adjective: 1. Something small, delicate, and exquisitely wrought.
noun: 1. A jewel.
Summary: When Kakashi witnesses a strange scene between Iruka and Naruto it leaves him wondering just how deep their relationship really is. Call him curious but it just wouldn't leave him alone. IrukaXNaruto
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
My Bijou, My Jewel
Kakashi walked in to see the two had already ordered. Patrons were clapping the blonde on the back, welcoming him home undoubtedly, and Naruto always thanked them but looked back at Iruka helplessly when the line of people kept coming. The teacher, in response, only laughed at the blonde's helplessness. It would be good for the blonde. He would see how much everyone truly missed him.
A quick blush, one Kakashi didn't miss, colored his face as a particularly rowdy customer patted Naruto on the back hard enough to nearly knock him from his stool. He grabbed onto Iruka for purchase and the brunette found himself stabilizing the off-balance blonde in a heartbeat. The hulking patron just laughed while the blonde tried to get some air back into his lungs. He eyed the man as he walked away and Iruka tried for a sympathetic look.
Naruto mocked-glared, "That was your fault you know."
Iruka shrugged, a smile working its way on his face unimpeded, "I can't help that people miss you."
The blonde pouted. Iruka continued, "I thought you'd be happy to see how much people missed you around here. It was terribly boring you know, without all the screaming and chaos and orange flying about."
Nrauto rolled his eyes at the exaggeration, "Actually, it was more how they were interrupting my time with you."
For a few seconds they both stayed silent, Naruto realizing how that must have sounded and Iruka pretending it hadn't come out that way. The brunette felt a specific emotion clutch his heart and soar. He somehow kept a straight face as he nodded and murmured back, "I missed you too. We all did. We were starting to get lonely here at Ichiraku with no extra racket accompanying our meals."
Naruto opened his mouth, ready to only halfheartedly retort when someone interrupted.
"Mah, Sensei's correct you know."
Kakashi and slipping his book into his pocket he took up the vacant seat to Naruto's left. He could literally hear Iruka's teeth grating and in response his eye curled up, smiling even more knowing it made Iruka angry.
Up close he could see how much the blonde had grown, his features looked sharper. He looked older and he looked like a ninja.
Naruto only blinked, surprised to see his old sensei at all.
"Good to have you back, Naruto-kun."
The blonde's gaze only darkened though, "Good to be back, Hatake-san."
Right about now he could feel Iruka's smirk, and felt his own teeth grit and tried again, "I came by as soon-"
Suddenly someone was bursting through the flap of the stand and Kakashi felt his chance slipping away. Dammit! Not again!
A man in uniform, chuunin, panted as he relayed the message.
"Urgent message from Hokage-sama! She requests your presence immediately!"
For a few moments he sat there, unresponsive and felt eyes on him, Iruka's, which were gloating in victory.
Not this time Hatake, they mocked.
Mixed feelings swirled inside him as he stood, angry that his first chance with the blonde had been won by Iruka one more. He didn't show it outwardly though as he found his book and waved at his company, "Maybe we'll see each other around sometime soon then. I'm sorry I have to leave so abruptly."
And he was gone in a swirl of angry leaves.
In one giant breath Naruto sighed, turning back around to the counter and obviously relieved.
At his side Iruka began laughing, "He definitely won't be coming back soon."
Face scrunched up cutely Naruto observed this new side of his teacher, he'd never seen Iruka being… well, devious. It was the only word to describe his evil chuckling.
Noodles were placed in front of them and Iruka broke open the chopsticks first, "When he realizes there was no urgent message he's going to be planning my death."
Laughing. Iruka couldn't seem to stop it.
Through his teary eyes he tried to stop from spitting out his noodles. His sides were aching with the force and looking around many of the patrons had been infected with the same disease.
Into his third bowl of ramen Naruto had flown into a monologue of his adventures in Tea Country. Somewhere in the back of his mind he was mortified to see the things the blonde had been exposed to, had experienced, but then he looked at the boy (man!) and saw that he was all grown up now. Naruto was more than old enough to take care of himself and truthfully, the stories really were a blast.
"—and then the Pervy Sage fell off! Hahaha! The women scattered and the killer intent was enough to send any sane shinobi running. Ero-sennin said something about… what was it? PMSing?"
Iruka choked painfully, blinking slowly as his eyes switched to the female counterparts of their audience. Their smiles tightened noticeably, thinning around the edges, but stayed on face, whether sparing the boy this once or planning vengeance at a later date he didn't know. He shuddered to think of the answer— women were notoriously cunning, it was part of what made them so good at getting revenge.
Like Iruka, the other male patrons tensed, and almost feeling the disturbance in the air the blonde looked around confused.
Okay. So he wasn't completely grown up yet.
"Ne, Iruka-sensei. Did I say something wrong?" The cerulean skies were so open, still so innocent despite all the pain and suffering he'd endured for years, still endured every day.
Iruka coughed, swallowing the rest of his bite and waved him off, "Nothing, Naruto-kun. Go ahead and continue."
