Title: A Touch of Velvet

Author: BitterEloquence

Disclaimer: Not mine, I'm borrowing them but I promise to put them away in mostly the same condition as I found 'em.

Summery: There is more to Umino Iruka then meets the eye. A core of steel lays beneath that sweet and seemingly innocent exterior and the soft façade of velvet wrapped around the iron fist is thin enough to see at points as Hyuga Hiashi discovers the hard way.

Warnings: Mild cursing and hints of KakaIru

Be careful in dealing with a man, who cares nothing for sensual pleasures,

Nothing for comfort or praise or promotion but is simply determined to do what he believes to be right.

He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy because his body, which you can always conquer,

Gives so little purchase over his soul.

-Professor G. Murray

Many people respected Umino Iruka, most liked him and appreciated his warm personality. That was just the way Iruka was, he radiated warmth and a quiet sort of kindness that automatically made people liking him. To the few oblivious ones, they might think Iruka was the perfect gentleman, he was infinitely polite and generous but his students and friends would tell a different story. While the man was kind and had a seemingly limitless well of compassion, he also had a fiery temper and was known for shouting and displaying his emotions in an explosive flurry of emotions.

Some people didn't know about that side of Iruka, some were so foolish as to think the chuunin would just roll over and let himself become a doormat though those people often lived to regret that mistake. So when Hyuga Hiashi stormed into the mission room one afternoon, Iruka barely even paused in lecturing Kakashi on the state of his mission report to glance at the cold-faced Hyuga patriarch. "Kakashi-sensei, how many times do I have to tell you to completely fill out your mission reports?" There was a testy note of annoyance touching the chuunin's voice as he narrowly eyed the silver-haired man.

Kakashi, standing in his usual lazy slump and regarded the narrow-eyed chuunin with an amused look on that masked visage. One slender-fingered and half-gloved hand pointed down at the somewhat rumpled and crumbled report as if to demonstrate something. "I remembered to put my name down this time at least, hmmn? This is improvement right?" Hiashi frowned and less then gently pushed his way through line of jounin to approach the two with a fierce light in those colorless eyes. Kurenai was there with her team, as was Gai where they all waited to receive their next missions. Hinata's eyes widened as she caught sight of her father and she drew back a bit behind Kiba's imposing form. Though little expression betrayed Hiashi, she could sense the fury radiating from her father all the same and judging by Neji's slight tensing; he too could sense the wrath of the head of the Main House.

"Are you bored that you have to-" Iruka began, an challenging look coming across his face before Hiashi stepped up to the table and slapped a piece of paper down in front of him.

"What is the meaning of this?" That quiet demand over-rode Iruka's voice and the chuunin turned his attention to Hiashi with a faint rising of one brow.

"Good afternoon, Hyuga-sama..." A curious glance towards the paper confirmed what Iruka had already guessed. "That, Hyuga-sama is Hanabi's grade report." The Hyuga elder had been trying to meet with Iruka all week but the chuunin had forestalled him because he'd already known what the man would demand. Not ask, but demand rather, and Iruka was not in the habit of giving into people like Hiashi' demands. Nor was he in the habit of sacrificing the well-being of one of his students for the selfish demands of her father.

"You have refused approval for Hanabi's early graduation once more, Iruka-sensei."

"Yes, I am aware of that, Hyuga-sama and as I told you last year, she is not ready to graduate." Hinata peered over Kiba's shoulder, those heavily lashed eyes wide and hesitant as she watched the imposing figure of her father tower over the seated chuunin. Kakashi had stepped back with a bored look and idly plucked out a kunai from his pouch and started to clean those immaculate nails with the flashing blade. There was no mistaking the silent warning in that gesture however and Hiashi spared him a narrow-eyed look before the rustle of Iruka holding the paper out to him reached his ears.

"Why do you insist on impeding my daughter's career?" The faintest bite of temper broke through that wintry voice as Hiashi turned his attention once more to Iruka. Many had quelled beneath that fierce and downright unsettling gaze but the chuunin met his eyes unflinchingly.

"As I have told you already before, Hyuga-sama, she is not ready. Yes her taijutsu is exemplary but she is not ready and is only eight-"

"There have been younger gennin then her, take Kakashi for example." Hiashi's impatient and rude interruption had a spark of heat touching the chuunin's formerly mild eyes and that silky and quite voice rose once more, the barest hint of menace in Iruka's voice missed by most of the near empty room though the two of them were now the center of attention. Gai and Kurenai's attentions were particularly centered on the debacle as were their students it would seem for both Neji and Hinata were breathless as they watched the leader of the Hyuga square off with that lowly chuunin.

"Hananbi is not like Kakashi-sensei. Yes, she is extremely smart and talented but she is not quite as precocious as Kakashi-sensei. And we are not at war so we do not need gennin that young." A muscle in Hiashi's jaw twitched and jumped from where he'd clenched his jaw tight enough to grind his teeth together. "I understand your frustration, Hyuga-sama but I am her teacher."

"And I, Iruka-sensei am her father and I know what's best for-"

"Not when it comes to her education." It was Iruka, shockingly enough, who interrupted Hiashi and the slight was not missed by the gathered crowd as a hush ran through the suddenly silent mission room. "When she steps through the door into my classroom she is my responsibility and I know what is best for her." Iruka stood then, that lithely muscled form more tight with tension and anger then he let on. "You think you know what is best for her but I am the one entrusted with both hers and all of my other student's well-being and the shaping of their abilities. I am the one who has received the training to recognize and train Hanabi and the rest of her classmates and I say she is not ready." Even livid as he was, Hiashi did not miss the gleam of disgust in Iruka's eyes as he met the pale translucent gaze of the colorless and now passive Byakugan eyes.

"What would a chuunin know about the potential of a Hyuga?" A matching disgust colored Hiashi's voice as his lips curled up in a sneer. That open public snub had a few jaw's dropping and Genma pushed away from the corner where he'd been standing in a lazy slouch that would have matched Kakashi's though even the normally laidback silver-haired jounin was tense and narrow-eyed as he watched Hiashi's movements with the aggressive watchfulness of a wolf. Iruka shot both Kakashi and Genma a narrow-eyed warning look before that hot gaze turned upon Hiashi once more.

