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Intruder Alert

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Iruka was frozen in place, listening to the sounds in the darkness around him. It was later evening, and the world had grown silent, all except for his wildly pounding heart, and the gentle tap of creeping footsteps on wooden floorboards. The footsteps were so light that they could almost be mistaken for the breeze that was flowing through the window, if not for the fact that they were getting louder as the person they belonged to, the intruder, approached.

Thud. Thud. Thud!

The intruder stopped pacing around the room, and their horrified victim clasped their mouth shut, their body trembling as they watched beneath their bed, as far out of sight as they could get. Iruka unknowingly held his breath as he waited in suspense to see whether the intruder would find the woman, or walk away. It was dead silent, both at his house, and in the movie; and every second that passed by only built up the dooming atmosphere.

BANG!

Iruka jumped, letting out a small startled cry; and adrenaline ran through his veins as he watched the intruder slam the closet door open on the search for his target. When he discovered she wasn't there, he got frustrated and swept an arm across her bedside drawer, knocking a table lamp to the hardwood floor, shattering the bulb; and the room became dark.

Iruka shifted on the lounge, and started to fiddle anxiously on a cushion as he watched on. In the beginning of the movie, the woman was introduced as being deaf; and now in this completely dark room, she had lost another one of her senses. So all she had to rely on, to make sure she didn't bump into anything or make a sound, was her memory of the way her room was set up, and feeling around. But even then, the killer had just knocked a heap of objects on the ground, that she needed to avoid; and there was the broken lamp, meaning she had to crawl through broken glass to get out from under the bed. All the odds were stacked against her, but she was fighting so hard to stay alive; and Iruka couldn't help but root for her.

As the woman tried to silently crawl out from under the bed and find a way to escape, Iruka winced as he heard the shattered glass crackle and crunch beneath her. He could tell it hurt, and that she wanted to cry out with all the sharp pieces digging into her skin and cutting her; but she didn't want to make a single noise - who knew where the killer was, now, and how much he'd be able to hear…

Finally, she got out from under the bed, and crept towards the doorway, moving ever so slowly, feeling for vibrations in the floorboard, and trying not to make the wood creak, herself; and just as she was about to take another step, a shadow flickered down the hallway, making Iruka's heart flutter about.

He watched in anticipation as the woman tried to hide herself behind the door and spy through the crack to see what was going on; and as he waited in the silence, somehow even more still than before, Iruka felt movement behind his head, and something brush against his hair.

"Gaahhh!" he yelped; and a dark shadow bounded off the head of the lounge and onto the ground.

"Tsuki! You scared me!" he gasped.

He'd forgotten that his cat had been asleep on the headrest; and being so engrossed in the movie, he'd momentarily thought someone had come up behind him, and that he too, had an intruder in the house. His breathing was heavier now, as even more adrenaline shot through his veins; and he felt a slight tremble in his hands. Iruka turned his attention back to the movie, confident that his nerves would settle on their own; and before long, he had forgotten about his cat again, watching as he was guided through more of the woman's backstory.

After a few minutes, the scene showed her again, darting to another room in the house, trying to hide in a place where the killer had already checked, hoping that he would ignore the areas he'd already been. But what she hadn't noticed, that Iruka could see on the screen, was that she had left a trail of blood leading to her hiding place, from when she had cut herself on the glass in her room.

"No…" Iruka whispered, watching wide-eyed as the intruder appeared from around the corner, and studied the rooms along the hallway carefully. "He's going to find her…"

Suddenly, he heard a ferocious growl coming from behind him; and an icy chill trickled down his spine, making his hairs stand up, as he twisted around to see what was going on. He found Tsuki on a bookshelf, staring out the window through a gap in the curtain. She was hunched down with her dark fur puffed up, making her look like a fluffy, long-haired cat, and her gaze was intense as she locked onto her target; and seeing this, Iruka quickly paused his movie, now tense and very alert.

In the five years he'd had her, Tsuki had never growled in her life; but this sounded so vicious and menacing, like she sensed a real threat lurking around that she was both afraid of, and wanted to fight off; and that made him nervous. Especially considering he couldn't sense anything, and that Tsuki was looking into the back yard… Something was definitely not right.

Iruka grabbed a kunai, and crept to the window, slowly and silently as a thousand thoughts raced through his head. He felt like the woman who was being stalked; and although he knew he could defend himself well, he was almost afraid of what, or who he would find. Whoever it was had no chakra signature, after all, meaning they intended to sneak; and if they were in his back yard, did that mean they were targeting him?      

