Disclaimer: I don't own. Really I don't…I'm a dirt poor college student who decided to waste time because the plot bunnies were leaving dirty paw prints all over my homework. And you really can't hand that in and expect a good grade now can you? No, of course not. So I post this and then go do my homework—but I don't own the characters or anything you recognize!

Summary: You'd never have guessed a fist had stabbed through his heart. But she knew, and her worry over the little blond child who'd wriggled his way into her own heart is the catalyst for meeting the one man she had thought didn't exist: a man made just for her.
Set in season 6 of Naruto; you can either treat the episodes after number seven as nonexistent until season ten or you can keep them. Personally I think they're a bunch of fluff that demonstrates no real character development or even continuity. That said…I'm ignoring them XD. Ergo, in this story, Jiraiya takes Naruto on that last mission with Sakura and then both males leave to train in far off places.

There was a dark scowl on her face as she stalked through the cold sterile halls.

The hospital nurses were used to angry family members raging through their midst; after all, they were a ninja village used to violence. Usually the angry person trampled their way to the patient's room without mishap. Still, when the dark haired beauty stormed in, they instinctively cleared a path for her despite the lack of suggestion of any sort of ninja-status. As she made her way to the directory, and then further away down the halls with a bag in her hands, the nurses shivered in her wake and a few of the doctors were left pale and sweaty.

The woman huffed out an angry breath as she stopped, closing her eyes and hissing air in through her teeth as she took obvious effort to lower her tensed up shoulders and relax her white knuckled grip.

As she shoved open the door to the room she growled out a name, a prologue to an irate rant…the steam left her as she saw the quiet room and yet occupied bed.

A blonde child lay there, well, not quite a child anymore but still a child to her. He was sleeping and the waxy tone of his skin—when he was usually so healthy no matter what, thanks to his odd animus—sobered her anger into compassion.

She really couldn't blame him anyway.

Sighing, she arranged the bag on the side table and seated herself in the hard chair after she pulled it closer to the bed. Biting her lip and furrowing her brows—just in case her body decided she would cry—she reached out to grasp his nearest hand. Curling her pale fingers around his she examined his nail beds and the healing scratches on his knuckles—her delaying tactic.

She squared her shoulders and looked to his face, bracing herself because she wasn't used to seeing him without a smile. Naruto was a young man so determined to enjoy life and prove everyone wrong that he never let anything get him down. She worried now to see him like this, scowling in his sleep.

Walking into this room she had still been expecting him to be ready to fight, awake and raring to go retrieve Sasuke and keep his promise to Sakura. This sudden lack of Naruto-ness near broke her heart.

Carefully, she stood and leaned over him, taking in his pained breaths (she knew it wasn't physical, Naruto healed too fast for that and had too thick a skull to let it bother him unless he wanted attention). This would hit him hard; Sasuke was the brother he had wanted since his childhood. Still, despite knowing exactly why he was pained, she carefully ran her hands over a few bruises and scratches; just to make sure they were healing correctly.

Besides, she knew exactly how someone with that mix of reiki and youki should heal. She wasn't as ignorant as all those other people who didn't remember or understand anymore.

When she got to his shoulders she hesitated, sliding her hand under the hospital-grade kimono to rest it against his heart before tentatively pushing aside the cloth.

There was no sign of it.

His skin was unmarked and thick, not even thin or pink as if it had recently healed. She guessed the fox had focused his energies on the most dangerous injuries first and so they healed the fastest. Still, she knew.

She had the evidence.

Sucking in a slow breath and then shakily letting it out, she slid back down into her chair. Her hand slid off his heart to rearrange his kimono back into place, both of her hands clasping onto his one as she stared at his messy hair and closed eyes.

She worried more, because no one else was there to stop her, and it seemed like no one else was there to worry over him anyway.

She had only heard he was in the hospital because she was his registered seamstress in his contact file (they were always contacted on behalf of the patients, in case they needed to visit to alter clothes or get new measurement should their client have lost a limb). A seamstress was a very important part of the network the shinobi of this village developed. And she was one of the few contacts that Uzumaki Naruto had established due to his internal tenant hindering his social skills.

There was no one else to wait through the night with him.

Quietly she reached into her bag and pulled out her work; the bright cargo pants that so characterized Naruto she couldn't help but gaze at them fondly since his grin wasn't there to cheer her up. Taking up a needle and some thick thread she started her work on cleaning up its seams before she set to patching up the holes and singe marks that had occurred during the fight.