"I am the one who says whether or not your daughter graduates, Hyuga-sama and I say she is not ready. If you truly have issues with my teaching methods, you are welcome to take it up with the Hokage. But for now only people with authorized clearance are allowed in the mission room and seeing as how you are interfering with the shinobi of this village I must ask that you leave or be escorted out." The sharp gleam in Iruka's eyes almost begged Hiashi to make more of a scene so he could exact some much-craved revenge on this arrogant bastard. "Unless you have business with the Konoha village and wish to submit a mission in which case you'll stand in the line over there." Iruka's words were precise and colder then a winter's storm as he imperiously eyed Hiashi with a raised chin and a challenging look on his face. While Iruka had not said anything out of turn, the chuunin's disgust with the Hyuga was unmistakable all the same and he gather up Kakashi's badly written report and added it to a stack of reports waiting to be filed.

"I'm not done talking to you, chuunin!" The pale-eyed man was not used to being unsettled by a mere chuunin, nor was he finding himself particularly fond of being publicly humiliated if the unpleasant smirk on Genma's lips was of any indication. Gai looked like he was nearly ready to burst into a rant about how wonderful the passion of youth could be so Iruka made his way to the door only to have an angry looking Hiashi follow him. "I'm still talking to you, Iruka-sensei you will stop walking away and listen to me, dammit!"

A flutter of white and garish green flashed into sight as bother Gai and Kurenai moved to block Hiashi's path. Kurenai's crimson eyes were cold and as hard as chips of ruby as she stood beside Gai to make sure Hiashi couldn't hassle Iruka anymore. "You are causing a scene, please regain control of yourself or we will remove you from the premises." The beautiful kunoichi uttered, melodious voice of hers cold and wintry.

"You shouldn't hassle a busy and hip man like Iruka-sensei, he has a lot of important work to get done and you wouldn't want to interfere in that of course." Gai looked about as menacing as he could and that smile he offered Hiashi lacked it's usual sparkle. Instead, it was rather hard and forced on that roughly hewn face.

Hiashi drew back as he found himself faced with two of the strongest jounin in the village and he stifled a growl before nodding sharply. "Of course I wouldn't wish to interfere, Gai-sensei. As it has been pointed out, I am causing a bit of a ruckus so I'll take my leave." There was the barely masked sound of teeth grinding as the thwarted Hyuga swiftly left through the door though he was not foolish enough to try to chase down Iruka once more since Genma had decided to 'help' him carry the files to the office.

"I am fine, thank you very much." Iruka firmly shook him off with a tense and polite smile however before disappearing into a limit access doorway. The jounin shrugged lazily and indolently strolled back to the mission room with a passing smirk to the departing Hyuga.

After the pair of them left the mission room, a small flurry of whispers began to break the silence that had settled over the room when Hiashi had stormed in. Hinata stood there wide-eyed and pale with something akin to shock. Her teammates eyed her with varying degrees of concern, Akamaru openly whined and Kiba looked at her with worry-filled dark eyes; that feral face set in a look of concern. Even Shino looked concerned, or as concerned as that blank and nearly expressionless face could manage as he

moved to flank his tiny and often hesitant teammate in an open display of support. "S…Shino-kun…Kiba-kun…" Her voice was a ghost of it's former self and it was obvious she was fighting not to slip back into her former mannerisms of being without any self-confidence and thus even more shy and hesitant then now.

Kakashi watched the display of open affection amongst Kurenai's team and refused to recognize the sharp stab of pain that went through him as he watched how the two boys flanked their emotionally weaker teammate, giving her the support she needed. While Hinata was nothing like Sakura, Kakashi still felt a lingering pain as he realized once more just how badly he'd fucked up with his own team. His mood now completely soured, Kakashi deliberately hunched his shoulders more to appear, if possible, even more lazy and indolent. He unfortunately couldn't leave since Iruka had forgotten to take his mission report in his haste to escape the confrontation with Hiashi so instead he settled there to wait with a mental grumble at the crumpled paper laying atop the pile of forgotten paperwork.

The wash of chatter caught his ears and attention occasionally though for the most part, Kakashi found he didn't really care. Since it looked like Iruka wasn't going to come back anytime soon to give him his mission, Kakashi reached into his pouch and drew out a familiar orange book while pretending the whole time that he didn't see the disapproving look Kurenai him, "….did it again?" Kotetsu was catching the entire account second hand from Izumo and he snorted softly with an amused look on his face. "I swear, one of these days, Iruka's temper is going to get the best of him."

"At least he didn't shout this time?" Kakashi tried to pretend like he wasn't interested in what the two chuunin were talking about. Genma wasn't quite as good at masking his interest however as he slipped back into the room to catch the tale-end of that conversation. Gai, bless his heart, didn't have a subtle bone in his body.

"What are you two talking about? Iruka-sensei is a paradigm of virtue and youthful exuberance! The man has once more proven himself an excellent teacher. Why look at my beloved team!" Kotetsu and Izumo exchanged silent looks, and entire volumes of conversation passed between them without the need of words.

"But he wasn't always like that." Kotetsu pointed out with a wolfish grin as he cocked one brow at his partner in crime. "Remember all the stuff he used to pull in the Academy, Izumo?" The chuunin seemed to catch the other's cue and nodded with a smirk, seeming to enjoy the fact that they knew something these jounin did not know.

"How can I forget, remember the time he put that seal on homework assignment he handed back into Matsumoto-sensei? The one that had the seal on it to draw all the birds to him and they shit all over his head?" Kotetsu's eyes widened with remembrance and he laughed loudly. Genma's mouth fell open and he nearly lost the senbon in his mouth before he caught it with a practiced twist of his tongue.

He would have never lived it down if he'd managed to drop his senbon in such a manner after all.

Gai looked horrified and even Kurenai's eyes were a bit wide with surprise as the jounin tried to process the mental image of innocuous and sweet Iruka-sensei sentencing a disliked teacher to an afternoon of bird shitting. The chuunin exchanged a matching set of grins and turned their attention to the jounin with dancing dark eyes. "Iruka-sensei wasn't always so…."

