|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote,|
@ 2004-09-20 23:36:00
Since it was a birthday dinner, Sakura decreed, they were all required to dress nicely. Kakashi was still wearing his usual solid black turtleneck and pants; Iruka, who was trying to wriggle out of succumbing to Kakashi's taste in dresses, protested the injustice.
"I don't see why I have to wear a dress if you're wearing that! You wear that all the time."
"Black goes with everything," Kakashi said, and held out the dress with a wheedling face. "Wear it for me?"
Iruka looked dismally at the dress in question. It was made of a soft cream knit material, and it was one of the dresses Sakura had originally sent with them from Konoha... when he'd been considerably more slender. And the problem wasn't precisely that it no longer fit, because it stretched. The problem was that it did stretch... and therefore clung quite snugly to Iruka's figure, including the waist -- or lack thereof. And the neckline hadn't gotten any higher as a maternal bustline developed, either. When Iruka had first been performing his sexy-no-jutsu, it was merely clingy and draping and sleek; now it looked like a thoroughly overstuffed sausage, in Iruka's rather jaundiced opinion.
"I'd feel ridiculous," Iruka said.
"You've got gorgeous curves; why not show them off?"
"Because I'm 'curving' entirely too much!"
Kakashi broke out the mournful puppy eyes. "It's my birthday, remember?" he said, for about the dozenth time that day.
He's milking that for all the mileage he can get, isn't he.
But it's true nonetheless... and it's just one day; so tomorrow when he tries to get me into something showing this much of my chest, I can remind him that it's not his birthday anymore, can't I?
With an enormous sigh, Iruka took the dress and put it on, and tugged and wriggled until it lay smooth against the various curves, even if it was a bit smoother than was really comfortable for the embarrassment level. And then Iruka went to the closet and dug out an old blue blanket to sling around his shoulders.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"It's a shawl."
"It's not a shawl, it's a blanket," Kakashi pointed out.
Iruka measured off a piece with both hands, caught the edge in his teeth, and ripped the blanket in half, then draped half the blanket around his shoulders, and fidgeted with the fabric until the bare cleavage and the snugly-limned mound of the baby were hidden. "Now it's a shawl," he said.
Wisely, Kakashi kept his mouth shut.
Somehow or other, they'd all cleaned up presentably -- even Naruto, because Sakura had browbeaten him into leaving the orange jacket behind, and he had a much less blinding blue shirt underneath it. Sakura, who was wearing a spring-green dress that matched her eyes, took one look at Iruka and opened her mouth.
"Iruka says it's a 'shawl,'" Kakashi observed.
Sakura looked back and forth between her teachers' expressions, sighed, and said, "I'll be right back."
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto protested. "I'm starving already!"
In a few minutes, Sakura came back with a much more plausible-looking shawl to drape around Iruka's shoulders. It wasn't as baggy or as thick, though, and Iruka kept tugging at the ends to try to make it cover a bit more of the bulge until Sakura smacked his hands, retied it, and said, "Now, come on."
"Finally," Naruto sighed.
He was still clutching his head and rubbing at the lump Sakura had left there when they walked into the Wave Country restaurant.
The barely-teenaged boy who greeted them with a bow at the door was clearly the restaurant owners' son; tonight he was trying his best to look adult and respectable despite the fact that he was barely older than Team Seven. He even tried to push his voice down a little as he asked, "Table for five?"
"For six!" Naruto said cheerfully, and pulled the ends of Iruka's shawl away to point at the belly-bulge limned by the snugly-stretched dress. "See? At least five and three quarters, anyway!"
"For six, then," the boy said, and bowed particularly deeply, and set about being almost humiliatingly overchivalrous to the pregnant schoolteacher. They were escorted to an alcove with a low table and several sitting-pillows scattered around, but the boy went to fetch a legless floor-chair and settle pillows into the seat and the back, and he fussed and fidgeted until Iruka had assured the boy half a dozen times over that this was really quite comfortable, thank-you-very-much. Naruto was giggling the whole time; the moment the overassiduous young man left them alone, Iruka's fist came down solidly on the top of Naruto's head.
"Hey, what was that for?"
"Funny, I was about to ask you the same thing," Iruka retorted.
"Ordering for six means they give us more food, of course!" Naruto said, rubbing his head indignantly.
