Author: Lily Kalanoa

Story: Changes

Genre: Naruto - drama

Rating: K/ pg 13

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my laptop, which put me into significant debt. All characters and series belong to their respective creators, I just like to torture them, heh heh.

Warnings: Nothing much, really. Songfic.

Pairings: slowly growing Kakashi / Iruka

Summary: After finally giving Kakashi a chance, Iruka is struggling to survive this newformed relationship. Kakashi tries…he really does.

Spoilers: Uh, spoilers for the first episode, that's it I think

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Changes

Chapter 4 – Christmas Day

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Iruka woke early Christmas morning to a breeze coming through his window. The teacher blinked sleepily and glared at the portal, certain he'd closed it before he went to bed. Drowsily he looked around his room until he noticed Kakashi perched on one chair against the wall. "Merry Christmas," the jounin whispered.

Iruka yawned widely, sitting up and pushing the blanket away. "What time is it?" The teacher had absolutely nothing to do that day; he'd planned on sleeping in some.

"Almost nine." The man's eyes darted to the side and Iruka recognized the show of nervousness. "I wanted to spend some more time together."

Slowly Iruka climbed out of bed, smiling at the other. He hesitated, glancing at the dresser and slowly walked towards it. Kakashi stood, muttering that he'd give the man some privacy, but his arguments faded as Iruka blithely stripped off his nightshirt. Iruka met Kakashi's eyes a second before turning his back and quickly stepping out of his pajama bottoms. Kakashi stared, open mouthed as the teacher yanked out a pair of jeans and slipped them on. Shirt in hand, he looked back at Kakashi and smiled before heading towards the bedroom door and the kitchen beyond. "I'll make us something to eat." For a long minute Kakashi stayed where he was, completely frozen. He couldn't manage to get his body to move until he heard Iruka's voice again. "Are you hungry?"

Kakashi shook himself a little and slipped through to the other man's living area. Starved, but not for food he thought briefly. "Whatever you have is fine," he managed to squeak aloud. Iruka smiled over his shoulder again and his little blush made Kakashi smile more.

"I had a lot of fun last night," Iruka commented as they finished their morning meal. He grinned at Kakashi again as he cleared the table. "We should make a tradition of it."

Iruka's back was turned and Kakashi suddenly frowned at it. Everything had been going so well. "No, we shouldn't."

The teacher turned, looking at the man questioningly. "What do you mean?"

Kakashi resisted the urge to grab the other. He backed away, forcing out a cold appearance. "I don't want to make any traditions with you, Iruka."

The attitude and words affected the brunette instantly. Abandoning his bout of cleaning, he shifted closer to Kakashi. "I don't understand."

The masked man backed up another step, but let Iruka close the distance. "I loved last night, and you obviously did, too. It was wonderful, and if we happen to do it again next year, that would be just as wonderful. But tradition . . . it's not something I do. Experiences should be taken by themselves, good or bad, one at a time."

Iruka blinked openly at the other man. "Kakashi, I like my past. I like tradition!"

"Well I don't. Don't you get it, Iruka? Holding onto the past so hard is what's making this, between us, difficult."

Iruka nodded slightly. It was true, most of the things that strained their budding relationship were old memories and hurt feelings. The reputation Kakashi had for himself and when he clashed with Iruka's previously established traditions. "But, that's why we start a tradition now, while things between us are good."

For a moment, Kakashi did nothing. Then he shifted his stance, shrugging slightly. "If you want traditions with me, I guess that's all right."

Alarms went off in Iruka's head. Too relaxed, too sudden a change. He knew enough about Kakashi to know that those weren't good signs. The masked man moved without warning, faster than Iruka could react. Hands on his shoulders and one foot looped around his. Iruka recognized the throw just as Kakashi shifted his weight, using his hip to destroy Iruka's sense of balance. The counter-move occurred to the teacher about the time he would have hit the ground if not for Kakashi's hold. He kept a tight grip on the man's shoulders, keeping him suspended a few inches off the ground. Iruka's hand was at his side, reaching for weapons that weren't there, as he stared up at his attacker, eyes wide.

Kakashi sighed, suddenly releasing his hold. Iruka hit the ground with a solid thunk, cursing softly, and the silver haired man stood straight again. "If you want a tradition between you and me, this should be it. You being perfect, doing everything nice for me, and me screwing it up. Hurting you and knocking you down."

Iruka was still breathing shakily, watching Kakashi like a dangerous animal. "I . . . I don't . . . I don't think of you like that!" he yelped, anger slowly replacing the surprise. "I'm not perfect either, you know!"

Kakashi sighed again. "I know that, Iruka. I know you're trying, but you said yourself that I'm one mistake away from leaving your life again." The brunette's eyes widened at that, but he said nothing. "I don't want to start anything with you just to have it be tainted by the past, or expectations of the future. What if you get sick tomorrow, that's what you'll think of every time you think of caroling! An experience by itself is the only way we can get through this at all."

Iruka was still on the ground, staring up at Kakashi's face. "That's not how I do things-"

"And that's exactly what I'm talking about, Iruka. It's not how you do things, so it's not something you'll try to do." His gaze twitched aside again and Iruka could see the nervousness on his face again. It seemed oddly misplaced in the current situation. Then without warning, the thin man turned his back and took several steps toward the door. "If you've decided this won't work, that's fine. It's your choice. But don't give me today unless you're willing to give me more."

Slowly, Iruka sat up, staring intently at Kakashi's back. "If you leave now, you're leaving for good. Do you understand that?"

Back still to the teacher, Kakashi blinked several times. His mind whirled into sudden high gear, turning the statement over in his head. Iruka hadn't asked him to stay, that meant he wasn't committing to the relationship any more than he already had. But he'd said leaving would cancel any chance Kakashi still had, that meant . . . what did that mean? He turned slowly, letting the confusion show on his face.

Iruka moved quickly – not as fast as Kakashi had earlier, but fast enough that the jounin took a step back in surprise. Iruka had one hand against the man's chest, the other curled up to grip the top of his mask. He didn't pull the fabric away, however, staring into Kakashi's visible eye. "Each experience taken by itself. How would you classify this one, then?"

Kakashi blinked a couple times without moving away at all. "If you kiss me right now, I'd qualify it as pretty good." His frown was evident behind the mask, face still clouded with confusion. "But if you stand here leaving me wanting, I definitely have to classify it as bad."

Without warning, Iruka smiled and stepped back, chuckling into the quiet of the apartment. "I didn't know you were spying on me, I didn't know you'd heard me yesterday. But do I really strike you as the kind of person who would give a show like I did this morning if I were going to break up with you?"

Kakashi blinked at the question. It seemed far too simple, but he had to admit that Iruka didn't seem that type of person. "Then . . . I really shouldn't have knocked you down a minute ago . . . Did I completely blow my last chance with you?"

Iruka just smiled, moving to his radio and flipping it on to a station of holiday music. "You're good for me. I made my decision last night."

Kakashi was suddenly right beside him, holding Iruka close to his body. "You are far too good to me. Care to join me under the mistletoe?"

The teacher twisted slightly, finally pulling Kakashi's mask down. "We don't really need it, do we?"

Kakashi leaned in, eagerly taking the teacher's suggestion. After a few minutes of this, Kakashi negotiated the way to the small couch in the room, never once releasing the brunette. As the two recovered their breath, Iruka focused on the music drifting through his room for the first time. It was a newer song; one that he liked quite a bit and was surprisingly fitting for his situation.

'Where are you Christmas/Why can't I find you/Why have you gone away/Where is the laughter/You used to bring me/Why can't I hear music play/My world is changing/I'm rearranging/Does that mean Christmas/Changes too?'

Iruka let out a sigh, leaning more fully into Kakashi's side. "No traditions?" he asked with a hint of sadness in his voice.

"That isn't really what I meant," Kakashi was quick to reassure the other man. "I just don't want traditions between you and me. I gave you my example of what our 'traditions' would be like."

'Where are you Christmas/Do you remember/The one you used to know/I'm not the same one/See what the time has done/Is that why you have/Let me go?'

Iruka nodded slightly, listening to the lyrics wash over him. "Traditions are nice, I like them." Breath properly regained, he moved up to plant another kiss on the man's pale lips. "But you have a point about change."

Kakashi didn't respond, content to cuddle, Iruka trapped in his arms.

'Christmas is here everywhere/Christmas is here if you care/If there is love in your heart and your mind/You will feel like Christmas all the time/I feel you Christmas/I know I found you/You never fade away/The joy of Christmas/Stays here inside us/Fills each and every heart'

"I found my Christmas. Right here."

Kakashi looked down at the man in his arms. The words were whispered, not meant for him to hear, so Kakashi held his tongue. Instead he just tightened his hold a little. Christmas had never held much value to the jounin, but he thought he was finally beginning to understand it. Home, happiness. Kakashi had found his Christmas, too, and he held it tightly in his arms.

'With love.'

As the music faded, Kakashi loosened his grip. He wasn't really sure how this had managed to work out for him, but he wasn't going to argue. "You should probably check your presents. You haven't had a chance yet, have you?"

With some reluctance, Iruka pushed himself up. He moved to his tree and the few presents that were there. The bulk of his holiday presents were either received at parties or would be waiting on the desk. But there were a few presents, nestled among the branches and below the decorated tree. Iruka reached towards one of the gifts below the tree, but paused as a much smaller package caught his eye. Straightening, he pulled the gift from the branches of the tree, blinking curiously at the bright paper. "Kakashi?"

The masked man was behind him and at the question he leaned into Iruka, wrapping his arms around the teacher's chest. "Don't ask me, I didn't put it there."

Iruka glanced at him curiously, but quickly turned his gaze back to the box in his hands. Behind him the radio started again with a set of beautiful lyrics.

'In these moments, moments of our lives/All the world is ours.'

Iruka's eyes landed on the tag on the gift and the plainly written 'Santa' that decorated it. His eyes snapped wide and the teacher spun in Kakashi's arms. The masked man knew what he thought about the mythic Father Christmas, he knew how much a gift like this would mean to him, regardless of what was inside.

Seeing as Iruka didn't seem capable of motor function at the moment, Kakashi calmly took the box and opened it for him. Nestled inside was a small pendent – an elegantly carved dog, made of the same non-reflective metal as the necklace Iruka wore. "You must have been a very good boy this year." Iruka met the other's eyes with a somewhat awestruck look of his own. Kakashi just smiled, "Of course, you've been dealing a lot with me this year. Good or not, I'm sure you deserve an award for that."

With sudden force, Iruka broke away from the jounin, a frantic look coming onto his face. "I don't have anything for you!" he yelped, turning back to his tree and rustling through branches as if confirming it.

Kakashi reached out for the man's shoulder, turning him back around. "You've already given me more than enough."

Iruka shook his head, still looking around a bit frantically. "No, it's Christmas. I should have gotten something . . . everything's been so confused . . ."

Kakashi reached out, again turning Iruka's face back to him and claiming another kiss. "You did get me something, 'Ruka."

Iruka shook his head again, but seemed to have calmed down. "You're right, I did get you something." With a ghostly caress along the man's jaw, Iruka broke away again and strode to his small bookcase. "You might not remember these, but they really are good. You'll like them."

Kakashi looked at the books pushed into his hands, a bit startled. He couldn't believe the teacher had kept them for more than a decade. He'd clearly read them himself, but the thought was still touching.

'These tender moments/When heaven is so close/These are the moments

that I know.'

Setting the books aside, Kakashi pulled Iruka back into his arms. "Special times I share with you," he sang into the man's ear as the song on the radio came to an end. He tipped Iruka's face up, claiming another deep kiss and pulling the man back towards the couch. He didn't like tradition, didn't want any of that pressure of time tainting this relationship. Not when it was going so much better than most of his other relationships went, romantic or otherwise. Privately though, he hoped this was the first of many, many Christmases like this.

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