Notes: For the April Fool's KakaIru crossover challenge, although I don't consider this a true crossover (it's just yanking on idea from a whole series) which is why it's listed in the Naruto section. Thanks to Hotspur who helped with the research.
At first, Kakashi was mostly sure he had lost his mind.
He had awoken in the hospital. No surprise there; the last thing he remembered was the flash of a powerful jutsu and the feeling of foreign chakra tearing into his eyes and the area around his heart...
"Kakashi-sensei! Kakashi-sensei!" yelled a disturbingly loud voice right next to his ear. "You're awake? Come on, you've been sleeping for days already!"
The orange blob above him slowly resolved itself into focus. Kakashi blinked.
"Can I ask you something?"
The boy grinned at him. "You gave me a scare, but I'm not gonna get that perverted book for you."
"No, no. I was just wondering," said Kakashi, quite reasonably, "why is there a fox clinging to your shoulder?"
"Eh?" Naruto whipped his head around. Then he grinned again. "Oh very funny. I'm gonna go get the old woman. She told me to find her as soon as you woke up."
The fox, a sharp-faced creature with blue eyes, gave him a mildly reproving look and as soon as Naruto turned to sprint off, its form shifted. Now a black-and-white magpie, it flew out the door right after him.
When Tsunade arrived, there was a vivid green cricket riding tucked safely in the valley of her cleavage.
Kakashi really tried not to look… at least not more than usual.
"Eyes up here, brat," Tsunade snapped, and the cricket waved its long antennae in what could only be described as a threatening manner. "Any unusual pain? Weakness?"
"My chakra is low," Kakashi admitted. Then, "So, is it for luck?"
She looked sharply at him. "What?"
"What are you talking about, brat?"
And it was about then that Kakashi began to suspect he was the only one to see it. "Maa, you know I think it was a dream, after all," he said, reaching up to scratch idly around the medical mask given to him when he was injured. "Maybe a dream of the future of you winning a bet with the aid of a luck cricket."
Tsunade gave him a long, hard stare which Kakashi returned with mild indifference. She broke first with a roll of her eyes.
"I'm keeping you overnight to make sure you haven't burned out any chakra pathways. You should be field-ready in a week. No less."
As she strode out, another animal made its appearance, leaping lightly on his bed and sitting at his feet. It was what looked like a bobcat, complete with tawny fur and brown markings. It ignored Kakashi completely, settling down to lick at one paw with languid swipes of its tongue.
Slowly, Kakashi reached up to uncover his sharingan eye. A sharp headache drilled into his skull the second he opened it – another sign his chakra was low – but at once the creature was gone. He could not even feel its weight sinking in the mattress.
Winking the sharingan shut, he opened his natural eye: the bobcat was still there, still cleaning her paws… wait…
Open sharingan – bobcat gone.
Natural eye – bobcat back again.
He preformed the experiment until the headache became almost blinding and at last he had to cover Obito's eye completely, which of course still left him with the problem of the wild animal on his bed.
"I think I am going insane," he mused.
The bobcat paused in her washing to look at him. Her eyes were the same steel-blue as his own. "Maybe," she said, "but aren't jounin all a little insane, anyway?"
The visions of animals had not gone away by the time Kakashi was deemed fit to return to duty – two days before Tsunade's original timeline.
The bobcat followed went where he went. She was always with him, it seemed, and was generally as content to ignore him as he was her.
That was his plan of attack at first. If he ignored the creatures, maybe they would fade away back into whatever broken part of his psyche they had come from. Yet despite his very best efforts, slowly but surely, Kakashi observed things he couldn't ignore.
Like how every time Gai came to challenge him, the long spindly-legged crane at his side would flare its wings dramatically in time with every 'good-guy pose'.
Or how the animals linked to children seemed to change according to mood or intent. Naruto's was the most spectacular; changing from the fox state it preferred to a bristling cat every time Kakashi teased him, or a fierce lion just when he was about to yammer on again about being the next Hokage. It became a quiet toad, he noticed, in the brief moments Kakashi caught the boy brooding or feeling unsure.
Sakura's was the first to stabilize her shape. One day, she showed up to the training field with a river-otter undulating along by her heels. It had a shrill voice to add to her own whenever Sakura was berating someone.
