Iruka was tired. Iruka was hungry. Iruka had just had to explain to Hyuuga Hiashi that Hanabi had been caught using the Byukagen to look into the boys' changing room. In consequence of this and myriad other petty annoyances over the course of his day, Iruka was not in the best of moods.

And it was in this 'not best of moods' mood that he had once again felt the presence of the soon-to-be-the-late-in-more-ways-than-one Hatake Kakashi. And even though in the normal course of things he'd have ignored the jounin, he was tired. Tired of being chased by Kakashi when he was around and of chasing Kakashi's shadow when he was gone.

"You may as well come down here." I know you're there. I've known since the beginning. You've underestimated me, and it's going to cost you.

He'd pictured confronting Kakashi, but not when he was tired and hungry and had a splitting headache. The words… all the things he'd yelled in his head at the jounin in the past few weeks… were gone. Iruka sighed and rubbed the scar across the bridge of his nose. "I see you're back from the mission."

He glanced back up to see Kakashi-sensei about five feet from him, his visible eye half-lidded and impossible to read. One hand was held up in front of him in a gesture that may have been placating, while the other was shoved in his pocket.

"Yeah. We just got in. I imagine Naruto will be by for his usual free ramen once the swelling's gone down. I was just passing by when I noticed…"

"Swelling?" Iruka could feel his eyeballs twitch. "What happened?"

"Oh, it's nothing. They had a little encounter with a poisonous plant, but the rashes should be gone in a day or…"

"THEY? The whole team? You let Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura all get a rash from some poisonous foliage? You irresponsible, perverted, worst-excuse-for-a-jounin-sensei I have ever met! You shouldn't even be allowed near goldfish, let alone students!" Okay, it wasn't quite as reasonable sounding as what he'd been planning to say, but the gist was there.

By this point, Iruka was yelling so loudly that nearby pigeons suddenly decided there were safer palces to be, and departed en masse. So maybe that Hyuuga brat was right about the birds being freer than people. Certainly they were able to flee the scene in a way a certain silver-haired shinobi very much wished he could.

But no, Kakashi was trapped here, and as he stared at the object of his devotion and apparent imminent demise, he realised he regretted...

Very little. Given everything to do over, he'd still be a jounin of unquestioned skills and highly questionable morals. And he couldn't regret Iruka. Though he could regret that, since he was going to be killed by Iruka anyway, that he hadn't managed to get a kiss in there, somewhere. Or a grope.

Definitely at least a grope.

And there was that ten Genma owed him.

He stared mournfully at Iruka. Iruka stared furiously at him.

"Ah, my eternal rival!"

They both turned to stare amazedly at Maito Gai.

He continued, apparently oblivious to the slow, pointy, and very painful death showing in Iruka's eyes. "Kakashi-sensei, you have at last returned! I have spent my days training, and I will triumph in your latest challenge!"

Cue nice guy pose. Kakashi could have kissed him, except that... well, ew. Just... ew. Still, the unforeseen appearance of Gai-sensei meant he might just live to read the next Icha Icha volume.

"Ah, well... we should get going, Iruka-sensei. Fighting...and all that. You should get some rest, you look tired. Bye!"

And he was gone.

Gai vanished a few seconds later, fast on Kakashi's heels. Iruka knew he should have run after them, but he couldn't confront Kakashi-sensei with Gai-sensei there, and frankly... he was just tired. He'd rest, and tomorrow... tomorrow he would track down that silver-haired probably-gorgeous definitely-a-pain-in-the-ass jounin-sensei and deal with him. Preferably involving kunai and fingernails.

He stumbled into the house and sat down on the futon. Then he must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knew was the sound of knocking on his door.

Iruka opened it to find a take-out container full of something that smelled warm and delicious. His stomach rumbled in response, and he suddenly remembered how long it had been since he'd last eaten. He grabbed the container and took it back inside, slamming the door behind him. Luckily he'd performed the jutsus to check for poison or traps so often he could manage them on autopilot. The food was safe. Thank goodness. He was hungry enough that he'd probably have eaten it anyhow, provided the poison wasn't too lethal.

After he'd inhaled half the ramen, some hitherto dormant brain cells revived. Food was left on his doorstep late at night. By someone who knew he'd be hungry and too tired to cook. Who also knew some of Iruka's favourite foods. And wanted to remain anonymous. All of which equaled…

Okay, he'd thank Kakashi-sensei for the food and then he'd kill him. For pork ramen, he'd even consider making Kakashi's death marginally less painful.

He finished the ramen and was about to throw out the paper bag it had come in when he noticed something else at the bottom.

Green tea mochi.

Sigh. Now he'd have to let him live.

NOTICE: Momo-chan (Momo4), author of "Side Effects" has asked me to let people know that she's been kicked off this site. She will be posting future chapters of that and any other works under the penname "messypeaches" on mediaminer and adultfanfiction (dot) net. Or you can find her on the kakaxiru community on livejournal.

Thanks to everyone for reading, especially last chapter's reviewers Eudoxus, b-s, Noniechan, Ryals-Shoal, firedraygon, shi-chan, the highly intelligent XOQ, Seadragon, The Slashy Monster, Bomb-O-Maniac, Ika-chan, shake-it-buddy, Mako Red Eyes, Isolde1, Phishy Chan, Smoking Panda, Azamiko, Polka Dot, R.A. Ducko, meleth78, Renn, Rui Yazawa, Mariemaia1, Suke-san, ivybluesummers, faith b, driftingwanderer, Nezuko, paxnirvana, and anonymous.

And as ever, my lovely wonderful beta catspaw18.

There will likely be one, maybe two more chapters. Thanks for sticking with me, guys.

And if you want to kill me after this last chapter… I just had eye surgery. You wouldn't hurt a blind person, would you? (Seriously, I can barely see right now. I'm squinting at the screen and writing this author note through a combination of sheer force of will and years of typing classes. The rest of the chapter, of course, was written and beta'd earlier.)