"….sickeningly sweet and nice?" Genma put in laconically while lazily twirling the metal senbon with his tongue.

"I was going for innocent-looking but that works."

"In what way?" The Great Green Beast of Konoha looked both amused and a little ill at the thought of what other pranks Iruka might have pulled in his younger days.

"Well there was that time when he managed to dust itching powder on all our report cards." A wince from Izumo then as he recalled that particular prank, he chuckled wryly while taking in the various expressions of the three jounin with a smirk curving his lips. Kakashi stood off to the side and continued to pretend to read Icha Icha Paradise.

"Yeah my mom was less then pleased if I remember. Heh…I don't think he ever got caught on that one either." Kotetsu nodded with a chuckle as he reached up to scratch that shaggy head.

"That's because he deliberately opened his own report card and got 'caught' too, remember?"

"Hrmph ..see that's the reason I wouldn't want to train brats. I think all you teachers are nuts." Genma added with a snort and rolled the senbon around in his mouth again with a contemplative look. "Not a bad idea for a false scroll thought. Maybe not something as nice as itching powder but if you were to 'accidentally' drop it for the enemy to pick up…."

"He suggested something like that when he started at the Academy if I recall. Thought it would be a useful jutsu to teach the older kids. Don't know if they ever went through with it." The more gregarious Kotetsu put in with a small shrug and shook his head with wry amusement. "It's how we found out Iruka had been the one to make sure none of us got yelled at for bad grades because our parents burned our report cards without really getting a good look at them." A shared smirk once more, "And wouldn't you know, Matsumoto-sensei's grade book just up and disappeared about that time."

That earned them a chortle from Genma and Gai tried very hard to fight back a smile because while he could appreciate the…..creativity of Iruka, he could not openly condone such behavior. If the jounin were surprised, it could not even begin to describe their team's reactions to hearing that their straight-laced and strict sensei had once pulled pranks even worse then any they could have ever considered.

Akamaru growled low in his throat and Kiba scratched his ear in an absent manner. "I know what you mean."

"I..Iruka-sensei really did all that?" The tale of Iruka's somewhat checkered past had at least offered a much needed distraction for Hinata and she eyed her two teammates with a surprised look on that delicate visage. Neji shrugged carelessly and brushed a free strand of dark hair out of his face.

"You know what they say about watching the quiet ones."

"Iruka-sensei is anything but quiet." Shino pointed out with a long-suffering look on his face.

"All the same, do you think it's true?" Tenten looked anxiously around as if to see if they weren't being spied upon. The adults it would seem were too busy goggling over the gossip the two chuunin were all too happy to share however and the dark-haired girl breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

"I doubt it, Iruka-sensei isn't the type to pull pranks," Lee protested with a troubled look on his face. The young taijutsu genius didn't like it when people screwed around with what he accepted to be the general truth of the universe. Gai-sensei was strongest of all and to be respected above all else. One day, he would beat Neji and prove that strong work surpassed natural genius and Iruka-sensei was a well-known boring stick in the mud, albeit a loud and often hot-tempered stick in the mud.

"But you heard them; this is how he used to be." Shino pointed out with a look of quiet contemplation on that pale visage. It was about the most expression to show on the bug-user's face and the young man's wise words had the group pausing then.

"Ha! That's like saying Naruto's going to grow up to be like Iruka-sensei! It'll never happen." A derisive snort from Kiba and the spiky-haired youth rubbed Akamaru's ears affectionately.

"Naruto-kun has grown up a lot." Ever a steadfast supporter of Naruto, Hinata quietly had to protest with a troubled look on her face. Their discussion was interrupted however by a loud laugh from Genma as the senbon-sucking jounin fell against the wall laughing his ass off. This perked all their interesting and the group of gennin turned their attentions back to their various teachers.

"That was him? How did he manage to sneak the laxative into his coffee?" Tears of laughter gleamed in Genma's eyes as the jounin came to realize he'd drawn the attention of most of the room to him. He coughed and rubbed the back of his neck with a chagrined look, the soft clink of the metal needle hitting his teeth making the only sound now as he fell into silence.

"Beats me, I think he might have gotten Mizuki in on that one to be honest. I don't see how he could have gotten out of that one otherwise." Izumo shrugged one shoulder in a lazy half-assed shrug and eyed his often partner in crime from the corner of his eye. "Remember when they started teaching at the Academy."

"Heh, I thought Matsumoto would have kittens. Do you remember him, Kurenai-san? The crotchety old bastard who loved smacking his students on the head with that giant ruler he loved to carry around?" The disgusted wrinkle of Kotetsu's nose proclaimed the chuunin's dislike for said teacher.

"You just didn't like him because you kept getting caught sleeping in class." Izumo quipped with a smirk only to receive a glower from his friend for his troubles. Kurenai considered Kotetsu's description for a moment, a thoughtful look on that delicately beautiful visage as crimson eyes grew distant.

"Was he bald and always complaining about how bad his students were?" Kotetsu nodded with a grin.

"That's him. Well he was Iruka's favorite teacher to pick on so when he started at the Academy, sufficing to say, that didn't go over well at all." The wolfish grin curving the wild-haired chuunin's lips told the jounin it must have been an interesting reaction indeed. Even Kakashi's brow twitched a bit though he pretended to not notice as he lazily flipped another page in his garish orange book.

In the past ten minutes, he'd learned more about Iruka's past and personality then he'd learned in years of exchanging pleasantries across the mission desk. And what he'd discovered only made the jounin want to dig deeper and discover just what was beneath the underneath. It was obvious there was more to the chuunin then met the eye and much like the dogs he was so fond of, once Kakashi sunk his teeth into something, he didn't let up until he'd gotten everything he wanted.

"Heh, well he just threw a fit and swore he'd already shared a school with Iruka once and that was more then enough for two-lifetimes and just up and quit right then and there." Kurenai's eyes lit up and she nodded as the memory clicked into place.

"Ah, I remember that now, they were gossiping about it for days in the teacher's lounge."

