Thechild incident and Kakashi's discovery

Pairing: KakaIru

Summary: After a mistake, Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke turn into children! Kakashi is assigned to look after them, but discovers two things; Naruto has been living a lie to hide his true self, and that Iruka is a real hottie! And their concern for the blonde is the same…

Disclaimers: I don't own Naruto nor do I make any money writing this.

-o-

Updated 2013-06-24

-o-

Chapter One

It should have been a normal day for Kakashi and his team. They got a boring, simple D-mission. Sasuke made a 'Hn'-noise, per usual, and Sakura complained. Loudly. Per usual, again. Normally Naruto would join her, even louder, but it was the first difference of the day. He didn't join her. Kakashi had been slightly worried about that, but brushed it aside. Naruto was probably just tired. Everyone was entitled to be a little grumpy when they were tired.

Of course, then everything else just went wrong. They had done the mission, without problems naturally because they weren't little kids anymore, they had been a team for a while and Kakashi knew they knew how to work together.

So he had given them the day off once they turned in the report to the Hokage. He knew they could do it on their own. So he had just been walking down the road, wondering what to do with the rest of his day, when his peace was shattered by a howling of his name.

Honestly, he didn't know Shizune could be that loud. Nor that she could drag him to the Hokage Tower. Yes. Drag him. He didn't have a choice in the matter. Asuma, with his team, stared at him. Kakashi just waved and let Shizune take him to the Hokage's office. Wondering what he had done wrong, he was set on his feet and looked straight into Tsunade's eyes.

"Hokage-sama?" he said. Why was she outside?

"Thank you for bringing Kakashi here," Tsunade told Shizune.

"Um, what's going on?" he wondered. "Did something happen to my team?"

Tsunade snorted. "That, Kakashi… is an understatement."

She opened the door and Kakashi poked his head inside. His first thought was:

'Wait… What. The. Hell?'

He had expected his team. Sasuke looking high and mighty (Kakashi didn't know if Sasuke could look any other way), Sakura fuming or fawning (it was either way, never in the middle) and Naruto sheepishly smiling. But he didn't see that.

What he saw was three children, all around four or five years old. Two boys, and a girl. All looking scarily like his team, only like little. The raven-haired boy sat on the desk, happily shredding papers (Kakashi dearly hoped it wasn't any important documents there), and god forbid, giggled. The pink-haired girl ran around the room, screaming happily and being just a bouncing ball of energy normal for a kid in her age (until she got tired, which Kakashi kind of hope she would get; the screaming got grating). And the last one, the blond one, sat on the couch, deathly quiet and staring at the wall opposite of him like it was the most interesting wall in the world (it wasn't.)

"Alright!" Tsunade screamed. "Everyone shut up, and you pinky, stop moving!"

They all stopped. Well, raven and pinky stopped, staring at Tsunade. The pink-haired girl's lip quivered. The blond sat up straight and looked at Tsunade in pure confusion. It was only then Kakashi noticed the clothes on the floor, and that the kids wore only T-shirts that were very large on them.

Kakashi turned to Tsunade, tried to speak and failed. He settled for pointing at the kids. She nodded and said:

"Yup, your students. Cute, ain't they?"

Kakashi wobbled into the room and fell down on the couch where child Naruto was sitting. Naruto moved a little to look at him when Tsunade came closer, crouched down in front of the blond and said:

"Hi there, Naruto-kun."

He narrowed his eyes at her as Sasuke continued shredding papers (Kakashi really hoped it wasn't anything important) and Shizune picked up the chattering Sakura.

Tsunade picked Naruto up carefully. The boy didn't smile. He just looked up at her, seemed to decide something and slumped into her embrace, sighing. Kakashi frowned, as did Tsunade, but then Kakashi gathered his thoughts and managed to say:

"What the hell happened to them?"

"They drank a potion I'd made," Tsunade said. "I've been trying to invent a potion that would make elder people feel younger, but I got the feeling I kind of failed."

"And by trying to invent, you mean…?"

"There's no antidote," Tsunade confirmed. "You're going to take care of them until I make one."

"Eh? Sasuke and Naruto I can understand, but Sakura still has her parents."

"They're not in Konoha at the moment."

Kakashi nodded, faintly. He wasn't inept at taking care of children, and there was always Iruka. Mother-hen Iruka. Honestly, people could talk about their mother's crazy over-protectiveness and he would still think Iruka was worse. All those dinners Iruka had invited him to, which usually involved Naruto too, had taught him a few things about kids, and lot about Iruka's temper. Kakashi would not get in that man's way when he was angry.

