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A snowy start

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(I don't own any characters etc etc)

 

Kakashi trudged through the snow, grimacing at this thing called life.

He had given up on going tree to tree as there was too much ice on them, and so he was on the ground, moving at a moderate pace as he thought about Konoha.

He had been away for about two months on a long, solo mission to the Land of Snow, and the area had lived up to its name. Unfortunately.

"Freaking snow, freaking mission in snow," he grumbled to himself. While it was successful, it had been cold, freezing cold, and made it all the more lonely.

Usually he was fine with working alone. Living alone. Being alone. But to do all that in deep snow, freezing temperatures, biting winds?

Yeah, it had sucked.

Still, a success is a success, he tried to remind himself.

He had hoped that Konoha would be warmer when he got back, but it seemed Mother Nature had other ideas in mind, as it was winter back home as well, though at least there was a bit less snow than he had encountered on his mission.

Kakashi sighed. The thought of returning to a cold, lonely apartment didn't hold much appeal to him, but he figured he'd get a hot shower, a warm meal in his stomach, and pass out hard.

"Yeah," he said aloud to himself, breath coming out in puffs of visible air. "That'll do."

The familiar chakra of Konoha buzzed as he neared, the warm glow of the village visible as he walked down the road towards one of its gates.

He shook his head to clear it, as this would be the first non-enemy contact he would have in...how long?

Kakashi lazily walked to the gate guard post to check in.

To his surprise, a familiar chuunin was there, alone.

"Kakashi-san!" Iruka said cheerfully, as he moved his standard blue shinobi scarf down so he could be heard. "Welcome back!"

"Good to be back," Kakashi said, as he signed in. "I could do without the snow though."

Iruka laughed, a foreign sound to Kakashi, which caught him slightly off guard before filling him with a new warmth he hadn't realized he had missed.

"I'm sure! You've been gone for quite some time," the teacher said.

"Oh?" Kakashi asked, standing up straight and studying the other man. "How would you know?"

Iruka shrugged his shoulder slightly and scratched the scar on his nose. "I work with mission reports," he reminded the copy nin, "and get other information here and there..."

They looked at each other in silence, as snow swirled lazily outside their semi-enclosed shelter.

Kakashi thought about his interactions with the other man at the missions office, and that he's always liked him, perhaps more than he should.

He wanted to think that Iruka was especially happy to see him, but perhaps it was his imagination? After all, the teacher was always friendly to everyone, seemingly happy to see whoever crossed his path, wherever he was.

"It hasn't been the same without you," Iruka suddenly admitted, surprising Kakashi. The teacher smirked. "I missed receiving predictably bad reports."

Kakashi's mood brightened instantly. "Oh?" he asked, trying to sound bored. "I missed getting yelled at for them." He shrugged. "Too bad I have to turn this one straight in to the Hokage."

Iruka sighed, theatrically. "Yes, too bad. One less headache for us both, I suppose." He paused. "Kakashi-san, take my thermos, won't you?" he asked, reaching down near his feet and bringing up said thermos. "You look like you could do with a hot drink."

Kakashi silently accepted it, unsure of what to do next, how to reply. Such genuine kindness caught him off guard, especially now, as he was just returning home.

"And," Iruka continued. "When you've warmed back up, perhaps I could treat you to dinner? Catch you up on village events?"

Kakashi had never really cared about such things. Events, gossip, news, it didn't really matter unless it had to do with missions or training, but in that moment, it seemed like the most important thing in the world he could, should learn.

"I'd like that," he finally replied, and Iruka smiled again.

"See you soon," he said.

Kakashi nodded and set off for Hokage Tower, smiling for the first time in months as he gripped the thermos tightly.