"Someone as kind and gracious as Iruka-sensei would drive someone to quit?" Gai's scandalized, if somewhat ill-timed protest, could be heard as the Great Green Beast tried to process all this information. "This doesn't sound like the Iruka-sensei I know. Yes he's full of Boisterous Exuberance and Youthful Passion but he's not Devious Miscreant you're describing"

Kakashi's mind translated Gai speak automatically after years of knowing the man and knew that meant Iruka was loud, fiery of temper and often cross as a wet cat but he wasn't the prankster Kotetsu and Izumo were describing. The two chuunin grew tense and a little wary looking as they waited anxiously to see if the loud jounin would spring off into one of his rants about the beauty of Youthful Passion, or something like that.

"That you can see anymore," Kotetsu pointed out with a smug grin, "You just can't see the trickster anymore but I know Iruka, it's still there inside." Izumo was silent, mentally trying to decide if Gai actually randomly capitalized words in his mission reports in his 'Exuberant and Youthful' desire to spice up a boring D-class mission. He made a mental note to peek at the next mission report Gai handed in because if nothing else, it would pass the time amusingly.

"He's had to grow up a lot, there is no denying that but I still remember the day he threw Uchiha Fugaku out the Academy doors." Only quick reflexes on Genma's part kept the senbon from falling out of his mouth when his jaw fell open. The shocked expressions on the rest of the jounin's faces reflected Genma's pole-axed reaction and even Kakashi couldn't keep himself from looking up from the unread Icha Icha Paradise.

"You never heard about that? Man, you jounin have shitty information networks obviously." It amazed the dark-haired Kotetsu that these elite ninja didn't even know the more juicy pieces of gossip about the various members of the city. "Next you'll tell me you didn't know Jiraiya and Tsunade have been shacking up for years now despite all appearances."

Silence reigned.

Izumo did his partner the favor of stomping sharply on his instep and Kotetsu jumped back with yelp and an accusing glare. "What the hell?" An even-tempered stare met the more temperamental chuunin's angry glare.

"Remember when we talked about shutting up before you put your foot in your mouth?" That had Kotetsu pausing, a crestfallen look on his face as he balanced on one foot to rub at his aching one as a belligerent look glowed in those dark eyes. "Discussing the Hokage's supposed sex life in the middle of the mission room is one of those times, Ko."

A very manly pout from the spiky-haired chuunin then as Kotetsu shot his best friend a hurt look. "Didn't have to stomp on my foot…."

"So wait...aside from the way too much information on the Hokage's sex life, what is this about Iruka-sensei tossing Uchiha Fugaku out of the Academy? And are we talking about the same Fugaku who's Sasuke and Itachi's father and all around bastard extraordinaire?" Genma it would seem was having trouble wrapping his mind around the thought of Iruka pushing someone as powerful and intense as Uchiha Fugaku around.

"The one any the same, I'm surprised you haven't heard about it." Izumo shrugged lightly once more and tapped a slender finger on his chin. "Of course it was sort of covered up considering what happened." Can we say captivated audience? The four jounin were pretending like they weren't all but leaning forward to hear the story but the gennin teams weren't quite so successful at doing so as they inched forward a few inches unconsciously.

"He nearly got fired for it too, thankfully Sandaime-sama spoke up for him. We think he was sort of in the right for reacting the way he did…"

"According to what I was told, Fugaku stormed into Iruka's classroom one day demanding that he graduate Sasuke since he was almost a year older then Itachi was when he graduated you know? Apparently, like another overbearing parent who shall remain unnamed, he seemed to think that Sasuke was capable of being a gennin just because he'd managed to master one of their fire jutsus." The derisive snort from Kotetsu spoke volumes about his opinion of the late Uchiha.

"Iruka just lost it," he continued with a wry shake of his head. "You know how he can be when he gets his feathers ruffled well this was worse. Iruka doesn't really agree with the whole graduating kids early thing to begin with and for the most part I agree with him. No offence to present company and all but kids just aren't ready to stand the mental rigors of the chuunin exams or even being a gennin at the age of six or seven."

"I was actually there when he shoved Fugaku out of his classroom shouting at the top of his lungs about how the man had already ruined one of his children's childhood." Izumo smoothly continued the story with a dark look in his eyes. "Iruka demanded to know where the bastard got off trying to screw up his second son by forcing him to follow Itachi's example, you know? Though he said it with a lot more colorful language then I could ever use. " Izumo's lips thinned to a grim line as a solemn expression crossed his face. "I don't know who was more startled, Fugaku or Iruka in the fact that Fugaku actually turned tail and stormed out. Of course he went and tried to get Iruka fired for that."

The mood had understandably diminished as the jounin mulled the story over in silence for a moment. "So he obviously didn't get fired but what happened because of it?" Kurenai asked curiously with a musing look on her face. "I don't remember this so it must have happened before I started teaching at the Academy."

"I think it might have been the year before, you're right, Kurenai-san. As for what happened…well…to be honest….that next day was the very same day that Uchiha Itachi murdered his clan so not much came of it."

"I was hanging out with Iruka after he got his ass chewed out by Sandaime and Uchiha Itachi just up and appeared from nowhere." Kotetsu fought back an involuntary shiver as he recalled the dead look in the teenager's eyes. "Creepy bastard...ugh...but you know what, he actually stood there and thanked Iruka for trying to stand up for Sasuke and protect him." That had a surprised look crossing most of the jounin's faces and the not so subtly listening student's faces. "Of course, he turned around and told Iruka that it wouldn't make a difference in the end. What's really fucked up is the very next day is the day he went off and slaughtered his clan."

"He did what!" Lee unfortunately completely blew their cover by loudly expressing his surprise over hearing the news and five heads and one dark eye turned towards the group of gennin. Tenten less then gently stomped on Lee's foot, causing the young man to yelp as the girl's narrow and bony foot found a painful pressure point even through his sandals.

Kakashi of course did not deign to do more then glance at them before lazily turning the page once more.

"How long were you eavesdropping, brats?" Genma growled, the sharp chink of his senbon as it rolled across his teeth the only sound in the otherwise quiet mission room. Hinata blushed guiltily and hung her head and for some reason, this annoyed the normally passive and emotionless Neji.

