Prompt-fic for LJ KakaIru comm's Valentine's Day Challenge 2008. Not the best to date, but the best I'd written at the time. Procrastinating a re-write/editing session with this series.

Iruka seems to be a workaholic and it has his friends worried. Anko and Genma decide to pair him up on blind dates (though mostly for the entertainment value). Kakashi keeps up a running commentary at their weekly dinners and tries to help Iruka stay optimistic. Set eight years after the start of the manga series. KakaIru, but expect other pairings to be referenced/implied, and not just m/m. A small bit of angst in the middle, but really, it's a fluff fic.

Iruka ni Hanataba o
[Flowers for Iruka]

by vernajast

kakashi x iruka
valentine's day fic 2008



"Love is a new set of shuriken from my brother."

"Love is hugging."

"Love is something secret, like a special gift."

"Love is wagashi. And mum's is the best!"

"Love is Ami, when she holds my hand."

"Love is when my parents make dinner together. They let me make the tea."

"Love is wanting someone else to be happy."

"Love is when you kiss a lot."

They were all valid answers, each in its own way, the sensei supposed. At least most of the terrible ones had been caught and, after discussing a bit more, corrected. Explaining to an Akimichi why love is not necessarily barbecue and dango, well, it was all part of the job, right? The distraught boy had been on the verge of crying, until he realized the person making the food mattered most.

It was all very cute, really, and going well--until they started asking him questions about love...and kissing and babies, three things about which Iruka had little to say. Since Mizuki, well, his answer seemed to be "Love is betrayal." or "Love is a shuriken in the back." Not particularly good answers to give eleven-year-old pre-genin.

So, when they asked, he thought for a moment and said, "Love is why I train you every day to be good ninja. I love Konoha and I want you all to be great so that you can defend the place I love when it's needed. Love, for me, is the way I feel about our village and the people we protect." He made sure to catch each student's eye before smiling. "Alright, everyone. Leave your papers on my desk and you're dismissed."

They filed out, most seeming lost in thought, as they contemplated love and its varied meanings. It's what Iruka hoped, anyway, though he admitted that they were probably thinking more about dinner and playing with their friends. He wished "good day" to Ami, who was the last out the door, and closed it behind her, slumping into the chair behind his squat wooden desk.

Deciding that answering their questions had fulfilled his masochistic requirements for one day, the sensei grabbed the stack of "Love is..." papers and left the rest of their work in the classroom. With a final glance around the room, he flipped off the lights and set his traps, smirking at the thought of one of his students actually sneaking into his room and setting one off, forced to come to the academy wearing buckets of red, waterproof chakra-laced paint or falling into a "perpetual-quiz" genjutsu. It's the little things, he muttered with a half-smile.

On the bulletin board outside the door, Iruka tacked the twenty papers onto the display, and then headed home to a quiet evening of tea and good book.


Post-traumatic stress. Depression. Losing touch with reality. Various psychological ailments were known to affect shinobi--the result of a life lived killing for their villages.

In fact, the only Leaf nin who seemed immune to any sort of ailment (except the general edge of insanity expected from every elite jounin) was Hatake Kakashi. He never requested sleeping-draughts or anxiety serums. He never stopped by the mental health ward at the hospital and never consulted the medic-nin except for severe physical wounds.

As far as anyone could tell, Kakashi was...fine.

However, what the gossips of Konoha didn't know was that Kakashi liked to slip in through a window and walk the academy at night, banishing the memories of the one year he'd spent there and living vicariously through the cluttered handwriting and crudely drawn art of the current pre-genin.

And reading Icha Icha Paradise in its halls held some amusement of its own.

Apparently, the camellia festival next month--"Seven weeks, really. They're starting early."--had prompted discussions about things like loyalty, honor, love, and commitment. He definitely didn't remember any lessons like that from when he was a student. They had been at war, and the classes had been more like stab-lunge-throw-dodge-kill. In retrospect, he might have done well with some better understanding of relationships, particularly growing up--Stop.

Willing his mind in a new direction, Kakashi paused by a bright, orderly display of small paper rectangles.

Love is like when mommy helped me pick my new kimono and she told me I was so pretty.

Kakashi cringed, then chuckled softly. "That explains Sakura's attitude as a genin, anyway." He sat his book on the windowsill for a minute and rubbed his hands over his face, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor. "Meh. They are excellent ninja now, so maybe it was worth the trouble teaching them this stuff."

What would I have answered to a question like that at this age?

Love is a useless burden, provided a sarcastic voice that sounded suspiciously like Obito's.

"Ouch. Yeah, that sounds right."

Needing to clear the depressing thought from his mind, he stood back up and perused the little papers a while longer, chuckling at this one and smiling at that, and, generally, improving his mood to a great degree. He was vaguely aware whose classroom it was, and to no one at all, he mumbled, "Iruka-sensei, your students made my night."

Still unwilling to go home, Kakashi picked the lock on Iruka's classroom and let himself in. The calm, cool emptiness of the room enveloped him. As expected of the temperamental sensei, it was orderly and well-maintained. The paint, however, was completely unexpected.

In a flurry of movement that spanned the moment he realized something wasn't quite right, red paint doused the back of Kakashi's head and hair.

Paint laced with traces of chakra. Experience told him it would require the owner to unseal it before he could wash it off. Luckily, it was no mystery as to whose chakra was laced within the rapidly drying liquid.

The coincidence wasn't lost on Kakashi, either. This was the same classroom in which, years ago, Naruto had tagged him with a falling eraser. It had caught Kakashi offguard, just as the paint had done, but he'd never let his calm facade drop. Even as he stood covered in stiff, dry paint, Kakashi admired the sensei's handiwork. Really, the simplest, least chakra intensive traps were the best, the least detectable, and Kakashi had genuinely stepped right into it.

It was on this note of amused annoyance that Kakashi made his way home, conjuring a genjutsu to hide the sanguine streaks on his hair and the back of his neck, a bit angry with himself, but otherwise unphased by the turn of events. A slight smile on his face, and a relaxed air about his body, and no one would know. Then, the sensei would simply remove the stuff tomorrow.

It'd been interesting, at least.

In his small, dingy apartment, rarely inhabited as he was always on missions lately, Kakashi hummed to fill the emptiness of its rooms. He changed into a clean uniform, switched an eye patch for his hitai-ate, triple checked his doors and windows, reset all of his traps, and eventually climbed into bed.

Lying there, staring up at the ceiling, listening to the quiet village around was impossible. Sleeping in the village just wasn't like sleeping on a mission. He wasn't dead on his feet or grabbing a few hours before watch. It was just too relaxed. And the dry, itchy paint wasn't making things any easier.

He reached down into the dirty pants he'd dropped onto the floor beside his bed and felt around for his book. Prodding. Poking. Searching, not finding..."Shit."

Icha Icha Paradise, Volume 1 was missing.

It was too late to go back and look for it; a few hours of rest, if not sleep, were necessary. He'd just have to wait for morning, then search between his apartment and the academy on his way to see Iruka.

With a roll of his eye, Kakashi slid lazily out of bed, scratching at paint stuck to his scalp, and grabbed Volume 2 off the shelf. It was the one in which Victor discovered Erica was sleeping with his friend Donald...there was an eloquent fight, then a make-out scene just after that bordered on obscenely hilarious, if he recalled correctly. And having read it exactly 27 times, he was sure he did.

A/N: Flower references mostly come from Tokyopop's blog entry with explanations of hanakotoba (Japanese flower language). Seemed to have slightly more credibility than the Geocities page cited by Wikipedia. ;) (http://www tokyopop co jp/Robofish/tparticle/286911 html - remove spaces)