Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. I was the one that threw the boys in the mud though!
Edit July 2010: Hello and welcome to the story! Just before you get started, FanFiction updated their site a while back and it unfortunately screwed with my formatting, removing all the section breaks (incredibly annoying). I'm slowly going through and fixing up all the chapters, taking the opportunity to improve them at the same time. Please bear with the story for the time being, it will be all fixed up soon! ^_^
I've Got You
Chapter 1: Casual Chuunin and Mud Monsters
Kicking the door closed behind him, Iruka took a moment to lean against the solid wood structure and breathe a sigh of relief. It was Friday afternoon, classes had finished on time, he had no meetings to attend, and for once was not required to work the mission desk. In fact, this was the first Friday evening the Chuunin had not been on duty in some months and felt elated that the night was young and his for the wasting.
Slipping off his sandals and dumping assignments that would require grading at some stage over the weekend on the entry table, Iruka headed straight for the kitchen. It was about time he had some quality time to relax and unwind. He loved his students dearly and took great pride in nurturing their potential as young shinobi, but they were exhausting and often very volatile. As a teacher, Iruka had to be constantly on the alert for pranks, traps, tricks, and fights that could erupt at any given moment. It was tense work but he wouldn't give up his position for anything.
Working at the mission desk also took its toll on his nerves as arrogant, uncaring Jounin handed in reports consisting of messy handwriting and language more befitting his pre-Genin than elite shinobi. The only exception was Maito Gai, whose reports were always impeccably written with large flourished text and terms more befitting an epic poem than a simple mission debrief. What Iruka had never figured out was how the man actually managed to make the paper sparkle; it was the most bizarre thing. His first day working in the mission room had also been his first encounter with Konoha's Beautiful Green Beast. Iruka had been quietly filing some reports when the entry doors had burst open and a somersaulting green blur came hurtling through the air showering the room in sparkles and yelling "DYNAMIC ENTRY!"
There stood the famous taijutsu master on only one leg with an arm cocked over his head as if trying to impersonate the neck of a swan and the other flashing him a thumbs up. Needless to say the Chuunin had been struck speechless. A very loud and flowery speech about his youthful dedication to his job and a blinding flash of white teeth later, Iruka had been left blinking the spots from his eyes and holding a sparkly mission report. Since then he had thankfully become accustomed to such antics.
Chuckling to himself, Iruka shook his head clear of the memory. The rest of the day was his and he would not waste it thinking about work. Going to the fridge and pulling out supplies, he quickly made up a couple of sandwiches to take with him and put the kettle on to boil. As the water was heating, he moved into the bedroom and happily shed his shinobi uniform, throwing the garments into the laundry basket. There would be no reminders of work for the rest of the day. Going to the heavy oak chest of draws he neatly folded the leaf hitai-ate on top and took out a pair of jeans along with his favourite white cotton shirt.
Pulling on his jeans, Iruka enjoyed how they sat low and comfortable on his hips. He left a few of the shirt buttons at the top and bottom undone so it sat open to just below his collarbones and parted again where his jeans began. The shinobi uniform was specifically designed to provide complete skin cover while still allowing for maximum movement. It wasn't uncomfortable but sometimes Iruka just wanted the feeling of open, loose clothing that didn't come up his throat and needed to be bound to his legs.
The kettle whistled and the off duty Chuunin wandered back to the kitchen, quickly making up a thermos of his favourite jasmine tea to accompany the sandwiches. He was already looking forward to savouring the flavours of a simple meal in an outdoor setting. Not one to dawdle, he went into the study to collect the equipment he would need. Pulling his scuffed brown leather satchel from under the desk, he slipped in a fine grade sketchpad and his case of charcoal sticks.
Carrying the bag back to his bedroom, Iruka placed some explosive tags into one of the pockets. Pulling a kunai from one of his drawers, he pulled up the right leg of his jeans and strapped the weapon securely to his calf. As an afterthought, he also slipped a small packet of senbon into his pocket. Just because the Chuunin was off duty didn't mean he was stupid enough to go around unarmed. He was still a shinobi, after all. A quick trip to the kitchen saw his simple dinner packed away with the sketching supplies and he was ready to head out.