"You were not trying to hide your conversation so it wasn't eavesdropping as you put it." Neji murmured, his voice a tad wintrier then normal as he faced down the senbon-chewing jounin with a calm sort of aplomb. Genma didn't appreciate the gennin bucking up to him and the faint narrowing of his eyes had Gai interupting with a enthusiastic clapping of his hands and a bright smile.

"Ah the passion of youth is ever refreshing! Neji and the others are merely exercising much the same sense of adventure as the rest of us had at their age. And as Neji pointed out, we weren't exactly whispering so we might as well allow them in the conversation so they can add their own insight." Gai smiled in his typical big-hearted manner and gestured for the gennin to approach. A shared look passed between the other jounin and the young adults as well as they all considered Gai's offer.

Kurenei smiled gently at the blushing Hinata, a surprisingly kind and soft expression on the often cold kunoichi's face as she tried to project some of her own confidence upon her shy and hesitant student. Hinata met her teacher's crimson eyes with that wide and doe-like pale gaze that was so similar and so disimilar from her cousin own confident ones.

Lee of course was the first to hurry forward and he smiled with 'masculine' tears in his eyes. "Gai-sensei!" The young man was just so happy and proud that his teacher thought they were mature enough to join the conversation of a bunch of adults and of Gai's peers that he looked close to bursting with happiness. Gai gave him the nice-guy smile and a thumbs up as those painfully white teeth sparkled brightly. Lee returned the thumbs up with a sparkly smile of his own and Neji exchanged a silent look with Tenten before walking forward as well. Genma just shook his head and muttered something about nutcases as he leaned back against the mission desk and shot a look at Kakashi who continued to stand there pretending to 'read' his book.

"So you going to stand there all day or are you going to join us too, Kakashi?" Genma drawled with an amused look of dry humor on his face. Kakashi paused for a moment before looking up from his book to peer with feigned innocence at the other man.

"Hmmn? What was that?"

"Right...like you weren't listening too. I know you better then that, Kakashi." A smirk curved his lips and Genma lazily rolled the senbon around in his mouth.

"Listening to what?" Genma jumped and accidentally stabbed himself on his own senbon as Iruka's voice came from behind him. The jounin spat out the metal with a vicious curse and whirled around to eye the equally surprised chuunin with wide eyes.

"Fuck me…." The coppery tang of blood on his tongue had Genma grimacing in distaste and he missed the dangerous narrowing of his eyes. "Can't believe I fucking stabbed myself with my own senbon, shit."

"Genma-san! There are children present please watch your language!" Iruka's snapped out sharp and testily and the long-haired man jumped a bit guiltily. He wanted to point out that he'd heard Iruka say worse things around his students but self-preservation won out today and he nodded with a growl. There was a soft huff of air from Kakashi but when Genma glared in the direction of the jounin, the silver-haired man appeared to be lost in his book once more.

"Tch….whatever, here's my mission report." With a grumble, he shoved his paper down in front of Iruka and moved to pick up his fallen senbon with a look that seemed to ask 'How could you betray me?' to the discarded piece of metal.

"I would get your tongue looked at, Genma-san. If it were to get infected

you might not be able to talk or weeks or ever again if it's bad enough." Those seemingly concerned words held a double meaning and a jabbing threat that had Kakashi pausing with a blink. How could he have missed this before? How could he have not noticed the double-sided words and the hint at something more then a general nice guy that Iruka tended to exude? Gemna growled to himself and all but skulked out of the mission room to attend the slice along the side of his tongue where he'd accidentally cut himself

Once the commotion was over with, Iruka turned those passive dark eyes onto Kakashi once more and raised a brow. "Have you finished correcting your mission report, Kakashi-sensei?"

"Well now you see…" The Icha Icha Paradise shut with an audible clap and Kakashi rubbed at the back of his head as that one visible eye curled upward into a little smile. "There was this little bird and-"

"Rewrite the mission report so I can accept it, Kakashi-sensei." The chuunin presented him with a hard look and turned his attention to the next person in line. "Next?"

It was late by the time Iruka finished cleaning up the mission room and had filed the last of his paperwork and it had taken two more revisions of Kakashi's mission report before he was willing to accept it. It had been an odd day, ever since he'd returned to the mission room after Hyuga Hiashi's rather explosive visit, everyone had been looking at him oddly.

That was a rather unusual and unsettling sensation, Iruka had decided. He was used to being beneath the radar so to speak, was used to not being stared at or drawing attention to himself but the gathered jounin had watched him with some odd expression in their eyes the entire time. And their gennin team had just stared at him like he'd grown a second head or something. The only one who'd seemed unmoved by his appearance had been Kakashi but that was to be expected of the laid back jounin.

Of course, Iruka was seemed to unaware of said laid back jounin also stalking him the rest of the night either. Though the back of his neck prickled as he walked to Tsunade's office in response to a terse little summons he'd gotten from her, Iruka gave little indication to noticing for he had far more important matters to attend tonight. Hyuga Hiashi, it would appear, wasted no time in complaining straight to the Hokage about chuunin 'upstarts' and how they had outgrown their britches. To her credit, Tsunade had listened to the head of the Hyuga house with an impassive look on her face and had promised most sincerely to look into the matter herself. She had also waited until after the arrogant man had left to snort derisively and lazily send out Kotetsu to fetch said chuunin.

Throughout the entire interview, Iruka was calm yet firm in his explanation as to why he refused to graduate Hanabi early despite her father's demands otherwise. Tsunade had listened to him calmly throughout the entire affair before nodding solemnly as she leaned back in her chair. The Hokage calmly agreed to support Iruka's stand on the subject and the relived chuunin had escaped before Tsunade could change her mind.

By then, the sun had long since set and when Iruka stepped into his classroom long enough to gather up the last stack of tests needing to be graded, Kakashi watched him curiously from his hiding place outside the window. The jounin wasn't sure why he was wasting his time watching the chuunin when he could have been doing something truly important like reading Icha Icha Paradise. He also wasn't sure when his obsession with Iruka had come about though he could only hope it was a fleeting one since this whole skulking about thing was truly ridiculous. A good shinobi gathered information and intelligence on a subject before they engaged in a battle however and that was exactly what Kakashi was doing, or at least, what he was telling himself he was doing as he stalked Iruka through the night.