She was ignoring the damning work that had so shocked her when it had arrived at her small house earlier. In all the years she had known him she'd never seen such horrid rags.

They'd first met when Naruto was still little enough that he'd fit through small places like the hole in her back garden fence. She'd instantly fallen in love with the impish little boy when he grinned sheepishly for trampling over her tulips.

He'd sat beside her that first time while she mended the shorts he'd torn in his little chase after a butterfly, a blue one that had landed on her climbing orange honeysuckle, and he'd been coming to her for repairs ever since. It was a long slow relationship and every year the evidence of his growth was measured by the greater and more chilling damages done to his clothes.

When she'd raised his shirt to examine the damage this morning, the clean hole right through his heart, one big enough for her to look through easily, had made her chest clench and her eyes water. It was the same for his beautiful absolutely Naruto jacket.

Her only thought had been to see Naruto and give whoever was in her way hell until she could make sure he was all right—and if he was, because he had to be, then she'd tear into him for worrying her and causing so much damage to the clothes she spent so much time on.

But Naruto wasn't Naruto right now; he wasn't all right.

She sniffed and tied off a stitch.

Something ruffled, and she looked up hopefully only to see Naruto as still as he had been—she shivered and looked away, clenching her teeth. She never wanted to see Naruto like this again, she kept expecting to look up and find glassy eyes set in a waxen corpse.

She didn't want to see another precious person die.

The man stiffened when he entered the room, straightening from his slouch and the weight of his bag as he found a woman already visiting Naruto. She'd pulled one of the chairs close to the bed, and her body had curled over Naruto's arm as her hands clasped one of his.

Iruka hesitated for another moment before he moved around the bed and sat in the other chair, quietly setting down his lunch and his book before he stared at the woman.

He carefully pulled the medical charts to him to check on his boy, his eyes quickly scanning the tests and the results as a breath of relief escaped him. Naruto would be fine—not that there was ever really any doubt, but he still worried.

The woman shifted slightly in her sleep, and Iruka looked up as she let out a small groaning breath and turned her face away from the light. He sat quietly as she shifted again and then made the slow movements of someone waking up naturally.

When she finally lifted her head to check on Naruto, she spotted him and sat up quickly, her hands fisting in the material over her lap. The little gasp she let out when she startled was too quiet for a civilian to hear, and Iruka stared as she carefully eyed him.

A silent moment passed between them before Iruka coughed and spoke, "I'm Umino Iruka, and you are?"

"Kagome," she mumbled, straightening while cracking her back and glancing at him before checking Naruto. He was still asleep, and the woman sighed and slumped a little.

Iruka cleared his throat. "How do you know Naruto?" he had thought he knew all of Naruto's friends. They were usually very important people in the village or from the class he taught. But he didn't know this woman, this Kagome.

She sniffed and tilted her head to the side, smiling tightly. "I'm his seamstress."



They eyed each other over no man's land, the bed Naruto conveniently made a defensive wall out of. She pressed her lips together briefly before she sighed and gave; "I've been his seamstress since he was seven years old—he's failed the academy test three times though once was a technicality. Sometimes he stays for ramen at my house, but that's only when he can't mooch it off his teammates or sensei because he doesn't like taking things from me. His favorite color isn't orange, but he likes it enough. He has matches and flint rock sewn into the lining of his cuffs, and the spiral clan insignias on his clothes are laced with magnesium flares just in case."

She stared hard at him over the barrier.

Iruka reciprocated with a nod of his head—"He's a prankster with excellent stealth and tracking abilities if he applies himself. He cannot even think of eating anything but Ramen if he has the choice. His cursive is large but curly—not scratchy and hard to read. He has sensitive eyes so he squints a lot. His favorite animal is a frog."

She settled back in her chair.

Iruka stared at her over his hands, seated much like Uchiha Sasuke used to in class—he straightened and cursed himself for picking up his student's habits, even when they were so useful for covering up minute facial expressions.

Now that they both knew they each knew Naruto—familiar enough to indicate a close relationship—there was no reason for them to be at heads. But inexplicably they still were. Iruka scowled lightly and her expressive eyes remained stony and slightly narrowed.

He wondered if it would be childish to use a genjutsu to scare the civilian away.

Then, "He likes my oden just fine," she said rather petulantly.

