Fanfic: living on a prayer

I’m a slow writer, so I’m very pleased I managed to cough up one fic for Valentine’s Week AND Naruto AU Week! This is a cross-event fic for the prompts ‘First Date’ and ‘Apocalypse’.

Shoutout to drel for the fic name and to @MagnusTesla for being a lovely bean and giving feedback on this :grin:

Cross-posted to ao3.

“Iruka,” a sing-song voice called. “Go out with me.”

Iruka squinted upwards from where he had been crouched on the ground, scratching out the kanji for ‘prayer’ in the dirt for the child next to him to clumsily mimic. Kakashi leant over him, a grin sprawling easy and expectant across his face. From where he stood, his head just about blocked off the glare of the sun, making the grey on his head turn mirror-shard silver.

“How could I say no when you’re asking me so nicely,” Iruka sighed theatrically. He got up to his feet nonetheless. Usually, he was the one who had to track Kakashi down, not the other way around; he must have lost track of time. “We’ll continue this tomorrow then, Naruto. Don’t forget to practice.”

“Ugh, homework?” Naruto scrunched up his grubby face. “You don’t let me do nothing 'cept homework!”

“Then when I come back you’d better be able to write every single kanji I just taught you,” Iruka said mildly. The pained groaning from Naruto came almost on cue. “That’s what I thought.”

“Well, you think badly!” Naruto shot onto his feet from where he had been dramatically rolling around on the ground to emphasise how terrible Iruka’s suggestion was. “Hey, hey — I could go with you guys! Like the old times.” His eyes, bright and eager, immediately turned to include Kakashi. “You know I’m super helpful!”

Iruka felt hesitation raise its insidious head. Naruto would be helpful, certainly — an extra pair of eyes out there was always helpful.

Still. He moved before Naruto could recognise and think of twisting it to his favour. “We’ll be fine on our own,” he said firmly. “Practice what I just taught you.”

“But Iruka,” Naruto whined, drawing out the syllables of Iruka’s name.

“You can’t learn to read if you’re running about in the wild. I mean it,” he added when Naruto attempted to renew his protests. “Run along now.”

The corners of Naruto’s mouth drew together in a childish pout, but he didn’t press the matter. “You gotta come back real fast then!” He challenged. “I’ll memorise everything you taught me! Then — then you can bring me along next time!”

Naruto would do no such thing but Iruka had little doubt that he’d give it his best attempt. He tried not to look too amused when he advised, “You better get started then.”

“I know,” Naruto yelled. Iruka marvelled at how one little boy could make yelling sound petulant. “You better get going!”

“I’m just giving you a head start.”

“Don’t need it!” Naruto turned away from them, looking for all purposes as though he was about to tackle the gargantuan enemy known as kanji that was spread all over the ground. Then again, Iruka supposed that many a kanji character would undoubtedly be butchered under the chicken scratch that was Naruto’s amateur attempts at handwriting.

But then Naruto stopped in his tracks. He turned around and pointed, not at Iruka but at Kakashi.

“Take care of him,” he told Kakashi. “No, you and Iruka-nii better take care of each other!”

For all the times Naruto had said it, it never failed to make Iruka feel a fizzle of warmth that Naruto considered him his brother. From the first crackle of a faded voice over a radio held together by duct tape and willpower promising sanctuary for anyone who could reach them to the day their rickety boat survived the waves and washed up on that promised shore, through barren wasteland, wilting plains and sunken swamps, Naruto had transformed from some feral thing skittering about the edges of Konoha into a child that could be persuaded that manners were helpful in communicating to people what he wanted rather than snarling at them.

Iruka had not been left unscathed: he had left Konoha as someone deeply resentful of his losses with someone he thought of an annoyance on the better days — to someone who had found a family in this boy.

If it only took a literal apocalypse, well.

He turned to Kakashi. In the visible sliver of his face but more tellingly in his eye, Iruka could see that same warmth that Naruto held him in the same regard. That he was important enough to Naruto to warrant his care.