By the time Iruka had slipped out of his classroom and was heading toward the exit of the Academy, Kakashi had almost convinced himself of that as he hurried across the rooftop towards the front door. He froze and paused on the sagging limb of the tree standing tall and majestic in its age near the entrance of the Academy. It wasn't the appearance of Iruka that had him pausing but rather the movement of a shadow that should not have been there. Kakashi narrowed his one visible eye suspiciously and leaned forward on his perch as Hyuga Hiashi stepped from the shadows.

There was the crackle of the man's anger snapping and chilling in the night air that had Iruka pausing in locking the door behind him to meet the Hyuga's unsettlingly pale gaze. The sight of the man had Iruka stilling tensely and he let his keys cling with the false cheer of metal in his hands as he turned with that armful of scrolls and paperwork tucked beneath one arm. From his perch on the tree, even Kakashi could read the weary look of tired exasperation on Iruka's face as he caught sight of the Hyuga patriarch though he managed to paste a stiff smile on his face all the same.

"Hyuga-sam-" A sharp jerk of Hiashi's hand in an impatient gesture cut Iruka off as the nobleman's face creased into cold and harsh lines with a flinty look.

"I don't know what you told the Hokage to get her to agree to this ridiculous plan of yours but I won't stand for it. Hanabi is my daughter and I know what is best for her."

Kakashi began to edge his way along the tree limb, a hand falling casually to his side as he caught the tense anger in Hiashi's voice and he was preparing himself to jump down from the tree and make his presence known when Iruka looked straight at him with narrowed dark eyes. The grim watchfulness in the chuunin's eyes had him freezing, though whether it was from shock at having been seen or the look in Iruka's eyes was uncertain. But Kakashi was content to take the silent warning all the same and settled back to watch the unfolding scene with forced patience.

Iruka found himself oddly glad for Kakashi's presence however as he faced off with the cold-eyed Hiashi. The arrogance in the man's words had annoyance and protective outrage blossoming within his chest however and it was enough to fuel Iruka's conviction in what he was doing enough to ignore the small stirrings of unease. The chuunin's already straight back stiffened a bit more as that sharp chin lifted just a tad in a stubborn look that had Hiashi growling softly in his throat.

"As I stated before, Hyuga-sama, she might be your daughter but she is my student. I am the one who has been charged with her education and so long as she goes to the Academy, it is I whoiwill decide how her education is administered not you." Kakashi had to hand it to Iruka, the man was a cool customer, and there was no doubt about that. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have papers I must grade still." And the ballsy chuunin moved to walk past Hiashi to have his path predictably blocked by a hastily extended forearm.

"I won't have you drag Hanabi back and cripple her potential just because you're on a power-trip, chuunin." The disgust was unmistakable in Hiashi's voice as his lip curled up, his detest for the other man obvious in his face. That seemed to spark Iruka's temper and those dark eyes narrowed fractionally as he drew himself up to his fall height to eye the head of the Hyuga family with ill-masked disdain.

"I'm not the one who will be crippling her development; you're doing a good enough job on your own." Iruka growled, his voice flat and clipped as that scarred visage glowed in the pale moonlight with a flush of anger.

"What are you talk-"

"You think that just because you're the head of your family that you know what's best!" It was Iruka's turn to interrupt now, his voice hot and rising in volume. The hand holding the scrolls trembled just a bit as his fingers tightened on the paper with a faint crumple of sound. "You're letting your own damned family pride blind you to the fact that you've almost ruined one daughter and now you want to destroy the other just for the sake of proving what! That you're a good leader? That Hyuga is still strong, it's fucking ridiculous."

This seemed to enrage Hiashi and Iruka abruptly found himself pinned to the wall with a hand about his throat. A chill ran through the chuunin as those pale and inhuman colorless eyes glared icily into his own. "Shut up. What would a clanless pathetic chuunin like you know anyway?" That harsh growl reached Iruka's ears as Hiashi's hand tightened in a crushing grip on Iruka's throat.

"….kill me and…..hghh….you'll be banished…." The scrolls had fallen at their feet and Iruka's hand had dropped unseen to the kunai pouch at his thigh. In the moonlight, the wink of light across the blade glinted viciously as Iruka lashed upwards at Hiashi. The Hyuga leapt away with a hiss as a thin trickle of blood traced the edge of Iruka's kunai.

"You pathetic upstart, I tire of these games." Hiashi's hand drew back; the ephemeral glow of chakra gathering about that pale hand was unmistakable as it rose. Iruka's eyes widened fractionally and he raised his kunai in grim acceptance of what was the come. A chill sort of feral madness glowed coldly in Hiashi's eyes as he glared down at the shorter chuunin though those dark eyes remained defiant and steady as they met the colorless gaze of the other man.

Hiashi's hand flexed, those ephemeral glowing fingers twitching just a bit into an open-palmed movement before the muscles of his forearm tensed in preparation to attack.

A gloved hand caught Hiashi's wrist in a tight grip however as the chill press of a blade to his throat had the leader of the Hyuga pausing.

"You might be able to defeat Iruka-sensei but you don't stand a chance between the two of us." Stupid, arrogant Hiashi had neglected to activate his Byakugan and had thus not seen Kakashi drop soundlessly behind him. It was uncertain who was more surprised, Hiashi or Iruka, but the jounin knew who was more happy to see him. "Surely you realize attacking a teacher on Academy grounds would be on par with attacking the Hokage herself or any of the other ninja serving as an official function for this village." Kakashi continued, his voice a lethal purr in Hiashi's ear as his fingers tightened on the other man's wrist.

"Kakashi…." The snarling growl Hiashi gave told just how unhappy he was to have the jounin interfere.