Iruka, wide eyed and divested of his scowl, stared at her and then a slow smile overtook him. She huffed and pulled a bag to her, rooting around in it as she carefully ignored him.

The academy teacher watched her in silence, what had passed for a conversation falling away as they reached some sort of unspoken truce. Watching her he was rather stunned to observe her skills—with her work spread across her lap and held together in one hand she could use the other to thread needles and tie off the ends. It was a skill he hadn't seen before in a fully functional seamstress.

Her blue eyes glanced up at him quickly, suspiciously but not quite as hostile as before, and then she was back to her mending. Iruka smiled at the bright orange fabric that could only belong to Naruto.

Minutes passed this way, and the steady sound of the needle punching through fabric and then the hiss of the thread being pulled through created a rhythm between the otherwise silent occupants.

Finally, she'd finished mending the pants.

Carefully folding the article she set it at the foot of the bed.

Though Iruka could plainly see more fabric in the bag, definitely Naruto's colors, she made no move to reach for it. Instead, she put away her needles and thread before folding her hands in her lap. He watched her stare at her fingers, watched them slowly clench until her knuckles had gone white.

And then she trembled.

He stiffened and ceased his façade of fumbling with some papers that really didn't need to be marked. Raising his head slowly he directly faced the woman who'd so startled him by merely being there.

"I can't finish," she whispered brokenly.

"Can't finish what?" he questioned quietly, afraid of somehow breaking this woman with his ignorance.

"Ever since I first fixed his clothes I have always made sure it was the best and swiftest job so he wouldn't go without. And now…now I can't bring myself to even look at the damage."

Iruka suddenly understood this woman with a clarity and empathy he hadn't felt for much of the female population in Konoha. He had never figured out where their mothering instincts disappeared to as soon as the Kyuubi orphan was brought into question. His friends had teased him about his mother-hen tendencies and when even he started to sympathize with the blond child he'd wondered what had been so wrong with the women.

Based on his past experiences with these mothers with no mothering tendencies he had immediately judged this woman in Naruto's room. All the evidence and experiences of before had indicated she would be as such, only there for duty or pay.

And now she was proving him to be so wrong.

He swallowed a hard little lump in his throat, "How bad is it?"

She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, leaning forward slightly and bracing herself stiffly. When she opened her eyes again there was no remaining flintiness or suspicion. Instead her blue eyes were watery and doll-like, reflective of the pain in both their faces.

She sniffed and sat forward, brushing aside Naruto's hair for a brief moment before resting that hand over his heart.

Iruka, irrationally, checked the heart monitor as his lungs froze.

"It's not here anymore," she spoke firmly.

"What was there?"

Kagome pushed aside Naruto's shirt and ran her fingers lightly over his skin. Drawing in a long breath she sat back, fixing Naruto's clothes and pulling up the bed's sheets to tuck them around his shoulders.

Iruka found he was uncomfortable and relegated to watching her again.

She worried as much as him; it was weird seeing someone like that when he usually felt so isolated in his affection for the boy.

For a minute she rustled in her bag, but then she pulled out her remaining work and carefully spread it over her lap. As she did up the zip on Naruto's recognizable jacket Iruka watched her fingers caress the fabric.

And then she held it up for him to see.

Iruka dropped his papers and choked audibly.

Unmistakably it was Naruto's jacket; as much as he wanted to he couldn't deny it. And there was a hole clean through it so he could see most of Kagome's pained face on the other side.

"I haven't gotten a chance to clean it, I came straight here." Kagome lowered the jacket and covered some of the bloodstains with her hands. She swallowed visibly and her face started to crumble. "I'm so glad he's okay," she sobbed.

"Hey, hey," he crooned, moving from his chair to the bed to sit in front of her. Carefully he grabbed her hands and waited for her watery eyes to meet his equally worried ones. His jaw froze as she stared up at him, and he bit his tongue and looked down at their hands instead of saying whatever reassurances had been on the tip of his tongue. He was just as worried as her and couldn't find it in himself to voice what he knew to be the cliché condolences.

"I'm glad too," he finally managed in a strangled voice.

Kagome tightened her hands around his briefly, a commiserating squeeze that somehow made his eyes water. She smiled a wobbly smile at him and then moved so she sat on the bed beside him. Taking in a breath Kagome let it out slowly, controlling it so it remained steady while her hands trembled slightly.