That warmth remained as Kakashi promised, for the both of them: “we will.”

This was the way the world ended: slowly, in the cracks of the parched ground, in dust.

Iruka had been young enough to have vague memories of a world when water was easily accessible from shiny metal faucets and plastic bottles with pictures of mountains on them. When water was constantly clean, clear of debris and the grit of sand and dirt; when water was plenty, that he could go to sleep without the dryness in his throat and wake up without that dryness turning into knives. Fields of grass and trees reaching upwards into the sky were plenty then, their green foliage throwing patterns onto the ground; he remembered playing under those trees, how they provided relief from the heat of the sun in the form of cool shade.

Then power plants all over the world exploded and everything went to hell.

The bits and pieces of the whys and hows came out later when people were looking for the right direction to point their fingers. For the past decade or so, some power plants had operated by extracting energy out of creatures of limitless energy. Such creatures were undoubtedly unhappy to be kept in captivity and used as little more as generators. Later details were less clear: perhaps they rose up against their captor and their surroundings by laying waste to both, or perhaps they had suffered their life-force drained from them until there was nothing left to drain — and then, like a star, they exploded and left only destruction in their wake.

It sounded fantastical but it made a lot more sense than all the nuclear power plants exploded across the world all at once and left wildly varying regional climate changes. But even then no one was arguing how the world ended when they were figuring out how to live through it.

Fortune or misfortune, Iruka’s parents died in the very first explosion. They had been employed at the local power plant and had likely been at the forefront of the blast. Despite how he had repeatedly hurled himself at the metal door of the bunker he had been corralled into, how it shook and glowed and threatened to melt, somewhere in his denial Iruka had known that his parents could not have survived.

And — fortune or misfortune, Iruka survived. Of all the bunkers that half the population of Konoha had managed to throw themselves into, his bunker was one of the few that was just far enough to withstand the heat of the explosion. The doors to the rest had melted into something unidentifiable, immoveable; from within, the scent of burnt flesh wafted through.

But that was years ago. Years of scavenging and scrounging and scrabbling through the blackened ruins of Konoha. Of watching the trees that had been burnt into jagged silhouettes of their former selves crumble, and the leaves on the remaining trees wilt and wither away, dropping down from branches that could barely support their own sickly and infested weight. He watched as the Naka river reduced itself into a trickle navigating its uncertain way through the silt and trash left at the bottom of the riverbed, barely enough to wet the lips with.

Now, he was here with Kakashi as they picked their way through the ruins of a seaside village that might have once supported artisanal fishing. The villages of Mizu were too far from Konoha to know how droughts took every bit of water from the soil and the air, but they had not been left unscathed. Their disaster had been tsunamis, relentless and recurring, to the point that staying had been as good as a promise of dying. It made Iruka wonder in his more morbid moments whether he would have preferred to have been burnt alive or to drown in a tide that swept an entire world away.

“We could bring these nets back,” Iruka said dubiously as he scraped the stumps of candle wax off a mantle and into a small cloth pouch. They could bring it back to Uzushio and melt it down into a whole candle, the only choice available when no one knew how to make tallow. “Maybe Tako-san could fix and use them.”

“Or maybe she’d grumble our ears off for bringing her back a mess of a cat’s cradle to unravel.” Kakashi drawled as he poked disinterestedly around the corners of the house. Still, he grabbed the tangle of nets off the table and attempted to wrangle its knots and furls into his sack. “Worse come to worst, maybe they’d make good kindling.”

“Everything makes good kindling to you,” Iruka said dryly. He drew the strings of the pouch together and tucked it away into his pocket. Kakashi unfurled himself from where he had been hunched over the table. “I haven’t seen anything you wouldn’t call good kindling.”

“That’s because everything makes very good kindling,” Kakashi replied lightly as they stepped neatly over floorboards overgrown with moss and out of the only building that was able to withstand the tides.