"It's an all-you-can-eat restaurant, moron," Sasuke said.
Naruto's eyes went very, very wide.
Iruka suddenly felt sorry for the restaurant owners, as Naruto turned to Kakashi and said, "All right, I officially forgive you for the eggplant miso now. I think I forgive you for about a week of eggplant miso, even! --But no natto; that stuff's just wrong."
"I'll keep that in mind, then," Kakashi said, snuggling closer to Iruka and slipping an arm around his waist.
"Do you want a chair too, Kakashi-sensei?"
"Oh, I'll just share Iruka's."
"That's going to be a pretty full chair," Naruto said, grinning.
"All in the name of family togetherness," Kakashi told him, with a saintly expression. But beneath the edge of the table, Kakashi's hand was wandering along the place where the curve of belly met the curve of thigh, and it was all Iruka could do to keep from jumping straight out of the chair at the tickle.
"You don't want our family togetherness...?" he asked pitifully.
"I don't want to dump scalding tea down your pants when you tickle somewhere that makes me twitch," Iruka replied with half-lidded eyes.
Kakashi's wandering hand hastily found a place to rest against a curve, and stayed put.
There was a firepit in the center of the table itself, filled with glowing coals beneath a grate; one side of the grate held a flat piece of iron and the other side held a bowl of simmering broth. Naruto looked into the broth and then up at Kakashi, and he said with a growl, "This better not be 'all you can eat' of soup without any ramen anywhere!"
"So suspicious? I'm crushed."
"You like eggplant," Naruto retorted.
"Just shut up and wait, moron," Sasuke said.
"Oh yeah? Maybe I'll cook your head in the soup instead--"
"Boys," Iruka said firmly. "Behave yourselves."
Sasuke and Naruto shot each other a dirty look, and then glared off at opposite corners of the room.
Kakashi's fingertips were getting a bit adventurous again, rubbing little back-and-forth patterns against the smooth round curve of Iruka's belly. After a moment's consideration Iruka decided he didn't mind the rubbing, because it felt rather nice; but the line between rubbing and tickling was a narrow one, so Iruka put his hand over Kakashi's to be able to perform any necessary tickle-policing.
Judging by the suspiciously sappy look in Sakura's eyes, though, she was finding a more romantic interpretation of the gesture; he didn't have the heart to enlighten the girl. With a small sigh, Iruka tilted his head to rest against Kakashi's, and smiled for Sakura as he said under his breath to the thistle-headed rogue who was ever so carefully not quite tickling, "You behave yourself too."
"Yes dear," Kakashi breathed into his ear, his lips barely brushing the outer curve, and Iruka twitched despite himself.
"Stop that! Next time I could have tea in my hands or something..."
Sakura had a hand to her lips, but the giggle escaped anyway. Sasuke was scowling at the fire grate, and Naruto had a suspiciously dippy grin on.
"If you guys want, we could leave you alone. --Guys and girls!" he amended too late, and then clamped a hand over his mouth and mumbled, "I mean guy and girl, I don't mean, er, lots or anything, that's way too-- I mean-- I, er, I should just shut up already, right? Yeah. Shutting up. Really. But I just meant--"
Sasuke 'helpfully' clamped a hand over Naruto's mouth.
Naruto promptly bit it.
Before the small-scale riot in the making could escalate, Iruka pulled two of the chair cushions out from behind his back and flung them from point-blank range; at that velocity the pillows had enough momentum to divert the tumbling snarl of flailing limbs far enough away that Naruto's thrashing foot didn't upend the table and the coals all over the floor.
"Can't I take you two ANYWHERE?" Iruka shouted at the top of his lungs, leaning on the table with both hands to keep it still just in case the next kick flew wide.
Fortunately, it stopped the dogpile of thrashing ninja limbs.
Unfortunately, it stopped the rest of the restaurant too. Heads from several different alcoves turned in their direction.
His face hot enough to rival the embers in the firepit, Iruka squeaked, "Never mind us!" He looked at the low table and wondered if he could actually fit underneath it at the moment.
Sasuke and Naruto executed another uncannily synchronized 'glare-scowl-hmph-othercorner' maneuver. Sakura had her elbows on the table and her face in both hands, shaking her head helplessly.