Kakashi only ever caught glimpses of Sasuke's animal. Whatever it was, the last Uchiha preferred to keep it tucked away, close to his heart. A scorpion some days, or a glittery black snake. Once, a bat.
It concerned him, although he couldn't say way.
The first time Kakashi killed a man since the visions began – a missing-nin from Sound – he saw the man's chameleon disappear from his sight like a suddenly snuffed candle-flame.
Kakashi thought about that all night as he carefully scrubbed the blood out of his clothing, back in the safely of his apartment. "When I die," he said, casually, knowing in doing so he was crossing some sort of line, the type where he couldn't step back. "Will you disappear?"
"Yes," the bobcat answered. She was laid out on the top of his futon, lazy and dangerous all at once. Her eyes glinted. "But they will have to kill us first."
As if her words were an omen, Team Seven found itself ambushed on the very next mission – what was supposed to be a simple C-rank delivery.
"Why is it always the C-ranks?" Sakura's otter chittered, as the other shinobi closed around them.
"No complaining, now," Kakashi replied, earning a few startled glances from his students. He paid them no mind and when he shut his eye and uncovered the sharingan the otter and all the other animals disappeared.
They never found out what exactly the other ninja's wanted. It was a fight for their lives from the start, although Kakashi felt his team was up for the task…
… Until Naruto, in a typical moment of brawn over brains, turned to help Sasuke battle his nin, and left his back exposed for attack.
Kakashi called out a warning, but it was too late. A man dressed from head to foot in dark blue was already charging at the boy, a sharp sword dripping poison glinting in the sun.
A moment of reflex – and perhaps a little selfish desire not to record this moment of his student's death for a lifetime to come – made Kakashi close the sharingan and open the other eye.
The bobcat was sprinting towards them; faster on four legs than his two. Only her target was not the enemy-nin, but the swift hare running by his side.
Her teeth closed down and the man suddenly cried out, clutching his chest, staggering –
It gave Naruto the second he needed to turn an engage with a hail of kunai.
The hare went out like a light, still trapped in the bobcat's jaws.
It was raining the next day, by the time Kakashi was able to make his way to the memorial stone. As he stared at Obito's name he felt the bobcat lean against his leg, offering silent comfort.
"What was his animal?" Kakashi asked, at last.
A heavy silence fell between them, filled only by the patter of falling raindrops and the howl of the wind.
"It hurt my ears every time she talked," the bobcat continued. "I'd try to claw her out of the air sometimes to stop the racket, but… she was always just out of reach." A pause. "I miss them."
"Then you were there, too?" he asked.
She turned to him then, and he started because her eyes were brilliant with his own pain. "Of course. I was always there, Kakashi."
And at that moment, without meaning too, he accepted her as real at last. He dropped his hand, almost tentatively, fingers curling into fur that he could see and now touch.
"You need a name."
"I have a name," she countered, her stub tail twitching. "You just need to find it."
"Hn." He closed his eye, seeking underneath the underneath. "Kagami."
Kakashi had never really noticed the chuunin before. Yes, he was handsome and in good shape with a nice butt, but so were many of the other ninja in the village. Even if this particular chuunin didn't know his place, spoke up when his opinion wasn't wanted, and managed to take Naruto under his wing… he still somehow remained under Kakashi's radar. Later on, Kakashi would wonder if this was done on purpose.
So he never really thought of the man one way or another… until the day he happened to take note of his animal-companion while waiting in line at the mission desk.
After more than a year of observing the animals and the people who went along with them, Kakashi had drawn several conclusions. 1) The creatures were a manifestation of a person's personality and maybe the soul. 2) Children's animal's seemed to be able to change shape and form until they finally settled sometime around puberty. 3) The animal was generally the opposite gender of its person.
Kagami was female, as was Gai's crane and Asuma's badger. In contrast, Sakura's otter and Kurenai's falcon were male. And so, for some reason, was Umino Iruka's terrier.
Funny, Kakashi would have bet on some form of a dolphin. Perhaps to go with the name...
Iruka's terrier was an unholy terror in the Mission Office. It often sat on the table to Iruka's left – the better to read over mission reports – its pert little ears on alert and scanning constantly for misbehavior in the ranks.
On the occasions Iruka tore into an unsuspecting jounin or chuunin for a report half-done, his terrier would be by his side, snarling and snapping at their animal-companion – no matter how big and fierce their shape. And if the terrier couldn't reach them directly, he would snap at the person's hands or ankles; teeth so close they nearly grazed the skin.
