Author: Carcinya (Isolde on fanfiction(dot)net)
Author E-mail: carcinya(at)yahoo(dot)com
Keywords: Naruto Iruka Kakashi
Spoilers: Possible up to episode 90
Summary: "There's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path." One-shot, KakaIru
Disclaimer: This story is based on situations and characters created and owned by Masashi Kishimoto, various publishers including but not limited to TV Tokyo. No money is being made and no copyright infringement intended.
Now, now, people. If Naruto was mine, do you really think I'd be sitting at my computer, sipping bad coffee, and writing bad fanfiction? Honestly.
Author's notes: I apologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistake there might be in this story. I am French, and still only learning the beautiful language that is English. Besides, I don't have a beta-reader. Poor me. Any comments are welcome, but obviously flames will be used to roast marshmallows. Or flamers.
I have been attacked by a plot bunny on the way back from Aix-en-Provence (where I sat my exam). I watched "Star Wars Ep II" the night before at the hotel, and there was this scene ... It's plain corny. But then, I thought "Iruka! Kakashi! Wah!". My little black heart melted.
And, anyway, to quote the great Suke-san, "Let's face it! Life is cheesy." So here we are.
The story is set two years in the future. Iruka is a newly-promoted Jounin.
Dedicated to Chibi Risu-chan, my goddess of KakaIru fanfiction, who also happen to be my goddess of translation, and I'll stop here coz' it's getting really embarrassing.
Senpai is a title you give to people older than you in your field of work. Like an upperclassman or something.
Kouhai is the contrary. It is not derogatory.
Warning Sign: Part 1/2
Present time -
"... GCS 8, blood pressure dropping ... Saline wide open in the right IV."
"Shizune. Put in a central line, now."
"Prepare the board. We're bringing him back as soon as he's stabilized."
"Hokage-sama! He's turning blue!"
"... Blood pressure dropping..."
"Tension pneumothorax ... blast! Just what we needed."
"GCS 6 ... Tsunade-sama, we're losing him..."
"One of his lungs has collapsed. The biggest needle you got, quick!"
"The air is rushing out ... "
"Another saline IV. The wound?"
"Massive internal bleeding ... He's losing too much blood ..."
"Intubate him. We're moving back to Konoha."
"But ... Tsunade-sama..."
"I said now. Hang in there, my boy. No way you're dying on me. Just hang in there, Iruka ..."
- Six hours prior-
Five Jounins walked at a good pace in the forest, deadly silent shadows in a world fraught with dangers.
Well, almost silent.
"I am not a pervert."
"Kakashi, Iruka, for Hokage's sake, will you just stop it? You're worse than children."
"You're one to talk, Asuma. You've been ogling Kurenai's ass since we left."
"Missed! Owwww. Kurenai, that was mean."
"That's what you get for being a pervert, Kakashi."
"Not you too, Kurenai? Stop laughing, Iruka-kouhai."
"Yes, yes. Whatever."
"Iruka-sensei, what a cool answer! You really are worthy of being my rival's second eternal rival!"
"Gai-senpai ... that's ... very nice of you. I guess."
Iruka wondered what the hell he had gotten himself into. And it wouldn't be the last time.
Becoming a Jounin, what had he been thinking?
He had been rather happy to receive his new title. How very naive.
Of course, that had been reckoning without Godaime-sama's new mission system. Just like Genins and Chuunins, Jounins were now expected to work as teams.
Something about "increased security in the field". Iruka remembered wondering when exactly had security been included in a ninja's line of work, and then promptly dismissing the information.
That is, until he had learnt who exactly he had been assigned to work with.
He had immediately regretted his little imps back at the Academy. At least when children behaved like children, you knew what to expect. Naruto, obviously, being a special case.
Asuma-senpai was their team leader, and Kurenai-senpai his second in command. Both were skilled, dependable shinobis.
Gai-senpai was ... whatever he was, Iruka could deal with him.
What had Hokage-sama's been thinking? It was a well-known fact that Kakashi could not stand the sight of Iruka. And the feeling, after a while, had become mutual.
From the day they had met, they had never stopped quarreling.
