Title: Iruka Sensei – Chapter 1
Author: Wicked Raygun
Summary: After a tragic accident, it is left up to Umino Iruka to become the Jounin-sensei of Team 7.
Disclaimer: Based on characters owned by…You get the idea. I don't own this. I'm certainly not making any money. And suing me is a waste of time. I'm glad we had this little chat.
Spoilers: Takes place at the very beginning of the Naruto series. I'm more familiar with the anime than the manga – yeah, yeah, I know. Blasphemy! I should also mention that I have little regard for continuity if it doesn't suit my purposes. So this will likely end up being AU for more than one reason. And I don't do thinly-veiled bash-fics, so if that's what you want you're going to be disappointed.
Distribution: Ask and you shall receive. I'm pretty easy-going with this type of stuff, so if you'd like to put up the story I'll almost certainly let you. My only caveat is that you ask first and credit me appropriately. So just email me and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.
It had nearly been an entire week since the Genin Graduation – since the night Naruto had discovered the reason why he had been shunned for his entire life.
That night Naruto had behaved like a true Ninja of the Leaf, mastering an A-ranked ninjutsu and using it to defend his teacher, Umino Iruka, and soundly defeating Mizuki.
It still made Iruka smile.
Iruka had only been released from the hospital that morning, he had been very lucky that Mizuki's aim had been just slightly off. Another centimeter and he would have been paralyzed for the rest of his life – and that was assuming he wasn't instantaneously killed in the first place. Instead all that was left of his near-death encounter was a large scar on his back. And that was a more than fair trade-off for not dying, in his opinion.
Iruka sensed a presence and turned to see a female ANBU operative at his bedroom window. Many ninjas would ask if an ANBU operative ever simply knocked, but he knew better.
ANBU never knocked.
"You are out of uniform, Iruka-san," she said before tossing him a new forehead protector. "Danzo-sama would like to know your answer now."
Instead of answering right away, Iruka meticulously tied the forehead protector around his head. "Please tell Danzo-sama that my answer has not changed. I enjoy teaching."
The operative nodded her head slightly – the ANBU version of a bow.
"Very well, Iruka-san. In that case, Danzo-sama would like to express that should you change your mind, the offer is still on the table – for now," she said, the last two words being an obvious message.
Danzo would wait, but not forever. That suited Iruka just fine. His time as an ANBU wasn't something he regretted, exactly, but it was something he preferred to forget. The nightmares were more than enough.
"Also, the Hokage would like to speak with you immediately," the operative said, before disappearing out the window.
Iruka frowned once he was sure the ANBU was truly gone. Any order from the Hokage no matter how mundane should have taken precedence over an offer from Danzo. Was this another one of his subtle manipulations? Or was this simply a case where an ANBU operative made a simple mistake? This train of thought didn't sit well with Iruka, since it led to not so comfortable conclusions.
Finally, he shook his head in disgust. Head games like these were one of the reasons he had ultimately left ANBU. He had left over a year ago, and yet the paranoia had never really gone away.
When he had been assigned as a teacher at the academy, he was more than a little depressed. He had felt it beneath him, and when he had discovered that he was to be responsible for Naruto he was sure he was being mocked somehow – and having been on the cusp of burnout hadn't helped any.
But little by little the prankster's antics and attitude had done something to him. He felt more like himself than he had in years. He was smiling again. It wasn't just Naruto either – all his students had made their way into his heart.
Little brats, he thought affectionately as he took a moment to take in the class photo that he had taken a couple months ago and that now hung from his wall. It showed him and all the fourth year academy students – including a scowling, tied-up Uzumaki Naruto, who had tried to skip class again that day. Mizuki had been the one to take the picture, something he was very glad for now in retrospect. It meant that he wouldn't have to look at that traitor's face. As far as he was concerned, life imprisonment was too good for him.
Perhaps placing his foot atop Naruto's prostrate form like a game hunter bragging about a particularly impressive catch had been a bit impulsive – but it really couldn't have been helped. There was just something about Naruto that brought out his very own prankster persona – something he hadn't indulged in since he became a genin.
Iruka finished putting on his spare chuunin vest – the other having been decimated by Mizuki – and then quickly checked his weapons pouch. Kunai, shuriken, explosive tags, rope, first aid kit – yes, all there. He had just been released from the hospital so he doubted that he was being assigned a mission. Still, one did not meet with the Hokage ill-prepared to leave at a moment's notice.
He was just about to leave his room, but stopped at the door. He turned and stared at an old cabinet. Before he was consciously aware of it, he had walked over and opened the bottom drawer. Inside there was his old ANBU mask and a small sword, with a hidden length of ninja wire built into the hilt – an ANBU assassination weapon. He hadn't used it since he left – and maybe that's why Mizuki so effectively got the jump on him. He was a weapons specialist, after all.
With a sigh, he attached the sword by its scabbard to his back.
Perhaps it was time to put old demons to bed.
