Disclaimer: All characters in this story doesn't belong to me. Other than the plot, everything else belongs to Kishimoto-sama.
Chapter 1: Awry Mission
Kakashi opened his eyes slowly. He had no idea where he was, except that there were trees all around. He was lying face down on the ground and it was getting cold and uncomfortable. Shifting a little and wincing at the stress that the action was adding to his already aching body, he tried to push himself off the ground.
And almost immediately, an unbearable pain shot through his entire body and he let out a groan of before giving up on that act and falling back into the dirty ground below. He closed his sharingan eye when he felt a pain throbbing and tried to swallow through his dry throat.
He was beginning to feel a little dizzy. It seems that the world around him is spinning. Or is it just him? Then, he heard the thudding of footsteps nearing him, but he didn't even have the strength to turn and see. And suddenly, someone was hovering over him.
Kakashi shifted his eye and looked up. It was a somewhat familiar face. But he can't remember where he had seen it before. The person was talking to him, and he can't seem to register anything. Two other people joined the one talking to him. He was getting irritated at the incessant talking. He just wanted them to leave him alone, so that he can rest and recover from the aches. And then, he felt himself being lifted off the ground – the slight action causing another flash of pain to course through him – before darkness gradually engulfed him.
Iruka ran through the quiet hospital corridors, desperately trying to get to where he needs to be at the soonest time possible. Sakura was following closely behind, a look of worry on her pale face.
"Iruka-sensei, this way." Sakura called when the academy teacher ran past an intersection. Iruka backtracked a few steps and followed after the pink-haired kunoichi who had taken the lead.
Sakura stopped at a door and slid it open tentatively. She swallowed hard and took a step in. Iruka stood outside the door, unsure for a moment before the girl in front start to beckon to him.
The chunin walked into the hospital room, surrounded by white walls and the smell of sterilizer. The sight itself was already depressing. He walked in further to be met by a hoard of shinobi, the Hokage herself and almost surprisingly, Ibiki, the head of ANBU torture and interrogation force.
Iruka swallowed dryly as he approached the bed surrounded by people. Having Ibiki here just doesn't seem to be as good news as he had hoped that it would be. One of the shinobi turned slightly when he heard the shuffling of footsteps behind him.
"Iruka." Genma greeted quietly as he moved aside slightly to allow the tanned chunin access to the pale body lying on the bed.
Iruka took in a deep breath as he walked over. He wasn't sure if he wanted to see the condition of the patient. The burning sensation hanging in the corner of his brown orbs stung him and tears were threatening to fall any moment he saw something that is out of place.
Before he could reach the bed, however, someone blocked his path. He looked up confused for a moment, as the person looked back at him with sympathy in her eyes.
"Iruka, I don't think you are prepared to see the sight before you. But I know you would want to. So, I just want you to know that he will heal. It will take some time, but he will be alright soon. Be patient, and don't take it too hard. He will be fine." Tsunade clapped a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Iruka licked his dry lips. Somehow, that reassuring statement just seems to add on to his fears. Just how badly had he been wounded?
Tsunade stepped aside and silently pushed him towards the bed. The moment Iruka saw the almost lifeless body lying there, he let out a sob.
Kakashi was still and his breathing was barely there. His heartbeat was weak and there were tubes inserted into his body, so many that Iruka didn't even bother counting. The countless machines beside the bed didn't help to allay the helplessness he was feeling. The jounin was wrapped in bandages all over that he looked almost like a mummy. There were bandages on his forehead, his neck, shoulder, chest and arms. Blood was seeping through some of the bandages, staining the white cloth into a horrifying red.
And that was all Iruka could see from the surface. He didn't even have the courage to lift the blanket and see what is underneath.
Iruka felt his knees suddenly go weak and he buckled for a moment, before he was steadied and held up by a pair of strong arms. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Kakashi had never even been badly hurt before, much less needing to be supported by all forms of machines. He felt the hot tears rolling down his cheeks. From beside him, he could hear Sakura sobbing quietly.
"What happened?" Iruka asked hoarsely, as he turned to look at the person holding him up. "Asuma-san, what happened?"
