Iruka had a sense of foreboding all day. Well, it was either foreboding or mild indigestion, ninja suffered from both on a regular enough basis, making it easy to get them confused. After all, both involved an uneasy feeling in one's stomach and the knowledge that unpleasantness lay ahead.
…like the fact that treating Naruto to dinner again would mean foregoing lunch for the rest of the week.
"…an' we've been stuck on poster duty ALL week! I'm starting to miss walking dogs!" Naruto complained, midway between his second and third bowl.
"Poster duty?" Iruka asked, confused. He was still on his first bowl.
"That's what Sasuke-bastard calls it." Naruto paused to inhale a third of the noodles. "Basically, we take down the posters, an' then Fuzzy Brows' team puts 'em back up, and then we take 'em down…"
This was getting ridiculous.
"We haven't even SEEN Kakashi-sensei for a week, he just sent one of his dogs to tell us to keep takin' 'em down, 'cause the one time he did show up this crowd of people showed up too, and they were SCARY, so he went 'Poof' an' got away, and eventually they got sick of waiting around for him to come back an' they left." The rest of the noodles vanished. "An' then Sasuke-bastard smirked and said something about it bein' nice to see someone else have to deal with idiot fangirls. And then Sakura-chan said how he didn't mean her, of course, an' he said she was annoying and I told her she should go out with me 'cause he's such a bastard, and that's how I got the black eye…"
Well, it was nice to see some things remained constant.
Still… apparently the entire village was going insane. More than usual. This was like that time someone in R&D had accidentally released that experimental compound into the groundwater… but he was sworn to never speak of that week again.
The night was comfortably cool with a light breeze, so Iruka opened the windows when he got home. Luckily it was a little too early in the year to worry about bugs yet. He then made himself comfortable on the couch with a book and a mug of tea and settled in for a nice quiet evening that had nothing to do with Hatake "Apparently too sexy for my own good" Kakashi.
And when the cat rubbed against his legs, he thought nothing of setting his cup on the floor so it could curl up next to him.
Then he remembered that he did not, in fact, have a cat.
Iruka jumped up, managing to both not spill his almost empty teacup or disturb the cat, who merely looked up at him with sleepy mismatched eyes.
"Kakashi! Drop that henge immediately!"
Suddenly, instead of a grey cat filling a small section of the couch, a jounin lay sprawled out over the entire length of the sofa.
"Kaka.." and then Iruka remembered that in light of recent events it was probably a bad idea to yell 'Kakashi' anywhere in the village, and lowered his voice so that the neighbors couldn't hear. "Kakashi-sensei. What the hell are you doing in my house at this hour, and why the hell were you curled up on my sofa as a cat?"
Kakashi looked far too relaxed, laying there on his sofa. "Well, one…" he held up a finger, "I needed to talk to you in private. And two…" he held up another finger. Since he was still horizontal, the fingers were parallel to the floor. "Your couch is very comfortable."
Iruka took a deep breath. "Move over." He waited until Kakashi sat up and moved over to the left of the couch, then sat down on the right. "What did you need to see me about, Kakashi-sensei?"
"Maa… I need to ask you for a favour."
"Oh?" Iruka couldn't have been more surprised.
"I need you to pretend to be dating me."
No, no, wait, he could be.
"I need you to pretend to date me. So Gai'll get off my back. And the… others'll leave me alone."
"I…see…" Iruka said, thoughtful.
"Please? You have to help me. I can't do my job, and I can't train my team, and the flyers…" Kakashi shuddered, a light ripple passing through his frame. "I just want to be left alone." He looked at Iruka, a pleading expression in his visible eye.
"That's all?" Kakashi asked, surprised. "I don't have to use my line about it being for the good of Konoha?"
"Well, if it'd make you feel better, go ahead."
"You'd be doing me… it… for the good of Konoha."
"Better?" Iruka said, having waited half a minute to make sure that that was, in fact, the entirety of the line.
"Yeah, thanks." Kakashi looked as though a giant load had been lifted from him. His shoulders bent from their 'carrying heavy psychological burden' position back into his usual 'nonchalant slouch' position. "Seriously, though, you sure?"
"Are you trying to talk me out of it now?" Iruka asked, crossing his arms. "You're right, you can't teach Team Seven if this keeps up, and it's been hell at the mission room lately dealing with your admirers. If this will help things get back to normal in Konoha I'm all for it."
"Oh. Well then. Okay." Kakashi seemed slightly dazed and more than a little uncomfortable now that that was settled. "Well, it should only be for a little while, anyway." He said, as much to himself as to Iruka.
"But won't everything start back up once Gai finds out you're single again?"
"I'm hoping that if we wait 'til Gai has found someone, she'll be keeping him busy enough that he won't have time to bother with me again."
"So it'll just be until Gai finds someone." Iruka nodded. "Alright. Show up after the academy gets out tomorrow and we'll discuss details. Right now I've got a headache."
"So soon in our relationship and you're already getting headaches at night, Iruka-sensei?" Kakashi asked with a hint of teasing, acting much more like what seemed to be his usual self.
Iruka gave him a Look. "Goodnight, Kakashi-sensei."
AN: Apparently writing that last chapter (and getting those lovely reviews) got the muses working again… love to all my readers.
This chapter is dedicated to all those with whom I have Fangirled in the Night.