Just 250 days ago, we broke up.
"Did you know what time we were supposed to meet?"
"Hm… I think it was…"
Before I could finish, a gloved fist came flying towards my unprotected cheek.
I never knew that whiplash was such a painful thing.
Actually, it was the first time I experienced it. (And from a punch too…)
"Three hours!" Sakura-chan shrieked, her forehead gleaming brightly in the afternoon sun. "THREE LONG HOURS!"
"Sh-shorry…" I choked and held my rapidly swelling cheek.
"What's the excuse this time?! HA?!" Sakura-sama (1) roared.
"U-uh… I g-gob losh on da road ob libe?" (Translation: "U-uh… I g-got lost on the road of life?")
An enormous tick appeared on her forehead before she gritted her teeth, flexed her arms and clenched her right fist.
Recognizing that pose as her ultimate KO attack, I made good use of my ninja reflexes and held up my arms in defense before that bulldozer-like punch came crashing down.
When none came, I cracked open an eye uncertainly.
"You know…" She said, with her hands limp against her side. "You're acting a lot like him these days. Tch! And you used to be so punctual too."
'Him'. At the thought of that person, my chest started aching again.
"Ahaha, what are you saying?" I scratched my head and gave her a somewhat guilty smile. "I just got late 'cause the granny was lecturing me again. It's not like I'm late every time…"
"Yeah, just every meeting for the last sixty-four days," she gritted her teeth and shot me a frightening glare.
"Uwah! You were counting?! Ah well, where are Captain Yamato and Sai?"
"Oi, don't change the topic, you!"
"Don't worry, Sakura-chan, it's not like it's going to become a habit…"
I got the second taste of whiplash that day.
"IT'S ALREADY BECOME A HABIT FOR YOU, UZUMAKI NARUTO!"
"Teuchi-san, one more please."
Another steaming bowl of noodles with the same flavor was placed before me. I snapped another pair of chopsticks and stirred the broth.
I used to hate ramen but for some reason, it had become so delicious now.
I hastily pulled up my mask before turning around to the source of that nasal voice.
"Ah, Iruka-sensei. It has been a long time."
The tanned teacher nodded and slipped into the seat beside me with a wide grin.
"Yeah. It has been a while! How are you doing? Ah, Naruto isn't here with you today?"
I smiled my usual smile and shrugged.
That name. At the thought of that person, my chest started to hurt.
"Uwah! You've already had six bowls, Kakashi-sensei?!"
Teuchi-san smiled at Iruka-sensei's outburst before adding his two cents.
"That's right! And they were all miso ramen! Here's another one, onii-san, (2) for the business that you've been bringing us since last month!"
Iruka-sensei's eyes looked very much like Pak-kun's favorite tennis ball when they were widened that large. I wondered if they would widen further if I gulped down my seventh bowl before him.
Then he started laughing. I wonder if he had hit his head on something before he came.
"Hahahaha, Kakashi-sensei, I think you've been spending too much time with Naruto. You're acting a lot like him!"
Hm, so he wasn't crazy. Yeah, come to think of it, I have been eating a lot of ramen these days. Not just Ichiraku's, but cup ramen as well. Why was that?
"Ah, well," I smiled again. "Tastes change."
"Eh, is that so? But still, it's no good to eat too much of these. Eh…? Ah! S-sorry, Teuchi-san! I-I didn't mean it in a b-bad way…" Iruka-sensei bowed before the glowering older man then when he looked away, the dolphin turned to whisper to me.
"Hey Kakashi-sensei, I know ramen is delicious but don't make it a habit of eating too much."
"Heh, don't let Teuchi-san hear that, Iruka-sensei."
It probably wouldn't be a bad habit to eat ramen after every mission.
"Ugh! Ramen again?"
He paused mid-gulp and pouted.
"What's wrong with eating ramen?"
I pushed the bowl away and took out my book.
