright-eyed snuggly dolphin that
was the same coloring as Kakashi's. They were a matched set, mama and baby.
"...Still think mine's cooler!"
"Honestly, you idiots, why didn't either of you
ask if there was another one an hour and a half ago?"
"Training," Kakashi said sagely. "Can't let
our target skills go to waste, even in such a sleepy little town..."
"Hah!" Sakura had bought a little toy wagon, both
to give to the new parents for their baby and to be able to keep protective
watch over her purchases to prevent the shopping-impaired twits from abandoning
them again. "You're such a liar, Kakashi-sensei. What on earth makes
Iruka-sensei put up with you?"
"Unbelievable, phenomenal, mind-blowing sex,"
Kakashi answered promptly.
Sakura turned distinctly green.
Naruto was spluttering. "...Auughh! Too much
information... did NOT need to imagine... just... auugghh!"
"She did ask."
"So can we go home now?" Sakura asked.
Kakashi glanced up at the position of the moon, considering.
Not even midnight yet. There's no way anybody, even Iruka, could've
psychoanalyzed Sasuke into something resembling sanity already. And I still
haven't gotten my hands on any alcohol.
"If you want to have an early bedtime, kids, I suppose
Iruka can tuck you in," Kakashi said ever so helpfully. "Me,
I'm going to enjoy the best part of the night."
"But all the shops are closed," Sakura said.
"But the bars aren't!" Kakashi turned to Naruto
and said, "Shall we let Sakura-chan go home and have ourselves a men's
night on the town?"
Tiredness was obviously losing the battle with
being-seen-as-grown-up-ness in Naruto's spiky blonde head. "Heck
"No, no, no, no," Sakura said, eyes
enormous. "No way am I leaving the two of you to get drunk in a town
that's not Konoha!"
"Great, then that makes three of us!" Kakashi said
blithely. "Come on."
"Wait, I didn't say you could--"
But Kakashi and Naruto were already halfway up the street.
"...oh, hell!" Sakura hastily put a leash
on Inner Sakura, grabbed the handle of her wagon, and hurried along after them.
This is extra stuff, the chapter ended up there. Please skip
the rest if you don't like these, but I couldn't NOT put this in since Ciarann
sent me my first ever fanart because of the omake pre-chapter 20! <3 <3
<3 (I'm going to make a gallery for it and put a link somewhere in my
profile since links in fics get munched for some reason...)
So I had to leave this in somehow because the pic is just
so cute, Chibi Iruka With Sparkles and Sasuke looking appalled and Kakashi
happily letching over a fence... and I really can't find anything that says author
notes at start and end are prohibited, just something that says using whole
chapters for author notes are prohibited... anyway, I'm sorry it's been 3 weeks
since the last chapter (which was April 3), just like I said below, work has
gone COMPLETELY ballistic...
(Oh yeah, two random notes: Naruto's not going blech at Kakashi to be judgemental of Iruka for being gay; he's just squicked for pretty much the same reason anyone goes blech when someone talks about their teachers and/or parents having sex. Most people, especially barely-teenaged kids, just don't like to visualize their almost-parental-figures doing that. ^^;; And like I said in 16 or so, this story has got to be alternate-timeline because there isn't enough time IN timeline for anything like this to have happened... going to try to wrestle the sequel back closer to timeline though... just over a longer period of time if you see what I mean...)
From April 18:
Chibi-Iruka: Can you help me move something else?
Chibi-Iruka (as though that had been an actual explanation): Yes, yes, I
know I’m supposed to be careful, but this really is rather important if we want
to get through this story and have it over with in a reasonable amount
Chibi-Iruka: Thank you! (I knew that would be a motivator...) Come on, it’s
this avalanche over here.
(After quite a bit of digging through an enormous pile of paper, they
discover a vaguely twitching hand.)
Chibi-Iruka (peeling a flattened ChibiRisu-chan off the ground and dusting
post-it notes and staples off): ...now that I think of it, she did
mention something about 120-hour work week avalanches...
ChibiRisu-chan (spiral-eyed): ...and remote-access ports 389, 522, 1503,
1719, 1720, and 1731 are blocked at the campus firewall level so that...
Chibi-Iruka (patting her hand): There there. It's a weekend. You can stop
ChibiRisu-chan: ...yeah. Tell that to the virus writers, the retirees who
can't read the email migration documentation, and the guy who sat on my docs
for a month and then wanted weeks worth of stuff rewritten in the three days
remaining before the new guy gets here. I've been working whether it's a
weekend or not...
(blearily checks stats page)
(passes out again with a thud)
puzzled!Chibi-Sasuke (gesturing at the body on the floor): ...?
Chibi-Iruka: Well, it might have something to do with the fact that it took
16 chapters to get the first 10,000 hits and 100 reviews, and then just 3 more
chapters to get to over 20,000 hits and 200 reviews... (nudging puzzled!Chibi-Sasuke
in the ribs with a smile:) You should talk more often. Apparently you have
Chibi-Iruka (patting his head since grouchy!Chibi-Sasuke is just too cute to
resist): It was just a thought.
(ChibiRisu-chan's otherwise unconscious body twitches a hand over to slap a
sticky note approximately on Iruka's knee, then goes thump again)
Chibi-Iruka (reading, then blushing): Er... um... she says thank you to
everybody, and that I'm now on thank-you duty while she's out cold. Apparently
thank-you duty involves large quantities of glomping and squealing and sparkly
eyes... er... why me...?
Chibi-Iruka (nervous chuckle): Er, you're right. You really should get that
checked out by a doctor, you know, but I suppose there's no help for it at the
moment. (Sheepishly to the audience:) Sasuke-kun says he's congenitally
incapable of sparkly eyes, so I guess I'm going to have to practice. Hmmm...
Chibi-Iruka (takes a deep breath, blinks several times, clasps his hands
together under his chin in the universal seal for Cuteness no Jutsu, widens his
eyes as far as they'll go -- which is pretty impressively close to three
quarters of a chibi head -- and concentrates hard:) Nnnnnggghhh...
Chibi-Iruka (now with several dozen sparkly little stars shining in enormous
chibi eyes and a sweatdrop of effort hanging over his head): ...Sasuke-kun,
(Chibi-Iruka stares in bemusement as the corner of grouchy!Chibi-Sasuke's
mouth twitches despite the sweatdrops and strained attempt to maintain the
perfect poker face.)
(In horror at himself, grouchy!Chibi-Sasuke clamps both hands over his face
and flees the possibility that his body might be trying to smile at the sheer
staggering quantities of cute hovering around.)
Chibi-Iruka (scratching behind his ear): Er... I don't know whether that
meant 'good' or 'bad'... (gulp, very very nervous grin:) So... erm... who wants
the thank-you glomps and squeals...? --Do I really have to squeal?
(another sticky gets nudged onto his ankle)
Chibi-Iruka (reading): 'If they want you to'... (enormous
sigh) Yes, ma'am.
[ChibiRisu-chan waves 'bye for now' to folks - hopefully it won't be another month before I can write another piece! ^^;;; I can't put in placeholder chapters to say 'yeah I'm alive,' apparently, so just kinda take my word for it... sorry...]