Author: Lily Kalanoa

Story: Innocence and Experience

Genre: Naruto - drama

Rating: K/ pg 13

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my laptop, which put me into significant debt. All characters and series belong to their respective creators, I just like to torture them, heh heh.

Warnings: Nothing much, really.

Pairings: slowly growing Kakashi / Iruka

Summary: Iruka is six and enjoying the Christmas season. Kakashi, the town's outcast, was really just trying to live his own life.

Spoilers: None or very few.

Author Notes: So I wrote this for KakaIru's 12 days of Christmas challenge and am finally posting it somewhere other than there – mostly because I lurv reviews and want more XD. So anyway, one of the problems I have with some KakaIru stories is that it's just assumed that they get along. Well, if you look at the show, they actually don't. It got me thinking…there's got to be a story there, right? So here it is!

-o-o-o-o-o-

Story 1 – Innocence and Experience

Part 1 – Snow

-o-o-o-o-o-

Konoha glistened and sparkled like a jewel in the early afternoon sun. It was bitter cold, colder than Iruka could remember in his short six years of life and now he wanted to be out there playing with his friends. Christmas was only a few days away though, and his mother had pulled the 'presents' card, making Iruka clean his room. It was getting close to three and he had yet to go out in the crisp air.

"Mom," he whined, trying to inch past the woman to the door. "Mom, lemme go. It's gonna be dark soon!"

The woman had a hold of her son's arm and was looking around the house, almost bored. "You are still going to get three hours, you can stand to be patient for a few more minutes."

The child whined again, bending his knees to use his body weight to free himself. The woman barely shifted her stance, still easily keeping him in place. "Good up here," a voice called from the top of the stairs. "Looks like he actually put everything away even, not just shoved it in his closet." Slowly Iruka's father descended the stairs, small camera in one hand and heavy coat in the other.

"See! I told you."

His mother bent quickly, forcing a kiss on the squirming boy before taking the coat from her husband and stuffing the child's arms into it. Iruka was still fighting her hold, but the woman had years of practice for this and managed to secure hat, scarf, and gloves before finally releasing the boy. Iruka bolted for the door and threw it open eagerly. He ran from the building with his eyes shut, simply breathing in the smell of the village wrapped in winter's chill. He loved the simple smell of the cold.

Barely five feet from the door, Iruka felt his feet slide and his eyes flew open. Too late to stop his fall, the thought didn't even occur to the six-year-old as he took in his beloved home, buried in a layer of shining white powder. The snow made everything sparkle even more, the barest hint of sunlight reflecting and refracting a dozen times. Iruka's eyes widened as far as they would go and he looked around quickly, back towards his front door where his parents were smiling, watching him. His father had the camera held to his eye and Iruka blinked at the device before grinning like a loon.

Snow.

It hadn't ever snowed in Konoha before, that Iruka knew of. It got bitter cold and the adults all talked about playing in the snow, but the climate was too warm to expect it every year. Iruka scrambled to his feet and took off at a run, looking for his friends and more than eager to explore this brilliant new world.

Because Iruka had never seen snow, he had never felt it, especially hurled at his head in ball form. The child stumbled before looking up quickly for the source of the attack. He just saw Anko darting behind the corner of a building when another snowball hit him squarely in the back, right between the shoulder blades. "Hey!" He cried, spinning around again. He could hear other children laughing now, giggling at him and Iruka stooped, gathering snow up into his hands. A snowball flew over his head, and Iruka looked up quickly. The thrower was Mizuki and before he could duck back behind his cover, another ball of cold caught him in the shoulder. Iruka spun, releasing his own projectile and making Asuma stumble back, falling onto his rump in the show.

Iruka dodged the next snowball that came flying towards his head; unfortunately he dodged right into another one coming from behind him. Slowly Iruka came to realize he was in the middle of this improvised battleground and darted over to one side. Mizuki, Midori and Kotetsu were hunkered down beneath a fairly large snowdrift. Iruka was pretty sure it was a small cart, covered in a tarp and then the layer of snow, but right now all it was was protection. Across the street was Mako, Anko, Takeo, Keiko and a few others Iruka couldn't quite see clearly as they ducked back behind the buildings. Iruka was a little disappointed that he'd apparently chosen the side that seemed very outnumbered. He suspected they hadn't started out this way, because several feet away a couple of older boys had started a private war. It was difficult to tell with both of their faces covered in snow, but he was sure the one sprawled on the ground yet still managing to be more accurate than his opponent was Asuma.

With the older boys preoccupied, Iruka didn't see how his side could win this little battle of the snow. That wasn't really the point of a snowball fight, but Iruka still felt a bit cheated. Rather than give in to the inevitable, after several minutes of lobbing snowballs across the blank area, Iruka turned suddenly and flung one point blank into Kotetsu's ear. The reaction was instant on both sides of the battlefield. Kotetsu screamed and toppled sideways; Asuma and Genma (Iruka was finally able to get a good look at his face) abandoned their fight to see what was going on; across on the other side, more than one kid was making a break for it, their fellows attacking from their own side. Iruka laughed even as the retaliation came, empowered that he had broken up the sides, starting an individual fight, every man for himself.

