There he was. Already trying to wrangle one toddler into behaving. And there she was, all stressed lonely mother. Desperate enough that her childhood academy teacher she rarely spoke to seemed a likely choice for babysitter.
“Yes. Yes of course!” Was what came out of Iruka’s mouth, apparently accepting yet another toddler into his home for the afternoon.
“Thank you! Thank you so much, Iruka-sensei, I know it’s very last minute but it’s just for this afternoon, the hospital meeting is so important and my parents are away, I’ll make sure to compensate-”
“No no, please, it’s my pleasure, hurry now.” Iruka insisted, using his foot to stop Boruto from waddling out the door, as he accepted Sarada and her diaper bag into his arms. Sakura didn’t let him close the door, but tucked her hair behind her ear and chewed on her lip. Iruka felt like he saw the child from early class all over again, before she grew confident enough to trust her skills.
“Her feeding and nap times are close enough to Boruto’s, and you’ve already met before, and she and Boruto know each other, and both Naruto and Hinata say you do so well with him, and you can handle a whole class of children, usually Hinata would help out, but with the new baby, oh, and I’m so, so late, I’m so sorry, this really is-”
“It’s fine!” Iruka smiled as reassuringly as he could at Sakura, feeling stressed himself as he saw her all but wring her hands along with the worried ramble. “It’s fine, Sakura, I’m sure.”
With a frown, she caressed her daughter’s cheek “Mommy will be gone a little while, Sarada. Iruka-sensei will take care of you, and you can play with Boruto. You know Iruka-sensei, you like him, don’t you?”
Sarada nodded, eyes big and serious.
“Go now or you’ll be late!”
“I’ll be back as soon as I can!”
As he finally managed to get himself, the bag and the two toddlers on the correct side of the closed front door Iruka leaned against it with a groan. A good babysitter, was he? A sense of foreboding made him groan. He was the sudden drop in your child choice of the day, apparently. He worked with children, so he was a given with toddlers, too? How could anyone think a group of six year olds or older was anything compared to a toddler? In his bachelor apartment? He had already had to hurriedly put half his clutter into a mess several shelves up, and spent the last hours discovering new things and places not fit for small children.
Babysitting Boruto wasn’t new, Iruka would willingly admit he was absolutely smitten with the boy. It had always only been short moments, though, and always someplace else. He wasn’t even sure any child that small had been in his home before now.
But today. Today Naruto had shown up with a stressed excuse for a smile, haltingly asking if perhaps Iruka-sensei could take Boruto for a while. Iruka had said yes in a heartbeat, before considering if his place was fit for children. Of course he could babysit for a while! Another baby must of course be taking a toll, he had assured Naruto it was understandable. Sympathies had been the wrong choice, if Naruto’s hastily hidden grimace and immediate retreat was any clue. He hadn’t even told Iruka when he’d be back, and by now Iruka had an uneasy feeling he’d have to take Boruto back to the Uzumaki residence on his own initiative.
There was no time to think at the moment, though. Two hungry toddlers surely would be more of a chore than one. Thank the spirits kids this small ate mushy food, it fit his cooking skills. He would have to decide on what to do if no one had picked Boruto up by the time Sakura picked up Sarada.
He did smile as the two children made camp with all his bed linen on the slightly too dirty floor under his table while he cooked. He could admit it was like having the children he never thought he’d have. It being Naruto’s child was a bonus that warmed his heart. Naruto and all the other children that now already had children of their own.
His apartment had never felt as alive.