Title: Pieces Of Eight

Summary: Iruka has never been much of a dog person, but it seems nobody mentioned this to one mentally disturbed Ninken, or its even more disturbing owner either.

Notes: Mm wet dog smell. This will be a sort of situational comedy I think, possibly very lame. I couldn't find any canon sources for the other seven of Kakashi's dogs besides Pakkun so I've had to trust to the questionable accuracy of several baby naming websites to give them titles. I'm not even fluent in fangirl Japanese myself, so feel free to point and laugh if I've managed to choose something stupid or inappropriate.

Updates will be slow ((And I'm afraid there are no pirates in this story, despite the title, but uh, there is an eye patch in the first chapter, if that helps..))

Unbeta'd. Badly spelled. Boys making googly eyes at other boys.

Rated T for slobber and such.

Chapter 1: A Long-suffering hero.

Step. Hop. Step

"Damn.. it-!"

Step step, pull, hop. Step. Wobble.

If there had been anyone else around that evening in Konoha to watch the man's halting progress down the street they might well have thought him engaged in some complex dance rhythm. He moved in a strange pattern of jumps, taking two or so forward before taking one back and beginning the process anew. A closer look, as it was hard to spot in the dark, would have revealed a big black object waving madly in front of him, apparently propelling his odd movements.

As it was, the weather meant that any (relatively) sane ninja had been wrapped up safe and warm inside hours before, leaving no one to observe the interesting spectacle he made.

Step, Step. Lurch. Step, tug, sway.

"You're.. not.. going anywhere..!"

The stormy season descended on the fire country in a blinding torrent each year, usually without much warning or consistency, while some shinobi could reproduce the weather, predicting it accurately was still a mystical blind spot. Heavily laden clouds would suddenly squash in over the forests, eager to make up for time lost the rest of the year, and speedily turned the land into a watery haze that wouldn't abate for several very long months. Furthermore with the rains came the inevitable gale force winds ripping through the village to make sure that everyone got the optimum amount of soggy in the time allotted, and having off with a loose headband or two for good measure.

Currently the same fiendish wind was attempting to relieve Iruka Umino of his brand new umbrella as he made his way home from the missions tower, well past the official closing time as usual.

He clung onto the handle for dear life, charging chakra through his feet to keep himself from being lifted into the sky by the force of the squalls. Even in the midst of his struggle Iruka couldn't help but congratulate himself on an excellent choice of water shielding accessory, as any lesser brolly would surely have been blown inside out long ago - but his stayed firmly in shape - and if only he could have kept it over his head instead of flailing out in front of him for a second he was confident it would have supplied excellent rain cover.

He would have to remember to courier one to Naruto when he got the chance, Iruka doubted there had been much room for waterproofs in the boy's pack, or anything else at all really after that month's supply of microwave ramen he had watched him load in.

Next moment thoughts of his absent ex student were driven away as a particularly strong gust sent him veering sideways into a hedgerow, which did at least halt his progress into something more solid, like the house beyond, but didn't do much for the state of his already bedraggled uniform.

It was times like this that Iruka could Ialmost/I regret living right on the outskirts of Konoha, he was in fact one of the only single ninja he knew of who had a house, well a somewhat dilapidated bunker turned bungalow actually, rather than an apartment.

As his colleagues reminded him frequently; it was considered a bit of an oddity to have such a distinctly civilian style living arrangement, and especially since it meant forgoing the safety of the central shinobi housing, where any intruder was faced with at least sixty different kinds of trapping before they even got through the foyer.

But Iruka felt, for the majority of the time, that his little chunk of space was what kept him more or less functioning even when things got 'difficult' (a difficult day for a Iruka being things like 'One of my new students has the monster that murdered my family living inside him' or 'my best friend just tried to kill me and said student', occasionally 'Did I just publicly contradict a (known quack pot) Jonin?' and more recently 'giant snakes have squashed half the village/ is that pile of rubble my classroom?' Iruka was very glad he had never tried for Jonin, he could only imagine what difficult days looked like for a high-level ninja).

