There is a book entitled “The Five Love Languages” that I got the inspiration for this work from. For any who aren’t familiar with it, I’ll quickly explain—Iruka will teach you more about the Naruto world’s version later, but let me talk about the real one, first.
Human beings want to be loved. They want to be cared about and understood. However, some people express their love, and receive it, in completely different ways. In the book, these ways are narrowed down to five main "languages": Words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Every person can be put into one or two of those categories, and that signifies how they like to receive and give their love for another. For example, my mother is in the words of affirmation category—she likes to be complemented, and understands that we love her best when we tell her directly. Likewise, she shows her love to us by returning the favor and letting us know that we are loved through words.
My brother, however, is in the category of physical touch. He likes to show his love for people by getting close to them, whether that means a hug, cuddles, or just a simple pat on the head. On the other hand, that is how my family is able to best show him that we love him—even though my mom’s least favorite love language is physical touch, she puts up with it in order to show my brother that she cares (even if some of her hugs are a little unenthusiastic—hey, it’s the thought that counts!).
Alright, does that make sense? If you’re curious about your own love language, you can take the test online. Just type in “love language test” and multiple websites should come up that you can take it on. I hope that my explanation made some sort of sense!
In the universe that I’ve created through the Naruto world, every person requires their love language. It is a necessity to every person—if you do not have access to your love language for a long amount of time, negative effects will occur. Symptoms vary, but can include violent tendencies, depression, and shock. Similarly, if a traumatic or horrifying experience occurs, sometimes an application of your love language can help relieve the stress and trauma of the event, because it reminds one that they are cared for, and they are not alone. Now naturally I didn’t want to call it love languages in the story, because they’re ninja, not fluffy bunnies—so for the purpose of it sounding slightly less mushy (even though it still kind of is), I’m calling it language energy instead. The section about a part of a brain is completely made up, however, so please don’t call me out on it. I needed some sort of scientific-ish explanation.
Okay, if any of this doesn’t make sense please tell me! I did the best I could, and if you’re still reading this after all that, I hope you can enjoy and make sense of the story!
Iruka passes the tiny bracelets out one by one, and smiles wryly as several of the girls squeal in delight, reaching for the jewelry eagerly. The boys, in reaction to the girl’s excitement, cross their arms and pout at having their ten-year-old manliness challenged in such a way, but Iruka had made certain to be as firm as possible while explaining the importance of today’s lesson earlier.
After all, chances are that it will save their lives someday.
He gives the last one to Hyuuga Hinata, who squeaks out a polite “thank you”, before he turns to make his way back to the blackboard. His students are chattering in the background as usual, and a paper airplane takes flight out of the corner of his eye—Iruka shoots it down with a shuriken and pins it to the far wall without breaking his stride. There’s a disappointed groan, but Iruka reaches the front of his classroom and lifts his hands, calling for silence.
The children fall silent immediately, which is a miracle in itself. Iruka’s class is rarely anything less than rowdy (especially with Naruto and Kiba in the back, even if they are on opposite sides of the room with Shikamaru between them). The sudden hush that falls is a testament to how excited they are—or nervous. Probably both, at this point. This is a serious “adult” matter, and they’re not quite willing to risk Iruka’s rage this early in the lesson.
Iruka smiles at the class, and holds up the bracelet on his wrist. It’s bright yellow—the bracelets the students have are white.
“This,” Iruka begins his lesson, “is a language bracelet. This is a very important object, class, that is key to the mental health of every human being.”
A hand raises into the air. Iruka sighs—questions already? He’s only said two sentences! But he glances over at the student and is surprised when he sees Sakura, with her hand high and a curious look on her face. Iruka blinks at her.
“Sakura-chan?” he says, “Do you have a question?”
She nods, and puts her hand down.
“Iruka-sensei, if we don’t wear this bracelet, will we go crazy? You said it was key to mental health.”
Iruka smiles—of course that would be the thing she’d pick out first.
“Not necessarily, Sakura-chan,” he answers. “But wait a moment, and I’ll start from the beginning. Pay close attention, now, this is very important.”