Slinging the satchel strap over his shoulder and head to sit across his chest – leaving his hands free, very important for any ninja – his reflection in the hall mirror gave him pause for a moment. He studied himself and couldn't help but smile at the civilian man that peered back at him. There was still something off though. Ah, his hair! Pulling it out of its high ponytail, he tied it loosely at the base of his skull, letting strands fall naturally around his face. That was more casual. Sandals were put back on and he set off out the door.
It was unseasonably warm for so late in autumn and soon Iruka had folded the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows. The breeze was very pleasant and the academy sensei felt his mood improve even more. He headed towards the village main gate, nodding and smiling at familiar faces but not stopping to chat and completely oblivious to the admiring eyes gazing his way from men and women alike. The gate came into view and with it a rather unusual sight. Coming toward him appeared to be three moving mounds of mud and leaves in the shape of men. One of these mounds suddenly lifted an arm and called out in greeting with a familiar voice.
Iruka couldn't help but laugh as the only recognizable human parts of the muddy blob was a wide toothy grin and clear blue eyes that could only belong to his favourite ex-student.
"My goodness," chuckled Iruka as he inspected the filthy shinobi in front of him. "Naruto, you've perfected the art of transforming into a mud-pie. Had I known your technique was so excellent, I'd have given you higher marks at school."
Naruto just laughed and spread his arms invitingly. "Come on, Iruka-sensei, where's my hug? I know you've missed me."
"Not that much," he retorted skipping back a few steps just to be on the safe side. "What have you been up to?"
"Just finished a mission! Can't give details, you know how it is. But, I can tell you that this mess is all his fault!" yelled the recently appointed Jounin and leapt to the side pointing an accusing sludge covered arm at one of the other blobs of muck.
"What are you pointing at me for, idiot?" The insolent tone could only belong to Sasuke.
"Oh, Sasuke, it's good to see you're doing external missions again. The restrictions have finally lifted, though from the look of things I'd say you were better off restrained to the village." Iruka couldn't keep the amusement from his tone or the grin from his face as he discovered one of the other dripping figures to indeed be the normally very composed Uchiha.
"I agree," huffed the moody young man. "I'm going to get cleaned off. Later, Iruka-sensei."
"Congratulations on your recent Jounin appointment too, Sasuke," Iruka said as the filthy young man began to walk away.
"Thanks. Let's go, moron. You're stinking up the place."
Naruto's response was the expected noisy outburst and the two new Jounin strode off down the street loudly insulting each other while being given a very wide berth by other pedestrians.
Iruka chuckled as he turned to the only remaining figure with a warm smile. The posture of this person was familiar, but with all the muck, he couldn't be certain who it was. That and he could barely get a hint of any chakra at all. Either they had extremely limited reserves or their ability to suppress it was quite incredible.
"So, I'll hazard a guess and say you're the one Naruto was going to blame for his current condition. Though I don't think I want to hazard any guesses as to who's hiding under all that." He smiled genially to show the person knew he wasn't trying to be unkind.
"Maa, that's understandable, sensei. I doubt I'd recognise myself right now."
Iruka knew that smooth voice instantly and the smile fell away, replaced with an embarrassed blush.
"Kakashi-sensei!" he exclaimed in surprise, remembering the casual way he'd just addressed one of Konoha's most elite shinobi and grinned in both embarrassment and apology. "I would never have guessed. Excuse me; I'll not keep you from your business."
"No business that can't wait, sensei." Kakashi replied casually, letting his eyes roam over the younger man.
The great (albeit very muddy) Copy Ninja couldn't help but admire how incredibly sexy Iruka looked, even though Iruka always looked sexy to him. Kakashi hadn't realised until Iruka had come into view that he'd never seen the teacher in casual clothing before. As soon as the Chuunin had come into sight, Kakashi had suppressed his chakra to ensure neither his teammates nor the object of his interest picked up on his desire. He had also discreetly pushed up his hitai-ate, exposing the sharingan to take in every detail of the man he'd been drawn to for years.
