This is a small fic I wanted to write to wish Happy Holidays to all the KakaIru lovers of the world and my few faithful readers (I do hope I have some!). Of course, like all the other fanfics I write, it grew bigger and took more time to write than I had initially planned. So here's the first part of the fanfic, finally. I'm sorry I couldn't finish it earlier.

Oh, and it's unbetaed, so it's probably full of mistakes. I hope you understand

For those who might wonder, I haven't dropped my other projects and I'm planning to correct and continue Clueless teachersas soon as this fanfic is finished. As for Bathhouse revelations, I sent it to my beta reader 3 weeks ago, so we can all hope it'll be corrected soon now that the Holidays are finally over.

Please leave me comments, I love to hear from you guys!

I hope you will enjoy this fanfic and Happy belated Holidays to all of you!


PART I

Sour looks at the diner table

Iruka was watching his reflexion in the mirror, irresolute. Should he wear the scarlet pullover Naruto gave him last year or his gray jumper? He sighed at his reflexion, feeling annoyed at his own indecisiveness. Why did he care so much anyway? It was only the Hokage New Year party, afterall. There was no point making such a fuss about his clothing!

Every year, the Hokage threw a New Year Eve party for all the nins of drinking age who didn't have any relatives left to spend the New Year Eve with. Of course, the official reason of that gathering was to allow those nins not to spend the New year eve alone and have some fun together. But everybody knew that party was more to force them to leave their peaceful isolation and socialize at least once a year, since they were all obligedto come. And of course it was a good occasion for the Godaime to get drunk, even though she wouldn't admit it.

Unfortunately for Iruka, he was one of those family-less ninjas who were forced every year to attend to the Hokage's party. The brown-haired chuunin sighed at the thought. Truth being told, it was a rather nice party - or at least that's what the most sociable of them liked to say afterward. Iruka wouldn't know, since he was not a party person. He enjoyed quietness: he spent too much time around young hyperactive ninja wannabes to actually seek the cheerfulness and the turbulence of those activities. Plus, he didn't like drinking much. The last time he had a drink must have been, what, 7 years ago? He couldn't tell and he honestly didn't care. People liked to say that he was boring and, to some point, Iruka openly agreed with them: he liked watching the moon for hours, drinking tea and knitting, for God's sake. He was not the kind of guy you wanted to go out with on Friday nights and he knew it pretty well. It didn't stop his colleagues from inviting him drinking almost every week though, although Iruka doubted they invited him more to try to get him drunk that because they appreciated his company.

The chuunin finally settled for the scarlet pullover and put away his gray sweater. Should he let his hair down for the occasion? Would it be appropriated? Ohhh, what did it change anyway? It wasn't necessary for him to go out of his way just for a stupid party. Anyway, he would leave around nine o'clock, before the noise got too loud, as he did every year.

God, he hated those forced parties.

Plus, he would be there.

Hatake Kakashi.

Actually, that party probably wouldn't be so bad if he wouldn't be there, even though Iruka usually hardly saw him in all those people. He had met with Hatake Kakashi one year and half ago at the official chuunin exam meeting and since then, their relation had been rather... cold. Well, "cold" wasn't exactly the best term to use, since Iruka hated the Copy nin with true passion. He couldn't phantom why, but he couldn't stand the guy at all.

It was showing 4:40 p.m. on his kitchen clock. The diner was supposed to start at 5:15, but it usually never started before 5:35, due to some's lateness. Just to be sure to be there on time, he should be on his way. Iruka sighed once again in a defeated way and gave his reflexion a last apathetic look. This sure was to be a very long evening this year once again.

--

"Hey! Iruka-kun!" Iruka heard the Hokage roar happily when he entered the party room, a huge rectangular room of the Hokage tower decorated for the occasion and already milling with people. The blonde woman quickly made her way to him and hugged him with enthusiasm, almost breaking his rib cage with her inhuman strength.

"Happy New Year Iruka-kun!"

