tale of galant jiraiya
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Re: The Truth of the Matter
As far as bad days went, Iruka had to admit that his could have been far worse. His morning had gone pretty smoothly; he woke up on time, his most comfortable outfit was washed and hanging up in his closet so he didn’t have to go searching for it in the mess that was his humble bachelor pad. His breakfast could have been a little more filling, but it was a toss up between that and not having to put in the effort to make it. The pages of his lesson plans for the day were a little mixed up, but at least he had them. Now if only his students would behave, Iruka would be willing to call the day a success.
That was starting to look like it was going to be impossible, though, and as usual the culprit for the teacher’s stress was little Naruto. The chuunin wondered if it was some kind of record that the blue-eyed boy wasn’t even at school yet and already he was causing trouble.
Of course, had it been any other student the teaching staff would have completely ignored the absence. It would have been duly noted on the attendance sheet and only brought up again when the student failed to bring in an excuse note from their parents. Not so with the blond-haired troublemaker.
Every new teacher that discovered the problem student of the entire school hadn’t shown up that morning contributed to the griping about how they would all be better off without him and how he was more trouble than he was worth. Iruka gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the complaints, but it was tough when after every new statement of ‘what I would have done with him if it were me’ he was tempted to point out that they should count themselves lucky Naruto hadn’t shown up. It meant the likelihood of pranks disturbing the classes had gone down drastically and maybe they could have a peaceful lesson for once.
It wasn’t that Iruka didn’t know what Naruto was. He knew all right. If anything, he was hyper aware of what resided in his classroom every day for the past three years. It made him extra vigilant in the first year, careful to monitor the monster that interacted with his students, that acted out and disrupted everyone. But as time passed and the teacher realized that the deadliest thing the blond had ever done was to stick himself in the path of a class of seventh years during weapons training, Iruka began to relax his guard. Not all the way. He was still very careful to keep an eye on the boy, but now he was willing to recognize Naruto as a student.
And Naruto was a student. He wasn’t the best, not by a long shot. His martial arts was the sloppiest Iruka had ever seen and still been able to consider someone a shinobi, his marksmanship with a weapon was horrible to the point that the chuunin was often amazed that the blond could hit the target, and his chakra control was all over the place. Sometimes the boy could produce results that were a couple years ahead of the others and other times Iruka struggled to find reasons that could give the Kyuubi vessel any kind of passing grade at all. Naruto didn’t even always manage to stay through the whole school day.
When it came down to it, however, Naruto was always able to pass. Granted it was usually with an average grade or slightly above, nothing that would get him into the good graces of the other teachers, but he wasn’t just squeaking by either. His homework was always turned in, even when none of the answers were strictly correct, and every problem was seriously answered. Iruka never found any extra doodles on them, despite the graphite smeared all across the page. The blond could be doing horribly on any one concept, but when testing time came around the teachers rarely had to hand back a red ‘F’ (and some of those had been fabricated by the instructor.)
So Iruka did what he could. Naruto didn’t receive any special treatment. He was treated like any other student in the chuunin’s class, but frankly that was more than could be said for some of Iruka’s colleagues, who tended to purposely try and humiliate the seven year old, much to his disgust. He didn’t defend Naruto to the others when they mocked and scorned the boy behind his back, but he made it a point to never join in even when he was provoked, and the other teachers knew to leave him alone by now when the topic came up.
That was why Iruka left the teacher’s lounge early to head to his classroom when the insults became too much. If he were honest with himself, he was a little worried too. Naruto may have had a track record of skipping out in the middle of the day, but the chuunin couldn’t even recall one time that the blue-eyed boy had missed the start of school. He was sure he would have remembered the lack of chaos and the lucky break from constant vigilance over his classroom.
Of course, there was always the possibility that Naruto was simply sulking over his injury. The troublemaker had taken some offense to the fact that the wound hindered him from fooling around like normal. Iruka had even found him and Kiba wrestling in the dirt the other day, which was hardly surprising. The blond and the Inuzuka boy had very similar temperaments and were often at odds with one another. Lecturing them was normal, but Iruka had gone over his speech a couple times in his head since then and was willing to admit that he might have put extra fault on Naruto, especially since his bandages had come completely undone.
It was just frustrating to watch a student who put so much work into his studies—despite the questionable results they produced—completely disregard the needs of his body. Shinobi were known to push the limits of what they could do physically in battle, certainly; but when they were recovering at home they made sure to actually recover and not aggravate their injuries by repeatedly reopening them.
The blue-eyed orphan was also set off from his classmates in that most children had a tendency to coddle their injuries, still used to their parents worrying over every little scratch. Iruka had the unfortunate luck of witnessing just how ignorant Naruto was when he practically shed his skin like a snake after a particularly bad sunburn and couldn’t understand his teacher’s horror.
Despite this, the rambunctious boy did not turn a blind eye when he was treated unfairly. The chuunin had often been the recipient of Naruto’s frustration when he was accused of crimes he had not committed and Iruka did his best to be prepared for whatever elaborate trap had been set up for him to trip over. Unfortunately, Naruto was incredibly inventive, to say the least, and Iruka rarely saved himself the trouble. It had forced the scarred man to gain a lot of patience when dealing with the blond and he had hit the limit yesterday. Maybe having the one teacher who treated him fairly slip up and act like every one else in the school had been the breaking point, and the mishcevious boy was giving up on his dream of becoming Hokage.
Iruka barked out a laugh at that thought. Somehow it just didn’t seem like Naruto at all.
That left the question as to where he was unanswered, but the chuunin had no more time to ponder over it as he entered the classroom of rowdy seven and eight year olds. A small group had gathered around the back of the class and some kind of heated argument had broken out. Iruka put a stop to it before it got any worse and started roll call. Naruto was missing, as expected, and his absence was not unnoticed by the others. Someone called out, “Good riddance,” which got a round of snickers and discrete cheers that where quickly stopped by a glare from their instructor.
At least, most of them stopped. To Iruka’s surprise Chouji and Shikamaru were still whispering to each other, and from their expressions it wasn’t just idle gossip. The fact that Shikamaru was conscious enough to be involved at all was surprising in and of itself, but it actually seemed as if he were angry with Chouji, which had never happened to Iruka’s knowledge. Annoyed, yes, but everything was an annoyance and too much trouble to be worth it to Shikamaru.
“Is something wrong, you two?” the chuunin questioned them.
Shikamaru’s focus was suddenly on the front of the room, but Chouji watched the other boy out of the corner of his eye. “No, sir,” came the answer, “It’s none of our business.” The stress put on the last four words was almost unnoticeable, but clearly meant for someone other than Iruka. An angry crunch came from Chouji, who had angled his body away from his best friend.
What has gotten into my students today? The instructor thought as he continued with the attendance. After about seven names down, though, he realized that his laziest student was staring with some worry at the empty spot across the room. Shikamaru knew something, but he wasn’t giving it up in front of his peers. Iruka would just have to interrogate the boy after their weapons training then.