The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn – Chapter 1: It Just Takes Some Time
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
Edit: Check out my book, based on this fanfic! Now available on Amazon! Search for 'The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn' by Q A Gabriel. I'd really appreciate it if you checked it out!
A/N: Experimenting time! Because I am in a bit of a fluffy mood, I wrote this as a kind of test of a cute/funny/fluffy/sexy plot for a KakaIru fic. I haven't written anything big for this pairing before, and I generally don't write much AU, but this is possibly the exception to the rule. If you are familiar with my other fanfictions, 'Buried Alive', or 'What Happened Last Night?', consider this a meeting ground between the two. It's written properly, but it's still got touches of humour in it. Like with 'Buried Alive', I will probably be doing a song of the chapter thing again, because I love doing that. However, considering this is a cuter, fluffier, sweeter fanfic, then the songs will be less emo. Considering that I am arguably an emo, this restricts my musical taste, so if something is oddly emo for a cute and fluffy fic, then that is why. This is all going to be in Iruka's point of view because I rather love Iruka.
This is thinking/dreaming.
This is regular story.
This is author's note.
This is title
Warnings: If you are familiar with BA, then this is where I ramble about the sex and how dodgy and kinky I am. Since this is the first (trial) chapter, there will not be any sexy stuff happening. If you want a porn one shot, go read something else.
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, so don't sue me.
Hey, don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just do your best, do everything you can
And don't you worry what their bitter hearts are gonna say
"Damn," I cursed as a few fragments of eggshell slid into the clear mixing bowl along with the contents of the egg. I scrambled for a fork to fish them out, trying to speed up the cooking process as much as possible. That was the secret to a good cake: the self-raising agent in the flour is activated by liquid, so after you put in the egg you need to mix it and get it in the oven as fast as possible. I finally picked out the last piece of brownish shell, wiping the fork free of egg white and flour on my apron, before stirring the cake mix.
Baking. Possibly the most therapeutic exercise ever, possibly with the exception of sex. But since I didn't exactly have a girlfriend, and I was far too boring to even consider going to a bar or a club, that option was out.
It's not like I had never had a girlfriend. I had properly dated three girls when I was at high school, all lasting for a number of months before the initial interest we had in each other fizzled out and we moved on. We stayed on good terms, or as good terms as we could have been. I even took the third one to senior prom. We coordinated our outfits and everything.
My high school girlfriends were all a bit like me; a little bit boring, very mundane, and very ordinary. The first girlfriend took my virginity, and the other two were a chance to practise. By the time I finished high school and moved on to the local university, I had decided to either find Miss Right or to stop dating altogether.
It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the sex. What teenage boy doesn't enjoy sex? It was that I didn't really like the girls. They didn't catch my eye the way I caught theirs. They were always pursuing me, not the other way around.
As a result, I hadn't had any sexual partners for a long time. My self-imposed chastity had stretched out longer than I had originally intended it to. I was meant to go to university where I would meet a nice girl doing a respectable course, and we would graduate together and then I would propose and we'd get married and have two nice children and a nice dog and a nice little house. What I wasn't supposed to do was to focus on my studies, leave little time for any actual social life and end up doing a teaching degree on top of my English literature degree and end up back at high school, this time as a teacher. Instead of a nice little house, I had a mediocre flat, though it was undeniably little. I didn't even have a dog.
I stirred the cake mix a little harder. My parents would probably be so disappointed. It was their plan, too, that I would marry and have children while I was still young. I was closer to thirty than I was to twenty, and I wasn't getting any younger. I was supposed to have met Miss Right by now, and made her Mrs Umino. They had really wanted grandchildren.
To be honest, the children were definitely taking a back seat in the plan of my life. I was a high school English teacher; I had enough kids to deal with. It wasn't that I didn't love my job. I loved my job, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but the kids were definitely a handful, and I really didn't need any offspring of my own added to the pile.
Still, without my proper man's job, without Miss Right and without my nice little house, the kids certainly weren't a possibility. At all. I was sort of a father figure to Naruto, my unofficial favourite student, but that was it.
I finished stirring, pulling the spoon out and tapping it hard against the side of the plastic bowl. I dug out baking tins, and roughly doled out the mixture into each tin. If I was going to be super pedantic and precise, I would have used my weighing scales to get an even amount in each tin, but I usually only did that for special occasions. Besides, I wanted this cake to have something of a homemade touch to it, they way my mother's cakes always did. Even if I couldn't get it exactly perfect, I could try.
My mother's cakes were the best. They were soft and spongy and light, always the perfect creamy yellow with just the right texture, homemade jam and a light sprinkling of icing sugar on top. They melted in the mouth and it was impossible to resist another slice. She always served them on the blue plates with proper pastry forks she had inherited from her grandmother, which I still had in a fancy box somewhere. The blue plates were long gone, and I didn't really have anyone to serve the cake to, so there was little point in bringing out the nice cutlery.
My own cakes were good. They weren't as good as my mother's, but your own cooking never tastes quite as good as your mother's. I didn't know how to make jam, so I had to buy it from the supermarket. They never had the right flavour, so I had to use raspberry. Strawberry jam on cake sponge is a travesty. I could never get a completely even distribution of icing sugar on the top, either, or I would use too much and it would overpower the cake-y, vanilla flavour of the sponge.
