He doesn't hug anyone anymore. It's been years and years since it happened, but he's still afraid that he'll forget himself, pull too tightly, and lose someone else. He'll let people touch him, fondly ruffle his hair, and hug him, but he doesn't hug them back.

It took a long time for him to accept casual touches and other signs of affection after he had gotten over the shock of what he'd done to Fugaku-san and the deaths of two of his friends. He could feel the third friend he'd made in that month when everything changed out there, but every time he came close to spotting him, the man would vanish as if he were smoke.

He'd flinched when Mikoto-sama had pulled him close after the funerals, after he'd run out of tears for the second time in his life. He'd flinched because he'd been afraid that he'd put his arms around her without thinking, and she'd be gone too. He couldn't lose anyone else, not so soon after losing them, the three people who acknowledged him as a person and thought him worthy of their friendship.

He liked Iruka. After the villagers' eyes changed from hate to pity and fear when his friends died, Iruka's eyes had been only a little wary. Eventually, that look vanished altogether, replaced by something that was neither fear, hate, or pity. If he could label it, he would attach the word love to the look. Not the icky kind of love that boys and girls shared, but the kind of love that was in Itachi-Niisama's eyes when he looked at Sasuke.

He liked Iruka. Iruka wasn't afraid to hug him.