When Iruka tried to sit back down, he discovered a Kakashi-lap had insinuated itself between his hips and his chair, and it was a bit awkward to try to shift to one side to aim for what was left of the chair. Kakashi resolved the issue by slipping both arms around Iruka's waist, to keep the blushing teacher squarely in his lap.
"You are such an opportunist," Iruka said.
"Of course I am," Kakashi replied cheerfully. "In love, war, and buffet-style dining, the one who takes the initiative wins."
"...Um. Wasn't the proverb something to do with love, war, and taxes...?"
"Nobody wins with taxes."
"Er. I'll keep that in mind--" And Kakashi's hands were wandering again. Iruka promptly pinned Kakashi's hands with both of his own: "Stop that!"
"I have to entertain myself somehow now that you've kept them from providing tableside entertainment and bloodshed, you know."
But despite the flippant words, Kakashi's hands settled suspiciously quickly into the tender little fingertip-caresses, content to be gentle and soothing and almost unnervingly not-reprehensible. Iruka wondered if there was something to Naruto's theory about the convoluted yin-yang interrelationship of macho-and-mushy in Kakashi's mind after all.
Sasuke was still staring at his corner; he had a far better grasp of long-term grudge-holding and attitudinal brooding than Naruto, having refined the theory over too many years of relentless practice.
Naruto had gotten bored with his corner, glanced toward his teachers again, and was now blushing dull red, staring at the pattern in the wood grain of the table and wriggling and rubbing his fingertips together. He was clearly straining every nerve he possessed in the effort not to bolt for the door in a teenaged-boy romance-sugar-overload embarrassment reflex.
Iruka stilled his lover's caring hands with a brief pang of regret, and murmured, "Kakashi..."
"But it's so cute watching them squirm!" Kakashi whispered back, and Iruka could all but feel the grin that was being hidden in his ponytail.
"Look, the food's here," he said brightly, and flexed his fingertips to regain enough room for that rhythmic, tender massage-caress.
Iruka would have given him quite a scolding if the food hadn't actually arrived at that moment. There were dozens of little bowls of ingredients on the platter: vegetables, spices, sprouts, pickles, greens with sesame, tiny fried fish, spiced potatoes, cabbage that was red from the peppers it had been marinating in -- and a waitress who was showing far too much cleavage in a halter-top and translucent dancing skirt bent over the table to set the dishes around the firepit.
This time Naruto was turning red for an entirely different reason, and Sakura was glaring daggers at the young woman, leaning to interpose herself between Sasuke and the waitress's lack of clothing. Sasuke didn't even notice; he was still busily glaring at his corner. Iruka squeaked a little when Kakashi brushed a thumb against his palm.
"Relax," he murmured. "I prefer the view from right here."
"Your back went stiff the minute she bent over," Kakashi whispered into his ear, far too amused.
Because there was really no non-humiliating way to protest concern for Naruto's too-young eyes and the hazards of exposing that much skin around hot food that could spill, at least not without sounding like he was desperate for excuses, Iruka bit his lip and concentrated on relaxing so that Kakashi couldn't tease him again. Or at least not as much.
The waitress showed them how to oil the iron plate for cooking the meat, how to thread the vegetables onto long sticks to simmer in the hot broth, how to shape flat pieces of dough and cook them on the iron plate until they were golden and puffy quick-breads for scooping up other ingredients with, how to wrap cooked meat in a bit of lettuce or bread and dip it in the sauces and eat it with fingertips -- Naruto was nodding the entire time, but Iruka had a sinking feeling the information was going in one ear and out the other, since his gaze had never once lifted to the level of her eyes.
Probably taking notes for 'improvements' on his sexy-no-jutsu. I don't know whether to scold him or be grateful he's at least studying something diligently...
But the boy surprised him a bit; despite his apparent drooling-ogledom, when the waitress turned to go, he actually had the foresight to tug on a corner of her skirt, since there was no other fabric available for tugging that wouldn't earn a slap into next week.
"Yes?" the young woman asked.
"You've got that pot of soup cooking away right there; haven't you got any ramen to go into it?" Naruto asked plaintively.
She blinked a couple of times, then said, "It's not exactly soup, but... er... I'll ask the cook for you," and headed toward the kitchen.
Only then did Naruto look down at his mug of tea, and he choked and coughed and spluttered so much Sakura leaned over to thump him on the back.
