It had started as a dare.

Iruka, as a brand new chuunin, would need to complete three dares to be accepted by the other chuunin. It wasn't required by the village, but it was by every teenage and young adult chuunin from Konoha.

He already had completed two of the dares (steal a pair of underwear from a fellow chuunin and genjutsu the Hokage's office); there was just one more standing in the way of him being a chuunin.

This one was the most dangerous, as all third dares are. He had to steal something, which is normal for a ninja task. It was what he had to steal that was unusual, and who he had to steal it from.

Iruka's third task was to steal a kiss from a member of ANBU.

This had been thought up after a long meeting between a few of the senior chuunin (senior here meaning the group of five twenty-year-olds that had been chuunin for three or so years but had yet to integrate with the rest of the nins of their rank). Iruka had completed the first two dares in a matter of a couple hours, which was very good for a chuunin, but unacceptable to those who dared him. It showed failure on their parts as much as success on his.

Which is why they choose ANBU to be his target.

Kotetsu and Izumo being backstabbing traitors that needed their tongues cut out is why they choose a kiss. The two had decided to rat out their friend and tell the older chuunin that he'd never had a girlfriend. Luckily, two of the senior chuunin had been girls themselves, which is why he only needed to steal a kiss and not anything more.

Now he had to find himself an ANBU.

Iruka wasn't going to worry about the kiss yet. That was the easy part (if any part could be called easy). The hard part would be finding an ANBU.

It was aggravating, really. He was sure he passed several on the street everyday, even had a good idea of who they might be. But that wouldn't count, to just grab one of them on the street and kiss them. He had no way of proving that they were in the notorious group. Everyone knew that Ibiki was part of ANBU - he was the head of torture and investigation, what else could he be? - but no one ever said it because no one was supposed to know. Also, he wasn't going to kiss Ibiki.

He thought for a minute about just hanging out in the Hokage's office, something that wasn't entirely unusual of him to do, but decided against it. Sure, ANBU would be coming into the office all day, but the Hokage had already figured out who genjutsu'd his office and so Iruka thought it best to steer clear.


Oh well. He'd just have to find himself an ANBU. And he was pretty sure he knew how to do that. It'd just take a lot of patience.

Iruka had heard rumors as a child about ghosts in the Forest of Death. These were spread by the civilian population and interpreted by a young Iruka as the forest was a midnight rendezvous for ANBU. He had waited for days in that forest, waiting for the ANBU to come - it was a few months after his parents were killed by the Nine-Tails and he no longer cared if he was eaten by some monster. He was luckily spared by the creatures that lived there and on his fourth day of luck, he saw the white porcelain masks of ninja children's nightmares.

As a chuunin, he knew that going into the Forest of Death had been a stupid mistake. But now he knew he could fight off anything he came in contact with - of the non-nin variety, at least. But he wouldn't be attacked by any creatures.

Being exceptionally good at genjutsu, Iruka had designed one that would be just strong enough so that the creatures of the forest should leave him be, but not quite strong enough to entice too much wonder by any nin walking through. He still wasn't sure how he was going to kiss one of the ANBU, once they came through, nor was he entirely sure how he could prove it. But he'd find himself an ANBU.

Nearly ten hours later found Iruka extremely bored. Not so much as a mouse ran through the forest since he hid himself away. Not even a stray wind burst through the leaves. It was all… very… tiring…

Iruka woke up maybe a half hour later to the snapping of a twig. Finally! He didn't have time to think up a plan or even see what had snapped the twig, however. There was a shuriken flying at his face.

What Iruka hadn't realized was that when he woke up, he jerked. This meant that his weak genjutsu, which was the equivalent to wearing a camouflage blanket, wavered. Any good nin would attack.

A fairly cocky one did.

Instincts took over for the terrified chuunin and he flung out two kunai; one deflected the shuriken, the other flew at the face of his attacker.

There was the sound of porcelain shattering, then all went silent.

"You broke my mask," said the attacker. He seemed dazed, as if he couldn't believe it.

Iruka couldn't either. Those mystified eyes staring at him were ones he well recognized. Anyone would. They were the mismatched eyes of the legendary Copy Nin Kakashi Hatake.

Iruka was mortified.

Few people saw Kakashi Hatake face to face. Some even thought him to be mere lore. Iruka hadn't wanted to find out. Not while he was just a chuunin.

He was pretty sure he was about to die.

The Copy Nin traced long fingers across his jaw and temple, as if making sure that the mask really was gone. His red eye seemed to stay focused on Iruka, even as it and his other eye swept the ground to glance at the porcelain pieces.

When he looked back at Iruka, the chuunin had finally decided to stand. He didn't want to be kneeling in some bush when he died. Izumo and Kotetsu would never stop laughing. He stood up, straight and as tall as he could manage - which wasn't very for his 16-year-old self - and gripped another kunai.

Kakashi frowned at this.

"You traitor or something?" he asked, arm snaking around his shoulder to grip the sword latched onto his back.

Iruka was taken aback, so much so he forgot himself for a moment.

"No! I'm a chuunin!"

It didn't really explain anything, not to a logical mind, but it seemed to pacify Kakashi, who promptly released hilt of blade.

"Chuunin? Then why are you in the Forest of Death?"

Glaring - for whatever reason, Iruka resorted back to his childish, defiant self when terrified - the chuunin snapped his words out.

"I'm finishing my rites of passage."

Kakashi whistled, a low sound that sent Iruka's hair standing on end. It might have been his imagination, but that whistle sounded almost like a far off resounding howl of a wolf or dog.

"And which one are you on?"

"The Third."

It sounded ominous in the air. Kakashi looked at him appreciatively.

"What were your first two?"

Iruka wasn't sure why he was answering, just knew it staved off death for a few more seconds.

"Steal another chuunin's underwear," he muttered, suddenly feeling bashful. It sounded so crude.

But Kakashi was grinning now.

"I choose Anko…" Here Kakashi looked mildly surprised. "… and stuffed them in someone's pocket before she could track me down."

The laughter surprised Iruka, but Kakashi waved him on.

"My second task was to genjutsu the Hokage's office. I made it so that he'd see these really attractive girls from the corner of his eyes, but could never look right at them."

The laughter had died down and now Kakashi was just staring at him approvingly.

"So your third is something like stay in the Forest of Death so long or something?"

Iruka shook his head sharply.

"No, I have to kiss a-"

He cut himself off, eyes wide. He probably would have clamped a hand over his mouth if it wasn't for his years of ninja training. And the kunai he still held.

"Kiss?" Kakashi asked, extremely interested. "Kiss a what? A tree? A bird?"

Iruka shook his head slowly, though he was sure Kakashi already knew. There was a sly grin on that face, hidden under that mask and behind those eyes.

"Then what?"

He's going to make me say it! Iruka thought, suddenly angry at the man again.

"An ANBU!" he growled, glaring daggers at the smirking man.

Kakashi just smiled wider.

"And your plan of seduction involved throwing a kunai at my face?"

Iruka huffed and looked away.

When he glanced back, it was only to see Kakashi inches away from him.

"Well, you going to steal your kiss little chuunin?"

His eyes looked absolutely predatory. Iruka had a mere second to think before he lunged forward, pecked Kakashi on his cheek, and ran for his life.

He had enough sense to grab a piece of the broken mask. That should serve as proof enough for the others.