Their eyes snap to him, and he lifts his own yellow bracelet again.
“There is a section in the brain, called the Liebelik, that can be found in every human in our world. Many years ago, the purpose of this section was unknown, but as Konoha was founded and began to thrive, the newly created Yamanaka clan decided that it was time to figure out what it was used for.”
To his left Yamanaka Ino smiles and lifts her head proudly at the mention of her clan. Iruka continues.
“After months of research, the Yamanaka clan discovered that along with the energy we known as chakra, there is a second energy specific only to sentient lifeforms--creatures that can think and reason like you or I do. This new energy is called Language energy.”
Iruka is fairly sure that it was only called that because the Yamanaka clan hadn’t wanted to call it “Love energy”—and yeah, that was really cheesy. Language energy is much better.
“Language energy is critical to the health of the human mind,” he explains to his enraptured students. “When your language energy is depleted, you need to fill it back up again, as quickly as possible. This energy helps to balance a shinobi’s mind, and keep them mentally stable. Once the original Yamanaka clan discovered this, they realized that hundreds of shinobi were suffering from depleted language energy—they hadn’t known how extreme it was, at the time.”
Another hand goes up, but the student doesn’t bother waiting to be called on.
“Iruka-sensei, Iruka-sensei! How do you fix your language thingy if it’s all gone? Could eating ramen help?”
Iruka glances towards the small blond boy, bouncing up and down in his seat and whirling his bracelet around in the air.
“Well… technically, ramen could help,” he answers truthfully, and holds up a hand before Naruto can let out his whoop of delight. “ However, Naruto-kun, it won’t work for everyone. It might not even work for you.” Naruto’s face immediately falls, and Iruka rushes to explain.
“Language energy can be replenished through five different methods. Each one is a different way to let someone know that they are cared about. Through that feeling, language energy is replenished, and a shinobi’s mind will be relaxed and comforted—which is especially important for those in active duty.”
His students are glancing around, fidgeting in their anticipation. Iruka holds up a hand.
“The five methods are these, class: physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. Affirmation,” he says quickly before anyone can ask, “means encouragement and praise. These are the five ways to refill your language energy, and people refer to them as the five languages. Every person has one language that is most effective at fixing your language energy—the Yamanaka bracelets will tell you which one.”
There are dozens of eyes glued to his yellow bracelet. Iruka extends it towards them.
“Your bracelet, when you put it on, will turn a specific color. Green is words of affirmation. To replenish someone’s language energy with a green bracelet, you should give them praise and let them know that they are cared about with words. Blue is acts of service—if you do something nice for them, their energy will grow. Red is receiving gifts, they are comforted by the fact that someone cares about them enough to find a gift for them. Orange bracelets are for physical touch—these people feel cared for when you hug them or pat them on the shoulder. And yellow,” he finishes, shaking his own wrist,” is for quality time. When I need my language energy replenished, I spend time with my precious people.”
The students ooh and ahh. Suddenly, someone in the back gasps.
“Iruka-sensei! You spend time with us every day at school! Does that mean we’re your precious people?”
Iruka smiles brightly at his class.
“All of my students are my precious people,” he says, and watches as their eyes grow wide. Tiny lights of wonder spark within them.
“Ah,” Iruka says. His smile has faded to a small grin, but the feeling in his heart is still there. “Did you feel that, students?” He knows that they did. He himself feels lighter, more at peace. “Just because your bracelet will be a specific color does not mean that other languages will not work on you—most people have two or even three that can at least help. Your bracelet shows your main language, but it is up to you to decide which others can ease stress off of your mind. That, just now, was the feeling of your language energy being replenished!”
His students grin, and most of them are gripping their bracelets in excitement. They’re shifting around in their seats more—Iruka knows he won’t have their attention for much longer.
“One last thing, before we find out your languages,” he says. “Languages can work in two directions, and teach you something about another person. For example, a physical touch person will have their language energy replenished when they are touched positively. Additionally, if a physical touch person touches you, even if your language is not physical touch, that can show that they care for you, and you are a precious person to them. It is the same for receiving gifts—while receiving a gift will replenish their language energy, they will also give gifts if you are a precious person to them. Understood, class?”