After quite a while of this, Iruka started to wonder why his parents had forced him into his jacket at all. It was true that it kept him warm, but after an hour of snowball throwing (or more specifically snowball-not-dodging) Iruka was soaked straight through to his skin; the jacket did nothing. Every now and then everyone would have to stop, resupplying as they quickly formed more weapons, and that was when the child really felt the chill of it. Then the miniature war would start up again, with whoever had been quickest launching a surprise attack at someone and everyone else popping up to join the fight and the activity would keep Iruka warm until the next time they paused.

He had just about reached that point again, only two snowballs to his name, one in each hand. The advantage of running out of ammunition was that he was free to run around the streets, gaining better angles on his targets and finding new places to use for cover. He threw one of the weapons at Hayate, who also seemed to be out of ammo and scrambling for a better position. Iruka continued to dart along the street, heading away from the bulk of the battle to gain some time to recover, and that was when he found him. Kakashi had his back to the brunette and Iruka's smile could have blinded the sun as he let fly his last snowball, preparing to run when the other boy responded.

The attack caught the silver haired boy on one shoulder and he stumbled forward a step before spinning on his attacker, wide eyed and hands in a defensive stance. He saw Iruka and paused, blinking at the other. The brunette just laughed, "Come on, you were wide open!"

Kakashi pulled back slightly, frowning now. "I'm not playing your stupid game."

At this, Iruka's eyes doubled in size. "What? Why not?!"

"Because it's stupid," Kakashi bit out. "It's just snow, and we have mock battles like this in training all the time. With real weapons."

"But it's a snowball fight! It's a million times better than real weapons."

"It's just snow, what's the big deal?"

"Well maybe you don't care, but I've never seen snow before! It's fantastical!"

Kakashi just frowned harder, wrinkling his forehead at the younger boy. "Don't be dumb, it snowed three years ago. The blizzard was so bad they had to close the academy. Snowed the year before, too, I think."

For a moment, Iruka just stood there, blinking slightly until he could find his voice again. "I don't remember that," he mumbled softly. This boy in front of him was so much stronger and smarter than he was. Talking to him like this just made Iruka feel tiny and insignificant. "Well I was just three, who would remember that?" Kakashi just blinked at him and Iruka lowered his eyes again, more embarrassed by the thought that he might actually remember when he was three. "Well, well never mind that. How come you don't want to play with us!" Iruka whined again.

"I told you, it's stupid. I have other things to do."

"No," Iruka snapped. He jumped forward, grabbing the other boy's sleeve. "You're stupid. Come on and play, it's fun!"

Kakashi frowned and tried to pull away. "I'm not going to play your stupid kid game. Let me go."

The brunette ignored him, trying to pull the taller boy back towards where the fighting was still going on. "Come on, it's what you're supposed to do in snow. Come on and play, come on!"

Iruka wouldn't let go. Kakashi tried again to pull out of the child's grip and when that didn't work he pushed back hard to break his balance. It was a simple technique, one that didn't work on shinobi with even minimal training, but it worked on the six-year-old flawlessly. He yelped in surprise, releasing his hold and falling back onto the ground hard. For a moment he just stayed there, blinking up at the other. Then slowly his face twisted into a frown and Kakashi could see the tears forming in his eyes. "Oh, don't cry," the older boy muttered, taking a step towards him.

There was no stopping it now though and in seconds Iruka was wailing from behind his balled fists. Kakashi held one hand out, but he didn't know how to deal with something like this. In the distance he heard a shout and looked up to see Hayate and Anko running towards him. With a smothered curse he wasn't supposed to know, Kakashi settled back onto his hip and crossed his arms casually. Anko reached the pair first and forced her way between Kakashi and her fallen friend, hands on her five-year-old hips. "What did you do to him!" she demanded, voice loud enough to catch the attention of the other children.

Kakashi settled more onto his hip, consciously looking more disinterested. "I didn't do any-"

"What the hell did you do to my friend, you freak!" Kakashi didn't bother trying to defend himself this time, just letting the smaller girl yell. "What did he do, huh? I bet he was being nice! You just like being mean, you ass!"

"Anko, what's going on here?"

Great, the cavalry's arrived, Kakashi thought as some of the older children arrived. Genma was frowning at the tiny girl that was yelling, but he kept casting suspicious glances at Kakashi. "Nothing, it was an accident," Kakashi mumbled. And Iruka was still crying, this wasn't going well. "Look," he said, trying to step around Anko and Genma, "I didn't mean to hurt him. Why don't I go get a medinin?"

Very suddenly Genma was in front of Kakashi, blocking the way with his larger body. He had his arms crossed over his chest, but it was angry rather than bored, very plainly meant to intimidate Kakashi. "You've done enough. We can handle it from here, Hatake."

For another moment, Kakashi stayed. Iruka was still crying. Damnit, this wasn't his fault. The boy spun on his heel and started walking away through the snow, his footsteps crunching in the crisp air.