The wind caused dark hair to dance across tanned skin, which looked all the richer in colour due to the soft white shirt. As Kakashi's eyes drifted further down Iruka's body, he felt his heart rate increase as the breeze lifted the unbuttoned hem of the teacher's shirt, showing flashes of a flat, toned stomach and lean hips hugged by low, loose jeans. The Jounin had to mentally restrain himself from falling to his knees, pulling the delicious man to him by those appealing hips, and lavishing that teasing skin with lips and tongue. Iruka shifted uncomfortably and Kakashi realised he'd been staring too long. He refocused his mismatched gaze on deep brown eyes that always seemed to hold the promise of warmth.
For the life of him, Iruka couldn't understand the sudden scrutiny he found himself under by the famous Copy Ninja. Of course famous or not, Iruka had in the past given the man a good piece of his mind when he thought it necessary. This situation, however, as before they'd always interacted in a work setting and Iruka never realised before just how exposed he actually felt out of uniform. He couldn't shake the feeling that he was being eyed off by a very hungry predator, even his heart was starting to up its tempo. But, that was ridiculous. This was Icha Icha obsessed, straight flying, totally heterosexual, reads porn in public, Hatake Kakashi.
Iruka was physically attracted to the elite Jounin – there wasn't many people around who weren't – but there was no way he was ever letting Kakashi know that. Summoning up a polite smile, the teacher decided to beat a quick retreat. He could never manage to relax in the silver haired shinobi's company for some reason.
"I'll not keep you from a clean set of clothes or handing in your mission report, Kakashi-sensei. I hope you have a pleasant evening." He inclined his head politely and walked through the gates, not daring to look back and see if his exit had been considered rude.
Staring after the object of his desire, Kakashi toyed briefly with the idea of following the delicious Chuunin and watching him some more. However, there was no way he could comfortably maintain discretion for long in his filthy state and he really did want to get cleaned up. Slipping his hitai-ate back over his left eye, the Jounin formed some seals and disappeared with a small puff of chakra smoke.
This is perfect! Iruka decided when he crested a hill and gazed out over the expanse of forest below.
Wandering around for a few more minutes, Iruka found a tree with the view he wanted, channelled chakra to his feet, and climbed up to a relatively wide horizontal branch. Settling himself down, he pulled out his charcoals and sketchpad ready to transfer what he saw before him onto the crisp white page. This was exactly what he needed to relax and happily set to work, pausing frequently to admire the view or watch the birds perform aerial acrobatics. After sketching for an hour or so, his stomach alerted him that it was time to enjoy some refreshments. Iruka sighed in contentment as he leaned back against the tree trunk, sandwich in one hand and cup of fragrant tea in the other.
Perfect afternoon. It doesn't get much better than this.
The thought had barely formed in his head when an intense sense of unease washed over him. Sitting up and looking around, the Chuunin couldn't see anyone nearby or any reason for his instincts to suddenly be on edge, but something sure as hell wasn't right. His sense for trouble had never yet been wrong.
What's going on?
He put down his food and climbed to the very top of the tree for a full visual. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. The forest was very quiet and all seemed calm, nothing was apparent that could have caused such a dramatic shift in atmosphere.
At the same time an loud cracking noise reached the Chuunin's ears, Iruka saw a sight so unexpected it took his startled brain a moment to process the situation's full meaning. Five enormous boulders, each the size of the shinobi academy, went flying into the air from a section of forest to the east. The boulders travelled in a devastatingly graceful arch before rapidly descending and impacting upon the village of Hidden Leaf. Sounds of destruction and terror rent the air and snapped Iruka out of his stunned state. Screams of fear and pain drifted to him clearly on the wind as did terrible grating and grinding noises that could only be his beloved village being torn apart.
Iruka was horror struck and a moment of indecision flooded over him. For a split second, he felt terribly helpless and honestly didn't know what to do. The logical side of his brain demanded that he race back to the village and assist in any way possible. Protect and help the people there, herd them to safety of the mountain shelter and away from the chaos. He was without proper weapons and equipment. The logical choice was to go back. But, the passionate side of him cried out to find where the boulders had come from and make damn sure it didn't happen again. It demanded the blood of those that would dare harm the village he loved and had sworn his life to protect. How could he go back to help when he could go forward to ensure no further danger was coming?
His mind was made up for him when a loud voice echoed across the valley and reached his horrified ears.
AN: I have the concepts for up to Ch 3 noted down, I just need to sit and type them out. All constructive reviews are welcome.
Edited July 2010 with the help of my dearest editor Meiun.