Half of his students nod halfheartedly, and Iruka sighs fondly—he’s lost them now. Not that he doesn’t blame them—he had been just as excited to try on his bracelet.
“Alright, go ahead, put them on,” he says, and they squeal in excitement. “And remember, once you put it on and it changes color, it’s yours to keep. Wear it at all times unless specifically asked not to!”
The orderly atmosphere he had done a decent job of maintaining until now disappears almost instantly as the little white bracelets are closed around equally tiny wrists. His students chatter in excitement as they wait for the change, and excited shrieks begin to fill the room (mostly from the girls).
The bracelets aren’t flashy—they shift colors slowly and without any sort of fanfare—so Iruka can’t see what’s going on, but students start to call out colors and raise their new accessories. Iruka sees a flash of blue, a glimpse of green—Ino raises her red bracelet proudly into the air.
Iruka lets them have their moment for a while. It’s an exciting day for them, after all. Their newly learned information will be constant factors of their fate for the rest of their lives. He sips at his coffee and waits patiently for a few minutes, glancing up on occasion to make sure no more paper airplanes are tossed—he didn’t have anything to fear in that regard. His class is far too occupied with sharing their colors.
Ten minutes pass before Iruka rises from his desk.
“Alright, alright, settle down!” he calls. It’s only somewhat effective, so Iruka yells it the second time, and the room goes quiet.
“Line up in front of my desk and show me the color of your bracelet,” Iruka orders. “The Hokage himself wants each language documented, so that in case of an emergency your language energy can always be refilled.”
The chatter restarts as they obey, and Iruka begins to jot down names and colors.
Iruka blinks in surprise as Naruto freezes in front of him, shuffling nervously from one foot to the other and keeping his opposite hand firmly over his bracelet.
“Naruto-kun,” he says softly, “Your language is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Naruto shakes his head, and his eyes are wide—there is some sort of deep sorrow within them that makes Iruka’s breath hitch.
Something isn’t right.
“Naruto-kun, what’s wrong?” he asks quietly, frowning at the boy. “Is everything alright?”
The blond lowers his gaze to the floor as he slowly uncovers his bracelet.
It’s bright yellow. Iruka can see nothing wrong with it, and sighs in relief.
“There’s nothing wrong with quality time, Naruto-kun. I have the same language, remember? You don’t have anything to worry about.”
Naruto is shaking his head firmly, and the small boy balls his fists.
“Iruka-sensei,” he says, and his voice hitches, “What happens if your language energy goes all away? What does it do to you?”
Iruka doesn’t understand why he’s asking at first, and then he does and the realization hits him in the face like a brick.
He’s no idiot. He knows that Naruto is a jinchuuriki, and that the nine-tailed fox is sealed within him. He’s also perfectly aware of the ridicule and hatred that is aimed at the young orphan—that the majority of Konoha would breath a collective sigh of relief if Naruto were to just suddenly disappear.
He looks at the bracelet on the boy’s trembling wrist and comes to the same conclusion Naruto has.
The poor child doesn’t have anyone to spend quality time with—his parents are long gone, and the entire village hates him. No one wants to spend time with a monster.
Sometimes Iruka hates Konoha.
He shoves the anger down and meets Naruto’s nervous gaze.
“Isn’t there anyone you’d like to spend some time with, Naruto? Surely there’s someone.”
Naruto hangs his head and keeps his gaze fixed on the floor. “I… guess. I want to spend time with ji-ji, but he’s Hokage and does lots of important stuff and sometimes I get in the way…”
Iruka hopes that his face isn’t betraying too much of his frustration, but something must show because Naruto winces.
“Sorry, Iruka-sensei,” he says in a voice that sounds of shattered dreams, and Iruka’s heart throbs.
