Iruka loved the time between job changes, it was a chance to take a breath and walk the streets of Konoha. The young brunette's route passed by the local orphanage. From the street Iruka heard the loud screams of children playing, caretakers wrangling hyperactive children in for supper.
Every time Iruka passed by he was reminded of the years he spent in the orphanage. At the time, Iruka was hurt and aching for his family's love. Aching for the days when he would wait for his father to come home from a mission— to run into his arms and be engulfed in love. Longing for the days when he woke up to his mother's singing while she prepared for her family's day.
It isn't easy losing the love you've only ever known.
As Iruka walked past the children ran to greet him. "Iruka-san! Iruka-san! are you coming over with Naruto-Nii-chan to read to us?" Iruka crouched with a smile to greet the children. "Yes, Hiyori, Naruto and I will come by after work to read to you all. Tonight we're reading Tales of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi, so go inside and behave for the caretakers or Naruto won't come." The children all nod and dash into the building before they're reprimanded by the sensei. Chuckling to himself, Iruka carried on.
Iruka's desk shift is uneventful, it was the beginning of the week, so there wasn't much to do. When his shift is over he walks out of the Tower and is greeted by the outburst of his son. "IRUKA WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO CLOSE UP. I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR 10 MINUTES. I'M HUNGRY LET'S GO EAT-TTEBAYO"
Iruka laughs and ruffles the blond's hair. "Come on you, let’s get some food in you."
It's been two years since Iruka adopted Naruto. After the incident with the Iwa-nin, Iruka gave him the love that they both were craving. But it took some time until they were both comfortable with each other. They started with after-school dinners and helping Naruto with his schooling. impromptu cooking lessons and dinners at Icharaku's. Soon the extra bedroom at Iruka's apartment housed more of the boy’s things than his own apartment.
Time passed and the duo was inseparable. When Naruto wasn't around Anko asked Iruka "So when are you joining Kotetsu, Izumo and I for some drinks? You and the brat are attached at the hip and we haven't been able to take you out for a nice time. Do you plan to adopt him? Because I'm too young to be an aunt Iruka." Iruka thought it over his dinner that night. There was never a moment of doubt, he loved the boy with all his heart. The hole that was left by his parents was filled by the smiles and joyous energy of Naruto Uzumaki.
It was a warm afternoon, Naruto raced around Iruka telling him about the pranks he pulled with Shikamaru and Choji. Iruka laughed and chided his son for getting into trouble, but with a sly smile and a glint in his eye, he whispered and told Naruto of a similar prank he pulled. Inside their home they got to work on dinner, Naruto on a stool manning the stove while Iruka chopped the vegetables for their dinner.
After their dinner, they headed out into the cooling night. "Iruka come on!" Naruto crossed his arms and exclaimed, "I promised Hiyori and the gang I'd show them a cool ninja trick you taught me today. And you're slowing me down!" The young sensei waved him off and Naruto took off running towards the orphanage.
Once they reached the gates of their destination, the young family was greeted by a hoard of children. "Iruka-san! Naruto! we've been waiting all afternoon! what took so long?!" Iruka picked up some of the younger children and hoisted them over his shoulders and grinned at the children around him. "Well, Naruto and I had to eat and prepare to read to you all, if we were to come on empty stomachs we wouldn't be able to keep up with your energy Akira-kun. But yes, you're right, let's head over to tell our story ."
With the children still on his shoulders, Iruka took off, racing the group down the path to their reading spot. It was nestled between a large forest, under massive trees. The children sat and picked at the cool grass. Impatient to hear their dear Iruka-san and Naruto act out the book they brought. For the next hour or so, the group was enthralled by Iruka's mystical voice, Naruto's energetic acting, the colorful masks worn by the duo. The children's eyes gleamed with happiness and their bodies shook with excitement.
Once the performance ended, the children dragged Naruto off to show them what he had learned at school. Naruto was more than happy to showcase his moves if his bright grin was anything to go by. Iruka smiled at the children's antics and walked towards the caretakers. When they saw him approach they offered a seat and some water to the young sensei.
"Sensei, we can't thank you enough for entertaining the children this afternoon. We love the children to death but sometimes they can be a bit too much." The caretaker said while bouncing the baby in her arms. Iruka laughed and shook his head. "It's no problem, you know I enjoy spending time with the kids." The caretaker chuckled and shook her head. "You're a saint Iruka-sensei, you spend all day with the hellions at the academy, take care of Naruto at home and then come to the orphanage to do this! I don't know where you get the energy from." The baby in her arms began to fuss, bringing the attention of the Chuunin.
Iruka walked over to them and took the fussing baby from her arms. "You all should know by now that I adore children." Iruka chuckled and looked down at the baby with a small smile. "I want these children to have a happy childhood."
Now with the baby in his arms, Iruka took a better look at her. The baby opened her brown eyes and stared up at the young Chunin. Her hair was a dark shade, soft and sticking up in tufts, her eyes were warm pools of brown warmth— inviting like his mother's. Her nose was small and feminine but strong like his father's. Iruka smiled down at the child in his arms, he brought up a finger and caressed her cheek— making the baby giggle.
After the baby calmed down in Iruka’s arms, he gave her back to the caretaker. Unsure of himself he excused himself and went in search of Naruto. After he found the boy he grabbed him and took him home.
Over the next week, Iruka couldn’t focus on his work and home life. His pre-genin preyed on his distracted mood and were relentless with their pranks. At the mission desk, Iruka stared off during his shift, barely inspecting the scrolls handed to him. In his dreams, Iruka saw his dead parents, different scenarios filled with tearful reunions. But when he would wake up with his mother’s name on his mouth— he felt the weight of their deaths as he did 10 years ago.
When Friday rolled around Iruka woke up determined to get ahold of his grief, he wasn’t the child that cried into the shoulder of the Sandaime anymore. No, he was Iruka Umino, beloved Chuunin sensei with a son who depended on him. Nodding to himself he dressed for the day. Looking at himself in the mirror, he straightened his impeccable ponytail and dusted non-existent lint from his uniform. He walked out of his bedroom with his back straightened ready to face the day.
As soon as he saw his son stirring breakfast in the kitchen Iruka deflated.
Iruka knew he had to talk to Naruto about what was bothering him, it wasn’t right to keep the boy in the dark. Iruka walked into the kitchen and greeted his charge. “Good morning Naruto. Did you finish your homework for today?” Without looking up from his task Naruto replied. “Iruka do you still love me?”
Iruka’s eyes widened in horror, turning his charge to face him Iruka spluttered. “Naruto what makes you think I could ever stop loving you?” Naruto avoided his father’s gaze, he rubs his neck. He murmurs “ You’ve been so distant lately that.” Naruto huffs and takes a breathe, “I thought you were going to get rid of me.”
Iruka felt stricken, he crouched and pulling his son into a hug he spoke into his hair. “Naruto you’re my family, I know I’ve been distant this past week but nothing, nothing can ever break what we have.”
Naruto wound his arms around his father and took a deep breath. He said nothing but Iruka could feel the tension leaving his small frame.
They embraced in the small kitchen for a few minutes until Naruto broke the silence with a chuckle. He let go of Iruka and smirked. “Don’t tell my great pranks this week are too much for you to handle. This proves I’m better prankster! Believe it!”
Iruka chuckled and rolled his eyes, only Naruto could bounce back so quickly.
During their breakfast, Iruka decided to share his thoughts on the baby he saw last week. “Naruto, last week at our visit to the orphanage, I saw a child with the features of my parents. I lost my parents at a young age and I didn’t take their deaths well. Seeing them in the child brought back my grief.” Iruka wrung his hands as he waited for a response.
“Well, why don’t we adopt her? We can make her an official Umino and she’d be the younger sister of the Future Hokage! It’ll be great! Believe it!”
Iruka choked and turned to Naruto, the child was grinned and nodded at his great idea. Satisfied with his answer, he turned back to his food.
The more Iruka thought about Naruto’s proposal the more he liked the idea. Why didn’t he? It would be good to give Naruto a younger sibling, and he had love to spare, what was one more child to a man who took care of 30 every day?
When the Sensei and Naruto reached the class, Naruto made a beeline to his friends and exclaimed, “I’M GOING TO BE AN OLDER BROTHER!”
Naruto’s yell echoed throughout the halls of the academy, his students circled around the sensei, trapping him at the front of the class with questions. “Iruka-sensei! Iruka-sensei! Is it true!?” “Sensei did you get a woman pregnant?” “No Ino-pig, babies are brought by storks!” “Sensei what’s pregnant?”
Iruka groaned and rubbed his scar. He glared and Naruto winced, he knew what that glare meant— there was hell to pay later.
But Naruto was too happy to care, he climbed onto the desk, straightening his goggles he exclaimed. “I’M GOING TO BE THE BEST BROTHER EVER. BELIEVE IT!"