Christmas with the Hatakes
By: Reggie

December 21st: Gift Exchange

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Kakashi muttered, turning slightly to inspect himself in the mirror. The pillow strapped to his stomach was more than a little ridiculous, but it was better than the suit without it.

Kakashi wasn't sure how, exactly, he'd convinced himself dressing up in Guy's Santa Suit was a good idea. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and surprisingly itchy even over his regular clothes. How Guy had worn it with only his underwear on was a mystery Kakashi did not really wish to contemplate.

But Iruka had spent most of dinner absent-mindedly feeding Sayuri while staring out the window, and he'd just looked so sad that Kakashi couldn't stand it anymore. He was desperate for something, anything, that would make his beloved chuunin smile again or at least talk to him. Even a shadow of a smile would be worth the pain of balancing his weight awkwardly on one foot, with his cast resting lightly against the ground.

He'd told Naruto days ago that if you had a problem with a relationship, you should talk to the other person about it. It had taken him this long to realize what the boy meant when he'd responded that Kakashi should take his own advice, but he understood now. The Jounin wasn't the only one that had noticed the pain in Iruka's eyes since December started.

Slipping the fake beard in to place, Kakashi smiled to himself in the mirror, and adjusted the Santa hat so it covered the sharingan. 'There, perfect.'

"Kakashi, are you alright?" Iruka's soft footsteps followed his voice down the hall. "You disappeared right after we put Sayuri to bed…"

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Kakashi muttered to himself, before speaking up. "Ho, ho, ho, there's no Kakashi in here! Just one jolly elf."

The footsteps stopped outside the door, which was swiftly thereafter flung open. Iruka stared at the sight before him, obviously shocked. "What the hell?"

"Uh…Merry early Christmas?" The Jounin tried, grinning sheepishly behind the scratchy beard. He should have left his mask on; the skin underneath was too sensitive for this.

"I don't know what you're doing," Iruka said flatly, "but it's creepy. You should stop."

"Oh come on! I don't even get a chuckle for my trouble?" Kakashi pouted, spreading his arms wide. "I even belted a pillow to my chest!"

The blank look on the Chuunin's face softened slightly, and he stepped further in the room. "You dressed like this for me?"

Kakashi nodded, holding his arms out childishly for a hug. It always worked better than words. "I wanted to make you smile, Iruka. You don't seem to be doing that much anymore."

There was a weak half-attempt at a smile as Iruka obliged the unspoken request, pulling as close to the Jounin as the awkward padding would allow. "I'm sorry, Kakashi."

"I don't want you to be sorry, I want to you to tell me what's wrong." Kakashi held his lover tight, inhaling his scent. "I want to try and make it better."

Iruka pulled back, brown eyes focused on the floor. "Nothing is wrong, Kakashi."

"Bullshit." The Jounin grabbed Iruka's chin, forcing his head up even if the eyes didn't follow. "I'm not blind or stupid, Iruka. I can see that you're hurting, and it's killing me inside. I'm not the only one that's noticed either." Slowly, brown eyes rose to meet Kakashi's open one, and the older man smiled softly. "Please, don't pull away from me. I want to help you."

"You can't," the words were whispered, but still audible in the silence of their room. "There's nothing…I just…"

Kakashi sighed, dropping his hand. What he was supposed to do with that? How could you help someone that didn't want it? "I haven't seen you this closed off since just after the twins were born." Iruka sucked in a breath, his eyes widening slightly as the Jounin continued. "I knew you were hurting, but you wouldn't let me help you. You were trying to be so strong, but for once, can't I be strong for you instead?"

Iruka was silent for several minutes before he slowly stepped forward and pulled the Jounin close again. "It feels wrong, somehow, to be celebrating when he's not here. I know it's silly, we only had him for a week but I loved him, Kakashi. I would have given anything if it would have just…"

For one wild second, the Jounin felt like laughing. And here he'd been thinking he was the only one that felt the absence of the baby they had barely known. Instead of laughing, he pulled Iruka close to his chest as the Chuunin's shoulders started to shake with suppressed sobs. "It's not silly. I've been missing Sakumo too."

The chuunin pulled back, or tried to. He only managed to get back far enough to look up in Kakashi's face, surprise evident on his face.

This hurt the Jounin in a way he could not explain. He pulled down his beard, instead, so Iruka could see his face and the tears leaking from Obito's eye. "Did you really think you were alone in your hurt?"

"I thought," Iruka started. "I thought I was being weak and sentimental. Logically, it's silly to miss a person you only knew for a week but...I didn't. I could feel them, both of them, growing inside me. I loved them before I ever saw them, if such a thing were possible. I'd imagined what it would be like to have them in our lives, what they would look like. Then he was just…gone…and it hurts." Iruka turned his face away as tears started to fall, in spite of his obvious efforts to stop them. "It sounds terrible, but it hurts more than losing my parents did. Because at least they'd had a chance and Sa…Sakumo didn't."

Kakashi leaned forward as best he could. "You're not alone," he whispered, between placing soft kisses on every part of his lover's face he could reach. "As soon as I saw them I knew I'd always loved them. I kept asking myself if there wasn't something I could have done differently to save him. I can never think of anything. But still I…" Kakashi pulled back a little, away from the hands that had fisted in the costume, to limp towards their dresser. "I had something made for you. It isn't exactly your present but…"

Iruka stared, watchful and silent, as Kakashi bent down to their underwear drawer. After a moment, he found what he was looking for and, holding it carefully in one hand, hobbled back.

"It isn't much," he said, "but when I thought of it, it helped me feel better. I hoped maybe you would appreciate it to."

Kakashi opened his hand, and gently pressed the object into the Chuunin's unresisting palm. He watched as Iruka looked down, and those brown eyes widened, and loving fingers traced the edges of the tiny handprint. "Sakumo Hatake," Iruka whispered. "July 25th to August 1st…"

"When Tsunade asked me at the time if I wanted a cast made of his hand, I told her no. I thought it would hurt too much to see. She did it anyway, telling me she'd keep it until I wanted it later." Kakashi chuckled softly, watching the tears silently falling down his lover's face. "Seems she was right, again. I felt better, knowing we could at least have a small piece."

"It's perfect," Iruka whispered, no longer fighting his silent tears. Kakashi found his arms full of Chuunin again as Iruka all but flung himself into Kakashi's arms, burying his face in the Jounin's chest.

Kakashi kissed the top of his lover's head, rocking them both as best he could with his injury. "It will be."