“Naruto-kun, there’s no reason to apologize!” He can’t take this anymore—he’s going to do something about this, with or without the Hokage’s approval. “But remember what I said earlier—all of my students are my precious people, so if you wanted, we could go get some ramen at Ichiraku’s place after class. That way both of our languages would be filled!
Naruto stares at him for a second warily, as if he doesn’t believe him, and Iruka feels another surge of anger. The village has no right to be so cruel to a child, jinchuuriki or not.
Iruka has forgiven Naruto for the death of his parents long ago. If a demon is sealed inside a box, that doesn’t make the container evil—it is what’s inside that could potentially hurt someone. Naruto is not the Kyuubi.
“I mean it, Naruto-kun,” he prompts softly, and smiles. Naruto returns it, hesitantly at first before it expands into his usual beam.
“Only if you pay, Iruka-sensei!” Naruto says mischievously, and Iruka sighs in relief.
His Naruto is back… now Iruka just needs to find out how to keep him that way.
“Hey, you gonna move, loser? You’ve been up there for a long time,” a voice drawls from behind Naruto, and Iruka winces, worried that his work lifting Naruto’s spirits will be undone. Luckily, Naruto’s language isn’t words of affirmation, so he just scowls and turns towards the speaker.
Sasuke. Of course, Iruka thinks. Who else would it be?
The Uchiha shoves Naruto aside and puts his wrist on the table. His bracelet is green—he is words of affirmation. A chorus of girls squeal in excitement at the revelation.
“Excellent, Sasuke,” Iruka says, trying not to worry about the death-stare Naruto is sending the prodigy. “Did you expect that result?” Sometimes he takes a different approach with his more advanced students about this—and Sasuke is definitely one of them. At the question Sasuke’s face twists in displeasure.
“No,” he says curtly, bitterness coating his tone, and then twists his wrist away. He stomps back to his seat. Iruka stares after him (trying not to guess about what the boy must be thinking about) and has to force himself not to pity the last Uchiha. Sasuke isn’t the type to neither need nor want pity.
The bell rings only a few minutes later, and Iruka jots down Inuzuka Kiba’s language—orange—before standing from his desk.
“Class is dismissed!” he announces. “Make sure to tell those you’re close to your language! I don’t want to hear about anyone in the hospital of language exhaustion anytime soon!”
His class bolts for freedom, and once the classroom is empty, Iruka turns to the expectant blond behind him.
“Ready for ramen, Naruto-kun?” he says, and watches Naruto’s face light up. He cheers, and the sound echoes in the empty classroom.
Iruka smiles as he allows himself to be tugged out of the room by the excited boy, who’s chattering away, and feels his heart swell in happiness. His language is quality time too, after all.
And he’d rather suffer a thousand different tortures then let Naruto be destroyed because no one would spend time with him.
Languages can be a dangerous thing, but they are also a ninja’s saving grace.
Iruka will do his best to make Naruto happy, even if he has to do it alone… and even if it’s the last thing he ever does.
That’s his ninja way.
There are some things, about the languages, that aren’t taught in the academy.
Before pre-genin learn about what their colored bracelets mean, parents ensure that every different language is covered and touched on at all times. Children under eight who are diagnosed with language energy depletion are at extreme risk of death (Technically, so are full grown shinobi, but they pretend that they aren’t). Once their main language is discovered, it is easier to keep language energy stable, and avoid the risk of trying to fill the energy with a language that isn’t liked (For example, Sasuke can’t stand physical touch. Come even close and you run the risk of losing a limb).
Another thing that isn’t really taught (it should be, Iruka thinks, but it isn’t really something that can be comprehended by ten-year-olds) is the consequences of allowing your language energy to drain to dangerous levels. It happens sometimes, especially in ANBU and jounin.
Iruka is sitting in the Mission Assignment Headquarters when a jounin walks into the room, staggering a little as he makes his way towards Iruka’s desk.
He looks worse for wear. There are deep bags under his eyes. His uniform isn’t torn and there are no bandages in sight, so the mission must have gone well—but Iruka narrows his eyes in suspicion.
“Here,” the jounin mumbles, pushing a report towards him. Iruka takes it and scans it over.
