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Popcorn is Better When It's Shared

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Iruka was currently the coziest he'd been all month. He was curled up on the sofa with the fluffy quilt from his bed wrapped around him and a pillow under his head. A few more pillows were piled on top of and tucked in around him in a poor mimicry of being snuggled by his boyfriend. He had a gigantic bowl of popcorn balanced on the edge of the coffee table, which itself was pulled right up beside the couch. The only illumination was the flickering glow from the television screen. The volume was turned so far down that the dialogue was barely audible.

Just as well, Iruka thought, because the highfalutin protagonist had one of the most annoying voices he'd ever heard. He was also finding the sound of the rain on the roof and windows to be extremely relaxing. It was like he was the only person in the world. He wished he had another person here with him though.

Kakashi had been called away for an urgent mission the week before their one year anniversary. Kakashi's gift hadn't been ready before he'd left, so it was currently wrapped and sitting next to the bonsai Yamato and Gai had given him (them) in "Commemoration of a Most Exciting Year of Youthful Love and Growth for my Eternal Rival and his Romantic Partner!"

Iruka was delighted to receive the bonsai for two main reasons. He knew that both of them would find its care relaxing during their downtime—Yamato had made sure that the plant was a "low maintenance" type that required "only infrequent watering." That they'd given it to him instead of waiting for Kakashi to return showed their acceptance of him as a part of Kakashi's life.

The movie's protagonist was now trimming his own prize-winning bonsai. If it wasn't for the popcorn flowing in a steady stream from the bowl to his mouth, he was sure he'd be asleep.

Was that a child peeking around the corner of the hedge? Yes, it was. Iruka chuckled. The way she was "hiding" behind the hedge had all the subtlety that Naruto and Kiba were known for. Even Konohamaru had done better and Konohamaru had been pretty bad at it.

Suddenly, the garden where the protagonist was working was overrun with frogs. Finally, something entertaining! The frogs startled the protagonist so badly that he’d trimmed the wrong twig from his tree. Iruka smirked, imagining the same event happening to Hyūga Hiashi. The man was currently on his mental hit list—he'd been putting pressure on Konoha’s superintendent to lower the admittance and graduation ages for the academy. And this despite the unprecedented time of peace since the end of the Fourth War! Worthless jackass.

Iruka could feel his thoughts begin to churn and his body tense up, so he made a deliberate effort to put Hiashi away for the evening and relax both body and mind again.

In a fit of temper, the protagonist had thrown his clippers across the garden, then turned around to see if he could find the culprit. He spotted the child and moved to chase her down. Iruka hoped she would get away.

Iruka noticed a strange odor in the air that he couldn't quite place. Then he shivered despite the blanket and pillows.

"It's not polite to stare, especially when you could be cuddled up with me, instead of creeping out in the hallway," Iruka teased a moment later. He twisted around to look at the dark opening where Kakashi was standing, "Welcome home."

"So sassy, sensei! I wanted to enjoy such a pretty view. It's better than any I've seen in any of the Elemental Nations," came Kakashi's sincere rejoinder.

Iruka grinned and blushed fiercely. To cover his embarrassment—he knew couldn't really cover it—he scolded Kakashi, "Go shower! You smell like wet dog." But he quickly softened his statement with an invitation, "Then you can join me." He'd desperately missed Kakashi, after all. Kakashi's shower would give Iruka time to prepare for giving Kakashi his anniversary gift, too.

As Kakashi moved to head to the bathroom, Iruka shunshinned over to wrap him in a hug. "I've missed you so much," he murmured into Kakashi's neck.

"I've missed you right back," Kakashi echoed. Iruka felt the whisper of Kakashi's breath on his own neck and the press of Kakashi's gloves as they slid under his sweater.

They let go of each other in tiny increments, until Kakashi chuckled and said, "Your clothes are all wet now."

"Worth it," came Iruka’s emphatic statement. "I'll go change and put together something hot to drink."

