Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
I know I shouldn't be starting another story but this idea hit me while I was away and so I started writing. This is utterly AU and some people will be OOC. Others have used the idea of Iruka having been on the same genin team as Anko but I am being different about it. I can't figure out when Orochimaru left Konoha, everyone seems to use a different time so I'm saying he left after Kyuubi was sealed.
Hope you like!
Kakashi stared at the barred wall of his cell, mentally kicking himself for falling for such an obvious trap but there wasn't much else he could do about it now. He'd recognised his attackers hitai-ate's as being from the new village of Sound. Very little was known about the village or its ninja but it looked like he'd learn something, if only he could survive long enough to get the information back home. He tilted his head to listen as the sound of soft, hesitant footsteps reached him. Soon a young man was standing in front of his cell. Although he wore a Sound hitai-ate his uniform looked like a standard Konoha chuunin uniform, except that it was in Sound colours. There was also something familiar about him. Kakashi stared at him and then it hit him, the photo on Sandaime's desk.
"Iruka." Kakashi whispered and the other nin jerked.
"You should feel honoured that Konoha's vaunted copy-nin knows your name Iruka-kun." A voice called and Iruka dropped to the floor in a kneel, his head bowed.
"Orochimaru-sensei." He greeted respectfully and Kakashi's visible eye widened. Orochimaru? Things were looking very bad.
"What are you doing down here little dolphin?" Orochimaru stepped into the light and rested a hand on the dark hair.
"I was curious sensei, forgive me. I have heard so much about him and have only seen him from a distance as a child." So Iruka was really from Konoha.
"Curiosity can be a good thing but you should not be here. Attend to your duties Iruka-kun."
"Hai sensei." Iruka stood and moved away but not before their eyes met briefly. Kakashi could see fear and hopelessness in the chocolate depths and realised with a spark of hope that the other man was not totally lost to Orochimaru, if he only had the chance to reach him.
"Hatake-san?" A soft voice called and Kakashi managed to lift his head slightly. Just outside his cell was Iruka holding a lamp in one hand and a tray in the other. He slowly opened the door and slipped inside, moving to kneel beside him.
"I brought you some food and water, it isn't much but it was all I could find." He explained quietly.
"I have no weapons so you can't steal them and escape." He added sternly and Kakashi chuckled before stifling a moan.
"Thanks to your sensei I'm in no condition to try." He stated dryly.
"Here." Iruka held a bowl to his lips.
"It's just broth." Kakashi drank eagerly since he had nothing to lose by trusting him. Iruka put the bowl down once he was finished.
"Why are you doing this?"
"How did you know my name?" Iruka countered.
"A photo on Sandaime's desk. I heard him say your name one day. There is no mistaking that scar even if you were only a boy in the picture. He misses you, he's sad when he looks at the photo of the two of you." He could see the shock in Iruka's eyes although he managed to keep his face blank.
"After my parents died he'd stop by when he could. He…he had me put on sensei's genin team." Iruka said softly, refusing to make eye contact.
"You've been with Orochimaru that long?" Iruka nodded. Kakashi was shocked that the other nin had any humanity left in him at all and yet he seemed almost timid and kind.
"You know, there aren't any Iruka's listed as missing-nin…" Kakashi said before drinking the offered water. Iruka's eyes widened and his hand trembled slightly.
"But I left with sensei. How?"
"Maybe an old man hoping that if given a chance the boy he cares about will come home." Kakashi said softly.
"I have to go." Iruka gathered his things and fled. Kakashi let his head fall back. Was it true? Was that why Iruka hadn't been declared a traitor along with his teacher? Did Sandaime really still hold out hope that he'd return one day? If so then maybe he could make the Hokage's wish come true. It also explained why Anko clammed up when asked about her third teammate, did she hold any hope for Iruka or did she believe him to be loyal to the sannin?
