Disclaimer: The characters, world, etc, do not belong to me. This is a oneshot, but please review anyway. :D Con/crit would be greatly appreciated.

A Study of Prodigies

Iruka is known among teachers for being able to spot a prodigy without ever having seen them fight, and everyone has their own theories on how he does it. Kotetsu, when he is assigned at the academy, reckons it is something in the walk – Izumo thinks it was something to do with the emo-kid mindset that every other prodigy seems to have. Ibiki said something about analysing the presence of the children, and their confidence; Suzumo firmly believes that Iruka can see the future and that he is, in fact, lying to all of them when he denies it.

They are all wrong.

Iruka can spot a prodigy, because he knows there are some things a prodigy just cannot understand. They are not perfect, but even so, Iruka sometimes thinks there is some truth in the mutters that say they are not human.

Itachi, now. Itachi is a classic example of how Iruka finds prodigies – when he was fourteen, and standing there talking to Genma, an eight-year-old Itachi had approached them. He hadn't said anything, but just watched them, Sharingan spinning red as he and Genma had slowly trailed off into silence, unnerved by the blankness in the boy's face. It was not natural, and Iruka realises now that Itachi was confused at them – why were they talking to one another? Genma was a chuunin and Iruka just a genin, and Itachi could not understand why they would talk outside of a mission.

The way that Iruka explains it, once or twice, is that prodigies know things, but they don't know things. They know how to calculate velocity and the flight of shuriken and just how much chakra to put in a move and how this is the best way to kill a man, but they don't know the joy of a kill, or the laughter among comrades, or even how to make that vicious curry Ibiki loves to inflict on people when it's his turn to cook on the days that Raido dubbed 'Shinobi Saturdays'. (Yes, they know it's stupid, but no one's ever really gathered the nerve to tell Raido that. He's alarmingly good when it comes to attacking people with a spatula).

Prodigies cannot understand why people work; what nobody says, but everybody knows is that Itachi's last mission before the massacre was with Anko, and everyone knew how perplexed Itachi was at the joy the girl showed in the kill, when she tried to explain about 'pushing herself to the fuckin' limits'. Iruka has his own suspicions that Itachi wanted to know why and how, which is dangerous knowledge for a prodigy.

Iruka can spot a prodigy, because they interact with others as if they are watching some sort of wild animal at play, never knowing when you might turn on them. Some hide it better than others, but none of them can ever hide it totally.

That is how Iruka spots prodigies.