"You shouldn't give up!" Naruto shouted to Inari. "While there are a lot of sins a person can commit, giving up is the worst thing in the world. Because that means your enemy has already won!"
Sasuke and Sakura exchanged speaking looks. Kakashi looked like he wanted to face palm.
"But Gato's too strong!" Inari shouted, almost irrationally.
A mulish look crossed Naruto's face that his teammates were starting to find very familiar. It's a helpless feeling whenever Naruto wanted to 'help' someone. If any of them were familiar with the Yamanaka's – which Sakura only vaguely is despite having played with Ino for a couple of years – they would have called it psychology.
"Then get stronger," he argued back. "If you let him get in your head, he's already won. If you're alone, find someone to help you!"
Sasuke, surprisingly, was nodding along. Maybe he'd already heard this spiel before? Kakashi didn't know his students's penchant for talking people into motivation, but it worked.
"Look at it this way," Naruto added when that only made Inari's lower lip tremble and his eyes flood with fresh tears. "He's not winning, neither are you losing. You are allowing him to win."
At the differently phrased words, fire lit up in the boy's eyes and Kakashi mentally added him to the list of people Naruto helped just by talking.
"My name is Uzumaki Naruto! I like gardening, Ramen, Jii-chan and Iruka-sensei! I don't like the three minutes it takes for Ramen to cook. My dream is to help people get better so they aren't sad anymore."
Kakashi raised a brow. Naruto's dream was so broad that it needed further elucidation. Sasuke's dream was a one step away from fragile insanity. Sakura's dream was so undefined that it didn't even count as a dream.
"Who do you want to kill?" Naruto had asked in the aftermath of the bell test.
Sasuke twitched, looking like he was inches away from committing said murder and running away all together.
It was difficult to say not to Naruto though. Even if Sasuke was likely one of the most self-centered person in the entire graduating class, Naruto exuded that innocent naiveté that had most ninja disregarding him as mostly something annoying and not to be taken too seriously.
"My brother," Sasuke answered shortly, the words pulled from his mouth. "He killed our entire clan and ran off to become missing-nin. It's my duty as a child of our Clan to kill him, to avenge the people he killed."
Naruto frowned. "Alright," he nodded almost decisively. "It would go faster if you had help though, right? Let's get strong together so we can take him down easier."
Sasuke aborted a jerk. He wanted to punch Naruto very badly. "It's my duty!" he hissed. "Mine. If other people help… "
Naruto punched him on the shoulder, almost initiating another impromptu spar right then and there. "I don't think everyone expect you to do it all by yourself," he said in that annoyingly reasonable tone that Sasuke was starting to hate. "I mean, Iruka-sensei always tells me that the Hokage is in charge of the village and he runs it but nobody expects him to do it by himself, otherwise Jii-jii would never have time to go and have ramen with me."
It's …it's so reasonable and logical that Sasuke wanted to hurt something. Itachi had told him to be alone. To grow stronger.
Unless…unless He was lying too?
"And," Naruto added in a smaller voice. Likely, Sasuke hadn't been meant to hear it at all. "If you're all alone, then you're easier to be forgotten so you're easier to hurt."
Naruto didn't help Sakura until the Chuunin Exams.
"I'm so sorry for being weak," she sobbed, making Kakashi and Sasuke exchange alarmed glances.
Naruto crossed his arms and scowled down at her.
"That's stupid," he said loudly, making Sakura hiccup as anger made its way to replace pathetic frustration. "Everyone started somewhere. You might just be catching up, but that just means you have to work harder to do it. Asking help is alright too."
Sasuke again started nodding in agreement. Sakura doesn't actually like agreeing with Naruto but if it meant agreeing with Sasuke-kun…
"Everyone's got different ways," Naruto continued. He has this tone of voice that Sakura was starting to realize meant he was quoting someone. Likely Iruka-sensei or the Hokage. "You just have to find what your good at and go from there."
