Along with giving me the plot bunny for Touchstone, *SumiHatake gave me several other plot bunnies that I've been meaning to work on. This, technically is one of them, though I've taken a drastic step away from what she originally wrote (huge, enormous drastic step).
Next chapter forthcoming, soon, I hope.
Let me know what you think!
Kakashi curled tighter underneath the shuriken-patterned comforter and folded the pillow over his head with an unintelligible grumble. It was a futile effort, but he had to try something to block out the low growls and high-pitched barks that were echoing down the hall from his living room. After several minutes of slipping in and out of sleep, he finally succumbed to the inevitable and stalked down the hall to figure out what the racket was.
Normally, he was willing to put up with the antics of his ninken, but after the trials of the past three weeks, he was in no mood for it.
"What happened here?" Tsunade planted both of her hands on her hips, ignoring the kids who were slinking around behind her. One of the young girls still had both her hands over her mouth.
"Maa, Tsunade-sama." Kakashi sheepishly rubbed his hand across the back of his hair, clearly ignoring the hands that were fisted in the front of his shirt and the person who had obviously been screaming at him just seconds before Tsunade had arrived. "Nothing serious, just a minor accident."
"Minor?" Tsunade raised an eyebrow, glad that she got it out before the other person, who looked in danger of exploding. "Iruka-san has two kunai sticking out of his shoulder. Isn't this class still supposed to be using dull blades?"
"Yes." The word was ground out between clenched teeth as Iruka tightened his grip on Kakashi's shirt. "They are."
"Kakashi? Is there some reasonable explanation for this?"
"Reasonable?!" Iruka spluttered, "How could there possibly…mmmph!" Kakashi clapped a gloved hand over the chuunin-sensei's mouth.
"Now, now, Iruka-sensei, you remember our discussion." The dark eyes narrowed over the edge of his thumb, and Tsunade saw all of the kids take a step backwards at the murderous intent coming from their teacher. "We were simply having a conversation between two educational professionals about the merits of increasing the difficulty of the classes before the students are ready to force the learning curve."
The look of absolute disbelief on Iruka's face was priceless.
"This," Tsunade gestured to the pointed implements imbedded in Iruka's back, "Doesn't look like a simple conversation."
"Maaa, well, we weren't able to come to an agreement, so I figured a demonstration was in order." Kakashi yelped and pulled his hand away from Iruka's mouth. Tsunade tried to hide a chuckle. Though Iruka typically acted like a straight-laced sensei, she'd seen him pull off a couple of convoluted pranks to give both his class and fellow chuunin in the mission room a kick in the ass to get them working harder. She'd put money on the fact that he'd just bitten Kakashi's hand.
The chuunin released Kakashi's shirt and twisted around to rip the kunai out of his shoulder. "He replaced a couple of the dummy kunai with real ones. Which Tsuki happened to pick up."
The little girl who'd had her hands over her mouth let out a choked cry, "I didn't mean to, Iruka-sensei!"
The look Iruka gave to Kakashi probably could have frozen lava as he walked over and knelt by his student. Tsuki looked like she was going to start crying at any moment.
Tsunade rolled her eyes; jounin were such children sometimes. She knew that the two had fought before – someone had told her about the spat at the meeting before the chuunin exam. Apparently something of an animosity had festered between the two shinobi, and she knew they needed to put a stop to it. "Alright, alright. Kakashi, you're going to help Iruka with his class. That means that you're going to do anything, and I mean anything that he needs you to do. Got it?"
Kakashi groaned and rubbed his lower back, which tweaked with every movement thanks to the hours of practicing taijutsu techniques with twenty mini-nin. He seriously had no idea how Iruka managed to do this all day, every day.
But his admiration for the chuunin's ability to train these hellions paled in comparison to his desire to beat the snot out of the other man for putting him through this torture. So what if Tsunade had ordered it, that didn't mean Iruka needed to pick the absolute worst things for him to help with. And since Iruka wasn't readily available, he might just take it out on his overly noisy dogs who had disturbed his first full night of sleep since Tsunade had given him this damn assignment.
All murderous thoughts evaporated when he turned the corner into his living room. Pakkun was lying on the floor, looking overly irritated and like he just woke up, and a ball of black and white fluff was crouched next to him, her nose on the ground by his face and her butt and tail arched towards the ceiling. Pakkun snapped his jaws at her, but it was pretty ineffective considering she was almost bigger than he was. "Bull!" Pakkun barked.
"Yeah, sorry," The monster of the dog padded into the room from the kitchen, "I took my eyes off her for a second." Bull snagged the little puppy by the scruff of her neck and dropped her onto the couch. She landed on her back, wiggled around for a few minutes before sliding off the cushions and onto the floor. She rolled over onto her feet and promptly trotted back over to Pakkun's side.
Kakashi caught her around the belly, his fingers sinking into the soft fur as he picked her up. He sat down on the couch, and she squirmed around a little, but finally settled down with her back on his legs, paws folded over her chest and mis-matched eyes staring up to meet his. "Who are you?"
Pakkun yawned hugely, clearly deciding that he wasn't going to get any more sleep and hopped up onto the coffee table. "Her name's Kioko; she's a new pup in the clan. And she has way too much energy for her own good."