His father had been a big nature lover and converted the little home himself before Iruka was born, having bought it cheap off of the village council after a jutsu gone wrong blew out the roof and made it a rather inefficient storehouse. Most of Iruka's memories of him involved some long-winded speech on the rewards of being one with the forest - his zest rather disquietingly reminiscent of Guy-sensei now he came to think of it, he knew that the taijutsu master's own father and Iruka's had been fairly good friends when they were genin and he had even seen his dad do the swirley thumbs up of triumph on occasion.. was youthful exuberance catching? Iruka made a note to steer extra clear of spandex, just in case.

Personally he found the nice view of the trees from his window and the odd weekend's hiking was quite enough for him, but he took the point all the same, his father had always been (manically) happy while he was alive after all.

So trying to muster up thoughts of how his long journey home was really a blessing in disguise, Iruka disentangled himself from the shrubbery, that was definitely too much oneness, and headed back out into the brunt of the storm.

Step, hop, step.

A really good disguise.

hop hop, trip, stumble. Hop.

An excellent disguise.

Hop, hop, slide, stagger.

Award winning even.

Shiver, hop, jump.

With a corroborating fake ID if anyone asked.

Hop, twist, hop, lurch, hop.

Probably its own mother wouldn't have picked it out of a blessings line up.

Jump, hop, slip..

"son of a-!"


Iruka mentally added mud to the list of stains (coffee, ink, kiddie snot, super glue and scorched Play-Doh - don't ask) he could look forward to scrubbing out of his uniform before work the next day as he sprawled on the floor.

All right, so maybe it would have been more sensible to just close the damned umbrella and make a run for it.. but then it was like the weather had won ..not to mention it would make the last half hour he had spent wrestling with his new apparel completely pointless.

He turned to glower down at the umbrella, which he felt really could be doing more to help out, other than just lolling half submerged in the puddle where he had so fortuitously landed, only to start in surprise.

There was a large swirl of red mixing into the murky water.

Had he managed to injure himself slipping over? Cringe. But his pride protested that his ninja-ly senses would have noticed something like that. Iruka twisted around trying to find the blood's source but he couldn't spot any obvious wounds.

So then that meant..

He rose up onto his knees stretching out his senses, eyes straining against the obscuring rain as he searched for the small sparks of old chakra that shed blood gave off. Across the path in the flowerbed growing along the other side he glimpsed the tell tale blue flare.

By now his struggles had brought him to the district where the forest started to creep up on the village as it neared the mountains foot and the outer wall cut through the trees for the last few miles until it met its end at the rock face, creating an enclosed woodland within the village boundaries.

The blood trail led away under the shadow of its twisting branches.

Iruka hesitated. The fluid was fresh by the feel of the residual chakra and as he moved closer to the path's edge and spotted at least three more large pools it became clear that whoever had spilt it must have fairly extensive injuries - and if they continued to move around it wouldn't be long before they bled themselves to death.

Did he have time to alert a medic-ninja? When they got back to the scene the trail might have gone cold, and there was something else about the chakra pattern that worried him, at first glance it seemed to indicate a shinobi but the underlying quality felt a little off, abnormal almost. He couldn't risk letting whoever, or whatever it was go unchecked while it was still inside the Konoha borders.

With a small curse and a silent promise to continue his foray into meteorological warfare later on, Iruka set off after the phantom chakra source.

The air between the trees felt hot and close around him, a jarring change from the wild gale outside and Iruka could actually smell the blood now. He unconsciously raised his guard as he leapt from branch to branch - even if they were injured he wasn't about to wander up from a venerable position if they were a potential enemy - but the streaks of red and luminous blue on the grass below were getting steadily wider as they moved deeper into the forest. At this rate he would be lucky to find whoever it was still breathing, let alone in any condition to attack.

He kept a note of the direction as he followed, the trail didn't appear to be moving purposefully to or from the wall, which likely meant the person either didn't know the area well or was so disoriented that they were no longer capable of finding their way effectively. Neither option boded particularly well for them, or Iruka either for that matter.

After further consideration he paused for a moment to lace a few exploding tags on a close cluster of trees, it was possible that there was more than one ninja involved or this was some kind of bait, and recent past events had taught him to always err on the side of caution (that or face another giant shuriken to the back anyway, and damn if those things didn't sting something horrid).

A suitable exit strategy in place should things get nasty, he moved on into the growing heat and crush of the canopy. The trees were getting taller and thicker all around, coated in huge sprawling creepers and tiny winding flowers, freshly bloomed. The lesser forest flora was thriving off of the excessive rainfall (well at least someone was) as even the oldest and greediest trees couldn't suckle away such vast supplies of water unaided. The branches underfoot were almost completely green and distractingly slippery. The sounds of gorging insects buzzed in his ears, making it difficult to listen for movement ahead. Iruka's muscles were soon tense and coiled with frustration, he was just about ready to cast a minor wind jutsu to blow the little creatures out of the way when the trees abruptly thinned to open air as he reached the edge of a small clearing.

Just as abruptly an overpowering foreign chakra pulse hit his senses.

The shock of it caused Iruka to let go of his umbrella, which snapped open and went sailing away across the clearing as a heavy gust of wind rocked the tree where he was perched. Well, so much for a stealthy entrance. His eyes followed the trail of blood as it ran onto the open grass and felt his breath catch slightly as he saw what was lying at its end.

Down on the forest floor opposite him was huddled a dog, a huge mass of dusky yellow and white tussled fur with a horrible gaping wound stretching across its side, quite visible even at a distance, blood streaming freely. The scraps of a shirt hung on its back, probably slashed in battle and around its neck glinted a leaf headband, bright silver shining in the dark and identifying a comrade in need.

It also had the biggest fucking teeth Iruka had ever seen.

Not that he wasn't already convinced, but the creature had to be severely injured to allow its chakra to be leaking out so unrestrainedly, the sheer volume made Iruka's head spin. He could tell that it was a ninja-dog of considerable power to be loosing so much and still be alive, but that wouldn't last much longer if it didn't get help. The dog's chakra supplies might be indefinite but its blood was most certainly not.

As the umbrella whizzed overhead the dog's slanting black eyes snapped up and trained immediately on Iruka's spot, a wide snarl spreading over its blood crusted muzzle.


Cautiously Iruka dropped down into the open, lifting up a pacifying hand and wondering what the best approach would be. There were those old adages about cornered animals and not staring an angry dog in the eye.. or was it don't not stare an angry dog in the eye? Darn it. Even if he could remember that may not assist him here at all, this was no ordinary dog, a fully trained Ninken might well have intelligence equal to or even surpassing his own and wouldn't give a damn where he was looking when he got up close if it had already decided he was an enemy.

Iruka watched as it flailed and twitched on the ground, trying to get up but clearly too exhausted to support itself. He inched closer as it continued to struggle and growl, its head waving from side to side, mouth beginning to foam.

"I'm a leaf, ally - I'm an ally" Iruka called out, pointing hopefully at his headband as he shuffled yet closer, attempting to look as non threatening as it is possible for a person in full ninja garb to be.

The dog's eyes rolled back alarmingly in its head as a terrifying snarl ripped from its throat, the message couldn't have been clearer; stay back or you'll be sorry. This was not good, though it plainly knew someone was nearby, the dog seemed completely beside itself with pain and showed no sign that it was processing his words.

"Its OK, its ok. I can help." Iruka used that special voice reserved for coaxing children out of locked supply cupboards and toilet cubicles as he stopped just short of the prone creatures position and crouched down to its level. "I'm not a threat"

The dog lunged forward, jaws snapping for Iruka's throat but it flopped down before it could make contact and succeeded only in rolling onto its wounded side, causing further spasms of pain to wrack its battered body. There was no way Iruka was getting close enough to stop the bleeding while that mouth was still in action. And if he knocked the dog out its chakra flow would no longer support any ruptured organs and it would be dead before he could get it anywhere. Damn and double damn.

"Come on help me out here" Iruka muttered as it's pained howls subsided into silent twitching. "You've got to calm down" the dog seemed to focus for a second and glared up him before striking out at his leg with a large (very clawed) paw.

"Oh hell" Iruka sighed, there wasn't time for this, every second he wasted more blood was spreading over the wet grass under their feet, more of its life force draining away. He had to act now.

Bringing his arm up into a shield position across his chest Iruka shuffled forward clenching his jaw in resignation. 'Please don't let it be faking how weak it is to throw me off, getting mauled to death by a colleges summon would be way too embarrassing for words'.

As soon as he was close enough the animal reared up again and sank its teeth deep into his forearm pulling a strangled yelp from the chunin as the animal shook it's head from side to side, apparently trying to wrench the limb right out of its socket. He sucked in a steadying breath through his nose, willing himself not to struggle as flesh shredded and something in his shoulder made an unpleasant snapping noise. Luckily as a ninja who had lived into his twenties, which going by plain statistics was in itself an impressive feat, Iruka was no stranger to injury and had experienced enough of the pain before not to panic. And it hadn't bitten the arm clear in two, so it probably wasn't faking.

"There, happy now?" he gasped out as the dog stopped its shaking and simply snarled up at him with his arm still trapped in its mouth. Its key weapons now otherwise engaged Iruka gingerly brought his free hand down to the dog's side and reached out his chakra to the damaged area, using basic first aid skills to clot over the wound and feed extra strength into the creature's body. He felt the dog's chakra entwining with his own, tasting its intent, testing for danger.

"See? I told you - No threat. Now you've got to try and keep some of the blood in yourself" Iruka mumbled, trying to ignore the ache from his now probably dislocated arm as he continued to work on sealing over the wound. He assumed that the dog had reached the point of fatigue where control of its own chakra had lapsed, causing the massive leaks he had been overwhelmed by when he arrived. But maybe if Iruka could feed a sufficient amount of his own into its body the animal could recover enough to at least stabilise the damage for a while.

He felt the dog's grip loosen and looked up from his work to see it release his arm, which flopped rather disconcertingly at his side, and watched Iruka with a slightly less menacing look in its beady eyes. Iruka gave it a weak smile.

"Well this should help you a little but I'm going to have to move you - understand?" he told it, hoping to any god listening that it did, he really wasn't keen on the idea of having the thing bite him again if he tried to lift it.

The dog let out a low growl but lowered its head - in resignation maybe? Well it seemed that Iruka's chakra had made it a little more lucid at least, if not that much friendlier. Iruka rubbed at his scarred nose as he looked the creature over again, trying to figure out a way of moving the limp body without further injuring it (or himself)

"Ok" he said to the forest in general as he got to his feet and moved around so that he was at its back, thinking it would be a lot easier if he could still use both arms.

The dog turned to peer over its shoulder at him rather haughtily, if that was even possible for a dog, and not looking overly sympathetic to his plight. Scowling in return Iruka crouched and slid his arm underneath its stomach, feeling a wince shake through its skin before it shifted a little to snarl at him.

"Sorry - This is going to hurt whatever I do" Iruka said brusquely before hefting the creature up and slinging it over his good shoulder with a grunt. It was a lot heavier than it looked. He wobbled and thought for one horrible moment he was going to collapse under the extra strain, but as he swayed backwards he bumped into the tree behind and was righted. With a sigh of relief he leaned there for a moment panting and trying to muster up the strength to move.

It seemed he was a lot more tired than he had realised, that or he was just getting out of shape, but he still refused to believe that teaching pre-genin could possibly take less effort than regular missions - you were definitely at a higher risk of bodily harm on average, Iruka had made a graph and everything.

So maybe Raidou was right and he had been over doing the late night paperwork recently, not that he was going to tell him that, last thing the special jonin needed was a reason to justify his chronic bossiness.

Meanwhile the dog had taken to clawing at his back, not pleased with being squashed against the rough bark and ignored.

"Just try to focus on your chakra circulation" Iruka wheezed irritably. He still didn't know for sure that the dog could even understand what he was saying but at this point was rather beyond caring. "I'm going to take you to people who can heal you properly" or he hoped they could..

The dog started to shift against him and Iruka felt the muscles in its stomach twitch and contract. "What?.." but his question was answered for him when the animal made an violent retching noise and Iruka felt something warm splatter down the back of his flat jacket as the smell of vomit filled the night air. ".. you really want to get left here to die don't you" the chunin muttered as he felt the dogs head slump weakly against his back.

At the rate things were going he would be in need of a whole new uniform before the evening was over. As he leapt forwards into the gloom of the forest once more, dangling canine in toe despite his threat, Iruka wondered if he would have time to get to the quartermasters and back before school the next day... or would he just have to rely on the rain to wash the worst of the stains off? Oh phooey.

Weather 2 Umino 0.

The Inuzuka, as fate would have it, were one of the few clans that like Iruka happened to reside on the outskirts of the village, though more out of necessity than choice since not many villagers would be happy about a pack of Ninken lapping the town centre for their daily exercise, and lets not even go into the whole dynamic marking issue.

At any rate the sprawling complex was only a stones throw away from the point where he had first left the path to follow the blood trail, and was therefore only a short journey. Admittedly it did feel a lot longer with ninety pounds of nearly dead weight to carry though, especially since this particular weight continued to drool and puke up on him at intervals throughout the trek. Add to this the fact that having lent a great portion of his chakra supplies to the dog in order to keep it conscious, and the lovely mangled arm he had received for his trouble, Iruka was looking in pretty rough shape himself by the time they reached the towering chakra bolstered fence that marked the edge of the Inuzuka property.

Wearily Iruka tried to remember which direction the main gates were, not liking the odds of survival, or his general sanity, if he had to walk the whole perimeter before discovering it was two paces from his arrival point.

He knew he should have learned that night vision jutsu Ebisu had offered to teach him… but at the time he hadn't been able to shake the feeling that it had probably been invented for rather dishonourable purposes, and declined on principle. Now with low chakra and on the fringes of collapse, Iruka wouldn't have cared less about the perverted nature of the jutsu's source, provided it got him into the compound faster.

Going by the pulse of the dog's chakra, things were getting a little desperate.

"I don't suppose you know which way we should go?" he asked the bloodied mass of fur on his shoulder, as much to check it was still alive as in any hope the animal would have the answer.

It let out an odd gurgling sound deep in its throat but otherwise offered no inspiration.

"Isamu's a brat, He wouldn't speak to you even if he had the energy," a low voice intoned somewhere off in the darkness.

Iruka found himself swallowing thickly as a hulking form moved out of the shadows towards them.

It was another dog, though especially in the poor light, it looked closer to a wolf. It had a shaggy mane of black fur rising along its back as if rankled and a crest of opposing white slipping away under its belly, glowing against the dark. Most noticeable of all was the eye patch however and it brought a smile of recognition to the teacher's lips.

"Kuromaru" He sighed in relief, bowing to the Inuzuka matriarch's principle summon.

"Sensei, I smelled you arrive," he said simply. Iruka decided it probably wasn't meant as an insult, he supposed for a dog smelling was always the first sense to activate, even when their visitors weren't as impressively pungent as he knew he must currently be.

"Ah please excuse the intrusion Kuromaru-san, but this dog, do you know him then? - He's badly hurt and needs medical attention," Iruka said in a rush, acutely aware of the chakra signature next to him becoming fainter and fainter by the second. "Please"

The dog was giving him what could be considered a rather calculating stare "..Yes I know him" he said slowly then, eyes finally moving off of Iruka he tossed his head back in a long rumbling howl that split through the night, the strength of its chord so potent that the chunin felt himself stumbling backwards under the strain of it, ears ringing.

By the time he had recovered the great animal was already turning away from him and melting back into the darkness "Follow me"

Feeling slightly bemused (and creeped out) at the odd behaviour but non-the less extremely relieved Iruka staggered off after him, muttering vague reassurances to the dog on his shoulder as he felt it twist and whimper. "Hang on.. just a little bit further"

Somewhere up ahead he heard Kuromaru snarl.

When they reached the compound entrance they were greeted by a very sleepy looking Kiba, who held the huge gate open with one hand and a snoring Akamaru in the other, careless of the rain soaking through his oversized paw print pyjamas. Upon seeing them however he dropped the little dog in surprise.

"I-Iruka-sensei!" he goggled "What happened to you?" down on the floor Akamaru, rudely awakened, bit at his master's ankle in retaliation. "Ouch! That hurt you little shit head!" the dog dodged away as Kiba aimed a kick.

"Hello Kiba, Akamaru. Um it's a bit of a long story" Iruka winced out "I-"

"There's no time" Kuromaru cut across him "Kiba take Isamu from Iruka-sensei and help him inside" he barked curtly.

Kiba stuck his tongue out at the senior canine as it stalked past them and away into the gloom beyond the gate, then turned back to grin at Iruka. "Here hand him over Sensei, don't worry I'm way strong now, I can carry him easy" gratefully Iruka slid the dog's now completely motionless form into the boys arms trying his best not to upset the creatures wounds further, then followed after him and the sulking Akamaru into the Inuzuka complex.

The immediate area inside the fence seemed to be made up mostly of open land, large grassy areas were illuminated under torchlight as they made their way down the dirt path towards the only building Iruka could spot in the dark, presumably the main house. He had never been inside the Inuzuka property before, like most specialised clans they exercised a sizeable amount of paranoia concerning their techniques and weren't exactly welcoming of idle guests. Seeing it for the first time in the middle of the night while injured wasn't how he would have preferred to finally get a look - but Iruka couldn't say he still wasn't curious.

Tsume Inuzuka had been one of the more hands on mothers at the academy, visiting almost daily to chat with Kiba's teachers about his progress (much to the boys embarrassment) and Iruka had always liked her blunt but approachable manor. It was certainly a refreshing change from the Hyuugas or the Aburames, who at times made chatting with his desk feel more rewarding.

The spectrum of clan diversity with the village was one of the many things Iruka could never fail to be fascinated by, and as something of a enthusiast when it came to Konoha heritage he was eager for any information concerning clan history and protocol - probably because he had gotten to know what felt like so little of his own before it was wiped out - though of course with most established shinobi families such matters were a well-guarded secret. Tsume had again been slightly more willing than usual to indulge the chunin in the vaguer aspects, pleased by his interest but was still quick to cut him off when she decided a question crossed into plain nosiness (something Iruka was liable to do fairly frequently he knew)

Iruka wished he were in a state to better appreciate the rare chance he had been granted as he stumbled along in the dark, but the pain in his own body had become somehow more pronounced in the dogs absence and he was still worried that he hadn't got the creature there in time to save him, so his curiosity was sadly derailed.

The doors of the main house were wide open as they approached, spilling warm light across the grass, Tsume and Hana Inuzuka both stood silhouetted on the porch speaking in quiet voices with Kuromaru. It seemed that his howl earlier had raised most of the household, Iruka saw shapes moving behind the windows and noticed the Haimaru Triplets lazing just out of the glow under the awnings, looking quietly alert at the (almost) unexpected arrivals. He couldn't help but feel slightly nervous under their suspicious gaze, having learned so recently how powerful a Ninken bite could be, and he shuffled quickly passed up the steps to greet the two Kunoichi. However before he got the chance Tsume spoke.

"We understand the situation Sensei, we need to move quickly, please come inside"

Kiba had already budged past his sister and mother into the hall taking the injured dog with him. "He doesn't look good" he called worriedly as they all followed.

"Like you would know" Hana jibed going to his side and running a careful hand over the dog's head "You haven't completed any of the veterinary jutsus I assigned you last week.

"Ehe now's not the time to talk about that stuff," Kiba said quickly, casting a sheepish glance his mother's way before elbowing Hana in the side.

"The little punk's right for once" Tsume sighed "Lets get him onto the table, is he carrying Hana?"

