Summary: YAOI, Rated M for language, and future scenes.( If you don't know what YAOI means, turn around and run away now. I will not take flames from anyone who is disgusted by this. You've been warned. If you don't like it, go away. Otherwise, hopefully you'll enjoy.)
Slightly AU, Kakashi is set to take care of Iruka after a mission gone bad. Things go from bad to worse when he realizes he is freshly poisoned, almost entirely helpless, and in the care of a man whom the only conversation he'd ever had with was a shouting contest in front of half of Konoha's elite.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, setting, or original plot to the anime series Naruto. Apparently according to some law or another, I don't even own my own fanfiction. Therefore Masashi Kishimoto is now the owner of more boyXboy lovin' and possibly several pages worth of future smut that he probably does not want. Oops.
"Iruka Sensei!" A chorus of hushed protests were made to silence Naruto as he skidded into the recovery room, stopped not by the angry hisses of the various medical staff and his companion, but by the still form on the stretcher in the corner. Blue eyes opened wide, and Naruto's jaw dropped, a voiceless sound of dismay whispering past his lips. "Sens-" A wide hand on his shoulder startled Naruto. He glanced back at his companion then hurried over to his former Sensei's side.
Iruka lay still and quiet, breathing evenly as he slept, shrouded in white hospital blankets. /One mission…/ That was all it had taken. Naruto knew perfectly well that Iruka hadn't been on any missions in far too long…
"It isn't fair…" Naruto growled through grit teeth. Iruka was alive, would live but he shouldn't have been sent out in the first place. On the bed at Naruto's hip, Iruka shifted from his sleep, letting out a low groan, eyelids fluttering. "Iruka Sensei!" Naruto leapt foreword, instantly throwing his arms around the prone man's chest, hugging him fiercely, either ignoring or not noticing the mans' grunt of protest.
"Aah… N-Naruto!" Were Iruka's first words as he returned to the land of the waking. He felt like hell. His body ached and felt weak and shaky. He could feel the bright hospital lights pouring down over his aching eyelids and didn't dare open his eyes. He didn't need to look to know it was Naruto clinging to his sore chest. Naruto's body was yanked away from his quickly, and Iruka had to assume someone had physically pulled the boy from him. He didn't mind too much. His body hurt, and while Naruto's affections were sweet, they weren't making him feel all that swell at the moment.
"Iruka-Sensei!" Naruto yelled again. Iruka heard someone hiss at the volume of his voice.
"Shh!" The low warning sound wasn't enough for Iruka to judge the voice, though.
"Naruto…be gentle, please…" Iruka croaked.
"Are you okay, Iruka-Sensei?" Naruto asked, voice edgy but definitely quieter. "What happened…!" Iruka grunted tiredly.
"Uh… poisoned… feel like crap… 'll be fine though…just…sore…" Iruka lifted a tawny arm to cover his eyes. They hurt the most. He felt Naruto's boyishly small hand clasp his.
"Anou… Why won't you open your eyes, Iruka-Sensei?" Naruto asked softly. Iruka sighed.
"Eyes hurt. Don't want to." They'd been bandaged until that morning, and Iruka was certain there was a reason for that, as well. He'd been told why…but at the moment, he just can't bring himself to remember…
"Iruka-Sensei…" Naruto whined. "Please…just look at me…? I'm worried…If it was poison…" Aah, to be young and ignorant of the horrors of the world again, Iruka mused. Well, if it would reassure the boy that he was indeed fine, then he could bear the pain of bright light in his eyes for a few moments. He turned, opening his eyes, but they wouldn't focus properly, and he blinked. He did open them, right? He knew he was facing Naruto, maybe even nearly nose to nose with the boy -he could feel Naruto's breath on his cheek, but he couldn't see him. Not his eyes, or that brilliant golden hair that could be seen for miles. Iruka couldn't see.
"A-ah!" Naruto lunged backwards with a frightened gasp, shaking the bed. Iruka blinked a few more times, eyes darting, but still they wouldn't focus on anything. "Aah! Iruka-S-sensei! Wh-what--!" Naruto sounded truly terrified, and Iruka instinctively clamped his eyes shut again, turning his face away, feeling the threat of tears in his throat.