She laughed, "I wasn't expecting anyone to be here with me to watch over him—I should have though. He talks about you a lot."

Iruka shifted uncomfortably—"I've…actually never heard of you."

She looked down and pulled her bottom lip into her mouth. "Yeah, I understand that. I mean you're a major part of his life, his ninja life…and I'm just a civilian." She smiled, and Iruka smiled back because it was such a brave attempt to cover up the wobble in her lips.

A strange murmur broke their silence, as it came from neither of them. Simultaneously they turned to watch Naruto shift and scrunch his face into a scowl. His fists came up to fight the edge of the blanket and curl under his chin.

Kagome laughed.

His eyes blinked open and he smiled. Iruka grinned as Naruto's whisker marks curved and his blue eyes sparkled.

"You're finally awake. I was beginning to think about an inventive way to get you up," Kagome mocked in a soft voice.

Naruto grinned and laughed lightly, showing no signs of pain or the ordeal that both adults knew he had gone through.

Iruka wondered if Naruto's whole heart had to grow back after being so broken.

"You should never prank the prankster!"

Kagome laughed and ruffled his hair, pausing to gently ease her fingers through the blonde spikes.

Iruka smirked at Naruto's ruffled look, "You should be thankful she wasn't going to let me do it."

Naruto grinned full out, teeth bared and eyes scrunched up like he always did.

Kagome laughed so much she shook—then she stopped and blinked while holding her lower back, "I should have asked for that guest cot last night."

Naruto laughed and poked her side. "Kagome's stiff and old!"

"You little brat! I was up half the night worrying over you!"

Naruto yelled happily when she jumped him and started a tickle war.

Iruka snorted and rubbed his nose, "I'll go get us some coffee, maybe it will help us keep up with this hellion." If she had been up half the night and then sleeping in that awkward position he could sympathize with her pain—many a long night he'd spent at his desk trying to deal with Naruto's antics.

Kagome laughed from where Naruto had her in a body lock. Jabbing her elbow back into his stomach and rolling into a crouch on the floor as she waved.

Iruka grinned as he looked back to see her straightening her clothes, unsuspecting of the mischievous Naruto preparing to pounce on her back.

The vending machine was a short walk down the hall and around the corner (the cheap coffee there was still better than the stuff he, as a ninja, could easily nick from the staff room). He nodded to a few of the nurses who knew him, he was a regular visitor as he oversaw weapons training at the academy, and largely went on his way unhindered. There were the few nurses who knew that he was there for Naruto and gave him glares and a wide berth, but they were easy to ignore (he'd learned that particular talent well).

Styrofoam coffee cups steaming in both hands, he paused as he heard Naruto's voice talk about Jiraiya's demand for him to forget Sasuke in order to receive training, of how he felt when his brother had done that to him. There was a silence and he assumed Kagome had given him a hug by the sounds softly moving to him.

He swallowed the heavy feeling in his throat and then a true smile worked its way across his lips. This was why Naruto didn't talk about Kagome with his shonobi friends—she was his soft side, his civilian life that they usually wouldn't be interested in.

It was only in teams after years of combat that a true concern for the emotional and psychological health of comrades bloomed. Before that it was provided for in the family—Kagome had been that family for Naruto in a world where he had none.

Iruka smiled as he tapped the door with his foot and entered the room. He gave Kagome her coffee and nudged Naruto's shoulder when he stuck out his tongue. "None of that, you know you can't have coffee."

Kagome snorted into her cup as she cradled it close to her lips.

Naruto pouted and settled for a moment, breaking his stillness to scratch at the hospital gown as the adults drank quietly. "This sucks," he said very plainly.

Kagome smiled and broke from her melancholy, patting Naruto on the shoulder as she handed him his mended pants and a new shirt. "Here, I've got these for you. Go change and I'll send a nurse in on my way out; I've got some orders to do still." She kissed his forehead and ushered him to the bathroom.

Iruka watched them both until Naruto disappeared and Kagome turned back to him. She raised up her coffee in salutation as she shouldered her bag—"Thanks for the coffee."

He smiled. "You're welcome. And, thank you."

She smiled in confusion and slowly nodded her head.

Naruto stumbled back into the room with a bounce, upsetting what silent conversation the two adults had been indulged in. Kagome grinned brightly at the child and then saluted Iruka with the coffee cup.

