Characters: SEBU! Iruka and Bumblebee! Hayate
Date: December 10th
Summary: Iruka and Hayate are delayed from returning from a mission, but only because Iruka is even more stubborn than usual with regards to his friend.
Iruka: No matter which way you flip it, his cough is most definitely not getting better, no matter what he says! Iruka thought as he placed a palm flat on Hayate's chest. Their mission was done, and two days early at that, but their progress home was slower then it should have been by far.
The reason was simple: Hayate's weird little jutsu had long since worn off and the man was currently attempting with dubious success to hack up a lung. Hayate was paler than usual, the shadows under his eyes more pronounced, his voice even more rough for the wear.
His jaw set in a stubborn line as Iruka stood there, watching his friend, before finally holding out a canteen and stating firmly, "That's it Hayate! We are stopping in Suzuran and you are getting some rest. Some real rest. And maybe calling for a doctor to make sure you're not running around here making yourself worse - because there's no way this is just allergies or a minor cold, so don't even try it."
Hayate: "It's just a cold," Hayate rasped back, just as stubbornly. "Added onto allergies. Sounds worse than it is." He took the canteen, though and gratefully took a few sips. The water was ice-cold but at least it wet his throat and soothed the rasp. He fished for the honey-candy in his pocket.
He was a little tired, vaguely sleepy, but that was normal when he got a cold. And he wasn't so run down on chakra just yet that his immune system was that impaired. He handed the canteen back to Iruka and unwrapped his honey-candy. He popped it into his mouth and sucked on it a moment before glancing up at Iruka again. "Plus the cold makes my nose run, and that makes it worse," he explained, patiently, quietly. "Ugh. Feels like my brain all turned to snot and is draining out my nose."
And down his throat, too, thus triggering the cough. He wiped his nose in a quick swipe on the cuff of his sleeve, and winced as his bruised shoulder protested. "Why do all the big ones pick on me?" he asked Iruka, as he got back to his feet. "I think they should pick on you." He paused and coughed again, but only twice. He didn't even get dizzy this time.
Iruka: "They tried, remember?" shot back Iruka as he absently waved towards the bandage wrapped around his right arm, "But that still doesn't change the fact that we're ahead of schedule and you're sick."
The canteen was tucked away, then Iruka was crossing his arms, feet planted firmly on their branch. "Suzuran, Hayate, now. You can go on your own or I'll drug you and take you, but either way, you're going."
Hayate: "I didn't say I wasn't going," Hayate rasped, and wiped his dripping nose on his sleeve again. He shivered a little, and tilted his head to the side. "Or that I wasn't sick," he added, in his most gentle and placating tone, recognizing the look on Iruka's face.
He nodded to the woods. "Shall we at least move along before it gets any colder?" The cold air burned in his throat, ached in his nose, made his eyes and nose run. His breath had an audible rasp and rattle, but he could still breathe and travel...just not very quickly. He'd need to recast his jutsu to hurry. But Iruka didn't look like he was in any hurry--just being stubborn.
Iruka: Iruka eyed Hayate warily for another moment, then nodded and took off at a slower pace, careful to keep his friend in his sight just in case he decided to do something like black out or stop to have another coughing fit. They only had to stop two more times.
They really were close to the city though, and as the light began to fade from the evening sky, Iruka led his friend into one of the simple onsen. Hayate tried to protest as Iruka requested a room with a private spring, but the change in temperature from outside to the lobby triggered yet another series of loud, hacking caughs. Iruka placed a steadying hand around his friend's elbow, ignoring the concerned look from the desk clerk, though he did thank her with an honest sincerity as she handed him the key and offered to send for a doctor.
Once this latest fit seemed to pass, Iruka gave the elbow in his hand a gentle squeeze and murmured, "C'mon, Haya, This way..."
Hayate: Hayate cleared his throat, wincing a little at how raw it felt. "I'm fine, Iruka," he declared, a bit irritably, but allowed Iruka to lead him along by elbow. He offered a wave back to the desk-clerk as Iruka pulled him down the hall.