He got up from the couch and collected Sasuke and Sakura, their clothes already in a bag Shizune strapped over shoulder with a polite smile. Tsunade put Naruto on Kakashi's shoulder while Sakura and Sasuke had to live with being carried under his arms.

Sasuke was squirming. Sakura tried to escape by beating her tiny fists against Kakashi's grip (it didn't hurt, nor was it particularly annoying). Naruto had grabbed a handful of the grey hair to keep himself balanced, and Kakashi glanced up.

"You alright up there, Naru-kun?" He heard Tsunade chuckle at the nickname, and smiled himself under the mask.

"Yes. One thing though." Naruto still wasn't smiling.

"And what's that?" the copy-nin replied.

"Who are you?"

"Ah, I'm sorry. My name is Hatake Kakashi and I'm going to take care of you three for a couple of days. Okay?"

"Does that make you papa?" Sakura demanded to know.

"No, that doesn't make me papa," Kakashi sighed.

"Kachi?" Sasuke suggested innocently and Kakashi glared down at the boy.

"Nooo, not Kachi either."

"Kachi papa?" Sakura suggested.

Kakashi's shoulders slumped as he sighed.

"Kachi papa!" Sasuke agreed.

Great. They decided to give him a nickname.

"Kakashi-san?" Naruto said. "Is that good? Kakashi-san?"

"Kachi sounds better!" Sakura argued, waving her legs around.

"Kakashi-san," Naruto decided.

"Thank you very much, Naru-kun," Kakashi said, and for the first time since he was turned into a child, Naruto smiled. It wasn't a big one, but it was soft and it practically melted Kakashi's heart at the spot. His team shouldn't be allowed to be that cute.

"So, good luck," Tsunade told him, looking over at the three kids. "I'll keep in touch."

Kakashi, with his hands full and a kid perched on his shoulders, nodded and disappeared in a whirl of leaves.

Sakura had yelped, Sasuke stiffened but it was Naruto who seemed to have enjoyed the transportation. Kakashi got his shoes off as he had transported himself directly to his apartment, and then he let the kids down. He remained crouched down so he was their level.

"Why is your forehead protector over your eye?" Sakura wanted to know.

"Because Kakashi-san likes it," Kakashi replied.

"You're weird," Sasuke concluded.

"So are you, Sasuke-kun. Now, I'm going to see if I got any better clothes for you, so stay on the couch and be nice, okay?"

He didn't look behind him until he was in his bedroom, and only then did he noticed Naruto had followed him. He hadn't even noticed the blond's chakra.

"Naru-kun?"

Naruto tilted his head to the side, making himself look adorable. Kakashi squished that thought, shook his head and went to get out a box of clothes he had as a child. He turned it upside-down and shook it, making the clothes tumble to the floor. He seated himself on the floor and patted the spot next to him. Naruto sat down as well.

"Not the best I can offer until I get to buy something new for you guys, but help yourself. I'm sorry I don't have much colour." Kakashi prayed that Naruto wouldn't get into a fit about not having orange.

"It's okay," Naruto said. "I don't like colours." He picked up a black T-shirt and missed Kakashi's look.

'What the hell has happened? Orange is a colour. It's a very powerful, bright colour. Why doesn't he like colours as a kid? What kid his age doesn't?' Kakashi realized he hadn't, and shook his head again.

"You do that a lot."

"Yes, Kakashi-san shakes thoughts away."

Naruto looked strangely at him. "That's weird."

"Yes, true. Now, shall we call for Sakura and Sasuke?"

Naruto nodded, and they were soon joined by the other two. However, they were not as easy to please as Naruto, and soon Kakashi wanted to hit his head on something. Sakura wanted pink and Sasuke blue. Sakura had the nerve to ask why he didn't own anything pink. Pink! It would just as fast out on a mission to hold up a sign saying "Here I am, just come and kill me!"

She could get pink later, for now she had to make due with what he had. Naruto picked out a white T-shirt and some black shorts, and he was shown to the bathroom. Once he was done, Sakura went inside with a similar outfit, just grey shorts. Naruto inspected the slightly baggy clothes and then said to Kakashi:

"I'm hungry."

"Right." Course they would be. So was he. "I'll make some food once you're all dressed. Sasuke, what would you like to have?"

"Rice."

"Just rice? How about some rice balls?

Sasuke nodded slowly, and Sakura came out dressed in her new outfit.

"Sakura, what would you like to dinner?"

"Spaghetti!"

If Naruto was calm, Sakura was making up for all that bubbly energy lost. Kakashi just nodded and turned to Naruto.

"And you, Naruto?"

Naruto pointed at the fruits Kakashi had on his table. Kakashi looked over, then at Naruto, then back at the fruits. It was starting freaking him out how much Naruto was surprising him now.