It was only until later that Kakashi finally mentioned, “so, prayer?”

Iruka grunted as they lifted the wooden beam that had fallen over a mound of trash and tossed it into the sea. It splashed loudly into the water before sinking down into the depths. “What?”

“Prayer. You know.” The clatter began as they began sorting through the mess, trash from treasure. There was a lot of trash. “The kanji you were teaching Naruto.”

Iruka peered at a tattered piece of cloth before shaking his head. It was tiring work, to pick out what could be salvaged from what seemed like detritus for miles. But until someone figured how to produce the things they lacked, it was a necessary task.

“What about it?” He tossed the cloth and did not watch it float away on the ebb and flow of the waves, reaching for the next item closest to his hand. Kakashi did not answer. Either he was preoccupied with picking the glass shards out of the trash so that Iruka could focus on the remaining pile or he was contemplating how to phrase what he was about to say. He had travelled long enough with the man to know his capabilities for multi-tasking to hazard it was the latter.

“It doesn’t seem useful,” Kakashi finally said bluntly.

Iruka should have guessed. A flare of defensiveness rose up within him.

“What would be useful to teach then,” he said curtly, knowing he was not too successful at curbing the irritation in his tone. “Go on. I’m all ears.”

There was the shifting of cloth as Kakashi shrugged at him. “Other words. Like ‘biohazard’. Or ‘radiation’. Or ‘silica gel’.”

Iruka paused, his mounting irascibility temporarily halted. “Silica gel?”

Kakashi nodded in all apparent solemnity. “Silica gel, do not eat,” he intoned.

Sometimes, there was a fine line between Kakashi’s playful banter and his actual concern.

“Naruto’s not going to eat something that’s already labelled ‘do not eat’,” Iruka said with all the confidence he would have in a teenager who could be dared to swallow a fish whole. Who had been dared to do just that and actually went through with it. “I hope.”

“He wouldn’t,” Kakashi agreed. “But I meant. Silica gel is a desiccant — a substance that absorbs moisture,” Kakashi amended, upon seeing Iruka’s face. One of them had a secondary, even tertiary, education and it was not Iruka. “It keeps things dry. If we come across any.”

Desiccant, Iruka repeated to himself. But desiccant wasn’t the word that Kakashi wanted Iruka to teach Naruto, no. Words of warning, words of identification — words that would be of practical use when Naruto reached the age of 16 and would have his name added into the roster of supply runs, one much like the run Iruka and Kakashi were on right now.

Or their ‘dates’, as Kakashi liked to call it. In the fine line between Kakashi’s hyperboles and his quiet truths, Iruka tended to err on the side of caution. But he did wonder about a world where Kakashi could mean ‘dates’ as something more intimate, personal, private — as finding pleasure in each other’s company rather than finding company to suffer a task. And he wondered whether there was a reason Kakashi would insist on Iruka as his partner on his supply runs and Iruka only, months after they integrated into Uzushio and made a circle of friends and acquaintances larger than just Iruka and Naruto.

“You’d want to toss that,” Kakashi added helpfully, jerking Iruka from his thoughts. Iruka looked down and realised he had been holding the remains of a cardboard box, torn through and tattered. He followed Kakashi’s advice. “Look… how likely is Naruto to come across the word ‘prayer’?”

Not very likely. Iruka huffed out a laugh and Kakashi looked at him askance.

“Could you believe that I asked my teacher that?” He shook his head as he remembered fondly old Sarutobi Hiruzen — who had expected to see his grandsons grow up but ended up outliving his entire clan as the last of them. He had passed away a few years later but not before he gathered up the children that remained of Konoha and taught them as much as he could: not only of reading and writing and mathematics but also of tradition and history and what it meant to keep to them. “Not exactly that, but I asked him why would we need to learn to read when all the reading materials already burnt into a crisp.”