He resigned himself to being fussed over--he honestly wasn't that bad yet. He hadn't blacked out...yet....so he was just fine. Admittedly, he was getting sore muscles from the violence of the coughing, and his throat was feeling nastily raw from the drainage and the coughing. But his temperature was staying down, and if he had been without allergies, it just would have been a simple cold. Iruka was making an awful fuss over it, but if it would soothe his conscience, Hayate would patiently bear it.
He sniffed, and wiped his nose on his sleeve again. The end of his nose was starting to feel chapped, and he sighed.
Iruka: Iruka let them into their room with the flick of a key, then waved his friend in ahead of him. As much as he'd hated to admit it, he had completely missed some of the earlier signs that Hayate was pushing too hard, that someone needed to force him to slow down, and all because he was avoiding going home. But now that he was able to once again run missions with him, Iruka could keep a better eye on his friend - and pull him back once he started pushing too hard once again.
Though to be honest, as open as Hayate had been with everything else, and as much as he'd let Iruka lean on him - Iruka hadn't expected him to have this similarity with his dead counterpart. Because, like Iruka's childhood friend, this man had hid his own stress, tension, and suffering from him and it hurt, knowing that his friend didn't think Iruka was strong enough to share his own burdens with him.
These thoughts he kept to himself for the moment as he took Hayate's travel pack from him and jokingly ordered his friend to a hot shower.
Hayate: Hayate made a playful grab for his pack. "If I'm gonna shower, I'll need the clothes in that, baka," he teased raspily, then scooted a step closer and nabbed Iruka's wrist, instead of the pack, pulling him closer and reaching up to pull at his friend's spikey ponytail. "You worry too much," he scolded, and moved away to cough, hand sliding down Iruka's wrist to grab his pack.
He did, however, make a grateful beeline for the shower after retrieving clean clothes. One of the best ways to warm up from being cold was a shower so hot it bordered on scalding. (It was even better with a chilly wife helping you get warm, but that was a pleasure he had to forgo.) He briefly wondered what mischief Iruka was going to get up to, as he hopped across the cold bathroom tiles barefoot. That was forgotten the instant he stepped up under the hot spray; he moaned in pleasure and arched his back and shoulders into the heat, a shiver of bliss running all the way through him.
He curled his toes and hummed to himself, eyes shut, savoring the sensation, very much in his own happy little world for the moment.
Iruka: Iruka watched his friend disappear into the bathroom with an affectionate smile, then set their bags down in the corner. He was careful not to track mud across the room as he went over to glance at the menu and order what could maybe be considered to be too much for dinner.
He spent his time stripping out of the dirty uniform, removing bandages and leg wrappings and hair tie as he waited for the food. He'd even had the chance to wander out into the cool night to check the spring and set up a few basic traps.
He could just hear the shower cutting off as a knock sounded at the door. He wondered if it was the food or the doctor - but was more amused then he could say to find both standing there. He waved them both in as he smiled, knowing Hayate was going to kill him for fussing so much over him
But it felt right and it felt good, so Hayate would indulge him this little bit.
Hayate: Hayate emerged from the steamy bathroom grumbling to himself about socks with holes in them and how they seemed to morph holes into other socks...and promptly froze when he realized there were other people in the room. Fervently grateful he'd gotten dressed and not wandered out only partially clad, he sent Iruka an accusing glare--why didn't you TELL me there were people here!--before putting up his best smile.
He hastily dumped his dirty clothes behind his pack and reluctantly came over to be sociable. Upon discovering the one was a doctor, he gave Iruka a very dirty look. Somebody was going to get an absolute earful after this--though he agreed to let the doctor have a look and listen. Fortunately, the hot shower had cleared out the worst of his congestion and the humid steam had done wonders for his throat. In the end, the doctor offered to mix up some medicine for his cough, but Hayate politely declined, and stood on Iruka's foot when he tried to overrule him.
With the doctor safely banished and the door shut, Hayate whirled in Iruka. "Now what kind of sense was that? I told you before I was fine. It's just a cold, Iruka. You certainly wouldn't want me to call a doctor if you had a measly little cold," he accused, shaking a finger at the other man.
Iruka: Iruka stood his ground and crossed his arms stubbornly. "Just a cold doesn't last this long with normal people, Hayate!"
He'd been fully prepared for Hayate to get exasperated with him but honestly! Iruka was starting to think Hayate could be bleeding out all over the place and he'd try to tell Iruka it was nothing worth worrying about. And it didn't help that Hayate was far better at reading Iruka's moods than Iruka was at reading Hayate's.
