A/N: My last two days of existence have been exceedingly awful. Suffice it to say that I managed to lose all my body heat and road rash is not fun. So, instead of giving into the temptation to write more of Pieces in this condition and expound Kakashi and Iruka's suffering more than I meant to, I'm going to write this. Fluffy, fun, and it actually has Team 7 in it! What, Reggie writing a Naruto fic with Naruto in it? Horror of horrors!
The Honor Guard
Kakashi set down the cup of tea he'd been holding, looking lazily at the three faces in front of him. The three faces stared back, the scowls on each face matching those next to it. It was almost cute, in a strangely frightening sort of way. Whatever reason they'd called him here must indeed have been serious to get Sasuke to match the other two in intensity.
"Maa, what can I do for you," Kakashi asked, smiling at them with his one eye. It made him nervous to close it on them when they were watching him so intently, and he seriously debated raising his forehead protector to keep an eye on them. Unfortunately, this would have been admitting how nervous they were making him, and he couldn't afford to do that.
"We've heard rumors," Sasuke began slowly glancing over at his teammates. Naruto's scowl deepened and Sakura's eyes narrowed. This couldn't be good.
"Rumors?" Kakashi asked, tilting his head.
"Yes," Sakura said, picking up where Sasuke left off. Her fists were trembling, and Kakashi could almost feel her longing to let the Inner-Sakura out to have her say. Her schizophrenia had never frightened him more. "We overheard Asuma-san talking to Kurenai-san."
Kakashi was tempted to tell them that eavesdropping was rude and they shouldn't do it, but they were ninja so that seemed pointless.
"They said you're going out with Iruka-sensei!" Naruto finally blurted, his face red with rage.
Dead silence followed that statement as Kakashi sat up a little straighter. He folded his hands in front of his face, frowning slightly. "So what if I am?"
More silence. From the slightly shocked look on Sasuke's face, though it was no doubt nowhere near the amount of surprise he felt, Kakashi gathered that the Uchiha hadn't expected him to affirm the rumors. Sakura looked caught between amusement and exasperation. Naruto just looked outraged.
Kakashi noticed a group of kids- Asuma and Kurenai's students, he realized- glance their way. A few more kids, these ones younger, gasped from the door. It was only then that Kakashi realized he was surrounded by Iruka's students- former and present. Damn.
"Why?" Sasuke's voice was even, his expression schooled back into calm indifference. Only a master of looking underneath the underneath, and Kakashi had all but invented that phrase so there, would have seen the cool anger direction his sensei's way. Not good.
Kakashi chose his answer very carefully, fully aware that the cafe full of preteens had him as it's collective center of attention. If he screwed this up, Iruka would hear about it and then he'd be in big trouble. Not, mind you, that he wasn't already. Iruka had kept insisting that their relationship be a secret because it would put Kakashi in danger if anyone found out. "Why not?"
He'd expect the usual responses. Because you're both male, because it's gross, because you're the Copy-nin…the list went on and on. He already had his response half-formed when Naruto's yell penetrated his mind.
"Because Iruka-sensei is too good for you, you lazy perverted bastard!"
Kakashi blinked; inwardly gaping that Naruto would say those things to his face. If the nods and whispers from around the room were any indication, it appeared the majority agreed with the blond.
Ouch. Even if he agreed, still an ouch.
Sakura gave Naruto a glare, but didn't hit him. That meant she agreed too, even if she thought he was being a little bit blunt. "What Naruto is trying to say is that Iruka-sensei is very dear to all of us."
"Damn right he is," Naruto huffed, giving Kakashi a look with enough killing intent to make his skin crawl. A part of Kakashi wondered how much of that look was the Kyuubi, feeling it owed Iruka for taking care of its vessel for so long.
"What makes you think he's not special to me too?" Kakashi admitted carefully. It certainly wouldn't help his reputation if he started spouting love ballads about Iruka to these kids, even if might help lessen the tension in the room somewhat. And Iruka would force-feed Kakashi his own testicles if he started making up songs about how good Iruka was in bed- no matter how true it was- to scare away these kids.
