When Iruka was nine, he lived in Oregon, Missouri with his parents and their newly adopted baby, Naruto. He loved Naruto from the first moment he looked into those blue eyes, and he helped in every way his parents allowed, sometimes even falling asleep with the baby in his arms.
He was ten when everything changed. His parents died in a house fire, and Iruka saved Naruto only by holding him under their father's old leather coat and jumping through the nursery window with him. He ended up with no home, no parents, a new scar across his nose, and a six month old child that he was fiercely protective of.
Enter, Jiraiya. That crazy old man was the only family left to them, their uncle or great uncle or whatever on Iruka’s father's side, and he was the only thing that kept them from going into the foster system, taking them into his home just 30 miles away in the slightly larger town of Maryville. Iruka was as stubborn then as Naruto would grow to be, and he was more protective than a mother bear. He hardly let Naruto out of his sight after that, even insisting they shared a room, and Jiraiya was more than happy to let him deal with the things that needed tending to, going out on “hunting trips” that often lead to him coming home injured, or staying away for days at a time. After school started for Iruka again, he had to limit his hunts to times they had a sitter for Naruto, but he never complained about that. He sometimes seemed almost as fond of Naruto as Iruka was.
As the boys grew, his trips got longer and more dangerous, leading Iruka to learn quite a bit of field medicine, though they never went with him. He would come home after a week or more, Iruka would patch him up, and Naruto would badger him into stories about the hunts. This lead to tales of everything from demons to dragons to vampires and witches, and Iruka would listen with a soft, exasperated smile, but Naruto never doubted a word.
Iruka was perhaps a bit overly protective of his little blonde brother, and it was only when Naruto was four that he started taking his brother out to the park and around town with him. This was when Naruto made his first friend.
Well, a fox kit… That sometimes seemed a little too aware and human for Iruka’s tastes. He had at first steadfastly denied Naruto's request to take the fox home, but when he woke up to find the small creature sleeping on their porch the very next morning, there had been nothing he could say to make the child give up. So, they kept the fox. Naruto was way too excited about that.
But that bump in the road was just a pebble of a problem, and it was much later, when both boys were older and Iruka had just gotten his degree and started work at a preschool, that things really started to happen.
Being the only adult to have a steady influence on a 14 year old like Naruto was never going to be simple, but when Jiraiya filled his head with tales of hunting Demons that started house fires and decapitating vampires, well… it was only a matter of time before things got strange. Coming home to find a man about his age with a mask that covered most of his face, a headband over one eye, and a shock of grey hair that seemed to stand on end drinking tea in his kitchen and chatting idly with Naruto was not something one would expect. Then again, neither were most of the things that happened around Naruto. This could almost be considered tame when looking at the large scope of their lives.
“Naruto. I see you brought a friend home. Do you plan to introduce us?” Iruka was bone tired after the day of work he'd had, and he gladly poured himself a mug of tea, still hot enough to scald, as he sat next to his brother, keeping a wary eye on the stranger and slipping a hand to the small knife sheathed under the table.
“Oh, yes! Iruka, this was our substitute for Mr. Izumo this morning! You know, the teacher that went missing two days ago. Mr. Hatake just moved here, and I was telling him my theory about the vampire-”
“Naruto. Enough. There isn't a vampire, they don't exist. Jiraiya just likes to fill your head with nonsense.” Iruka watched his brother's face set stubbornly, and knew he had probably just walked his way into a week-long argument, but a chuckle from their guest brought the two out of their usual spat.
“Well, it is certainly fun to think that vampires may exist, but I doubt one took your teacher, Naruto. Shouldn't they have found a body drained of blood by now?” The teacher probably smiled then, his visible eye crinkling, but Iruka didn't appreciate the encouragement.
“But, Ru, Uncle Jiraiya went on another hunting trip as soon as the article about his disappearance was published!” Naruto insisted, then grinned at the grey-haired man. “Last time he went hunting, it was for a werewolf pack in Kansas.”
