Title: After the Rains

Author: Bitter Eloquence

Pairings: Kakashi/Iruka

Notes: Brought upon by Crack Bunnies that were brought to life with the sudden realization I had that no one ever seems to use doors in Konoha in the Naruto Fandom.

Reviews: Please? I've got a closet full of Plot Bunnies that will chew through the wood in order to devour what is left of my sanity and brain.

Ye Olde Disclaimer: I'm not Japanese. I'm not rich. Do you really think I could have created something as kick ass as Naruto? I didn't think so. Please don't sue because all you'd get are my rabid plot bunnies and maybe a night shiny penny if you were lucky.

This couldn't be happening. This just couldn't fucking be possible! Still not believing his own hands or mind, Iruka furiously patted around his pockets once more in search of a familiar jangle of keys. He felt the weight of his wallet, the kunai in his pouch and the sharp prick of shuriken but no keys. And it wasn't like they were hard to find either! Considering the sheer amount of keys he had to hold as a teacher and one of the senior chuunin in the mission room, he knew it shouldn't be that bloody hard to find them.

But sure enough, they weren't there and Iruka was suddenly faced with an embarrassing situation. A wet and mortifying situation actually, because as the bemused and flabbergasted stood outside his firmly locked and secured apartment, the light drizzle that he been hounding him home decided that then was the perfect opportunity to start raining cats and dogs. The dark-haired man was soon adding wet and miserable to his ever-expanding list of things he was feeling. Annoyance was first and foremost on his mind however as he glared up at the pouring sky. In answer, the clouds were suddenly lit up bright for a moment as lightning flashed the sharp crack of thunder following.

Nope, Iruka was not a happy chuunin and with a growl, he started to slough through the curtain of rainwater falling off the roof of his building when he began to walk around, testing the windows as he went along. In a village filled with shinobi, it had never ceased to amaze Iruka how many of them left their windows unlocked or open. To the academy teacher, this had seemed downright foolish and idiotic. Why would you leave your windows open so that the enemy could slip in during the night to slit your throat? Well now, he was getting his answer. He didn't know what scared him more, the fact that people were so careless with securing their houses, or the fact that the elite ninjas of Konoha lost their keys enough that it warranted such precautions!

Having defied a certain slippery death by crawling along the drainpipe to get to his balcony, Iruka tried the doors there with a miserable and wet look on his face. Why hadn't he thought to carry his lock-picks with him today? It was certainly a set of tools that a shinobi could use, but unfortunately, Iruka was not used to being locked out of his own apartment and thus had never thought he'd need it on an everyday basis. By now, the dark-haired man was shivering and chilled to the bone thanks to the steadily falling deluge and he glared at door on his balcony which stubbornly remained locked despite the flash of temper in chocolate-brown depths. A string of curses fell from Iruka's lips then, words that no schoolteacher should know and he glared at the wall with helpless frustration. Where the hell could he have left his keys? Another helpless pat down of his pockets as that annoyed look of consternation filled the chuunin's face once more. It was…..embarrassing, dammit! What self-respecting ninja got locked out of their own apartment?

"This can't be happening….." Iruka groaned and reached up to grab the collar of his flak jacket. The worst part was, he couldn't exactly go ask someone for help because then he'd never hear the end of it! Dark eyes narrowed fractionally as he all but heard the gossip floating around the mission room the next day if it got out that he had locked himself out of his apartment and lost his keys. Oh, they would have a field day with that. Because Iruka; despite not being overly powerful or spectacular in anyway, was damned meticulous and observant about such things. Having to keep troublemakers like Naruto and now Konohamaru in check with an iron fist had given him eyes in the back of his head according to rumor and the ability to find just about anything from a lost kunai to a misplaced child on their field training. So the fact that he'd lost something as noisy and obvious as his keys was downright preposterous!

He really didn't have much of a choice, he could either find some place semi-dry to spend time in until the rains let up and wait for morning so he could search for the missing keys, or he could break out one of the windows. To a shinobi who took great pride in his abilities, no matter how limited and unspectacular they might be, the idea of breaking out the window to his own home just seemed….wrong. Iruka liked to think of himself as a rather levelheaded person for the most part. Sure, his students would tell a completely different story but that that didn't matter. No, he liked to think he was calm and rather collected for the most part but this was driving him nuts. Of course, the chill crawl of water down his spine that served as a bitter and taunting reminder of his current situation could have brought to mind just how utterly foolish this entire debacle was. Why did the Gods hate him? Whom had he pissed off in a former life to get this much bad luck in one night? He'd managed to all but run over Kakashi on the way home as he'd run through the rain. The fact that he'd forgotten his umbrella in the first place had left Iruka's mood sour and when the silver-haired Jounin had appeared out of nowhere, they'd both went sprawling into rain puddles.

