The Cooking Ninja

Title: The Cooking Ninja
Pairing: Kakashi/Iruka
Rating: PG
Status: Complete
Summary: Kakashi is a man of many talents. But when Iruka’s birthday rolls around, he discovers that cooking is not one of them. Birthday fic.

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A/N: Iruka’s birthday is May 26th, perfect theme for a story! Cooking and baking is actually one of my hobbies, so I had lots of fun writing this, lol. And yes, these are real recipes that Kakashi’s referencing. Set…I don’t know when lol…but I decided to use the original Team 7. Some OOC-ness I think, and kinda crackish. XD And all the jutsus mentioned are made up. The title is a half-assed pun on Kakashi’s nickname, the Copy Ninja…

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Hatake Kakashi stood stiffly in place, eyes warily scanning the scene before him. Shelves piled high with goods surrounded the Jounin, a low hum of voices in the air. He gripped the metal handles of the cart tightly, lost in thought. This should be a relatively simple task. After all, he’d done a diverse array of things throughout his life time, most of which were dangerous and difficult. So surely Konoha’s infamous Copy Ninja could handle a simple task like grocery shopping.

For the umpteenth time, Kakashi looked helplessly at the piece of paper in his hand. It was a recipe for Chocolate Butter Cake that he’d found in a cookbook at the village library, and had seemed simple enough when he’d first read it. But now that he was actually in the store, a whole forest of obstacles seemed to have popped up. The first few items the recipe called for had been simple enough: milk, butter, all purpose flour, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda.

Choosing the chocolate had been slightly more challenging. He’d figured he’d just pick up a package of it and move on, but no. Apparently, chocolate came in more forms and variations than the colors of the rainbow. While his piece of paper had just said ‘4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate’, Kakashi was confronted with a shelf crammed full of an enormous selection that seemed to scream too many questions at him: milk, dark, or white chocolate? Unsweetened, semi-sweet, or bitter sweet? Chips, squares or blocks? For a man who wasn’t particularly fond of sweet things, this was almost too much.

Normally, the silver-haired man’s trip to the grocery store was actually quite easy. He’d pick up a few necessary foodstuffs, – mostly consisting of rice, soybeans, milk, fish-  pay, and be home within half an hour. It wasn’t complicated or especially luxurious, but it kept him full and healthy. A few of his fellow ninjas were reputed to be fantastic cooks who spent hours preparing sumptuous fare, but Kakashi was a simple man. If he wanted to eat anything fancy or somewhat difficult to make, he’d go to a restaurant. Only extremely special circumstances would compel him to deviate from his usual routine, and such circumstances had finally come about.

It had been a peaceful May afternoon when curiosity had seized him in its grips, causing the Jounin to wonder when his boyfriend’s birthday was. And it was fortunate he’d checked. They’d been dating for several months now, and Kakashi was sure Iruka would be mortally offended if he neglected to do something to celebrate. That and it would probably have a negative impact on his sex life…

Quickly grabbing a package of unsweetened chocolate chips, Kakashi moved confusedly on to the next item:

‘1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed).’

Good grief. Maybe he should just buy a cake from the bakery…

But he shook his head, sighing. Kakashi was not the kind of man to back down halfway through something. He said he was going to make Iruka a fantastic birthday dinner and he would, by hook or by crook. With renewed determination, he picked a carton of cocoa off the shelf, looking it over thoroughly to confirm that it was indeed not Dutch-processed before throwing it in his shopping cart. Well, just a few more items and this ordeal would be almost over.

He read the next few lines on the recipe, blinked, then read it again. What the hell?

‘2 cups granulated white sugar. 4 cups confectioner’s sugar.’

Gods above, he never knew that mankind needed so many types of sugar. And if the recipe was bad, the shelf containing the sugar was even worse: baker’s sugar, raw sugar, superfine sugar, powdered sugar, coarse sugar, white sugar, sugar cubes, artificial sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and on and on down the aisle. And he hadn’t even gotten to the actual baking part yet-

“Kakashi-sensei?”

Turning, the Copy Ninja automatically raised two fingers in greeting as his sole female student approached. “Yo.”