"Now what?" she asked.
"It's -- it's -- orange!" he protested.
"So? You like orange," Sakura reminded him.
"In clothes, sure! But that's not tea! Tea's not supposed to be orange like that, is it? And you can't even see through it--"
"That's because they put milk in it," Kakashi said.
"MILK? In TEA?"
"And sugar too," he informed them, clearly amused by the boy's incredulous reaction.
"Gaaaaaah..." He picked up the mug and sipped very gingerly, then said in sheer outrage, "And it's cold!"
"Trust me, you'll be grateful later," Kakashi said, one hand reaching over to spear a couple slices of beef to set on the grill; the other hand continued its gentle cradling.
"Why would I be grateful for cold orange tea with sugar and cow squeezings in it?" Naruto grumbled, grabbing a chopstick-sample of the nearest dish.
"Because as soon as you bite into the pepper-pickled cabbage--"
--too late; Naruto's eyes were as wide as the teacup, and he chugged the tea down without even blinking, then poured himself another mug and downed half of it too.
"--you'll realize that milk, sugar, and cold tea are three of the best solutions for the level of spices in a lot of Wave Country food," Kakashi finished, munching on a not-spiced-at-all slice of vinegared cucumber. "In general, the more red it is, the more chilies it has in it. --That's not a tomato-based sauce, by the way, Sasuke-kun."
Unfortunately, Sasuke's one-upmanship reflex had kicked in the minute he saw Naruto chug the tea, and he couldn't back down.
"I breathe fire, remember?" Sasuke muttered, and tried not to flinch as he took a bite of the meat he'd just doused in red sauce as though it were marinara instead of chili paste.
Watching the boy's face turn blue and then purple, Iruka said faintly, "Do you want some tea, Sasuke-kun?"
He managed to control the outward expression of agony for at least twenty seconds before he clutched at his mug tightly enough Iruka worried it might shatter in his hands, and he not-quite-chugged the contents.
Sakura looked back and forth between Naruto and Sasuke, who were currently shoveling as many chili-based foods onto their plate as they could grab, caught in their eternal battle of cooler-than-thou. After a long moment, she heaved an enormous sigh of resignation, and shifted closer to the teachers. Devoted as she was to the goal of becoming Sasuke's one true love whether he realized it or not, Sakura herself had to admit that there were times when he was nearly as bad as Naruto.
"So what are -- er -- were all those dishes, Kakashi-sensei?"
Iruka had quietly begged the waitress not to bring refills of anything with noticeable amounts of chili in it, so that the boys couldn't actually hurt themselves with their food; after the chili-duel ran out, Naruto had eaten more vegetables than he'd likely eaten in the rest of his life combined, not even noticing that they were vegetables as long as they weren't doused with chili. And he'd wheedled a bowl with noodles out of the chef, too. They weren't proper ramen noodles -- they were fine and white and almost silky, and Kakashi said they were made from rice -- but they were close enough to be comfort food for the boy after the evening's debacle. (Whether because of his experience with breathing fire or because his greater ability to hide his emotions, including agony -- in any event, Sasuke had clearly won the chili-eating duel.)
Kakashi, Iruka, and Sakura had had an enjoyable and tasty meal with interesting conversation, and Sakura was already speaking of plans to go back with Satori and some of the other village teens. The boys kept fixed shaky grins on reddish-purple faces as they stumbled along after the others, and each of them darted off into the bushes at one point or another during the walk back.
Taking pity on them both, Sakura said brightly, "Sugar and milk help with spices, you said, Kakashi-sensei? Then I suppose we'll just have to get into the cake and ice cream as soon as we get back, won't we."
Both Naruto and Sasuke had near-identical glazed looks of whimpering gratitude on their faces.
author's random note: by the way, "Wave Country" cuisine in this version is basically what happens when you crossbreed Korean barbecue and Mongolian barbecue, with a dash of Thai, Indian, and maybe Okinawan (is that where shabu-shabu's from?) for good measure... ^_~ The sad thing is that if you wanted to push me, I could write out a full list of all the things on the table, which cultures they were common in, and how to make them -- or if you gave me two or three days I could make at least a reasonable semblance of all of them. (I'm such a geek. Recipe geek as well as computer and language geek...)