Iruka lay on his bed thinking about what Kakashi had told him. Could he really return to Konoha? Surely Sandaime would have had no choice but to list him as a missing-nin even if only as a low ranked one. His thoughts slowly wandered back to his days on his genin team. He'd had a crush on Anko since the Academy and had always been clumsy around her. Nori had been friendly enough though quiet. But that had all gradually changed under Orochimaru's tutelage. In a way he was lucky since he had been spared a lot of it in those days due to Sandaime's interest in him but that had caused the others to slowly begin to resent him even though he hadn't understood why back then. And then Nori had been killed on a mission, or so sensei had claimed. Neither he nor Anko had witnessed their teammates death. It was shortly after that that sensei had told them they were leaving Konoha for a while to train. Neither of them had thought anything of it and Anko had paid with her life for their ignorance of Orochimaru's true motives. Iruka curled up into a ball; it still hurt to think of her death. To hear her screaming again for him to help her even as sensei pulled him away, called her useless. That day had been the first time he had tried to run but Orochimaru had easily caught him.
Iruka's hand crept up to his bare neck. He was one of the few high-ranked ninja in the village that didn't bare the cursed seal and for that he was glad. Orochimaru had told him that he would not risk his favourite until the seal had been perfected and Iruka dreaded that day. He didn't want the extra power, not when he'd seen what it did to people, seen it slowly drain away their humanity. Should he…could he help Hatake escape? Even if he didn't go back to Konoha with him and jut fled Sound? But where could he go? Somewhere with no hidden village where he could live out his life peacefully, maybe as a schoolteacher. He rolled over, trying to clear his mind enough to sleep. Tomorrow was a big day, sensei would be testing him and he had to finish the genin team lists. As he drifted off to sleep the memory of a blonde baby surface, he'd be taking his genin test sometime this year too.
Iruka sat still as Kabuto bandaged his ribs. He didn't like or trust the medic but sensei deemed him important and he was good at his job so Iruka put up with him.
"All done Umino-san. Orochimaru-sama was impressed with your performance today. Perhaps you'll be promoted." Iruka pulled his shirt back on and nodded.
"Perhaps. Thank you for your assistance." He bowed politely and went to leave.
"Orochimaru-sama instructed me to tell you that the genin lists are to be given to me as he will be recovery for the next few days and unable to approve them." Iruka turned back; somewhat irked that his work needed the younger mans 'approval'.
"Recovering?" He asked.
"He will be transferring bodies in the morning to the copy-nin. A single sharingan is still better than none after all."
"That it is. You'll have the list by tomorrow." Iruka left the infirmary, keeping his face carefully blank. Why should he care if Hatake was to be sensei's new body? He didn't know the man and had they met under any other circumstances he doubted the jounin would have hesitated to kill him. But something about the other mans presence had woken his conscious and he fond the thought of Orochimaru using his body sickening. He continued on to his rooms and locked the door, doing a quick scan for surveillance equipment. He did it regularly so his actions wouldn't raise suspicion if he was being monitored but thankfully he wasn't. He quickly gathered what he needed and then sat down to finish the lists, he had to appear as if everything was normal for now.
"Iruka?" He raised his head as the cell door opened to admit the Sound-nin. After the way he had fled the other night Kakashi hadn't expected him to come back.
"Here, soldier pills. They're from my own supply so they're clean." Iruka held the pills out.
"They'll know someone was in here if I take them." Kakashi protested, not wanting to endanger the other man for some reason.
"Doesn't matter. Neither of us will be here for them to find." Iruka stated firmly but Kakashi could see the fear in his eyes.
"He'll kill you if we're caught." He warned.
"Maybe, but it would be preferable to living like this anymore. Thank you."
"For what?" Kakashi asked before swallowing one of the pills.
"Waking me up." Iruka answered and then went to work on the chains. He helped Kakashi up and into a Sound uniform.
"It'll do as long as no one gets too close." For the first time Kakashi noticed that Iruka was wearing the normal Sound uniform as well.
"There's a shift change soon, the current guards will be half asleep and not alert since no one knows where the village is. We'll slip out just before the change. Stick close and do what I do. Anything happens run and don't look back." Kakashi nodded, realising that if someone sounded the alarm Iruka intended to stay behind and buy him time.
"Thank you." Iruka flashed him a wiry smile as he opened the cell door again.
"Thank me when we're away from here." He said and slipped from the cell silently.TBC…
Well, what do you think? Is it okay?