Kakashi faced forward, putting Ryouma in his blind spot. The apartment was small; the opposite wall was bare, lacking anything of interest to look at. He studied a crack in the plaster and couldn’t think of any way to say You died, and I wanted to without ruining the evening.
“It’s your first night home,” he tried instead. “Can we just... be happy about it?”
Ryouma hesitated for a moment, then his voice came quiet and intense: “I'm happy. You got no idea how happy I am that we're even having this conversation. I made it home, and you're--still here, and you're a pretty damn good cook.”
Chopsticks clinked firmly against ceramic, as if in proof.
Some of the chill icing Kakashi’s ribcage eased away, letting him breathe again. He picked up the glass of milk Ryouma had poured for him, cradling it between his hands, and pulled his mask down. The chopsticks stuttered in their rhythm slightly, but Ryouma said nothing.
He was standing maybe a foot away, but it felt like a gulf. Kakashi actually missed him. The spot on his shoulder where Ryouma’s chin had rested felt cold.
He took a sip of milk, licked his teeth, and stepped left, until Ryouma’s scent was sharp and present, even over the smell of onions, and the warmth of his arm was flush against Kakashi’s shoulder. Ryouma leaned into him as they stood together, both with their backs to the counter, looking at the apartment. Gratifyingly, Ryouma continued to eat. Kakashi drank the glass of milk down and stayed where he was, letting his head tip sideways to rest against the tall, hard edge of Ryouma’s shoulder.
“I got a TV,” he said eventually, breaking the silence. “Turns out Pakkun likes daytime soaps.”
Ryouma was nearly finished -- he tipped the bowl to get the remaining rice, ate the last scrap of meat with his fingers, then set everything down on the counter. "You should get him started on historical dramas. All the birth-secret and fatal-illness and star-crossed lovers craziness of soaps, plus samurai. How's Shiba doing?"
Kakashi felt himself smile. “Want to ask her yourself?”
“How likely is she to bite off my toes?” Ryouma asked, but he sounded excited and smelled delighted, like something bright and surprised.
Kakashi snorted. “She’s ten inches tall. I don’t think she could open her mouth wide enough.” He peeled himself reluctantly away and went to the closet, taking the right scroll from his abandoned jounin flak-vest. In the last three months, his chakra was the strongest it had been in years; it was the work of a moment to bite open the pad of his thumb, draw the blood-work seals, and bring one tiny dog into existence. He barely felt the bite.
Shiba eyed him with wary surprise, half-crouched in a coiling wreath of smoke. Then she caught sight of Ryouma. Her ears flicked up, her tail rose, her jaws opened in the closest approximation to a canine grin -- she bolted at him, leaping the five foot jump into his arms with ease, and set about bathing his face.
Kakashi licked blood from his thumb. “Quick, run before she eats you,” he drawled, amused.