"Let's make it hot chocolate," Kakashi suggested, as he slipped a small container into Iruka's hand just before he slipped into the bathroom and closed the door.

Iruka looked down: his favourite dark chocolate from the southernmost region of Fire Country—it had a subtle nutty flavour he'd never found anywhere else. He turned to set up the double boiler and get some milk and cream heating up. Then he dashed to the bedroom to put on some dry clothes. He also grabbed a spare uniform that Kakashi had left here some months back and set it on the counter just inside the bathroom door. When he got back to the kitchen, the milk was nicely warmed and he started to make the hot chocolate.

It was ready just as Kakashi was preceded into the kitchen by a cloud of steam from the bathroom.

"Thanks for the uniform. My spare isn't wet, or particularly dirty, but I did have to wear it during the first part of the mission. There were goats and geese, so it smells a little funky."

"You're welcome. I'm glad it was here for you." Iruka ignored the bait. Despite his dashing about earlier, the house retained it's aura of quiet calm, and their voices hadn’t disturbed it either, like slipping pebbles into a calm lake, rather than dropping in stones.

Kakashi grabbed a couple of large mugs from the cupboard, and Iruka split the hot chocolate between them. Then they adjourned back to the sofa with its blanket and pile of pillows.

The movie had kept playing while Iruka was away, but that didn’t really matter. It looked like a full-scale prank war had erupted between the protagonist and the child. He'd originally found the protagonist to be quite stoic, like Uchiha Itachi, but perhaps he only hid his mischievousness, like Shino. With that, Iruka switched off the television. As he turned, he grabbed the small wrapped box beside the bonsai. He was surprised to see that there was another box sitting on the coffee table. Kakashi had the softest, soppiest smile on his face. It was the kind of smile that even Iruka rarely saw.

"I see we have a new plant."

Iruka raised an eyebrow. "Gai and Yamato brought it over a week after you left. I put it next to Ukki-san."

"It looks good there," was Kakashi's quiet reply.

Iruka sauntered over to the sofa and snuggled in next to Kakashi, who threw the quilt over their laps. Iruka tucked it securely around himself. Then he passed Kakashi the box in his hand. "Happy Anniversary, love," he said with a soft smile.

Kakashi accepted the gift from Iruka and nodded toward the package on the table. "Happy Anniversary to you, too, love."

Iruka picked up the beautifully wrapped box. He wanted to see Kakashi's reaction when he opened his gift, so he slid his hand into Kakashi's empty one and gave it a small squeeze. "Please open it." Then he freed Kakashi's hand so that he could.

Butterflies began to flutter around in his stomach as Kakashi slowly and carefully peeled the tape from the paper. A tiny, curling tendril of self-doubt worked its way up his esophagus. Kakashi unwrapped the paper from the box, carefully folded it, and set it down on their laps. Then, he opened the box.

The look of wonder that crossed Kakashi's face was everything Iruka had hoped for. It also reassured him that his worries were all for nought. Then Kakashi's smile turned into a bit of a smirk. "You should open yours, too," he pressed.

Iruka was a little disappointed that that was all Kakashi had to say about his gift. He willed that feeling away—Kakashi was very deliberate with his actions, so his request must be connected to the gift he'd opened.

Iruka turned his attention to the small box in his hand. He, too, went about unwrapping his gift with careful attention, slowly peeling away tape and paper. After he was done, he spent a few moments just staring at the box. There were not many things that came in a box this size and shape!

"Go on, finish opening it," Kakashi encouraged him.

Iruka raised his eyes to look at Kakashi, then slowly opened the box. Inside was a simple rose gold ring. He stared at it. When the implications crashed over Iruka's mind, he couldn't help but laugh! Then he raised his eyes again and locked them with Kakashi's.

In the same instant, they mirrored the other's motions: each moved their left hand behind the other's head and slowly leaned forward. When their foreheads finally touched, they both breathed, "Yes."