It made for great entertainment and Kakashi felt himself lingering back to the end of the line day after day, watching as the chuunin and his daemon went to work.
Daemon. He rather liked that phrase. It fit, somehow.
"Look there," Kagimi said, interrupting his thoughts. "His terrier. What do you see?"
There was something different about him today, although Kakashi would not have been able to tell by looking just at Iruka alone. His handsome face was the picture of polite authority as he exchanged small talk with those dropping off or picking up mission scrolls.
His daemon, though, was bright-eyed and alert; ears perked with bottle-brush tail stiff and upright in anticipation.
"They're planning something," Kakashi said.
"What?" Genma asked. He was wiggling his senbon between his teeth – a nervous gesture, Kakashi now recognized. The special jounin's squirrel lived in terror of Iruka's daemon, although the man rarely showed outward sign of it. "I didn't catch that."
Kakashi curved his eye at him. "I just remembered I forgot my mission report back on the road of life. Would you hold my place in line?"
He completed the teleportation jutsu moments before the chakra tags went off, showering the room with glittery pink, yellow, and pale green paint.
"Maa sensei, it looks like someone had fun redecorating in time for spring," Kakashi commented, a few hours later.
The mission room was still in a state of chaos by the time he returned: several Genin teams assigned to cleaning down the walls with buckets of water, nosy ninja standing around gossiping and laughing, and the occasional bored ANBU still poking around trying to pinpoint exactly who caused the whole mess.
Iruka offered up a small sigh. "Just someone's bright idea of a joke, I think. The paint tags were triggered to cover all of the walls and the jounin's – somehow missing everybody else."
His expression was shadowed, nearly inscrutable behind a mask of politeness. The only indication of his true mood came from the terrier which was wagging his tail as he helped look over Kakashi's report. "It's a pity the paint didn't get him too," the terrier said, clearly unaware Kakashi could hear and see him. "Oh look, he's done his report right for once. Maybe he is coming around, after all."
Kakashi grinned under his mask and leaned an elbow sloppily on the table, causing Iruka to blink up at him. "Sometimes it does pay to get lost on the road of life. You miss – and see – interesting things."
Iruka's brown eyes widened ever so slightly. The terrier growled at his side.
"Let's just say a little dog told me," Kakashi said, before the man could sputter a denial. Then he curved his eye up again, casually adding, "See you around, Iruka-sensei," before turning to leave.
"He's watching your ass," Kagami commented, as they walked out. "Just so you know."
The sharp knock at his apartment door came exactly thirty minutes after the mission desk closed for the night. Opening it, Kakashi wasn't surprised to come face to face with a slightly frazzled Iruka.
"Kakashi-sensei," Iruka said, with a short bow. "I was wondering if we could talk?"
The terrier daemon at his feet was equally wound-up. "He was only ever just teasing us, earlier," he whined, looking up at his person. "We were too careful. There's no way he knows!"
"Of course," Kakashi replied, smiling. He stepped away from the door. "Please, come in."
Iruka toed off his sandals and only paid a cursory glance about the apartment before settling his gaze again on Kakashi. "I was wondering if you could explain what you meant earlier."
"And what would that be, sensei?" Kakashi asked, walking to his futon and taking his seat. He gave Iruka a direct look and patted the spot right next to him in silent invitation.
The other man blinked, flushed slightly, but chose to remain standing. "You know what you said. About the little dog?"
Kakashi felt his heart skip a beat. A wild, unchained hope flashed through his mind – just for the barest of moments – that Iruka was somehow aware of his own daemon. That Kakashi would no longer be alone. That he could share—
"If you have sent one of your summons to spy on me," Iruka continued, dashing Kakashi's hopes into a thousand little pieces. "I'm here to tell you to knock it off. You're out of line."
"Iruka-sensei," Kakashi held up his hands in supplication. "I promise I haven't sent any of my pack after you."
"Then how did you—" Iruka bit off the last word before he could betray himself and settled with a glare.
"How did I… what?" Kakashi asked, with every bit of false innocence he could dredge up. Kagami snorted from her usual perch on top of the futon.
The terrier growled, "He's playing games with us…"
"I don't appreciate you playing games with me," Iruka snapped, in the same breath.