And so the blonde shrugged, trusting his old sensei, and launched back into the mesmerizing tale of his (but mostly Jiraiya's) exploits.
Iruka shuddered as the cold wind hit him and whipped his ponytail around. It was almost painful as it made direct contact with his face, his eyes watering and plastering his clothes to his frame as he walked straight into it. He clutched the shopping bag in his hands tightly and decided to speed up, breaking into a sprint so he could cut the time it would take to get to Naruto's apartment in half.
Today was his first birthday back in Konoha and hell if Iruka would let the boy spend it alone. They would have thrown a party, and if Naruto had not expressly forbidden it, multiple times, they would have anyway. The blonde had gone to great pains explaining how he just wanted to spend a peaceful night alone. After forcing them to understand he wasn't trying to be difficult but truly sincere, the many people who had planned on throwing him a party anyway relented. If wouldn't do to truly upset the blonde, he hardly asked for anything, they could at least give him this.
"For once, I want to be alone on my birthday."
But it was painful for Iruka to hear, knowing what the boy had lived through he made the effort to understand, they all did.
In the end he couldn't though. He couldn't understand why the boy felt the need to hole himself up from his loved-ones and no way would he leave the blonde to wallow alone again. He had been put through enough misery over the years, by civilian and ninja alike, Iruka wasn't about to let him start inflicting it on himself.
And that was what found him here, trekking to the worst side of town in the darkness to see the blonde who was too selfless for his own good. He had bought some takeout ramen from the store since it was too late for Ichiraku to be open. The wind was decidedly harsh tonight so there wouldn't have been many customers even if the ramen stand did stay open that long.
But it had to be ramen and even though the blonde would undoubtedly notice it wasn't Ichiraku the sentiment was still the same. He'd bought a small cake as well, for traditions sake.
Again a shiver racked his body as the wind howled, fierce and unforgiving, as if in imitation of that night so long ago. Iruka didn't think about that though, this was Naruto's birthday and even if the blonde wasn't going to celebrate it, Iruka was.
A small grin worked its way on his face as he arrived at the building and within moments was at a sturdy door, positioned to knock. The bag by his side was noisy and he inhaled deeply, mentally preparing the speech he would need to make it past the door. He believed the blonde when he said he was serious about spending his birthday alone, so he was ready for the argument he would encounter trying to go against the blonde's explicit wishes.
He didn't even get a chance to rap against the wood before it slowly crept open, a miserable blue eye appearing in the crack before widening and shutting the door closed again. Iruka blinked and then started to yell, all pretenses of talking his way peacefully inside gone in an instant. The neighbors would be angry and possibly come out to see what all the hullaballoo was but the brunette didn't care at the moment. He didn't come all this way to be ignored.
"Naruto! Dammit, open this door right now!"
Silence. Iruka hated it. It was the enemy. He would break down this door if he had to.
"Naruto! I'm coming in!"
He took a few steps back, not kidding. He had known the blonde his whole life. The boy was stubborn and sometimes it took force for him to see real reason.
Within seconds he heard the door shuffling open once more though, "Alright then! Hold on, just don't break my door. I just got this replaced."
The teacher squinted, knowing exactly what that meant and almost felt ashamed he had been ready to break down a door the blonde constantly had to fix.
It had produced the reaction he wanted though and seeing the blonde standing in the doorway, however reluctantly and glaring murder at his former teacher, it made him grin.
This was what he had come for.
"Happy birthday, Naruto." he murmured, crossing the threshold and offering the blonde the bag. An offer of peace.
The blonde was slightly surprised, taking the bag with a calm not usually exhibited by the hyper male. Iruka continued to smile, knowing the blonde appreciated all the effort as he gaped in astonishment.
Naruto was still staring after Iruka had pushed him inside, locking the door back silently and pattering into the kitchen. Naruto had followed, still hovering between disbelief and irritation. Iruka officially passed the line from unwelcome to welcome though as Naruto unloaded the contents of his present on the kitchen counter. Naruto's eyes visibly lifted, the miserable aura gained from wallowing in this unfavorable day gone as he smelled the ramen still hot in the package before him.
Again he seemed surprised to see the cake, and it was impossible for Iruka to hold back the chuckle at the look on the blondes face.
He decided to elaborate, "There was no way I was going to leave you alone on your birthday. You deserve more than that—"
Naruto opened his mouth to argue but Iruka waved him silent, "—even if you don't believe it yourself. You're very special to the people around you, specifically me, and I'm not going to let you do this to yourself. We're having some sort of a celebration."
After the blonde finished gaping he swallowed and let out a dry chuckle, "You're always lecturing me, you know that?"
Iruka snorted, "Wouldn't have to if you didn't give me reason. Now grab some chopsticks and dig into the ramen, I know you're hungry."
Without argument the blonde did as told. More than likely, the blonde hadn't left his apartment all day. Instinct. The brunette winced.
"After that we'll have some cake."