Iruka watched Kagome leave with her coffee and work before turning back to Naruto. "Naruto," he intoned warningly as the blond was reaching dangerously close to his coffee. Naruto on caffeine high was not something he wanted to deal with, especially if the nurses would be coming soon to check on him.

The blond grinned guiltily and yet as innocently as he could while he put his hands behind his back. Iruka laughed, knowing he was too soft on the boy but unable to help it. Even when being his most mischievous Naruto was too sunny and endearing.

Too much like the younger him for Iruka to ignore.

Besides, it seemed that even Kagome would roughhouse and laugh with him without punishing him for his antics.

Iruka could overlook his own lack of discipline with the blond child when Kagome was so obviously amused by his antics.

He glared mockingly at the pouting genin and then heard the two nurses enter the room. Naruto visibly deflated into a sulk, his arms crossing over his chest (Iruka sucked in a breath as he saw that skin where Kagome had put her hand—clear normal skin that didn't provide any evidence to the injury his boy had sustained). The nurses raised their perfect eyebrows and otherwise remained their stoic selves.

"Umina-san," one started in her soft nurse's voice, "this will take a while and it would be better for you to leave."

Iruka conceded with a nod, giving Naruto a commiserating glance as he left, followed by a wink that brightened the child up. By unspoken agreement he'd bring the boy a treat.

When Iruka returned to the hospital room much later it was with a container in his hands, finding Naruto in frenzy as he did the impossible and managed to tear apart a bare room. He watched the boy lift up the sheets and pillows and even look under the minimal furniture.


Big blue eyes looked up at him—"I can't find it!"

"What?" Iruka asked, confused. As far as he knew Naruto had been on a mission and thus had no belongings that should be lost in the hospital room.

"My jacket!" he shouted in a tone that indicated he thought Iruka dull for even having to ask; the jacket was so much a part of him.

"Ah, Kagome-san hasn't finished it yet."

Naruto froze, turning an incredulous expression to him. "She hasn't…finished it…?"

"Un, if you need it that much I can retrieve it for you."

Naruto hesitated slightly, his eyes darting about the messy hospital room and then landing on the container of ramen he could probably smell. Iruka slowly smiled, "Here, you eat this and I'll go pick it up. What's her rate?"

Naruto was already greedily slurping up the flavorful noodles. "Depends on the work," Iruka managed to hear around all that food and then Naruto was stretching to give him a business card.

He sighed and shook his head, taking the card and his leave as Naruto shouted a farewell with a full mouth.

Looking at the address he wove his way through the streets of Konoha until he came to a small house—even from the outside he could see the comely business front and the back garden that indicated her place of actual residence was connected to the store.

Sighing, he knocked, double checking the hours posted in a cursive beside the door. Kagome's voice echoed from the house, but he couldn't hear exactly what she said as muffled as it was by the door.

He smiled, bemused as she answered while leaning back to correct a shoe she had tripped over. At his chuckle she looked up sheepishly and straightened, still toeing the sandal into position.


"Ah, Kagome-san. Naruto seems to be in need of his jacket. Quite insistent actually," he murmured the last part in exasperation.

Kagome smiled and sighed. She bit her lip while shaking her head, withholding a grin and a laugh as her eyes darted behind him.

He blinked and turned on his heels, his face blanching as he caught sight of Naruto, in his shorts and that black t-shirt, running through the crowds and grinning like the fool he was.

Iruka smacked his forehead with his palm and turned fully around to face the boy as he came to the stoop.

Before Iruka could open his mouth to scold the boy, for he'd obviously skipped out on the nurses at the hospital (they usually kept him an extra day and night for observation), he grinned his grin and saluted.

"Ero-sannin's taking me," Naruto informed them proudly, without any greeting or lead-up. "I'm going to train really hard and get Sasuke." It was a sign of how proud he was that he stated this so bluntly, even Naruto, street wise and uncouth, took the time to yell his greetings before he went into something.

Kagome smiled softly, clasping her hands in front of her. Iruka grinned in response, because he knew how important this was to Naruto—he wanted to train and bring Sasuke back. He had promised.

Kagome laughed breathily and turned to the closet, ruffling through a few hangers before pulling out a familiar jacket. Iruka watched her help Naruto put it on, brushing out the shoulders and checking the fit. There was no evidence the jacket had been damaged, not even a tear.

"I'll have to refit this when you get back," she murmured as she bent over slightly to tug at the sleeve, "or maybe make you a new one—we might have to get some more fabric if you hit a growth spurt." Naruto grinned. Kagome grinned back and ruffled his hair like she had that morning. "Now go out there and wreck some havoc!"

Iruka watched her fuss over Naruto and felt a part of his heart clench. This was the woman he'd started to see in that hospital room, the one who did care despite what everyone else thought. His breath caught as she smiled sadly, watching her hold back tears and encourage the little hellion.

This was the type of woman he hadn't thought existed anymore.

He swallowed and patted Naruto on the back as he turned and rushed out the door. Watching him leave was sobering, and Iruka strained his eyes in those last moments until not even a hint of that bright orange could be seen in the crowd.

Without Naruto there he turned to Kagome, feeling out of place in her tidy business room and open foyer.

His breath caught again when he looked at her isolated figure. Without Naruto there to distract him he could see the proud tilt to her head as she stared off after their boy. The regal solemnity and beauty she carried in that one moment where she wasn't worrying or paying attention to him stole his thoughts for a moment.

When her attention turned back to him he refocused and realized that awkward stiffness of strangers with nothing to connect them had moved back in. He swallowed and bowed briefly before smiling tightly and looking back down the route Naruto had taken.

They were strangers.

They were simply strangers clinging desperately to this last connection to Naruto, finding the traces of the little blonde child in each other for another moment, but eventually the awkward strangeness of their situation settled further into them and they couldn't ignore it any more.

Then Naruto was truly gone.

Iruka took his leave as Kagome waved slightly and closed her door. He sighed as he stopped and looked back at her house, that little cottage where she worked and lived and welcomed Naruto.

Tilting his head forward and blinking slightly he shook his head and turned to continue his path.

They were strangers, and Naruto wasn't here to connect them. He had no reason to go back and visit with her.


Naruto had gone with that old pervert. She didn't want him to go, well she did because she knew he needed to do this but still she missed him already and it had only been a few hours. Kagome sighed as she stopped fussing with her sewing kit—it was organized enough as it was. Instead she moved to the back of her house to focus her attention out the window towards her garden. It didn't seem as bright without the child within its gates; somehow it was now cold and deserted. He wasn't there to visit her, sneaking in through that very same hole in the fence that had led to their first encounter (despite his welcome through the front door).

He'd tell her stories about his ninja friends, how cool they were and the awesome things they did. She'd met Chouji and Shikamaru early on in their relationship, if only through his proud raving about how they'd skipped class and pranked Iruka-sensei. Then she'd met Kiba and Akamaru the same way…and later Sasuke and Sakura, Kakashi-sensei and the whole lot of them.

Kagome felt she knew them as well as anyone could.

Naruto told wonderful stories, as if they were breathing you into them.

He was always so excited to talk about what was happening with him—and though many found this annoying and arrogant, Kagome had listened enough to understand the little blue-eyed boy that wasn't so little anymore. His stories weren't about his exploits, at least not underneath it all. His stories were about the people he shared a bond with.

Kagome had learned a lot about Iruka this way, but until she'd met him this morning she'd never really placed him in reality. The Iruka of Naruto's stories was firm but gentle, loving and protective, funny and sensitive and all those things she knew real men couldn't be. She'd met enough of them to know no man could be that perfect.

But the Iruka of this morning had been all of that. At first she'd been hostile because he was, and she'd thought he was angry at Naruto. But he knew so much about the boy…was so protective of him that she'd realized she was the reason he was suspicious. Kagome let out a little chuckle.

They were both looking out for their boy. And the Iruka that she'd been half in love with because of Naruto's stories was very real.

Kagome paused and listened, training her eyes out into the yard.

She sighed and leaned her forehead against the cold window.

Her house was too quiet, and as much as she stared no bundle of sunshine would come crawling through that hole in the fence to tread that well-worn path through her tulip bed.

A deliberate knock echoed down from the hallway and she furrowed her brow, turning around to stare towards the front of her house because she wasn't expecting a visitor. And she wasn't open for work this late in the day.

The knock, this time gentler, echoed again and she sighed as she pushed herself up and moved towards the hallway. Checking behind her she moved from the kitchen and house to the little room she worked in. From there the door was closer.

She unlatched the door and opened it, looking up in surprise to find Iruka standing there shuffling his feet. "Iruka-san?"

He shuddered and took and abrupt step forward, and despite her instinct to raise her hands to defend herself he was too quick and drew her into a clutching hug.