Asuma opened his mouth, but no words came out. He closed it and turned away regretfully, refusing to meet the anguish in the chunin's brown eyes. Iruka scanned the pool of faces around him, looking for his other source of answer.
"Tell me. Genma? Anko? Raidou?"
All of them turned away and Iruka caught sight of unshed tears in the eyes of the usually unaffected purple-haired kunoichi.
"Someone tell me. Just what the hell had happened?" Iruka choked as his gaze rested on the still form on the hospital bed. A chair was pushed under him and he was pushed down onto the cushion seat. Kurenai knelt down beside him and took his shaking hand silently.
"He had been on a S-rank mission, part of the two-men team we sent out. They were ambushed on their way back and the search team found him injured and unconscious." A quiet voice came beside him. Iruka looked up into the pained eyes of his Hokage. "His other team member was dead."
"He had severe chakra depletion and his shoulder was dislocated. There were cuts, bruises and deep wounds all over his body. He was all bloody and weak when we found him, barely breathing." Asuma continued in a grave voice. "And his body seems to be under the influence of some sort of foreign substance."
"Foreign substance?" Iruka bit on his lips. He didn't know what was worse. The injuries or the unknown chemical running in the blood of his unconscious lover. Perhaps it was the combination of both that was making him so uneasy.
A nurse came into the solemn room and approached the Hokage quietly.
"Hokage-sama, here is the blood sample that you have requested."
Tsunade nodded and signaled for the burly man beside him to take it. Ibiki reached out his hand and took the capsule from the petite nurse, who retreated out of the room immediately. The tension in the room was almost suffocating.
"Run the necessary tests, Ibiki. And let me have the results as soon as possible."
The torture specialist nodded. He moved beside the dazed Iruka and gave him a comforting squeeze on the shoulder before heading out of the room.
"You guys should leave too. Kakashi needs his rest. Asuma, you can give me the report tomorrow." Tsunade said in a tired voice. The bearded jounin nodded, barely registering what she was saying.
"Can I stay?" Iruka whispered softly, his eyes glued to his lover. Tsunade looked at the depressed figure for a minute before she sighed in resignation.
"Yes. But don't tire yourself out."
Only when she saw the slight nod from her chunin did Tsunade finally turned and walked out of the room.
Kurenai whispered comfortingly into Iruka's ears before she stood up and looked at Asuma. The jounin nodded.
"We will come in tomorrow morning, Iruka." Asuma's voice was just as tired as Tsunade had sounded. "Take care of yourself."
Slowly, all of them filed out of the room, but not before giving the chunin some comforting words and gestures.
And then, when the door finally slid close, all that was left in the room was Sakura and Iruka.
"Kakashi-sensei will be alright." Sakura muttered, more to herself than a reassurance to her former academy teacher. Iruka just stared blankly without a word.
After a moment of silence, Sakura knelt down beside the chunin and looked into his face with a forced smile.
"Naruto will be back from his mission with Yamato-taichou and Sai tomorrow. I will come in again with them once they are back." She held onto her former teacher's hand in a tight grip, needing the comfort as much as he does.
"He will be alright. Kakashi-sensei has always pulled through the toughest situation. It won't be an exception this time."
Iruka finally turned and regard the young teen beside him. He gave her a weak smile.
"Thank you, Sakura."
The kunoichi nodded and stood up.
"Take care, Iruka-sensei." With that, she turned and walked out of the ward, giving Iruka some alone time with his lover.
Iruka swept the silver hair away from the sleeping face. The moonlight bathed down, making the pale face looked almost surreal. He reached under the blanket and gently lifted a hand into his, examining the wounds and being careful in his action, so that he doesn't aggravate any injuries.
Even the fingers were not spared. Iruka could have cried out in anguish if not for the fact that it was late at night and he was in the hospital. He shifted and sat on the edge of the bed, lifting the lifeless hand to his lips and pressed a kiss on the bandages. Then he reached up and pulled down the makeshift mask covering the mysterious man's lower half of the face, pressing a chaste kiss on the cold and chapped lips.
He pulled away, studying the multitudes of angry lashes covered by layers of white bandages and he felt his heart shattering into a million tiny little pieces. The tears rolled down his cheeks a second time that night as he placed his head beside the older man's on the pillow and drifted off into a fitful rest.