Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you like this latest chapter.
This hasn’t shown up on FF.net yet, since I keep getting an error every time I try to add a chapter. >_< Don’t know if it’s a problem with the site or something on my side, but I’ll get it up as soon as I can. – Rav
Title: Perfect Theology – Chapter 12
Summary: Because no one has a perfectly foolproof method to approach love and life. Including Konoha’s famed Copy Nin.
Day six and Kakashi was ready. Slightly apprehensive, but mostly ready. He’d followed, observed, learned. And now, it was time to put those days of information gathering to work. He’d decided on a lunch date, preferably something other than ramen. Stowing the small black notebook and Icha Icha Paradise safely in their own vest pockets, the silver-haired man took note of the sun’s position. About an hour more. He turned his attention back to his students, who were sweating profusely under the afternoon sun with their latest D-rank mission: cow herding.
He smirked under his mask as Naruto tripped running after a steer and fell into tall grass for the umpteenth time, swearing profusely and muttering darkly about beef ramen.
Day six and Iruka was undeniably resigned. He was thoroughly tired of agonizing over what he’d supposedly done or said wrong to cause Kakashi to avoid him like a virulent disease. He was sick of looking up hopefully every time someone called out his name, only to be disappointed. He was weary of Naruto, Sakura, and his fellow teachers pointing out his glumness. But above all, he was pissed.
Iruka couldn’t believe the gall of the Copy Ninja. He was the one who’d went out of his way to bother Iruka. He was the one who’d made a move on him. He was the one who’d asked him out (well, maybe it was a little bit Iruka’s fault). And now after all that, that insufferable Jounin had the audacity to ditch him unceremoniously like yesterday’s laundry. Well screw that. Iruka wouldn’t stand for it. He would make that cocky, infuriating man pay. He would-
With a sigh, Iruka visibly deflated. Who was he kidding? What was he going to do, beat down the Jounin’s door and demand answers? Definitely not. He wasn’t that kind of person. No, Iruka was the kind to brush it off, stay collected, and act professionally. Instead of wasting energy fretting over something that hadn’t turned out as well as he’d like, he resolved to get over it and get back to normal. No matter how difficult it might be.
He looked wistfully up at the clock. Almost noon. He’d been here in the classroom grading tests since eight in the morning, and his eyes were starting to feel the strain. Fortunately for him, it was the weekend, and his students were probably running around outside on such a beautiful day. A part of him wanted to be outdoors in the sunshine and cool winds too, but alas, such was the life of a teacher. Looking back at the formidable pile of papers, Iruka cringed. Well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a lunch break, stretch his legs…
One more glance at the exams left to grade strengthened his resolve, and Iruka rose awkwardly to his feet, wincing. All those hours sitting had really made him sore. Grabbing his keys, he made his way out of the Academy and into the sunny streets of Konoha. For a moment, he paused on the road, debating where to eat at. Ichiraku? Nah, it was too hot out for ramen. Instead, Iruka walked around the corner and into a small cafe that he’d passed by often, but never had the time to try. Today though seemed a good a day as any for something new.
There were long tables inside the restaurant along with smaller, round tables for outdoor seating. He opted for the latter, since the weather was rather pleasant. Unfolding the menu waiting on the tabletop, he started to peruse its offerings. Within a few minutes, a young woman walked out, dressed in a neat waitress attire and black hair tied up into a tidy bun. She approached the Chuunin with a patient smile on her face, eyes brightening in recognition as she drew closer. “Oh! Good afternoon, Iruka-sensei!”
He looked up, feeling a genuine smile spread his lips. “Kotone-san, how nice to see you!” She was the older sister of one of his more…rambunctious students, Toraburu. As he recalled, their parents had both been killed in the last shinobi war, leaving Kotone to care for her baby brother by herself. Such orphans were not uncommon in Konoha, and Iruka did his best to reach out and teach them. For after all, he knew well what it was like to be alone with no parents to lean on. Kotone proved to be a woman of steely inner strength though, working hard to provide for her brother. Nonetheless, Toraburu was a quickly growing young boy, full of mischief and trouble that Iruka had way too much experience with. In fact, just the other day Iruka had caught him attempting to play hooky from class…
“I didn’t know you worked here.”