Wide eyed she stared at his shoulder as her arms slowly snaked around him.

Iruka held her with a desperation she had known once, long ago—in a time where your life might be forfeit the next day. But this desperation was tendered by something different. Kagome sighed in a breath and nuzzled her nose into his strong neck while she clenched her fingers into his vest, as if she couldn't stand to be entirely gentle when she knew exactly what he was feeling.

She was feeling it too.

The difference now was that they were worrying about someone else entirely, a little child they had both managed to adopt in their hearts. She wasn't going to die tomorrow and Iruka certainly wouldn't meet his doom in his academy class…but Naruto was so far away from them right now.

She turned her face up when his deep murmur rumbled against her cheek—his dark eyes met her, intense and rich—a group of secrets she shared with him; in this village the Kyuubi brat shouldn't be so loved. But they loved him so much.

His lips pulled into a slight smile as she nodded her head in commiseration.

Pulling away from each other she invited him into her foyer, blushing with the realization that she'd kept him outside all this time. He grinned and participated in the traditional greetings with her, and quietly sat while she fixed him tea.

She'd only taken one sip of her own cup before he set his down firmly and turned to her.

"Iruka?" she questioned as she mimicked his movements.

She watched him take in a steeling breath before his hands found her hips to slide her across the couch to his side. "Do you ever wonder if you were made to look after Naruto?" he asked quietly, his eyes darting between hers so seriously she could only stare at him for a moment.

She hesitated when she replied but she answered true. "Never," she asserted and then continued over the indignant protest she could see rising in his eyes, "I know I was made to take care of him." She blushed as he smiled softly, her eyes darting to one side. "He's a little light in my life—he makes it so interesting and worthwhile."

Iruka shifted beside her and she turned only for him to capture her face in his warm palms, his long fingers slipping into her thick mess of hair as she gasped. Kagome closed her eyes slowly; unsure if this was real but hoping in those last moments of sight for it to remain even if it were a vision.

Their kiss started with that same tender desperation as their embrace before—a sympathetic worry for their Naruto, and then it shifted and softened with a different type of passion that had Kagome's head swirling. Dizzy, and giddy for it, she clutched his shirt and pulled herself closer to his welcoming strength.

This man wanted her because of her—for no other reason. Even though Naruto had fostered this connection Iruka had looked beyond Naruto and still saw her as a woman, one he desired.

And he kissed her like no other man had before.

She needed to breathe.

A moaning gasp escaped her as she tossed her head back, pulling away from his sinful nibbling and the loving caresses of his lips. Staring into his impassioned eyes a lazy knowing grin spread across her lips.

Iruka chuckled and ducked to caress her cheek with his nose, her eyes closing at the gentle touch while his hands once again pulled her to him. Her hands threaded into the hair just caught at his ponytail, her fingers carefully removing the offending elastic while he curled himself around her and she curled herself into him.

A while later they finally broke that poignant silence, that comfortable world they had created where words had been unnecessary.

"I didn't think men like you existed," she said wonderingly.

Iruka choked out a small laugh and shifted so he looked down at her face. She grinned impishly and kissed his nose, right under that scar that always seemed to draw her attention to his beautiful eyes. He blushed slightly and only confirmed the fact that he was everything she had looked for and everything Naruto had, if not outright said, provided evidence for.

She laughed softly.

"Imp," he muttered before he kissed her forehead. "I'll admit, strange as it sounds, that I didn't think a woman like you existed either."

She tilted her head to look up from where she had cuddled into his shoulder.

His chin brushed against her forehead as he continued, "No one seems to want to mother Naruto, and I'd always thought I'd be alone in my affection for him. Then you were there in that hospital room and you were everything I'd been looking for."

Kagome grinned so widely her cheeks hurt and her sight went blurry.

"So now we have our evidence," she said softly.

"Hmm," he murmured into her hair, holding her closer and sighing.

Kagome closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly and relaxing her entire body into the warmth of Iruka.

They wouldn't have long to wait; Naruto would be back in Konoha no gakure. Well, at least it wasn't long now, when they had each other to wait with.

Kagome smiled serenely as she sat in Iruka's lap—it would be a very enjoyable wait.

Okay! This is done! Now on to that homework while the plotbunnies are thus distracted by their victory! I hope you guys enjoyed it!

I love KagomeIruka 3