"Don't react that way," Came a low voice somewhere near where Naruto had scrambled over to. Iruka couldn't see it, but the blond was staring at him with horror-filled eyes.
"What-What's wrong with his eyes?" Naruto choked. It was about that time that Iruka remembered, realized… He gasped softly, going cold, and opened his mouth to say something when Naruto was answered by that same low, calm voice.
"He's blind, Naruto."
"What!" Iruka could hear tears in Naruto's voice.
"It must have been the poison…" Iruka, having been listening despite his distress, nodded. "Naruto… He's still the same old Iruka-Sensei… you don't have to look like that. His eyes look strange because the cells have died in them…" The cool explanation both hurt and encouraged Iruka. He didn't want Naruto to be afraid of him. He'd seen people with blind eyes before, oddly out of focus, faded in color and milky. It was an unnerving sight. He felt his throat close. He didn't want to look that way…Didn't want other people to look at him the way he'd looked at others-trying to hide the mixed fear and fascination.
"Aah!" The flustered shriek startled Iruka, as well as Naruto and his companion. "What are you two doing here!"
"Tusnade-baba!" Naruto wailed. "Iruka-sensei's eyes are all messed up! How could you let that happen! FIX IT!" Iruka sighed sadly. Tsunade let out a frustrated sigh.
"Naruto-Kun, if there were some way of saving his eyesight I would have done so before it was ever a problem!" She barked. Iruka winced. "Now move it. I need to check on Iruka-kun, seems how you've woken him up." Tsunade stepped past Naruto, to stand over Iruka, still prone in bed. She reached out with uncharacteristic gentleness to touch his wrist. Iruka jumped, startled but the sudden touch but quickly relaxed and Tsunade's wise hands began to glide over him, checking his pulse, blood pressure, breathing. "I know you're uncomfortable, Iruka-kun, but I do need you to open your eyes again." She said, voice apologetic. Iruka frowned and screwed his eyes up tighter. Tsunade sighed. "Okay. One at a time or I'm going to peel them open myself, got it?" Iruka cracked one eye open. He tried to turn his gaze in her direction, but ended up staring blankly a few degrees past her right shoulder. Behind Tsunade, Naruto backed away a few steps. Iruka tried to relax as she examined his eye, focusing on the soft, sweet scent of her perfume instead. "Tell me…can you see anything?" She asked.
"All I see is white, Hokage-Sama." Iruka said, choking on bitter resentment. Tsunade raised an eyebrow.
"White?" She also smiled but Iruka saw none of this. He jumped again when she cupped a hand over his open eye.
"Black." Iruka answered, not entirely understanding why she sounded so pleased that all he could manage was the barest sensation of light and dark.
"Wonderful. Other eye, please, Iruka-kun." Iruka obeyed. "How about now?"
Iruka's two visitors huddled in a corner, listening and watching carefully. To an outsider, it was a bizarre scene. Tsunade covered Iruka's second eye with her hand.
"Excellent. It seems, Iruka, that you haven't completely lost your eyesight. I know it doesn't seem like much now, but you're still picking up on shades of light and dark. It doesn't help you now, but in the future, as you become accustomed to your condition, you may find you can see more than you thought you could." Iruka frowned.
"So there's nothing you can do?" He asked, voice hoarse. His head hurt.
"No. I can't fix your eyes, Iruka. I'm sorry. I have reason to believe, however, that with time and a little extra training, you could resume your life as a ninja and a teacher as soon as one year from now."
"What do you mean? They'll get better?"
"No. You'll be blind for the rest of your life, Iruka-kun. What I mean is you hold the mental and spiritual capacity to overcome this handicap in due time." Iruka sighed. Tsunade was truly smoothing over one of his greatest fears, but at the moment he wasn't feeling very hopeful. Unconsciously, he kept one eye open and staring blindly slightly off-center as Tsunade moved away.
