Part Three: Coming Home

He sat outside the window, it was probably long past midnight, but he had no idea his thoughts were long past anything so trivial. He hugged a worn light tan teddy bear to his chest, it's nose half chewed off and all he could do was stare outside the window and not let the tears fall from his face. He couldn't believe how empty his apartment was without a toddler running around underfoot. All he wanted was to hold his son again cradle him against his chest, to know that he was safe and warm and loved. It tore him apart that he had no idea where his son was, that the two year old was wandering around somewhere without anything to eat or drink, or worse yet he could be with someone that would hurt him.

It was hard to believe the strange weather today, snowing in the morning, warm in the afternoon, then a blizzard in the evening. His body was pressed tightly against the freezing window and he didn't seem to realize that he was shivering. Gently a thick blanket was draped over his shoulders and the smell of hot tea surronded his face. Glancing behind him he meet a pair of red-rimmed maroon eyes, scooting over and letting his feet fall back to the ground he gave her room to sit down. Kurenai gratefully to the place and handed him a cup of green tea, his favorite, and clasped both hands around her own cup.

Staring down into the green liquid she couldn't stop the tears filling her eyes again, a tissue stuffed in one hand came up to wipe her raw cheeks. Iruka took a small sip of his tea, his heart not into it, his mind thousands of miles away. They didn't speak because there was nothing left to say, Iruka didn't blame her but Kurenai did and she couldn't help berating herself on being so stupid and taking her eyes off of him for more than a second. It had been a long day for everyone, the minute she had told him he had been franticly searching and this was probably the first calm moment he had, had all day.

A slight shuffling from the hallway made her look up, a tousled haired Anko moved slowly through the living room. She had been at the apartment when the blizzard had started and by the time the other two had come back it was to dangerous for her to even think about going home. Her face was scrunched up in a yawn as she pulled a light blue blanket closer to her body. Sitting down next to the small window seat she gave a soft sigh. "I couldn't sleep" she muttered her eyes downcast. Kurenai placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and handed her the cup of tea. The girl thankfully accepted it and took a small drink.

The apartment became silent once again as their thoughts drifted to and from the very thing they couldn't sleep that night. Anko set the cup on the floor, after taking another drink, and pulled her knees to her chest, her head drooped down to rest on her knees. Iruka stared down into the cup, his hands tilting back and forth making it swirl, suddenly his hands tightened and in a single move he threw it with a sharp crack against the wall. It immediately shattered into pieces and fell onto the floor in a puddle of tea. Kurenai swallowed hard over the lump in her throat and Anko pulled tighter into herself. And so they waited the long night out in much the same way, worried sick out of their minds.

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The morning broke crisp and clear; normally he wouldn't be up before noon, that is if he hadn't been awoken at seven a.m. by a spit bubble along with a very fox-like grin. With a sigh he sat up stretching out his upper body before gathering the little boy up in his arms. "Good morning Naruto, are you hungry?" he asked calmly his eyes sparkling with a gentle happiness. It was nice waking up to someone in the morning, even if it was a toddler, someone who was depending on him and made the apartment seem less empty. Especially when it came in the form of huge blue eyes that light up every time he looked at them.

The little boy grinned excitedly before suddenly pausing and then holding his nose in an overly exaggerated gesture. Kakashi couldn't help laughing as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed, "Let me guess you need a diaper change huh?" the boy didn't respond rather grabbed onto his hair and laughed at the strange wincing expression the owner made. Grabbing a diaper from the small bag he had picked up last night and the small package of wipes, he walked into the kitchen he grabbed a clean dishtowel and spread it out on the table.

Changing a diaper was a different experience to the serious Anbu, not the most pleasant experience mind you, but different. He had to say that he was glad when it was over and everything was well away from him and stuffed deep into the trash. Setting the oversized T-shirt clad Naruto on the ground he quickly cleaned up the table and tossed the towel into the hamper. Going over to the cupboard he gave it a quick scan before pulling out the all time finger food, Cheerios. Any toddler would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Grabbing a plastic bag from the drawer he took a handful of the cereal and filled the bag.

Putting the cereal back in the cupboard he knelt down and picked up the little boy who had been hanging onto his sweat pant covered leg the entire time. Naruto immediately grabbed the bag out of his hands and started chewing on the dry cereal. "Well I guess you like that," he muttered into the top of the boy's head giving him a soft kiss. "I'm gonna miss having you around" his eye softened as they walked back into the bedroom. Grabbing the small T-shirt and pants he set the boy down on the bed and they both stared each other down.

"So... can you dress yourself?" he asked staring into the blue eyes, a cheerio hit him square in the nose as a response. Kakashi laughed and walked over to his closet and grabbed a light blue t-shirt with a dc symbol on it and a pair of dark blue jeans with a studded belt. Slipping into his clothes he also pulled on a pair of black and white vans, turning back to the little boy he saw that he had dressed himself quite well, well except for the fact that his shirt was on backwards.

Grabbing Naruto he helped him turn the shirt round before swooping him up into the air. As he was lifted, so did his shirt and a black seal become apparent on his stomach, like a black scar against the smooth tan skin. Gently Kakashi settled the boy on his hip stared at him, a strange look on his face. This was the demon child? This tiny beam of sunshine carried a merciless monster deep inside of him? How could that even be possible with the way the boy smiled so contently up at him?