“And what did he say?” Kakashi asked, seemingly detached — belied by the genuine interest in his eye.

“Reading was one of the only ways humanity could survive.” Iruka picked out the curved plastic blades of what was once an entire fan and placed it aside. Perhaps one day when someone worked out how to build a rotor they could come back for it. "The best way to learn is from a master of the trade. But everyone’s dead or dying or could die someday. Reading and writing allow us to pass those skills on without worrying that our knowledge would die with us.

“And,” he added, “knowing a lot of kanji helps to reduce the kanji we don’t know. Which helps in understanding context. I wouldn’t say it’s useless to learn the kanji for words that he might not find in this world now.” A glint of light reflecting off something caught his eye; he leant forward and began to dig through the mound to get to it. Kakashi’s hands joined his soon enough, helping him lift the heavier debris that might be trapping whatever laid underneath. “But if he lives beyond us, then I hope by then we’d have a reason for him to use that word for others to read after him.”

His fingertips hit the cool surface of metal. Iruka wiped away at the dust that settled on its embossed surface to reveal the colourful print of a cookie tin.

“I did teach Naruto to read ‘biohazard’ and ‘radiation’ though.” He began tugging the cookie tin out of the pile. Hopefully… “I gotta admit, I didn’t think about silica gel. I should teach him that next.”

“Let me come up with an example sentence for you,” Kakashi said as he leant over for a better grip on a particularly large piece of driftwood that had been uncovered in their digging, all the better to toss it aside. “I pray that Naruto would not eat silica gel.

Iruka snorted but there was a small relief in that snort. If Kakashi remained opposed to Iruka’s lessons, he would have stood his ground. Likely he was satisfied that Iruka also kept practicality in mind when thinking of what to teach Naruto.

He tugged at the cookie tin once more. This time it slid out of the pile of trash, wholly intact save for the concave dent of its lid. An intact box that could hold water was enticing enough, but its contents were what Iruka was hoping would enthral. With eager fingers, he pried the lid open. Nestled within were spools of threads of varying hues, all miraculously dry, and needles that glinted silver and unrusted in the afternoon sun.

“Jackpot,” he crowed.

Kakashi craned his head to peer inside the tin. “Good eye,” he commented, and behind that mask was a smile Iruka knew matched Iruka’s own.

"Here." Kakashi shoved a bottle of water under Iruka's nose. "Drink."

Iruka waved it away absently. “I’m not thirsty,” he told Kakashi.

They were perched just shy of the edge of the cliff that overlooked the sprawling expanse of the coastline. When the sun began to set, the both of them turned away from the piles of trash and began their trek inland, past the skeletons of salt-stained snags and up into the protective barrier of the wave-battered cliffs. Now that they had the luxury of safety, far off in the horizon he could see the distinct outline of waves, little more than an inch tall from their vantage point. It was difficult to imagine those small waves finally sweeping inwards to land and reaching several meters in height.

As tall as a skyscraper, Iruka had described once to Naruto — only to realise that Naruto had never had the chance to see a skyscraper. That Iruka’s own memories of them were fading too.

“Iruka,” Kakashi insisted. He turned back to see Kakashi still holding the bottle out to him. “It’s been hours since you last drank something. You’re getting dehydrated. Drink.”

I’m not dehydrated, Iruka thought to say, but Kakashi raised an eyebrow at him. He pressed his lips together — a sign that had come to mean that he wanted Iruka to do the same — a request that Iruka obliged. In the time they spent travelling towards Uzushio, dehydration was an issue Iruka constantly faced despite the three full bottles of water he kept on him; this little test was one Kakashi devised for both him and Naruto to persuade them to drink.

His finger traced against the dry and cracked skin of his lips. Iruka sighed and took the bottle reluctantly from Kakashi, as agreed. He kept it in his hand, but did not move to uncap it; its weight was too much of a comfort and reassurance on his palm.