"Fruit isn't food, Naru-kun." He just couldn't let go of that nickname even if Naruto was respectful and called him 'Kakashi-san'.

"Fruit?"

"… You don't know what fruit is?"

Naruto gave him a sour look that said 'Am I supposed to know that or what?'

"Ah, well… oh, you can have fruit later. Now, some kind of food."

"Dumplings," was Naruto's final answer. Kakashi wondered if the child had injured his head or something, or if the ramen obsession came later.

"Okay," he replied nonetheless. "As you're all re-dressed, I'll start with the food."

He settled them in front of his TV, which he honestly rarely had on but noticed as he got into the kitchen that Naruto had yet again followed him. If he was this stealthy at the age of five, why the hell hadn't he been that at age twelve?

"You don't want to watch some TV?"

Naruto shook his head. "Don't like it. Can I watch you cook?"

"Ah, yes. You can help too, if you like."

He tried not to show he felt something was wrong. Naruto was so different. Well, Sasuke and Sakura too but they at least acted like Kakashi had seen kids do. It was rather creepy seeing Sasuke that way, but Kakashi could live with it. It was way creepier to see Naruto act so serious when so small.

Settling down to eat was easy. All three kids were hungry, and even Naruto ate with gusto. Kakashi barely had time to eat. He was too interested watching them act like true kids, although Sasuke wasn't very messy while Sakura kept losing the spaghetti from her fork. Naruto ate with his fingers but he did it was a sort of delicate touch, careful not to spill.

"This is better than my own," the blond said after a little bit.

"Eh? You cook yourself?" Kakashi said.

"Yeah."

"But… you're just five."

"Iruka-sensei cooks sometimes, but he's busy with the older kids."

"The older kids?"

"Yeah, he works in the academy," Naruto said. "But I'm too young. I'll soon start there."

They didn't remember. Nothing beyond their age did they remember. For them, they acted the way they did because it was how they had been at the age of five. So Naruto acted this way because that was how he had acted when he was five. What did he then do? Adopt a false front to lure people? To shield himself from their hate? Kakashi knew they were cruel, even to this day. They hated Kyuubi, and ended up hating an innocent kid.

"I see," he managed. "That's good. How about that fruit now? Sakura, Sasuke, you want some fruit?"

They all picked what they wanted and Naruto held a red apple in his hands, turning it around and around until he looked up at Kakashi.

"It's an apple," he explained.

Naruto poked at it before eating. Whilst Kakashi did the dishes Sakura and Sasuke ended up in the living room while Naruto stayed behind to help him. Well, Kakashi just let him dry the plates and glasses before ushering him to the living room. It had been a strange day for them all, and he was somewhat glad when Sakura and Sasuke fell asleep. He didn't have a spare room but his bed was big enough for all three kids. Naruto didn't even look sleepy so he left the blond whilst he settled the other two down for some rest.

When he came back to the living room Naruto had a large book opened in front of him.

"You found something to read?"

"Yeah. Taijutsu." As on cue, Naruto stood up and stroke a basic Taijutsu stance. "Is this right, Kaka-san?"

Kakashi was too surprised to be surprised, no that didn't make sense in his head either, and adjusted Naruto's arms. "Now it's right. Next one?"

However, not even Naruto could hold out for long. He was soon half-lying in Kakashi's lap, eyes closed and breathing into the copy-nin's neck.

"Tired?" Kakashi asked. Naruto nodded.

Kakashi nodded, stood up with Naruto in his arms and settled him down in the bed along with Sakura and Sasuke. Kakashi spread out a few blankets on the floor next to the bed and settled down himself after having gone through the house and making sure everything was locked and all lights off. After that it was easy to fall asleep.

-o-

The birds were singing. Kakashi, however, was not very pleased by it. He wanted to sleep more, but he couldn't move. Opening his eye, he kept the Sharingan eye closed although he had removed his forehead protector the night before, he realized why he couldn't move.

Sakura lay across his legs, moving slowly in her sleep. Sasuke and Naruto each lay on part of his arms, their heads resting on his chest. He could have stayed there, but it was knocking on the door and the kids weren't waking up.

Moving with the stealth of a shinobi (well, he was one so he better have some skill in that area) he tucked the kids in, rotated his arms and jumped a little while going to the door, rolling his neck to remove any stiffness brought out by sleeping on the floor.

Iruka was what greeted him. The polite smile didn't fool Kakashi; the man was worried.

"Hokage-sama told you?"

"Ten minutes ago. Apparently she didn't dare tell me yesterday," Iruka said.

'Yeah, no wonder with the look you're wearing.' "Ahaha, I just assumed she would. Would you like to come in? They're still sleeping though."