The ninken's clan was enormous; Kakashi had only met a few of them besides the eight that were bonded to him, and most of those were the ones who had run with his father. Even though he knew that they usually had one or two litters a year in the clan, he'd never met any of the pups when they were this young.
Kioko opened her mouth and yawned in his face.
"So, why's she here?"
"The clan's doing some huge hunt, and everyone's busy with it." Pakkun paused as he scratched at the back of his ear. "'Cept us."
Kakashi's eye folded upwards as he grinned at the pug. "You guys are babysitters?"
Pakkun glared at him, "Laugh it up; you're going to have to put up with her too."
The deep cawing of one of the village's messenger birds drew both of their attentions out the window.
"Mission?" Pakkun guessed, and Kakashi nodded. The pug turned his glare to Kioko, who was happily trying to bite her tail from her position on her back in Kakashi's lap. "Well, what're we gonna do with her?"
Both Bull and Pakkun took steps back at the decidedly evil expression that descended on Kakashi's face. "It's payback time."
"Yeah?" Iruka had just turned away from the board to answer the kid's question when a blast of leaves filled the space in his classroom between where he was standing and the front row of desks. "Uh… Can I help you, Kakashi-san?"
Kakashi smiled brightly, "Yes, you can."
Iruka yelped as a squirming puppy was deposited into his hands, but the jounin vanished before he could voice any protest. "Wha…?"
A note was pressed in between his hand and the puppy's fur. It said simply: 'Thanks for looking after her. Her name's Kioko. Be back in two weeks."
"WHAT?!" Iruka shrieked.
He'd had to dismiss his class early since they officially ceased to pay any attention to him when an adorable puppy was romping around the classroom. Kioko was tucked up under his arm, her tail thwapping back and forth against the small of his back and her mouth open, tongue hanging out of the side of it.
"So I guess you don't speak, eh?" Iruka looked down as the black ears turned towards him, and Kioko looked up at him, the white patches above her blue and black eyes raising towards her ears, almost in confusion. "Guess not." She barked happily at him, her tail swinging faster.
He shoved the door open with his shoulder and gently set the puppy down onto the floor of his apartment. She immediately took off at a thousand miles a minute, running race tracks around his couch, down the hall, up and over his bed – with a couple of extra tries to make it up onto the bed each time – back up the hall, and completed with a lot of skidding on the linoleum floor of the kitchen before she sprinted back into the living room again. Iruka gapped at the streak of black and white and then shrugged. Years of dealing with children had taught him that young creatures would always tire themselves out eventually.
But at ten, when Kioko had knocked over his lesson plan for the third time, and he had pushed her off the coffee table with a strict 'No!' for the fourth time – he'd lucked out that one of those times he'd managed to catch her before she destroyed anything – Iruka started to wonder how he was going to survive another thirteen days with this puppy.
"Oooof!" Iruka gasped for air as Kioko leapt up onto the bed and landed with her front paws squarely on his stomach. Her back paws were somewhere that was most decidedly worse, and he shoved her off, folding over the injured part of his anatomy and trying to ignore the tears gathering in the corner of her eyes.
Kioko dropped to her haunches on the edge of the bed and let out a soft whine. Iruka finally managed to gasp enough air into his lungs to straighten up. "What's wrong?" The little pup whined at him again, her ears folding back to her head. She looked decidedly uncomfortable. "Uh," Iruka rubbed his hand over his eyes. "You need to go out."
Through his sleep blurred eyes, he almost would have sworn that she nodded.
Iruka shoved his hands up into his armpits. It was absolutely freezing out here! Kioko had been sniffing around at the ground for a good fifteen minutes, and at 2 in the morning, Iruka's short patience was wearing thin. "Just go already!" Kioko promptly looked up from what she'd been doing and galumphed back over to him. "No, no don't come over…" He groaned, bent over and put his hands under her butt, scooting her back over towards the tree she was so interested in. "Please, just go to the bathroom."
Iruka buried his face in his pillow as Kioko ran her third racetrack of the morning. It had gotten worse this particular morning, since she'd decided to bank off his butt every time she came through. He raised his head far enough to look at the clock. It wasn't even 5 yet.
And it had only been two days.
All four of his pillows from his couch had been ripped open at the seam and the stuffing lay in small pathetic piles all over the floor. Kioko looked up innocently from where she lay in the middle of the massacre, a piece of pale fuzz hanging from the corner of her mouth.
Iruka dug his fingers into his hair, stalked into the bedroom and screamed.
8 days into the experience, Iruka returned from a field exercise with his class that had left him with several wrenched muscles and covered from head to toe in the viscous, noxious smelling muck from the swamp in training area 8. He'd literally fallen into one of the deeper pools in an attempt to keep three of his students from falling in themselves. Kioko was, thankfully, napping in his now puppy-proofed living room, so he eased by her and crawled into the bathtub.
Within moments, he heard the soft click of claws on the tile and opened his eyes a slit to look at Kioko, who had hung her head over the edge of the tub and nudged at the water with her nose. It occurred to Iruka that she might have never seen this much standing water before, and she jumped back in surprise when her nose sank below the water.
He couldn't help but chuckle as Kioko approached the lip of the tub again and licked tentatively at the water. "It's just water, silly." Iruka flicked drops of water at her, laughing out loud when she tried to snap at it when it hit her in the face. Kioko put her feet up on the edge of the tub and licked at his fingers, which he pulled back so he could continue to flick water at her. She looked down at the water when he put his hand back under it, and Iruka watched the white patches above her eyes draw together, almost as if she was confused.
The next thing he knew, she'd jumped her hind paws up onto the lip and was sliding in with him, accompanied by much flailing.
Iruka gasped as he was soaked with water, glad that he had managed to pull back his feet in time to avoid getting scratched. Kioko looked completely shocked. She was wet up to her neck; her fur matted down along her body and sticking out like a mane around her face.
He reached out and bopped her on the nose to dispel her shock and she snapped back at him, growling playfully. When he pulled his hand back, as if scandalized, she barked at him and leapt forward, planting her feet on his chest and licking happily at his face. Iruka laughed, digging his fingers into the fur on her head and scratching vigorously. Her tail sprayed water all over as she wagged it frenetically.
Kioko still had incredible bouts of energy, but it seemed a little bit easier to deal with it. She was, after all, a truly adorable puppy, and the more time Iruka spent with her, the less it felt like a chore to baby-sit Kakashi's dog. He looked like hell, though, since he was only getting about four hours of sleep a night – the little pup just didn't seem to need rest.
On the 14th morning, Iruka woke-up long before his alarm clock, but definitely after Kioko typically woke him up. The weight on his shoulder turned out to be Kioko's head. She was wedged up against his back and was snoring in his ear.
Kakashi landed softly on the steps leading up to the Hokage's tower. Even though he knew it was a horrible thing to do, he was desperately hoping that Kioko had put Iruka through a hell comparable to what he'd gone through with those monsters that they called kids.
As he walked into the mission room, he had to admit that Iruka looked like he was lacking on sleep. As the chuunin accepted a mission report from one of the people ahead of him and yawned hugely in the middle of telling the person that they'd done a good job. The dark circles under his eyes confirmed that.
"Iruka-sensei." He smiled brightly down at the other man.
"Kakashi-sensei." Iruka stifled a yawn and reached out to take Kakashi's report.
"Maa, thanks for watching Kioko-chan for me." Kakashi's smile widened when Iruka's look turned a little dark. "Did you have fun?" He couldn't resist poking him a little bit.
The dark look vanished, and Iruka smiled tiredly, "Actually, yes, I did."
"Really?...I mean, that's great." Kakashi took a step backwards, trying to figure out where this plan had gone wrong. Shouldn't Iruka be yelling at him for being an ass?
"She's at my apartment; I can go get her for you when my shift's over, if you like." Iruka had turned away from him and was shuffling through the stack of mission reports that had been sitting on the edge of the desk.
"O..okay." Kakashi just walked away, unable to come up with any intelligent response. Okay, so he knew he was being childish, but he'd really wanted Iruka to suffer the way he'd suffered.
"So, does she talk?" Kakashi asked as he watched the fur ball do loops around his living room, coughing to hide a snort of laughter when she bounced off one of the legs of the coffee table. She skidded to a halt in the center of the room and plopped down facing the door. Kakashi was almost certain she was waiting for someone.
Pakkun shook his head, "Nah, she's got a different way of communicating."
"And that is?" Kakashi prompted when Pakkun seemed disinclined to elaborate.
Pakkun never got a chance to finish because Kioko fired across the room and vaulted into his lap.
He was standing in the doorway of a bathroom that wasn't his own and…Iruka? The chuunin's head was titled back against the wall, and his eyes were closed. Kakashi walked over towards the edge of the tub, dipping his hand into the warm water. As his fingers touched the water, Iruka's eyes opened, but the chuunin didn't seem at all startled to see him. He smiled softly and flicked water at Kakashi's face, and Kakashi shook his head in surprise when the water splattered across his cheeks and nose. He wasn't wearing his mask. Kakashi leaned over the tub and tried to grab at Iruka's hand, but the other man pulled his hand away and continued to spray him with water. Snarling in irritation, he leaned farther over and felt his hand slip off the edge of the tub.
He shook the water out of his hair and then looked up from where he was kneeling between Iruka's legs. The chuunin reached out and tapped him gently on the nose, and he tried to snatch at his hand. When Iruka pulled back, he pushed forward, putting his hands on either side of the other man's waist and nuzzling up against Iruka's face and licking his face. Iruka's fingers wound into his hair, pulling his head closer.
Kakashi opened his eyes, and he was back in his living room, with Kioko in his lap, staring up at him.
"She, uh, uses memories. When she wants to communicate, she uses memories to do it." Pakkun finished. "But you probably just figured that out."
Kakashi swallowed hard and shifted, trying to forget the feeling of the chuunin's - inaked/i - body. Luckily, Kioko chose that exact moment to leap off his lap, her paws nailing him squarely in the balls and immediately diffusing the….growing…problem.
Oh, this was so not good.
Comment please ^^