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To Catch a Spider

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Kakashi knelt down on Iruka’s bathroom floor and examined the mysterious lump. He gave it an experimental flick and then winced and sucked his finger. Yep, that was one of Iruka’s barriers. It had been that or a small glass bowl, and last Kakashi checked, they hadn’t yet invented glass that could break your fingers.

Beneath the shield of the barrier, the spider waved a long leg at him. Kakashi waved back.

“Iruka,” he called through the open doorway.

“Have you already forgotten how to use the shower?” came Iruka’s amused voice from the hallway, and then a pair of well-toned legs stepped into the bathroom and froze.

“Ah,” Iruka said. Kakashi looked up to see him staring at the trapped spider, his cheeks flushed pink. It might have been from the exertion of certain activities that had stopped only half an hour ago, but Kakashi wouldn’t have bet on it.

“Why are you holding a spider captive on your bathroom floor?” Kakashi asked.

Iruka looked away and tangled a hand through his loose hair, tugging at the ends.

“I had to do something with it.”

Kakashi looked back at the spider. It was fairly big, trapped halfway between the shower and the sink. The seal that was creating the barrier was nowhere in sight.

“Where’s the seal?”

Iruka gestured to the window ledge. There was a slip of paper lying there beside the extra bottle of shampoo and the razor. Kakashi could just about make out the lines of ink marking the seal.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Wait until it dies?” Iruka suggested hesitantly.

“Then what?”

Iruka gave him a helpless look.

“I don’t know! It seemed like a good idea at the time. I didn’t want to touch it and at first I tried throwing things at it, but then it came right at me and I had no choice.”

Kakashi wanted to coo and pet Iruka on the head, but he also wanted to survive the night so he suppressed the urge.

He gave the barrier another idle flick, gentler this time, and the spider jumped across the small space. Iruka flinched.

“How long’s it been here for?”

Iruka stared hard at the doorframe. Kakashi waited it out.

“Three days,” Iruka mumbled.

“You could have just said something and I’d have come and got rid of it,” Kakashi pointed out.

Iruka looked at him like he was crazy.

“What was I supposed to say? Oh, Kakashi, there’s a big scary spider in my bathroom, please come and save me?”

“Sure, why not? I would have saved you.”

“Besides, I’m not scared of it,” Iruka huffed. “I just really, really don’t like it.”

“You’re so cute,” Kakashi said. He hadn’t meant to say it. It just slipped out.

“Wow, thanks, Kakashi. I wasn’t feeling quite emasculated enough.”

“You can be masculine and cute. They’re not mutually exclusive.”

Iruka sighed and looked at the spider. Kakashi noticed that he tensed up minutely when he did.

“Will you get rid of it?”

“You’ll have to take down the barrier.”

Iruka looked as though there were nothing he wanted to do less. He crossed the bathroom to the windowsill, giving the barrier a wide berth, and then placed his hand on the seal.

“Oh, wait a second,” Kakashi said. “I should probably at least put some pants on if I’m going to take it outside.”

“You’re going to let it live?” Iruka didn’t sound entirely on board with the suggestion.

“I’ll assassinate it if you pay me. Call it an S-rank.”

Iruka snorted and waved him back towards the bedroom.

When Kakashi was only naked from the waist up – not including the mask he’d also slipped on – he crouched back on the floor and cupped his hands around the outside of the barrier.

“Are you sure you’ll catch it?” Iruka asked nervously.

“I’m sure.”

Iruka dithered. “It’s really fast.”

“You’re adorable.” Again, his mouth moved without any input from his brain.

Iruka glared at him. “I hope it gets you.”

He let down the barrier, and the spider made a break for it. Kakashi caught it easily, cupping it between his hands. He could feel it wriggling, tickling his palms.

“Go open the front door.”

Iruka seemed hesitant to move past him while he was holding the spider, so Kakashi stepped out of the bathroom. Iruka went down the hall and opened the front door, standing behind it so that no passing neighbours would see him wearing nothing more than a pair of boxers and a loose t-shirt.

Kakashi stepped out of the flat and started to bend down to put the spider on the floor, but Iruka made an unhappy noise behind him.

“Should I take it further away?”

Iruka refused to meet his eye. “It’ll only come back in if you leave it right outside my front door.”

“It would give me an excuse to come back over,” Kakashi pointed out.

“Not worth it,” Iruka said flatly.

Kakashi took the spider to the end of the walkway and turned on to the stairwell. He crouched down and placed his cupped hands on the first step and then let the spider go. It sat very still for a moment and then raced over to the wall and curled up in the corner. Kakashi gave it a wave goodbye.

When he was back inside and Iruka had closed the front door, he pulled his mask off and let it casually drop next to the shoes. Iruka gave him a disapproving look but didn’t say anything. A chill lingered from the outside air and Kakashi shivered and rubbed his bare arms.

Iruka stepped close to warm him up, and when Kakashi sneaked a cold hand up under his t-shirt, Iruka shivered but didn’t complain.

“If you tell anyone about this,” Iruka said very seriously, “I’ll kill you.”

“But then who’ll save you from spiders?”

Iruka considered this. “I have lots of barrier seals.”

“I really love you.”

Iruka scowled, but then cuddled closer into Kakashi’s chest and Kakashi kissed him on the forehead.

“Even when it’s three in the morning and there’s a spider somewhere under the bed and you either have to hunt it down or sleep on the couch with me?”

Kakashi smiled and kissed him again. Several times, for good measure.

“Even then.”