Besides the release of tension I got from baking, I had another reason to bake a cake. The apartment next to mine was finally getting its new tenant, and they were moving in tomorrow. It was a weekday, so I had to teach, but I would be prepared with a little neighbourly welcome gift after school. I would make sure to somehow find time between getting home and marking a stack of essays on the importance of generic female character number one in whatever text one of my classes was studying. I would bring the cake over, invite myself in, politely ask if he or she needed help unpacking, eat cake, and then leave. And then my duty as a good neighbour was over, and I could happily ignore them for the rest of my life.
The last tenant wasn't so bad. A middle aged woman, fresh from a divorce but still with enough kick in her to try and seduce me, but she had quickly got the message that I wasn't interested. Miss Right was not a middle aged divorcee, and the seducing was the other way around, preferably once we were legally married.
I stuck the cake tins in the oven and set the timer. I slipped the band of the apron over my head and untied the back, briefly glaring at the offensive pattern on it. Yellow and pink flowers, with blue ribbons. It was Mother's. As ghastly as it was, it was convenient for covering my clothes. Showing up to work with cake mix all over your shirt was not a good way to present yourself to a bunch of kids who could smell food a mile away.
Teaching English literature to a bunch of fourteen to eighteen year olds was not a part of the plan. I was originally supposed to become a police officer or a businessman or a doctor, something more traditionally male than an English teacher, but I wasn't smart enough to be a doctor, I didn't have the right mindset to become a businessman and I wasn't active enough to be a police officer. I was the only male English teacher on the entire staff at Konoha High School. Teaching – especially teaching something like English lit – was a girly job, or at least that was what I had thought until I actually tried it. Dealing with a horde of screaming, crying and fornicating teenagers is as complicated as heart surgery. The kids themselves were all individuals, and I had to treat them as such. It made for better working relationships, which made the kids work harder. It generally helped if they liked me, so I worked hard to get the balance between being nice and being firm.
But it wasn't just the kids. English literature is by no means a soft subject. It comes more naturally to some people than others, and I had been the type to fly with it. It fascinated me to no end how an author could mean so many things with one sentence, or how the structure of a novel could reflect aspects of the story, or the historical or social or political implications of a text and how they can be interpreted. It wasn't just novels, but I was better at analysing prose than I was at poetry.
Combine the demon-children and a classic? The end result is a classroom full of uninspired teenagers and mediocre essays. Inspiring love of literature was half my job. They didn't have to be passionate about it like I was, but they just had to learn to live with it, even learn to like it. There were always a few who were naturally talented, but I had to get all of them to at least try.
English literature was certainly a 'real' subject, but I hadn't thought of turning it into my job until I got to applying for university. To fulfil the plan, I should have done something else; medicine or physics or economics, but I chose English literature. I enjoyed it so much that I didn't realise there weren't a whole lot of jobs out there actually related to that degree, so I turned to teaching.
After you got past the hellion students, the staff room gossip, the borderline-poisonous food, the heaps of marking, the long terms and the inter-subject rivalry commonplace at Konoha High, teaching was a great profession.
I sat down at my dinner table with my lesson planner, deciding what torture to inflict upon my classes in the coming week. Konoha High only took four years, from fourth form, which was age fourteen to fifteen, through to the upper sixth, which was seventeen to eighteen. It was a small school, with relatively few kids per year. The kids were split between classes depending on ability, but the top few were usually put in lower classes with advanced tutoring on the side. For example, Naruto was of average ability at English literature, but his best friend, Sasuke, was very good at the subject. Rather than separate them, Sasuke remained in Naruto's class as a kind of example student. It wasn't the best system around, but it worked.
Although we were partway through the Autumn term, a new teacher was set to arrive the next day. Tsunade, our loveable yet unorganised and borderline alcoholic headmistress, had neglected to tell us about the addition to the staff team, and we only heard about it from Shizune at the end of last week. Shizune was Tsunade's personal assistant, spending her time removing bottles of whatever alcohol Tsunade had managed to smuggle in and forcing her to do paperwork, usually by bribing her with alcohol. Occasionally Tsunade's husband Jiraiya would drop in and they'd disappear for a while into the back room of the office, much to the amusement of staff and teachers alike, before Tsunade started yelling at Jiraiya for writing yet another porno book and 'accidentally' leaving a copy in the library.
The students had quickly learned not to pick up any books that had 'Icha Icha' in the title up and to just surrender it quickly. It was better for everyone's sanity, and it stopped Tsunade breaking holes in her desk with her stapler – or at worst, her fists.
The beeper on the oven went off, and I checked on the cake. It was perfect. I left it out on the shiny silver cooling racks overnight, swept my papers into a more organised pile and put the relevant ones into my planner, and prepared for bed.
I had a feeling it was going to be a long day tomorrow.
A/N: Yay experimenting time! A note on schools: 1) I am English, ergo we have primary school (nursery + age 5-11) and secondary school (age 11-18). The American system is different, but this is kind of a mish-mash of the two. Some schools only have the last four years of education, so 14 – 18, because writing eleven year olds is annoying. Trust me, I'm in the lower sixth and I have to look after one. Don't kill me, Clara! Instead of a principal, we have a headmaster or headmistress. We have break instead of recess. We have PE instead of gym or whatever. I think that covers everything. Just ask me in a review or PM if you don't understand. So, do you like it? Please tell me in a review :3 first reviewers are special! Feel free to give me crits, tell me I suck or tell me I rock, I don't care! Just tell me what you think! And tell me if you want more!