Kakashi sat down next to him, staring out at the same view that arrested Iruka only moments prior. “I’ve another three bottles on me,” he told Iruka in a level tone. “There’s also a creek not far from here. We can detour and refill the bottles tomorrow on the way down.”

What if that creek is poisoned, Iruka did not say out loud. What if the tsunami comes and washes all the freshwater away? What if Konoha happens again and we’re left with no water? It was irrational, he knew. It was a response borne out of worry over things that were unlikely to happen. But his brain obsessed over and incessantly calculated the days and months he could ration out the seven bottles they had on them, factoring even more unlikely scenarios that might diminish their meagre supply. A bottle leaking, a waterborne virus contaminating the bottles, Kakashi taking all the bottles and leaving —

(That had happened once before. Not Kakashi, no, but someone Iruka had trusted not to let him die of thirst.)

“They gave us those water cleansing tablets, so we could drop that in the creek water as a precaution,” Kakashi was still saying. He did not look at Iruka, did not demand him to drink it already, drink faster, what are you waiting for. Instead, he continued looking out at the sea. “I still remember how to purify water. We just need some charcoal, sand, gravel,” and he continued listing off what they needed to make a water filter and how. “I think it should work on saltwater…”

Iruka let out a shuddering breath. With one surging motion, he uncapped the bottle and before he could hesitate again he took a sip. Then a gulp when his throat demanded another taste, and then another and another and another as it insisted on more water, please, more.

Kakashi fell silent as Iruka drank, as he finally gave his body what it had been crying out for, cries that he had learnt to ignore. When Iruka drank down half, he tipped the mouth of the bottle away from himself and held it out to Kakashi. He was met by a quizzical glance.

“For Naruto,” Iruka only said and watched as Kakashi’s eye softened in understanding.

Water tied them together, him and Kakashi and Naruto. Fire was a land that gave no quarters to its inhabitants, but Wave was a land of bridges over rivers and lakes that could have once been called a sea. Though those rivers and lakes were mere shells of their former selves, they had overwhelmed Iruka and Naruto when the only water they had known were the murky waters of a well that could be charitably described as dry. It was there that they first learnt that just because water looked clean did not mean it was clean.

Kakashi had found them lying on the side of that dusty road, curled up in foetal positions with vomit drying on their mouths. He had stood over them and stared at their prone forms for so long that Iruka didn’t know if he wanted to tell him to kill them off already or beg him to bring Naruto as close to Uzushio as he could take the boy. To Iruka’s delirious surprise, the man ended up nursing both Naruto and Iruka back to relative health. Then he showed them what could be eaten and what could be used, tugged them back from pitfalls and tangles of ivy before they could step into them, and guided them all the way past the crumbling ends of the road up to the muddied river that marked the boundaries of a fallen country.

And when Iruka asked him hesitantly if he wanted to come with them, Kakashi nodded once and followed them right out of Wave.

It made a marked difference how Kakashi easily pulled his mask down as he accepted the bottle with his other hand when he had previously been furtive and guarded. Iruka remembered being frustrated by his short answers and his grunts of affirmation when ‘yes’ seemed too arduous to articulate — but at some point those short answers had grown longer and even humorous, startling a smile or even a laugh out of Iruka. It had been funny to see Kakashi startled at very reactions he received; it had been enlightening to realise that his brusque demeanour was a cover for his awkwardness borne from surviving on his own for years; and it had been welcome to be privy to the process of Kakashi lowering his guard, to him becoming the verbose thorn in Iruka’s side today.

An annoyance Kakashi had become — but one that Iruka relied on and hoped that Kakashi relied just as much on him. There were still many things Kakashi kept to himself, like where he had been during the beginning of the end or why he was so attached to wear a mask at all times, but Iruka would not trade him for any other supply run partner — for anyone else.