A pudgy hand came up to grasp the silvery locks and the man was forced to stare straight into the blue eyes. Something odd passed between the two as they stared at each other, nothing that could be explained by Kakashi later but when it did end suddenly the demon made no difference to him. Naruto was a child just like any other, well except that he was a hundred times cuter than any child he had ever seen but that really was nothing. A smile suddenly light his face and he hugged him closer, "Alright cutie let's go see the Hokage."

:::

She sat outside the office, contemplating the reason why all waiting rooms had such uncomfortable chairs. For the fourteen year old it was almost torture having to sit still and wait patiently for the two people to finally come out. With a long-suffering sigh she let her upper body drop over her crossed legs and her eyes closed for a few minutes. It was so boring, not that she wasn't terribly worried about Naruto, but she wanted to be out looking for him, doing something other than sitting and waiting. Without opening her eyes she slid of her jacket, somehow it had gotten extremely warm after the blizzard, she was pretty sure that the weather was going through pms, how else do you explain the mood swings?

Footsteps echoed down the hall but she was having too much fun pouting to really pay attention. That is until something gentle patted her on the head, making her glance up and become almost blinded by a shock of sunshine blond hair hanging right in her eyes. Sitting up sharply she pulled her body to the back of her chair and stared down at the grinning boy, it took about five seconds for it to sink un before she gave an excited yelp and grabbed him. Hugging him tightly she could barely sustain her sudden burst of excitement and jumped off the chair, spinning them both around.

Finally claming down she stopped in the middle of the room grinning happily, "Where have you been?" she asked breathlessly. Naruto simply laughed and clapped his hands; still hyper from the ride he had just gone on. Scanning the room, her eyes barely able to focus on anything she suddenly stopped on a tall man who was leaning against the wall smiling. Taking off from her current position she skidded to a stop in front of him and gave him a solemn serious look, "Are you the one?" she asked her head tilting towards the little boy in her arms.

The guy shrugged, "I guess so but it's more like he found me than anything else." his arms uncrossing so he could jam them into his pockets.

She pulled out a thousand watt smile, grabbed his forearm before he could react and pulled him towards the heavy wooden door. He really had no choice to follow as she burst through the door and three stunned faces jerked up to land on the intruders. It had been barely even half a second and the blue eyes light up with happiness "Daddy!" the fifteen year old was out of his chair before anyone could react and had pulled the boy into his arms. The chubby arms wrapped around his neck and refused to let go as the boy simply pressed him tightly to himself, kissing every inch of the boy his face was close to.

Iruka was on his knees, on the floor the only thing he was able to do was physically able, mentally capable of doing was holding onto the little boy with no intention of letting go for a long time. A deep sigh escaped from the women sitting in a chair and she let her head fall into her hands, tears flooding into her eyes, it was almost impossible to express her relief at the moment. Anko smiled softly and moved quietly out of the way and over to Kurenai, stopping next to her chair she slung an arm over the women's shoulder. The Hokage was seemingly unaffected by it, well of course he was glad to see Naruto back safe and sound, but it was as if he knew where he was all along. Well with all exceptions he aimed a rather mysterious smile at the three males still in the doorway.

He finally stood up, his eyes covered in a light sheen of moisture, looking up he meet Kakashi square in the eye and he knew without a doubt that he was the one who had cared for his son. His face changed to one of such graceful thankfulness that the silver-haired Jounin was in such a sense of deep awe at the transformation of the boy's face. It cast a strange magnetic pull making the darker skin glow; it wasn't even possible for him to imagine looking away from those melted brown eyes. "Thank you" his voice cracked as he tried to tell this man how grateful he was.

It was a completely gut reaction he couldn't help the arm that reached out and the hand the curled behind the boy's neck into the smooth dark hair, pulling him into his chest. He immediately molded to the older man's chest, his body shaking as sobs overcame his body, Kakashi's head rested softly on top of the soft wave of silk. He buried his nose into it, catching the slightest whiff of apples and vanilla, and the other arm came to wrap around his waist, his fingers kneading into the boy's lower back.

Kurenai almost giggled at the position the two were in but Anko quickly slapped a hand over her mouth. The girl tugged her out of the chair and she pulled her towards the second entrance, the Hokage following close behind. As the door closed, Iruka pulled back slightly, a light blush spreading across his cheeks, accentuating the long scar across his nose. "I'm sorry." he muttered his eyes staring down at his worn, scuffed tennis shoes.

Kakashi smiled and brought his hand out from behind his neck and tilted up the boy's chin so he could look once again at the beautiful eyes. "You feel like silk." he muttered touching their foreheads together. The light blush deepened into a deep rose color and Iruka hesitantly leaned forward the slightest. Suddenly two small hands appeared and grasped each boy's T-shirt, forcing them to look down at the pouting boy's face. Glancing up at each other, their eye's dancing merrily and then looking back down at Naruto they couldn't stop the laughter that bubbled up. Then each, one at a time, kissed the now giggling boy's forehead, extremely sorry for ignoring him so terribly.

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Well I hope that two chapter's helped, just a little, to make up for the extremely long period of waiting. I'm so sorry once again for making you wait this long I've got to pick up and run know I don't have much time left.

Thanks for all your wonderful reviews and patience!

Loves!!

"Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power,
After offence returning, to regain
Love once possess'd."

-John Milton