Iruka arrived at the Hokage Tower and was promptly sent into the office, where he found the Hokage agitatedly smoking his pipe. Sarutobi Hiruzen, the third Hokage of Konoha, rarely smoked during office hours – although he often kept the pipe in his mouth so he could chew on the end. The Hokage had once confided in him that it was there to help him avoid shooting his mouth off at the latest supplicant who annoyed him that day.
"Thank you for arriving so quickly, Iruka-kun, especially given your recent injuries."
"It was nothing, Hokage-sama."
The Hokage stood there, rigid and saying nothing for nearly an entire minute before he spoke again.
"Did you ever know Hatake Kakashi?"
"I – I know of him, Hokage-sama. But, no, I do not know him personally. He was before my time in ANBU."
"I've just been notified of something that I trust you will keep to yourself for the time being – Hatake Kakashi has been assassinated."
The Copy Ninja? Assassinated? That – that was impossible!
"Who – who could do such a thing? The man is a legend!"
"And for good reason. But even legends can be killed." The Third Hokage sighed deeply.
After a moment, Iruka finally asked the obvious questions.
"Did we locate the – uh, the body?"
"Perhaps, it's not my place, but is – well, did he still have the Sharingan?"
The Hokage stared at him for a long moment, before he answered. "That part is classified, and will be handled by an investigation team."
"I understand, Hokage-sama," he said and bowed respectfully.
Only he didn't. Not really. Why was he being given this information in the first place? He wasn't a friend to Kakashi. He certainly wasn't family, either. And if he wasn't meant to be part of the investigation, why tell him anything at all?
A shinobi of Kakashi's renown and prowess being killed was a big deal. His death literally weakened the village's reputation. And if, as Iruka expected, his death was to be kept a secret for at least the time-being then, again, why tell him?
"I see you are confused," Sarutobi said with a small amount of mirth. Not much really, just a bit to break the tension. "You are wondering why you are being given this information."
"The truth is I need to ask a service of you. And in order to perform this service you require this information. But before we get to that, allow me to congratulate you. As of this moment you are now promoted to the rank of Jounin."
Iruka rocked back on his heels in stunned disbelief. "But, Hokage-sama, I never requisitioned a promotion."
Nor did he ever intend to.
"Of course, you did. Months ago. Why I have your paperwork right here," the Third said slyly while showing him a folder with some obviously forged paperwork.
"Oh, of course," Iruka said slowly, realizing this was a part of his mission. "I guess I forgot. My mistake."
Inwardly, Iruka cringed. Was he to be taken away from the Academy? That seemed likely. It seemed so unfair. Just when he was starting to truly love his job, it was being taken away from him.
"Do not worry, Iruka-kun. I understand how the memory can slip so easily. So you may also have forgotten about your request for a genin squad," he said leadingly.
Iruka blinked several times, but said nothing. He was being railroaded.
"I approve your request, by the way." But then his expression became serious again. "I need you to be the Jounin-sensei of the team Kakashi would have led." The Hokage passed him another folder.
Iruka went through the folder's contents, and saw three names:
Uchiha Sasuke – which made sense given how Kakashi was the only other person in the village who had the Sharingan.
Haruno Sakura – a good student, but Iruka had doubts about her resolve to be an effective shinobi.
Uzumaki Naruto – Ah, now it was beginning to make sense.
Considering how many shinobi were prejudiced against the boy finding a proper jounin-sensei could be difficult, but not impossible. There had to be other options in the village – shinobi who could better train Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura.
"You are aware that I am young and relatively inexperienced? I understand the special difficulties involved in finding a teacher for Naruto, but are you sure this is in his best interests?"
The Sandaime Hokage's lips shifted upwards in amusement. It was one of his more endearing and infuriating quirks that he would often stare at one of his subordinates in a "I know something you don't know" manner.
"As for your age, you could have made Jounin before your time in ANBU had you ever requested it. Many people considerably younger and less experienced than you have done so. And, yes, there are other options, although admittedly not many. I offer this to you because you have bonded with Naruto already. You have already demonstrated that you would die for him."
The hokage took a long drag on his pipe and blew it out, before he continued.
"But truthfully this has more to do with Sasuke. I've read his progress reports and psychological profile and they have me worried. Being an orphan yourself, I think you could possibly reach him. You are already one of the few people he respects after all – Allow me to say again, this is not an order. You can refuse this assignment. There will be no repercussions. But I believe you can do this better than anyone else. You are my first choice."
Iruka was quiet for a moment, as he digested everything the Hokage had told him. He was still doubtful he could train them properly. Naruto and Sasuke were obviously front-line ninjutsu types, and while he certainly knew a few things, ninjutsu had never really been his strong suit. And Sakura, with her very precise chakra manipulation, would be better off training with a Genjutsu specialist, or joining the Medical Corps.
He was the wrong person for this, for so many reasons. The only reason he was still considering this was because the Hokage himself, had personally asked him. He looked into the eyes of the Sandaime and made his decision.
Iruka stood up slowly and bowed. "I will do my best, Hokage-sama."
End Chapter 1