Until the Day After Forever – Chapter 3: This Time

A/N: I'm a horrible, horrible, evil person but I am back from the hiatus of doom to write again! This is because I am in China for three months. In all likelihood you don't care, but this means I have Free Time in which to write, because if I do too much sightseeing too early on I won't remember stuff, and because it's fucking hot. If I have any readers in China, give me a shout! If you're in the Shanghai area, give me a shout and your number! I'm here teaching English because I'm cool and stuff. The long hiatus was because of school and a small falling out with the 'ideology' of yaoi and other stuff, and I had a moment where I swore off ever writing it again, but I have decided this: this is not a yaoi fanfiction. This is a slash fanfiction that does not warp gender roles. There is no seme and there is no uke. There are only people in love (well, not yet, but there will be) who have sex with each other. If you want the full essay of my thoughts on the topic, PM me and you will get the lecture. But I'm back, that's what's important, so thanks for everyone who favourited/followed/reviewed during the year that I didn't update this fic. Song of the chapter is 'The Real You' by Alex Goot.

This is thinking/dreaming.

"Anything in italics and quotes is written stuff."

This is regular story.

This is author's note.

This is title.

Warnings: Pissed off lesbian rant above, but nothing really below. Just a pissed off Iruka, which seems to be pretty standard for this story. Also I would like to point out what I am doing now is illegal. Yaoi is banned or whatever for "perverting the sexual orientation of women" which is dumb shit. Eefray ibettay.

Disclaimer: I have not managed to own Naruto in the eight months that I have not written much or posted any fanfiction (retarded fic about my friend and Batman notwithstanding – that is a joke) and I will not in the coming months that I write this.

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You know it's taken my pride

And now I'm frantic inside

I know that I can't get over it

And what if we met at the wrong time?

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There was still no milk in the refrigerator and the bowl was still shattered on the floor when I got back to my apartment. The bathroom light was still on where I had forgotten to turn it off, and the laundry basket's lid was still open. It was all a reminder that what had just happened had just happened and I couldn't go back and change it. I frowned despite myself.

I gathered up the shards of the bowl first, carefully sweeping the fragments into a pile then scooping them into my palm. It was almost impossible to believe. Not only had Naruto brought Sasuke back, but I was being forced to monitor- no, babysit them with the most infuriating person in the entire village. My fingers squeezed a little too tight around a porcelain shard, and it bit into my skin.

That wasn't fair. I sighed and licked the bead of blood welling in the tiny slice. I totally deserved that because I was being childish and unfair. Neither of us picked the other to work with; we were selected because Kakashi was their genin team leader and I was a pre-genin teacher, therefore presumably had some control over kids. I wasn't sure if it was totally fair to treat them like kids, since they were both sixteen years old and vastly more powerful than myself, which in itself was another issue. If Sasuke tried to escape, there was pretty much nothing I could do to stop him. Of course, Naruto would never let him go again and if Tsunade had half a brain she would have concealed ANBU watching from a distance the entire time, just in case.

Kakashi was a much more obvious choice. He knew them both, especially Sasuke, much better than I did. A little flicker of illogical, stupid jealousy rose up in my chest at that. They were my students first. I grit my teeth. He could stop them with force if necessary, without any intervention. I didn't doubt that fact and it should have been comforting, but mostly it was just annoying. Almost as annoying as his stupid hair or his stupid slouch or his stupid mask hiding his stupid face. His face was definitely stupid, whatever it looked like.

The shards made a very unsatisfying shushing sound as the slid into the dustbin. The bowl would need replacing. I stifled a yawn.

I was extremely lucky – my ground floor apartment had a spare room. All of the chuunin housing was doled out by lottery, and I had never really needed the spare room before, but it made my poky apartment seem a little bigger. Now it would come in handy – it was just big enough for a bed. I got to work, setting out the slightly cushioned, compact ground mat meant for overnight fieldwork missions that hadn't been used in years. I could buy an actual bed tomorrow; it was late and the shops would all be shut by now. As per Tsunade's orders, Kakashi would house Sasuke to prevent any night-time escapes, and I would house Naruto to prevent Sasuke receiving any help in any night-time escapes, despite Naruto's vehement insistence that it would never happen.

A list was slowly forming in my mind. I was going to need a large supply of ramen, and soon. And other food in general, I was starting to run out of what felt like everything. I hadn't had to feed two people for a very long time; I was so used to cooking for one. And the kitchen was a mess, and so was the bathroom, and the living room wasn't exactly a bastion of cleanliness either. What would Kakashi think if-

No. Nope. No way, not going there. This had nothing to do with Kakashi, and that was a stupid thought to go along with all thoughts of his stupid face and general stupidity.