"The blind are often known-" Came a low, male voice from behind Tsunade, "to develop extraordinary senses of smell, taste…touch… Incredible hearing… even sometimes a strange sixth sense, in order to make up for their lack of sight. Ninjutsu can take you a long way into all of those categories." Tsunade nodded before realizing again that the gesture couldn't be seen.
"These will come naturally with time. For now at least, I imagine we'll have to entrust you into the care of another until you adjust. You certainly can't, nor likely want, to stay here in the hospital, am I right?"
"Well, I never really appreciated the décor but I can't see that anymore so it doesn't really matter." Iruka said dryly. He was trying to place that soft voice in the corner. He wondered if Naruto was still in the room. If he was, he was unnaturally quiet. Tsunade gave a small snort.
"Well, in any event, you get to go home today." She said. Iruka heard the shuffle of heeled shoes as Tsunade turned away form him. "Would you be able to watch after him? Help him adjust? I imagine you may have a few gifts of knowledge to impart on Iruka that could be of some help to him." Iruka's blind eyes darted as he tried to focus in on the second person in the room. He frowned.
"I'm here." Naruto said, voice small. He was on the other side of the room from him, and it didn't seem like he was going to move.
"Hey, don't stand there like that." Said the man. Iruka was beginning to hone in on his voice now. A grunt and the shuffling of tangled feet and then steady steps brought Naruto to Iruka's bedside. Iruka reached out blindly, and Naruto's fingertips met his.
"I'm sorry I scared you, Naruto-kun." Iruka said softly. Naruto nodded, then remembered Iruka couldn't see him.
"It's okay…" He said, bending down to hug Iruka again, face buried into his collarbone firmly. "I'm sorry I wasn't braver." Iruka had to laugh just a little as he brought one hand up to thread his fingers through the boy's hair lovingly.
"I can't say I blame you, though. It can't be pretty." Iruka's voice cracked and both he and Naruto winced.
"Don't mourn for him, Naruto." Iruka mentally swallowed his surprise as he finally pegged the voice, now much closer to him. "Iruka-Sensei will be back to his old self in no time…"
"But Tsunade-Obaa-Chan said his eyes--"
"He'll overcome that, Naruto. Iruka-San here is a lot stronger than he lets everyone believe." Iruka frowned. The last time he'd spoken to Kakashi, it had been before the last Chuunin Exam, and the elite certainly hadn't been complimenting his strength then.
"Are you my so-called caretaker then, Kakashi-San?" Iruka said, voice tinged with ice. There was a long pause.
"Yes." Kakashi said quietly.
"Hokage-Sama?" Iruka asked.
"I'm still here, Iruka." Tsunade answered.
"Is there no other?" He asked. Naruto, still sprawled with his face against Iruka's chest, sat up, shocked. "Someone I know? Who knows me?" Iruka added to try and soften the question. Someone who doesn't hate me? He added mentally, but was careful not to say it. Not with Naruto there.
"Iruka Sensei!" Naruto grabbed one of his hands.
"I have my reasons, Iruka." Tsunade said firmly.
"I assure you, Iruka-san, that I will not let you just rot in a corner, if that's what concerns you." Kakashi said flatly. Iruka nodded but said no more. He was tired, he was hurting, he was honestly scared out of his wits, and now he was left in the hands of someone he was variably certain hated him.
Kakashi moved into the silence, and gave Naruto's shoulder a tap. Iruka could feel the reverberations of the touch through the boy's body into his.
"Come on, Naruto. Out you go." Naruto pulled away from Iruka's body reluctantly, keeping a hand clasped around one of his. "He's going to be okay now, Naruto." Kakashi went on softly. "You don't have to worry about him. For now, I need to get him home and settled…"
"You can come visit me tomorrow, Naruto…" Iruka added softly.
"O-okay…" Naruto's exit could be heard by the soft footsteps and creak of the door before it shut quietly. Iruka sighed heavily.
"Do you even know where I live?" Iruka asked Kakashi after a moment. The Jounin smiled, but the sharp crescent of his eye went unseen.
"Yes, I do actually. Thank Naruto." Kakashi said cheerily. Iruka grunted.