He let his eyes fall away from that now-familiar face, turning his gaze outwards to the rapidly approaching waves that were threatening to crash down against the village they had been in mere hours ago, and wash its way up towards the cliff-face they were now perched on. It made him remember how close he was to dying — how close they all were, in this hostile new world — it made him wonder what was holding him back for asking for things that might be in his reach.

“You know,” Kakashi suddenly said. “I always thought that the end of the world would have more conflict.”

Iruka turned back to Kakashi, who left his mask down. Back in Uzushio, he would have dragged it back up as quickly as he could, but here in the open with only Iruka for company, he seemed content to let it hang around his neck. “I don’t know if you ever heard them, but those doomsday prophets always yelled about fire and brimstone. And whenever someone said apocalypse, everyone would generally think of zombies.”

Iruka vaguely remembered zombies. He remembered snatches of a movie where men staggered around with lesions on their bodies and bit other people, and was so terrified that his mother had banned zombie movies from the house. “A lot of fighting, then?”

“With zombies, but mostly with people. People are selfish, people are greedy, people would put themselves first. That’s how they survive.” He stared out at the waves, now nothing less than recognizable as a tsunami come to call every night on Water’s coastline. “I don’t think that anyone reckoned they had to fight nature itself.”

“I’m not sure if anyone’s won yet,” Iruka tried to joke.

“They have.” Kakashi breathed in, deep, and Iruka knew that in that breath the salty breeze of the ocean had begun to weave itself into the scent of the forest and loam. “Uzushio. I think they won.”

It did not feel like a gentle jibe of the settlement they had now come to call home, but something more sincere. “How do you mean?”

“They’ve built a community,” Kakashi said simply. “They built a bastion of stability through cooperation. That’s… that’s more than a lot of places can say. It’s not perfect, of course. But they have one. And I,” he sighed. “I’m good at surviving. I know how to kill somebody or something to stay alive But that’s not living, not really. Even before the world ended, I don’t think I’ve ever been good at living. But…”

“But,” Iruka prompted.

“But I want to be,” Kakashi finally admitted.

Iruka turned to look at Kakashi, to really look at him. Kakashi looked back at him, his gaze steady, as steady as the ground beneath their feet. Far, far below them, the first wave crested and rushed down towards the foot of the cliff, sending water halfway up its surface and sea spray into the air.

“Uzushio’s a good place to try,” Iruka offered. To his surprise, Kakashi shook his head.

“I’ve… I’ve been trying for a while now,” he said as water flowed down the cliff face, as it was inexorably drawn back towards the sea. “Ever since I met you and Naruto. If we haven’t met that day…” He took another deep breath. “I don’t know if there is a better time to say this, or if there ever will be one. But… I want to be part of something. Part of Uzushio, even. But only if you’re there too. Only with Naruto, and with you.”

Far away, the waves began building up again to their towering heights; further away, the moon hung fat and heavy in the sky, spilling moonlight across Kakashi’s face. It matched the hope that bubbled up within Iruka’s throat, that Kakashi was asking what Iruka had thought to ask only a few moments prior — that in many issues they might not see eye to eye but at the very least in this, they did.

“I’d like that too,” he said. “For all of us. With all of us.” And it was Kakashi’s smile, small and tentative and hopeful, and Iruka’s own hope that made Iruka cross that line, to say further, “but I’d like more than that, too.”

Kakashi’s eye widened. In that moment Iruka had never felt more certain and sure-footed, not even when they had stepped off the rickety boat they had rowed past the channel and onto Uzushio’s land for the first time. In this moment of vulnerability, there was no better time to ask: “So, would you go out with me?”

“When you ask so nicely,” Kakashi echoed, but he was grinning so fiercely and uncontrollably that Iruka could not help but match it. He leant in and placed his hand over Kakashi’s, and his heart thrilled at how Kakashi immediately turned his palm upwards to cradle Iruka’s burn-scarred hand in his own. “How could I say no?”

Beneath them, the waves began to roar as they fell down once more; between them, Iruka’s smile turned fonder. Gentler. “Even if Uzushio falls,” he promised, “I’ll go with you. As long as we can build a home to return to.”

