Shacking Up

Kindness

Iruka stared at the apartment with the nice wood floors, the expensive leather couch, and the extensive bookshelves filled with novels (and Icha Icha.) Then he noted the dust covering everything except the couch and the bookshelf. It made sense: a ninja like Kakashi made his career solely based on missions or training his Genin team (Sai had been officially added to the group and Kakashi had taken it back over) and was rarely home enough to clean.

Kakashi lived in a single bedroom Jounin apartment, which meant that he had a bedroom, a full bathroom, a large living room, a dinette, and a full kitchen with lots of cupboard space. Chunins got an apartment that was smaller than the Jounin accommodation without the dinette, or the kitchen and living room space. Still all of that was better than the studios or tiny single bedroom apartments that Genin received, although even that was better than the puny spaces that were given to pre-Genin orphans like Naruto and Sasuke.

Of course, if a ninja were to get married and raise a family or decide to room with a friend appropriate accommodations would be assigned. Iruka had just never felt the need to do any of that, so he hadn't bothered to move out of his first Genin housing assignment.

"Feel free to come in and sit down, Sensei," Kakashi said as he moved into his apartment.

Iruka pulled his shoes off and set them neatly by the little step in the entryway before he stepped inside the apartment. Hugging his shield to his chest he walked over to the couch, stepping around the low coffee table to sit down on a comfortably worn spot near the bookshelf. Kakashi made his way to the kitchen and set his keys in a bowl on the counter.

"Thank you for letting me stay here," Iruka said as Kakashi started puttering around in the kitchen, pulling things out of the refrigerator and setting a wok on the stove.

"Not a problem, Sensei. I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of food, but I do have eggs. You look like you're getting a hangover."

Iruka rubbed his temple in an attempt to rub the headache away. "Yeah… I didn't drink enough water tonight. Serves me right. Glad I didn't take that drink I was offered after we all remembered it's my birthday." he said with a humorless chuckle.

"You forgot your birthday?" Kakashi asked as he lit his stove. Then he started mixing the eggs with the milk and sugar.

"I haven't really worried about it the last few years," Iruka said. "But today was my twenty-fifth birthday. What a way to celebrate my first quarter century."

"Maa, Sensei, you sound so depressing!"

Iruka sighed. "The alcohol isn't out of my system yet. I feel miserable. I had a crappy day. And my home of fourteen years just burned down. I feel somewhat justified in being a sourpuss for a few hours at least."

Kakashi shrugged. He could see the logic in that. After all, hadn't he spent the last few decades or so brooding in front of the memorial stone?

"But anyway, Kakashi-san, is there anything I should be aware of in your house?" Iruka asked.

"What do you mean?" Kakashi asked as he poured the egg mixture into the wok and pulled out his cooking sticks.

"Are there any rules?" Iruka prompted. "Are there any special tasks you'd like me to take over to earn my keep while I'm here?"

"I hadn't thought about it, Sensei. If I think of anything, I'll let you know."

They lapsed into silence after that. When the eggs were done, Kakashi handed Iruka a plate. Iruka's stomach grumbled, and he ate the sweet eggs quickly. He felt better after eating, and even noticed that Kakashi's plate had become empty before his own. "Thank you, Kakashi-san. That was delicious."

"It's no problem, Iruka-sensei. But I think it's time for bed." The Jounin walked over to the linen closet in the short hallway and pulled out a spare blanket and pillow. He set them on the opposite arm of the couch from where Iruka sat. After a moment of thought, he went back into the kitchen and poured Iruka a glass of water and set it before the poor Chunin on the little table. "There's aspirin and antacids in the bathroom if you need it. It's the door on the right in the hall. Mine is the room at the end if you need me. I'll be training my team tomorrow, so use your key to lock up if you go out."

"Key?" Iruka asked. He watched as Kakashi opened the front door, lifted the doormat, and shut the door. Then he held up the key and placed the key in the bowl with his other set of keys.

"Tomorrow night I'll key the traps to recognize you. I'd normally do it tonight, but you look about ready to crash."

Iruka huffed out a laugh. "I feel about ready to crash."

"At least tomorrow isn't a school day," Kakashi said, his eye curling up in a smile.