"Then maybe you could go and get him some fresh clothes." Tsunade said. "The ones he came in are no longer wearable." Iruka blushed despite himself. That's the one thing he truly hated about coming into the hospital after a mission.
They always take your clothes away.
"Ma…we'll let Iruka choose his own clothes."
"I'm not going home naked, Kakashi!" Iruka sat up indignantly, but instantly regretted it, sinking weakly back onto the bed. Concern crossed Kakashi's face.
"Your system is still fried." He observed.
"Yeah…" Iruka turned his head uselessly away from Kakashi. He gasped sharply, jumping as Kakashi's hands tucked up under his shoulder suddenly. The man moved silently, and all the abrupt touches were really beginning to bother Iruka.
"Relax." Kakashi said softly as he sat Iruka up, supporting him with one hand, and working at the sheets with the other. Not fully understanding, Iruka hissed, clutching the sheets around his hips.
"I'm trying to wrap you up, Iruka, not expose you. Relax." Kakashi repeated. Iruka tried to relax, but couldn't really muster it. He managed to stop fighting the other man though. Iruka felt himself being cocooned in hospital sheets by careful hands, and then easily hoisted clean out of the bed. He yelped, arms flailing until they landed on either of Kakashi's shoulders. Kakashi held him easily, giving a small snort right into Iruka's ear. He jumped again. "You sure are jumpy…" He observed. Iruka sobered, going still and frowning. His eyes had opened in his struggles, but he hadn't noticed yet. They were staring fixedly at about Kakashi's left ear.
"I can't tell what's going on, Kakashi…" Iruka said plaintively. His hands were fisting unconsciously into Kakashi's vest.
"I know. I know. I'm sorry." Kakashi said. "I'm taking you home now. Don't worry." Iruka nodded into Kakashi's shoulder, noting how the man's hands shifted under his back for a moment. There was a pop, a whirl of air, and suddenly the hospital smells and sounds were gone, replaced by fresher, cooler air. "We're outside your apartment… Number two-two-seven, right?" Kakashi said. Iruka nodded.
"Yeah. Should be unlocked…" Kakashi might have nodded, Iruka wasn't entirely sure, but he heard the familiar click of his front door as Kakashi moved again.
The air inside of Iruka's apartment was warm and a little stale smelling, but it was definitely home, and Iruka relaxed considerably. Kakashi didn't put him down, but kept moving carefully through his home, finally pausing. The familiar scent of home grew stronger and Iruka squirmed in Kakashi's grip.
"This is my room…" He said softly.
"You could tell?" Kakashi asked, not quite letting Iruka down from his grip yet.
"By the smell." Iruka confirmed.
"Good." Kakashi said, sounding almost, it seemed, like a proud father. He moved a little further into the room, and paused again. "I'm going to put you down on your bed for a moment to find you some clothes…" Kakashi informed. "Listen to me. I won't mask my presence at all around you, but I'm not going to be excessively noisy, either." Iruka nodded, but was only half-listening to him at the moment. He was tired, even from the short trip home. His life had taken an incredibly wretched turn in less than an hour, and he was feeling worse for wear. Kakashi could see the fatigue in the way Iruka sat, upright but hunched, eyes half open and hazy, even in their blindness.
Deciding he'd better just hurry up and make his ward comfortable, Kakashi stood, at a loss for a moment. On one side of the room, resided what was obviously a closet, and on the complete opposite side, a large dresser. He wasn't sure which to go to in order to find clothes. He had a closet, a couple of bookshelves, a nightstand, and a bed. End of story. This complex stuff was a little confusing. Making a decision, he headed towards the closet.