Or rather, Iruka had ended up rump-first in a particularly chill puddle while Kakashi had been knocked back enough that he'd had to twist that lean form in an interesting manner to catch himself before he too joined to chuunin. That in itself should have proven to Iruka just how bad a turn his night was going to take. The papers he'd intended to take home to grade had gone flying and the smirking Kakashi had helped him gather them up. Over the past two years, they'd come to an….understanding. At first, Iruka'd had his doubts about the apathetic and rather lazy man and his lackadaisical teaching methods. Things had come to a head after Naruto had left to train for Jiraiya and Kakashi found himself without a team of gennin to train. The dark-haired man had wanted to blame Kakashi for Sasuke's seeming abandonment of their village and Naruto's leaving. Unfortunately, Iruka had been unable to draw up enough venom in his soul to truly blame the other man and they'd found an uneasy sort of balance between then in those first rough months.

They'd never been outright friends to say the least. Their personalities were simply too different really and it usually didn't take too long for Kakashi to say something in his bored tone of voice that just irked the fiery chuunin and Iruka would end up shouting at the silver-haired man. Oddly enough, Kaka

shi seemed to relish these outbursts of Iruka's, seemed to find them absolutely fascinating and he'd watch with the intensity of a raptor as the tanned man's skin grew hot and red with anger and embarrassment. It was something that Iruka just didn't understand but he'd never had the nerve or the presence of mind at the time to question the jounin on his odd behaviors. Not that Iruka could expect a strait answer out of Kakashi anyway. The man seemed to love his mystery almost as much as he enjoyed his Icha Icha Paradises series. Where Iruka could be almost obnoxiously polite for the most part, Kakashi was blunt in his reactions. The sardonic irony that colored Kakashi's voice at times was enough to set Iruka's teeth on end. Because no matter what, the man always seemed to know just what buttons to push to get the most desired reaction out of Iruka…usually an explosive one.

People who first met Iruka thought the polite and well-mannered chuunin to be a kind and almost meekly quiet person. People who truly knew Iruka knew that beneath that thin façade of affability lurked a quick temper and a loudly sharp voice that could strike fear in the bravest of students and some adults. Kakashi seemed to take great enjoyment in watching Iruka flare-up, grow flustered or just simply start tripping over his own words and feet in in the face of the jounin's teasing. No, to be truthful, Kakashi wasn't Iruka's favorite person despite the pleasant times they were capable of spending together. Was it even possible to spend half your time absolutely fascinated by another person only to spend the rest of the time fighting the urge to strangle said person with their own forehead protector? Even tonight, Kakashi had been all smiles and teasing words as he helped the flustered chuunin gather his paperwork. Sure, Kakashi could have just glared and walked on, but instead he'd knelt down in the muddy water along with Iruka to grab soggy and ruined paperwork. Kakashi was just like that however, odd and unpredictable. And dear Gods could the man get on his nerves! Almost as much as not being able to find his keys because all Iruka wanted to do right now was crawl into a shower and warm up for the next hour or so. It had been a long and tiring day and now he had to deal with this wet and coldly soggy problem.

Could this night get any worse? Truly, all that could make things worse was to have someone like Kaka-

"Having some problems, Iruka-sensei?" Drawled that all too familiar voice that had shivers of dread crawling up Iruka's spine as he looked heavenward. The look he sent towards the rain-choked sky was downright dirty and disgusted as he wondered once more just who he'd pissed off to get this….graced….with luck tonight.

"I was kidding about that part…" He muttered under his breath before turning to Kakashi. A forcibly cheerful smile curved his lips as he faced the jounin. It was a bit hard to appear cool and collected when one was soaked like a drowned rat but Iruka tried to pull it off all the same. "Hmmmn? Problems, Kakashi-sensei?" The chuunin asked innocently as he managed to scrounge up a smile that would have had his students twitching with uncertain dread. He always used this smile whenever he was skirting the edge of doing something really nasty and evil to them. Sufficing to say, Naruto had seen that expression more times then he cared to think of.

"Yeah, you looked like you were having some problems." Kakashi's one visible dark eye peered intently at Iruka as his eyebrow disappeared from view beneath his forehead protector. Ignoring the chill rain running down the edges of his umbrella, the Jounin was perched comfortably on the rail of Iruka's balcony with all the indolent grace of a cat. "Did you lock yourself out?" A slight flinch, a minor twitch betrayed the chuunin to the laughing jounin's obvious amusement as that masked man watched him intently. "Nasty night to do that too… how long have you been out here?" Dammit….there went any hope he had of trying to keep things quiet. Not that Kakashi was exactly known for being particularly open and revealing with his secrets.

"I umn…." What the hell was he supposed to say? Sure, he could try to lie to the jounin but that wouldn't fly very well at all so with a sigh and a long-suffering look, Iruka rubbed at his temple with a muffled groan. "I don't know where I lost my keys I'm afraid. I've looked all over the place but they're just not here."

Kakashi tsked softy and shook his head. "You've looked around the school? Maybe you left them there?" A slight shake of Iruka's head shot that idea right out of mid-air.