Iruka prided himself on being a responsible, level-headed ninja. And it irked him, irked him greatly, that all it seemed to take for him to lose his cool was one Hatake Kakashi, Copy Ninja Extraordinaire and Perverted, One-eyed Lazy-ass.
The air seemed to crackle with tension whenever they happened to be together in the same room.
Gai-senpai, after their first meeting has a team, had decided to grant Iruka the title of "Kakashi's second eternal rival". Second just after him, obviously.
He did not know why he resented the older Jounin so much. It wasn't that he hated him.
No, he simply couldn't take him off his mind.
Everything Kakashi did. Everything Kakashi was. The way he moved, the way he talked, his scent, sweet and strong and intoxicating, and anyway, eyes that blue just couldn't be legal.
It was like drowning.
It scared him.
And then Kakashi would look at him, look through him - as if Iruka wasn't really there, wasn't worth the bother, and Iruka would hurt, hurt until anger overwhelmed him and washed everything else away.
Those days, Iruka wanted nothing more than to strangle him.
But there were also times, precious rare times, when he would feel closer to Kakashi than he had ever been to anyone else.
A shared look, a joke they both laughed at, one of them finishing the other's sentence ...
They would stare at each other, speechless and embarrassed.
But the moment would pass. It always did.
And they would turn away furiously.
But Iruka couldn't help wondering, if maybe, just maybe, they had missed something along the way.
Like taken the wrong path or something.
- Five hours prior-
"What exactly is our mission about, Asuma-senpai?"
"We are to track down four missing nins from the Sand. They've been sighted about three miles south of here."
"Don't worry, Iruka-kouhai," chimed in Kakashi, sounding bored. "It's just an A-rank mission."
Iruka frowned. "I'm not worried."
"It's your first mission as a Jounin. It's quite normal to be worried," reasoned Kakashi.
"I told you I'm not worried!"
"Ah, it's okay. I won't tell a soul!"
Iruka bit his bottom lip until it drew blood.
The others did not notice.
He almost felt the coppery taste of blood on his own lips, before he realized it was just guilt.
He looked away, and said nothing.
- Four hours prior-
"Iruka? What are you doing?"
"Just ... checking something. I ... no, that's stupid."
"Please forget it, Asuma-senpai."
"Iruka. It was not a suggestion."
"I just have a bad feeling, is all."
"I told you there's no reason for you to be worried, Iruka-kouhai..." crooned Kakashi, smiling behind his mask.
"Why, you ...!"
"Kakashi. Shut it," cut in Asuma.
"Yeah, yeah." Kakashi waved negligently and walked ahead.
"Iruka-kun. Trust me, it is a routine mission. Just watch us and follow, and it will be okay."
The four Jounins resumed walking on the dusty path.
Iruka looked back one last time before following them, feeling oddly oppressed.
It was just anxiety. Very understandable.
Iruka tried very hard to convince himself.
Not a warning sign.
Of course not.
- Three hours prior -
"The track stops here."
"Well stated, Captain Obvious."
"Find yourself funny, do you?"
"Ah, no! I won't stand by and watch you fight again! That's ... uncool! Gruesome! App..."
"Enough, Gai!" Iruka and Kakashi shouted at the exact same time, glaring furiously at the strange Jounin.
Asuma raised an eyebrow. Kurenai laughed softly behind her hand. Gai looked hurt.
Iruka's eyes widened in sudden realization. He turned away in embarrassment, a dark blush creeping up his cheeks.
Kakashi looked vaguely surprised. He gazed at Iruka pensively, as if he was really seeing him for the first time.
And, in a way, maybe he was.
- Two hour prior -
"The right path or the left one?"
"The right one," said Iruka without hesitation.
"How can you be so sure?"
Iruka shrugged. He could not really explain.
A warning sign?
"There's residual chakra. On the left path," she replied, glancing apologetically at Iruka.
Kakashi chuckled. "Maa..."
"Not another word, senpai. Else I'll have to kill you. Surely you don't want that."
"No," replied Kakashi softly, suddenly serious. "And you don't either."