"It's oily and salty… and we have been eating it after every mission… I'm sick of it."
"But it's my only luxury… …Besides, it isn't every time! We had onigiri and yakiniku the last time."
"Anyway, I'm sick of it. If you're coming to eat ramen the next time, come alone."
"…I got it."
If I had taken my eyes of the book in that second, I would have caught the dejection in his beautiful blue eyes.
Why had I been so selfish then?
"You're late again!"
He scratched the back of his head and gave me a sheepish grin.
"Sorry, I just got lost on the road of life and…"
"Don't give me that!" I yelled. His single obsidian eye widened in surprise before it narrowed.
"Oi, it's not like I did it on purpose. Something had cropped up so I couldn't come earlier but…"
"There's always something last minute!" I interrupted before he could finish. "You know how little time we have together these days… Why can't you be punctual for once?"
He buried a fist in his hair, exasperated.
"What's the big idea?"
What's the big idea, he said?! The agitation, accusations that I got from the previous mission's screw-up, and the worry and anger for the last two hours that I had spent waiting for him, snowballed.
Before I knew it, we were at it again.
"What's the big idea!? Did you just say that?! I can't believe you! The missions have been pulling us apart and this is the only time we have before we go off for separate missions! Why can't you understand that?!"
"You don't get it either. 'If we love each other, all these will mean nothing'… weren't you the one who said those words when I told you what would happen when we got into different teams? Stop pushing the blame onto me! I'm trying hard here too!"
"You're trying hard? What about me?" I cried. "I pushed away the pose of captain so that I can make more time for us. I risk my life in every mission so that I can hurry home but in the end, you're always making me wait! Even now, when we finally have the time together, you…"
"…It can't be helped. You're not the only one who has to make sacrifices."
That had been the last straw.
"Fine! If things happen, then let's just call it off!"
"…Are you for real? Stop behaving like this, you…"
"Stop treating me like I'm still a kid! We are over."
He had said quietly before turning to leave.
That was when I realized it.
The slight limp in his left leg and the dark stain on the side of his pants. He had been injured in his mission.
Why hadn't I stopped him from leaving then? Just calling his name and saying 'I was sorry' would have solved everything.
Why had I been so childish?
"Oi Naruto, you have been checking your mailbox for a while now. Are you waiting for letters or something?" Sai asked as he picked another book titled 'A Dummy's Guide to Flirting' amidst the tiny pile.
"Something like that, I guess… But more importantly, what the hell do you think you're doing, entering people's houses like that?!"
"Huh? I rang the door-bell just like I should. I say 'Excuse for the intrusion' just like I should, and I entered through the front door. What's wrong with that?"
"Geez! You can't enter when no one is inside."
"But the door was left open!"
"But still!" I continued to bicker with him as I made sure to close the door properly this time.
Checking the mail had been a habit. When Kakashi was away on a mission, he would always send me a letter every week without fail.
Thinking about the empty mailbox now, the dull pain in my heart returned.
That bastard! Had he really forgotten about me?
"…Sai, it seems you're getting on good terms with Naruto these days."
The pale boy smiled. "Yes. Naruto and I have become buddies."
"Ah, I see." That irritating smirk… I wish I could wipe it off his face. "You visited his place yesterday, huh?"
And you even dared to stay over, you bastard!
His dark eyes widened slightly. "Eh? How did you know that, Kakashi-sensei?"
"A-ah, well, I was just passing by. There is a bookstore around that district, you see."
"Eh… but I remember that there was a larger bookstore around the place you live…"
This cheeky brat!
"Ah, the book I wanted wasn't available at the one near my place so I had to look around."
"Eh…" He stared at me with a look of what seemed to be admiration before he smiled and nodded. "I understand that feeling too. If it were me, I would also go from one end of the village to the next, just like you did, to get the book I wanted too."
