Title: Perfect Theology – Chapter 10
Rating: PG-13 for now
Summary: Because no one has a perfectly foolproof method to approach love and life. Including Konoha’s famed Copy Nin.
A/N: Busy week ;-; Anyone keeping up with the tenets? Don’t feel bad if you can’t; I keep having to read back over earlier chapters to remember which was which, LOL. The first time I wrote the story, I skipped a number entirely.
I’m not sure what happened with this chapter. It became this big quasi-stream of consciousness. My eyes are killin me. 😦
I’ve been trying to update this more regularly, but I keep getting sidetracked by ideas for one-shots. There’s seriously like about 10 half-finished ones sitting in my Doc Manager. Been reading a lot of doujinshi too. ^_^; I’m such a slacker.
As always, thanks for reading and reviewing!
Shooting the sun a lazy look of immense contentment, Kakashi strolled leisurely down the street. He had a spring in his step and a song in his heart. Not literally that is. It was just that the previous statement was a phrase he didn’t often get to use, and today seemed like the perfect day to exercise it. But back to the point: Kakashi was satisfied.
He’d run through last night’s events in his mind over breakfast, and concluded that while many things had been done on the fly, it had turned out to be a successful evening. Despite the best efforts of the two morons he called his students to ruin it, the date had gone surprisingly well. He and Iruka had enjoyed rather pleasant conversation on a comfortable rooftop, all the while serenaded by Naruto and Sasuke’s yelps and screams. And the Chuunin had been surprisingly okay with it all. This alone made the older man realize that there was still a lot about Umino Iruka that he had yet to uncover. At first, the Academy instructor’s overprotective and caring yet defiant demeanor had piqued his interest. But last night, he’d gotten a glimpse of a playful, sarcastic side that practically reeled him in. So it went without saying that he was eager for a second date.
Which hadn’t been set yet. Iruka had excused himself early last night, which was understandable since he had mission room duty early this morning. But Kakashi had also opted to not request a second date. Yet.
Without a sound, the elite Jounin leaped gracefully to the roof of his apartment. Sitting back against the slanted tiles, he rummaged in a side pocket before bringing out his trademark novel. Opening it, he propped an elbow on a knee. To the casual observer, it seemed like the Copy Ninja was wholly engrossed with the book. In reality though, the man was deep in thought. Call it strange, but he’d done some of his best thinking in this position. Something about being here, porn in hand, was highly conducive to good ideas. Perhaps it was the fresh air. Perhaps it was the book. Whatever the reason, Kakashi often sat here for moments or hours, thinking and planning. It was here years ago, while reflecting on a A-rank mission gone horribly wrong, that he’d formulated Kakashi Theology tenet number six.
Tenet number six: approach every situation with adequate information.
The man was fully aware of the importance of good intel. Good intel kept you ahead of your enemy. It helped you do your job and come home safe. Inadequate information, even the tiniest bit, could be the difference between just a scratch or returning to Konoha missing teammates. There was once a time when a younger, too-confident Kakashi would rush eagerly and heedlessly into battle. But it had cost him too much. It had cost Team Minato their beloved teammate and friend, Obito.
So, since that day, Kakashi taught himself patience. Since that day, Kakashi made sure to never forget what Yondaime-sama and Obito’s lives had taught him. Every day, when he woke up, he did not jump out of bed and start the day as soon as he could. Instead, he would pause a few minutes in front of the mirror and study his left eye, Obito’s eye. As he watched the three tomoe spin slowly, he would reflect for a short while and review his memory. And instead of hurrying to meet his team, Kakashi always made sure to stop at the memorial, rain or shine, and have a chat with his departed comrades. At first, he hadn’t meant to linger so long or lose track of time. But after thinking about it for a bit, he concluded that it was probably a good idea. If nothing else, it would teach his young students patience. Or drive them batshit crazy.
And Kakashi theorized that relationships could be approached in the same logical manner. After all, he sometimes thought that life was like one big mission; he was a shinobi through and through. And his tenets had never failed him.
Whether this worked well when applied to relationships, though, had yet to be determined. The Jounin did not consider himself very experienced in that particular field. It wasn’t that he was against relationships; his life just hadn’t permitted it until now. Sure, he’d had the occasional fling here and there; but each had been inconsequential and brief. Being a soldier of a country at war didn’t exactly encourage making personal commitments. After all, it could be any day that someone you cared about didn’t make it back home.