“Oh, my friend and I opened this shop together last year, since we both like to cook. And it’s convenient too, since Tora-kun can just come by for lunch during the week.” She shook her head slightly, reaching into her apron for a pen. “I’m sorry, I keep babbling on. What can I get you, sensei?”
He laughed, feeling slightly more cheerful than he had been the past few days. Maybe this is what he needed to do: talk more with his peers. He’d been doing far too much moping lately. “An order of the hiya sōmen, please.” Iruka closed the menu and handed it over. “And some *obimaki enoki.” As she thanked him for his order and hurried back to the kitchen, Iruka leaned back in his chair, and looked up at the clear blue sky, dotted with a few clouds. Really, it was a lovely day; warm with some wonderful breezes
Inevitably, watching the jagged stretches of clouds caused his thoughts to drift back to the one person he was trying not to think about. What exactly had he done wrong? And why had Kakashi initially shown interest only to just abruptly disappear completely from his life? It frustrated him beyond belief, especially since grudgingly, timidly…he’d started to like the other man. Not that it mattered now…
The sound of Kotone’s returning footsteps jerked him out of his reverie, and Iruka forced a smile to his face as she set the food down in front of him. “Thank you, Kotone-san.” He looked down at the bowls with genuine interest. “It looks delicious.”
She smiled, her cheeks reddening with a blush. “You’re too kind, Iruka-sensei.”
Taking a bite of the chilled noodles, Iruka sighed with appreciation. Perfect flavor, and the coldness was just right for a day like this. Digging in with gusto, he was surprised to see Kotone was still standing at his table. She had the look of someone wanting to say something, but was unsure if it was the proper time to do so.
“Kotone-san? Are you all right?”
“Oh!” She blushed redder. “I’m sorry, sensei. I just wanted to ask you about Tora-kun’s recent grades…” She stopped, embarrassed. “Oh, I’m disturbing your meal! Pardon my manners, Iruka-sensei, I-”
Laughing, the Chuunin held up a casual hand, waving off her worry. “No no, it’s ok. I’m in no hurry.” He gestured at a chair. “Take a seat, please!” Now that she brought it up, Iruka did have several concerns about Toraburu that he’d been wanting to talk to his sister about…
Perched high and hidden by the leaves in the tall oak tree shading the block, Kakashi gazed coldly down at the two people seated outside the restaurant. He’d noted the young woman’s blushing face with growing contempt and a feeling he didn’t immediately recognize. Watching Iruka smile back and speak animatedly only made that feeling grow; it burned at his consciousness and muttered dark oaths that he normally did not think of. Jealously was something Kakashi had rarely felt in his life; he thought himself above what he considered to be a childish emotion. But he felt it now, watching some pretty girl chat up the object of his affections. And it surged up uncontrollably, pushing aside logic and reason like a stiff wind batting aside an insect.
Vaguely, he was slightly shocked to feel a mixture of anger, hurt, and indignation swirling beneath the jealously. He was a Jounin, and ought to be more in control of his thoughts and feelings. But the scene before him cut directly at his rapidly beating heart, inducing pangs that he couldn’t outright ignore. Illogical, furious thoughts kept pushing up past his mental control, demanding to be heard. Seeing Iruka smile kindly, affectionately at someone other than him…it shattered his reserve efficiently and effectively. Undeniable hurt gripped at his heartstrings; he’d expressed careful interest in the other man, only to be turned away and replaced without warning. But more than that, he thought he’d come to know Iruka well by now.
The anticipation and excitement Kakashi had felt only a few minutes earlier seemed far away now, replaced by a frosty, terribly empty sensation. His fingers ached, and he only just noticed he’d been clenching his hands. Breathing in slowly, Kakashi forced his body to relax, waiting for his pulse to steady.
He was still waiting as Iruka finished his meal. Still watching with a detached fury as the Chuunin paid for the food and spoke a few more minutes with the waitress before finally leaving to head back towards the Academy. It was only when his muscles started throbbing, complaining painfully from standing there so stiffly that he finally moved down from his perch. His single uncovered eye looked in consideration towards the school. The logical part of him urged Kakashi to go and confront Iruka, to find out exactly what was going on. But the jealous, dominant part of him didn’t want the other man to see his hurt or shock.
So instead, Kakashi trudged away in the opposite direction with forced casualness. For a while, he meandered aimlessly through the streets of the village, wholly engrossed with his own thoughts. Eventually though, the building frustration became too much. He agitatedly made his way to the edge of Konoha, where the training grounds were. By now, they were mostly empty as people finished their day’s training and headed home. Perfect for Kakashi’s present mood. Readjusting his gloves slightly, the Jounin stretched for a few minutes before starting to work on some taijutsu.
Anything to distract him from his thoughts.
It was a pleasant evening, crisp and cool with barely a breeze. Iruka opened the window in his kitchen to let in the night air. Today had been productive, and he was happy that he’d managed to finish grading all the papers and tests, which meant his evening was wonderfully free now. Looking out onto the street and the peaceful night, he felt slightly restless. The sun had set, but it was still rather early, and Iruka had energy to spare.
Maybe he should see if Naruto wanted to go out for some ramen. But then again, he wasn’t really in the mood for food.
Pulling on his sandals, Iruka decided to go for a jog. Most of the time, he had to work late grading or doing lesson plans, so he didn’t get a chance to train as much as he used to. A run and maybe some quick practice at the training grounds would do him some good. Shrugging on his vest, Iruka stepped out, locked the door behind him, and made his way down the street at a brisk trot. A slight breeze pulled at his hair not at all unpleasantly, and gentle moonlight spilled out from behind dark blue clouds.
The problem with just running was that while it kept the body in motion, it didn’t do too well at occupying his mind. Unconsciously, his train of thought wandered from if he should go grocery shopping tomorrow to who he should ask to tutor Toraburu to…Kakashi. Just thinking the name made him cringe. It was rather mortifying and embarrassing for him now to remember their one and only date. Things he’d said that he had thought were witty suddenly seemed appalling. Perhaps that was why Kakashi was avoiding him. Perhaps the legendary Sharingan Kakashi realized that he had nothing in common with plain, ordinary Iruka. He probably found the Chuunin to be incredibly boring. Yeah, that was probably it…
He sighed, and shook his head. Iruka hated self-pity, especially when it came from himself. Pushing those thoughts away, he jogged down the path leading to the training fields. He detected no chakra signatures in the vicinity, but it was evening after all. Only the ANBU came out here after dark. Pausing at the base of a tree, Iruka stopped to catch his breath. That jog had left him slightly winded; he should probably work out more. Teaching all day at the Academy wasn’t exactly strenuous activity, and it left him with less stamina than he had when he’d first become a Chuunin.
After a few minutes of rest, he straightened up and headed towards the area reserved for target practice. Scarred wooden boards painted with bulls-eyes were nailed to trees, on bushes, and on the ground at varying heights and angles. Most had some kunai and shuriken still stuck to them from the Genin teams practicing there earlier. He reached into his leg holster for his own kunai, gripping three of them loosely in each hand. Closing his eyes for a moment of concentration, Iruka focused the chakra to the soles of his feet, dashing nimbly at tree. With a precise push he propelled himself gracefully into the air, spinning with momentum and throwing his first kunai at a target fixed about 20 meters above him at the top of a tall oak. He heard the dull thunk of metal sinking into wood, and was pleased to see it had hit dead center.
The next kunai, launched at a smaller board nestled between two bushes, was noticeably off-center. The third and fourth were better, though not as flawless as he’d have liked. The fifth he threw while leaping off a rotting bough that buckled under his weight, noting with satisfaction that it had pierced the target firmly in the center. Channeling some energy to his left hand, he swung lightly down onto the ground, preparing to throw his final kunai at a-
Some sixth sense niggled at him, and Iruka instinctively whirled. There was a slight noise behind him, and he instantly threw the kunai at full force towards it. Simultaneously, he jerked his body to the side and backwards, putting distance between him and whoever else was there. It was only then that he quickly scanned the area with his eyes, spotting his kunai embedded deep in the trunk of a tree. Obviously, he’d missed his opponent, but only barely. Caught between the kunai and the wood was a bit of dusty green material, probably torn off from an article of clothing.
He reached out with his awareness, letting chakra flow from him to seek out whoever was near-
“Your aim drags a little to the left.”
Iruka felt cold metal press suddenly to the back of his neck, causing the tiny hairs there to stand on end. His flesh prickled, partly from the knife held alarmingly close to his jugular, but also because that low, quiet drawl was familiar.
He turned his head slightly, catching sight of ghostly pale fingers. “Kakashi,” he breathed.
The Jounin didn’t remove the weapon. “Good evening, Umino-san.”
Iruka started, surprised by the polite greeting. And his voice. It was different than normal, much colder and more clipped than he was used to hearing. It was definitely alarming to be on the opposite end of Kakashi’s blade, something usually reserved for his enemy shinobis. “You startled me.”
“I can see that.” The older man spared a glance at his clothes. “There’s a small gash in my flak vest.”
The Chuunin didn’t reply, gradually reaching his hand up towards the kunai at his throat. He felt the fingers gripping it freeze, but he didn’t stop. In an agonizingly slow movement, to show Kakashi his intent, his fingertips grazed lightly over the sharp blade. He did not think the Jounin meant him any harm; however, it was clear that the man wasn’t very happy with him, and that mystified Iruka. Discerning the position of the weapon, he traced it backwards until he touched a warm hand. It twitched at the contact, but still refused to move. With measured care, Iruka closed his fingers around Kakashi’s and tugged lightly. For a moment, his hand resisted. But that moment of hesitation passed, and Iruka heard a soft sigh as Kakashi pulled his hand back to re-holster the kunai.
For a long minute, the wind brushed daintily past the two men standing awkwardly in the dark. Neither moved or spoke, both unsure and the tension practically palpable in the air.
“So. Who is she?”
The question was both perplexing and unexpected, causing Iruka to forget his nervousness briefly. He finally turned around to face the taller man. Of all things he’d thought Kakashi would say after skirting him for nearly a week, this was not even on the list of possibilities. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Kakashi glared indifferently back. “That woman you were talking to.”
If he didn’t know better, it sounded something like jealousy was coming from Kakashi. He had to be referring to Kotone; she was the only woman Iruka had spoken to at length today. But how had Kakashi known? There wasn’t anyone else around that-
The answer suddenly flickered to the top of his thoughts. He was following me. That very notion brought his blood to a boil as anger surged up from within him. “Y-you…” He was utterly flabbergasted. The man had followed him, spied on him. “You’ve been tailing me?” Iruka had been practically demented with worry and regret all week and Kakashi had the gall to be mad over him talking to someone?
The Jounin seemed to realize his mistake, eyes widening. “Um…no, I was-”
Iruka was almost dizzy from the revelations. Kakashi didn’t need to answer; Iruka was an expert at spotting guilt (a skill acquired from years of teaching ninjas-to-be) and it was written all over the older man’s face. “You…” The absolute nerve of him. He’d heard that Jounin were often abnormal and fraught with quirks and didn’t think normally, but this just left him almost speechless.
Kakashi took a hasty step back as Iruka advanced on him, emanating a distinct killing intent. “W-wait, I can explain-” He jerked his head to the side in the nick of time, barely avoiding the shuriken suddenly quivering in the tree behind him.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Iruka continued to stalk forward angrily, snapping twigs and grass in his wake. “You asked me out, lead me on, then make me think you’re avoiding me all week just so you could spy on me?” His hands reached reflexively towards his leg holsters again. “And now you have the audacity to be jealous because I was talking to a woman who happens to be the guardian of one of my students? You…”
Before the Chuunin could blink, Kakashi flickered out of sight, reappearing milliseconds later behind him. The Jounin quickly disarmed the other man, one hand flicking the shurikens safely into a tree and out of reach. The other hand pushed him forward up against the trunk of a tree, firmly pinning him. “Calm down.” Admittedly, Iruka had every right to be mad at him, but Kakashi would never live it down if a Chuunin managed to kick his ass.
Far from calm, Iruka jerked his head backwards, forcing Kakashi to lean back and avoid the blow. He whirled around to face the Copy Ninja, hands starting to form seals and-
“Wait wait, just-” Swiftly, Kakashi seized the younger man’s wrists, forcing them up and back until they were pressed firmly against wood. He felt Iruka tense and his muscles tightened as he prepared to kick out. “Hold on-” With a hiss of frustration, he shifted his left hand to grip both of Iruka’s wrists. His right hand quickly reached up, a finger hooking onto the edge of his mask and tugging it down to his chin.
“Let go of-” Iruka’s eyes widened as Kakashi leaned in close and pressed lips to his in an unmistakable kiss. He completely froze, shocked by both the warm mouth moving over his own and the pale, unmasked face before him. Anger, indignation, and reason sputtered to a halt; he thought about pushing Kakashi away, but the notion quickly trailed away as gentle fingers dug into his hair and stroked. Somehow, the older man had managed to express an apology using just a kiss, and it sweetly soothed the week’s worth of dissatisfaction and vexations away.
Kakashi smirked slightly, feeling the body pressed against his finally relax, clenched hands timidly sliding up his shoulders. He pulled back a bit, taking in the sight of flushed cheeks and an out-of-breath Iruka. “I’m sorry.” He pecked at the slightly parted lips. “I’m just-” Another kiss. “Not very good at a normal relationship.”
Iruka quirked an eyebrow, but didn’t reply. Looking for the first time at that narrow jaw, slender cheeks and contrite lips, he felt a good chunk of his hostility dissipate. All week he had been pining and hoping. Kakashi was odd and childish; he wasn’t at all surprised by his behavior, just exasperated.
But if he could kiss like that again…it would be worth the trouble.
He smiled at the hopeful look in the older man’s eye, defenses crumbling. “Idiot.” He pushed at Kakashi’s hitai-ate, revealing the Sharingan spinning slowly beneath. It left him slightly frightened and awestruck to be looking into the deadly eye, contrasting sharply with Kakashi’s other blue, kind eye. It was a duality that defined the Copy Ninja; cold yet alluring and inviting. Sighing, he pulled at the other man’s vest and their lips met once more. “This doesn’t mean you’re forgiven.”
And Kakashi grinned, nipping lightly at Iruka’s moist lips. “How about you let me make it up to you?”
The younger man looked at him in consideration. “Buy me dinner.”
“Okay, whatever you like.” He extended an arm in a half-serious ‘after you’ gesture, causing Iruka to roll his eyes. Side by side, they didn’t hold hands but walked amiably away from the training ground. Amazing how a simple act could set right a week’s worth of let downs.
Iruka was once again glad it was dark out, as he couldn’t hold back a grin as the two of them walked back towards the village under a starry sky. He was still smiling when rain suddenly started pouring out of the heavens like there was no tomorrow halfway there, and they had to race through muddy streets back to Iruka’s apartment. And he grinned even wider as Kakashi attempted to throw together a respectable meal with the meager contents of his refrigerator. Most of all, he couldn’t control his smile when chopsticks were set down and finally, Kakashi drew him close and kissed him again.
A/N: Yeah, I was reading my cookbook today…
1. Hiya sōmen: thin, white noodles usually served in cold water with garnishes and a dipping sauce. Popular in the summer time.
2. Obimaki enoki: Enokitake mushrooms wrapped with a slice of bacon and grilled. Really cute looking!