Sakura fidgeted, "well, no one is doubting that you…uh…have feelings for Iruka-sensei, Kakashi-sensei. We just need to make sure that they're the right kind of feelings because we reason to believe…"
"You made Iruka-sensei cry!" Came an outraged voice from the door that almost matched Naruto in pitch and intensity.
Kakashi turned to regard Iruka's newest student, Konohamaru, standing up with both his small fists clenched by his side. His two friends were trying to shush him, but to no avail.
It took a great deal of training, but the surprise of Konohamaru's accusation didn't show on his face. Kakashi searched his brain, trying to come up with something- anything- he could have done to upset Iruka in the last little while. He got nothing.
"Hurting Iruka-sensei is unforgivable!" Naruto said, slamming both fists on the table. The cafe owner gave him a look, but obviously didn't dare say anything in front of such a large and excitable group. "If you're just using him…"
He was actually insulted. It had been a long time since someone had managed to do that, and Kakashi fixed Naruto with a one-eyed glare. "How low do you think I am?"
Naruto backed down, a little. "Iruka-sensei is special. He cares a lot about people."
The us went unspoken, but it was there. So, they were aware that, even if Naruto was his favorite, Iruka had a special place in his heart for all of them. The ones assembled here in particular, Kakashi realized as he looked around. The social outcasts, the underdogs, and those that life had already broken. He could even see that Hyuuga boy, Guy's student, nodding in the back corner.
Iruka desperately wanted them all to succeed, to achieve their dreams whatever they were. He was glad they realized what a special person it took to do that.
Even if their realization put him in danger of the collective wrath of the younger generation of Konoha.
"Well, I care about Iruka-sensei."
"Then why did you make him cry?"
In spite of himself, Kakashi found his pout was evident in his voice as he said, "I didn't do it on purpose."
"What did you do?"
Kakashi shook his head slowly, "that's what I need you to tell me." He turned to Konohamaru, eyeing him darkly. "When did you see this?"
"This afternoon," the little boy said, trying to match his look with intensity. "During lunch. Ebisu-sensei wanted me to drop off a note to him, and he was sitting at his desk muttering about stupid late Jounin's and wiping his eyes."
The kids watched in mild fascination as Kakashi's eye widened almost comically large. He'd promised Iruka at least half a dozen times in the last three days that he would meet him for lunch on their three-month anniversary. Which he had completely forgotten. Oh. Shit.
He looked nervously around the room at the students who were now eyeing him in suspicion. He couldn't exactly race off to buy a present to apologize right that minute; they'd tear him to pieces. Even he couldn't possibly take them all on at once, and even if he could he doubted that hurting any of Iruka's precious students would help him get back in the Chuunin's good graces.
His genius mind was buzzing with possibilities, none of them the slightest bit helpful. Finally, he settled on the best lie he could think of. "I showed up later."
None of the students looked even remotely convinced, but they let it slide, for now. If the look that young Inuzuka boy was giving his was any indication, they'd be checking up on that story. Kakashi knew he'd have to get to Iruka first.
This just wasn't fair.
"If you ever hurt Iruka-sensei," Naruto growled in a rather vulpine way, "I will find a way to kick your ass."
It wasn't an idol threat, and though Kakashi would have normally laughed it off he found that he couldn't. Instead, he said seriously. "If I ever hurt him, Naruto, I'll personally allow you to do it."
Naruto nodded, satisfied, and the killing intent in the room faded slightly. They had picked up on his sincerity. Good.
"Now," Sakura said, standing and approaching him. Ino and Hinata seemed to take this as their signal and followed her. That wasn't good. "We need to solve the matter of what you're going to get Iruka-sensei to apologize for your behavior."
Definitely not good.
He very badly wanted to protest, to say he could do it himself and teleport away. He chakara sealing tag placed on his back made sure he never had a chance.
'Next time,' Kakashi told himself as the Kunoichi began to drag him away, 'I respect what Iruka says and not grope him in public. He was right about our relationship being dangerous for me!'