The grip on his upper-arm tightened as Iruka groused, "So how else am I supposed to be sure if always trying to down-play it? Other than waiting till you're all blacked out and needing to be hospitalized or something, I mean."
Hayate: "It certainly would if you picked up another bug as you're getting over the first," Hayate answered back, smartly but without any heat. He was annoyed, but not enough to turn it into a full-blown fight. "I haven't even passed out today at all. Well, except when that thug caught me over the head, but that doesn't count."
He didn't say that he hadn't come near to passing out, because he wasn't going lie; he had, during one of those fits, but only a little. "Don't worry so much, alright? I know my limits." (And he did, honestly, his cold wasn't quite that bad yet. But if it stuck around for too much longer...) "Besides, being inside and out of the cold air makes it better," he added, more gently, trying to soothe the irritation he'd provoked.
Iruka: Iruka eyed his friend warily for a moment before finally sighing softly and shaking his head. "If you say so Haya...but I would still appreciate it if you just relaxed and got some rest over the next two days, alright? We're gonna stay here two nights - no arguements! We'll still be back in the village on time, so just humor me, alright?"
As he spoke, Iruka wandered over to his own pack, pulled out a fresh set of clothes before heading towards the bathroom, calling over his shoulder, "My turn, but don't wait on me or the food'll get cold!"
Hayate: Hayate smiled softly after him, then turned to see what had been ordered for supper. He was glad Iruka hadn't tried to make a fight. He was a bit bemused by the sudden concern, though...it wasn't like he sounded any worse than he had last week, anyway. Well, Iruka had been pretty distracted lately. Maybe that was all there was to it. Hayate nodded to himself, and very neatly divided the food into slightly uneven halves. Taking the smaller half, he settled down cross-legged on one of the beds, and started eating.
He was only halfway finished when Iruka emerged from the shower. Hayate smiled, saluted his friend with his tea, and took a long sip. "Lucky you, I remembered to leave you some," he teased, gently, because they both knew there was no way he would have eaten it all.
Iruka: Iruka chuckled as he piled the rest of the food onto one plate, then walked over to sit in front of Hayate, the towel draped over his shoulder covered the majority of the remaining marks on his back. He completely ignored the yellowed bruises still visable on his wrists, now that he didn't have his gloves to hide them, and began to not-so-gracefully try to catch up with his friend's partially empty plate.
Once he paused in the initial attack, however, he grinned at the other and shrugged a shoulder. " 'M sorry, I know I'm probably over-reacting but...I haven't seen you that much lately - my own fault, I know! - so seeing you all hacking up a lung like that worried me a bit. But I'll try to keep my annoying self from going overboard like that again, alright?"
Hayate: "Oh," answered Hayate dryly, "You have yet to see me hack up a lung. Trust me. It's not pleasant to watch or do." He shrugged when Iruka looked at him, wearing a wry smile. "Okay, so it wasn't a whole lung. Just part of it," he confessed, and resumed eating calmly.
Iruka: "Eww...I'd almost think you were joking, but with you..." Iruka grinned and took another bite of his food. He hummed to himself, taking a moment to simply enjoy the food, content to be near his friend even as he shifted and stretched out on his uninjured side a little closer to Hayate.
With his plate on the bed before him and his body curved around Hayate's back, Iruka grinned up at his friend between bites. "So what'll it be? You wanna crash out early, watch a movie, or go out and enjoy that hot spring?"
Hayate: Hayate set down his almost-empty plate and put a hand behind Iruka, leaning back against him. "Mmm. Bed is tempting. But so are the hot-springs." Hayate chuckled, and grinned softly at Iruka. "I think I'm voting for hot-springs. Maybe then we won't be too stiff and bruised for bed."
He grinned, even though his shoulder was aching, and he had already discovered a fresh set of purpling bruises across his ribs where he vest had stopped a sword-slash. It wasn't often they got missions as violent as that one had been; Iruka was Intel, of course, and too vauable to be thrown at the sort of missions Hayate was used to taking. Hunters tended to get the dangerous, the deadly, and the outright brawls. Hayate was rather proud to have come off with only a set of bruises and a minor scrape on one knee. He was sure Iruka had fared better, as per injuries, though. Iruka had always been a better sort of fighter.
