Hatake Kakashi, the famous copy-nin Sharingan Kakashi, was a damn good ninja.

He didn't usually think about it, any more than he bothered to remember that his hair was silver. It just was. He might occasionally mentally note the colour when brushing his teeth in the morning… and similarly, occasionally when Maito Gai was telling him how "cool and hip" he was, a stray "Damn straight" might have crossed his mind.

But you didn't go around thinking that all the time. For one thing, such an attitude was likely to get you killed. The "I rock," not the "Hey, look, silver." Because overconfidence meant underestimating your enemies. Of which there were many. Luckily, being a ninja meant that while you tended to accrue enemies rapidly, you also thinned their ranks pretty quickly too.

So while Kakashi knew himself to be one of the best ninja in the village, he didn't think too much on it.

But he'd be the first to admit it had its advantages.

For instance, it allowed him to indulge his infatuation with Umino Iruka completely undetected.

He didn't remember when he'd first become aware of Naruto's former teacher. They were both ninja of Konoha, so very likely they'd been running into each other for years, maybe sat next to each other at a mission briefing or in booths at a restaurant.

Odd to think he'd been so oblivious before.

Because now his senses practically pinged when Iruka was anywhere nearby. He'd hear him or smell him or just plain sense him… he was a ninja, after all, and anyone who trained their chakra had a very distinct chakra signature… and the hairs on the back of his neck would stand up and a warm feeling would fill the pit of his stomach… and if he'd been indulging in a little bit of his favourite reading material, there was always a risk of some of that heat moving lower…

It made him feel twelve. And considering that when he'd actually been twelve, he'd felt about thirty, that was saying something. He hadn't actually felt twelve since he'd been about six.

Ninja lead very complicated lives.

It wasn't just attraction… attraction was simple enough, and understandable enough. You thought they were desirable, you asked them out, maybe you got lucky after enough dinners or enough drinks.

This wasn't attraction. It was… it was a crush. It was a sudden inability to think of words with more than one syllable when the other was around.

It was infantile. At this rate he'd be sending Iruka kunai with notes attached. 'Do you like me? Circle yes or no.'

It had become obvious that he needed a plan. A brilliant plan, a cunning plan… a plan worthy of the legendary Hatake Kakashi…

Screw that. He needed a plan. Any plan.

Okay, the plan was to utilize his amazing ninja abilities to unobtrusively watch Iruka…not stalk, per se, but merely continue to observe and fact-find…definitely not stalk… while in the meantime hiding his crush. Until it either went away or he died of blood loss from too many nosebleeds. Either way, he was quite looking forward to the blessed, blessed peace.

At least he knew he'd be able to keep his secret from Iruka.

About a month ago, he'd been feeding Naruto at the ramen stand when he'd gotten the distinct impression that someone, somewhere, was watching him.

After a week, he'd worked out that he was being stalked. He couldn't imagine by who, since it wasn't likely an enemy nin had gotten into the village, and it was even less likely that if they did, they'd bother to target him.

Besides, after a while, he'd always spot Kakashi-sensei, and having such a high level jounin around meant whatever was going on, he was probably safe.

After two weeks, he'd put two and two together. He'd also put a new dent in the wall using only his head.

Kakashi was a far stronger, more powerful ninja than Iruka was. And in the normal run of things, Kakashi's victory in any competition would be a foregone conclusion. But this wasn't a normal battle or mission. And as of right now, Kakashi was completely outclassed.

Because Iruka may have been only a Chuunin. But he was also a teacher.

Disclaimer: This is a work of derivative fiction based on the characters and setting of Naruto, created by Masashi Kishimoto.

Dedicated to catspaw18 and momo-chan.

Taking a short break from Seven Down, Eight Up to write this, in honour of my acceptance into grad school. Because Kakashi and Iruka are really cute together.

Comments and reviews welcome.