"No, because I was the last one in the mission room today and I locked up. So I know I had it when I left school."

"Where all did you go on the way home then?" A spark lit in Iruka's eyes then as he realized he had made on stop on the way home when the rain had gotten especially hard earlier.

"I stopped at Ichiraku for dinner, maybe it's there. Thanks, Kakashi-sensei!" All but trembling with anticipation, of course, it was probably cold; Iruka vaulted the rail of his balcony and jumped the distance to the front pathway with a lot more energy now. A disgusted look was given to the now ruined and sodden paperwork resting in the doorway and Iruka just left it. The rain continued to pelt down on his head as he walked towards Ichiraku but it didn't feel as cold now that he had a small sliver of hope. There was a chance he just might get a hot shower sometime tonight and that make Iruka a happy boy, dammit! There wasn't even an indication or a whisper of chakra as Kakashi appeared at his side with all the silence of a ghost or death itself. Iruka fought back a small jolt at the sudden presence of the jounin pressing so close and invading his personal space. Kakashi was all but glued to his side with a cheerful smile then as the jounin grinned happily down at the younger man. Iruka dully noted that the rain had stopped pouring on his head and he glanced up to see Kakashi's umbrella protecting them both from the downpour.

"I thought you'd gotten wet enough for one night. Shall we?" Iruka wanted to asked Kakashi just why he was doing this, but then remembered he'd have about as much luck at getting a strait answer out of the man as Sasuke'd had trying to pretend his league of fan girls didn't exist. Another long-suffering sigh and Iruka nodded. Kakashi just grinned happily once more and continued to walk all but glued to Iruka's side. In his mind, tonight couldn't get much better. He was sharing an umbrella with a deliciously rumpled looking Iruka, the person who'd he'd admittedly had his eye not so secretly on for a while. One would think the chuunin would have noticed already but Kakashi had decided that for such an intelligent and bright person, Iruka could be downright oblivious to some things. Oh well, that just gave him freer reign to get away with some of the things he wanted to do. While he couldn't exactly molest him in public…..yet….Kakashi settled for pressing his shoulder and chest into Iruka's back as they walked through the wet streets of Konoha.

"……thank you." Iruka's grudging reply could be heard as he hunched his shoulders defensively and fought to keep that smile on his face, this truly wasn't his night. Of course, considering his current mood, it was damned hard to look at the night in a positive light. It's not easy to pretend like you were not wet, cold and just generally miserable. And admitting that he was just wasn't an option when it came to Kakashi. The Copy-nin had always made Iruka feel like he was…lacking. How could this plain and utterly unspectacular chuunin ever hope to even compete in the eyes of the genius who'd graduated at five and become a jounin before Iruka himself had even gained gennin status? Kakashi was simply out of his league and he knew it. That was why he fought back the shivers trying to overcome his body as they walked towards the familiar light of Ichiraku. Pride could be a damned bitch when it wanted to be.

"You okay, Iruka-sensei? You look like your lips are going to turn blue." Kakashi peered at him with something that might have been a bland sort of concern on that masked face.

"N…No I'm fine, thank you. Let's go see if I left my keys here." And abandoning the umbrella's protection, Iruka sprinted the last few yards to reach the ramen stand. As the flaps shifted and moved, the old man behind the counter looked up with a weary look on his face. He'd been preparing to close up considering the rains and the ache in his bones. Upon seeing Iruka there however, his expression lightened just a bit and he offered an apologetic smile.

"Back already, Iruka-sensei? I'm afraid I just closed up for the night…." Iruka shook his head, displacing droplets of rain then as he rubbed the back of his head in an embarrassment.

"Oh no, I'm not here for ramen. I was wondering if you'd found a set of keys laying around somewhere. They've got a little plastic keychain in the shape of a bowl of ramen on them." Iruka could feel a flush creep across his cheeks then as he admitted to that and the stifled choke of laughter from behind him told him that Kakashi had heard that as well.

"No I don't remember that I'm afraid. Sorry, Iruka-sensei." A small shrug as the man tried to keep an amused look from crossing his face as well and with a sigh, Iruka bowed and inclined his head.

"I'm sorry for taking up your time, thank you very much." Ever polite and mannered, Iruka smiled faintly and slipped out of the stand to see that amused look gleaming brightly in Kakashi's dark eyes. "What?" He grumbled in a defensive tone of voice and the jounin just shook his head and grabbed his arm to tug him back under the umbrella.

"Nothing. Come on, let's get you out of this mess. There's not much more we can do tonight anyway." He wanted desperately to tease Iruka about the ramen bowl of a keychain on his missing key-ring but he'd save that for later. Then, without really waiting for a reply from the chuunin, he began walking towards his apartment, his grip on Iruka's forearm never loosening.

Nope, this just wasn't Iruka's night. But he allowed himself to get drug along all the same considering Kakashi was the one with the umbrella.

Oh well…it wasn't like Iruka's night could get any worse……