"Wrong way." Iruka said flatly. Kakashi stopped mid-step, turning to look at the dark-haired man, sitting cross-legged on the bed with the hospital sheets still bunched around his hips. Iruka had his eyes consciously closed again, and was facing Kakashi, but held his right arm out, pointing directly away form Kakashi, towards the dresser. He grinned widely under his mask at Iruka before changing directions. Iruka dropped his arm. "Just a pair of sweatpants from the second drawer…" Iruka said softly. "..please." He sputtered in distress a few moments later when Kakashi tossed the softest pair of sweats he could find straight at Iruka. They landed with a soft thumph over his head, startling him quite badly. He jumped considerably, arms flailing, a strained noise of dismay slipping from parted lips. "A-ah!" Belatedly, Kakashi realized that probably wasn't the nicest thing to do, and felt rather sorry. "Why'd you do that!" Iruka demanded, sounding hurt. Kakashi winced.
"Sorry. Forgot." He muttered.
"How could you forget!"
"I'm sorry!" Kakashi repeated, louder, feeling defensive after being snapped at.
"Well, get your sorry self out of my room so I can get dressed in privacy, then!" Iruka was already struggling to crawl to his feet, and keep the blankets wrapped around his waist, and hold onto the sweat pants at the same time. He did fine with that, but as soon as he reached the full upright position, he swayed dangerously, trembling. He rocked on his heels, and failed to regain his balance, and was going down.
Kakashi was with him in a heart beat, scooping his arms around Iruka's middle, supporting the slightly smaller man from behind. Iruka flinched at the touch.
"Easy there…" Kakashi said softly, taking the sweatpants from Iruka's grip and letting him focus on just holding the sheet up. Iruka tried to squirm out of his grip, gasping slightly, but Kakashi held on. "No…Look… I know you're embarrassed, and I know you're pissed at me, but you're also freshly poisoned and it won't go over well with the Hokage if I let you turf it in the first ten minutes I'm with you…" Kakashi said softly. Iruka stiffened against him, still struggling, a soft growl escaping his throat.
"You're looking paler than a ghost, Iruka." Kakashi observed.
"Well, I wouldn't know that, now would I?" Iruka demanded bitterly, waving a hand in front of his own eyes.
"That's why I'm telling you. Now let me help you."
"You just want a few easy kicks, you perverted prick." Iruka growled when Kakashi tried to take the sheet away. Kakashi was sincerely shocked.
"Don't think I don't know how you are. I know you think I'd assume I'm safe because we're both men, but I know better." Iruka hissed, tugging away from Kakashi, successfully staggering a few feet out of his reach.
"What the hell?" Kakashi spat. "I don't know what you're thinking, but I can assure you I would get no such kicks from molesting a convalescent, which you still are even if you are out of the hospital." Iruka managed to glare right at him, probably from practice. Kakashi threw up his hands in a useless gesture of surrender. "Fine! Whatever!" He threw the pants back at Iruka, who managed to sort of half-catch them after they'd struck him in the chest. "You wobble around all you want. I'll be waiting in the hallway." He said, already turned away from the Chuunin and heading for the door. He made sure that Iruka would be able to hear his foot falls, as well as the bedroom door slamming shut.
Stunned, pissed off, and feeling like crap inside and out, Iruka gave a irritated snort as he finally dropped the sheets, and began fumbling by brail to find the waistband of what he suspected might be his favorite pair of sweats. It took a moment, but he finally got them to rights, found the front side, and did his best to steady himself long enough to get one leg off the floor and into the pants.
The second his left foot rose from the floor, Iruka pitched backwards and crashed to the floor with a loud thud and a pained yelp. Lying on the floor, alone in his own darkness, Iruka had the presence of mind to reflect that he was lucky he didn't hit his head on anything other than the carpeted floor itself. He had, however, lost track of his sweats in the process. Sitting up shakily, he tried to cast about to find them, but almost immediately was overtaken by a wave of dizziness, and had to sink back onto his back again, panting.
Sprawled naked on the floor, blind and weaker than he'd thought, Iruka scrubbed angrily at his face with both hands before resigning himself to his fate.
"…Kakashi?" He didn't think he'd said the name loud enough for the man to hear through the door, but then again, Kakashi had likely been alerted to Iruka's problem by the sound of his body hitting the floor a few minutes earlier. Either way, the sound of his bedroom door clicking at the latch, then brushing over the soft carpet signaled Kakashi's presence. Iruka braced himself for some smart-assed quip about the situation, but Kakashi didn't say a word as he walked over to Iruka's side, kneeling by his shoulder and carefully propping him into a sitting position. Iruka felt one of Kakashi's knees press gently between his shoulder blades, supporting him, and heard the slight shuffling of fabric as he grabbed the troublesome sweats.