The report is perfect, Iruka has no complaints. Even so, he hesitates. Something… isn’t quite right.
“Thank you, jonin-san,” he says politely. “Excellent work. Physical status?”
The jounin stiffens, glaring at Iruka.
“Fine,” he growls. “A little exhausted from the journey, that’s all.”
Iruka raises an eyebrow at him, unperturbed by his hostile expression.
“Chakra status?” he asks. The jounin scowls.
“Fine,” he grunts. He turns to leave, and Iruka immediately knows what’s wrong.
“Jounin-san!” he calls. “Language status!”
The man snarls and turns around without warning, suddenly leaping towards Iruka with his bare hands outstretched. Iruka dives backwards, drawing a handful of senbon from his pockets as the jounin’s fist splits his desk in half.
Iruka is about to throw his senbon when suddenly there is a shout and Sarutobi Asuma is there, with Genma and Raidou right behind him. They tackle the jounin powerfully and pin him to the floor. Their captive thrashes in their grip, and claws at their hands.
“Let me go!” the man howls. “Let me up, let go, let go!” He writhes and almost bucks Genma off, but Genma tightens his hold, and the man shouts in wordless frustration.
A medical-nin, an older chuunin, comes rushing forwards and weaves through the flailing limbs and smacks a paper seal onto the jounin’s forehead. The man lets out a final shout before the tag activates and sends him spiralling into unconsciousness. Genma, Raidou, and Asuma release him carefully as the medic-nin crouches over her new patient.
“Language deprivation,” she announces solemnly after a moment of silence. “Has he been taking more missions than usual, Iruka-sensei? Normally it gets noticed much sooner than this.”
Iruka nods--the man had indeed been on a number of long, difficult missions recently. The medic-nin sighs, lifting the man’s wrist and feeling along his arm—higher-level nin sometimes chose to hide their bracelets with a henge.
She finds it a moment later. It’s red.
“Any friends of his nearby?” she asks. “His language is receiving gifts, anyone have a blanket or something before I take him to the hospital?”
Someone does. It gets draped around the man before he is carried out, and Iruka is left to mourn for his poor desk.
Language depletion is caused by several things. The first occurs after something traumatic or stressful occurs. It causes mood swings, anxiety, and self-deprecation. It can be fixed through the five languages, to uplift the spirit of the victim and make them remember they are cared for. This is the most common incident.
The second is much the same as the first, classified different only because of the amount of time spent in the state of depletion and the symptoms—depression, distancing themselves from friends and family, and lethargy.
The third, as Iruka had just seen, caused bouts of irrational thoughts, violent tendencies, and, if it went too long without being recognized and stopped, it could cause a coma, or result in the loss of a person’s sanity. Mental instability was seen—not as much in civilians, but common in shinobi.
It was much more serious than Iruka taught at the academy.
Showing someone they are cared about is a necessity. Nothing good comes from being alone, and much less comes from believing that there’s no one around to support you.
Iruka counts his lucky stars everyday that he is not one of those people.
The amount of time needed spent refilling language energy varies based on language type. Words of affirmation, quality time, and physical touch require constant attention in their language to be maintained in a stable state. Iruka ensures that he compliments Sakura as frequently as possible, pats Kiba’s head in approval after the boy successfully completes an assignment, and spends time with Naruto at the ramen place every few days. Iruka is responsible for every one of his students, and he’ll make sure they’re all as taken care of as possible before they become genin.
The languages of receiving gifts and acts of service are a bit different from the others—mainly because one act of service, or one gift, can fill their language energy for a long period of time. Iruka is more careful with these—makes sure that they’re definitely special and meaningful, both for him and the student. He lets Ino pick an item out of his prize bin when she stays to help him erase the chalkboard after school, and helps Shino clean up the mess his bugs make when Shino (who is still learning the tricks of his clan) loses control of them for two terrifying minutes. The looks they give him are bright and thankful, and Iruka wouldn’t give the memories up for anything in the world.
He’s so very grateful that his language is quality time. He knows for a fact that his life wouldn’t be the same without it.