But since taking charge of Team Seven, he suddenly found himself spending more time in the village and less on desolate battlefields. For the first time in a long while, he’d had time to reexamine his life and connections. Besides, didn’t he lecture his students regularly on the importance of friendship and teamwork? Didn’t he stress the value of bonds between them? And yet, his own bonds were depressingly few. In hindsight, perhaps that contributed to a loneliness within himself that he’d only begun to recognize. And probably, that was why Iruka was so interesting. The Copy Ninja talked about bonds; Iruka actually went out and made them. His young team was proof of both the Chuunin’s dedication and was the kind side of Umino Iruka at work.
But he was also a shinobi, one of Konoha’s defenders. Elite Jounin that he was, Kakashi had once snuck a peek at Iruka’s file; the younger man had five hundred and seventy three missions under his belt, so obviously he was capable. Admittedly, he had assumed the mellow Chuunin hadn’t done much field work, so it was a pleasant surprise. The Copy Ninja had learned over the years that on an intimate level, civilians didn’t interest him. It wasn’t an uncommon sentiment amongst the higher-level ninjas. After all, a fellow shinobi wouldn’t ask questions if you suddenly woke up in the middle of the night screaming from a bad mission reawakened by nightmares. A fellow shinobi wouldn’t complain if you had to be gone months at a time for a mission.
A fellow shinobi would know the risks of dating another shinobi.
Loss. Capture. Death.
It was this thought that made him notice how his life tenets weren’t meshing perfectly with his attempts at relationships. If he wanted to separate work from his personal life, wouldn’t he be better off courting a non-ninja? The book in his hand drooped a few degrees as he pondered this. How problematic. Tenet five had always held up well until now. But then again, even Minato-sensei had been together with another ninja, Kushina, so perhaps it wasn’t a bad thing.
Doubts assuaged, the Jounin glanced back down at Icha Icha Paradise. Iruka would be a good addition to his life, this much he was sure of. So understandably, Kakashi wanted to know more about him.
And tenet six made it very clear to him what his next move should be. While Team Seven’s reconnoiter mission had brought back decent intel, it didn’t meet the Jounin’s lofty standards. But such was the difference between a Jounin and mere Genin. Accordingly, the Copy Ninja had decided to invest some additional time into information gathering on a specific Chuunin. Preferably mornings; afternoons Kakashi was usually training, and evenings were reserved for future dates. Besides, he was sure tacking on an extra hour or so of waiting for Team Seven in the mornings wouldn’t do them too much harm. And anyways, it was a perfect time since Iruka was usually either teaching classes or manning the mission office early mornings.
Shutting his book with a crisp snap, Kakashi rose to his feet. Cutting a glance at the sun, he estimated he still had an hour before the kids expected him. Just enough time to pop by the bookstore.
Konohamaru scowled at the thick stack of papers in front of him. All over the room, his classmates had identical stacks and similar expressions on their faces. Iruka-sensei had called this a pop quiz, but it sure looked more like a full-length exam and essay rolled into one to him.
“Okay class, you have an hour to finish your pop quiz! Raise your hand if you have any questions.”
Konohamaru took that as an invitation. “Sensei! Why is this pop quiz so long?”
“Just do it.” Iruka shot him a menacing glare.
Lowering his hand, the young boy picked up his pencil moodily. “I think sensei needs to get laid,” he mumbled to the girl sitting next to him, and they both erupted into giggles.
Without warning, a red marker shot between them, embedding itself in the table mere centimeters from Konohamaru’s hand. He yelped, and fell out of his chair as his teacher pointed another writing utensil in his direction. “I heard that. All of you, shut up and do your tests.”
Iruka leaned back in his chair, satisfied to see the kids resign themselves to a test, and quiet down. Truthfully, he’d planned a decent lesson for today, but he found he couldn’t concentrate. Especially after last night. It wasn’t as if he’d never been on a date; but Kakashi was definitely different from most people. He hadn’t made it clear about what exactly he was looking for with Iruka. Did he want just a casual relationship? Or a more serious one? He didn’t have a problem with either, but thinking about letting the Copy Ninja into his life on a more intimate level gave him butterflies in his stomach.
