Blind To Notice.
A/N: In clarification, noticing isn't really the same as seeing. Like... have you ever realized that you've looked and talked to that boy in class for three years running, but it was only last autumn that you noticed he was actually really adorable and cute? ^-^ So I'm writing down the big noticeable moments of Kakashi/Iruka interaction.
I wrote this first chapter a while back, and I've outlined the others. Honestly though? I'm not totally appeased by this initial chapter, 'cause it's a bit clichéd. But please stay tuned for the later chapters; I particularly like those. ^.^
Warning: eventually very blatant shounen-ai.
Disclaimer: Masashi Kishimoto owns all Naruto related stuff. Though I doubt he'd want to claim responsibility for some of the fanfiction you see on this site. :-)
The first time Kakashi noticed Iruka was also the first time he was forced to take stock on how he wrote mission reports. The masked man was overwhelmingly tired as he marched wearily into the mission room, having just finished a particularly difficult A-rank mission, complications popping up one after another, but not severe enough to class it S-rank. Though he didn't need the money, it was the principal of the matter that irked Kakashi. Although the client in the end paid only for an A-rank mission, it was practically an S-rank.
Damn it all, he thought to himself as he all but threw his sloppily written report to the first manned desk he saw. Without even exchanging basic pleasantries to the chuunin on duty, he turned to go home and clean up. The mud clinging to his clothes was beginning to harden and the overall dirt and grime was uncomfortable. At least there wasn't much blood staining his clothes.
If he had not come in at dusk, when the room was at its most quiet and peaceful, the time where most ninja were leaving to do their duty instead of returning to report, he may have missed the quiet noise that was impossible to ignore otherwise; the condescending noise of someone clearing their throat in preparation to speak.
Spinning around slowly, Kakashi stared with one droopy eye at the young man sitting calmly behind the mahogany desk. As fatigued and worn down as the Copy-Nin was, he—like any good ninja was supposed to—was still able to immediately pick up and catalogue a few main points about the man: young, early-twenties; rich, coffee coloured hair; tanned, brown skin; and darker brown eyes; such simplicity in a human would have left him wholly forgettable if it were not for the outstanding scar stretching from one side of his cheek to the other, crossing and marring the bridge of his nose. Ironic that this imperfection was what made him unique.
"Yes?" asked Kakashi irritably, in no mood to play celebrity to a chuunin surprised to meet the legendary Copy-Nin. Fame was merely an inconvenient side-dish to most of the powerful and talented ninja, especially those gifted with rare traits like the Sharingan.
But the chuunin brought up no such thing. Instead he barked politely, "This report is unacceptable and will not be filed in such a state. Please return tomorrow with another copy." His hand was holding out the tattered scroll, and once he saw that his message had been received, looked down to finish a sentence with the pen in his other hand, as if what he just said was of little consequence.
Those few words were surprising, especially from someone of lower rank than he was. Admittedly, those who manned the desks in the mission room had every right to demand higher standards of their jounin, but there were few who did. The majority were intimidated, not looking for fights with those they couldn't stand a chance against.
The chuunin waved the scroll slightly, as if demanding Kakashi take the damn thing already. There was no tension in his shoulders, the air surrounding him bored but studious, and there was nothing in there that suggested he was questioning the work of the Hatake Kakashi. Odd, thought the jounin, his eye now concentrating with more effort on the younger man.
"Excuse me? That scroll is perfectly fine," replied Kakashi in a monotone, too bothered and aching to even contemplate writing another one. Not that he put much effort in his first draft. It was obvious to even the most inane that the scroll was in no such condition as he claimed it was, but Kakashi had handed in worse and doubted he'd start changing his habits now.
A quiet snort escaped the chuunin, and without looking up from the form he was dutifully completing, he responded with a slightly sarcastic, "Of course it is." The jounin had been an ANBU soldier for too many years to let any emotion run across his face without allowing it, but he couldn't deny the bubble of surprise that burst in his stomach.