Strange that Kakashi suddenly seemed to care about his welfare. Iruka couldn't make heads or tails about it, but he was too tired and wrung out to care. He started spreading out the blanket as he said, "I have mission desk duty tomorrow afternoon. I'll be home in time to make dinner, though."

Kakashi's eye lifted in what Iruka assumed was a pleased smile. "That would be nice."

Iruka settled onto the couch and pulled the blanket up to his chin. Kakashi waited by the light switch until the Chunin was situated before he turned out the light. As he turned to head into his bedroom he heard Iruka say, "Good night, Kakashi-san. And thank you."

So Kakashi said, "Good night, Iruka-sensei," before he closed the door to his own bedroom


Iruka woke slowly. He'd had a night full of haunting dreams and mixed memories. As he woke, his mind was still trapped in the bizarre worlds of his dreams and when he finally opened his eyes he was very confused. Where was this?

Then the whole previous day came back to him in a rush. Oh, yeah… he was at Kakashi's. And the Jounin had been nice. After being a jerk. He stretched languidly and looked up at the clock on the wall, wondering idly if Kakashi was still home of if he'd left yet to train his Genin team. However, as he yawned, some dust blew up his nose, making him sneeze. As he sneezed more dust got into his nose, and before he knew it he was trapped in a sneezing fit.

Okay, that decided it: the first thing he was going to do was find a broom and sweep this place. But first, he should dust so that when he swept he would clean away more of the dust. Then he could make some breakfast, and while he was at it he could check the fridge to see what he needed to buy for dinner.

With his morning planned out, Iruka got up and went to the bathroom. He took one look inside and stopped in amazement. Had it ever been cleaned? He looked into the sink in grimaced in disgust. Was that… dried blood?

Revision: first he was going to scrub the bathroom. Then he was going to dust and sweep. Then maybe he should wash the floor, since it obviously hadn't been cleaned in a long time, and deal with the food situation. Hell… maybe he should just clean the whole house and do the laundry. It was only seven in the morning. He had time before he needed to get to the mission desk.

Rolling up his sleeves he got to work.


Kakashi awoke with a start to the sound of banging in the kitchen. Fortunately, he was able to squash his gut reaction to automatically attack the noisemaker. Instead, he froze in his bed until he remembered again that he had a houseguest. He'd lain awake for hours, barely dozing for minutes at a time, because of how uncomfortable he was having Iruka – or anyone for that matter – in his home.

He hadn't let Naruto spend the night for that very reason. Ever since his father's death Kakashi had been alone, and because he'd become a Chunin so young in life, by the time Obito had wormed his way into Kakashi's apartment to spend the night before a mission Kakashi was no longer able to quell his natural defensive instinct – an instinct that was a benefit in the field. Magically, he only directed it toward enemies.

Suddenly, Kakashi had a thought: what was Iruka cooking? Kakashi hardly ever cooked, and he hadn't done so in quite a while. His fridge hardly had anything in it, and what he did have was questionably safe at best.

Stretching languidly, Kakashi sat up and pulled on his mask. Time to go see what the wayward Chunin was getting into. He didn't bother putting on a shirt as he made his way out of his bedroom.

When he opened his door, he stopped cold. The floor just outside his door was completely dust-free. There was a line of dust where the door had blocked Iruka's cleaning efforts. And he smelled something… wonderful. He moseyed out into the hall with his hands in his pockets and wandered into his living room.

Iruka was in the kitchen hovering over a pan with a pair of cooking sticks in his hand. He looked up as Kakashi made his way into the spotless room and smiled. "Good morning."

"What is this?" Kakashi asked as he stopped in the space that acted as the doorway between the kitchen/dinette and the living room, his hand on the counter that acted as a wall between the two rooms. "Where did you get the food?"

"I went shopping," Iruka said as he tilted the wok over two plates and a fried fish fell neatly on each plate. "Ready for breakfast?"

Another sniff of the air made Kakashi's stomach rumble, so he nodded his head and entered the little nook by the kitchen where he kept his table. As he sat Iruka brought the fish over and set it on the table and plopped it in front of Kakashi between the miso soup and the rice. There was also a small omelet on the table that looked like it had made its way there just moments before Kakashi had left his bedroom.