"No," repeated Iruka in a whisper, heart beating wildly for no reason he could understand. "I don't..."
Precious rare times, when he would feel closer to Kakashi than he had ever been to anyone else...
Defiantly, he held Kakashi's gaze as long as he could. He was the first to look away, cheeks burning, acutely aware of their team mates' curious eyes.
"Left path it is, then," he said firmly.
- One hour and a half prior -
"Nothing here either," sighed Gai.
"Maybe we should have taken the right path," said Kakashi unexpectedly. "No pun intended."
"Kurenai sensed chakra on the left one."
"Maybe it's a tra..."
Three kunais were suddenly thrown in Iruka's general direction. He only avoided them narrowly.
"Iruka, you okay?"
"Yes, Asuma-senpai," he replied quickly, berating himself for not being on his guard.
Later, Iruka would only remember vaguely the battle that followed.
The five missing nins of the Sand dropped on them.
They were strong.
But the Leaf ninjas were too.
Iruka fought the best he could. He remembered only vaguely Kakashi using the Sharingan, Kurenai casting a powerful illusion jutsu. He remembered thinking, absurdly and in a flash, "Asuma and Gai sure kick asses", as Naruto would put it.
But there was a moment Iruka would never forget.
Both Kakashi's legs cramped as the same time, and it might have been the Sharingan, and it might have been something else, and he keeled over, and there was a katana rushing to his chest and oh gods Kakashi was going to ...
"Kawarimi no Jutsu!" Iruka shouted without thinking, in absolute terror.
Iruka and Kakashi switched places.
The katana followed its original course.
Iruka screamed once as the blade pierced his chest, and hot tears filled his vision as the missing nin drew it back with a smirk. They streamed on his cheeks.
He fell back against the grass, trying not to choke on his own blood, and suddenly it was just him, and the pain, and the sky.
Those were clouds, he thought calmly. It was going to rain.
Or maybe he was dying.
What he had feared had finally happened. The right path was the safe one, it had not just been anxiety, and he was going to die.
He heard the others finish off the missing nins with shouts of anger and useless rage.
Then he felt something press hard on his chest, and ...
"I have to stop the blood flow, Iruka-sensei."
I can't feel my legs ...
"I'm okay," said another voice, strained.
Iruka felt someone take his hand and give it a reassuring squeeze.
Kakashi's masked face appeared in his field of vision.
The Sharingan, Iruka noted idly. Scary...
"Don't be afraid," said the Jounin, and Iruka almost cried, because he saw fear in Kakashi's eyes, and Kakashi was never scared.
"...not afraid," he said.
"Hang on, okay? Gai and Asuma will bring the healer-nins back soon."
"... not afraid to die..."
"Yeah, I know," replied Kakashi. "Don't speak..."
Iruka felt tears of frustration at his own inability to speak running down his cheeks.
He could not bring himself to be ashamed.
He gripped the older man's hand, not caring if he hurt him.
"Not afraid to die..." he repeated with difficulty. Blood trickled at the corner of his mouth. "Because..."
"... been dying ... a little everyday ... since I met you."
"... wished... you'd look at me ..."
"...hurt so much..." he murmured softly. "Tired..."
He felt Kakashi's hand on his forehead, and suddenly he felt very young and very scared and he realized with a sudden pang of despair that he did not want to die.
Not just yet, not right now, not like that.
The clouds are so dark, he thought absurdly, and I'll never know if it rained or not.
And things that should not have mattered, like the clouds and the rain and Kakashi's eyes, suddenly took a whole new level of meaning as he realized that he would never see them again.
Iruka saw the path, the path they had both missed.
Both too proud, both too afraid to admit that just maybe, they needed each other.
Iruka wished he had seen it sooner, before there were but regrets left, and the feeling of Kakashi's hand stroking his brow, and Kakashi's voice fading in the background, and the searing pain in his chest ...
Everything faded to black slowly.
It began to rain.
But Iruka did not feel it.
To be continued... in part two!
Carcinya's Special Cliffhanger of Doom Deluxe!
Yes, I am evil. Nya!
... Review? puppy dog look