"Happy New Year to you as well, Hokage-sama," Iruka replied politely in a choked breath, noticing as he spoke that the Godaime seemed to be already slightly tipsy. Before he could say anything else, the said woman noticed someone else coming in, unceremoniously let him down to Iruka's relief and was on her way to greet them, roaring another name.

Yup, definitely tipsy.

Iruka entered further in the room and made his way to the three long diner tables, exchanging handshakes and new year wishes with acquaintances he ran into. When he finally arrived to the tables, he took a seat as far as possible from the commotion and waited for the diner to start, people chatting and laughing loudly around him. As the minutes passed by, more and more people filled the room, and Iruka found himself contemplating how the number of famililess-nins sadly seemed to increase every year. He noticed Kakashi-sensei wasn't there, which didn't truly surprise him from what he heard from Naruto about the guy. He hoped he wouldn't meet with him...

"Hey, Iruka!" He heard someone call his name from behind him and turned around to see his long time purple-haired friend Anko. Before he could greet her back, she was already sitting right beside him and mildly reprimanding him.

"What are you doing there, isolating yourself like that! It's a party goddammit, at least try to look like you're having fun!"

"Happy New Year to you as well, Anko."

Many people avoided Anko because of her infamous past and her strange habits and tastes. Sure enough, she could be quite frightening when she wanted to - which meant most of the time. But in fact, the only peculiar thing about her was her somewhat sadist taste for scaring the shit out of people. Exept for that, she was a normal, if not a bit harsh and unpredictable person. And, strangely enough for a former traitor, someone you could count on when it mattered. She wasn't exactly Iruka's best buddy - thank God - but they appreciated each other a lot, even though their tastes and personalities somewhat clashed together.

"Ahh, don't give me that Happy New Year crap! I'm already tired of hearing it," the woman grumbled under her breath, her eyes drifting to the entrance of the room, where the Hokage could be seen smashing yet another clueless nin's bones in her famous New Year Eve death hug.

"'Diner's not even served and she's already smashed," Anko commented on an amused tone. "It shows Shizune's not there tonight."

"That explains everything," Iruka laughed softly.

"Just wait, she's gonna be quite a sight in a few hours' time! Ahh, but I was forgetting you always leave before the real fun even starts," the purple-haired woman shot him a sardonic side glance.

"You know me far too well." She silently stared at him for a while and Iruke suddenly felt anxious. That couldn't be good...

"It's decided," she announced finally, hitting the table loudly with her fist, "I'm so gonna get you drunk tonight!"

Yup, that was the Anko he knew and loved.

"Sorry, I don't trust you enough to drink anything coming from you," Iruka answered with a smirk, receiving a small punch on the arm from his friend.

"I'd love to see that as well," Kurenai said as she joined them and sat herself in front of Iruka, Asuma sitting with two of his friends on her right.

"Kurenai! It sure's been a while!" Anko roared, suddenly directing her attention toward the red-eyed woman. They both got up to shake hands with the newcomers and wish them a Happy new year. Iruka inwardly thanked God for Anko's incredibly short attention span as both woman rapidly started to chat together with enthusiasm as they all sat down. Of course, the brown-haired chuunin doubted Kurenai's arrival had been enough to make her forget about her promise to make him drink, but one could still hope.

Slowly, people started to sit down at the huge table, chatting and laughing loudly among themselves. Iruka found himself once again absent-mindely searching through the crowd for a silver-haired head, but he saw none. Why wasn't he there already? The diner was about to start! Didn't he have any respect for anyone?

"Iruka? Hey, Iruka!" The said man snapped off his daydream and turned his head toward Anko, who was giving him a weird look.

"What's up with you?" she asked him with mild concern.

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Don't play dumb Iruka, there's something wrong with you. All of a sudden, your face turned so bitter I could've sworn you would bite someone, goddammit!"

"Heh? Is that so?" the chuunin was a bit surprised. Him, bitter? Where did she imagine that? Anko was about to add something when her attention was once again directed toward something else.

