In the darkest moments of our lives, we need a solid rock to brace our backs against; we need someone to hold us and tell us everything will be alright. And when we fall through their window in the middle of the night, bleeding all over their stuff, we need someone who will yell at us for being an idiot, but will still treat our wounds and keep us from dying in the middle of their living room.
Pairing: Kakairu (of course, do I write anything else? Heh, gotta work on that)
Will be rated M for a reason, but I'll warn you when it happens so you can skip the chapter if you want!
All the credit for this idea goes to SumiHatake! The only thing I did was steal it and write a bad first chapter. But enjoy anyway!
"Explain to me how you got these wounds." Tsunade's voice was low, angry and not overly patient.
Kakashi continued to stare through the window at the darkening sky outside; his mind far away from his current and rather dangerous predicament. Tsunade's fingers were knuckle deep in one of the long scratches the raked down the length of his side. If she wanted to, the legendary sannin could make the bandaging absolute hell with just a slip of her finger.
But Tsunade seemed to resist the urge to cause undue pain, and as she pulled her fingers free, trailing healing chakra behind them, she spread her hand, running her fingers down the five, almost parallel cuts. Kakashi flinched slightly away from the prolonged contact along his bare side. "This almost looks like…" She mused quietly. Kakashi ignored her; a discussion of the wounds' origin would only make the situation more troublesome.
After the prolonged silence, Tsunade heaved an enormous sigh. "Alright, if you don't want to tell me, don't." She stepped back and waved her hand in the general direction of the door. "Go home."
Even before he stepped out into the darkness beyond the hospital room, he heard her snap, "And don't get hurt on the way there!"
"You want me to WHAT?!" Shizune protested. "I'm not going to break into Kakashi-san's house!"
The Gondaime made a face, glaring at the sake she was swirling around in the bottom of her half-empty glass. "I need to know what's going on. That one injury was not from his mission, and if he's not going to tell me about it, you're going to find out for me."
"I…what?" Shizune gaped at her. "Do you really want me to break into a jounin's, who's a former ANBU I might add, house? I'll be lucky if I survive past the front door!"
Tsunade smiled wickedly, "Tell you what; I'll bet that you don't make it back."
As the door closed behind her, Shizune wondered vaguely why that wasn't nearly as comforting as it should have been.
After two hours of running her hands along the edges of the worn door, Shizune decided that Kakashi hadn't actually placed any traps on his front door. She knew his predilection for coming in through windows and figured that he rarely used the normal entrance. Seems safe though… She pulled out a long, flat kunai and jiggled it in the lock, listening closely for the sound of the mechanism turning over.
When the lock clicked open, she paused for a moment, wondering if she should really go into Kakashi's house. As far as she knew, Kakashi had never invited anyone in here, and if the man went to such lengths to always hide his face, she found it hard to believe that he would appreciate her invading his private sanctuary.
But on the other hand, if she didn't do it, Tsunade would kick her ass.
Well, it really wasn't a choice after all, was it? The door slid smoothly open, but she barely made it to steps inside when something large, furry and very drooly landed squarely on her chest, knocking her to the ground and driving all the air out of her lungs.
"I believe that friendly humans usually knock, correct?" The deep, growly voice took her by surprise, and she could just see dark eyes past the enormous pink tongue that was panting bare inches from her face.
"Ano, I, uh…" Shizune gasped slightly, trying to get some air back into her lungs. "I'm sorry?" That seemed to be the correct response, and as the weight shifted slightly off her chest and some of the blood rushed north to her head, allowing her to successfully interpret the situation. "You're one of Kakashi-san's nin-dogs, right?"
"Name's Bull." The enormous dog may have lifted some of the pressure from her lungs, but he didn't show any sign of moving off of her in the near future. "What do you want?"
She thought about lying for about a half a second, but the canines poking out from the corner of the dog's mouth suggested that she should probably tell the truth or risk getting eaten. "Kakashi-san had an injury that wasn't from his mission. My master wanted me to find out how he got it."
"I scratched him."
"You…what?" She hadn't really expected a response.
The dog sat back on her hips, tongue lolling out, and she could have sworn that he was laughing at her.
"Why would you do that?" Shizune took the opening that the dog had given, and slid out from under his bulk, pulling herself into a sitting position.
"He lost it." Bull gave a full body shrug. "Punched a hole through the wall and ripped out some of the pluming in his bathroom. He seems to like this place, and we think it's much more comfortable than sleeping outside. We figured we should stop him." The nin-dogs clearly figured that ripping up Kakashi's side was the best solution to dealing with post-mission trauma.
Shizune stood up slowly, holding her hands out to keep the enormous dog at ease. "Thank you. That's all I needed to know." She felt hysterical laughter bubbling at the base of her throat when the dog stood up, his head coming almost even with her chest. "I-I-I'll just be going now."
"Kakashi, get in here!" Tsunade's voice rattled the door on its hinges.
Kakashi slouched into the hokage's office, tucking his book into his belt pouch as he came in. "Maaaa, Hokage-sama, you wanted to see me?"
"You're getting a touchstone. Now." The tone brooked for no argument.
"I don't need a touchstone, Tsunade-sama." Kakashi, who was never one for reading conversational subtext, protested anyway. "I've completed all of my ANBU missions just fine, and I've never had any post-mission issues."
Tsunade slammed the book she was flipping through down on the desk. "You call destroying your bathroom okay?'
"You went in my house?!" Kakashi snapped, furious at her.
The anger evaporated to be replaced by utter confusion; she was telling the truth. "Then, how…?"