I wrenched open the door of the linen cupboard and yanked out a couple of sheets, causing everything in the cupboard to fall on top of me, landing on top of my dirty shoes which I had stupidly forgotten to take off when I came in. My lips pressed together firmly to stop a weary sigh slipping past them. The top sheets had come to rest on top of everything else, so I scooped those up and tossed them into the spare room, kicking the dirtied sheets aside with a little more force than was totally necessary. I toed my dirty shoes off as an afterthought.

A yawn tore through my face before I could stop it. I rubbed a finger across my nose. Was it too much to ask for things to go right today just one time?

A knock at the door yanked me from my internal moping. Maybe whoever was at the door would bring good news. Maybe the babysitting torture had been cancelled in favour of- well, there wasn't really a better alternative. Being babysat by anonymous elite ANBU would be far worse than being babysat by two familiar faces, and hopefully wouldn't prompt escape attempts, though there was probably no point hoping that Sasuke and Naruto wouldn't fight. It was what they did. It might actually be good for clearing the air between them. Being constantly monitored would be better than being locked up, or tortured, or-

I opened the door and audibly groaned.

"Good evening, Iruka-sensei!" a tall figure leaned casually against my door frame, half-silhouetted against the bright street light behind him. A pale golden glow shone through the edges of his silver hair, turning it into a fire of silver and gold. A bunch of very stupid questions rose in my mind about that hair, and how he got it to stay like that, and whether it was natural-

I blinked a couple of times, catching myself staring. My face flushed with embarrassment.

"Good evening. Is there anything I can do for you?" I asked, trying to be as casual as possible. He lifted a white plastic bag, scented steam rising from between the handles carrying a gorgeously familiar smell. My mouth was already watering and I hadn't eaten since lunch. "You brought me ramen? Why?"

"We have to work together. There's no point in being at each other's throats the whole time, so I thought-"

"Weren't you supposed to stay with Naruto and Sasuke tonight?" I interrupted him, sudden worry flooding through my mind. I recognised it was utterly unnecessary, but I couldn't stop it.

"They're still with Tsunade. No better guard than the Hokage, right?" he said casually, leaning into the door frame a little more. The movement shifted the position of his hair, letting the lamplight burn past him and momentarily blind me.

"You mean you left? When they're both right there? Didn't you miss them?" I couldn't imagine leaving them alone, not so soon after they returned.

"Well yeah, but-" he started, leaning forward.

"Even though they're safe-"

"They're recovering in Tsunade's care, and I trust her. I did my part, and I will continue to do it. They're protected from anyone in the village who might want to harm either one of them, from Akatsuki, from Orochimaru, and from each other. Have a bit of faith in your hokage. I'd ask you to have faith in me, but clearly that will never happen. Good evening, Iruka-sensei." He thrust the bag at me, and spun around and walked away. I stood there, gaping like a fish, words that I should have said spiralling fragmented through my mind. By the time I realised what I should have said or done, he was long gone. I guiltily peeked into the bag. Two plastic tubs from Ichiraku Ramen. Damn. Suddenly I wasn't hungry any more.

The bag was shoved quickly in the back of the refrigerator and pulled last night's leftovers. It tasted like sand after merely smelling the fresh ramen. After shoving the plate into the sink I practically marched into my bedroom and stripped. I couldn't end this day fast enough.

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There was a knock at the door. I pulled it open, and the glorious scent of fresh, delicious ramen wafted in and caressed my strangely naked body like the brush of silk. I groaned, but not in chagrin.

"Good evening, Iruka-sensei," a voice purred. The owner of that voice was an equally, but far more blessedly naked Kakashi, covered by a very brief, thin apron. I probably fainted.

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A/N: Welcome to torture more terrifying than that inflicted by the inesechay overnmentgay. It would be too easy if they got along! This is a long fic and they've got to work to make it work. I'm sorry if my writing is a little rusty. People in China (especially Shanghai), PM me! I love travelling, and China is a fascinating place. While I'm here, I'm going to try and finish this fic – I have 37 chapters (35 + and epilogue + a crack chapter) planned out, and I'm here for three months. I only work mornings so I have a lot of free time to write so I have no excuse. One of my flatmates just described the place we live as a "fucking Chinese crackhouse" and we have cockroaches the size of small dogs that we kill by setting on fire with Chinese spirits and I'm never quite sure if my flatmates are serious about doing and/or acquiring hard drugs or not. Review to...um...lift my spirits? And encourage me to write faster?