Special Treatment - When Kakashi realizes that Naruto has been especially protective of him recently, he decides to find out why.
There was a strong bond between student and sensei. The spirit of passing down one's ninja way inspired loyalty, and love, and fierce protectiveness of a caliber near impossible to find anywhere else.
But this was getting slightly ridiculous.
Kakashi watched Naruto stand up from the pile of rubble, panting and sweating profusely. The orange jumpsuit Jiraiya had brought him looked like it needed replacement. For maybe the eleventh time. He wasn't entirely sure though, he'd stopped keeping count after the sixth. He was starting to suspect that his silly, lovable, idiot student was slowly gaining some sort of invincibility.
That was good, of course. But it would be nice if he didn't keep testing the theory.
"Are you ok, sensei?" Naruto asked, stumbling over to him. The grime that covered his form did nothing to dim the brightness of his grin.
"Maa, you didn't leave any for me..." Kakashi trailed, leaning back against the only tree left standing by the Naruto-army, "if this goes on, I'll become rusty."
It started when his student had risked his life to save him from an enemy trap that he had purposely stepped into. But Naruto was Naruto, and expecting him to pay attention during mission briefings was like expecting Sasuke to begin courting Chouji. From there, it had been one long list of life debts, in which Uzumaki Naruto would bravely leap in and save the Great Copy-Nin from…well, mostly from B-and-C-rank missing-nin that they ran into during missions. And not just when he was actually in danger, either. These Iwa nin probably didn't even have bingo book entries.
Naruto gave him a sunny smile, "better than getting hurt, huh sensei?"
Kakashi sighed. It was a deep and worldly sigh.
There was silence in the canyon. Kakashi counted down slowly for the explosion, knowing his student well. Three seconds later, Naruto burst into ear-splitting yells that echoed though the area.
"YO? Is that all you're going to say? Baka sensei! You were going to sacrifice yourself!"
Kakashi had the sense of mind to look sheepish, "Naruto, that's what shinobi have to do sometimes-"
"No!" His student shouted, "if I hadn't gotten here on time, Hiruko would've absorbed you, and you would have been dead!"
"Yes, I think we've established that as the entire point of all this-"
"Who's 'we', and why wasn't I included in this? You're my sensei, damn it, I need to have a say in these things!" Naruto's voice was rough and almost breaking, because he'd yelled so hard earlier. But it didn't stop him from pushing his lungs to their limits to properly convey his anger.
Kakashi stood quietly and waited for him to calm down. It was touching, he supposed, to have a student who cared so much, who was willing to go through so much for his sake. His lips were slightly upturned under his mask, and it probably infuriated the boy even more.
"Thank you, Naruto," he said with a smile in his voice, "next time I go off like that, I'll leave you a note."
"Baka sensei." Naruto grumbled, crossing his arms and looking pointedly at a rock nearby, as if willing it to come over and hit his careless sensei on the head.
Kakashi's slipped his hands into his pockets and gave the boy an amused look. This was Uzumaki Naruto, after all. He'd never had many precious people, and he held onto his few with a grip of iron. It made sense that he would be so protective. It made sense that he was looking at Kakashi with a new look and a…a red tinge to his cheeks?
Well, maybe that was because he was panting from yelling so loudly.
A few minutes later when Lee arrived, he saw how close they stood and noted that Gai had once mentioned that 'this, too, was part of the Springtime of Youth'. Upon realizing what he meant, Naruto began to splutter, and his face reddened further in a most interesting manner. Kakashi tried to protest, only to have him run away yelling and holding his head.
Seeing him leap off the rock platform, Kakashi simply smiled and decided that he must have some luck in life after all, to have a student so much like him.
A few months later, Kakashi stood in training ground eleven and watched three Naruto clones holding up a whirling disk of blue chakra. They had equally beaming grins on their faces.
"We did it!" one of the Narutos yelled, "we did it, sensei! Look, it worked!" He held up the disk proudly, the product of hours of training and concentration and Sakura's yucky soldier pills.
"Looks like you did," Kakashi observed. His critical eye swept over the jutsu, noting its considerable power. A-rank, even. His dead-last student had come a long way. Now he would probably be using this jutsu every time he felt like his A-rank jonin-sensei desperately needed protecting.
He had been thinking a lot about that recently. About the reddish tinge on Naruto's face, and the way he was skittish at some times and overly pointed at other times. With all his intellect, he kept arriving at the same conclusion.
Did Naruto like him?