"I'm sure you realize that such a charge would carry with it the punishment of exile at best and possibly death at worst. I'm also

sure you wouldn't want to shame your lineage and name by such rash actions so why don't you leave here right now and pretend this never happened." The blade pressed sharper into Hiashi's throat, gaining the man's full attention as Iruka watched the sight unfold before him with a macabre sort of distant horror. He'd been aware of Kakashi stalking him for most of the evening and had been about to challenge the jounin on it when Hiashi had appeared. Now he was inordinately relieves the jounin had decided tonight was a good night to cultivate his new hobby of Stalking the Chuunin.

"Let me go…." Hiashi's voice was a tad hoarser then normal, the grating note of hatred having thread it's way through that low growl as he stood stiff and still in Kakashi's grip.

"Only if you swear to leave here and leave Iruka-sensei unharmed, I'm sure we can pretend this never happened. No harm, no foul." Kakashi's hand dropped as he stepped back with a smooth and liquid grace that was enviable. "If I ever hear of you coming after Iruka-sensei again, however, all bets are off and I'll have to inform the Hokage of just what went on tonight. With two witnesses I'm afraid you wouldn't stand much of a chance."

Hiashi's jaw twitched and clenched, betraying his agitation in a strange counterpoint to the blank flatness of those near colorless eyes as they flit back and forth between Iruka and Kakashi. The flare of hatred in his eyes was unmistakable as he backed away with a growling hiss before he turned away with a flutter of that expensive kimono. Hiashi shot a narrow-eyed look at the bland-faced Kakashi and swiftly walked past though he did not deign to talk to either man as he stormed away.

Iruka watched Hiashi leave until he was lost in the shadows of the night before he turned those still wary and a tad wide eyes onto Kakashi. A wry little smile curved Kakashi's lips beneath the mask as he sheathed his kunai and rubbed at the back of his head in a false embarrassed manner. "Saaa….exciting night, hmmn?"

"Why have you been stalking me all afternoon, Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto would have noticed the faint twitching of Iruka's right brow, the tight note of his voice and would have known to head for the hills. Kakashi was not as experienced in his reading of Iruka's body language and thus didn't know how close he was to getting a taste of the chuunin's famous fiery temper.

"You know, the hero usually gets a kiss or at least a thank you." Kakashi rubbed the back of his head once more as that single dark brow curled up into a happy little crescent.

"….you want me to kiss you?" The veins along Iruka's temple were beginning to bulge and become visible in a fascinating manner as the chuunin's already volatile temper skyrocketed higher towards meltdown levels.

"Well….how about a thank you and maybe some coffee?" A hopeful then, Iruka though the narrow-eyed chuunin seemed immune to it as he continued his hot glare at the silver-haired man. "Okay…how about some sake? Ramen?"

Silence reigned as the Iruka visibly bristled and Kakashi idly wondered if the chuunin was going to throw the kunai he still had in his hand at him. After everything he'd discovered about Iruka today, some how that didn't seem as far fetched as he'd once thought. Iruka, it would seem, possessed a rather fearsome temper that had even Kakashi a tad unnerved.

"You're an impossible man." That annoyed proclamation broke the tense silence as Iruka sheathed his kunai with a growl and slowly dropped out of the defensive guard he'd fallen into. "……..thank you, by the way." He muttered as he knelt then to pick up his dropped scrolls and paperwork.

Kakashi knelt as well to help him, that distinctive head of wild silver hair bowed as those half-gloved hands picked up the scrolls as well. "You make some interesting enemies, Iruka-sensei. Out of all the people in the village, you had to choose someone like Hyuga Hiashi to piss off?" A note of grudging admiration and amusement touched Kakashi's voice as he handed the scrolls over to the chuunin. A flush started to crawl across Iruka's cheeks as a chagrined look crossed his face.

"What can I say, I like aiming for the top." A wry little smile quirked the corners of Iruka's lips as he rubbed the bridge of that scarred nose with tired embarrassment.

"Heh, you've got guts." That single visible dark eye curled into a happy little crescent as both men gained their feet once more. "But I admire you for not backing down. You're doing the right thing by holding a child like Hanabi back, she's not ready."

"No child is ready to be a ninja, Kakashi-sensei. I would think you of all people would know that." He murmured those last words quietly though Kakashi's sharp ears caught them all the same as he followed Iruka and held out the items he'd picked up.

"You're right, I suppose I do." Kakashi was standing very close now, the faint brush of his flak jacket against his own bringing Iruka awake to this fact as the silver-haired man watched him with a suddenly intent eye. A troubled and baffled expression filled Iruka's expressive and dark eyes as he looked up slightly to meet that intense stare unflinchingly. Only the slight puckering of his brows betrayed Iruka's confusion as he tried to read an answer in that dark and expressionless orb.

"What?" He finally couldn't stand the silence anymore and broke it as he edged back slightly only to be stopped as slender fingers splayed along his back. How Kakashi had managed to move his arm without him even noticing the movement was unknown and Iruka jumped almost an unperceivable manner. Alarm now blossomed now in those dark eyes and a guarded expression fell over Iruka's face.

"You're an interesting person, Iruka-sensei. A lot more then I thought actually to be honest." The faint narrowing of Iruka's eyes warned Kakashi he was walking on thin ice once more. Or perhaps Kakashi knew how precarious a position he was in and was simply reveling in his ability to get such a passionate reaction from Iruka. The chuunin had been on the receiving end of more the one of Kakashi's unusual teasing sessions. The laid-back jounin seemed to take pleasure in teasing and pushing Iruka until he blew his top and exploded. Of course, knowing the eccentric Sharingan Kakashi, that could have been the exact reaction he'd been hoping for.

"And what do you mean by that?"

"I meant just what I said. I find you rather fascinating actually and was wondering what your plans were for tonight." There was a faint twitch of fabric, a small shift of that mask as Kakashi smiled charmingly down at the chuunin then, the faint pressure of his hand against the small of Iruka's back causing the other man to step forward unconsciously. "I'd like to maybe take you out for that sake or maybe even some ramen and find out how that fascinating mind of yours ticks." The faint purr in Kakashi's voice told of more then just sake or ramen however and Iruka's brow rose slowly in the face of the subtle flirting.