Kakashi rolled to his feet at that – a lithe, boneless movement that was meant to be as intimidating as it was graceful. Kagami followed his movement, silently stalking the terrier on silent feet.
Iruka took a step back, then caught himself, and visibly stood straighter. It was almost endearing.
"I don't play games, Sensei," Kakashi drawled. "I simply observed, like any good shinobi should, how you were… slightly tense. As if anticipating something."
"The room was full of good shinobi," Iruka said. "Why didn't anyone else pick up on it?"
"Maybe I can see you better than anyone else." Kakashi's voice came out as a dark, low purr.
Iruka's jaw tightened, but he refused to break the gaze, or back down. "I…I—So if you can see through people so well, why not turn the guilty party in? A lot of green and yellow jounin's would be happy to pay back the one responsible."
"Maa, I have more imagination than that. A dinner, perhaps. Or a private, secluded picnic?"
Iruka gaped at him. "Are you blackmailing me? For a date?"
"Well, it's not proper blackmail if you don't want to come."
Iruka dropped his gaze, then. He looked unsure for a moment, oddly venerable. "How do you know," he asked, "I won't be offended by your offer?"
Kakashi glanced down at the two daemons. Iruka's, tense, his tail stiff and upright. Kagami the air of a predator, tail lashing sharply in the air. They were touching noses. And when Kakashi looked at Iruka again he saw a cute blush had spread across his cheeks.
"A bobcat told me, this time," Kakashi answered.
Iruka boldly pulled down his mask and kissed him on their third date – a picnic as Kakashi had suggested, in a nice and secluded area underneath a canopy of flowering trees.
As they lay on the blanket, kissing and slowly exploring the secrets of each other's bodies, Kakashi caught a glimpse of the daemons out of the corner of his eye. They were rolling in the grass, bobcat and terrier, playing together.
It was another year before Kakashi privately admitted to himself that he was hopelessly in love. Although in his defense he was still in post-coital bliss and inclined to be a little more sappy about such things.
That and Iruka had taken his shoulder for his own private pillow and had curled up to fall asleep next to him, his breathing deep and soothing.
And along with that thought came the realization that Iruka could never see him the way he did. The best he could do was to unmask the body, but he could never see inside Kakashi to his daemon. His soul.
Kakashi's hand slipped down Iruka's naked back, stilling over the quietly sleeping lump of fur there. The terrier had taken his customary place, curling at the small of Iruka's back.
Kakashi had never touched him, had never touched any daemon other than his own now that he thought about it. The very idea of touching a stranger's daemon was… repellant. But not Iruka. Not now. Slowly, carefully as not to wake them, Kakashi rested his bare hand against the terrier's flank. The fur felt coarse, but the body under it warm and full of life.
Iruka made a small noise in his sleep and shifted slightly, throwing one possessive leg over Kakashi's. He did not reach for Kagami. He didn't know she was there at all.
"Hello, Iruka," Kakashi said brightly, from behind his orange book.
He sensed, more than saw Iruka pause at the threshold before coming in. "Kakashi," he greeted. His steps were slow and heavy – clearly he was exhausted after a long, hard day. "How many times have I asked you to use the door? It's why I gave you my key."
"Maa, if they didn't want people to come in through windows, they shouldn't have built them so accessible."
It was a credit to how worn-down Iruka was that he only offered a grunt in reply. He flopped down to his futon (only just missing Kagami by inches) and let out a long groan.
"What happened to you?" Kagami asked.
"The kids were awful today," the terrier groused, head between his paws. "We had to put out two fires by lunch. They were bouncing off the walls – literally. I swear, it's like someone sneaked them sugar before class."
Kagami gave Kakashi a very direct look.
"Why don't you go lay down in your bedroom, then," Kakashi said, snapping the book shut and tucking it away. "I'll join you."
The other man lifted his head up and pinned him with a glare, proving he wasn't completely dense. "Just what are you planning? I'm really too tired for—"
"I might have been down to the market, where they were having a sale on massage oils," Kakashi said, smoothly, "And I might be planning on experimenting with them on my clearly exhausted and sore boyfriend." He tapped his chin in thought. "Now if only I could find a way to convince him to take off his shirt and lay face-down…"
Iruka brightened and something twisted uncomfortably in Kakashi's gut.
It hadn't all been lies. He had gone to the market to pick up oils – the final part of a plan six months in the making. When Iruka deftly stripped the bed of covering, and himself, and lay down as asked, Kakashi straddled the backs of his thighs and got to work undoing ten hours of knotted muscles.
