He was ashamed to be called a ninja of the hidden leaf. Ninja's are brave and face their foes and have great strength and strategic skills. They are trained to handle any situation and come out unscathed. Iruka couldn't even ask a woman out on a date. He was thrilled when he found out that she and Gai were not dating, and ecstatic to find out that she had feelings for him, not Gai, but whenever he approached her during a free period, or lunch break, or after a staff meeting she always smiled so sweetly at him and his throat closed up and he couldn't get anything out.
School had let out twenty minutes prior, but he was still at his desk in his empty classroom. He couldn't bring himself to get up. He knew if he left while there were other teachers in the building he had a chance of coming face to face with Harumi and making a fool of himself. Iruka sighed and rested his head in his arms atop his desk, defeated. He really was a coward.
He busied himself with grading papers and glancing at the clock until the hands landed on a more appropriate time. He did this for another hour and dropped the last graded test on the class pile. He stood and idly pushed in his chair and stretched. Turning off the classroom lights he slid the door closed and pulled out his keys, turning them over in his hands a few times before locking the door. As he made his way out of the out of the Academy he wondered if he should stop at the ramen shop before returning home. His stomach grumbled in agreement.
Iruka stopped in his tracks. He wondered if he could pretend not to have heard her and keep going. He really was a coward. Berating himself he turned and smiled at Harumi. His heart beat was suddenly so much louder when she smiled back, running to catch up to him.
"I didn't think there was anyone else here!" She said happily. "Stuck grading papers as well?"
He nodded. "Didn't want to bring the work home with me."
"I'm not so lucky." She laughed, gesturing to her bag. "I'm afraid I let the work pile up on me over the weekend."
"Yes, I heard about your date with Gai." He let slip.
She blushed. "Ah, you heard about that." She bit her bottom lip nervously, drawing Iruka's attention to them. She said something more, but he didn't hear much. He was brought back with a tap on the arm. He shot away from her as if burned, his eyes snapping to her face.
Her hand was still raised and she was giving him a strange look.
"Sorry." Iruka smiled, walking again. "What was that?"
"It's nothing." She said with a smile, walking beside him. "So I haven't seen you all day, Iruka-sempai. It's as if you've been avoiding me." She said playfully.
Iruka laughed awkwardly and high pitched. He cleared his throat. "No, of course not. Well I suppose we should part ways now." He said, stopping and gesturing to the crossroad.
She stopped as well, confused. "Aren't you going home?" All the apartment complexes were in the same part of the village. The other road Iruka was going to go down led to the market.
He rubbed the back of his head. "Well, I was going to get something to eat before going home."
Harumi placed her hands on her hips. "You mean go eat at that ramen stand."
He shrugged, defensive. "Well it is the cheapest place to eat and I don't usually enjoy burning my food."
She flushed. "I'm sorry, I'm prying again. I'm just worried about you, Iruka-sempai." She blushed harder and held her bag tighter. "Not that you can't take care of yourself, I just-"
Iruka laughed and she ducked her head. "No, it's alright." He said. "I'm lucky to be in your favor, Harumi-san."
She smiled and he smiled back. He gave the market road one more look before going down the other instead. "But maybe you're right. I'll try to make something healthy tonight."
She fell into step with him, looking flustered. "You don't have to change your plans because I opened my big mouth, Iruka-sempai."
"No, no." He said to her relief. "I should know how take care of myself better anyway." He smiled, but inwardly sighed. He was weak, he knew it. He couldn't do anything to disappoint her. But when she smiled at him and waved goodbye when they reached his apartment he felt it was worth it. His stomach grumbled as he entered his apartment, but it was still worth it.
He entered his kitchen and turned on the light, searching through the cabinets. There was not much to choose from. Cereal seemed too cold so late. He had already ran out of instant ramen, and he didn't have much warm food that could be cooked without him burning anything. Soup didn't seem filling enough without any noodles, but he always burned the noodles or kept them in too long.
Finally, after ten minutes of scrounging around his kitchen he sat down on his living room couch with a small bag of chips and a sandwich. He sat there eating his chips for a little bit in silence, and before long the bag was empty. He threw the bag on the coffee table and stood. He slipped off his Chuunin jacket and headed to the bathroom, ready for a shower.
He had just finished washing his hair when his doorbell rang. He frowned and turned off the shower. Wrapping a towel around his waist he left his bathroom without a second thought, water dripping off the ends of his long hair and trailing down his back. He headed through the living room to the door. The doorbell rang again and he turned the doorknob hastily.
"Yes, may I..." He trailed off, surprised who his visitor was. "H-Harumi-san."
Harumi stared at Iruka's chest, her eyes following a drop of water as it slid down his chest, over his toned stomach, and to the towel. Her head tilted on its own and she blinked slowly, a smile tugging on the edge of her lips.
