Hahaha, first attempt at a Naruto fanfic. Let's see now… It's currently 2:23 a.m. so I have no idea how this is going to turn out. It's really just a test to see whether I can get the characters down right, but if it turns out to be more than that…so be it.

Disclaimer: Me don't own Naruto, k?

The Esoteric


It was a dark night out in Konoha Village. The sky was a misty dark blue with grey clouds lingering in the distance. The full moon shone brilliantly, lighting up the dusty streets. All was silent and it was times like these that Iruka truly appreciated. He sat alone on his rooftop, admiring the scenery. It was seldom this peaceful at night. Usually some squabbling Genins would be found in some corner and considering the recent events, the chances of invading foreigners were high.

Iruka let out a quiet sigh and leaned back to rest on his elbows. Tsunade was a powerful shinobi and one worthy of respect, but he had some doubts on her dedication as Hokage. Perhaps it was because of her lofty attitude towards it. In any case, Iruka found himself thinking back to the Third Hokage's reign. Anyone could see he was devoted to his people and village. Iruka smiled faintly. He missed their conversations.

A small rustle started Iruka to sit up suddenly, eyeing his surroundings warily. He felt a presence somewhere near him. Focusing his concentration more, he recognized the faint feeling.

"You're supposed to be sleeping, Naruto," he called out lightly.

Iruka smiled slightly when he heard a gasp of surprise and no sooner than later, a blond head popped out from behind a tree. Naruto blinked at Iruka confoundedly.

"How did you know it was me?" he inquired incredulously.

"Instinct," answered Iruka before turning to his former student. "Why are you out here?"

Concern was evident in his tone. Naruto realized this immediately and quickly grinned to ward off Iruka's worry. "Ah, I just couldn't sleep! I think I ate some expired ramen for dinner again," he replied, rubbing his stomach.

Iruka couldn't resist a small chuckle at Naruto's dilemma. However, he was a bit disappointed now that his tranquility was disturbed. Normally he would be pleased to have a talk with Naruto but at that precise moment, he wanted silence. And that was something Naruto would find extremely difficult to abide by.

"Um, I think I'll go back now, Iruka-sensei. You look like you want to be alone. Goodnight!" said Naruto suddenly as he quickly leaped away.

Iruka glanced up in surprise as he watched the young Genin disappear into the distance. He thought to himself with some wonder. It seemed Naruto had grown more perceptive from his academy days. What was even more surprising was that he had learned about consideration as well, though he could try and be a little subtler about it. Iruka smiled. Naruto was slowly maturing right before his eyes and he felt pride like an older brother.

A small breeze swept the area, causing Iruka to look up at the sky. The stars glittered beautifully and he closed his eyes to take in the sweet air around him. It was close to three in the morning but he had yet to feel any tiredness. If truth be told, he felt restlessness. A need to run exploded within him and put him on the edge. Standing up, Iruka steadied himself for a bit before jumping down gracefully. He then promptly began to break into a run that was quick and silent. The small closed stores passed by him in a flurry and he relished in the feeling of being unnoticeable.

Then a small alarm went off in his head. Iruka narrowed his eyes slightly but never faltered in his pace. Whoever the stranger was, he or she was skilled. He began running deeper into the forests and leaped from tree to tree, trusting his instincts entirely. The area was nearly pitch black but Iruka knew the land well enough to have run through it blindfolded. His pursuer seemed to have slowed down a bit, but showed no signs of relenting. Iruka smiled. There was no panic in his system; he knew who it was.

Upon entering a clearing, Iruka stopped. The moonlight shone down on the small area clearly, giving everything it touched an ethereal glow. Iruka waited patiently with his arms crossed and eyes closed, listening to the wildlife around him. He often did this at night. There was a thrill in losing one's sense of sight; suddenly all the other senses took on an acute awareness. Iruka had taken on a training like this when he was younger—one he would never forget.

"I was wondering when you would show yourself, Kakashi-sensei," he said in a clear voice when he heard someone land behind him. Iruka smiled to himself. By a rule he made for himself, he was never to be this straightforward to someone he didn't know very well, but he was willing to break it this once.

Silence greeted him. Iruka remained calm. His eyes were still closed and everything around him was pictured vividly in his mind—the swaying trees, the slippery grass, and the air that moved all around him. It was a consistent pattern and he could feel it when Kakashi moved even the slightest, for it disturbed the wind's current. He had to wonder why the Jounin was being so silent, though.

"I was wondering where little Naruto had gone to," the Jounin finally said.

Iruka opened his eyes and turned around. Kakashi stood but a few meters away from him, looking as cool and casual as ever. His hands were in his pockets and he was looking at Iruka calmly.

"He went back home I believe," remarked Iruka, smiling. "He had some indigestion problems."

Kakashi sighed. "More expired ramen," he muttered.

Iruka blinked in slight surprise. Kakashi knew his students well. "So why did you follow me?" he inquired curiously.

Kakashi looked at him seriously for a bit before shrugging. "I was tireless as well," he said offhandedly. He then shot Iruka a sharp look. "You seem to know this area. I'll admit, I found it a bit difficult to follow you."

Iruka stared at him in shock before grinning, a faint blush spreading to his cheeks. "Is that so? Well, I did train a lot here as a child. It never really leaves your mind, I suppose," he replied, scratching his head embarrassingly.

Kakashi watched him silently with a faint smile. Iruka had always intrigued him. He would sometimes wonder how a man like him became a Chuunin. Iruka was kind-hearted and seemed hardly the type to kill. He seldom revealed any of his skills as well. All the knowledge Kakashi had about Iruka's capabilities were words of praise from the Third Hokage and Tsunade.

"You're off to a mission this afternoon, no?" remarked Iruka suddenly.

Kakashi nodded briskly but didn't say anything else.

Iruka tilted his head slightly. "Um, well, good-luck," he said stiffly.

"I have a favor to ask of you, Iruka-sensei," quipped Kakashi suddenly.

Iruka blinked. "Please, just Iruka. And what is it?" he replied. He had always felt such titles were unnecessary.

Kakashi's visible eye glittered. "Then it's Kakashi to you as well," he said brightly, "and I'm simply asking for you to watch over those idiots known as my students while I'm gone."

"Of course!" laughed Iruka.

The silver-haired Jounin smiled underneath his mask. He doubted he even needed to ask Iruka to watch over his pupils. He was, after all, very protective of his former students. It was indeed very amazing the kind of loyalty he elicited from them as well. Even those such as Sasuke and Neji respected Iruka. It was probably this quality that permitted him to teach the Academy students. Kakashi himself had nearly no patience for young children, but he was quite fond of his team now. It had surprised him when he found himself liking all of them so easily.

"I'll be off then. Thank you, Iruka," he announced with a small wave before vanishing with a puff of smoke.

Iruka smiled faintly and walked to the edge of the clearing to rest against a tree. He was still alarmingly awake and he doubted he would be able to fall asleep until at least a few more hours passed by. At that rate, he might as well just stay awake the entire night. Iruka shook his head amusedly. Once the students piled into class, he was sure he would regret that decision. But until then, he was going to run.

With slight flourish, he scaled up a tree and began his dive into the forest once again.


Hmm…Kakashi is bugging me. He's harder to get down than I thought. :P