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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parent Day

Parent Day

by Reizbar-Ookami

Naruto hated Parent Day. All of the students’ parents were allowed to come in and see what they had learned. He didn’t have parents. That may have contributed to why he didn’t put much effort into learning.

So he watched as all of the other students showed their parents how they threw kunai and shuriken, and the parents praised them—even though their kunai may have gone a bit to the left or right of the bull’s eye. He watched all of the other students show their parents where they learned, where their classrooms were, the things they were studying at the moment. He watched all of the other students lead their parents up to their teachers, so they could talk about what wonderful children they had and how they were going to be great shinobi. And he watched as nobody noticed him, sitting alone on the swing outside of the academy.

“Whoa. This is like… all hell let loose.”

“Where’s Naruto?”

Naruto blinked, and it took a moment for him to realize that someone was looking for him—him—because he was the only Naruto in the academy at the moment. Lifting his head, he was confused to see Iruka and Anko looking around the yard full of students and parents and teachers in confusion. He was excited to see them, though he wondered why they were there—but it didn’t matter, because they were looking for him!

Springing to his feet, he used his full speed to get over to them, dodging around kids his age and kids younger and kids older with their parents, before finally tackling one of them; which one it was, he had no idea. “Iruka! Anko!”

“Bwah!” Ah, so it had been Iruka this time. Anko always cursed up a storm.

Naruto sat up from hugging him, frowning in confusion. “But Iruka, don’t you have your own class to be teaching?”

The brunet smiled and rubbed the scar along his nose absently. “Actually, everything’s going pretty smoothly over there, so I thought I’d come over to see you. I ran into Anko on the way over here.”

Anko grinned and ruffled his hair—her standard greeting, when she wasn’t the one being bowled over. “Yeah! So, what have you been learning, anyway?”

Both adults grew concerned as the blond went quiet. Iruka had heard the boy’s teacher complain about how he was a failure and a know-nothing, but he’d always just thought of it as the other man overreacting, because he knew just how hard it was to get Naruto to sit down and focus. He’d never really thought anything of it. He’d been so wrong.

Anko scowled. “Uzumaki Naruto, take me to your sensei right this minute.”

Naruto winced as if her voice had hurt him, then sighed, nodded, and turned to lead them over to his sensei. “This way.” He didn’t even bother acknowledging the disgust and irritation in his teacher’s face as he came to a stop in front of him.

“Naruto? Is there something you need?” the red-haired man asked, pushing his glasses up—but only so he could look down his nose at the boy.

The man had obviously not seen the woman on a mission behind him. Anko caught up to the blond and grabbed the chunin by his collar, bringing him up so their faces were millimeters apart. “And what is your name?”

Believing her to be merely the disgruntled mother of a failing student, the man huffed and pried himself loose, brushing himself off as if he’d been touched by something disgusting. “Hmph! Not that it should matter to you, but my name is Miroto Kasuki.”

Anko felt her lip curl up in loathing for the other man, and she hadn’t even known him for a second. “Miroto Kasuki, huh?” She took a step back and glared at him. “Mind telling me why my little brother was sitting all alone? I thought children whose parents couldn’t come had to do something while this was going on.”

“Well, normally, yes. But none of the other children wanted to work with him, so I just let him do his own thing,” Kasuki replied, his disdain for the woman showing plainly in his voice.

Iruka grew distinctly uncomfortable as some of the parents turned; they had recognized Anko, being jounin themselves, and seeing the shock and horror on their faces, they knew just as well as he did what would happen if the other man kept acting like he did.

Anko growled, eyes flaring wider. “Y-you… you-! Just let him do his own thing!? And we’re supposed to rest easy that someone’s watching our children, teaching them useful things to help protect them when they become ninja?!

“Can I help it if he’s not ninja material?” the man sighed, brushing his hair out of his face again.

The kunoichi could handle it no longer; letting out an infuriated roar, she landed the offending chunin an uppercut that sent him flying. “He’s got more ninja material than the rest of this school combined! You just need to help him find it!” She stomped her foot in frustration. “Stupid moron! You’re a horrible teacher, picking on a little boy that couldn’t protect himself! What kind of person are you!?” Growing even more frustrated with the chunin—even though he was now ten feet away and staring at her in terror—she let out a growl and turned, grabbing Naruto’s hand. “Come on, Naruto! We’re getting ramen! Iruka will come see us at the end of the day!”

“Anko-neesan! You’re gripping my hand too hard!” the blond whined, but trailed after her obediently. He had heard the magic word and would follow her anywhere, even if it included rabid weasels and evil man-eating worms. He was just surprised that she hadn’t ripped the guy a new asshole.

Anko was a nice person. She knew she was. She also knew she could be incredibly cruel. But one thing was for certain; she would never insult or judge someone based on their status. She’d decided that when she’d been joking with some other jounin about how useless chunin were, especially the ones that didn’t plan on becoming jounin. And then she’d seen Iruka—sad, hurt, broken Iruka—blink at her in disbelief, then turn and walk away, and she remembered how hard it had been to get him to forgive her.

Because jounin didn’t teach dozens of students to get ready to become genin. Iruka loved children, and better than that, he loved teaching them, helping them prepare. He may have the potential to be jounin, maybe even ANBU if he really strove for it, but he couldn’t leave behind the children he cared about. And so he chose not to move up.

Once she’d settled Naruto at the bar of Ichiraku with a bowl of spicy beef ramen, Anko looked down at the blond slurping up his noodles and frowned, leaning her chin on her hands. “…Hey, Naruto?”

Naruto blinked up at her in surprise; she’d never sounded so serious. “Mmf?”

“…You know… If you decide you don’t want to be hokage anymore, Iruka and I will still care about you the same, right?” she asked, feeling more concern rise. If Naruto didn’t make hokage, that was okay with her; he could start working for Teuchi for all she cared, as long as he was happy.

The blond blinked at her again, then stated, “This is another one of those things, isn’t it? Where you did something to piss Iruka off and you don’t want to do it to me.”

The kunoichi’s temple throbbed in annoyance. “I’m being serious, you pain in the ass!”

“Hmm.” The boy looked up at her skeptically before nodding slightly. “Yeah, I guess I’ll believe you. But you don’t need to worry, Anko-neesan. I’m gonna be the next hokage for sure!”

“…As long as you’re happy with what you’re doing,” she sighed, then turned and began playing with a kunai. “I could care less what you do as long as you’re happy.”

“Serious doesn’t suit you, Anko-neesan. I know you and Iruka will always be there for me whatever I do. Stop freakin’ out.” Naruto waved her concern away. “You guys worry too much. Have a little more faith in me, will ya?”

Anko’s eye twitched, but she let it go for once, and settled for ruffling his hair. “Psh, I’ll do whatever I want until you’re big enough and skilled enough to beat me up.”

“You’re so weird.”


“—So I’ll be your teacher next year, and if you need help, you can come to me,” Iruka stated, smiling, as he held up a scroll with those exact orders and the hokage’s seal of approval.

Anko cackled. “Which means no slacking for you!

Naruto blinked at her, feeling a little more than embarrassed when the other patrons of Ichiraku turned to stare, and ducked his head. “Whatever, just… stop laughing like that.”

“Why? What’s wrong with the way I laugh?” she asked in confusion, then looked at the brunet. “Is there something wrong with the way I laugh?”

The chunin sighed and rolled his eyes, but he wasn’t going to lie to her; that just pissed her off. “You sound like a creeper.”

“Yeah, you’re like this evil creepy… guy,” the pre-genin added.

“A guy creeper!? You think I sound like a guy creeper!?” she shrieked, then scowled and grabbed the kunai she’d been playing with when Iruka walked up. “Both of you are going to die!

“We didn’t mean anything by it-!” Iruka exclaimed, then let out a squeal and yanked Naruto away from being beheaded. “OHMYGOD I’ll pay you next time Teuchi-saaaan!”

Teuchi watched the chunin and child run away screaming, followed by a vicious jounin, then hummed and took their bowls away from the bar. “They’re getting pretty vicious nowadays, aren’t they?”

“They called Anko a male and a creeper,” his daughter replied, scowling,a s she took the bowls from him. “They deserve everything they get!”

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