Iruka had to stop himself from grinding his teeth as the stranger laughed and coaxed him into telling that story. Kyuubi came down the stairs then, yawning from his nap, and leapt onto Naruto’s shoulder to curl around his neck, still as small as the day they'd first met. Naruto was still going on about the werewolves.
“-and these guys showed up to help him out, too, some guy named Bobby and his brother or friend or something John, and Jiraiya was so glad to see them, because there were twice as many werewolves as he had been expecting! Oh, hi, kit. Mr. Hatake, this is Kyuubi! He's-”
Iruka just sighed and went to change. His teacher wasn't anything to be upset over, especially with the way he let Naruto babble. Most people got annoyed with his younger brother for talking too much, but if someone other than him could attentively listen to the brat, that was a good thing.
A thud downstairs had Iruka rushing to see what had happened before he had even gotten a new shirt on, and when he got downstairs to see Naruto holding Hatake in a choke hold while they both laughed on the floor, he really had no idea if he wanted to know what had just occurred. He pulled the clean shirt he'd had in hand over his head and put his hands on his hips in what Naruto teased was his “mom pose”.
“Naru. Is your homework finished, or have you been playing around since you got home from school?” The mom voice, too. He tried not to be too harsh on his little bro, but sometimes it was like trying to raise a wild animal.
Naruto let got of his teacher. “Come on, Ru, you know I don't have any homework on the first day of classes! You just want a reason to mother me to death!” He protested, crossing his arms.
Iruka just gave him a satisfied smirk. “Well, as long as we're both clear on that, I'm going to have to ask you to take this opportunity to tell your new friend goodbye and-”
“Awwwww, but Ru! He just got here! He was supposed to show me some of his Marine fighting moves! Except he started out too easy, and I got him with that flip Jiraiya showed us. Did I mention our uncle has ninja skills he's taught us? Believe it!” Naruto was changing the subject, directing his question to Hatake, but the man hadn't even gotten an answer out before Iruka interrupted.
“Naruto, what did he also tell us about showing your hand before it's needed? That's how you get killed in a knife fight. Now tell Mr. Hatake goodbye, and go get your textbooks so we can look over your course material for the year. Please.” He added the nicety at the end because he knew Naruto would defy his orders until his dying breath but could never deny him a request. Even a rudely phrased one.
“Alright, alright. See you tomorrow, Mr. Hatake.” He scrambled up the stairs for their room after that, and the man still on the floor looked like he'd just undergone a case of whiplash. Common when it came to strangers seeing them interact.
Iruka offered the man his hand, helping him up and noting how warm his hands were. “Sorry to cut you short. I'm sure you have more interesting things to do than sit here and listen to us bicker, though.” He smiled at the taller male, watching the single dark eye look him over.
“Oh, I have nothing against watching you at all. You can call me Kakashi, Iruka. Kakashi Hatake, at your service.”
The silver-haired teacher winked at him and Iruka blushed, frowning at the man. “Um, yes, I… okay. Just… tell me if you have any troubles with the brat, okay? He's hard on new teachers. Likes to see how far he can push them.” The brunette was admittedly a tad confused by the bit of flirting, hyper-conscious of his old clothes and messy ponytail, and he shifted in place as they both heard Naruto dropping something heavy and cursing upstairs, breaking the strange energy in the room.
“Of course. I'll be seeing you around then, it seems. I'll show myself out.” Kakashi gave another eye crinkling smile and did just that, leaving Iruka to continue to blush and feel flustered.
Naruto cursed again upstairs and Kyuubi hurtled down the stairs to jump into the elder’s arms, bringing him out of his daze. He sighed and headed up to see what the trouble was.
“And did you get the blood in his drink?”
“Yes. At the school and in the tea at his house. His brother did get a hold of some of the tea, but I don't think he noticed it.”
“Good. Continue to monitor them. Take the position at the school and watch him. We'll be moving with them all soon. I still think the Winchester is our best bet, but the fox holds potential.”