Iruka hummed happily and directed him to the worst it, but hard day soon caught up to him and his comments came between longer and longer intervals. He fell into a half-doze.
Silently, Kakashi reached into his pocket and withdrew a square of wax paper with the complex ink markings of a strong seal. He shared one last look with Kagami before he shut his natural eye and lifted his headband to expose the sharingan. With it, he could more clearly see the lines of energy extending from the middle-back. Just above the heart.
Iruka stirred, perhaps sensing something was wrong. "Kakashi…"
And Kakashi slammed the seal down. A pulse of chakra activated it, sending lines of ink in and under the flesh – wrapping around his heart.
Iruka lashed out, half on instinct, and it was all Kakashi could do to dig a knee in his back, pin his arms down to the bed as Iruka arched up and screamed…
Then it was over. The seal made and Iruka laying, stunned on the mattress.
"Iruka?" Kakashi whispered, covering his sharingan again. He didn't dare look to the terrier, was almost afraid of what he would find. He shook the other man's shoulder, brushed a piece of hair away from his face. "Iruka, can you hear me?"
The other man moved suddenly – a deft elbow strike that dazed Kakashi momentarily. Enough to allow Iruka to switch their positions; him on top with each leg over Kakashi's torso, the kunai he kept under his pillow at his neck.
"WHAT DID YOU DO?!" Iruka yelled. The point of the kunai dug a little into his jaw, but Kakashi did not answer, did not move, even though he could have probably disabled him. Maybe. Under pressure. Best to let him yell himself out.
Iruka narrowed his eyes at the silence. He twisted his free hand in Kakashi's shirt, bringing him up slightly. "Alright, who are you? And what did you do with…" he trailed off, his gaze flicking to the right. Stilled.
"Yes?" Kakashi prompted, holding his breath.
The kunai was still at Kakashi's throat, but Iruka was not paying him any mind.
"Is that a lynx sitting on the bed?"
"No," said Kakashi, all relief. "It's a bobcat."
"Oh," Iruka mouthed, not making any sound. Then, "Why does she have your eyes?"
Carefully, Kakashi reached up and laid his hand over Iruka's. The other man flinched, but allowed the kunai to be removed from Kakashi's throat. He still kept his grip on it, however.
"I'm sorry," Kakashi said, softly. "I wanted to explain, but I didn't know how without ending up in the psyche ward. Iruka, look to your left."
And Iruka and his terrier met eyes for the first time. The terrier waved his tail, ever so slightly, and ducked his head under Iruka's hand when he cautiously reached out.
"This is…" Iruka trailed off, marveling as his fingers brushed through the terrier's coarse coat and over the tips of the alert ears. "He's not just an animal, is he?"
"No," the terrier answered. "I'm you."
"You are, but what…" Iruka drew his daemon in closer, an unconscious gesture and looked to Kakashi. "What exactly is going on?"
"Well you know what they say," Kakashi drawled, "everyone has their own daemons."
Six months later
Spring was in full bloom, the air mild and sweet, and all of the windows in the mission room had been thrown open to take full advantage of it. In the hustle and noise of a room full of impatient shinobi and their squawking, barking, calling daemons, it took some doing for a little terrier to be noticed.
Luckily, Kakashi was in good practice of seeing him. He'd have many more bitten fingers and ankles otherwise.
"Paint bombs are set to go off in five," Funanori the terrier said, looking up at him. "Iruka says you should get out unless you want to turn yellow."
Kakashi glanced at Kagami who answered for him. "We've decided to stay. People will start to suspect something if they notice he hasn't been hit three years in a row."
Across the room, Iruka glanced up at this, meeting Kakashi's eyes. He offered a quick grin, then looked back at the genin he was receiving a report from – once again all business.
"Fine," Funanori sighed. "But you should stand next to that pillar. It'll create a shadow for the paint and it's hell to scrub off unless you know what you're doing."
Kakashi sauntered over to the pillar, his bobcat daemon at his side, opened his favorite copy of Icha Icha Violence (an old spare, in case it got splashed) and settled down to wait for the chaos to begin.
~ Fin ~
* Kagami means mirror
* Funanori can mean sea dog.
I don't know if those are totally accurate, but I decided to just go with it. :D