He blushed at her stare. "Uh...Harumi-san?" He lifted a hand to hold the towel, self conscious.
Snapping out of her daze she blushed bright red and took a step back, averting her gaze. "I-I'm sorry, I seemed to have caught you at a bad time. I-I'll just come back later."
"No!" He said quickly, reaching out."No, just...wait inside while I get some clothes."
She muttered some sort of acceptance and turned, covering her eyes with one hand and entering the apartment. As he closed the door he noticed the other held onto a large container.
"What's that?" He asked before he could stop.
"Huh?" She asked, flustered. "Oh, it's..uh..food. I thought that maybe, well..." She trailed off, embarrassed, over how everything had gone so far.
He caught on and couldn't help smile. "Oh, you brought me dinner."
"It's not that I'm trying to pry or anything, but I know that I stopped you from going out to dinner when it was none of my business. So I'd thought I'd make it up to you by bringing you something so you wouldn't end up wasting time burning your dinner." She tried to crack a smile.
He chuckled and nodded. "That's nice of you. The kitchen is there. I'll be back in a moment."
She smiled. "Alright." She did as told while he rushed to his room.
He returned a few minutes later, stopping just outside the kitchen doorway, slightly out of breath. His hair still down and a little damp, and wearing blue pants and a black long sleeved shirt. He entered the kitchen and his mouth watered at the delicious smell of food. His stomach grumbled and he leaned against the counter next to her.
She had taken it upon herself to pull plates and bowls from his cabinet. Fried rice, chicken, and carrots. It still had steam rising from it and he was glad he skipped going to the ramen stand.
"Looks nice." He noticed that she had taken out a plate and rice bowl for herself. "Will you be staying as well?"
She stopped putting food on the plates and smiled. "I thought maybe you'd like some company. I know it's boring to eat by yourself. Usually why cooking seems so tedious."
He nodded wordlessly and helped her bring the food to the table. He glanced at her many times, opening and closing his mouth, trying to find something to say. He sat down, feeling a bit helpless and looked down at his plate.
"Ah, no chopsticks."
A pair hovered in front of him and he took them from Harumi with a thankful smile. "Thank you."
She nodded and sat down as well on the other side of the square table. She picked up her own pair, but paused. "Oh, I forgot the drinks."
He followed her with his eyes as she rose quickly and headed back into the kitchen. Tapping his finger on the table he let some scenarios drift through his head, some innocent, some not so much. Hitting the table with his palm he stood, decided and turned to the kitchen. He skidded to a stop just before hitting Harumi. She froze in her step and the water in the glasses swished closely to the edge of the glasses. He smiled sheepishly.
"It's fine." She handed him a glass and moved past him back to the table.
He looked down at the glass and turned swiftly. "Harumi."
She put her glass on the table. "Yes?"
He cleared his throat. "May I ask you a question?"
Opening and closing his mouth he tried to think of the proper wording. He put his glass down and stepped closer to the table to be closer to her as well. "Would you like to have dinner with me?"
"We are having dinner." She said, averting her gaze and a blush lighting up her cheeks.
"I mean..." He stood up straighter. "Would you like to go out with me sometime? As in a date."
Her heart beat picked up even more. "A date? Really?"
He nodded, still anxiously waiting for her response.
The smile she gave him was a bit of a relief, but it could still easily mean that she was going to let him down easily. Even with the knowledge that she liked him he still had his doubts. When she nodded happily he almost sighed in relief.
"I'd love to go out with you, Iruka-sempi."
He smiled and leaved closer to her. "Just Iruka is fine, Harumi-san."
Her eyes sparkled, as if in a daze. "Then just Harumi is fine." She breathed, taking a step closer to him.
"Alright then, Harumi." He stared into her green eyes questioningly, searching them. He hesitated. "May I...May I kiss you?"
Her answer was another nod and as he leaned down she closed her eyes. He placed his lips lightly over hers and his heart soared.
Iruka decided he wasn't a coward. After all, he landed the kiss even before dinner on a non-date to the woman his heart had been longing for. He boldly brought her closer and she didn't pull away.
"Iruka." She whispered his name and wrapped her arms around his neck. She rested her head against his shoulder. "I've liked you for such a long time."
He smiled and kissed her again, thrilled he could finally do it whenever he wanted. "I've liked you as well." He whispered, feeling if he was any louder he'd mess everything up. He held her against him, and they both forgot all about the food on the table, focused on one another.
Iruka was glad he didn't stop for ramen.
A/N Well, that's the end. I want to thank all the reviewers as well as those who haven't reviewed. Just taking time out of your day to read and enjoy my writing is enough for me.
To those disappointed Gai didn't get the girl no worries, I have a special extra for him! So look out for that drabble/chapter. Harumi's story may be over, but I can't leave my Gai hanging!
Thank you all who read and reviewed.