Well, it was plausible. Possible. Probable, even. Kakashi vaguely remembered a period of experimenting that no one would ever learn of, on threat of death or a good, solid whack to the head. Maybe Naruto was another like him, and…had started seeing him in a different light. After all, hadn't this been what he'd done with Sakura? Tried to protect her from every strong breeze that wafted their way?
With that, he plastered a wide smile beneath his mask and reached up to scratch his cheek with one finger, looking sheepish. Although, his mask probably ruined the effect. "Maa…Naruto…I think," he stepped closer, "I think I'm starting to really like you…"
Naruto's face turned another interesting shade of red, "WHA- Damn it! I just got it and you made me lose concentration, sensei! Don't say weird things like that! Oi…stay away! That's weird, weird!"
Kakashi watched in amusement as his student ran away screaming. Huh. Maybe not.
The next week, Kakashi stood at the borders of Fire Country with the rest of former Team Ten. Before them, Kakuzu's chakra-nature-hearts stood tall, their menacing black forms swaying as they strode towards the two chunin and the seventy-five-million ryo bounty.
"W-what do we do?" Chouji asked hesitantly from behind him.
Kakashi knew what he was probably feeling. Ino Shika Cho worked together or not at all, most of the time. Shikamaru was a jonin and could be trusted to handle things by himself, but Asuma's other students were still chunin. He searched for something comforting to tell them, but he wasn't too good at comfort.
"Don't worry," he said finally, preparing his Raikiri, "Naruto will probably be here in a few minutes, anyway." His voice was casual, because it had long become a fact. He said it in the same manner he would use to declare the sky to be blue.
Ino's looked confused, "Naruto? Why him? How do you know he's going to come, in particular? I mean, there's a lot of non-stationed chunin in Konoha right now."
Five minutes later when Uzumaki Naruto leapt onto the field and loudly asked them to leave it all to him, Ino and Chouji were watching Kakashi in barely contained awe of his predictive power.
The village was quiet when Naruto went to train on Mount Myoboku. Death was even quieter.
But there was something about dying that made him come back more careful, more observant. Kakashi stood up, patted off his ruined and bloodstained flak jacket, and wondered at the renewed chakra that flew through his body. Thanks, he whispered, feeling slightly better for having said it.
Sakura was alive and healing people with all the strength she had left. Seeing her sweat-stained forehead and hands bloodied with life-saving toil lit pride in his heart. Sai was going around on his ink birds delivering messages and medicine and aid, and there was a smile on his face that didn't look like it had been carefully practiced in front of a mirror. He'd come a long way, somehow. Seeing that they were safe, Kakashi rushed out to the edges of the village, following a hastily mumbled set of directions.
It was hard to move, at first. It was even harder to fly through the trees at a speed so ridiculously high that he wondered at what his own mind was making him do. But it was worth it, because when Naruto's tired form fell on his back it felt nice.
The small sound Naruto emitted made him pause, and he caught a hold on a tree. Standing on a wide branch, he slowly eased the boy off his back and set him down, scanning him over.
His student didn't answer. He was still looking at him with some sort of wide-eyed awe. Kakashi would have gone ahead and tried to slap him out of his reverie, but seeing the dead come back to life had to be rather difficult.
"Kakashi-sensei! You're alive!" Naruto voice was raspy and he didn't look like he had a lot of strength left, but his iron-like hold on his sensei's stiff form was incredibly tight.
"Maa, let a dead man breathe," Kakashi said lightly, trying to ease himself out.
"Baka sensei! Don't say things like that!" Naruto reluctantly drew back, holding him at arm's length and regarding with that strange, strange look, "I can sense people's chakra, you know. Tsunade baa-chan said you weren't out on a mission."
Ah. That probably explained why the blood-circulation in his arms was being cut off. Kakashi sighed and gave him a tired smile, "let's go back, alright? Everyone is still alive, and we suffered no casualties. My bookshelf, however, is buried under a lot of rubble. It needs rescuing."
Naruto tilted his head to one side in confusion.
"My signed copy of Icha Icha Tactics was on that shelf," Kakashi clarified.
"Hmp. Pervert." Nevertheless, his student willingly put his arms around his neck when he turned, allowing Kakashi to pick him up again. Fighting the man who became god was no mere feat. Kakashi didn't expect him to be able to walk for at least a few days. But knowing Naruto, he would be up and helping the restorations within hours. The least he could give him was a few hours of rest.
"Sleep, Naruto," he said, "you need to be awake when we get back. I think they'd like to see the face of their hero."
One year later, Kakashi was sitting stiffly and reluctantly in Yakiniku-Q. Beside him sat Shikamaru, who was leaning back lazily with an empty plate in front of him. Across from him were Kurenai and Gai, and little Hiruzen sat on Gai's lap, gurgling and desperately trying to get away from him.