Iruka reached out to draw the curtain, but halfway there, he hesitated as his imagination started running wild. What if he drew it open and there was a face staring right back at him? Or what if it was a trap, designed to lure him away, so that the intruder could sneak up behind him and take him by surprise?

Iruka felt his skin crawl, and a gentle breeze tickle the back of his neck; and he quickly turned behind him, making a strike with his kunai, as he scanned the house. He didn't make any contact with his kunai, and nothing seemed out of place; but he was still very anxious. Being in this darkness, in dead silence was eerie.

"Mrrrooouuuwww….." Tsuki growled even louder than before, still glaring out the window.

Iruka let out a startled gasp, and stared at his cat, wondering what she was looking at. There was no way he was going out there by himself, he decided; but he really needed to know what was going on, and why Tsuki was acting so strange. Then finally, he had an idea.

Iruka closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind. When there was someone lurking about, and they were masking their chakra signatures, he had a little trick up his sleeve to be able to find them, regardless of how good they were. But he had to be able to concentrate for it to work; he had to become one with everything around him to find what was out of place.

Iruka listened out for any sounds that he could hear, from the ones that were closest to him, like his heartbeat, and Tsuki's low growl, to the ones that were further away, like the grass swaying in the wind, and the leaves dancing in the trees. He pictured the layout of his home, from where all his furniture was placed, to the details outside, like where his clothesline was, and the wooden bench he'd made to go under the big maple tree that spread across the yard; and soon he could visualise a sonar map in his head, and "see" everything that was familiar to him.

And now that he knew where everything was, he could block out those noises and shapes in his head, to listen to the specifics to see if he could find what Tsuki was growling at. Then suddenly he heard it - a simple sound that many would miss, or perhaps consider normal; but to Iruka's senses, the noise was screaming right at him. It was the unmistakable sound of a page being flipped, like someone was reading in his backyard.

His senses located the direction it was coming from, deep into the branches of his tree; and soon he heard a multitude of other sounds, like another person's heartbeat, the light scratch of bark against the soles of someone's shoes as they shifted position, and then a quiet sigh. As his brain took in all this information from his echolocation ability, he was able to figure out the exact shape of the person in his tree; and when he pictured their silhouette, his eyes snapped open and he stormed outside.

"I don't believe this!" he hissed to himself as he marched through his yard. He wasn't scared anymore. Just angry. Very angry.

"Hatake Kakashi, if you don't get your butt down from that tree right now…!" he growled.

Kakashi unmasked his chakra signature; and Iruka heard him curse as he made his way back down. He stood by the tree with his arms crossed, thinking about what he wanted to say as he waited for him to appear; but words escaped him, and his anger fizzled into surprise when he saw him properly for the first time.

What Iruka had expected to see was a frazzled Kakashi in his jounin uniform, looking almost guilty and assuring him that he could explain, that it wasn't what it looked like, and that he had a valid excuse for being in the tree, which he'd know would definitely be a lie; but instead he saw the blank face of Hound, with the sharingan glowing through the left eye, and an ANBU uniform glinting in the moonlight.

"O-Oh, I'm so sorry." he eventually apologised, feeling his face grow very hot because of the misunderstanding. "I didn't realise you were on duty. I thought you might be… Ah, never mind…"

"How did you know I was there?" Kakashi asked seriously. "I should have been undetectable."

"It's a, uh, family secret… But I didn't pick up your chakra signature, if that's what you're worried about."

"Hn? Then, how did you know it was me?"

"Because I saw you reading that damned book of yours; and who else would read erotica in a tree whilst hiding their chakra signature?!"

"Erotica? You mean Icha-Icha?" Kakashi fished through his pockets. "I wish that was what I was reading, but I was actually going through my bingo book."

"O-Oh." Iruka felt his face grow even hotter when he was shown the book - the exact size and shape he had seen in his sonar imagery. "Sorry for assuming things…"

"It's fine." Kakashi said, pocketing the book again.

He studied Iruka for a moment, then stepped forward and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Are you okay?" he asked, cocking his head to the side. "You look a little shaken up, and your chakra seems particularly disturbed. Did I scare you?"

"I-It's nothing." Iruka laughed hesitantly, glancing away. "I was uh, watching a very intense horror movie, then my cat started growling out of nowhere, having sensed you; and when I couldn't find or sense anything, myself, my imagination went a bit wild."

"Hmn… Do you need company?" Kakashi offered.

"I'll be okay. You're on duty, so it's not like you can come inside, anyway." Iruka replied, gently grabbing Kakashi's hand and taking it off his shoulder. "Thanks, though."

"I'm on patrol, and it's a quiet night; so if you really need me -"

"No." Iruka placed his other hand over the one he was holding, and looked back up. "You need to do your job."

"Alright." Kakashi said hesitantly. "As long as you're okay…"

"Yes, I am. Really." Iruka assured, gently releasing Kakashi's hand. "Now go finish your patrol. We can watch a movie together some other time. Okay?"

"Y-Yeah. Sure." Kakashi started to leave, then paused for a moment, hesitating, as though he wanted to say something else. Deciding against it, he gently shook his head, and finally turned to him one last time.

"Good night, Iruka."

"Good night."

With that, Kakashi disappeared; and Iruka was left all alone in his yard. And with no other reason to be outside, he turned and went back in, thinking about the exchange.

"What was that all about?" he said to Tsuki, who was curled up on the top of the lounge again. "Kakashi was really serious about abandoning his duties to keep me company…"

"Brrrrow!" Tsuki purred, rubbing her head into Iruka's hand.

"I did send him away; but you know, part of me wanted him to join me." he smiled absently. "When I see him next, I'll find out when he's off duty and invite him over… What do you think?"

"Mau!"

Iruka pet Tsuki one last time before returning to his movie; and all the anxiety he'd put on hold when talking to Kakashi returned almost instantly; and he was soon caught up in the intensity of the film. The woman had finally found a way to contact someone for help, but while she was waiting, she still had to keep herself alive; and that was proving to be difficult, because the killer was just becoming more crafty, doing anything he could to keep her trapped.

Finally, he'd had enough of not being able to get to her, as she had successfully barricaded herself in a room; and he cracked, letting himself into her attached garage, and taking a canister of petrol. He doused as many rooms as he could with it, letting it soak into the carpet, walls, furniture, and anything else that would let it in; and made a trail to the front door. When he let himself out, he lit the fuel with a match, and walked off, leaving the trapped woman behind. 

Iruka's heart was racing - he wanted her to escape. The killer was gone now, so if she could get out, then she would be safe again; but would she be able to with the fire growing and racing towards her as fast as it was?

Iruka shifted on the couch, unable to settle in the final blur of intense action, of her race against time to break the window and climb out before the beam above her fell and crushed her, and trapped her in the building; and even more adrenaline rushed through his veins when she managed to climb out of it, and something exploded, pushing a cloud of fire right towards her.

In the end, help arrived not long after the blast, which had knocked her unconscious; and she had been saved from her night of horrors. Then while the last of the movie tied up the loose ends of the plot, Iruka slowly started to relax, feeling like he could breathe again as his fear began to subside; and when the credits began to roll, he took a deep breath, and closed his eyes as he leaned back against the lounge.

"Do you want to watch something else?"

"Gyyyaaahhhh!" Iruka yelped, leaping from his seat, and scaring Tsuki away.

"Kakashi, what on earth are you doing here?! And how did you get in?!"

His heart pounded wildly as he stared at him as he sat comfortably at the other end of the lounge, no longer in his ANBU gear - just an ordinary uniform without the jounin vest, like he'd been there the entire time.

"When my shift ended, I wanted to check up on you." he explained. "And you left a window open, so I used it to let myself in."

"You could have at least knocked on the door, if you wanted to see me! Do you know how creepy it is, watching a movie about a murderous intruder, and then having someone sneak into your very own home?! You scared the hell out of me!"

"Maa, I'm sorry for getting you all worked up… But, um, if you want, we could put something more relaxing on, and you can come curl up next to me and unwind?" Kakashi suggested. "I brought a few different movies to choose from."

"Huh? C-Curl up next you?" Iruka blushed. "What do you mean? What's going on?"

"Hmn… Well…" Kakashi sat up straighter, and began to fidget with his fingers. "Don't you think it's time?"

"T-Time? For what?"

Kakashi took a deep breath and pulled down his mask, revealing a lightly flushed face; and gazed into Iruka's curious eyes.

"Time we had our first date." he said carefully. "I-If I'm not mistaken, I'm not the only one who wants to move things to the next level."

"Oh?" Butterflies stirred in Iruka's chest as he studied the timid but fond expression on Kakashi's maskless face. "Y-Yeah, absolutely. I'd like that."

"Then let's begin." he smiled warmly, in relief. "Allow me to be by your side."

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”