He was definitely flirting now and Iruka found himself at a bit of a loss. He would be lying to himself it he didn't admit to being privately thrilled at this odd turn of events but all the same…after a day like he'd had….

"So you're just interested in my mind, hmmn?" It was Iruka's turn to smile as the faint note of flirtation touched his voice. A part of him didn't quite know what to make of the jounin's sudden interest in him but considering he'd been secretly watching Kakashi for months now, he wasn't going to exactly complain when the other man finally caught a clue. Kakashi chuckled softly and leaned forward then, those surprisingly soft strands of silver hair tickling Iruka's cheek as those cloth-covered lips brushed the chuunin's ear.

"Well, we'll start with the mind and….work our way down." A soft kiss found Iruka's ear then, the subtle tracing of the jounin's lips along his cheek and face as he drew back was not lost on Iruka. Nor was the faint catching of Iruka's breath in his throat or the soft parting of his lips as those dark eyes met Kakashi's laughing one. "Shall we go?" Another press of that graceful hand against the small of Iruka's back and the chuunin allowed himself to be nudged forward so he could walk alongside of Kakashi. "Lovely insult work by the way, I don't even think Hiashi a clue you were ready to spit in his eye." Kakashi murmured, his voice pitched low as the mask crinkled a bit in a smile. "You're very subtle, I like that." Coming from the master of subtlety that was quite a compliment actually and Iruka felt his cheeks heat just a bit as they walked away from the school. "I hear you were a bit more….feisty last time a parent tried to force you into graduating a student earlier."

"Heh….well I learned it's better to deal with the parents with the proverbial steel fist in a velvet glove works better then outright insults and challenges."

"Hmmn a touch of velvet to go with the fire," Why did Iruka get the feeling Kakashi was just toying with him like a cat with a mouse again?

"You really shouldn't say such outrageous things, you're not going to get a reaction out of me. I've already dealt with someone far more frustrating then you tonight.." Iruka warned him with a saucy smirk and shifted his papers more carefully under one arm.

"I wouldn't say that…." A silky little chuckle could be heard as Kakashi moved to help take some of Iruka's burden. "I suppose I can't help it though, it's part of my nature. And where did you want to catch dinner? Icharaku like normal perhaps?" Mildly amused that Kakashi was planning dinner without even waiting to see if he'd accept the invitation, Iruka chuckled softly to himself as he let it go. To be honest, there were far worst things he could be doing this evening then spending time with someone he'd craved interaction with for far too long.

"I need to stop by an apothecary's shop but after that I'm free…." Iruka was proud of himself. He'd managed to utter that sentence without it sounding overly breathy or particularly husky. The two of them set out through the night cloaked streets of the village and managed to make it to the shop Iruka wanted to visit a full ten minutes before the shop owner was set to close.

Kakashi stood in the doorway and watched silently as Iruka chatted cheerfully with the man behind the counter while perusing the contents of the various jars and aisle with the easy of long practice. As the jounin made mental note of the various ingredients Iruka was buying, some of the odder purchases began to stand out in his mind and he slowly came to realization of just what the chuunin was going to make.

…and just who he was going to use the itching powder on.

To think Kakashi had accused Hiashi of being a fearsome enemy? He didn't hold a candle to Iruka and the jounin had to excuse himself from the shop before he started snickering too loudly. "Interesting purchases there…." He murmured with an amused smirk as Iruka paid for his purchases.

"I've got to send out my letters to the various parents of my students telling them what parts need to be worked on this summer. Tsunade-sama forbade me from delivering them myself like I normally would…" A wicked gleam of humor lit in Iruka's eyes then and Kakashi chuckled to himself as they walked back down the street that would lead them to Icharaku.

"You're a scary man to have as an enemy, you know that, Iruka-sensei?" An affectionate arm was slung over Iruka's shoulders as Kakashi chuckled low in his throat. A bland look was gifted to the jounin though Iruka notably didn't step out of that half-embrace.

"I have no idea where you'd get an idea like that, Kakashi-sensei." That droll reply had an amused smirk curving the jounin's lips all the same.

"I'm sure…." Kakashi snorted, secretly delighted that the other man hadn't pushed him away or shoved his arm off. Those slender and graceful fingers decided to make themselves busy by stroking and tracing random patterns along the lithe muscles of the slender chuunin's upper arm and shoulder. "Like I said, you're a fascinating person, Iruka-sensei. I kind of wish I'd had you as a teacher when I was at the Academy. Would you have graduated me as early, I wonder?" Amusement touched Kakashi's one visible eye, the sagging edge of that askew forehead protector hiding the other as it's scuffed metal plate proclaiming Kakashi's loyalties to Leaf gleamed in the passing light of a closed up shop. Kakashi had leaned forward by then; stealthy moving when Iruka turned his head to look at him, they almost found themselves kissing.

"Not a chance," the dark-haired man murmured, face deadpan and he had the pleasure of watching Kakashi's mouth fall open in a surprised look. "You can't even write your name neatly. No student makes its way out of my classroom with such chicken-scratch handwriting"

Kakashi laughed and nuzzled Iruka's cheek playfully before straightening once more to continue their lazy walk towards the ramen stand. "You're a harsh man, Iruka-sensei." A mock whine then as Iruka found himself the recipient of puppy-dog eyes from Kakashi. The chuunin snorted softly and elbowed the other man lightly in the ribs.

"You have no idea…now let's get something to eat; I've still got a letter to make…er…write."

Kakashi snorted to himself and continued to walk with his arm slung affectionately across the chuunin's shoulders as they turned the corner and onto the street where Icharaku stood there ahead. Iruka smiled quietly to himself, as his own hand rose to lightly brush along Kakashi's back, completing the half-embrace they were enjoying as both men continued to walk forward. They were heading into new territory here but both seemed rather eager to explore it.

It had been a strange day, an odd day full of unexpected revelations and discoveries. Kakashi had to revise his opinion of the chuunin in a major way but had discovered he rather liked what he had discovered to be beneath the underneath.

Thanks go out to Telosphilos and bite-the-hand-that-feeds for reading over this and helping me to smooth some of the rougher parts out. Your opinions and support were greatly appreciated!.