Kakashi punctuated that statement by putting a hand on top of Naruto's head. "Well put, Naruto. Sakura-chan, you're very good with chakra control. Very prodigiously good in fact. I'll let you intern with the Hospital and let your learn about chakra scalpels. Add in taijutsu and you'll likely be a very difficult person to beat."
Sakura started blushing, her earlier frustration all but forgotten in the face of that approval.
Naruto had almost deemed Kakashi a lost case. He knew Kakashi was hurting. He had obvious coping mechanisms. It was almost like he was telegraphing everything very loudly for everyone to see. But Naruto had seen Gai-sensei try and coax a smile from Kakashi and knew that his sensei was just that damaged.
Until the end of the Invasion, that is.
"We're going to be strong enough to survive, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto declared loudly and pointedly, mostly so that Sasuke and Sakura could see that Kakashi was sad and needed help too.
"Ahh?" Kakashi asked, likely to be annoying. Or maybe he just didn't understand. Naruto would tell Iruka-sensei all about this later.
"We're not going to leave you, sensei," he continued. That lone, visible grey eye widened slightly and that's enough of a tell for Naruto. He's getting through to him. "It's alright to be afraid and while I think that you're a chronically tardy sensei with lousy excuses and you can't even explain some things so they're interesting – "
"Your feelings are really loud and clear, Naruto," Kakashi interjected wryly. "Go on, tell me all about them."
"And I think you're really just a very weird pervert," Naruto plowed on doggedly, determined to finish and ignore Kakashi trying to derail the subject. "But you're there when you're needed and you're very good at saving our bacons. So we'll do our best to get stronger so you don't have to keep saving us."
Sakura might have picked up something from Ino because she put in, "Your hair is already white, sensei. Maybe you'll develop ulcers if you worry too much."
And because Sasuke has been paying attention to Naruto doing his 'therapy no jutsu', he pointedly sniffed and added, "There's only one of him and three of us. He needs all the help he can get. We need to get a lot stronger before sensei can stop worrying."
It was the longest statement they'd heard Sasuke utter just yet and they all stared at him in surprise.
The next morning, Kakashi showed up on time and wiped the floor with them in taijutsu drills for five hours straight.
And he kept showing up on time.
"I'm home, Iruka-sensei!" Naruto called out.
"Welcome home," a warm voice answered, making little fish wriggle in his belly as a warm flush stole over him.
"How was your day?" Iruka asked, putting a mug of hot chocolate in Naruto's hands.
Naruto smiled and Iruka smiled with him, almost helplessly. Naruto's smiles were always like sunshine and they warmed people it got directed at, especially at point blank range.
"I made Kiba laugh today and not meanly either. He and Chouji got along this lunch time without Shikamaru medi-medi…uh…helping them along."
"The word is mediating. And that's good, Naruto-kun. Remember, it's always the little things that make other people's day. It may not be much for you, but for some of them, it will mean the world," Iruka lectured.
Naruto nodded determinedly, tucking in that new tidbit of wisdom in his mind.
"Alright," he said. "But do I have to do it to Kiba?"
The Inuzuka had, after all, made Akamaru pee on his leg the previous day.
"If you don't give people a second chance and let them see how you really are, how will they prove themselves?" Iruka retorted. "Come, I made ramen."
Iruka gave Ibiki the paperwork and the T&I specialist nodded. Only those very familiar with him would notice he was upset.
"You're really leaving then?" he asked.
Iruka nodded. He did not look at his previous boss. "I can't keep doing this, Ibiki-san. I can't keep coming here and then going on to another shift to teach children. It's doing crazy things to my equilibrium."
Ibiki sighed. "Ah, shit. You'll be missed, Umino. You were the best at positive reinforcement and guilt tripping people into telling you shit. You better pass this shit on to other people. If you find someone remarkable, push them here. We need a replacement."
Iruka determinedly did not think about who he would teach passive torture to.
And then he met Naruto and tidbits and tips of psychological warfare started dripping from his mouth, mostly to help the lost child.
He didn't expect Naruto to use them to help people though.
I just…I tried. Lacking sleep, but I love wrestling with this prompt.