"Pull your knees up." Kakashi instructed softly. Iruka obeyed without a word, and he felt the brush of warm, fuzzy cotton slide under the soles of his feet, then upwards to envelope his legs. Kakashi did his best to be as inoffensive as possible as he helped Iruka into his clothes, not objecting when Iruka's hands brushed his away from the elastic waistband when it passed his knees. He instead put more attention to supporting the other man while Iruka pulled the pants on the rest of the way. Even that little effort was exhausting, forcing Iruka to sag against Kakashi's supporting hands. Kakashi sighed. "Do you need a shirt?" He asked.
"No," Iruka answered, equally subdued. "I just want to go to bed…" Kakashi nodded, then remembered that it was another useless gesture with Iruka.
"Alright. I'm going to let you sleep for a while, but then I'm waking you up for food…" A small pause. "Ah…any requests?" Iruka's head swiveled around to face Kakashi, but his eyes remained closed.
"Huh?" Kakashi gave a small, wry snort as he shifted his weight onto his heels so he could scoop Iruka up off the floor and carry him the short distance to the bed. Iruka didn't make a fuss over being carried this time.
"What do you want for dinner?" Kakashi repeated, helping Iruka find his way under the covers.
"Aspirin." Iruka answered dryly. "My head hurts. A lot."
"Yeaah…that may be the case for a while…" Kakashi lamented softly. "Anyway, besides that, what do you want?" Iruka shrugged. He realized somewhere in the back of his mind that Kakashi sounded as if he were trying to make up, but was too tired and cranky to accept that notion.
"Just…food. I don't care." Iruka said despondently. Kakashi sighed again.
"Alright. Well, rest up-" He tucked the covers around Iruka a little more firmly for emphasis. "-and I'll get you some aspirin. Once you're asleep, I'm going to go out for a little bit, but I won't be gone long, so sit tight if you wake up and I'm not here, okay?" Iruka nodded again, already sinking under the covers. He turned away from Kakashi, letting himself relax into pre-sleep haziness. Just before passing out completely from exhaustion, Iruka wondered at the brief brush of Kakashi's hand over his shoulder as the Jounin stood to leave.
AN: Whoo. Haven't posted a fic in a while...I have a lot to say, too. (heh, sorry)
1: This fic, if you haven't already noticed, is a little heavier than a lot of the smushy mushy stuff I write (though I still stand strong when I say there is NOTHING wrong with fluff ).
2: This one is important: I am not blind myself, nor do I know anyone who is blind, so, if anyone out there is the wiser, and I get something wrong, for some reason, or I insult someone, or whatever, please tell me. Just do it nicely. This is fiction. I'm a nice person who likes other nice people, so please don't go anal retentive on me. That said, the REASON I've chosen to write this fic, is a shift of focus. I had someone point out to me not too long ago that of all the five/six senses that the average person posesses, I focused almost exclusively on sight, smell and touch. I'm hoping, in taking one of these senses away from my arsenal, I can focus more on some of the aspects of the world that I normally would, primarily sound. I'm quite intentionally avoiding visual discrptions and using sound or smells or touch in it's place whenever the focus of the story is on Iruka. (which is most of the time) So, that in mind, constructive critism/ advice is more than welcome in this category as well. :)
3. I think I mentioned this briefly in the summary, but this fic is SLIGHTLY AU... I've seen the anime up to episode 146, read the manga up to ch. 269 and I know there are a few things I'm sort of ignoring coughSasukecough (shrugs) Artistic license.
4.For those of you who like it a little weird (minor shota)and YAOI, I have a NarutoxIruka fanfic that I am posting only on my deviantart page (if you go to my profile page, you can link to my devart page through my website link) and find it there. That fic is my baby and I'm very proud of it, go read it and review, please:)