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The Sixth Dodge by JBMcDragon

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Table of Contents

- Text Size +
Chapter notes: Written for Dark.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own, nor am I making money, off these characters.
Part One: Insanity

"So, where do you want to go tonight?"

Iruka froze. It was a ninja's job to know who was in the room and when, to know what was going on at all times.

He knew who was in the Tower's lounge: himself and Kakashi.

He knew when: right then.

He had no idea what was going on.

Iruka straightened from leaning over the water cooler, plastic cup in hand. He turned.

Kakashi lounged in the doorway, hands in his pockets. His eyes--eye--flickered up from--

Had he been staring at Iruka's--?

No. Nooooo. Iruka turned the rest of the way around, just to be sure.

There was no one else in the room, but somehow he couldn't stop himself from asking, "Are you talking to me?"

Kakashi's eye cresented upward. "Who else?"

"Ah--" Iruka mentally reviewed his social calendar, and realized he wasn't losing his mind: he hadn't agreed to go anywhere that night with Kakashi, the Copy Ninja, the asshole who put his students through hell and back just because he felt like it. And yet, there Kakashi stood, asking him what he wanted to do as if it were all prearranged.

Realty had obviously slipped from Iruka's grasp at some point.

He *knew* he shouldn’t have had that squid for dinner last night.

"Nowhere?" he suggested, and shifted over to the lunch table. His bento box sat there. He stared at the leftover squid, then packed it up and chucked it toward the garbage. It landed in the bucket with a swish, and he sat down to eat crackers. Maybe he could convince Kotetsu to give him a muffin.

Hatake Kakashi sprawled in the chair across from him, smiling brightly--if the eye was anything to judge by. He folded his arms over the table and leaned on them. "The Icha Icha movie is out."

Iruka stared at the Jounin. A few choice insults came to mind--idiot, insane, lost your freakin' mind--but it was never smart to insult a Jounin. Especially one that might actually have lost his mind. "Ah . . . I can't." No, what Iruka obviously needed to do was get to the ANBU as quickly as possible. Do what everyone did since the Massacre, and get protection in case the stronger ninja actually *had* gone bonkers.

"You can't? Why not?"

Why not? It was a perfectly legitimate question, Iruka supposed. He thought frantically. "I'm, um, working on a new jutsu." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wanted to take them back.

This was the COPY NINJA. Man of a thousand jutsu. Now he'd want to know about it.

As if Iruka was psychic, Kakashi perked up.

"A secret jutsu," Iruka said quickly. "In private," he added, in case Kakashi *really* wasn't getting it.

Damn. Now it was going to get back to the Hokage, which meant he'd better actually have a jutsu thought up. He was going to have to get help for that.

Kakashi looked slightly put out--but it was hard to tell for sure, what with the mask.

Iruka saw his chance. "I, ah, have to go." He gathered up his things, tossing the rest of his lunch into the trash, and fled as quickly as he could.

Kakashi had--what? Had asked him out? Not quite. Had lost his mind. Yes, that was it.

Iruka headed toward the ANBU station, chakra flickering behind him to see if Kakashi was following. If the Copy Ninja was back there, though, he was being sneaky. Iruka couldn't tell.

Ibiki was at the ANBU station, scowling down at forms--which didn't mean anything. The scars pulled Ibiki's face into a constant scowl whether he was upset or not.

Iruka ducked into the room and closed the door, ignoring the annoyed look the Jounin shot him. "I think something's wrong with Hatake Kakashi," Iruka said in a quick whisper.

Ibiki waited.

"He asked me--" Iruka froze, realizing suddenly how incredibly stupid this would sound. "Well, we've never spoken except to argue," Iruka began to explain. Hair fell in his face, and he tucked the wayward strand back hurriedly. "And we've certainly never made any plans to see each other." He realized his shoe was untied and stooped to tie it, setting a box on the ground. That was when he realized he was carrying around an empty bento box. With a frown at himself, he threw it in the garbage and tied his shoe. When he glanced up, Ibiki was looking bemused. Iruka straightened. "What I'm trying to say is, we've never done any of those things, and the Copy Ninja just asked me what I want to do tonight."

"Kakashi?" Ibiki asked, eyes flickering up at the door Iruka was leaning against.

"Yes." Iruka didn't breathe a sigh of relief, thinking finally it would be taken care of.

"Odd that he'd think you were going out when you're not." Ibiki turned back to his paperwork. "But there isn't much about him that isn't odd."

Iruka paused. Nothing happened. "Wait--you mean to tell me you think this is normal?" That seemed a bit excessive. Iruka corrected, "For him?"

Ibiki set down his pen and looked up, brown eyes somber. "He once asked Itachi if the man wanted to have sex."

Iruka's mind whirled. He frowned. "Wasn't Itachi thirteen when he turned traitor?"

"I didn't say it happened before Itachi became a traitor."

It took a moment for that implication to sink in. Iruka blanched. "That's insane!"

Ibiki shrugged. "Kakashi doesn't like normal."

"I'm as normal as you get!" Iruka nearly shouted, stepping farther into the room. Ibiki was ignoring him, glaring down at reports again.

"Hmm."

"I'm a *school teacher*!" Iruka shouted.

"Yes. It's perfectly normal for Chuunin to yell at Jounin and tell the Hokage they don't think students are ready for the exams no matter what their Jounin instructors think--"

Iruka flushed. "Well, that was just concern--"

"--work two jobs--"

"The mission office is only part-time!"

"--still manage to have a social life--"

"*Everyone* has a social life!"

"--and take a giant shuriken in the back for an outcast."

"--I--that was--" Iruka blushed, flustered. "That was just the right thing to do! Anyone would have done it!"

Ibiki's eyes rose, bored below heavy brows. "Like I said. He doesn't like normal people."

"I constantly yell at him for late mission reports!"

Ibiki sighed as if Iruka really wasn't getting something, and looked back down. "I need to get some work done, Sensei. If you wouldn't mind closing the door on your way out?"

Iruka wanted to say something. He wanted to insist they do something about the obviously crazy Copy Ninja on his tail. Instead, he stormed out of the office--but closed the door quietly. He slunk back to the mission room.

Kakashi wasn't in sight.

Iruka settled down to work.

Surely that would be the end of it.

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