Intimacy was somewhat of a challenge for Iruka, as it was for most shinobi. Over the years, it had been easier, less heart-wrenching to not get too attached. He had many friends, but few ‘significant others’ in his past. Such was the result of living the life of a ninja. His previous relationships had reflected this: they’d been nice, but forgettable and short and usually civilians. Of course, the clear exception had been Naruto. Over the years, the blond became almost like a younger brother or son to the Chuunin. Albeit a very ill-behaving, loud, and gluttonous one. However, that in no way prepared Iruka for dealing with Kakashi.
He allowed himself to admit that he was interested in the Jounin. And it wasn’t just because of the man’s notoriety as Sharingan Kakashi. He was intelligent, yet humble; vastly talented, but he rarely flaunted it. He was also a man with a pain-streaked past, but rather than suffer the rest of his days over it, Kakashi had obviously overcome his obstacles and grown because of it. Personally, Iruka found that to be his most admirable trait. On the other hand though, he was often childish, as last night had exemplified. Iruka theorized that it resulted from growing up too fast. Not that he’d ever say that to Kakashi’s face.
Closing his eyes, Iruka drew in a slow breath, letting his mind go blank. It was a technique they’d taught to all the Academy instructors: to mentally break down problems and questions into small, manageable ideas. So he waited a heartbeat as thoughts slowly trickled back into his consciousness.
He was interested in Kakashi. That was something he wouldn’t deny. The fact that he was attracted to another man didn’t surprise Iruka. He’d always been a very logical person, and he thought it made sense to be attracted to someone who also walked the road of a shinobi. Granted, Kakashi was a much better ninja than he was, but the thought was still valid. Besides, he’d always wanted to be a ninja since he was young, and the death of his parents had only fueled that desire. It felt natural to want someone who understood his line of work. In a way, he saw a bit of himself in the son of the White Fang, now that he thought about it. Both orphaned and busy as ninjas, but both undeniably lonely.
No doubt about it though, the Jounin was somewhat of an exasperation to him. Lack of punctuality, illegible handwriting on mission reports, poor choice in literature…these only started the list. However, Iruka was a firm believer in giving chances; it made him a good teacher. The best example of this was undoubtedly Naruto. And similarly, he concluded that Hatake Kakashi deserved a chance at his trust.
Hopefully he wouldn’t regret it.
Peering into the brightly lit interior of the refrigerator, Kakashi took note of its contents. Milk, juice, fruit and veggies. The usual stuff. What stood out to the Copy Ninja was several take-out containers of ramen. Obviously, Iruka and Naruto shared a penchant for same type of food. The freezer was unremarkable, and he closed the door on frozen vegetables and a box of green tea ice cream. Smirking at the dolphin magnet (clearly a gift from someone, as he doubted Iruka would purchase himself such an item) attached to the fridge door, he turned to survey the rest of the kitchen. Iruka definitely was tidy, and Kakashi made note of that in his newly purchased notebook. It was black with a stiff binding and perfectly sized to fit into a vest pocket.
It had been easy getting into the teacher’s apartment. He’d simply picked the lock and deactivated the trap jutsu in place over the door. While such a trap might deter most civilians, thieves, and low-level ninjas, Iruka probably never expected someone of Kakashi’s caliber to break into his home. Which Kakashi considered to be to his benefit: the man would never suspect a thing.
A pile of mail was stacked neatly on the wooden kitchen table, which he found to be the usual assortment of bills, advertisements, and letters from acquaintances. More interesting was the large cork-board on the wall, hanging next to the fridge. It perfectly illustrated the picky, organized side of Iruka (Kakashi would normally call this anal). There were many notes pinned neatly to the surface, reminders to buy this or do that, receipts, important dates to remember. Many pictures of former and current students took up almost half the space. He picked one off the wall. It was a recent one of himself with his team. It brought a smile to his lips as Kakashi placed it back on the board. As he was pinning the photo back, he noticed there was a piece of paper in the center, nearly obscured by all the pictures. It was from one of those quote-a-day calendar things that Kakashi didn’t bother with because he didn’t see the sense in peeling off a sheet of paper each day. But he leaned in to read the quote Iruka had selected to accompany the photographs.
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
– Ryunosuke Satoro
And Kakashi felt a genuine smile pull at his lips. Iruka was interesting indeed.