"Oh my f-cking God, Hell must've frozen over! You're on time!" the purple-haired woman howled at someone coming toward them. Iruka turned around to find himself face to face with the silver-haired head he had been previously looking for. He felt his heart suddenly tighten painfully in his chest with surprise and his whole body stiffen at the sight of the dreaded Copy nin standing on the other side of the table.

What the hell was he doing there?!

"Maa, I woke up early today. Sorry," Kakashi excused himself happily as he sat down in front of Anko, to Iruka's utter horror. "I promise it won't happen again."

"I'm sure that's a promise you're able to keep," Asuma teased him as he got up to greet him properly. As Kurenai and Asuma exchanged the traditional New Year wishes and handshakes with the Copy nin, the brown-haired chuunin felt his jaw clench painfully. Then it was Anko's turn to shake hands with Kakashi from across the table. When they finished exchanging their wishes, Kakashi turned around toward Iruka, who had stayed seated all the time, and paused. Almost hesitantly, he slowly drew his right hand toward the chuunin.

"…Iruka-sensei," he simply said to greet the younger man. Teeth clenched, Iruka gave him a sour look.

"Kakashi-sensei," he replied on a glacial tone, staring at the other man straight in the eyes. The warm atmosphere turned cold instantly as a heavy silence installed itself in their small group, everyone staring uneasily at the two men. Kakashi blinked at Iruka and, never breaking the eye contact, he slowly lowered his arm, a blank expression plastered on the visible part of his masked face.

"I-Iruka-sensei, how are the children at the academy?" Kurenai hastily tried to distract Iruka. Almost at the same time, Anko asked something to Kakashi and the tension slowly decreased as both men started to discuss with their interlocutors. Iruka was truly glad for the distraction, which allowed him to pretend the silver-haired jounin on his right didn't actually exist and ignore him. They didn't talk for a long time though because Hokage soon got up from her sit and loudly requested silence. When she finally got all the nins taking place at the huge tables to shut up, she made a small speech about the joy of spending the New Year together and some other things Iruka listened to absently, too distracted by the presence of the Copy nin to be able to focus.

Before he even knew it, people around him were politely applauding at Tsunade's little speech and steaming plates filled with mouth-watering meals were brought to the table. Everybody around the brown-haired chuunin started eating in a convivial atmosphere, but Iruka didn't have the heart to it. Sure enough, Kurenai and Anko did great efforts to try to cheer him up, but every time he heard Kakashi's voice or got a glimpse of him on the corner of his eyes, he felt his teeth clench painfully and his guts grow cold for some unexplainable reason. How he hated that man! Just knowing he was so close to him was making his food taste bad... During all that time, Iruka could see Anko stealing mildly concerned glances at him, as if he was suffering of a strange desease or something and it was bothering him.

As people had finished eating and started to get up to grab their first drink of the night at the small bar at the other end of the room, Iruka excused himself and headed for the bathroom. The chuunin entered the bathroom and slowly closed the door behind him, leaning heavily against it as he let out a sigh. That was really is luck. Really. Having to spend the diner with Kakashi-sensei, of all people. And acting like a total immature jerk in front of his friends, too.

Oh, it wasn't as if he could control it anyway. When it came to Hatake Kakashi, he completely lost the control over himself. Him, one of the most serious and controlled guys of the village!

The worst part of it was that Kakashi-sensei actually had done nothing to deserve such a cold treatment and Iruka knew it. He even tried to be nice with him… once or twice. If he wouldn't hate him so much, Iruka would probably feel bad about it. But that guy was too… too… too unnerving to deserve his pity! And it wasn't like he cared anyway about him, a lowly chuunin who acted toward him with the maturity of a 5 year old… Like something like that could affect him!

Iruka wasn't sure if he was feeling guilty, down or more enraged by that. Growling after himself, he banged his head again the door and slowly let his body slide down the small cabin door until he found himself sitting on the floor, miserable and boiling with unexplainable bitterness toward a man he almost didn't know.

Outside the bathroom, Iruka could feel Anko's presence, waiting patiently for him to get out and sighed. This sure was to be a very long evening…

To be continued