"So, I guess as soon as you're finished eating, we can go soak and be extra warm."
Iruka: "Don't have to tell me twice!"
Iruka grinned and bent over his plate, making a show of eating as fast as he could. He had to admit, the hot spring sounded pretty damn tempting, especially for the deep bruising on his side and upper back, hidden beneath his shirt.
He hoped that by keeping his shirt on and sleeping behind Hayate, he could keep the worst of the damage hidden - silly and improbable, he knew, but it always unnerved him when his friend showed so much honest concern for him. It still left him a little unbalanced and gave him a weird, hopeful feeling.
Almost like he deserved his friend's warm regard.
The last of his food was inhaled with a playfully appalling lack of manners, then he was pushing up on his elbow slightly as he glanced up at Hayate with mirth-filled eyes. "There! See? Even ate my veggies, so let's go!"
Hayate: Hayate snorted. "And one day when you choke...." he warned, leaning against Iruka a more heavily before he sat up again, freeing him. He rolled his shoulder with a slight groan, because while it hurt to move it he didn't want it to stiffen up. That would hurt even worse.
Still sitting on the bed, he carefully started working his shirt off. Since Iruka had been so extravagant, it wasn't like anyone would see or care if he wandered out to the spring shirtless, and he'd rather fight with it in here in the warmth than out there in the cold. His dogtags and wedding ring jangled a merry chorus as he wrestled with the shirt before emerging, half-dry hair a wild riot of curls falling all into his face. He reached up and ran his hands through his hair a few times, trying to finger-comb the curls out. He knew they'd fall out when his hair dried, but he didn't much like them in the first place. His earrings glinted as he messed with his hair.
"Ready when you are, silly," Hayate declared, somewhat muffledly.
Iruka: Iruka's wince was hidden by his hair as Hayate pushed off him, then he was sitting up and scooting off the edge of the bed. His plate was scooped up along with Hayate's and brought back over to the service tray, which he dutifully set outside the door before locking it. A sharp nip of his finger, then he scrawled out a quick seal on the door, flashed his hands through a rapid-fire series of signs and activated the simple seal.
He was always a touch more cautious when he was on missions with Hayate.
Iruka watched with amused affection as Hayate shook out his riot of curls, then ducked into the bathroom to grab them a couple of towels and tossing one to his friend. He made quick work of stripping his own shirt and pants, then slung the towel haphazardly around his waist, careful through it all to keep his back out of Hayate's view. He shot his friend a quick grin and teased, "Watcha mean? I'm waiting on you, slowpoke!"
Hayate: Hayate caught the towel, and got to his feet. "Coming, coming..." he said, in his best indulgent tone, as though Iruka were one of his children begging him to not be so slow. He smiled when Iruka rolled his eyes and made shooing motions at him, as he reached over and folded his shirt. He pattered over and grabbed up Iruka's clothes from the floor. "Honestly...go ahead, impatience, I'll be aong after I clean up your mess," he mock-scolded, and chuckled to hear Iruka sigh and head out.
Hayate folded the clothes quickly enough, but even so, by the time he came mincing across the very cold paving stones, Iruka was in the way already and looking blissfully content. Hayate shook his head, and despite his eagerness eased into the water slowly, savouring the heat and the sensation and making little noises of delight. He though Iruka was laughing at him, but didn't really care.
At last he was settled into the water, leaning against the side of the spring, and eyed Iruka lazily. "Something funny, 'Ruka?"
Iruka: "You are...old man," teased Iruka lightly as he shifted down a little more in the water, so that he could rest his head back against the stones, closer to his friend, dark eyes turning to the star lit sky. His smile was lazy, content as he drew in a deep breath then let it out slowly, stilling his mind and focusing on the steady exhale, centering himself and letting himself sink into a comfortable state of relaxation - one he could only ever reach with Hayate by his side.
"I'm glad we stopped here, Haya...it's nice to take a moment and just be, yanno? Though I haveta say, it also feels good to be able to run missions with you again. Oh! did I tell you? Genma's helping me with my latest poison project. We think we're pretty close to getting it ready for testing."