After signing his name with a flourish, the man finally looked up, trapping Kakashi's gaze before continuing seriously, "Filing away mission reports may seem like an inconvenient trifle for you, but for the village it is more important than most may realize. It helps with the annual accounting and an entire array of political and financial situations. So please, take the effort to make my life a little easier and write something down that doesn't look like a drunken three-year old scribbled it down with finger paint. Thank you."
Not bothering to hold up the scroll any further, the chuunin placed it on the edge of his desk for Kakashi to pick up himself, before going back to the stack of paperwork he seemed intent on completing. None of the other busy chuunin seemed to notice what was going on, caught up in work of their own, or busily conversing with jounin to try adding in last minute details to scrolls that were incomplete; not that any of the high ranking ninja were helping.
"Do you know who I am?" Kakashi asked after a brief pause, now curious and intrigued. No one who he'd just met had ever treated him like this in a long while. For now, the only conclusion he could come up with was that this new pawn in Kohona's force of hundreds, somehow did not know him. As egotistical as that thought was—the idea that there was no one who knew about his reputation that would dare stand up to him—he tested it out anyway.
"Of course I do," snapped the man sharply, his eyes glancing up to peer at Kakashi as if to make sure he hadn't gone insane. "You're Hatake Kakashi, legendary Copy-Nin, user of a thousand-jutsu, a non-Uchiha to possess the Sharingan. The son of the 'White Fang', you were once the infamous 'Hound' ANBU black-ops captain, and are notorious for wearing a mask covering the lower portion of your face. Not to mention, that shock of silver hair is hard to miss."
Kakashi stared back impassively, but a flicker of surprise flared in the older man's chest. That was... quite an impressive array of background knowledge, mused the ninja internally. Even though most of the information was well known throughout the village and neighboring countries, to be able to recite much of it from the top of his head was an impressive show of recollection on the younger man's part.
As if he could read the unsaid question on the jounin's face, the chuunin shrugged and explained, "Photographic memory. Nearly impossible for me to forget something."
The brown-haired man then paused and cocked his head to the side, looking as the stoic jounin for a moment before his eyes widened not with fear, but a definite glint of amusement. "You thought that I was treating you like every other jounin because I didn't know who you were, didn't you?" Despite himself, the man behind the desk let out a bark of laughter, before continuing. "Well, sorry, but I don't discriminate. To be frank, I've heard that most jounin rarely submit things up to par, and I'm going to change that. That means you, too."
Shrugging, Kakashi replied with an undercurrent of disbelief, "You'll never get every jounin to hand in neat scrolls because you want to. No one's that influential." Even the Hokage knew better than trying.
Tapping the messy scroll, the sparky chuunin reminded the jounin to pick it up before he left, and then said confidently, "Give me six months. You'll see a change before that at the very least. I can be very persuasive when I want to be." Rolling his one visible eye, Kakashi picked up the scroll and left, too bothered to continue the conversation, and clearly doubtful of the chuunin's endeavor.
"Goodbye, Hatake," followed him out as he left from a window, and as Kakashi ran, he decided to return the scroll the next morning to another ninja not so determined to keep up standards. Give him two weeks before he breaks like every other ninja before him, thought Kakashi indifferently. Even though the conversation was interesting, it was clear the man was naive. Jounin would never bow down to the authority of anything other than fellow jounin, ANBU soldiers or the Hokage himself.
However, two months later, he started hearing rumors of a chuunin-ranked ninja named Umino Iruka, becoming more and more infamous for somehow being able to blackmail and convince every jounin into behaving in the mission room.
Fascinating. The man he met was Umino Iruka during his first week in the mission room.
A/N: For the few few chapters, I intend for them to be pretty separate, capable one shots in their own right, but then I plan to haze it into a more consistent plot as the characters interact more and more. For the most part, these will be Kakashi-centric POV.
Feedback is encouraged; even an anonymous review will make my day. Any questions or suggestions for a later chapter? Just pass 'em through to me. :-)