Iruka thanked him and Kakashi mentally thanked the mother-hen living inside of the man because he came bearing breakfast.

What surprised Kakashi (just a little bit, he soon would be incapable of reacting to surprises) was Iruka's chuckle when he saw the books on the living room floor. Kakashi hadn't cleaned up after Naruto.

"I'm guessing that's Naruto's fault. I keep telling him to not leave books lying around, but I guess he wants them to be where he left them."

"How did you know it was Naruto and not one of the others?"

"Sakura is too young to be interested in Taijutsu books," Iruka said as he walked into the kitchen, Kakashi trailing after him. "Sasuke is probably already interested, but I doubt he needed to read a book to learn. He had his whole family who showed him."

"So the only one left is Naruto," Kakashi said. "Well, you know more about him than I do. Why is he acting to differently?"

"How do you mean?" Iruka half-glared at him.

"I didn't mean it in any bad way," Kakashi reassured. "He's just… different. He snuck up on me twice yesterday, he's never been able to do that before."

"It's because what people expected of him. To be a loudmouth. To be clumsy and stupid. Be the loser of them all." Iruka turned to the copy-nin. "So he put on a mask. A mask of happiness and large grins. He's not stupid, Kakashi-san. He understands far more than he lets people know. Ramen isn't his favourite meal, but he doesn't have the money for much else. To be honest, he's too powerful to just be a Genin."

"Then why didn't he show it?"

"Calm down, don't disturb the children."

Kakashi sat down by the kitchen table and rubbed his eye. He, like everyone else, had assumed Naruto was a happy kid, shouting about being Hokage and grinning like crazy. Iruka had put the breakfast away and wandered into the living room. Now he came back with a book and sat down.

"This brings back memories."

"Eh?"

Iruka held the book up. "Naruto liked to read from it. Of course he couldn't do all of the techniques illustrated, that's just impossible but in time he learned to understand how they worked. That was enough for him."

It was a book about Ninjutsu, most of which Kakashi knew were Jounin-level. If he understood how they worked, then Naruto was no dead-last of the academy. Kakashi doubted Sakura could do that. Shikamaru might, but it would probably be too troublesome for the kid.

"Where are they sleeping?"

"Well, I put them in my bed but this morning they had migrated and decided Kakashi-san was good enough to sleep on. I couldn't move."

Iruka laughed, and Kakashi couldn't help but think the man looked good when he did that. It wasn't the first time he thought that. Kakashi shook his head violently, and Iruka tilted his head to the side.

"Did Naruto learn that from you?" Kakashi asked. "He did it at least twice yesterday."

"Might be from me, or that I learned it from him."

They heard footsteps and Naruto came stumbling in, rubbing his eyes. Once he got his eyes fully open, he looked at Kakashi to Iruka. Then back at Kakashi before the blue eyes widened and he turned to Iruka again. The man had barely time to get up before Naruto was on him, and they both fell down.

"Iruka-sensei," Naruto stated proudly, sitting on Iruka's stomach.

"Morning, Naruto. I see you're as energetic as always," Iruka moaned. "Ooh, it's alright when you're this small but god, the years that came after that…"

"Eh?"

"Oh, nothing." Iruka rose up with Naruto in his arms, ruffling the blond's hair and both grinning at each other. Kakashi saw him run a hand down the thin back, but Iruka didn't let anything show.

"I bought your favourite breakfast," Iruka stated. "But only if you go and wake Sakura-chan and Sasuke-kun, okay? They need breakfast as well."

Naruto ran off and Iruka started preparing breakfast.

"He's thin," Iruka said after a little bit. "I'd forgotten about that."

"Yeah. People tend to forget what they don't really want to remember. Just think of him now, how he is as twelve. He might wear that mask, but I don't think he's unhappy."

"Oh, he is happy," Iruka said. "He tells me that every time he comes over without you. He likes you, his team, his new friends. He's enjoying himself. I just wish he wouldn't… I don't know, pretend to have such a loud personality. He doesn't have to have this front anymore."

They didn't get much further before all three children appeared. Kakashi's kitchen had never been livelier, with three bleary-eyed and hungry children. Iruka seemed more used to it, serving breakfast without a problem. Kakashi saw this as a chance to pick up some new clothes for the kids, and made a quick measuring of them all so he would get clothes that fit better than the ones they were wearing.

"Will you survive them?" Kakashi asked Iruka.

"Oh, don't worry, I'm quite used to it. I can be strict when I need to be."

-o-

Kakashi came back to the apartment after about an hour. Sasuke was instructed into basic Taijutsu stances by Iruka while Sakura watched, Naruto sitting nearby with his own book. Kakashi had to stop for a moment to watch Sasuke copy Iruka's movements, the brunet helping him adjust.

