[Fanfic] a dash of vanilla and a pinch of salt

Starting this off with a fluff fic for our forum’s shiritori open team, which I admittedly don’t quite have experience at writing! This was written real hastily and unashamedly based on the Naruto mobile game event because the other teams have already begun, so here goes!

The word we’re starting off with is: teaching.

Teaching Naruto to make cupcakes seemed simple enough a task.

Never mind that Iruka’s own experience with baking was limited. The last time he touched an oven was before the Kyuubi attack, back when touching ovens were prohibited because he was careless and young. When the possibility of flour dusted across his father’s laughing face and moustache still existed, when Iruka could still run into his mother’s arm with the scent of rising bread surrounding them.

After the attack, there had been little opportunity to bake. That apartment with the cosy kitchen, his childhood home, had been destroyed. The orphanage he grew up in had little funds to spare for an oven in their facilities, and the apartments he moved into when he made chuunin too small to provide a kitchen, let alone an oven. And Iruka himself was still mourning then, even a decade after that fateful day, to think about the way he had kneaded dough under his mother’s watchful eye, and his father’s warm hand over his own as they left swirls of pale frosting across the rich chocolate cake.

It was only after everything - after Naruto, after Pein, after the war - that Iruka could finally move into an apartment larger than the one he could afford on his teacher’s salary. The apartment came with an in-built oven through coincidence. Iruka vaguely entertained thoughts about using it, but never acted on it.

At least until today, when Naruto whined about how just buying chocolate seemed insincere when the people he wanted to give them to supported him all this time - to the point Iruka went, “fine, fine. How about making cupcakes?”

So here he was, his flights of fancy turned into a hasty reality. Naruto had exuberantly yelled his agreement to Iruka’s suggestion and went straight into a shopping frenzy for ingredients and baking equipment - out of which Iruka also received an apron with a dolphin on it. And Iruka, dragged far too deep into this venture to back out now, had spent the night desperately trying to recall the recipe his mother used, trying to write something down on paper other than a dash of vanilla, before finally admitting defeat and asking Ms. Tanaka next door over for her recipe.

It felt like loss, just the slightest bit. Another moment he should have cherished even though he knew, he knew, he had only been a child and could not have known to treasure what he thought he’d have forever. That in another life he should have had years of eating those cupcakes, of baking them, of icing sticky sweet around the corners of his lips and his father affectionately wiping it away.

But it was an old loss he was familiar with, so it passed easily by like the smear of a colourful handprint, child-sized, on the dark cloth of his pants. A familiar pain only to be washed away.

And something in him expected the smell of cupcake batter and the wash of heat spreading through the kitchen to feel like loss too. But it didn’t, not quite. Not with Naruto sticking his tongue out in intense concentration as he measured out each and every ingredient, or how Iruka almost made that ‘dash’ an entire bottle of vanilla. Or even how Kakashi turned up in the middle of baking preparations and began to make his own dinner entirely instead of actually helping them.

If Iruka was feeling charitable that day, he would have admitted - grudgingly - that it was Kakashi’s way of participating in the entire affair, in his own way. But they were making cupcakes, and Iruka couldn’t put it past Naruto (or himself) to grab salt instead of sugar just because it was white and granular and on the same table as where Kakashi was sprinkling the former all over his fish.

No one, Iruka was certain, would appreciate salty cupcakes. Unless it was for a prank.

There was a thought.

When the smell of cupcakes baking in the oven finally suffused through the air, as they came out golden-brown on the tray, even Kakashi put his ladle down and wandered over to look at them. Anticipation rose in the room, the same way the cupcakes did, as Iruka allowed Naruto to push a toothpick into one of them - as it came out clean.

They frosted the cupcakes together. Kakashi even did a few of them, claiming at boredom and the long waiting time before the fish was done cooking - and Iruka thought that maybe, this was good. He’d never have those halcyon days back, but he had Naruto laughing and yelling in his kitchen and Kakashi lurking around and making sly comments despite not having to.

He had something good. Something real, within reach.

Those cupcakes Kakashi frosted, he found them at the end of the day when Naruto left with batches decorated with either those naruto fishcakes or the dolphin on Iruka’s apron. Three in the fridge, with a sugary scarecrow nested in each of them.

‘Happy White Day, Iruka-sensei’ the small card next to it read.

Life could be so sweet, Iruka reflected as he took a bite out of one. It tasted not quite the same but similar to those he ate once so very long ago.

And softly, fondly, he smiled.

The next word is “smile”! Let’s get this ball rolling everyone :smiley:


:sob: This was so sweet and lovely and soft. I loved every part of it, but especially:

At least until today, when Naruto whined about how just buying chocolate seemed insincere when the people he wanted to give them to supported him all this time - to the point Iruka went, “fine, fine. How about making cupcakes?”

I can just feel the frustration in that fine. :grin: Oh, Naruto.

Made my day! Now I want to bake cupcakes.

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I’m a soft and gooey mess for Iruka and Naruto’s relationship. Just, melted marshmallow, nutella filling soft.

i can’t find the strike out part but pls give me cupcakes

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:cupcake: :white_heart:

This was so sweet! Cupcake sweet. Iruka lost his family in such a painful way, but now he has a family to bake with again. Even Kakashi, who decorates those three cupcakes with scarecrows for Iruka. :fish_cake: And of course Naruto would decorate his cupcakes with fishcakes and dolphins. Cute! :dolphin:

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I didn’t think myself capable of writing something so fluffy tbh!! But yes I wanted Iruka to have a family, even if it wasn’t his own - family is the things you do together!!! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: