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Worth The Trouble

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“I can’t believe… you convinced me… that we needed a real tree,” Iruka says between grunts as he gives the much-too-large pine tree another pull through the much-too-small entryway. He wants to glare at Kakashi, but it’s impossible for the other man to see it from where he’s standing—or struggling, rather—on the other side of the threshold. Iruka feels the tree shift another inch as his boyfriend gives it a mighty shove, accompanied by a dramatic shout caused by the exertion.

Out of breath, Kakashi stops for a moment and adjusts the gloves on his hands. “Like I said, it’ll be worth all the trouble once it’s up, ‘Ru,” he tries to reassure him, knowing the brown-haired man was already over the “real tree” idea entirely before they even strapped it to the top of the car.

“You promise this monstrosity is going to fit in the living room?” Iruka asks, readjusting his grip near the base of the tree, getting ready to yank on it one more time. There’s a pause that lingers and Iruka knows Kakashi is second guessing the whole thing now too.

“…We can trim it.”

Kakashi hears Iruka laugh sarcastically from the other side of the tree. “Good idea. Now push on three, please.”

Kakashi grabs onto the tree again and listens to Iruka count down, both men putting all of their weight into moving the damn thing until finally all three crash through the doorway and onto the floor inside with a loud thump.

“Shit,” Kakashi curses under his breath, doing his best to pick himself up from where he’d landed on top of the tree, pine needles sticking to his clothes. He closes the front door and kicks off his shoes, the throbbing in his knee from hitting it against the hardwood quickly ignored when he hears Iruka gasping and groaning to his left.


“—kashi,” the younger man wheezes, fighting with the tree to free his lower half from underneath its weight. Wide-eyed, Kakashi rushes to Iruka’s aid and then brings him to his feet, though Iruka can barely stand.

“What the hell did you do?” Kakashi tries not to laugh at his lover’s suffering, but a soft chuckle slips past the scarf still wrapped around the lower half of his face, his arms holding Iruka tight. He notices both of Iruka’s gloved hands covering his groin as he’s doubled over, along with an expression of pure agony on his face.

“My dick,” he whimpers, and Kakashi lets out a bellowing laugh this time, tickled by Iruka’s voice coming out two octaves higher than normal. The smaller man uses one of his fists to take a vengeful swing at his boyfriend’s crotch, but he’s in so much pain he hardly has the strength to do any damage.

“I’m sorry, ‘Ru, I know I shouldn’t laugh,” Kakashi apologizes with a hidden smirk. He guides Iruka over to the couch and sits him down carefully, taking a seat beside him to help him out of his coat, gloves, and boots. After removing his own jacket and winter accessories, Kakashi turns back to Iruka, who is wiping tears from his eyes. “It gotcha good, huh?”

Iruka finally shoots Kakashi the glare he’d saved up from earlier.

“Relax,” Kakashi murmurs as he leans in, cupping Iruka’s left cheek in his hand while pressing his lips to the other in a gentle kiss, just below his scar. He wipes away some of Iruka’s tears with his thumb. “I’ll go get you some ice.” He plants a kiss on Iruka’s pouting lips this time, and the younger man shoves him in protest, preferring to wallow in his self-pity for the time being than receive his boyfriend’s zealous affection.

After a couple minutes, Iruka’s silver-haired lover returns to the living room with an ice pack and a large cup of hot chocolate. Iruka takes the ice pack first and gets comfortable—as comfortable as his throbbing nethers will allow him to be, before graciously accepting the warm beverage.

“Extra marshmallows,” Kakashi mentions with a smile and a raised eyebrow as he sits back down next to ‘Ru, his finger pointing out the very obvious layer of mini marshmallows floating in the mug.

“Yes, I see them,” Iruka replies, bringing the cup to his lips to hide his own smile while he sips the hot cocoa, though Kakashi can still see it in the way the corners of his eyes crinkle just slightly. Iruka hums quietly as he sucks up a few of the half-melted marshmallows into his mouth and chews them, enjoying their sugary flavor. “Thank you,” he tells Kakashi after swallowing. He catches the older man eyeing his mug, so he offers it to him with a sigh, keeping his fingers wrapped tightly around the handle as he raises it to Kakashi’s lips. Kakashi holds his hands up innocently to let Iruka know he isn’t planning on stealing the drink from him as he takes a sip. A long sip.

“Okay,” Iruka retracts his arm, watching a little bit of the hot chocolate dribble down Kakashi’s chin as he tries to chase after the cup, clearly not finished yet. “You should have made some for yourself if you were just going to steal mine,” Iruka laughs, shaking his head as he holds the cup close to his chest with both hands now, as if to guard it.

“Quality control,” Kakashi says, wiping away the chocolate below his lip.

Iruka gulps down more of the beverage, its warmth radiating as it hits his stomach. “Oh, is that what that was? Do you not trust Swiss Miss, or were you just making sure you did a good job?”

“I’d like to think my decision to add milk instead of water helped.”

Iruka glances at Kakashi from the corner of his eye as he eats more of the marshmallows off the top of the cocoa. “It did.”