"Kakashi-san." Iruka smiled at him. "Did you find anything for them?"

"I do hope it." He held up the bags, waved them around and said: "Oi, brats. Clothes for you lot."

Sakura was there first, delighted to find a pink and red dress for herself and ran off to change. Sasuke didn't look disappointed with his navy blue T-shirt and white shorts.

"My bedroom, just close the door," Kakashi ushered him on as Naruto approached the bags and found his clothes. A grey T-shirt with a white spiral on the back along with another pair of black shorts.

Naruto changed in front of them, although both turned their backs to give him some privacy. Once he was done, and the other two as well, Kakashi bent down to gather up his old ones. Naruto stopped him from rising, and with one movement, pulled the mask down. Since Kakashi wasn't prepared, they all got to see his face.

The blond tilted his head to the side and said:

"Why do you hide your face?"

"Habit… more or less."

"Well. You look good without it too."

"Why thank you."

Kakashi ruffled Naruto's hair and let the mask slide up again, noticing that Iruka had been looking at him. Before he could ask why, beside the obvious, Sakura ran up and twirled around, showing off her new dress with glee.

Sasuke returned to practising the stances with Iruka while Kakashi picked Naruto up along with the book he was reading. Sakura even got up to try a few of the stances, face serious and mimicking Iruka's movements.

Naruto did read for a bit, but by the end of it Kakashi was the one reading, and the blond slept with his face pressed against Kakashi's throat. It was a strange, yet comforting feeling, having Naruto so close. Having anyone so close.

Sometimes time crawled by. Sometimes it flew. Now it positively ran, and before Kakashi knew it Iruka came to a stop in front of the two of them sitting on the couch, and there was the smell of food in the air.

"I made lunch," Iruka stated.

"Should I wake him?"

"No, let him sleep. Naruto doesn't eat well if you have to wake him for it."

Kakashi nodded before letting the blond down on the couch, covering him with a blanket. Sakura and Sasuke had been very quiet, or he hadn't noticed them but when he got to the kitchen he saw papers and children's writing on them, and an open book apparently Iruka had brought with him. He had made them study? Go Iruka.

It was a change of pace, being just at home and watching kids. Kakashi couldn't admit it felt bad though. It was a nice change. For the first time in a while, he felt truly relaxed. He was just glad his team was well-behaved as kids. Even far more behaved than when they were older. How strange.

Iruka was the one to persuade Naruto to eat something when he had woken up, and the blond chewed tiredly directly from Iruka's hand. The brunet made sure nothing fell down on the couch. Kakashi was now playing teacher, as Sasuke couldn't get enough of learning moves. He wanted to start throwing kunai as well, but Kakashi didn't fancy running around his own apartment trying to escape a five-year old kid's bad aiming skills.

Once Sasuke was in on it, Sakura wanted it too, and Kakashi was ready to run away when Iruka said:

"Oi, no knife-throwing indoors!"

Both children jumped and turned around. Naruto stared up at the brunet.

"But shinobi has to work in every environment," Sasuke declared. Well, he did have a point but…

"You can't do it in Kakashi-san's apartment, that would be rude," Iruka continued. "So be good."

They did give in, and Kakashi could breathe out. By then Iruka had already wrestled them into taking a midday-nap, and even Naruto burrowed down in Kakashi's bed. All three children were out as a light in minutes, and both Kakashi and Iruka sat down with sighs.

"It's tiring," Kakashi stated. "And I'm not even doing anything."

"That's kids. You just get tired even though you're having fun with them."

Kakashi moved so he could look at Iruka. The man even had a good profile. The Chuunin glanced over.

"What? Something on my face?"

"Nope," Kakashi replied.

"Then why are you staring?"

"Because Kakashi-san wants to."

"Kakashi-san has a weird hobby then." Iruka grinned.

"Oh, Naruto didn't tell you? He said to me earlier that I was weird. That means weird hobbies must be included."

"Meaning you have to stare at me?"

Kakashi smiled underneath the mask. Iruka must have caught it because he reached out and pulled it down. For some reason, Kakashi let him. The brunet didn't immediately retract his hand but let it stay with two of the fingertips splayed over Kakashi's cheek.

"I think this it the first time it's just the two of us," Iruka said.

"Well, us and three kids in the next room."

"Yeah, you're right." Iruka let the hand drop, shaking his head. "Sorry. Am I freaking you out?"

"… Not at all, Iruka." This was very weird. Yes, he had always thought Iruka was a handsome man, and he had a nice personality, and a scary one when he was angry, which was alright. People didn't mess with Iruka.

"Good."

-o-

There was nothing suspicious when the three kids woke up. They didn't know that had happened between the two. Not that much had happened. They had talked, and talked more than they dared to when the kids were listening.

Iruka was having a bit of fun at the moment, seeing Kakashi in apron and helping Naruto making cookies. The blond had decided it was a good idea, and even Sasuke was aiding them. He kept away mostly, staying near the kitchen table, but Sakura was digging in. Kakashi caught her hair before it fell into the dough and helped putting it up.

"You really do look like the average father," Iruka commented.

Kakashi spluttered at him, making Sakura laugh, and then the copy-nin threw some dough at Iruka who first dodged it, caught it and hurled it right back at him. Kakashi got it straight in the face.

"Not so fast now, are you Kakashi-san?"

"Kaka-san got hit," Naruto said solemnly but with a smile.

"Kakashi-san is going to have his revenge for that," Kakashi said as he wiped his face clean. "Keep mixing, Naruto."

Iruka did help in the end, cleaning up mostly while the cookies baked in the oven. By that time, the kids were all stationed in front of the TV as they waited for the cookies to get finished. Kakashi had rolled up his arms during the whole process and was now cleaning them off.

"You didn't have to give in, you know," Iruka said.

"I know," Kakashi replied, smiling a little, "but it was hard to resist Naruto's look."

"Yeah, he wins everything over with those eyes of his."

Kakashi knew it worked even today. If Naruto really, really wanted something, he'd give Kakashi the look and the copy-nin wanted to give in. Dangerous power. Cute, yes, but utterly dangerous. Naruto could knock something over of Kakashi's, and still make it look like it was all Kakashi's fault. Damn eyes.

A tug on his pants revealed the little devil, blond locks all over the place and wide eyes staring up at him. Those damn eyes…

"Naruto?" he said nonetheless. "Wasn't anything interesting on TV?"

"No. Are they done?" Naruto pointed at the oven.

"No, they are not," Iruka said, "and you're not getting anyone before dinner anyway."

"Why not?"

"Because then you won't want dinner, and you're eating."

Naruto looked about to protest, pursed his lips instead and crossed his arms. "Fine. Can I borrow a book, Kaka-san?"

"Of course, let's see what I got…"

-o-

It was rather late when it knocked on Kakashi's apartment door. He and Iruka had been watching some TV, but he got up with the knock and let the guest inside. It was Tsunade.

"Are you done already?" Kakashi asked.

"It wasn't that hard to make an antidote to reverse the effects of the potion," she said. "I know it's late, we'll do it tomorrow but I just wanted to come by to tell you."

"That's great," Iruka said. "Will they remember the time as children?"

"Yes, no reason why they shouldn't."

Kakashi grinned at that. "Sasuke is going to be so embarrassed."

"You sadist, you're looking forward to it?" Tsunade asked.

"Seeing his horrified face? Oh yes."

"What about Naruto?" Iruka said quietly and they both looked at him. "You both know he's acting in this time. All those smiles and cheerfulness demeanour. He doesn't outright fake it, he just blows it up unnecessarily."

"He must feel to have a reason fir it," Tsunade said. "I'm not about to condemn him for that."

"I'll ask, but if he doesn't want to tell I won't make it," Kakashi said. "He's good at it. Fooled us all. Except for you, Iruka."

"That's because I knew him from before. When he wasn't wearing that jumpsuit and pretending to be a prankster. Well, not just all pretend… he did like doing some of them."

"Can't imagine why," the Hokage said, grinning. "So, have you had any troubles with them so far?"

"Nope. They're as sweet as angels," Kakashi said. "Too bad they can't be this obedient all the time."

"Believe me, Kakashi. You'd be bored. They do everything you ask, no complaints?"

Kakashi seemed to think about it, then shuddered. "I'd drown myself in hope of something interesting happening."

"Exactly."

Tsunade left not long after that, declining a late cup of tea, and instead the two men each had a cup before Iruka fell asleep on the couch, and Kakashi on the floor next to the couch.

-o-

Naruto was the one to wake them up, but he did get help from Sasuke who pulled at Kakashi's leg, and when the copy-nin didn't move, Sasuke found a book and rammed it down on his stomach. That made him wake up. With a wheeze mind you.

"Sasuke!"

The boy dodged Kakashi's swiping arm, dropped the book and fled to the kitchen with Kakashi after him. Iruka opened his eyes, feeling Naruto carefully poking him in the arm, and then the blond looked at him with a smile.

"Sasuke got Kaka-san up," he stated.

"I heard that," Iruka mumbled. "What about Sakura-chan?"

"Bathroom. I think."

A shriek from Sasuke told them Kakashi had caught him. Iruka sat up and rubbed his eyes, pulling his hair up in his usual ponytail and he said:

"Well then, let's get breakfast started."

Iruka offered to make it while Kakashi had to deal with not just Sasuke but Naruto too, and both of them tried to make him fall over. He did have the advantage of being much taller, and much stronger, but when two five-year old worked determinedly together, he was focusing on them and so completely missed Sakura's surprise attack. Which did make him fall.

At least his team had a good laugh about it. Would have it later as well, when they were back to their normal selves. They'd all have a good laugh, more or less.

Kakashi gave up in the end, three kids on his stomach, when Iruka called them to the kitchen. Sakura and Sasuke got off him but he picked Naruto up along the way and the blond grabbed his shoulders before reaching up and pulling down the mask. Kakashi allowed it. Well, that and he was hungry. He couldn't exactly eat when the mask was up. Had his team been their normal age, they would probably have passed out seeing his face.

Now, they didn't care because they didn't know it was rare he had it down, and never in front of someone.

"Iruka, the dishes can wait," Kakashi tried after breakfast, picking up the bag with his team's normal outfits.

"It'll just take a few minutes, lazy," Iruka said. He reached out a soapy hand and traced the faint outline of the mask's edge, going over the nose and lightly flicking it. "And personally I wouldn't mind seeing that face of yours more often."

"I wouldn't mind showing you." And Kakashi wouldn't. Strange, but the attraction to Iruka hadn't let up, and the brunet didn't look to have anything against it. So why not try? So far Kakashi hadn't been interested in a relationship but it couldn't be too bad when the other was a shinobi too, right?

The kids weren't too worried when Kakashi just a bit later explained that they were going out, and to go visit the blonde lady they had seen earlier. In fact, they were all very excited to go outside. Naruto did stay in his arms though, while Sakura and Sasuke ran out on the street.

Naruto hugged him around the neck. "What is it, Naruto?"

"I liked it with you, Kaka-san. And with Iruka-sensei. Do I have to live alone again?"

Kakashi glanced over at Iruka, then back at Naruto and smiled a little through his mask. "If you don't want to, I'm sure we can figure something out."

Iruka kept Sakura and Sasuke within shouting distance, the two exploring the village as it was both familiar and strange to them, while Naruto rested his head on the copy-nin's shoulder. Well, he did until team ten showed up, with Ino staring at Sakura in shock. The pink-haired girl stared back, tilted her head to the side, and then ran around Ino to continue down the street. Iruka set after her while Shikamaru said:

"Kakashi-san, is that… Naruto?"

"And Sakura!" Ino added. "What the hell happened?"

Just then Sasuke peeked out from behind Kakashi's legs, and glared at them, then ran away. Naruto was watching the three while Kakashi scratched his head.

"Maa, you know, they had a bit of an accident," he said. "We're on our way to Tsunade to get them back to their normal selves."

"Normal selves?" Naruto said. "Aren't we normal?"

"You'll understand in a bit," Kakashi promised.

Sasuke came back, and when he spotted Chouji with his chips, the raven-haired boy immediately latched onto the teen. Chouji stared at Sasuke, then at his team, finally at Kakashi, lost what to do.

"Is this really Sasuke?" he finally asked.

"Yup. I get to tease him for months for his behaviour."

"Kakashi!" Iruka said, hands on hips while Sakura clutched the Chuunin's leg. "That's awful."

"For Sasuke, yes. For me, I will be having fun."

Naruto had been quietly watching Shikamaru before tugging at one lock of Kakashi's hair.

"Yes, Naruto?"

"Is that a Nara?"

"Yes, it is. How did you figure that out?"

"I wasn't finished. The blonde one is a Yamanaka, and the big one is an Akimichi."

"Very good," Kakashi said. "Again, how did you figure that out?"

"Their looks. It's not that hard to figure it out. Like, it's real easy to figure out a Hyuuga or an Uchiha."

"Yes, because of their eyes. But you recognize them because of their looks?"

Naruto nodded. "I liked them. They were never mean to me."

"That's good," Kakashi said, "people should never be mean to children."

"Lots of them were," Naruto said and buried his head in Kakashi's shoulder. "But not them."

"What did he mean?" Shikamaru asked.

"People are cruel to avoid being hurt themselves," Kakashi told him. "They find a target to torment, for their own sake. I won't go in closer on it. Naruto can tell you if he wants too."

Then he began to walk, and Iruka managed to get a move on both Sakura and Sasuke.

-o-

The antidote had already been poured up and the kids dressed in their normal clothes, that barely managed to stay on them. Naruto smelled the liquid and made a face, but drank it nonetheless when told to.

Puffs of smoke and coughing, retching from Sasuke's position, and soon they were all back to normal. Sakura shook her head and blinked a few times. Sasuke started to look indifferent, caught sight of Kakashi and his black eyes widened as the memories returned. Kakashi laughed, yes laughed, at the horrified look the Uchiha wore. Sasuke gave up and buried his face in his hands, shoulders shaking.

Sakura herself was blushing, before she screamed:

"Ino saw me like a little brat again!"

Naruto however, had his eyes stuck on Kakashi and Iruka. He wasn't smiling. He didn't look scared. He was just looking at them, like awaiting judgement.

Sasuke asked if he could leave, and the moment Tsunade had checked him and the other two over that they were fine and said they were allowed to go, he bolted. Sakura wasn't far behind. Naruto looked over at the door, then at the three adults and finally said:

"What?"

"I think that's what we should say," Tsunade said.

"It's… a long story."

"And to make a long story short?" Kakashi asked.

"I thought it would be better if everyone thought I was just an idiot," Naruto said and looked away. "Everything would be easier, they wouldn't be on their guards. They'd just see me and think, oh, he's just an idiot, no worries about him going Kyuubi-crazy on our asses."

"Why do I have the feeling you could have been so much better if you hadn't pretended?" Tsunade asked, leaning against the desk.

"Why even ask? There's no way they'd let me be anything."

"And why not?"

"Who would want to be protected by Kyuubi? That's all I am to these guys. I'm not his vessel, I am him. And that hurts."

He didn't look at them. He stared down at his own feet. After a while he cleared his throat and said:

"Can I go now?"

"Of course," Tsunade said quietly.

"I'll go with you," Kakashi said. "Want to come along, Iruka?"

-o-

Naruto wasn't sure what to feel as he walked down the street with Kakashi and Iruka. He had really clung onto Kakashi these last few days. He hadn't mind. He probably still wouldn't mind. Iruka had cared for him now and then when he was a child, but not always. Hugs had been there, but scarce. Maybe he just wanted to feel that again. Hugging. It was nice.

He didn't notice where they were until Kakashi set him down on the couch. The couch in Kakashi's apartment. When they hell had they arrived at his teacher's place? Even so, he couldn't muster the energy to get up, run out again. He heard Kakashi and Iruka both in the kitchen, and so curled up on the couch. He never really were at people's houses. No one wanted him around as a kid, and now he didn't want to go anywhere. He had people he talked to, in his own age, but he had never been to their homes. There had never been any reason for him to be invited.

"Naruto?"

Kakashi sat down next to him and Naruto looked up.

"Still feel like you don't want to live alone?"

That had him blushing at the embarrassment. But he had been serious then, just a little while ago. It had occupied the young mind the whole way through the village. Did he have to live alone again? Coming back each and every day to an empty room?

"Yes," he finally replied. "Why?"

"Well, we had a talk with each other, me and Iruka," Kakashi said, "and we both agree we both want your best."

"And that means…?"

"Naruto," and there was Iruka, smiling his usual smile that made Naruto smile back, "do you remember a wish you once made as a kid?"

Naruto didn't have to ask which year. It hadn't been just one time he had said that wish. Iruka couldn't be talking about any other wish.

"I wanted to live with a family that didn't mind having me there," Naruto said. "Everyone else got picked up by their parents, but I always stayed behind. Just to watch them being happy."

"Yeah. It might not be the same now, when you're older and all but…" Iruka sat down. "I've always wanted a house, you know? Not that small apartment I have now."

"I know." Naruto looked between the two of them, almost suspiciously. "What are you two getting at?"

"One house for the three of us… how does that sound?"

Naruto uncurled while his jaw dropped a little.

"Are you two serious?"

"I'd say so," Kakashi replied. "Close your mouth, Naruto."

It snapped shut. Then he pinched, Kakashi, hard.

"Ow! What was that for?"

"It hurt? Means it's not a dream?"

"Aren't you supposed to pinch yourself?" Kakashi almost whined.

"Why's that? I'd only hurt myself. I'm not an idiot." Naruto grinned, then remembered something. "Aah!" He pointed at Kakashi.

"What?" the copy-nin said hesitantly.

"I saw your face! Iruka-sensei, I saw Kakashi-sensei's face!"

Kakashi laughed as Naruto jumped up on the couch. "I bet Sakura and Sasuke didn't even think about it! Haha!"

Iruka joined them, a bit more quietly, looking at Naruto and thinking that it was a good start.

Tbc…


Not following a specific timeline but the story differs a lot from the manga and anime considering it was written when a lot of present information wasn't in my head. Take it as it goes.

Tiro