Kurenai was laughing, "oh, this is definitely going in the picture book," she told him, "I might just have to use your name to scare him into sleeping when he grows up. Shh, Hiru-chan, he won't bite."
"No!" Gai declared, smiling brightly enough to blind the poor, squirming kid in his arms, "I will figure out how to interact with this Champion of Youth, just watch!"
"Ch. Troublesome," Shikamaru yawned, "babies are troublesome. I don't ever want one. Ever." Nevertheless, he held out his arms, indicating for Gai to pass him the kid and muttering under his breath about all the effort it took. Little Sarutobi Hiruzen quieted immediately in his hold.
"Anyway," Kurenai smiled at their antics, and then turned to look at Kakashi, "you already know that we didn't drag you here just to spot your face while you were eating."
Kakashi nodded, thanking his luck that Anko hadn't come too. He pushed his empty plate away, having finished his entire meal without allowing them a single glimpse of his mouth, "and…why?"
"Well," Kurenai bit her lip, "we know it's probably because you're his sensei, but you get special treatment, Kakashi. Every time a new, tediously long A-rank meant for experienced jonin comes by, our names are the first that spring to Hokage-sama's lips, even though he knows that I have Hiruzen to take care of and Shizune won't like it if Gai is away for long. He never puts your name down."
"I get the hard ones too," Shikamaru spoke up, "and right in the middle of cloud-watching season."
Kakashi frowned, "every season has clouds."
"Exactly. Stop biting my finger, Hiruzen. Ch, this kid is so troublesome."
Gai was looking dismayed, "I have no issue with performing such Youthfully dangerous missions!" He declared, "I am a shinobi in my prime, and am perfectly comfortable with-"
"Yes, and when you get back from your month-long mission, Shizune will have moved on," Kurenai informed him dryly, "admit it, Gai, you have the same problem as we do."
Thee two jonin stared at each other for a while, as if testing who would relent first. Finally, they both turned to give Kakashi mirrored sorrowful looks.
"Talk to him, Kakashi," Gai said in a changed tone, "maybe he will most Youthfully agree to spare us such pains."
Kakashi found himself twirling one chopstick languidly in his fingers. He wondered at the man that was Uzumaki Naruto.
Two months later, he settled into the chair in front of the Hokage's desk, placing his chin in his hands and giving the man sitting behind it a patronizing look. "Naruto, this has to stop."
Konoha's Rokudaime Hokage looked up from the pile of paper stacked haphazardly on his desk. His face held an expression of the purest innocence. "What do you mean, Kakashi-sensei?"
Kakashi noted the towering stacks of paper and the pen in his former student's hand, being used to write a letter to the Tsuchikage in his messy, undecipherable scrawl. (Nobody complained about it, though. They all knew the anbu would rewrite it in beautiful calligraphy before sending it off, although they tactfully decided not to make that fact known to their young Hokage). He raised an eyebrow, "how did your clone plan work?"
Naruto winced, and the pain in his expression was exceptionally evident, "it's…horrible! I mean, it sounded like a great idea at first, until you dispel them and it feels like you've done the stupid paperwork three times over. My brain can't handle that kind of stress!" He moaned, holding his head in his hands and letting the pen drop to clatter against the desk.
"Maybe if you spent less time figuring out how to keep my name off the mission roster, you'd be able to finish your work faster," Kakashi suggested lightly, approaching the topic.
"But…you can't go on any dangerous missions right now!" Naruto protested, looking up, "you're still recovering from that injury on your last A-rank!"
The patronizing look was back. "One kunai to the leg, Naruto. One. And you know who threw it? Kiba. I'd never let an enemy-nin hit me. It's fully healed now. If you like I can show you."
Naruto's face went carefully red, and Kakashi observed it closely, hand positioned to pull down his standard-issue pants and reveal the scar across his thigh.
"That's fine!" The Rokudaime said quickly, "it's healed, I got it. I'll…uh…just give you one more week of easy missions, ok?"
"I'm an A-rank jonin. I don't want to weed any more gardens."
"You can do escorts instead!" Naruto shuffled though the stack of papers, causing half of them to spill to the floor. Kakashi could have sworn he heard the anbu guard hidden in the corner groaning. Finally, he drew out a sheet of paper, waving it proudly, "there's this one where the something cousin something times removed of our daimyo needs to get to Moon Country to collect an ancient family artifact. You could take this one while you recover, Kakashi-sensei!"