“That sounds,” Kakashi started as the crash of water against unyielding rock drowned the rest of his words out, as sea spray flung into the air and over the both of them once more. As his hand squeezed Iruka’s, a warm and steady presence, always. “That sounds good.”

"So..." Kakashi said slowly as they crouched over the rocky edge of the creek, filling up their empty water bottles. "Would you consider this a first date?"

Iruka peered at the water within the transparent bottle that they had. It seemed clean enough. Kakashi’s filter, a funny little thing made of bark and twine and everything else Kakashi had listed out yesterday, was certainly useful. Iruka could get some practice in making it.

“Iruka,” Kakashi cajoled. “I need to know whether this is our first date. I have to record it for posterity.”

“With what calendar?”

“With the calendar of my heart,” Kakashi declared, unforgivably cheesy. "Every day is an anniversary for such a special occasion. Today is the one-day anniversary of our torrid confession of passion for each other. Tomorrow will be its two-days anniversary. In seven days it would be the one-week anniversary — "

“I don’t remember our confession being ‘torrid’,” Iruka pointed out. “I remember it being cold and windy. Very wet too.”

“It certainly was wet down below,” Kakashi leered.

Iruka had wondered if there would be any difference in their usual banter after last night’s wet confession but Kakashi seemed content to continue his dramatic antics. Just as well — Iruka hadn’t wanted anything to truly change, not when they had become so comfortable in each other’s presence and companionship.

Well, he reflected later as they took the trek back to the fishing village and Kakashi’s hand reached for his own, not just anything.

“So, is it?” It seemed as though Kakashi was far from done with his wheedling. “Is this our first date?”

“I don’t know,” Iruka sighed. “I mean, you did ask me out on so many dates already, didn’t you?” He watched in unabashed glee as Kakashi protested that those weren’t real dates, even though it fulfilled the dictionary definition of one: the two of them spending time in each other’s company. Lucky that Kakashi didn’t demand which dictionary, because Iruka wasn’t quite sure either.

He cut Kakashi’s protests short by tugging him closer. “Do you want it to be?”

Kakashi blinked. “What?”

“Our first date,” Iruka repeated and was amused to see the visible skin of Kakashi’s cheek tint a light pink. “Do you want it to be our first date?” Before he could listen for a reply, Iruka tilted his head at the sea of trash before them. “Sorting through trash is so very romantic, don’t you think?”

He’d expected another squawk of protest, or perhaps a tangent on sorting through trash was a bonding activity that was the thrill of finding something valuable in the millions of generic others, just like true love. Or something. Iruka didn’t know. But instead, Kakashi cocked his head and said so very smoothly, “sorting through trash to find things to build our home with could be very romantic, don’t you think?”

Cheesy. It was cheesy, but it was Iruka’s turn to feel heat steal up his cheeks. Unlike Kakashi, he did not have the privilege of hiding behind a mask.

“It could be,” he replied. But… “Still, do you really want it to be?”

“Well,” Kakashi drawled. “I do have a plan for something a little more romantic. Just a little bit. So maybe we can start our first date later. On our way home.”

“Only just a little?” Iruka teased, smiling. “I’ll have something to look forward to then.”

Their first date. Iruka couldn’t wait.

Iruka, sweetie, actually nuclear powerplants exploding sound a bit more reasonable than random tailed beasts going amok. Then again, we all know what the truth is.

Kakashi is all like everything makes good kindling but when he finds the only copy of Icha Icha Paradise left in an overgrown manor, guess who’s guarding that shit with his life?

Cookie tin: you’ll find this in asian households, those colorful cookie tins will often be opened not to reveal butter cookies but sewing supplies. good (disappointing) times

Thanks for reading!


Lolol your notes at the end! I can 100% confirm the cookie tin thing is not just in Asian households. That is universal and crosses all cultures. :joy: