Warning: OOC, weirdness, sexual references and foul language. Now with added fluff, angst and sexual content. Any misspellings or wrong grammar is unintentional. I am my own beta. I could have missed some stuff.
I do not own Naruto.
This is the final chapter - so sorry for the delay (please read A/N at the bottom)
Iruka found himself staring dumbly at the message, wondering if it was Kotetsu sick way of joking and messing around with his friends (Iruka remembered how Kotetsu designed a program during their graduate-school years that randomly sent cryptic messages to all his contacts while he went away on vacation). Unmoving and uncomprehending, Iruka remained in his seat, heart hammering in his chest. Normally, he would have ignored such a message and maybe on a good day, he would have laughed it off. But as his mind reminded him of how nervous Kotetsu sounded the last time he spoke (and saw) him and how he was threatened by a phone call, Iruka couldn't find it in himself to laugh.
"He's been snooping around too much. He's been snooping around too much. He got what's coming for him. I warned him about this. That fucking retard." Iruka mumbled to himself, staring at the message in front of his screen. Paranoia was starting to settle in his mind as he started nervously tapping his pen against the keyboard of his laptop. "Find him, find him. Find him, find him. Find me, he says. Find me." Iruka flung the pen across the room, watching it bounce off Kakashi's headboard and roll under his own bed.
Iruka jumped to his feet and started looking around the room for the missing MD. He looked through Kakashi's drawers and closet as well, and even went through the bathroom cupboard just in case he missed something. Iruka was beyond paranoia and panic by the time the room looked like a thunderstorm just passed through it. Frustration and fear for his friend was getting the better of him and he was no longer thinking logically or straight. He paced the room, thinking of everything Kotetsu had said and done in the past few days that may help him in any way in knowing what was within the MD disk.
The sound of keys jingling made Iruka whirl and jump to his computer, pressing a quick keyboard shortcut to close the message that was lying wide open for the world to see. He turned and started picking up his fallen stack of papers and folders from the floor.
Kakashi walked in silent and didn't close the door until Iruka could feel his eyes on his back, curious and wondering. "What the hell happened here?"
"I lost my project MD. I panicked and what you see is the result." Iruka said, wondering why it was suddenly so easy to lie.
"And you decided that maybe turning our room in to a circus would help you find that?"
"I panicked." Iruka repeated, sorting his desk out before moving to pick up and fold the clothes that littered the floor.
Kakashi sighed and stepped in to the room completely, shutting the door behind him and dropping his bag on the floor (that wasn't littered with something from the room). He shrugged his jacket off and draped it over Iruka's head board. Iruka felt a cool hand touch the base of his spine, warm lips placing a quick kiss on his temple. Iruka looked over his shoulder at Kakashi's tired and worried expression.
"You okay?" Kakashi asked.
Iruka blinked and nodded, lying again. "Fine. I'll just look for my back-up copy back home. Or lock myself up somewhere and re-do all the things I've done in several months within a few weeks."
"You'll be fine." Kakashi kissed his temple again, the kiss lingering and far gentler than the first. "I'm here to help, you know?"
Iruka stared at the hand rubbing at his navel area, Kakashi's pinky finger hooking in to his navel ring as the fingers continued to dance over his flesh .Thanks. But the whole point of the thesis is to do it myself."
"I know, but that doesn't mean I won't offer my help if my beloved needs it, even if he won't ask for it." Kakashi nuzzled Iruka's neck, kissing his cheek this time.
"Thanks." Iruka said softly, slumping in the middle of the room in his kneeling position as Kakashi spooned him from behind. The shirt he was folding lay limp on his lap as his fingers fisted on the fabric lightly. "How was your day?"
"Boring. Slow, tiring. Was helping out at the engineering department earlier, sorting through old and used computer hard-disks." Iruka stared blankly at the wall in front of him, partially-listening. "Two trucks full. Their assignment is to turn every single one of those fucked up pieces in to fine working ones."
"Must have been rough on you."
"Nah, I've got my little angel right here to kiss it all better for me." Kakashi chuckled, nuzzling his cheek.
Iruka wasn't sure why he felt rather sad at that particular moment as he tugged Kakashi down to kiss him fully, pulling the larger frame over his own as his back hit the floor. Normally, Iruka wouldn't initiate sex himself unless he was feeling playful or wanted to put on a show for his lover. But at that moment, he just wanted to feel that their relationship was a somewhat solid one and that the thoughts circling in his head was nothing more than mere paranoia.
Besides, didn't Kakashi promise not to lie to me anyway?
At the simple train of thought, Iruka pressed his lips further up against Kakashi's, resulting in their teeth clacking against each other and their lips bruising faster than it should. Iruka knew that his short nails were scraping down skin that it shouldn't be able too and he knew that the hiss Kakashi gave out wasn't that of pleasure but of pain. Iruka was beyond caring as desperation filled him and his paranoia was channeled out of his hands and teeth as he bit and scratched viciously down Kakashi's back while he grinded his hips against the pale man.
Kakashi remained wordless through out, only kissing back when he wasn't hissing and wincing in pain. Iruka didn't bother staying quiet as Kakashi moved in and out of him like an enraged animal. He kept his face down on the floor and his backside up in the air, meeting Kakashi's thrusts with his own just as hard.
The first round wasn't satisfying for Iruka, nor was the second or third. By the time Kakashi was too tired to even move from the bed (they moved up to Kakashi's bed halfway through the second round to use the wall as support), Iruka remained motionless on his side, Kakashi's spooned against him from behind and his soft dick pressed up against his inner thigh, very light snores and breaths hitting the top of his head. Iruka didn't move from his spot until half an hour passed. He continued with arranging the room and cleaning himself up from their fuck-session (he couldn't even think of it as love-making since there was no 'love' in the whole act - he didn't feel it that night).
A good two hours later, Iruka was gone from the room, note taped to the door, bags packed and envelopes with excuse letters in hand to drop in to his instructors' pigeon hole.
The first thing Iruka noticed when he entered the small study of his apartment was that there was something odd and off about the place. He doubted it was the thick layer of dust on the floor or the cobwebs that seemed to have accumulated in the small room over time. There were several misplaced things in the room that he remembered moving whenever he came to pick up old research documents he did through graduate-school so he doubted it was the clutter either. Iruka knew that the off-feeling chewing at the back of his head was never going to stay quiet until he figured out what started it.
The spider webs were also starting to really piss him off.
At the unholy hour of four AM in the morning, Iruka began emptying the room, taking great care in checking everything and trying to figure out exactly what 'off' about the place. Even as he dusted, mopped and aired the room out while the first few morning rays filtered through the glass window, he still couldn't find anything missing in his study. Somewhere between putting back his books, folders and endless stack of MDs and CDs (arranged by date) back to its proper shelves, Iruka had fallen asleep against the wall on the floor cushion he kept in his study.
It was the sound of someone drilling a hole in asphalt outside (road construction) that finally startled him awake a few hours later when the sun was pouring its burning heat through the glass window. Iruka wasn't just cranky as he sat up from his sleeping spot feeling as stiff as a rock and continued putting his things back in to place - he was royally pissed. He stopped his task of putting his things back to grab a shower and nice filling brunch from the bakery a block down his road.
Only when he was satisfied and full (along with a short catnap) did Iruka continue with putting his things back in to his study with absolutely no luck in locating whatever it was that was 'off' about the room. As he sat down and started wiring his computers back in to place (he was a proud of owner of five very good systems), he accidentally knocked his hand against one of the CPUs, causing several screws to fall loose and the casing cover to shake.
"What the bloody hell - that idiot!" Iruka cursed, getting on his knees on the floor and quickly gathering the loose screws in his hand. The lid was loose and wasn't even properly put on (or screwed on). Iruka had to struggle with the metal casing just to take it off so he can slip it in properly and refasten the screws.
Iruka managed to jerk the lid off and swore rather brightly (one that would have made Kakashi really proud) and gave the inner CPU a quick glance. He noticed immediately the foreign harddrive that was inserted (in the wrong direction) in one the slots and he swore loudly (brighter than the previous one). He cursed Kotetsu for his clumsiness and his lack of care in handling things that really wasn't his to begin with.
Iruka was about to toss the offending piece of hardware before his eye caught sight of the brand - ITI. Iruka was pretty sure that all the hardisks he owned was never ITI; he always preferred to use SITI over the lot. He eyed the piece of hardware more closely, noticing Kotetsu's initials at one side of hardware.
"What the hell is this doing here?" Iruka mumbled to himself. He remembered Kotetsu wanting to borrow one of his hardisks but he didn't say anything about leaving his own in Iruka's computer.
Eyes narrowing, Iruka inserted Kotetsu's hardisk in to his empty slot and powered up all his systems, drawing the blinds partially closed. He booted up the system and quickly accessed the contents of Kotetsu's hardisk, eyes narrowing and blinking rapidly as folder after folder loaded in his screen. He waited for ten minutes before his screen blacked out and a familiar logo appeared in front of him, a window popping open with a list of encrypted files waiting to be view flashed before Iruka's eyes.
Iruka was pretty sure he forgot to breathe as realization dawned in his head.
Kotetsu knew something was going to happen to him and he left one of the two people he can solely trust the key to finding his whereabouts.
Iruka knew he had a long night ahead of him.
The files - mildly putting it - shocked him.
There were bank transactions, scripts of telephone and cell phone conversations (some that were too private; Iruka doubted that he'd ever look at the elders that ran the ministry of foreign affairs the same way again), copies of emails (both private and business), mails, bills, medical records and so many more that it made Iruka dizzy with wonder at just how a group of 'ghosts' can have so much information (including one's sexual preference and the type of medicines they took if any) about a bunch of people that didn't seem to have a common link with each other.
The database was so big and had so much information that Iruka was torn between what to read first. The night went by and over a hundred foreign names (along with too much personal detail) went over his head; he still had no clue what Kotetsu wanted him to find. He knew perfectly well that he had to work quickly; his instincts were telling him that Kotetsu was alive somewhere.
He never usually trusted his own instinct but this time, he had no other choice.
The more Iruka kept staring at the details (blatantly unaware that the sun had rose and set already), the more he felt pressure press against his shoulders, weighing him down. It was like drowning in a sea of words and numbers and pictures of the people ANBU kept an eye on. There was a clutter of empty mugs beside his keyboard, all of them smelling like cold coffee. Iruka knew that if he stole a glance at a mirror then and there (which he made sure he didn't), he'd find an ugly skinny little monster with bloodshot eyes staring back at him.
He was currently reading data on a man called Kawamoto Keiji. Somewhere between reading his health records and marital status, Iruka stood up to clear the mugs from his working area. He set the water kettle to boil in his small kitchen and started rinsing the mugs, biting down the yawn that just wouldn't stop coming. He tipped the mugs over to let them dry and leaned against the kitchen counter, head nodding off as he waited for the water to boil.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when his cell phone started ringing and vibrating on the kitchen counter from where he left it (he took his cell phone with him everywhere in the house just in case Kotetsu tried to make contact). He glanced at the caller ID and blinked at the foreign landline number flashing in his cell phone screen. Sighing, he pressed the answer button.
"Sensei! I need your help!"
Iruka felt a deep sigh of relief escape him. "Naruto." He ran a hand against the back of his head, smoothing out the tangled hair sticking out like peacock feathers. "What's the matter?"
"We got this sucky project in school! They want us to stitch in home economics! What the hell, sensei? I don't stitch!"
A short laugh escaped Iruka as he momentarily forgot about his troubles. The kettle finally whistled and Iruka took out a herbal tea mixture from his cupboard to relax him instead of the coffee container that he's been using for the past several hours.
"It can't be that bad, Naruto."
"Yes it is! That new sub-teacher, Kurenai-sensei, she's pregnant yeah? She's huge! Like fat and stuff. So she gave us this project to make plush dolls! Plush dolls, sensei! What kind of teacher would give their student a project on plush dolls?!"
Iruka had to hold the phone away to avoid eardrum-explosion at Naruto's screech of distaste. "It's okay, Naruto. At least it wasn't knitting." Iruka said, remembering how during his primary school days, their home economics forced them to work on knitting needles and thread.
"Eeeew! Knitting sucks major balls!"
"Language." Iruka smirked. He couldn't agree more with Naruto (the balls part). "So it can't be that bad, you see? Did you choose a subject already?"
"Well, I thought of making one of Sakura-chan. And then I thought of making one of Shikamaru cause' he's been really nice to me and stuff. He invited me to his house. We played videogames and ate his mom's cooking. They're really nice folks. But he suggested that I make one of someone I really like and love."
Iruka stirred his tea and walked back to his study, folding a leg underneath him and setting his tea cup by the keyboard. He kept his attention on both the data on the screen and Naruto's voice on the other line. "Who did you pick then?"
"You." Iruka blinked and felt warmth spread in his chest. "Do you mind, sensei?"
The unsure voice in the other line made Iruka blink again and smile widely. "No, I don't, Naruto. I'm honored in fact."
"Good! Now, can we meet up? I already asked for permission and head-fart said I can go. I'm gonna take reference pictures of you, sensei. We have to document how we made our dolls thing."
"I don't mind, Naruto." Iruka said automatically. "How does tomorrow evening at around six sounds?"
"Great! I can't wait sensei! Can we go for ramen too?"
Iruka laughed and nodded to himself. "Sure. I think it's about time we -" His cell phone beeped signaling and incoming call waiting to be picked up. Iruka glanced at the number and saw Kakashi's name. "We can go, sure. I'd like ramen very, very much."
"Okay, sensei! I'm gonna go now. Did I interrupt your work or something?"
Naruto sounded apologetic and Iruka couldn't bring it in himself to say yes. "No, no. Just reading some stuff."
"Okay. Take care ne, sensei? Don't get sick!"
"I won't." Iruka smiled fondly as Naruto said a loud and cheery goodbye and ended the call. Iruka finally answered Kakashi's call. The man didn't sound happy at all. "Kashi."
"Am I interrupting something?"
Iruka rolled his eyes in front of the screen, reaching for his cup and taking a quick sip. "No, you're not. What is that tone?"
"That jealous tone." Iruka grinned like a lunatic to himself; he could hear the annoyed hiss at the other end of the line.
"What's this thing about jealousy? I am not jealous. I was on call waiting wasn't I?"
"Uh-huh." Iruka teased, taking another sip from his tea. "It took a bit of effort to say goodbye to the other person."
"He's too adorable for me to ignore."
"Should I be afraid?"
"I miss you so much. What difference would it make if you were doing your work here instead of there?"
"The fact that I won't be able to concentrate on almost anything with you around." Iruka said, moving to place his cup back on the space by the keyboard. "I mean, come on. It's only for a few days."
"Few days of torture. I vowed I wouldn't call you so as not to disturb you. But I couldn't. I had to hear your voice, baby."
"Well, you heard me now." Iruka chuckled, shifting in his seat and stretching his legs out.
"What are you doing right now?"
"I'm sitting cross legged in front of the computer, reading data for research and sipping tea. And wondering what crazy thing is going through my boy friend's mind." Iruka grinned, hitting the page-down key on his keyboard and reading the contents while focusing on what Kakashi was saying on the other line.
"Hmmm. I'm lying on your bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking of your beautiful face."
Iruka hummed in the other line as Kakashi's tone dropped an octave lower; it was the tone he used when he was whispering in his ears during sex or when they suddenly find themselves in the middle of a make-out session. "I will be back in a few days. I might be a bit late coz' I'll be helping out an old student with his home economics assignment. Apparently, they're supposed to stitch up a plush doll. A friend of his suggested that he makes one of someone he loved."
"Sounds like an interesting assignment, sensei."
"It is. And stop saying sensei that way." Iruka felt his cheeks burn. "It sounds like a scandal." There was a loud rumble of laughter from the other side and Iruka couldn't stop the smile from coming to his own lips.
"Love you, babe. So much, that I can't stop thinking about the things both of us can tango to while you're sitting on that chair of yours right now."
Iruka closed his eyes and a few images popped in his head; Kakashi always made him feel good and a familiar tingle slithered up his spine just by the memory of what Kakashi could do to him. "Well, think of me and sleep tight."
"I am. And I can't sleep. What are you wearing, babe?"
Iruka glanced down at his flimsy old house boxers and his white almost see-through flannel. "Uh, old gray boxers and white flannel shirt."
"Sexy. Just imagining you in those is making me so hard."
Iruka doubted that his boxers that had a hole on the left side of his butt-cheek could be considered sexy. He also highly doubted that the hole on the side of his cotton flannel would even be a turn on; his clothes looked like a rat decided it would be its next chew toy. Iruka shook his head to clear his thoughts and leaned against his elbow on the desk, staring at the computer and scrolling down further. The details were flying over his head as he read them while he sipped his tea. "Uh, it's got holes, Kakashi."
"Tease. Covered up but with little sneak peaks." Kakashi groaned in the other end of the line. "Hmm. I still think you sound sexy."
Iruka grinned foolishly at the monitor as he reached the bottom page and read the related names to Keiji. "Slide your hand past your boxers and take a hold of your dick like it's me. Can you do that?"
"Yeah, babe. It's still not you though."
Iruka rolled his eyes and continued reading through the list of names. "Imagine my tongue, slowly licking it up and down, nibbling the slit and humming that favorite song of yours. Can you feel me, Kashi?" Iruka whispered the action of dirty talking coming to him effortlessly. He wasn't even batting an eyelash as he read the data on the monitor while at the same time made Kakashi squirm as he jerked off in the other end of the line.
"Yeah, babe. I feel you ..."
"Good. I'm massaging your sack. Feel my finger between your balls, baby. Can you feel it squeeze while I rub your cock against my teeth?" Iruka whispered, shifting in his seat and somewhat feeling just a tad bit uncomfortable. Kakashi's short breaths from the other end of the line was starting to get to him, sending tremors down his spine and collecting around his waist area before pooling to his loins. "Feel me, Kakashi? I want you to come in my mouth. I want to taste you and just your flavor."
"Fuck, 'Ru! Why do you have to be gone and so far away?"
The whine made Iruka laugh out loud. He jerked back from the shudders of laughter that wracked his body and accidentally knocked over his half-full tea cup, the dense green liquid spilling all over his mouse and lap. "Oh shit!" He cursed, immediately sobering up and lifting up his mouse from the wet mouse pad.
"Spilled my tea while I listened to you jerk off. Hang on." Iruka said and set his phone on his chair as he fussed around to wipe the liquid before it did any other damage on the rest of equipment. He handled the mouse a little too roughly as he dried it with tissue paper, ending up in pressing the mouse-click buttons. The display on his screen changed and Iruka couldn't stop the curses from leaving his mouth. "Fucking hell! Stupid useless - fuck you, tea cup!" Iruka tossed the soddy tissues in to the trash bin under his desk and headed for the kitchen for a damp dishtowel.
He returned to his study grumbling and picked up his cell phone.
"What happened, babe?"
"Spilled fucking tea over my fucking mouse and I think it got to my fucking keyboard as well! Damn tea!"
"Calm down, 'Ru."
"I think it..." Iruka eyed the profile picture of another person's data, noticing the spitting image to that of his lover. He fell completely quiet as he eyed the sharp features of the pale man, the long messy silver hair that seemed to be held back in a ponytail (while still remaining like a complete mess from the front). The pair of marble gray eyes pierced through Iruka's head from the computer, the man looking like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Tired was the first word that popped in to Iruka's head as he stared dumbfounded at the picture in front of him. He glanced at the name and his eyes widened.
Iruka's eyes fell on the person's name: Hatake Sakumo. "Damn tea got under my CPU. It's a big mess, love. Will you hold on again?"
"Sure thing. Are you okay? Did you get burned or something?"
"No. No burns." Iruka said almost absentmindedly. "Hold a sec." Iruka sat back down, complete ignoring the stickiness of the drying spill as his eyes remained glued to the monitor. He pressed the cell phone against his knee, scrolling down the details on the screen. He stopped when he saw the marital status. "Divorced and deceased wife. Damn." He continued down and found what he suspected. "Shit." Iruka whispered to himself, eyeing the family count and daughter/son's names. He saw his lover's name on the list and Iruka felt his jaw drop open. He picked up the cell phone from his lap and blinked rapidly. "Uh, Kashi, sweet heart, the tea got underneath my CPU. I'll have to call you back. 'Kay baby?"
"When are you coming back?"
"Few days." Iruka said, reading the life summary of Kakashi's father. The man was part of a special operations unit that was ANBU. He had scars all over his body, all listed in the data in front of him and how he obtained them. One of the scars' cause (a large crooked hook shaped one on the left knee) was due to 'training' his son one summer with a tanto blade.
"Can you give me a specific number? I'd like to make plans to take us out to relax you. Knowing you, you're going to work yourself like a race horse."
"I won't work myself like a race horse. But I can't give you a specific day. But once I can, I'll call you." Iruka automatically answered, still trying to understand what kind of training Kakashi had gone through that would result in a permanent scar.
"Okay. I'd like that. Don't forget to eat and sleep."
"Yes, mama." Iruka mumbled, scrolling down and stopping at the relationship status. A familiar name made him reel with vertigo as he read the details.
"That's daddy. Who's your daddy, baby?"
"Bye Kakashi." Iruka said quietly, blinking several times and reading the particular line that caught his attention over and over again.
Iruka pressed the off button the moment he pulled the cell phone away from his ear and allowed it to drop from his hand onto the floor with a clutter.
"Can't be." He whispered. "Engaged in sexual intercourse with Umino Kuji on two occasions." Iruka felt his knees go weak. He stared at the date and noted that it was months before the nine tails attack, the second one being the night before his parents died. Knees trembling, Iruka felt his insides turn and lurch. A hand came up to his mouth as he bolted up from his chair and made a wild dash for the bathroom.
He made it time and kneeled in front of the toilet seat as he emptied his guts while the shock continued pulsing in his veins. It wasn't everyday that he found out that his father was cheating on his mother with another man; a man who had a son that was Iruka's current boyfriend.
It made Iruka sick to his stomach and he felt hatred boil in him towards his own father for doing such a thing to his mother. He cursed inwardly as he heaved and coughed, blinking back angry tears. He managed to get a hold of himself and flushed the toilet once he had nothing more vomit out and was merely dry-heaving. He leaned against the bathtub and clamped a hand to his mouth.
"Damn it." He mumbled, shutting his eyes and cursing as the tears trickled down. "Damn it!"
Through it all, he briefly wondered if Kakashi knew.
Iruka spent the rest of the evening on his living room couch, staring blankly up at the ceiling and trying to remember a time when his mother and father actually had a verbal spat that would make his father seek comfort with another person (and a man no less). At first, he told himself that it must have been a lie; it was a pity his memory couldn't take him that far back in time. It was also a pity that at the time his father committed adultery with another man (it irked him so much that the said man was his boyfriend's father), he happened to be a tad bit too young to even understand things like 'relationships'. He was a naive little brat that believed that his 'mama' and his 'papa' loved each other very much and that nothing could come in between that. He knew - and felt - that they were a happy family.
At some point, he managed to doze off and wake up to the sound of people shouting in the street the next afternoon. He startled awake at the sound of grown men arguing a few feet away from his building. He hobbled to his window and peered outside, finding two truck drivers arguing over who was turning wrong and moving in the opposite direction of the street lane. Iruka cursed under his breath, not wanting any of the ruckus first thing in the morning (well, afternoon). He flopped back in his couch with a headache from hell and his neck stiff from the sleeping position he fell asleep in the other night. As he rubbed his neck, his father's smiling face flashed in his head, followed by the ID-picture of Hatake Sakumo.
Thinking about what he found out more only made his headache worse. He sat up, freshened up and searched for his cell phone, wallet and keys. He was going to go to the bookstore and do something useful other than sulk and wallow in depression (headache or neck ache, he needed to busy himself) and stew in anger over a dead man on his old couch. He needed the long walk and maybe something sugary to get the aftertaste of vomit out of his inflamed throat. Pulling a sweatshirt over his head, while slipping his bare feet in to a pair of flip-flops while running for the door, Iruka nearly hit his head against the door frame in his hurry.
As he hurried down the apartment lobby, he barely even heard the building caretaker wish him a good afternoon as he pushed passed the swinging glass doors and walked out in to the windy afternoon.
In order to forget what he just read the previous night, Iruka threw himself in to the busy humdrum of the mall, where students who finished (or ditched) classes loitered, some window shopping while some carried bags containing either trinkets, stationary or some form of food/drink. He passed by the occasional rich person or fashionista who were busy giving the sales clerks a hard time with what they wanted. The noise of the mall filled his head, emptying whatever thoughts that lingered within. He had a bite to eat sometime during his stroll around the mall, picking the noisiest and loudest part of food court to sit and eat his burger as he watched the people around him gossip over their meals.
He spent the next hour looking around at the bookstore for a proper guide on how to make hand-made dolls. It wasn't that he didn't know how but rather he wanted to be sure that what he still remembered was correct. He purchased the book and made his way to one of the fountains outside the mall where parents stood and kept an eye on their young toddlers playing in the play area. Iruka found himself watching the children by the sandbox, remembering his childhood days when his mother would take him to the sandbox in the park near their house. His father would come by later with ice cream to treat them and then they'd all walk home.
Iruka felt his face visibly fall at the memory, a sting in his heart spreading throughout his chest to the tips of his fingers and toes. His fingers clenched around the bag he was holding as he stared blankly passed the picket fence of the small play area and at nothing in particular. A hand slid over his slowly, startling Iruka out of his reverie, causing his breath to catch in his throat. He turned to find Kakashi before him, looking curious with a worried on his face, a laptop tucked under an arm with a bright orange sticker stuck on one side. Iruka felt his mind slowly slip in to a state of alarm as he stared at Kakashi's worried face. His hand that was tightly clenched around the plastic bag containing the book he just bought tightened even more even with Kakashi's cool hand rubbing soothing circles over his wrist.
"I thought you said you were busy? Are you okay?" Kakashi asked, brows knitting together and peering down at Iruka's face.
"I - I am! I just -" Iruka released a shaky breath and willed himself to relax. "I received a phone call from an old student. I told you remember? He needed help with his project and I, well, I bought a book." Iruka glanced down at the hand holding the bag. "What are you doing here?"
"Picked up my laptop from repairs. Accidentally dropped it." Kakashi showed Iruka the long hairline crack on corner of the laptop. Iruka noticed the infamous computer repair store - CompuYou - logo on the orange sticker stuck on the screen area of the laptop. "You look like you just saw a ghost." Kakashi laughed. "You're not cheating on me are you?"
Iruka knew it was a joke but what he just found out decided to spurt up in his face that very moment and his face fell even more; he looked sick. Whatever humor Kakashi had in his eyes disappeared immediately, the pale face falling and dark marble gray eye turning stormy. Kakashi released his hand slowly, falling eerily quiet as he took a step back and cleared his throat; no doubt it was an attempt to clear the growing lump of shock and anger growing within.
"I'm not cheating on you." Iruka said, voice turning bitter. "I'm not that low. Why would I look at someone else when I'm content and happy with what I have? With whom I 'love'?"
People walked past them as an eternity of silence stretched in between them, stormy gray meeting hurting chocolate brown. For a moment, Iruka saw a different emotion flicker in Kakashi's face that he couldn't identify. Iruka looked away, shifting the crumpled handle of the plastic bag to his other hand.
"You love me." Kakashi said, sounding rather dumbfounded, stupefied even. It was like he couldn't believe it.
"I'm stupid that way." Iruka said. He was stupid in the manner that he'd love the person even though he still found some difficulty in trusting and believing them. It was the same with Mizuki, why should it be any different with Kakashi? "I - I better go. I need to clear my head and - hey!"
Kakashi dragged Iruka out of the public vicinity and towards the edge of parking lot where his bike was parked. Iruka founded himself smothered with a pair of warm and soft lips and arms crushing him in to a warm expanse of broad chest. The plastic bag slipped off his grip and he found himself kissing Kakashi back for all he was worth, Kakashi broke the kiss and shifted his head position, deepening the kiss even more and drinking the breath out of Iruka like he was air and water itself.
When Iruka finally managed to break the kiss to suck in a deep breath, he found himself staring in to both of Kakashi's eyes. There was a smile so wide on the lavish pair of thin lips that just kissed him stupid that Iruka found it hard to comprehend exactly what was going on.
"What time are you supposed to meet your student?" Kakashi asked, nuzzling Iruka's cheek with his nose and holding him close that Iruka could smell the soap brand Kakashi used through his clothes.
"In two hours." Iruka mumbled, finding himself sinking in to Kakashi's hold in comfort.
"Come with me."
"No, Kakashi. You know I'll end up missing my appointment with the poor boy if I do."
"I swear, you won't. Please, Iruka. I need you."
It took exactly ten minutes to get from the mall to Iruka's small apartment. It only took a few seconds for Kakashi to undress them both and throw Iruka over the bed. A good hour later, Iruka found himself sore and sated and holding Kakashi in his arms while he stared at the ceiling. Kakashi's breathing was still heavy against his chest, both of them littered with new bruises and nail marks that will no doubt last for more than week (and itch longer than that).
"Kakashi, I'd like to meet your family." Iruka said, the words leaving his mouth before he could even stop them. Kakashi looked up at him from where he pillowed his head on Iruka's chest and blinked. "I'd have you meet mine if they were still alive. I bet you look like your mom."
Kakashi blinked slowly, face masking in to a mask of indifference almost immediately. "Dad."
"I look like my dad." Kakashi corrected. "I woulda' loved to meet yours. But I wouldn't want you meet mine."
The answer somewhat surprised Iruka and he sat up on his elbows to look down at Kakashi who then rolled off of him and lay beside him on his back instead. "Why not?"
"My mom left when I was born. Dumped me in my dad's care. I was raised by dad, and mom died sometime later, I think. Accident, disease, I really couldn't give a flying fuck what happened."
Iruka turned and faced Kakashi, lying on his side. "Y-Your dad never got together with anyone? Never tried?"
Kakashi shrugged. "I don't know. He probably did. I don't really remember."
Iruka watched as Kakashi tried to dodge the topic as if it were a plague. He lay back on his pillow and turned his back to Kakashi, stretching his legs before settling down comfortably on his side for a nap. "But you loved your father, didn't you?"
He was about to give up when Kakashi remained quiet; strong arms snaked around his middle, long fingers reaching up for his chin and turning his head around so that Iruka was looking in to Kakashi's gray eye. "Somehow, I think I did. I wouldn't want to meet him but if it means that much to you, I'll take you to him."
Iruka found himself at a loss for words at the sight of the most sincere smile he saw on a person's face glowing before him.
Iruka's brief snooze was cut short when his cell phone started ringing. He blinked awake - Kakashi stirring beside him as well - and got out of bed to fetch his pants from the floor. He yawned and managed to locate the insistently vibrating phone and nearly boggled at the time that was displayed on the screen. It was an unknown number and Iruka had a sinking feeling that he was about to get the screeching of his life.
"IRUKA-SENSEI! WHERE ARE YOU? YOU'RE LATE!"
Iruka winced and held the phone out, quickly running around the room and sorting out what clothes he was going to wear to meet up with Naruto. He was supposed to have met with Naruto at the Ichiraku (Naruto SMSed him sometime during his walk in the mall that they meet up in their usual and favorite spot) a good half an hour ago. He tugged a clean sweatshirt out of his drawer along with a pair of boxers and made a beeline for the bathroom. Kakashi sat up sometime in the middle of his running around the room (Iruka had a sinking suspicion that Naruto's screech was a big factor in why Kakashi was suddenly wide awake).
"I'm sorry Naruto. I'm getting dressed right now. I was so tired I fell asleep without intending to. I'll treat you to extra ramen as an apology?"
"Okay, fine. I'll wait. I got the materials by the way, so you don't have to worry about that. I'll be in the car."
"No problem. SUV right?"
"Yep. Red one."
"Okay." Iruka nodded and turned the shower tap on. "I'll see you in a few minutes."
They exchanged a quick goodbye and Iruka headed back in the room to toss the cell phone on the bed. Kakashi was standing by the dresser, naked and not being shy of his state of undress while flipping through the pages of the small guide-book Iruka bought a few hours ago. "Home-economics?"
"Yup. I told you didn't I?" Iruka sighed, grabbing his towel from the back of the chair in the corner of his room.
"What's the topic?" Kakashi asked, seemingly interested in the stitching pattern written on the book.
"Make a doll of anyone actually. One of his classmates suggested that he picked someone he really liked and model his doll after that person." Iruka rubbed the back of his head and started walking towards the bathroom, towel over his shoulder. "He picked me."
There was a light thumping sound of the book hitting the floor just as Iruka stepped in to the shower. Kakashi followed him in, squeezing in to the small space and holding Iruka from behind. "I'm jealous." Kakashi whispered against Iruka's ear.
"Over a child picking me as his role-model?"
"Someone seems to love you more than me! How do I fix that?"
Iruka threw his head back and laughed. "Make me a doll for Valentines day or something."
Kakashi chuckled and kissed Iruka. "Done."
Iruka managed to get dressed and look decent (after so much groping in the shower) before any more time was lost. Kakashi dropped him off in front of Ichiraku and promised to call him in the evening. Kakashi told him that he knew that Iruka still needed his space to work and it was bad enough he was giving his work time out in order to help a former student (it was Kakashi's nice way of saying, 'I'm not going fuck you and make you fail school unless you want me to'). Iruka was grateful for the understanding Kakashi directed towards him. He watched as Kakashi's back and bike disappeared down the street before starting to walk towards the parking lot near the Ichiraku. He knew Naruto's SUV the moment he laid eyes on it.
Naruto was the only one he knew who owned a graffitied red SUV.
Iruka approached the car at a leisurely pace. There was no need for him to knock on the glass or even approach the car for less than ten feet because one of the doors flew open and Naruto came running out, backpack falling on the floor as he jumped and wrapped all his limbs around Iruka. Iruka laughed and bent his knees to balance the sudden increase of weight. Naruto was too skinny and short for his age so Iruka didn't really find it difficult to carry the petite boy.
"You came!" Naruto grinned.
"I'm so sorry for being late Naruto. I really, really didn't mean to." Iruka said, looking behind the bright orange sleeve of Naruto's shirt at the three body guards standing and waiting for their next move, one of them holding Naruto's backpack. "Sorry for the long wait."
The guards shook their heads, one of them speaking up for the rest. "We will be close. Waka-sama, your back pack."
Naruto jumped back down to the ground and took his backpack. "You guys eat and have fun. We'll be nearby. Oh, there's a really awesome candy shop round the corner. I know you like those red bonbons very much, Riki. You can get them there. It's on me! Come, on sensei! Come on! I'm hungry!"
Iruka turned to look at the guards and found one of the guards - Riki - blushing from embarrassment at what Naruto just said. Iruka couldn't stop the smile from coming to his lips as he allowed Naruto to drag him to the warm seating area of the Ichiraku.
The moment they sat down, Naruto started blabbering his plans for his project with colorful crayon and pencil colors illustration on his sketch book - from what kind of colored material he was going to use for Iruka's hair and eyes to what outfit he was going to give his doll-Iruka (he decided on Iruka's school coat, favorite blue button down shirt and black slacks). Bowl after bowl of ramen, Iruka helped Naruto understand the cutting patterns to be used, illustrating the difficult parts while Naruto nodded with his brows knitted together in concentration.
Their table was filled with fabric cut-outs, pencils, scissors, stencils and several stacks of empty ramen bowls and tea cups.
"No, no, Naruto, watch the needle! The needle!"
Naruto looked up from the task at hand - not really adhering to Iruka's warning - and accidentally poked his finger with the needle he was holding. The jacket sleeve and body piece he was stitching fell on his lap, the needle and thread dangling down the chair while he howled and stuck his index finger in to his mouth, pouting and eyes watering. What followed the howl nearly left Iruka breathless from restrained laughter; the three bodyguards that were responsible for Naruto that evening appeared around their table, one ready to blast the offending needle to oblivion, the other looking around and glaring at anyone who looked at their table and the last one offering Naruto a band aid and first aid kit.
"Ahhhhh! Iruka-senseiiiiiii!" Naruto looked distressed as he stared at his lap, finger forgotten as he picked up the half completed jacket piece and held it up for Iruka to see. "It's got a blood stain!" Naruto shrieked, chewing on his lower lip. "No can do! I don't want this!" He threw it over his head and shuffled through the mess in front of him for the jacket stencil to make a new one.
Iruka gave the poor guard standing behind Naruto a sympathetic look (while trying to suppress his laughter once more). The half finished jacket was sitting proudly on top of Riki's head, the needle dangling between his nose. "Tell you what, Naruto. Why don't we finish making all the stencils first and then we can start on the stitching. What do you think?"
"If you say so, Iruka-sensei!" Naruto grinned and took out the remaining roll of cardboard and his pencil from under all the fabric pieces and packets of cotton.
While Iruka guided Naruto in to tracing the correct patterns on the cardboard, he also managed to convince the guards to sit down beside them and have some ramen till Naruto was at least done with his stencils. According to the book (and Iruka's experience), getting the stencils done was the hardest part. After that, all Naruto had to do was piece them together with needle and thread (after cutting everything out that is).
Naruto bravely fought off sleep and did manage to get all his stencils done before keeling over and snoozing on the table. Iruka quietly started clearing away everything and putting all the materials in to Naruto's backpack. One of the guards took hold of the backpack while the other contacted the driver to pick them up.
Iruka quietly paid their bill and handed the guard carrying Naruto's backpack the take out ramen. "He's going to be very cranky in the morning. Have someone reheat this for breakfast." The guard nodded in understanding while Riki hoisted Naruto up in his arms (so that Naruto had his head pillowed on his shoulder) like he was carrying a new born baby. Naruto continued snoozing like the shift in height didn't change as they all made their way to the red SUV parked just around the corner of the Ichiraku. Iruka watched as Riki maneuvered Naruto in to the backseat and got in himself.
"We can drop you off, Iruka-sensei." One of the guards said.
"No, thank you. I'll take a walk. Too much ramen." Iruka patted his belly as the guard smiled.
"Good night, then."
Iruka watched as the SUV drove off and disappeared down the road before picking his direction to walk home. He took his time in walking, admiring the quiet state of the area he lived in. He reached his apartment in half an hour and was already tired and ready to just keel over the bed. He entered the apartment quietly, toeing his shoes off at the entry way and dumping his keys and wallet by the small hall table. He yawned and stretched, making his way to the living room and flicking the lights on. As the brightness flooded his living room and he blinked his eyes to focus, he found a dark figure hovering in front of him and nearly jumped out of his skin in shock.
A cold hand clamped down firmly on his mouth to silence the cry of surprise. Iruka was briefly aware of being tackled and landing on the floor with the weight of another on top of him.
"Shhhhh! Stop struggling! It's me!"
Iruka blinked and glared at the face underneath the black hooded jacket. Recognition flashed in his face and the hand clamped down on his mouth was removed. "Izumo! What the fuck do you think you're fucking doing? I didn't give you my apartment key so that you can jump me in the middle of the night like some rapist! Get off me!"
"You're alone?" Izumo asked quietly.
Iruka looked up at him and nodded, a bit disturbed by Izumo's behavior. "Yes. I am."
"I found something." Izumo looked uneasy from underneath the shadows of this hood. He got off Iruka and leaned against the wall, pulling the hood back. "I figured if I'm with you, I wouldn't end up like Kotetsu."
Iruka sat up slowly and swallowed. "Let's get you warmed up. You're shaking."
Izumo got up and pulled Iruka to his feet, quite literally dragging him to the study. It was only then did Iruka notice how all the blinds and curtains in his house were drawn. He watched with wide eyes as Izumo picked one of the computers and pulled out a wire from his pocket (that was connected to a portable hard disk). A few taps of the keys later and Iruka was staring at a shot of his own face in the screen along with several detailed reports about his physical and mental health.
"I went home to see if Ko's been around and I found several things that weren't there on our computer. I knew something was wrong and I know Ko' must have reached you somehow. They're watching you, they're watching me and they've been watching 'Ko. They know every single thing about us." Izumo tapped a few keys again and the image changed to that of his own picture; Iruka realized it was the latest four by four image Izumo was using for his school papers and other things that required a photo. "There are things that even I don't remember about myself that are here. I don't know how they've been watching us, but - but you have to stop seeing Kakashi, Iruka."
"W-What's he got -"
Izumo cut him off by tapping several keys again. A list of reports written by Kakashi himself flashed on the screen. Izumo picked the last one. "Did you tell him anything? About Sai, your parents, Mizuki?"
"I didn't ..."
Iruka was staring at the text on the screen, eyes wide as he took in the report displayed before him. There was a detailed list of what took place during the hold-up during his younger years along with Sai's death. There was a cold and rather flat summary of what happened when his parents died. What stunned him the most was the amount of information there was on his relationship with Mizuki.
"Well, he seems to know a lot about you, doesn't he? The database of this thing updates every hour." Iruka couldn't find his voice to even reply and managed a weak choking noise and a nod. Izumo scrolled down and pointed at the date and time the report was submitted. It was roughly a few hours after Mizuki's burial.
"Son of a bitch." Iruka swallowed, eyes watering as the hurt flooded up and tightened his breathing pipe. "T-That son of a -"
"I need your help, 'Ruka." Izumo looked up at him pleadingly. "They've got 'Ko and Kakashi is one of the people responsible. I need to get 'Ko back. We need to get him back!"
"He works alone?"
Izumo pressed a series of short cut keys and the mission number flashed on top of the page along with the person's name it was assigned to. Seeing Kakashi's name brought a sudden sour taste to Iruka's throat; he was not expecting to see Raidou, Genma, Gai and a man called Tenzou beneath Kakashi's name listed as back-up.
It was the familiar feeling of betrayal and deceit that settled in his chest and somehow calmed down the torrents of raging emotion that was swirling madly in his chest. His anger pumped energy in to his veins as his mind slowly and suddenly started to clear and his objection stood before him like a beacon.
"Where's Kotetsu, 'Zumo?"
Izumo looked up at him with so much relief; Iruka knew that look. Izumo was glad that Iruka chose them - his friends - over his 'relationship'. Iruka made his first mistake once with Mizuki; he was not going to make the same mistake again. "You're not going to defend him, 'Ru?"
Iruka didn't think Kakashi needed defending. The ANBU tattoo was starting to make too much sense and all the suspicions and former-garbage Kotetsu kept spewing out turned out to be true (he secretly scowled as he remembered Kakashi's skin foundation excuse). "I don't think I have anything to defend."
If heart breaks were audible, it would be ringing loudly through out the entire apartment.
Iruka found himself staring across the lawn and passed the yellow 'do not approach' tape that surrounded the closed off campus' pool area. The rubble still blocked the building's entrance and exit and there was no visible way of getting inside without being caught, spotted and questioned and possibly expelled for trespassing. Izumo was looking the small handheld computer and typing a few keys in while utilizing the wireless connection the campus provided for the students.
"There has to be a way in." Iruka mumbled. "They can't build a massive pool building without having any alternative entrance or exit."
"I would have suggested the ventilation pipes but look." Izumo pointed at the visible pile of rubble several feet in front of them. "In this blue print, the pipe that's connecting the pool area to the gym area is just several inches away from the outer walls of those buildings. But look, it's nothing but scrap metal now."
"Vents out of the way then." Iruka sighed and looked again at the glowing screen of the palm-computer and pointed at the lower schematics of the building. "What about the pipe lines? Underground?"
"I was just looking at that. See this?" Izumo pointed at a circular cylinder leading all the way up to the girl's bathroom. "It's only connected to the girl's bathroom."
"Why not the boys?" Iruka blinked and stared at the plans some more. "Hey, the girls' bathroom is way bigger than ours!"
"That's probably why they put the line there. Remember how the girl's bathroom always gets fucked up? Makes you wonder what they do inside with a space so big." Izumo rolled his eyes.
"We can go in from here." Iruka pointed at the garden shed near the pool area. "That's empty and we only have to go a short way to get to the girl's bathroom."
"Yeah." Izumo shut the lid of the computer and powered it down. He also dug out his cell phone and placed the settings on silent (Iruka did the same).
Izumo fell still, staring at the ground and Iruka felt infinitely sorry for him. Part of the reason why Kotetsu was in the situation he was in was because of Iruka himself. Iruka loved both of them and he knew that they loved him in return but there were times when he wished that Kotetsu's love for him wasn't so much that he'd snoop in to things that weren't meant to be snooped in to and end up in trouble all because he wanted to make sure that his friend wasn't dating the wrong type.
"He's okay. I'm sure it is. You read the report. They're keeping him alive." Iruka's voice trailed off down at the word alive. He knew that while Kotetsu lived, he may not be in the best of health. A feeling of bitterness and dark hatred filled him at the thought that his friends were being harmed because they were linked to him or told him things about his 'boyfriend's' real job.
Kakashi's smiling and sincere face flashed in his mind and Iruka felt his stomach lurch.
He felt cheated and it wasn't like it was the first time but for some reason, it hurt more now than it did back then during the course of his life.
Izumo saw the expression of guilt on Iruka's face and wrapped an arm around his neck. "Don't beat yourself up for this. Friends first, right?"
Iruka pulled Izumo closer and pressed their cheeks together, his hands trembling from the adrenaline starting to flow in his veins along with the anger and determination to get Kotetsu back and possibly beat up the people who took his friend in a horrible way. "Friends first." Iruka nodded at Izumo and got up. "Let's go."
Quietly, they both made their way towards the garden shed. It was a short brisk walk across the lawn and around the yellow tape. Izumo was about to reach for the doorknob of the garden shed door when Iruka gripped his wrist and shook his head, pulling him against the side wall of the shed and motioning for him to keep quiet.
"What the hell?" Izumo whispered, scowling.
When silence fell upon them and all they could hear was their heavy breathing, a deep guttural moan sounded off from within the shed. Izumo blinked and looked at Iruka curiously who was already blushing from embarrassment. Another moan and a sigh of, 'oh yeah, baby, deeper' echoed from within the thin wooden walls. Iruka shrugged and rolled his eyes at Izumo, who looked like he was ready to hack off the couple's head that were too busy inside. Iruka watched as Izumo looked at his wristwatch every few seconds.
Iruka was starting to loose his patience when he heard the garden shed door creaking open. There was a few seconds of giggling and hurried footsteps before all was silent again.
"Finally." Izumo grumbled. "Let's go."
Iruka lead the way in to the garden shed and quietly closed the door once Izumo was inside. The room reeked of sex, fertilizer and sweat. There was a bunch of tools that lay cluttered in one corner and a stack of several fertilizers on another. They exchanged looks and started searching the floors for the manhole cover. Izumo was searching in the corner and managed to get hold of a torch when Iruka found the hole. He got on his knees and lifted the handle.
"Give me a hand." Iruka whispered and Izumo scrambled up beside him to get the lid off. Heavy grunts sounded off between them, sweat forming on their foreheads and temples. The crystal beads tricked down the sides of their faces as muscles were strained and pulled taut in unison to move the heavy metallic lid that was in the way of saving their friend. They managed to lift it off its snug fitting and as quietly as they could, they slid it across the concrete flooring of the shed. "There. Finally." Iruka panted, chest heaving from the strain.
Izumo turned the torch on and shone the white light down the hole. A ladder came in to view and it didn't look very safe. "I'll go first."
"No." Iruka grabbed Izumo's arm, guilt reflecting in his eyes amidst the light of the torch. "Let me."
Izumo understood and didn't push the matter. "Okay. I'll be right behind you."
Iruka sucked in a deep breath and shook his head to clear it. "Here goes."
Sliding his legs down the hole, Iruka felt for the metal bar of the ladder's footing and slowly eased himself to standing position, fingers gripping the rusting ladder till his knuckles went white. He looked up at Izumo whose hand was trembling from his tight grip on the torch light. He nodded at Izumo, a silent 'I'm going down now' message being sent across and he slowly and shakily lowered his foot to the next step. He moved slowly and as quietly as he could, biting his lower lip so as to keep his breathing as quiet as he could and not make any noise. The peeling paint of the metallic iron ladder started to irritate Iruka's eyes as Izumo's shoes scraped against the ladder's footing. Some of the flakes landed on Iruka's face and they were itchy just as they reeked.
"Slowly, Izumo." Iruka whispered, trying to quicken his pace.
"Well, I am moving slowly -"
There was a loud thump and a silent hiss of 'shit' as Iruka watched the torch light slip from Izumo's grip and fall in to the darkness below them. There was an echoing crash that wouldn't have been that loud if the environment was different. To Iruka it sounded like a bullhorn on its maximum power. The light flickered twice before darkness enveloped them completely. None of them dared to move a muscle as they held their breaths, afraid that the crashing sound may have reached whoever it was that was holding Kotetsu captive.
After what felt like an eternity, Iruka swallowed thickly and mustered his courage and determination again. "Right, well, keep moving." Iruka mumbled and slowly lowered himself, movements hindered by the lack of light. His senses were pushing out, listening for every possible sound that did not belong to their heavy breathing or scraping shoes against the ladder.
"Are we there yet?"
Iruka halted after a few more steps when his foot touched nothing beneath him. "There's nothing beneath me." He mumbled, carefully looping his arm around the ladder and extracting his cell phone from his pocket. He turned it on and aimed the screen beneath his foot, eyes spotting the broken torch light and its fragments amidst a murky concrete and iron floor. "We're done." Iruka answered, secretly feeling happy that they've reached the bottom. He pocketed his cell phone and lowered himself to the ground. Izumo dropped himself to the ground beside him, taking out his cell phone and turning on the flashlight on it. Iruka was impressed. "Nice phone."
"Never thought the light in this one would come in handy one day." Izumo smiled and pointed at the tunnel on their right. "That should be it. We're on the fifth hole above us from here."
"Let's get going." Iruka walked ahead, using the white light from Izumo's phone as a guide.
Cockroaches and rats scampered from the light and foot steps, some pooling together and squeaking. Iruka wasn't the type to squelch at the sight of rodents but a quick glance behind him told him that Izumo wasn't feeling very happy about the environment they were in (as if the tight grip on Iruka's sweatshirt sleeve wasn't an indication enough). Iruka kept looking up at every hole they passed until they reached the fifth one. He can see light pouring through the metallic grills of the lid above.
"That's the one." Izumo managed to choke out as he turned off the light of his cell phone.
"He's up there." Iruka nodded more to himself rather than Izumo and jumped to pull himself up the ladder. He started making his way up. According to the blue prints, they should be around the area where the cubicles and showers were located in. He was hoping that Kotetsu was being held in the lockers rather than the showers (there was no way they could loose people in an open space. Lockers make good hiding spaces). He kept glancing down at Izumo who kept giving him the thumbs-up sign to say that he was okay.
As Iruka neared the lid, he could hear voices echoing from the distance. Whatever lady luck that was shining upon him that evening, he thanked it. He looked down at Izumo and nodded, bracing himself against the ladder and slowly with all his might, lifted the metal lid upwards. The grills made a rough sound as it slid against the ceramic tiles of the shower room. Iruka slowly peeked up slowly and noticed that no one was around them at the moment. The lights outside in the lockers room was the only light flooding through the wide open doors of the shower room. He nodded at Izumo again to tell him that all was clear before hoisting himself up to solid ground. Izumo followed suit and they both made their way to either side of the wide open door, crouching down and listening in to the voice speaking.
Iruka recognized it immediately and felt boiling anger rise in him like a volcano ready to erupt.
"Just go and check, Genma. I'll keep an eye on him. There was something and I am not imagining it." Raidou said, obviously sounding very irritated already.
"We've been hearing funny noises the whole time we're parading in here like a bunch of criminals hiding. It could be just a rat again you know?" Genma said (at this Iruka bit his lower lip to control his temper - he didn't need to look at Izumo to know that he was seething; he could feel it).
"Just go." Raidou said.
"Fine. I'm going." There was a cluttering noise and fading grumble as something was moved around. "Check the vicinity again will ya? Kakashi just messaged me saying that he can't reach his little toy and that he's been fretting around too much."
Iruka stiffened and pulled out his cell phone to take a proper look at the screen (he was to busy thinking of illuminating something in the dark to see if he had any calls or messages properly) and noticed that he had about six missed calls from Kakashi. He licked his dried lips and pocketed his cell phone once more, looking over at Izumo who was just as worried as he was.
"He is a person, Genma and you will address him as such." Raidou sounded irritated and ready to beat the man senseless.
There was a cold laugh that could only be Genma and Iruka wanted to stuff a knife down his throat. "And this is exactly the reason I picked Hayate over you. At least he wasn't very snippy about useless little things."
Iruka and Izumo looked at each other then with eyes just as there was a loud slam of what sounded like a door. Silence fell upon the entire bathroom save for the quiet scuffling of shoes against the floor and little splashing noises of water. Iruka watched as the shadow approached their direction slowly and crouched lower, ready to strike.
A hand slipped in from outside, fiddling for the switch right above Izumo's head. Iruka could see Raidou was looking at something that was across the pool and fisted his hand. The moment the resonating click of the light switch sounded off, Izumo grabbed Raidou's wrist and pulled him down while Iruka jumped up and aimed his fist in an upper cut punch catching Raidou squarely on the jaw.
Raidou let out a cry of surprise and stumbled backwards, catching his bleeding mouth. Iruka's anger got the better of him before his proper senses could and before he knew it, he was on top of Raidou and punching the living day lights out of the poor man.
"Son of a bitch!" Iruka growled, lifting his fist again and hitting Raidou in the chest till the older man spat blood out. "How dare you?"
Raidou groaned in pain, turning so that he can face Iruka. Izumo was cowering in the corner at the sight of Iruka gone mad and managed to snap back to reality in time to stop Iruka's bloody fist from hitting Raidou any more than he already did. Iruka fought the restraining hold of his friend, angry eyes not once leaving the bloody face of what was once a handsome scarred man.
"Iruka..." Raidou choked coughing and hissing in pain. "What took you so long?"
"Is this a game to you bastards?" Iruka growled and fought against Izumo's hold even more, wanting to hit Raidou again. "That was my best friend!"
"Knock me out." Raidou said quietly, coughing and head lolling back and forth slowly. "One more hit should do the trick. There's a knife in my pocket. Take it and cut Kotetsu's ropes loose. He's outside. Get him out of here and you three get out of campus. Get a restraining order."
Iruka looked down at Raidou some of his temper slowly dying at the words the bloodied man before him was spewing out. "W-What -"
"I - I never agreed to their methods. I am with them but I never wanted it to be this way." Raidou looked up at Iruka and Izumo in an apologetic manner. "I'm sorry you two. Just - Just get your friend from outside and get out of here. Kotetsu knows which door to use."
Iruka looked down at Raidou's pockets and pulled his arms away from Izumo's grip. He found the knife and handed it to Izumo. "Go get him. Cut him loose. I'm helping him out of here."
"No -" Raidou groaned, pushing himself up in an attempt to get away from Iruka.
"But Iruka, you just -"
"Just go, Izumo!" Iruka hissed and Izumo wasted not another second before scampering out of the door with the knife to free Kotetsu. Iruka looked down at Raidou and hauled him up, quite literally carrying him to the far side of the shower room in a corner before pulling him in an upright sitting position. "Raidou -"
"It's okay. I swear, I am not angry." Raidou hissed and tried to smile. He looked like a beaten up doll that was left for dead. "I - I think I deserve it. C-Countless times I've told them not to ..." Raidou looked down at swallowed, blood from his nose dripping on the denim pants he was wearing. Iruka used the side of his sweatshirt sleeve to press against the gash he managed to make on the side of Raidou's nose from all his punches. "I'm so sorry Iruka."
"Why are you people doing this?" Iruka asked slowly in a way that he wanted to see reason why any other human being would accept such an assignment. He didn't understand the assignment part properly yet either - he couldn't understand that the mission statement said: Umino Iruka.
"It's complicated." Raidou said apologetically, staring at Iruka with hopes that he'd understand.
Iruka searched Raidou's eyes, his own eyes watering with so much bitterness. "M-Mizuki -" Raidou lowered his eyes in shame and Iruka grew angry even more. "How could you?" He asked quietly, tiredly and in a way that stated that he gave up all hope to even comprehend the strange mission that was him.
Raidou looked up at Iruka to say something and instead his eyes widened. Iruka blinked at him in confusion and suddenly he was yanked back from his ponytail and felt a knee up his stomach before he felt his body sliding against the cold ceramic floors of the shower room. His back hit the wall and he gave out a choked cry at the impact. He was only barely able to gather his bearings when he felt a hand haul him up to his feet, a strong arm around him with a hot hand closed in around his neck. Something cold and prickly pressed against his temple and Iruka found his vision clearing with Izumo and Kotetsu standing before him shocked and frozen - Kotetsu looking haggard and dirty, tired and in need of a shave.
"Which one of you fucking pussies touched Raidou?" Genma hissed. Izumo was pulled back by Kotetsu who took a defensive stance. "Was it you Izumo?" Genma smirked, his angry voices drumming loudly in to Iruka's ears. "Or was it you, boy?" Genma tightened his grip on Iruka's neck, cutting off his air supply and make his vision swim with black spots.
"G-Genma ..." Raidou pleaded weakly.
A sound of the door closing echoed through out the pool area. Iruka looked at Izumo and Kotetsu (who were both stunned to complete and utter silence in fear that if they say something wrong, someone might get hurt), begging them with his eyes to make a run for it before the situation got any worse. Bravely, Iruka swallowed and managed to find his voice. "S-So this is how it is then? W-Was it the same with H-Hayate?"
"Shut up! You. Know. Nothing." Genma growled, voice and anger resonating and bouncing against the bathroom wall tiles. Iruka felt his knees go weak to have such anger directed at him. "Which one of you did it? Who?"
Iruka opened his mouth in a silent cry as his neck was squeezed tighter, a flash of silver bobbing in to his blurring vision. "Let him go, Genma."
"Oh I will let go of your little boy toy and more than that if he doesn't talk. I'm going to shove this long needle up your brain and watch it drip on the floor!"
Iruka was pulled back and whirled around so that he can see Raidou managing to barely stand on his feet and making his way towards them. Iruka watched as Genma's grip on him faltered and shook for a few seconds as the man behind him obviously debated whether to help his friend or beat some sense in to the one who beat his friend. Raidou was having difficulty in breathing and Iruka hoped that he didn't break any of his ribs in his anger. Raidou wasn't looking at Genma but he was looking at Iruka, begging him to just make a run for it.
When Genma's grip faltered again, Iruka summoned all of strength and slammed his head back against Genma's face. There was a loud cry and arms that he knew and once would make him weak in the knees circled him to hold him still. Iruka struggled and managed to wedge his arm free from the grip and sink on his knees, enough for him to send his elbow backwards and hitting Kakashi squarely on the thigh to bring him down on the floor in pain. He saw Kotetsu out of the corner of his eye shove Kakashi to the floor to buy them more time and kick Genma in the foot to hinder his speed.
Iruka didn't even have to look back. He grabbed Izumo and Kotetsu and shoved them out of the door. "Run! Just keep running!"
They got out of the shower rooms, crossed the locker rooms and made it out to the pool area. "Which door?" Izumo asked, looking at the three doors that were all connected to different gymnasiums. Iruka looked at Kotetsu who was looking at the doors back and forth. "Which door, Kotetsu?"
Kotetsu blinked and pointed at the farthest door, across the diving area of the pool. "That one!"
"Go, go, go!" Iruka pushed his friends ahead of him as they started running towards the exit. The floor was wet from the water of the pool, which was murky and filled with large pieces of metal and rubble from the explosion of the main entrances. There were several pieces of metal plates and broken glass around the pool area floor, all of which crunched under their foot as they made a run for it.
Iruka made a sharp turn and jumped back when the cemented edge of the pool exploded in to tiny pieces. Iruka lost his balance and fell on his side, staring at the hole in front of him. He looked at the girl's bathroom and found Genma pointing a gun at him - a gun with a silencer. Kakashi was coming after them and so was Genma who fired twice, completely stopping Izumo and Kotetsu from running any further in fear that they might get shot.
Iruka gritted his teeth and pushed himself up as Kakashi got closer to him, his face blank and expression unreadable. "Keep running!" Iruka yelled as loud as he could and started running forward towards the door.
His heart hammered in his ears, the only sound he could hear as he continued running forward to his two very frightened friends. He watched as Kotetsu nodded at him and grabbed Izumo by the wrist and tugged him forward to head for the waiting door. Iruka was close on their trail, a mere five feet away and still running. Iruka wasn't sure what happened but he felt rather than heard the swing of the bullet as it zipped passed his ear, slightly grazing the skin of his temple and hit the wall in front of him. The shock toppled his balance and he slipped on the wet floor, falling on his side and hitting his head on the piece of metal rubble from the ventilation system.
His world swam in black for a minute as pain consumed his senses and he rolled to his side; he was aware of someone distantly calling his name out. There was a change in height and suddenly he couldn't breathe and he was sinking. Without him knowing, the blow to his head had rattled his senses and he slid down the side of the pool. Iruka choked and inhaled water without him knowing it. His eyes opened and he found an immense area of murky blue, red pooling and surrounding him. His blood tainted the pool and through the veil of red, something in his head clicked and his phobia for water resurfaced.
He turned and started to flail around like a mad person, trying to fight off the water like it was something solid to ward off and keep away from him. He blinked is eyes open and found one of the nightmares that never ceased to frighten him floating in front of him - he could see Sai's small body floating in the murky water, the hole on his head leaving a ghastly trail of red in its wake. Fear gripped him till he couldn't think clearly and he ended up inhaling too much water as he screamed and kept screaming till his vision started to go black.
Iruka was starting to loose complete consciousness when he felt air wash over his head and somehow. He felt his insides lurch as he was pulled upwards and felt his body shiver when it came in to contact with solid ground. Half his eye was covered in red and he was so dizzy that he didn't understand any of the circuses going on around him. He coughed and choked, spat water and gagged till he emptied his stomach on his side. Somehow the gagging and release of nausea helped his vision and he found Kakashi crouching before him, his front sopping wet and a gun in his other hand. Genma was behind him, gunless and staring wide eyed.
Blinking Iruka scampered back as much as his weak body could allow him when Kakashi reached out to touch him. "D-Don't touch me."
Kakashi looked like he was burned and narrowed his eyes in determination to help Iruka up. Iruka kicked his body back and ended up slipping in to Kotetsu's arms. "Kotetsu, let me take it from -"
"Don't touch them!" Iruka hissed, with more deadly venom than a snake's bite and enough to make Genma take a step back. "Stay out of my way. Stay out of their way. Stay out of my life!"
"Iruka, please -"
"I hate you." Iruka groveled, rubbing salts in wounds and those three words were enough to stop Kakashi dead and keep him from approach Iruka, Izumo and Kotetsu. "I hope they're still paying you for mission failures." Iruka got up to his feet, Izumo and Kotetsu his poles of support as he choked and coughed and continued to stare at Kakashi with so much fire and hatred that it would have made any lesser man quiver and beg for forgiveness. "You foul, wretched man."
He turned his back to him, taking his friends away - they let them go, Kakashi and his team. Iruka didn't look back, seething in his own anger and weakness
The sound of the gun sliding from Kakashi's lax fingers was the only sound that broke the silence that followed as soon as Iruka, Izumo and Kotetsu left the pool area. Strangely though, Iruka could hear the clank of the gun hitting the concrete loud and clear even after the door was shut and the chirps of crickets in the front lawn filled the night.
The first thing he thought was that he'd cry if he ever stepped in to their shared room again. He spent two days in the hospital, receiving treatments for his internal bleeding and stitching for what seemed like a wound that would leave a scar behind. The moment he got out of the hospital, he headed back to his room with empty boxes waiting to be folded so that he could pack his things.
Kotetsu was fine and was as healthy as a race horse. He and Izumo had packed all of their belongings and moved everything back to their apartment in the city. Kotetsu told Iruka during his visits to the hospital that Genma did stay out his way and never returned to the room up until Kotetsu moved the last box of his belongings in to Aoba's (who agreed to drive them to the city with his sister's car, bless his soul) car for transport.
The three of them agreed in staying at their apartments in the city and taking the subway to campus everyday till their dormitories were repaired and ready to stay in. Iruka was more than happy with the plan and was the first one to say that they get packing as soon as possible. Naturally, upon reaching his shared dorm room with Kakashi, he wasted no time in packing everything, throwing his books in to boxes and packing his clothes in to his suitcase.
It was by sunset did he finish clearing up his belongings, checking the entire room and under Kakashi's bed to make sure he left nothing behind. He was surprised to find a copy of the plush-doll making guide book that he bought for himself (and left with Naruto) with Kakashi's initials in the top first page. He blinked and found himself feeling hollow for a moment, his hatred vanishing and leaving him so very tired of everything he discovered to everything he went through in the past week.
Kakashi didn't dare show up in his hospital room when he was awake, but he did overhear the nurses talking about a handsome young man with messy silver hair paying a visit to his good friend in room six-zero-three. At first, Iruka had been angry and snapped at anyone who spoke to him that day.
But now, seeing all of Kakashi's belongings - his shirt over the foot stand, his sneakers and boots in the corner, his laptop on his study, his favorite boxers on the bed and his current favorite Icha-Icha-Paradise volume by his pillow - Iruka simply felt so very drained, like he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Unlike what he assumed beforehand, he didn't cry since the incident and up until now, he was yet to shed a single tear over everything that he's been through.
He stared at Kakashi's bed, memories flashing through his head as he remembered how in that very bed they cuddled, made love and tickled each other on a slow boring day, sometimes read a book beside each other or have their take-out dinner together. He looked at the rug by the small T.V and remembered their first horribly-went-wrong date that ended up with them eating supermarket cooked food. His feet carried him to the bathroom, where he remembered how he and Kakashi sort of got along the first time when he brought in a stray dog even if it was against dormitory rules. He remembered how Kakashi would hold him from behind and kiss him good morning or good night (which would usually lead to sex).
Sadness swallowed him and he pitied himself for some reason. Iruka felt the familiar feeling rising up in his throat that would usually leave him in tears but none came. He just stared at everything around him sadly, the book guide on how to make plush dolls in his hand.
A knock on the door startled him and he moved to answer it, dropping the book back on Kakashi's bed. Izumo and Kotetsu beamed at him from the door way.
"Ready?" Kotetsu asked. "I got Tonbo to drive us this time. He was more than happy since I promised him beer and fries."
"Beer and fries?" Iruka blinked, chuckling. "Weird deal Kotetsu."
Izumo pushed passed Iruka and picked up one of the two boxes on the floor. "Yes, well, Tonbo is weird anyway. Just three, 'Ru?"
"Yep. I'll take the bag, 'Ko. Help me with the box." Iruka said, motioning towards the box.
"I'll take this down. Don't take too long." Izumo said and disappeared around the corner of the door.
"Okay. Up we go!" Kotetsu bent over and picked up the box and made his way out of the room. "Hurry up will ya? We're having dinner together outside, eh?"
Iruka smiled and Kotetsu left the room to wait in the car downstairs. Iruka picked up his luggage and made it stand on its wheels, pulling the handle out to drag it out of the room. Iruka pulled the bag towards the door and stopped before he stepped out. He couldn't make himself step out of the room for some reason and it pained as he looked at the small room once more. The chicken posters stared at him and he felt a bittersweet emotion fill his chest as he looked at Kakashi's side of room.
He was going to leave everything that he grew to love within a few weeks and thought he gained for a lifetime but all turned out to be nothing but a big fat lie. Iruka closed his eyes and could feel Kakashi's presence all around him, his smell, his voice and his touch. He opened his eyes and sighed, took a step back and tugged his bag out. He reached for the doorknob and started to pull it close when a hand stopped the door from closing. Iruka caught sight of the pale long fingered hand and released the door knob.
Iruka didn't need to turn around to see who the hand belonged to. He sucked in a deep breath and side stepped away from the door, bag following suite. He looked up to find Kakashi looking at him with an expression he couldn't comprehend. He found himself staring, bitterness and pity mirroring his eyes as Kakashi lowered is gaze, not able to look back in to Iruka's intense and quiet gaze.
"Don't do this." Kakashi said.
"Why shouldn't I?" Iruka asked, quiet and wondering. He felt himself go empty and he couldn't feel a thing in him. The bitterness disappeared from inside him, leaving him with a gaping hole. The pit managed to disappear as well for some reason. Iruka caught Kakashi's gaze staring at the screaming red scar (with stitches still) on his temple, just by his hairline.
"Well, this is goodbye."
"Iruka, you can't do this!"
"Take care of yourself." Iruka pulled he handle of his bug and walked passed Kakashi, the wheels of the bag making light scraping noises against the marble hallway floor.
"You promised!" Kakashi said, voice bordering pleading. "You promised to hear me out if I mess up something! You fucking promised, godamnit!"
Iruka felt rage fire up in him and he used every ounce of will to control himself. He stopped walking as his hands gripped the handle of his suitcase even harder. "And you promised not to lie!" Iruka caught himself immediately and sucked in a deep breath; he didn't want to argue and he was determined not to fight or start a heated yelling argument in the middle of the hallway. "When I made that promise to you, I was under the impression that what he had was real. That I wasn't just your job."
Iruka could hear the thick emotion in those two words alone and he slowly turned to take a good look at Kakashi for one last time. Kakashi's face was contorted in what seemed like an expression of utter failure (whether it was because of mission or because of his relationship, Iruka didn't know and at that very moment, he couldn't bring himself to care). He was thinner, paler and possibly more tired than he could ever remember seeing him. His slouch was more pronounced, along with his cheekbones. There were dark circles under his eyes and he looked as if life was just never kind to him.
Kakashi reminded him of when he looked in to the mirror.
Staring at Kakashi, Iruka was reminded of the black diary in his bag. He was going to have extra pages to write after the moment between him and Kakashi passes by. The thought itself made him smile sadly and vaguely wondered if he will ever heal in time before he was hurt again.
"Take care of yourself, Kakashi." Iruka said, quietly, dignified and without looking back, he walked away from the man that he knew he loved and always will.
Life was never kind to him. Iruka didn't see why it should be any different with Kakashi.
Author's Notes and Credits:
- ITI is a parody of ATA (harddisk brand). SITI is also a parody of SATA, the existing brand.
- The brief Sakumo/Umino-daddeh thinger up there was all thanks to Kiasca's influence. I couldn't resist not trying to write something on them even if it was indirectly.
- CompuYou is a parody of a chain of computer stores here in where I live called CompuMe.
- Waka-sama is way for saying young master. I figured it'd be cute to call Naruto Waka-Sama
- Riki is the name of one of the characters Iruka's seiyuu played. Ai no Kusabi is the anime.
- If any of you is familiar with the SonyEricsson W800i model, you'll know that it has the light option thing. This is pretty much similar to what Izumo had on his phone in this story.
THIS STORY IS NOT DONE! The sequel which I will call Officemate is going to be up and running as soon as I am done typing a good amount. I will be having more free time in my hands a week from now. So hopefully I'll have the sequel up ASAP. The delay for this chapter was due to real-life situations and I am sorry that is several months late.There's been a massive change of plans plot wise. There were several things I wanted to type up here in this arc and explain to you readers (like Iruka's past in a proper detailed and understandable manner rather than having it scattered everywhere) but decided on a better plan. All will be clear in Officemate. Hoepfully ...
I would also suggest to read my other Room-mate one shots (Ripped out Stuffing in particular) before proceeding to Officemate in the future.
Thanks for all those who stuck with me till now. Like always, I'd love to hear what you think.