Naruto sat back, and a new look flashed across his face. A glint of something Kakashi had begun to see more and more often. He ran a hand through his yellow hair, "fine, there's an s-rank to infiltrate the hideout of the new Swordsman of the Mist," he mumbled, "Gai-sensei and Kurenai-sensei can go with you. Um…where are their files, again?" He turned to the anbu guard, knowing his location.
The anbu silently walked over and browsed through a different stack of papers, carefully retrieving one and placing it in his Hokage's hands before flickering away. Uzumaki Naruto was not a put-together Hokage. He was a disorganized, confused, occasionally infuriating Hokage who came in every morning with his cloak rumpled to hell and his hat worn backwards. His complete lack of understanding of foreign policy was worse than that of Tobirama, and when someone he knew came back badly injured he had a temper to rival Tsunade's.
He was also probably the greatest Hokage since the Shodai.
Kakashi watched as he reluctantly penned their names into the file, assigning them to the mission. His former student looked up with a watery smile.
"There. You'll brief them, won't you sensei? I'd do it, but I'll probably forget…" He rubbed the back of his head and laughed sheepishly, holding out the sheet.
"Why have you always been so strangely protective? Ever since you returned from that training trip with Jiraiya-sama."
The question rung out in the silent office, and Naruto's cheeks reddened further. He glanced to one side as if in embarrassment, at where his anbu guards were hiding.
Seeing that, Kakashi was able to finally piece it together. It wasn't too hard, really. His student was never good at hiding intentions, and the look on his face said it all. He leaned forwards, taking the offered mission paper and putting it to one side without glancing at it.
"You like me, don't you?" He said calmly, "you've liked me for a long time, but you never mentioned it." He stood up from the chair to place his hands on the desk and lean over it, watching the young Hokage's reaction.
"Well, you'd think it was some silly little crush, wouldn't you?" Naruto mumbled, looking away pointedly, "I mean, you'd probably reject me nicely, and say that you're my sensei and stuff so we can't-"
"I'm not your sensei anymore," Kakashi informed him, an amused smile hidden under his mask, "and you're not a kid anymore. You're one of the greatest men I know."
"Huh? Really?" A slow grin overtook Naruto's face, and he looked on excitedly, "so…when you said you liked me that day when I was training with rasen-shuriken, you were serious?"
"I think I was," he replied pensively, "your memory is surprisingly long."
"Baka sensei!" He huffed, "of course I'd remember that! You were giving me a creepy look and everything!"
Kakashi scratched his cheek with one finger, "maa…I just wanted to see what you would do. Maybe I did overdo that one…"
"Yeah!" Naruto's face was bright with excitement, and his Hokage's hat was crooked on his head, "we totally missed two years, sensei! If you just hadn't been weird that day-"
"You should have told me earlier."
"And, well, I guess hunting down Sasuke and all that war stuff took a lot of attention away-"
"And yet you still had enough attention to come in and 'save' me from every opponent I faced…"
"And when I became Hokage they dumped all this stupid paperwork on me. I mean, the cheers are great but I thought that maybe I'd have some more time to spend with my friends-"
"I'll just come here."
"Oh wow that's great cause you can bring ramen with you, I haven't had ramen in three days-"
"Naruto. Stop talking and come here."
Naruto looked slightly confused, and Kakashi took the chance to reach over and pull him forward by the front of his shirt with one hand. He used the other hand to pull his mask down and let it gather around his neck. His former student melted into his hold. Kakashi easily leaned forward to press their mouths together.
They remained like that for one perfect second before he drew away quickly, leaving Naruto slightly wondrous at the sight of his unmasked face. He guessed that had been a lot better than his previous kisses with Sasuke.
"Desk," he said roughly.
"Wha…what about it?"
"It's in the way."
"Oh." Naruto looked dismayed.
Kakashi sighed. "It doesn't have to be in the way."
He watched in amusement as the Rokudaime Hokage struggled to push the stacks of paper aside and clamber over the desk instead of taking the extra three seconds to walk around. The moment his feet reached the other side, Kakashi's form was pressed against his, determined to show him what a real kiss could be like.
The anbu guard hidden in the corner coughed loudly.
"You can…go now," Naruto told him, his voice slightly higher than usual. "I'll be fine. If anyone wants to come in and kill me right now, I'll die without regrets."
"Maa…" Kakashi broke the kiss again, "I suppose you can leave your protection to me, now." He'd barely said the last word before their lips met again.
That evening, anbu Firefly had a story to tell. A story about Rokudaime Uzumaki Naruto and Hatake Kakashi of the Sharingan and how it had taken years for these two idiots to sort themselves out.