Author: Carcinya (Isolde1 on fanfiction(dot)net)
Author E-mail:
Category: Angst/Romance
Keywords: 25 themes, cold, snow
Rating: G
Spoilers: None.
Summary: If Kakashi were dead, Iruka would know. Written for the "25 themes challenge". KakaIru
Disclaimer: This story is based on situations and characters created and owned by Masashi Kishimoto, various publishers including but not limited to TV Tokyo. No money is being made and no copyright infringement intended.

Now, now, people. If Naruto was mine, do you really think I'd be sitting at my computer, sipping bad coffee, and writing bad fanfiction? Honestly.

Author's notes: I apologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistake there might be in this story. I am French, and still only learning the beautiful language that is English. Any comments are welcome, but obviously flames will be used to roast marshmallows. Or flamers. Yummy.

I was feeling extremely cold when I wrote that, so ... Awfully sappy. facepalms

To Kiasca.

Theme chosen: #16 Winter/cold/snow. (1403 words)

On the first day, when he was told Kakashi went missing in action, Iruka laughed.

It was a sunny day of winter, cold and bright, that told of summers long gone and snow to come, of memories past and auspicious future.

He told them Kakashi was not dead -- could not be dead.

Because if Kakashi were dead, Iruka would know.


Days came and went. Every night, after work, Iruka would stand in front of the main gates, waiting for Kakashi to return, until someone -- Naruto, Kurenai, Raido, and sometimes even the Hokage -- took his hand and coaxed him back inside, shivering, blue-violet lips a stark contrast against unnaturally pale skin.

They said it was understandable. He had suffered so much already, poor thing. Though why Kakashi's death would affect him so was beyond them -- they had not even been close!

Denial, they whispered.

And they looked at him with affection and concern.

In their eyes, Iruka read pity, and laughed.

But Iruka pitied them.

Iruka was not sad, Iruka did not cry.

Because if Kakashi were dead, Iruka would know.


On the seventh day, Iruka yelled.

He yelled with all his might, like a wounded beast, till his voice broke and he was left on his knees shaking with frustrated rage.

The ANBU Squad sent to retrieve Kakashi had come back at last. One of them handed Tsunade a tattered, bloodied book and a metal tag engraved with an all too familiar name.

That night, Iruka stubbornly took his usual place in front of the huge oak doors.

When the Hokage herself threatened to drag back him inside forcefully, he simply looked at her, and said nothing.

She sighed and left him.

As ice cold wind howled past him, Iruka stood at the gate, all night long, frozen snow gleaming eerily in the chill moonlight.

Iruka waited, his resolve unwavering.

Because if Kakashi were dead, Iruka would know.

Yes, Iruka would know for sure.


On the fifteenth day, Iruka bled.

The Hokage had decided to hold a funeral service for Hatake Kakashi. They had never found his body, but Tsunade decided it was time to move on.

Iruka refused to attend. He sat on a nearby rooftop, where he knew snatches of the funeral would waft up to him.

That day, Iruka almost despaired.

To keep himself from crying, he drew a kunai across the tender flesh of his left palm.

Blood flowed and splattered on the snow-covered tiles like tears he could not shed.

That night, at the gates, Iruka's cold hand pulsed with hot, sharp pain as he stared into the night, body shuddering, teeth chattering, waiting.

Iruka waited till dawn rose at last, and bathed Konoha in soft, tentative light.

Because if Kakashi were dead, Iruka would know.

Wouldn't he?


On the thirtieth day, Iruka cried.

He was teaching Konohamaru's class when Kakashi walked through the gates, a little worse for wear but very much alive. Yet when Raido opened the wood-and-glass door of the classroom, Iruka understood and left without a word, without a backward glance, without a thought to his responsibilities or to his students.

He ran all the way from the Academy to the Hokage's office, jumping across frosty roofs, heedless of the cold. He had forgotten to put on his flak jacket, and the idea of donning a coat, a scarf, or gloves, did not even cross his mind.

When he barged into the large room and saw a familiar, silver-haired shape slouching next to the other Jounins, cheering and chuckling, Tsunade's calm smile and Asuma's throaty laughter, Iruka released a breath he did not know he had been holding.

All heads whirled around at his less than graceful entrance, but Iruka was only dimly aware of the other ninjas and the Hokage staring at him, his fevered gaze riveted on a certain Copy Ninja, his mind blocking all coherent thoughts, all but one.