 

The couple fall into a comfortable silence, Kakashi slouching against the couch cushions as he rests his feet on the coffee table, his head moving to lay on Iruka’s shoulder. He allows his eyes to close for only a moment, but finds himself quickly dozing off with the help of Iruka’s body heat next to him. Apparently, he was more tired than he thought. Perhaps it’s what he deserved for forcing both of them out of bed before 8am on a Saturday, just to get to the Christmas tree farm the minute it opened.

The only thing that pulls him out of semi-consciousness some time later is Iruka’s voice.

“Pakkun, what are you doing?”

Kakashi peels his eyes open and listens harder, hearing the rustling of tree branches and the familiar snort of his beloved pug. He sits up with haste and turns to squint over the back of the couch at the source of the noises. Pakkun is there sniffing away curiously, but he’s not the one making the tree tremble.

Here , Pakkun,” Kakashi calls for him pointedly. Iruka notices the hardness in his brow as the pug doesn’t listen at first, the rustling of the tree branches now more of a concern than before.

“Is he messing with the tree?” Iruka wonders, wanting to get up to check out what’s going on, but struggling to do so with the ice pack still resting between his legs.

“Don’t move,” Kakashi instructs as he flies off the couch. He retrieves Pakkun and temporarily locks him in the bathroom as a precaution, then goes to the kitchen. Iruka catches the metallic gleam of a knife as Kakashi re-enters the room, light on his feet as he approaches the Christmas tree that is still laying in the middle of the floor.

“Do not tell me there’s an animal—“

“—Shh!” Kakashi doesn’t mean to shush him so rudely, but he needs to concentrate. As he bends down and cuts away at the ties holding the tree branches together, Kakashi listens to the rustling turn more frantic, followed by a strange chirping sound. Using the end of the knife, he pushes the branches apart to peer inside the area of the tree where the noise is coming from, ignoring Iruka’s insistence that he be careful. After another odd screech, a fuzzy, gray blob darts out in Kakashi’s direction.

Squirrel! ” He shouts, dropping the knife in a knee-jerk reaction to the animal jumping at him. He feels it pounce off his shoulder and two seconds later Iruka is screaming, the squirrel leaping over the back of the couch and practically into his lap.

“Are you kidding me?! Iruka spills his hot chocolate in his panicked state, jumping up from the furniture and fleeing to find a safe place to hide even though it hurts him to move. The cup shatters on the floor, but he hasn’t the time to worry about it. Pakkun’s muffled barking can be heard from the bathroom down the hall. “I knew the tree was a bad idea!”

“Calm down, Iruka, I’ll catch it!” Kakashi yells, knowing his boyfriend will hear him from wherever he’s decided to go hide. Kakashi locates the kitchen knife he dropped and holds it steady in his hand, ready to take the squirrel down even though his heart is pounding in his chest. He scans the living room, but doesn’t see it anymore, so he tiptoes to the kitchen. He holds in a gasp as he spots the squirrel standing on the counter by the sink.

Iruka slowly pushes the pantry door open to peek into the kitchen through the crack, terrified but interested in watching the fiasco unfold.

“Don’t you move, you little bastard,” Kakashi whispers, creeping closer and closer to the squirrel, it’s fluffy tail twitching erratically as it watches him with one beady eye. Kakashi begins to raise the knife in his right hand as he gets within striking distance.

“Oh please, no,” Iruka squeaks from the pantry, squeezing his eyes shut so he doesn’t witness the murder about to take place. The sound of his voice, however, is enough to send the squirrel running again.

“Damnit, Iruka!” Kakashi exclaims, discarding the knife as he lunges to cut off the rodents’ path. His fingers get a grip on its fluffy tail when he lands belly-down on the tile floor and the squirrel goes feral, attempting to bite and scratch Kakashi’s hands as he yanks it towards him to get a hold of its body. He has to wrestle with its squirming form for a brief moment, but eventually gets it to stop fighting against his grasp.

When Iruka no longer hears a struggle going on, he peers through the crack in the pantry door again, only able to see Kakashi’s legs from the knees down. “...Did you get it?” He stays within the dark closet, afraid that he’ll find a bloody, dead squirrel if he leaves before he knows it’s okay to come out.

“‘Ru, I need you to open the back door, please,” Kakashi’s tone is serious, begging for Iruka to hurry up and do as he’s told.

Iruka follows Kakashi’s directions and watches intently as he gets up off the floor with the subdued squirrel held tightly in his hands, releasing the animal back into the wild without anymore trouble. They close—and lock—the back door, and before Kakashi can take another step further into the house, Iruka stops him, hands placed firmly against his chest.

He clears his throat and looks up at his boyfriend with that teacherly stare that tells Kakashi he’s about to get scolded. The older man purposely avoids Iruka’s scrutiny. “Tell me, Kakashi... Was the tree really worth all the trouble, like you said?”

Kakashi thinks for a moment, Iruka’s arms sliding up to wrap around his neck. As Kakashi finally locks eyes with Iruka, unable to resist with his lover so close, the younger man’s expression softens.

“If I tell you how much I love you, will that get me out of answering that question?”

Iruka is about to tell him no, but he hesitates for just a little too long, causing the pair to share a mutual grin. “Mmm,” Iruka murmurs, Kakashi’s lips pressed vehemently against his own.

He breaks their kiss long enough to give Kakashi his reply, “Maybe just this once.”