Sakura was also pushing a shopping cart, though Kakashi noted she looked far more comfortable in this setting than he did. “I’ve never seen you here before, sensei.” Her eyes slid inadvertently to his cart, and an eyebrow shot up. Team Seven had done their fair share of missions. And in that time, Sakura had learned more than she ever needed to know about the eating habits of the three males she saw daily: Naruto lacked table manners, Sasuke liked tomatoes, and Kakashi-sensei disliked sweets. So understandably, she was rather surprised to see her teacher wheeling around a shopping cart full of the ingredients for a cake of all things.

He caught her expression, chuckling uneasily. “Well, I just decided to pick up a few things…” When the pink-haired girl didn’t stop staring at him in disbelief, Kakashi sighed. “It’s Iruka-sensei’s birthday today and-”

“Ohhh, say no more!” Her green eyes lit up, and Sakura pulled the recipe out of his limp hand. “What kind of cake are you making? Chocolate Butter Cake? Good choice, sensei!” Kakashi watched with a bemused expression as the young kunoichi started poking around the items in his cart. “Oh, this is the wrong kind of milk, you need whole not skim milk. Here, switch with mine. And this chocolate…you need the squares, not chips.” She grabbed the correct package off the shelf and interchanged it with the bag he’d selected. “Okay, the rest of the stuff looks good. So that just leaves the sugar-” With confident ease, Sakura pushed past the frozen Jounin and grabbed a small pack of granulated sugar and another of powdered sugar off the shelf, dumping them both into his cart. “Don’t forget vanilla extract.” A small bottle was seized and also tossed into the growing pile. “And that should do it.”

The silver-haired man wasn’t sure whether to laugh or feel insulted, but the former seemed right. “Thanks Sakura, I really-”

She cut him off as she looked critically down at the cake recipe. “Is this all you’re making? What about dinner?” At his rather sheepish look, Sakura groaned. “Sensei! You should make an entree and dessert for him!” Muttering lowly about the ignorance of men, she flipped over the sheet of paper to its blank side and took a pen out of her purse. “Here, this is a recipe I got from Temari; it’s Suna-style lamb with couscous. I’m sure Iruka-sensei will enjoy it.” Scribbling furiously, she herded the older man to the next aisle. “C’mon sensei, I’ll help you get the stuff for it.”

As Sakura, pushed, shoved, and bossed him around the store, Kakashi was increasingly aware of how undignified this all was. But then again, at least now he had the makings of a decent birthday dinner.

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With a sigh of relief, Kakashi dumped the bags of groceries onto Iruka’s kitchen table. That had taken far longer than he bargained for. A quick glance at the clock told him he had about three hours before his boyfriend was due back from work. He’d better hurry.

Smoothing out the cake recipe on the counter-top, the silver-haired man squinted at the first set of instructions. “Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, rack in the middle position.” Opening said oven, he peered into its dark recesses. There was a rack, and it looked like it was sitting in a middle position. Good enough. Shutting the door crisply, he turned the appropriate knob to 350, thought for a moment, then dialed it up to 400 for good measure. He figured if 350 would cook it fast, then 400 would be even better.

Okay, next. “Butter and flour two cake pans.” Fortunately for him, Sakura had the foresight to remind him to buy cake tins; they were certainly things he didn’t have on hand on a usual day. Taking out the package of butter, he slid a stick out. Butter the pan? Shrugging, the Jounin peeled back the waxy paper, and quickly smeared some of the butter along the surface of the two pans. Pretty easy so far.

“Next, mix 4 ounces of chopped unsweetened chocolate and 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.” Fumbling with the measuring utensils, Kakashi carefully scooped the appropriate amount of chocolate and cocoa into a metal bowl, giving it a quick stir with a wooden spoon. Now he needed boiling water. He glanced at the wall clock; he’d forgotten to put some water to boil, and didn’t feel like waiting for it now. Well, good thing he was a shinobi.

Filling the glass measuring cup with some water from the tap, the Jounin held it in his right hand, considering. It was glass so…

Lifting his left hand, he held it up over the cup while making a swift set of seals. “Fire Style: Fireball Technique.” The chakra flared brightly, taking on the form of a large, whirling sphere of flames. Quickly, he decreased the flow of chakra until it was approximately the size of an orange, dropping it unceremoniously into the cup of water. Instantly, the liquid hissed and fizzed as it heated up, sloshing in the container. Perfect! Instant boiling water.

Happily, Kakashi poured the water into the bowl, stirring it vigorously. When the contents became smooth and liquid, he set it carefully to the side.  “In a separate bowl, whisk to combine, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.” Painstakingly, he measured out the flour, then the tiny amounts of the other ingredients. Cooking was unexpectedly delicate.

“Beat 1 cup of butter until smooth and creamy.” Taking out two more sticks of butter, he unwrapped them and placed both into another bowl. With a spoon, he stirred it around doubtfully. He didn’t see how two solid sticks of butter was going to turn ‘smooth and creamy’ quickly. Tapping the center of the bowl with his finger, he funneled a small bit of energy there. “Wind Style: Hot Air Vortex.” A miniature cyclone of heated air immediately appeared, softening the butter and whipping it around the bowl. Some of it flew out of the bowl, but Kakashi was satisfied to see most of it turn into a pudding-like consistency. “Add 3 eggs, one at a time.” While the jutsu was still spinning merrily away, he cracked three eggs over it and watched as they were blended in. This was relatively easy. Perhaps cooking wasn’t so hard after all.

He took a peek at the clock again, and blanched. Only two hours left, and he hadn’t even started on the entree. Quickly, he skimmed over the next part of instructions: Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture and beat to combine. Add the milk and flour mixtures in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat only until the ingredients are incorporated.

Three additions? The Copy Ninja snorted; that sounded like a waste of time. In a rush, he dumped in the chocolate, vanilla, milk, and the flour mixture all at once, letting the wind jutsu make short work of them. Within a few minutes, the batter was a glossy chocolaty brown color. He let it whirl around for a couple extra minutes, just to make sure everything was mixed well. Dispelling the jutsu with a flick of his fingers, Kakashi dumped the batter hurriedly into the two cake pans, shoving them into the hot oven. The recipe said “bake for 35 to 40 minutes,” so he could start making the entree and be done by the time the cake was ready. Perfect scheduling.

Rather pleased with himself, the Jounin flipped over the recipe to read Sakura’s handwritten instructions. He took the rack of lamb and a glass jar out of the last grocery bag, placing them on the table. The first part involved making something called a harissa chili paste, but the kunoichi had been somewhat doubtful that Kakashi could do the process properly. So instead, Sakura had given him a jar of it that she’d made last night, with instructions to just grind it into a smoother consistency before use.

He looked critically at the jar half-full of lumpy red mixture, wondering if it tasted all right. But Sakura had assured him it would, so Kakashi spooned it all into a metal bowl. She said to grind it, but with what?

Hand on his chin, the silver-haired man stood there for a few minutes, debating. Sakura had probably meant use a mortar and pestle, but he didn’t have one on hand. A blender or food processor might work, but he didn’t see either of them here in Iruka’s kitchen. Which left him mentally paging through his ninjutsu repertoire for-

Oh, that should work. Rubbing his palms together, he let the friction and chakra build until his hands were almost uncomfortably hot. “Leaf Style: Iron Palm.” The condensed chakra on his hands solidified into a rigid barrier, strengthening the skin until it was hard as a rock. Briskly, Kakashi slammed his right hand onto the harissa paste and ground down on it in a circular motion. A considerable amount spurted from the bowl and dotted the counter-top and walls, but what was left in the bowl was undeniably a smooth puree. Unfortunately, there was also a rather alarming cracking sound from under the bowl.

Picking it up hurriedly, Kakashi winced. It looked like he’d used too much force. There was a circular dent in the Formica counter, cracks splintering outwards. Iruka was definitely going to notice that…

Well, he’d fix it later, after the birthday was over and done with. For now, he placed a small genjutsu over the spot, just enough to mask the damage. Hopefully, Iruka wouldn’t think to look for an illusion in his kitchen of all places.

With a aggrieved sigh, the Jounin slathered the paste onto the lamb, coating it generously. A glance at Sakura’s recipe told him it needed about 20 minutes in the oven, so he popped it in alongside the cake. They’d be done at the same time and he had a few minutes to clean up.

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“Okay kids, don’t forget about the test tomorrow. And remember to have your parents sign those permission slips. Class dismissed.” Iruka smiled as his class filed out of the room happily, many waving and shouting ‘happy birthday’s’ to their teacher. His desk was piled high with homemade cards, apples, candies, and other small gifts from his students. Naruto himself had stopped by during the lunch hour and insisted on treating his favorite sensei to lunch at Ichiraku. So all in all, it had been a wonderful day, except…

Packing up his bag, the brown-haired man felt outwards quickly with his chakra. All day he’d expected Kakashi to turn up, but he hadn’t seen hide or hair of the Jounin. He was started to get worried, and undeniably was a little dismayed that his boyfriend seemed to have forgotten his birthday. Well, maybe he’d turn up later.

The unhappy thought didn’t last long though, as Iruka struggled to put all his gifts into his bag. He ended up having to dump it all into a cardboard box, and lug it home that way. At least his students remembered.

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Sharingan eye whirling nervously, Kakashi stared down at the table in shock. He’d pulled the cake and the lamb out of the oven, and neither looked like it was supposed to. The rack of meat was charred on the outside, but was leaking blood onto the cooking pan. Clearly it was undercooked, and Kakashi had done something wrong.

Worse was the cake. Instead of a nice cocoa brown, it was a very dark color, close to black, and looked decidedly tough and overcooked. But the most discouraging thing he’d only discovered when he’d taken a look at it with his Sharingan. It seemed all the expelled chakra from the jutsus he’d used had remained in the batter. The cake was heavily laced with it. He was pretty sure that would be uncomfortable to ingest, if not downright dangerous.

The hands on the clock told him that there was definitely not enough time to take another attempt at cooking; in fact, Iruka would probably be home within 15 minutes.

Well, no other choice then. With a few well chosen seals and the speed that had made him famous, Kakashi disappeared from the kitchen.

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Unlocking the front door, Iruka wearily set the box down by the coat closet. The various kunai and shuriken he’d received were definitely not light. Untying his sandals, he straightened up and jumped in surprise.

“Hey baby.” Kakashi stood casually in front of him, hands in his pockets. He looked thoroughly relaxed, his mask and flak jacket off. Leaning in, the older man gave him a quick ‘welcome home’ kiss.

“Hey,” he answered hesitatingly. “What are you doing here?” Iruka didn’t resist as strong arms wound around his waist, pulling him against the taller shinobi.

“What, I can’t make dinner for you on your birthday?”

Immediately, Iruka’s gaze softened, and a shy smile graced his lips. “You cooked for me?”

His boyfriend scoffed, grinning. “Hey, I have talents that you’re not aware of.” Another kiss, this time he nipped Iruka’s lips playfully for the comment. “Happy birthday. C’mon, before it all gets cold.”

Laughing, the Chuunin untangled himself from Kakashi, toeing off his shoes and kicking them into the closet. “What are we having?” He unzipped his vest, reaching for a coat hanger.

“Chicken and ginger stir-fry with coconut noodles, gyoza, and cake.” The Jounin chuckled at the shocked expression Iruka worse, wagging a finger at him. “Always doubting me, sensei. Let’s eat.” He turned, moving off into the kitchen.

“All right, Chef-san. Let me hang this up and wash my hands.” Shaking his head, Iruka hung his flak vest up with a small laugh. Wonders never ceased. Just as he started to close the closet door, he noticed an odd odor. Poking his head in, he sniffed around curiously. It seemed to be coming from Kakashi’s flak vest, hanging innocently in the closet. Taking another whiff, he definitely detected a distinct burnt smell. Maybe Kakashi wasn’t as good a cook as he said he was-

A piece of paper was poking out from one of the pockets, apparently shoved there in a hurry. On reflex, he took it out, and grinned.

It was a receipt from a restaurant and bakery on the other side of town, for one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert. He had to admit Kakashi had been clever to pick a place Iruka hadn’t been to before, so he wouldn’t recognize the food. But then, why was there a burnt smell coming from the older man’s clothes?

On a hunch, Iruka strode quickly into the bathroom and shut the door. He turned on the water and let it slosh loudly into the sink before opening the bathroom window quietly. Hurriedly, he slipped his body over the sill and out into the back alley, where the trash cans were. Peering into one, he smirked to see it containing a messy jumble of take-out boxes, the remains of poorly made cake, and some odd-looking charred meat.

Oh, Kakashi. He forced himself to stop grinning madly, and climbed silently back into apartment.

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A/N: If you’re interested in seeing the real recipes, the cake is Chocolate Butter Cake from the JoyOfBaking website, and the entree recipe is actually called Arabian Spiced Rack of Lamb with Couscous (by Rachel Allen).

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