Hayate: "You're older than I am," Hayate sighed, happily, stretching and reaching out to settle his hand against Iruka's shoulder. "Hmmm, do you ever stop bustling? I should start calling you busy bee," he murmured.
He leaned his head back as well, settling into the heat, tensing muscles one by one and relaxing them deliberately, shifting in tiny increments as he worked on his body first. In a moment, he'd start working on smoothing out his chakra.... Feeling Iruka's chakra brush gently against his was remarkably easing, yet perversely he was suddenly aware of what a weight it really was to keep up his smile and energy so he wouldn't drag Iruka down. There was a vague sense that something was wrong about that, but after a moment, Hayate decided it was because he shouldn't have to work so hard at it. It should be easier than this to keep smiling for Iruka--he would just have to try a little harder.
He pushed the thoughts away for later, starting with his toes again, relaxing each and every part of him in the deliciously warm water, feeling the heat seep deep into his flesh and bones and savoring every moment of the sensual pleasure. 'I suppose Yuugao was right about me being a hedonist,' he thought to himself.
Iruka: Soft laughter met Hayate's statement as Iruka dropped his gaze down to the man beside him. "You really have no clue just how much I've slown down since coming here, do you? Honestly - I don't know what to do with myself half the time! I don't think I've had this much down-time on a daily basis since I was a genin."
As he continued to watch as Hayate relaxed almost bonelessly in the water, an idea struck. More than ever, his friend reminded Iruka of an over-large cat when they found that just right branch to stretch out on, beneath the mid-day sun. The image made him chuckle as he reached over to tap his friend's shoulder. "Turn around and rest your arms and head on the stones...I'm betting a backrub in here will do wonders for you, neko-chan."
Hayate: Hayate cracked an eye open. "But that would require moving," he fake-whined, and grinned when it got Iruka to laugh. "I suppose, but if you put me to sleep, you won't get one in return," he warned, still smiling, lazily brushing his hand over Iruka's in a fond little caress.
He settled down as requested, turning his back to Iruka, pulling almost lazily at his chakra to keep his hands warm. The stones were heated by the springs, for sure, but they definitely weren't as warm as the water! As Iruka's hands traced over his shoulders and neck, they elicited a little tingling buzz from the faint line of scar tissue arcoss his shoulders and neck, and Hayate shivered. He vaguely remembered that Iruka probably hadn't ever been close enough to notice the faint edging of scar; but it was hard to see, barely-there to feel. The healers had done a good job--and his own Iruka had worked so very hard....
Hayate shut his eyes, and pushed away the pang of homesickness, concentrating again on the here-and-now, and the warm fingers working so lightly over his bruised shoulder, which was turning a magnificent shade of purple.
Iruka: For a long moment, Iruka was content in the silence, to feel the solid body relax a little more beneith his touch. He kept his focus on that very moment, careful not to aggravate any of the injuries beneath his fingertips, though eventually...his mind began to wander. He could just see the profile of his friend's face, dark eyes closed, lashes fanned against a high cheek.
As he watched and work, memories began to surface - both old and new. Bright flashes of a sweet smile or a stubborn frown, intense concentration as they sparred, the look of pride on Hayate's face when they gave Iruka his blades on the stand marked with the Gekkou-mon. Sparring with the man before him, confortable evenings sitting together on the couch, feet all a-tangle, the unguarded moments of almost contentment as he watched his friend coax his kitten back to health...the way he'd held Hayate the night he'd screamed out his own pain for all that he'd lost.
Impulsively, Iruka leaned forward to place a light, chaste kiss on the bruise on Hayate's shoulder, whispered a simple, "Love you, Haya." And for Iruka, it was that simple - in this there was no confusion or doubt, only a sure knowledge in his heart.
Hayate: Drifting, neither completely asleep nor totally awake, the touch of lips on his shoulder shivered Hayate back awake, Iruka's whisper falling softly into his ear. Hayate smiled, the words warming him all the way through in a way that had nothing to do with actual heat, and he slitted an eye open to glance back at Iruka. "Love you too, 'Ruka," he murmured back, sleepily, contentedly. He thought he ought to do something more--move, hug Iruka, offer a backrub in return--but he was so nice and warm at last, and boneless relaxed, feeling too heavy and too still to move.