They sat in the kitchen for some time, thinking in silence. Iruka about how this day always made Naruto retreat into himself and the blonde about god knew what. The only noise was the slurping of noodles and Naruto had an interestingly pensive face as he ate. Iruka merely watched, happy the gloom the blonde had been stewing in before had retreated, if only for a moment. The brunette made himself comfortable, waiting on Naruto to finish so they could cut the cake.
Iruka blinked, realizing the blonde was done and had discarded his utensils in favor of a knife. Naruto's hand was poised over the small cake, wearing a tiny smile to match. Iruka shook his head, jumping up to stand by his side and couldn't help the smile that bloomed either.
"Happy birthday, Naruto. Maybe I should have gotten the candles? Oh and you still have to make a wish! It's tradition."
"Tradition, huh?" The blonde smirked, he was seeming like his old self more and more each second.
The blonde closed his eyes, if only to humor Iruka, and opened them to cut the teacher a slice before serving himself some cake. Naruto complimented his choice of flavor, Iruka knew he liked red velvet, and talk started to form between them amicably as they bounced from subject to subject. Before they knew it, the cake was gone and they had moved to the couch, too caught up in discussion to care that the hours of the morning were ticking by.
It wasn't until Iruka had yawned three times in a row that Naruto found a clock and stalled in shock at how early it was. He looked back at his teacher, mouth open and ready to say something else before quickly noticing Iruka had dozed off. Smiling his mouth clicked shut, finding a blanket to cover the man before retreating into his own room to sleep. He had previously planned on wallowing the entire night, Iruka had ruined that plan spectacularly and he found he was too happy to continue with it. There was nothing for it but to actually go to sleep now.
In the morning he woke and still found his sensei there, snoring softly and in a position that would have the man complaining when he woke up. He smiled warmly at the thought and how he would fix it. He started on a cup of tea, knowing it was the brunette's favorite even after all this time and a quick breakfast. He wasn't sure whether the Iruka had to be at the academy or not, so he made sure to keep it light.
Walking back into the living room the blonde saw Iruka was still sleeping and shook his shoulder lightly. Iruka blinked immediately, he was still a ninja after all, and yawned slowly before sitting up. He pulled the blanket off and set it to the side, surprised to see it was there at all and figured he must have fallen asleep.
The blonde, watching all of this with amusement, asked quickly, "It's still early. I made breakfast. Did you have to be at the academy today?"
Iruka raised an eyebrow, still shaking off the remnants of sleep, "No, I took off today to spend time with you. Why?"
Naruto stared, once again caught off guard by the academy teacher. Only Iruka would do this for him. He always checked in on him, even when he didn't want or possibly need it, and that meant more than words could describe.
Iruka stood, not noticing the way the blonde marveled. He stretched, neck popping as he turned it to the side. Naruto's eyes threatened to tear up as he wordlessly approached him, arms wide. Even half-asleep the brunette understood immediately, welcoming him into a hug even if he didn't know why he was receiving one. The blonde didn't need to explain though, he never needed words with the man, Iruka always knew what he needed and when, so he never asked any questions.
Breathing deep he inhaled the brunettes smell, Iruka was warm, warmer than he could remember when he was a child and held onto the brunette tightly for comfort. Remembering the times Iruka had held him he clutched him even tighter, never wanting to forget this feeling. The feeling of being loved.
Iruka himself was observing the emotional moment take place, many people took this kind of contact for granted. It was the kind of contact a mother would give to her child, or a lover would give to their…
He stopped, blinking at that thought and wondered where on earth it had come from. Briefly he noticed the blonde had pulled closer and Iruka made a move to extract himself from Naruto before… before what?
The blonde didn't let go though. He stayed for a moment longer, breathing into his neck and making Iruka tingle at the warm air he exhaled. Suddenly a quiet "thanks" washed over his skin before the firm hold on him loosened, Naruto pulling back with the most brilliant grin plastered on.
Iruka tried not to think why his heart was beating faster than normal or why his mouth had suddenly dried up. It was most certainly not that goofy grin on the blondes face but then again it was. Iruka lived to see that expression, the one that told him how much the blonde appreciated the efforts he went to, how much the blonde understood that he cared.
He found his lips quirking too, in response to the blonde's contagious happiness and the previous moment was filed away but not forgotten as the blonde bounced into the kitchen.
"How about breakfast then? I'll whip us up something else to go along with what I already made."
The brunette's stomach growled loudly as he followed the blonde and Naruto laughed.
Iruka didn't really care to analyze all these feelings at the moment. He had accomplished what he came here to do. Make sure Naruto understood that his friends loved him and didn't want him to suffer alone. Usually the blonde was down for days after his birthday but this morning proved that tradition would be breaking quick. So long as Iruka was there, he would never spend another birthday alone. Not if he could help it. And Iruka planned on being there for a long time.
This was kind of rushed but I got it out! Next, Kakashi plans Iruka's death! (not really) And Iruka and the blonde bond even more.