Kakashi was not dead.

"Iruka-sensei," the Jounin acknowledged with a nod, looking faintly bored. "Something wrong?"

When Kakashi's eyes narrowed, Iruka realized he had started crying.

Kakashi was not dead.

Iruka was not so sure about himself, though.

Unable to speak, he stood shivering in the doorway, dark eyes ridiculously wide, tears running and freezing on his ice cold cheeks.

He had never felt so cold in his whole life.

Iruka turned around and fled.


The same day, Iruka found he could not stop crying.

Torn between absolute, heartwarming joy and dark, chilling despair, he sobbed until he had nothing left to give. Then he lied there motionless, on his back, in the soft, glacial snow, the sky overhead an achingly pure shade of blue.

"You're going to freeze yourself to death," said a voice, somewhat gruffly.

Iruka glimpsed Kakashi's masked face hovering above his, and closed his eyes.

"What do you want, Kakashi-sensei?" he asked, tiredly. Uttering those few simple words strained his over-chapped lips, cracking the frail, parched skin. He licked the blood off with the tip of his tongue, idly, welcoming the coppery tang that invaded his mouth.

"Kurenai told me what you did while I was away."

"I did many things," Iruka said simply. "None of which involving you."

"That's not what I've been told."

"Well, too bad."

"You've been waiting for me every night at the gates. Why?"

"I knew you'd come back."

"Everybody thought me dead."

Iruka opened his eyes before answering, voice clear and distinct, without an hint of hesitation:

"I didn't."


Slowly, feeling numb, Iruka sat up. The snow prickled the skin of his hands almost painfully, the wound on his palm echoing the dull ache in his chest. He stared at the sky, a soft smile gracing his features.

"If you had been killed, I would have known."

Iruka felt rather than heard Kakashi's sharp intake of breath.

Suddenly, the Chuunin started chuckling - a bleak, broken laugh that wanted to sound merry and careless but failed miserably, the edge of raw pain all too visible under the strained mirth.

"They thought I was mad, but I was right," Iruka whispered fiercely. "You did come back."

Just not to me, he thought and kept for himself.

Some things were perhaps even more potent when left unsaid.

He started when Kakashi's warm fingertips brushed lightly against his chill skin.

"You're cold," the Jounin stated smartly.

"Does it matter?" Iruka whispered, to no one in particular.

"I am cold as well," Kakashi murmured, cupping Iruka's cheek.

"Your hands are warm," came the listless reply.

"I am cold," Kakashi repeated, very slowly, "Inside."

Iruka seemed to consider that.

"Is that an apology?"

Kakashi's hand had yet to leave his cheek, thumb lightly caressing the end of Iruka's distinctive scar.

"If you wish it to be."

When Iruka did not answer, Kakashi leaned forward and shook his shoulders lightly. The Chuunin's eyes were half-closed and completely unfocused, his lips a disturbing shade of blue.

Cursing under his breath, the Jounin unzipped his flak jacket with one hand and drew Iruka against his chest with the other. He barely managed to stifle a hiss of surprise -- he had not realized just how chilled Iruka was.

"You're nearly frozen ..."

He rubbed Iruka's back vigorously and held him close, masked cheek resting against snow-wet, dark, lush hair.

"So are you," Iruka reminded him, weakly, "Inside ..."

The Jounin said nothing, still attempting to get some warmth back into the Chuunin's body.

"You frigging idiot ... nearly got yourself killed ..." went on Iruka's slurred voice.

Kakashi frowned.

"Iruka-sensei ..."

"... 'twas so cold without you ..."

Kakashi sighed when it dawned upon him that the Chuunin was delirious. Then he tilted up Iruka's chin and kissed him through his mask, hoping to silence him somewhat.

"Hush, now," he ordered, gazing into Iruka's brown eyes. The young man grew a faint dusting of pink across his cheeks, and looked down.

"You twit," Iruka whispered without resentment, snuggling closer, "I love you ..."

This time it was Kakashi's turn to blush. And he did, turning an odd shade of crimson, especially when he realized Iruka was not expecting an answer. He wondered what that told about them.

Face nestled against warm cloth, wrapped in Kakashi's arms and basking in the rich, spicy scent that was typically his, Iruka did not feel the cold anymore.

On the thirtieth day, Iruka smiled.

Okay, so I can't write angst to save my life. Review anyway?