Actually, it had been a habit. When I came back from missions, I would take a detour to his place every day to see if he had returned. I missed him so much that even if I had to go from one corner of the earth to the next, it didn't matter. Yet now…
That brat! Was he serious about leaving me?
We had quarreled so many times.
I had told him 'it's over' just as many times.
It was the worst. The habitual remark had become real.
But… you're not turning back? You're going to leave me just like that?
Even now, I'm still waiting, you bastard scarecrow!
What should I do?
I thought I would be okay when he said 'it's over'. I was used to it; I thought he would take it back like he did every time.
But his face had seemed so resolute then.
Should I have apologized then? Would it solve everything? Should I have gotten angry and told him I was working hard for the two of us so that we could live together?
…No. It probably wouldn't work no matter what I did.
Besides, we would just do it all over again.
It had become a sick habit.
Still no mail. Had he really given up on us?
Shit. Why am I taking a detour around his apartment like before?
Haven't I told myself 'it's over'? So my body's memories are stronger than my mind's?
I looked up and found myself gazing at those sky-blue eyes.
Damn! I've been caught! I should have seen him when he was checking his mail box.
Wait. I haven't been sending him any mail so why was he…! Was he waiting for some other person's letter? Ah, the thought of it makes me want to run off somewhere and cry.
"Hey! Don't go!" He yelled before I could leave. "You want me to see you turn your back from me a second time, you bastard?"
"Fine. You leave then."
"That's not what I meant, stupid!" He looked down before continuing in a softer voice. "That's not what I meant. Y-you… What are you doing here?"
"…I can't be here?"
He shook his head hastily and made his way towards me. "That's not it! It's just… I… I thought I wouldn't be seeing you again."
"Would it make you happy?"
"Would it make you happy if you don't see me again?"
"NO! I-if I can't see you again, I think… I will…"
Crap. I made him cry. I can't stand his tears. Ugh… what should I do?
"Hey Naruto, you know, I'm actually about to die."
W-what was I saying?
"What?" The tears stopped as he snapped up to gaze at me in shock.
(At least he wasn't crying anymore.) This was it.
"Yeah, I'm about to die," I continued. "My mind is in a whirl. I've gotten strange new habits. I've been eating ramen like crazy and everyone has been saying that I'm not acting like myself. The old 'Hatake Kakashi' is going to die at this rate."
The horrified expression melted away and he looked into my eye.
"…Then what should I do? What should I do to get that irritating, always unpunctual, Icha Icha loving idiot back? The annoying scarecrow, who would send me letters every week, and speak in that superior tone… How should I get him back?"
This brat was always tugging at the corners of my heart. Bugging me about ramen and training… I had become so used to seeing his face and hearing his voice. Without them, what will become of me?
"Just stay by my side, Naruto."
There was something wet against my cheeks but it couldn't be what I thought it was. Could it?
I really thought I was the only one sacrificing for the sake of us. But when the person you love is shedding tears for your sake, nothing else matters.
"Kiss me, Kakashi."
And he did. Just like he does every time after we fight.
In the end, I'm weak against this habit of his.
But well, it didn't matter. I like him so much.
I kissed him. I wish I could let him know how much I love him through this kiss.
I like him so much. In the end, I guess we had both fallen to the habit of loving each other too much.
It was a habit I would never stop.
Disclaimer: Like I said, Naruto doesn't belong to me! If it did, Asuma, Itachi and Jiraiya wouldn't have... wouldn't have... (sniffs).
(1) 'Sama' is an honorific used to show respect (or fear, in Naruto's case).
(2) 'onii-san' means brother usually, but it can also be used as an honorific.
It seems when a couple has been together for a long time, they really take on each other's habit. Or at least this was the case when I saw a couple friend of mine last week. It was really amazing. They were totally synchronizing, kind of like the 'Golden Pair' in POT. (sweats)
Anyway, I hope you had liked this story (as it seems all I can do these days is to churn out these one-shots instead of continuing the other stories).
Please R&R. Don't be shy!