"This looks amazing," Kakashi said as he picked up his chopsticks.

Iruka smiled as he poured tea into Kakashi's cup. "I may teach and work behind a desk, but I do have some handy skills!"

Kakashi glanced up at his new roommate in surprise. Sure, he'd thought that Iruka was a little lacking in certain areas when it came to being a ninja – particularly his kindheartedness and his lack of training due to his two office jobs – but he never really doubted that Iruka had earned his Chunin status. Each rise in rank was earned many times over before it was given, so Kakashi had assumed that Iruka had a specialty that served him well. He also didn't hold the Chunin to his Jounin status. Unless Iruka was striving to become a Jounin, it would be impractical to hold him to such an unrealistic standard.

"Iruka-sensei, I didn't doubt you had skills. I'm just impressed that you can cook."

Iruka looked a little surprised for a split second before his face returned to its normal polite expression. Then he moved across the small table and sat in his own seat. "Itadakimasu," he said before he picked up his chopsticks before burying himself in his food. Kakashi noticed that the other man wasn't looking up, giving Kakashi plenty of time to eat without his mask.

The food was as good as it smelled. After he finished his miso soup (which had eggplant in it, yay!) he pulled his mask back up and asked the burning question, "Where did you get the food? I didn't have any."

Iruka chuckled into his teacup. "I went grocery shopping."

"And you cleaned the house?" Kakashi asked. He'd figured that as a bachelor who was always out because of his two duties to the village the other man probably wouldn't have kept his apartment very clean, like Kakashi. Waking up to a spotless apartment blew that assumption out of the water.

"There was dried blood and caked on crud in the sinks, and the bathtub and toilet were brown from dirt. It was gross," Iruka replied around a bite of fish. "I planned on dusting and sweeping to kind of pay for my keep, I guess, but I figured that if I was going to do some of it then I'd better do all of it."

Kakashi looked around, noting the dust-free counter and tabletops, the sparkling floor, and the dish-free sink. "How long have you been up?" he asked.

Iruka smiled. "Only three hours."

Impressive. His bathroom alone had been a mess. Speaking of which… "Excuse me, I need to pee."

Iruka's mouth closed and his mouth pressed into a thin line. Kakashi smirked under his mask at having irritated his guest as he headed toward his restroom. When he opened his bathroom door he almost had to close his eyes because the white tile was not only white, but it practically sparkled. He offhandedly wondered if Gai had been here to lay a trail of sparkles.

xxxXxxXXXxxXxxx

Iruka watched Kakashi head into the bathroom and jerk backward in surprise at the cleanliness of the previously disgusting room. With a chuckle he quickly finished his meal and started to clear his dishes. With a quick look he noticed that Kakashi had finished his own meal, so Iruka started clearing those dishes, too.

Iruka was good at cleaning, but he needed help cleaning that disgusting bathroom. So he'd summoned a few clones to do the scrubbing while he'd found (read as improvised) some cleaning supplies and started dusting. Between him and his two clones he was able to clean the apartment in only an hour and a half. Then he was able to duck out and quickly buy the groceries.

He started on the dishes happily. It was always fun taking care of people – cooking for them, teaching them the skills to make them better ninja, or giving them missions and filing their reports. It had been such a long time since Naruto had stayed over or needed any special treatment; Iruka hadn't realized how much he missed doing special things for someone. Admittedly Kakashi wasn't special like Naruto was, but the fact that he'd enjoyed Iruka's cooking was touching nonetheless.

By the time Kakashi returned from the toilet, the kitchen was once again spotless. Iruka noticed that Kakashi's hair looked damp and his clothes had been changed.

"I'm going to go train my team since I'm already an hour late. I should be home by dark," Kakashi said as he tied his weapons bag to his leg. "Oh…" Then he flashed a few hand signs and there was a loud bang. Then he performed a few more hand signs and there were a couple more loud booms. "Now I've set the traps to recognize you. They'll automatically set when you leave and disarm when you come back."

"Thank you, Kakashi-sensei," Iruka said.

As Kakashi walked out the door Kakashi said, "You're welcome."


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