The Gondaime flipped the pages of the book on her desk surrounded by an air of disinterest. "Shizune went into your house." She leaned forward, talking over Kakashi's unintelligible, irritated stammering. "Kakashi. You will pick a touchstone by tomorrow morning, or I will assign one for you. I know how secretive you are, so I really don't think you want me to do that."
The jounin ground his teeth together and stalked out of the room.
He was so busy seething at the Gondaime's insistence on him picking a touchstone that he didn't even notice the other man until they smacked shoulders.
"Ah, gomen, Kakashi-sensei." He turned around to the person he'd hit, and saw Iruka smiling apologetically up at him, one hand reaching up to shift his bag back onto his shoulder. The chuunin peered closely at him, as if checking for injury, and then continued on his way down the street, leaving Kakashi with one thought bouncing cheerily around his brain.
No, Kakashi. Bad, terrible, horrible, awful idea! He mentally slapped himself. There was no way that Iruka would ever agree to it, and the scarring involved in explaining the role of a touchstone would practically guarantee that Iruka would never associate with him again.
Unfortunately, once his mind got a hold of an idea, it never let go.
The next morning found Kakashi crouched on the balcony outside the hokage's office, trying to ignore the fact that he had been staring at the same page for the past twenty minutes, ever since he had submitted Iruka's name to Tsunade.
"Have you picked someone?"
Kakashi shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, wondering how this was going to go over. "Umino Iruka."
Tsunade looked up from her paperwork, one eyebrow arching upwards. "Iruka, huh?" She sat silent for a moment, then cocked her head to one side and smiled softly. "It's not a bad choice, actually."
Kakashi figured he should be a little offended that she sounded so surprised, but he was too taken aback by the fact that she agreed with him.
"I'll call him up." She flipped through some papers in a draw, finally pulling one out of a folder and studying it. "Looks like he's on a break shortly. Do you want to explain it to him?"
Kakashi groaned and shoved his book back into his weapon's pouch, knowing full well that he wasn't going to make any progress, and wondered why he was being such a chicken. After his encounter with the chuunin, Kakashi had tried desperately to think of someone, anyone else because he had been sure that Tsunade would call him ten types of stupid if he suggested Iruka.
But every single person he could list just seemed like an even worse idea.
Genma and Raidou had become an 'official couple' even though they hadn't actually announced it – except to him, but they'd both been drunk off their asses at the time, so Kakashi had decided not to spread that knowledge around – and they both went on almost as many missions as he did and so were more likely to be out of the village than in it whenever he came home. The same reasoning cut out any of the other ANBU members.
After checking them off the list, a vision in green spandex appeared in his mind's eye, and he shuddered. Gai was not even close to being an option; showing weakness to the man who was his 'rival' couldn't possibly go anywhere good. Besides he could already hear the speeches and the posing. He pushed that thought away.
Sakura was not only too young, but…. Well, the thought of post-traumatic-mission sex not only made him gag, but also made him want to lock himself in a small, padded room for the rest of his natural life. Sure Sakura had grown up in the past few years, but he would always see her as a 12 year-old genin who couldn't think of much else besides impressing Sasuke.
As he mentally lined out names on his list, he began to realize more and more that Iruka was really the only – perfect – choice. He was trustworthy, generally calm, and rarely seemed surprised. So if Kakashi fell through his window or landed on his doorstep in the middle of the night he had no doubt Iruka would be there ready to deal with whatever state he was in. He was almost oppressively cheerful, and if he'd been anyone else, he would probably have driven Kakashi nuts, but for some reason the chuunin's attitude was attractive.
Anyway, it was a good thing for a touchstone to have a positive outlook, because ANBU members generally needed a reminder that the world was not just death; it was life as well. And given the kindness and affection the man showered on a certain young blonde charge of his, he knew Iruka would never think him a monster, even when he was convinced that he was one.
But even so, Iruka had revealed a completely unshakeable side when it came to the things he believed in; he had stood up to Kakashi, Asuma and Kurenai in front of the Sandaime and all the shinobi who were currently in the village because he did not want his students to be hurt unnecessarily. He had continued to stand up to Kakashi when the jounin had pushed the matter back at him – Kakashi still kicked himself for what he'd said that night; he'd been a real asshole – and when the argument ended, the scarred chuunin had remained foremost in Kakashi's mind for several days afterwards. He was completely shaken by the fact that he had been challenged by one of the lower-ranking shinobi.
Iruka fascinated him. He had passed by the chuunin's classroom one day and watched him go from a calm, lecturing sensei to furious when Konahamaru had set off an exploding tag in the back of the classroom. The more he saw of Iruka, the more he had realized that he wanted that stable instability in his life.
And Pakkun had already told him the man was single and Kakashi could find no evidence otherwise, as impossible as that seemed. Which was good because he was not interested in dealing with some silly civilian, kunoichi, or even another guy who got their undies in a twist over how he was demanding too much of Iruka's time or attention. It also meant that, if something happened, the only one he'd have to deal with afterwards would be the young sensei. And he certainly wasn't opposed to the idea of falling into bed with the rather attractive chunin.
Yes, Iruka was the best – only – choice for his touchstone.
But when the Hokage had suggested that he ask Iruka personally, he had practically tripped over himself in his rush to get out of the room. There was absolutely no way he could personally broach that topic. What if Iruka said no?
Wheeee! Again, all credit goes to SumiHatake for the original idea for this. I promise I will explain what a touchstone is in the next chapter, but I just had to leave you hanging ;; eheh.
So, enthralled? Confused? Disappointed? Let me know!
Sunlight through Leaves