Iruka found him drifting, buoyed by the raft he had made himself but floating along wherever the current took him. With a gaze that sharp Tenzou didn’t need to open his own eyes to know that Iruka’s had locked on to him and he shivered, tempted to roll away on his little craft but knowing that to do so was to admit that he was being utterly ridiculous.
Splashing met his ears and he knew his boyfriend had just waded in to the shallows. Before he had any time to think up a possible escape plan that might somehow preserve his dignity he felt the course of his drifting change as he was pulled in by an irate teenager with a ponytail and a very disappointed expression.
“Are you done moping yet?”
“I’m not moping,” he insisted despite all evidence to contrary.
“Oh you are. And being extraordinarily melodramatic about it, I might add.” Iruka raised his eyes to the sky. “You’ve been spending way too much time with that Hatake Kakashi.”
Tenzou sniffed and stubbornly kept his gaze on the clouds. “Senpai is cool. I could stand to be more like him.”
“I would prefer if you weren’t.”
He chewed that over for a moment, trying to decide how Iruka had meant it. Was it an insult against his senpai or a begrudging compliment that his boyfriend preferred him as he was already? Sometimes it was hard to tell with Iruka. And sometimes it was both at the same time, that was always an option. He didn’t realize how long he was taking to respond until he heard an irritated sigh and out of habit he finally turned his head to look at Iruka.
Were he being perfectly honest with himself he was moping. Just a little. But if spending time with Kakashi had rubbed any traits off on him it would be the stubbornness to deny, deny, deny his feelings.
“I’m perfectly fine. You should just go back to the village.”
“Really? Perfectly fine? I don’t think so, I’m not leaving you alone.” Iruka gestured to the raft underneath him with a very judgmental look. “Not like this.”
“What’s wrong with this?” Tenzou demanded.
“You’re being ridiculous! We had one little fight, Ten, and it wasn’t even a big one. But you’re out here moping the day away like you think I’m going to break up with you just because you don’t want to come to someone’s birthday party. “
Very carefully so he wouldn’t upset either the raft or the delicate heart inside his chest, Tenzou sat up. “You’re not?”
“Of course not! I’m a little annoyed that you don’t want to spend time with my friends but it’s nothing to break up over!” Some of the anger drained away from Iruka’s face to be replaced with gentle sympathy and Tenzou knew exactly what he was thinking. It was easy sometimes to forget how unfamiliar he was with the way other humans interacted, how unsocialized he had been until Kakashi pulled him out of ROOT to give him a new life. Much as he didn’t want that sympathy he was happy to see Iruka just a little less angry at him.
“It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with them,” he admitted. “I don’t like parties. They make me really uncomfortable, too many people that I don’t know. It just…it sets off too many alarm bells in my head and I panic.”
“That, um, I didn’t think of it like that. I’m sorry.” Iruka’s mouth twisted and he looked away with shame in his eyes.
Tenzou hated that he put that there. It wasn’t Iruka’s fault that he couldn’t crawl inside someone else’s head to know what they were feeling. Desperate to make that shame go away and apologize for not speaking his mind, he scrambled to the edge of his raft.
And fell in the river.
Whatever shriek of surprise had been trying to claw its way out of his mouth was swallowed by the water he crashed in to, cursing himself for forgetting how small the little craft was and how easy it would be to capsize it with one sudden shift of weight. Thankfully they were at least in the shallows so he got his feet underneath him quickly enough and stood up coughing the Naka out of his lungs. Iruka, the traitor, was laughing at him.
“Okay! I’m not angry anymore! That was so great!”
“Hey shut up!”
Iruka did not shut up. He continued to laugh even when Tenzou splashed him and stomped off towards dry land, abandoning his raft and his boyfriend both, hoping he could march far enough away to hide the smile blooming on his face. Things would be fine between them. He wasn’t going to get dumped for skipping one stupid party, Iruka understood him a little bit better, and he’d made the brightest boy in the village laugh without even meaning to.
Definitely a better ending to the day than he’d expected.