"Yeah Ma, important one too I'll bet"

"Alright lets move it"

Iruka tried unsuccessfully to follow their increasingly cryptic conversation as they moved into a large airy room to the left of the entrance hall, filled with medical cabinets and a large steal table at its centre, on one end of which sat a tray of very sharp looking chakra instruments. Kiba set the dog down and moved away, giving his mother room to work. The Kunoichi ran her hands over its fur in much the same way Hana had, as if searching for something, then stopping at a point on his back she moved her hands in a series of unfamiliar seals and pressed down on the spot muttering something under her breath. Immediately the until then unresponsive dog reared up and shuddered, its mouth stretched wide and its tongue pushed backwards in its throat, looking like it was going to choke itself, before with a sudden flush of chakra unravelling once more to reveal a sealed scroll, which fell with a dull clunk onto the table as the animal slumped down again, last strength spent.

"Kiba take that to the night clerk" Tsume ordered quietly, hands moving back to the creature's body with a slight frown. Kiba snatched up the scroll wordlessly and hurried out of the room with Akamaru at his heel to get the message delivered. Iruka hoped vaguely that the boy was aware he was still wearing his pyjamas.

"Hana you take Iruka-sensei to get cleaned up, I need space to operate"

Iruka followed the younger Inuzuka out into the hall where she directed him to a chair before disappearing off into another of the many rooms with promises of a clean shirt. He sat stiffly in his seat feeling very out of place, he wondered if he should have thought to check if the dog had a message on him when he first discovered it, or was that the sort of thing only a summoner would know? Either way he felt out of his depth and very very tired. He resolved to sign up for some extra medical training as son as possible, so he wouldn't be as useless the next time. Imagine if it had been a student who was hurt.. he had barley been able to do anything for the dog at all and its chances for survival now looked doubtful judging by the expression on Tsumes face as they had left. Iruka scrubbed his cheeks with dirt-coated fingers as if the motion might wipe his insincerities away.

"Here you go Sensei" he looked up to see Hana smiling at him, offering a wet towel in her outstretched hand. Her usually painted face was plain and unadorned, presumably because she had been sleeping before he arrived, it gave her a much softer and somehow more expressive air than he was used to seeing from the stoic kunoichi.

"Ah thanks Hana-san" he sighed, taking it and dabbing vaguely at his own face, not really cleaning much of anything.

"Looks like you had a bit of a rough night" she said slipping into the chair next to him and crinkling her nose slightly as she took in his soiled uniform - the fresh jumper she had brought along with the towel was placed neatly on her lap while she waited for him to finish.

"Hm I think the dog had a worse one" he said as he started to pick bits of twig out of his ponytail.

"He's lucky you were there, I didn't know you were that close with Hatake-san"

"Hatake-san?" Iruka repeated blankly, then realisation dawning "You mean.. you mean that dog is Kakashi-sensei's?" he said in some shock. Then it really was powerful..

"You don't know Isamu? - he hasn't met you before?" Hana was now looking at him in something akin to horrified awe.

"Err no, not that I know of, I mean I've met Pakkun once but Kakashi-sensei doesn't usually summon inside the village does he? I just found him in the forest on my way home, sort of.." he trailed off at her disbelieving stare.

"But he can't have been unconscious for very long or he would be dead already" she said "How the hell did you manage to get near him without…" her eyes swept over him again and settled on his injured arm, seeming to notice its oddly disjointed angle for the first time. "Sensei you're hurt!" she hesitantly pulled up his wet sleeve and felt the globs of blood that had soaked the inside of the fabric and saw the thick bite wounds spanning his forearm. "Sensei" she repeated, half amused half reproving as Iruka lifted his good arm to ruffle at his already matted hair.

"Oh yes, I was going to say, only everyone was so busy.."

When Hana merely continued to gape at him Tsume's exasperated voice floated through the open doorway to their left "Oh for god's sake Hana call a medic-nin before the idiot passes out on our floor or something will you!"

Iruka hung his head in embarrassment, half wishing he already had.

To be continued-