Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto

And in return I ask for nothing, just a smile

by RainbowLSparrow 0 reviews

Kakashi and Naruto had stayed close to him, had tried to console him, but apparently, the wound for that Iruka was still too fresh to think of anything but everything he had lived through. In the e...

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Characters: Iruka,Kakashi,Naruto,Sakura,Tsunade - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2021-03-29 - 6784 words

They had never seen Iruka like that before. Naruto and Kakashi were quite worried. It had been hours now since he had curled up in a corner of the room, back to the wall, and burst into desperate tears, refusing to acknowledge their existence. They had never seen Iruka cry like that before. In general, the times she had seen him cry, they could count them on the fingers of one hand. They knew it wasn't going to be easy, but taking care of a 10-year-old Iruka was turning out to be more difficult than expected.


They had been called a few hours earlier from the academy and had initially assumed that Iruka had collapsed after a night of correcting homework. This happened more often than all of them, including Iruka, wanted to admit. Unfortunately in those days Naruto and Kakashi were on a mission and in the absence of someone present to remind him, Iruka had certainly avoided listening to common sense and had crossed the line again. It would have been enough to bring him home and put him to bed. Now that they were back he couldn't refuse. The situation, however, was not that and they discovered it only after reaching the academy.

They entered escorted by a colleague of Iruka, thinking that they would find themselves in front of a destroyed Iruka, lying on a cot, as had happened before. But judging by the tension they felt, there had to be more. As soon as they arrived at the door of the Hokage's office, they began to realize that something much more serious must have happened. The tension had become so pressing that they began to feel really worried. They no longer knew what to expect now. The situation they found before their eyes as soon as they entered the room took them by surprise.

They found themselves faced with a singular situation, at the desk there was Tsunade, who was examining, exasperated and saddened, the papers holding her head in her hands. She was obviously in a bad mood for whatever had happened. In her room beside her curled up in an armchair with his face hidden between his knees, there was a child. From the way, his shoulders were shaking it was evident he was crying, but if they hadn't looked in his direction they probably wouldn't have even realized he was there since that crying was incredibly silent.

"You're finally here! I've been trying to calm him down for at least an hour, but whatever I do he won't stop crying!" her voice was sad and very tired. "You try it! You know him better than me, maybe you can calm him down!" They turned to the child perplexed and observing him well, they noticed that he had something very familiar, and then they understood.

"Iruka ?! Is that Iruka? What happened to him?" at those words shouted in a whisper, Tsunade suggested that they move momentarily to a room next door, leaving little Iruka with the guy who had accompanied them there. As they left the room they saw him try to console Iruka with not much success. Iruka was adamant and did not move from his position while totally ignoring the other. As soon as they arrived in the other room, Tsunade immediately informed them of what had happened.

"There was an enemy attack on the academy. It wasn't a very serious thing and the threat was quickly eliminated, thanks to Iruka himself who raised the alarm. During the attack Iruka was hit by a Jutsu of which at the moment we know nothing, I have never encountered something like this, but I am studying a solution to bring it back to how it was before. " after explaining what had happened to them, she seemed to relax a little.

Naruto and Kakashi had full faith in Tsunade, they had no doubt that she would be able to find a solution to that situation, but until that moment they had no idea how they would manage Iruka. He seemed inconsolable and they had never seen him in that condition. "What happened during the attack? Why is he in that state?"

At this question, Tsunade seemed to darken "From what I could understand before he closed in on himself, at the moment Iruka is 10 years old ... This is a very delicate moment in his life. The attack of the Nine-Tails has just happened for him. His parents just died ... "As she spoke her voice grew thinner until it became little more than a whisper at the end of the speech.

The news hit them like a boulder! How would they have managed such a situation? Iruka had been the pillar of both of them for so long, that they had almost forgotten that he too could be weak, that he too had lived through his own little personal hell. He had collected both, first Naruto and then Kakashi, and had taken care of them, bringing them closer to a joyful life, to a life worth living, full of love, which for one reason or another they had not been able to receive from others. It would be up to them to return the love he had given them now that he needed it most. There was nothing they could do to bring back the Iruka they knew (Tsunade would take care of that), but they could do something to try to ease the suffering of the Iruka they had just met.

In the past Iruka had been alone, terribly alone ... Instead now, he was surrounded by people who loved him, he wouldn't have to go through everything alone, not a second time. He had taken care of them, and now it was time to reciprocate. Iruka loved them without asking for anything in return, ever. But now more than ever, they wanted to give back all the love he had given them. Because he didn't deserve to suffer like this!

They returned to the other room, convinced of this thing. Iruka was still there, he seemed to have calmed down a bit, but he hadn't moved an inch from the position they had left him. Kakashi was the first to approach him. He squatted next to the chair where Iruka was and began to run a hand on his back to reassure him. A delicate but firm gesture, light but firm hands. It was something Iruka had done several times with him when he felt bad. Everything he knew about consoling someone had learned from him.

Iruka then looked up, to see who owned that reassuring hand on his back. If looking at him curled up had made his heartache, looking at his face had taken the pain to a new level. His eyes swollen and red, his cheeks streaked with tears, his mouth trembling and his nose running. A pain he had never seen on his face. This was the Iruka who had just discovered how cruel life could be. These were the rubble from which the Iruka they had known was born.

Kakashi took his face with his free hand and wiped his tears by running his thumb over them. Iruka looked at him confused, after all at the moment for that Iruka, he was nothing more than a stranger. "Hi, Iruka-kun! I'm Kakashi and the guy behind me is called Naruto! I know you're sad and scared, but you can't stay here. Tsunade-sama has a lot to do, and it's been decided that you will come and stay with us for the moment! " Iruka abruptly pulled away from the contact and looked at him annoyed, he said nothing, but it seemed he could yell at him at any moment.

At that point Naruto, went to the chair, lifted Iruka and standing up, hugged him tightly, then went to his ear and whispered to him a melody, rocking him a little. It was something they had never seen him do with anyone, a side of him that was unknown to everyone. Hearing that melody Iruka started crying again, but stopped resisting, on the contrary, he hugged Naruto tighter and hid his face on Naruto's shoulder.

The amazement caused by that scene could be read on the faces of all those present and even though they all wanted to voice that silently shared question, none of them opened their mouths. They didn't want that moment to break, no matter what happened. Naruto had a sad smile, with one hand he held Iruka, while with the other he stroked his loose hair. "Shall we go home, Ruka ?!" Iruka nodded against his shoulder, hugging him even tighter.

Just enough time for a quick "bye" and Naruto was already out the door, closely followed by Kakashi.


It took them a long time that evening to put Iruka to sleep. He refused to listen to anything they tried to say to him, he collapsed in a corner of the room and ignored them. They tried to feed him, but he refused the food. They had to. wait until he was too tired to resist to be able to take him to bed. Kakashi and Naruto had stayed close to him, had tried to console him, but apparently, the wound for that Iruka was still too fresh to think of anything but everything he had lived through. In the end, he cried himself to sleep.

Kakashi and Naruto had brought two armchairs into the room to be placed next to the bed to stay there in case Iruka needed someone. It was there that once settled, Kakashi gave voice to that question that he had been holding back for hours. "Naruto, can I ask you a question?" Naruto, looked at him curiously, making a sound of assent. "What happened with Iruka earlier in the Hokage office? What were you singing to him?" his voice a whisper as he leaned over to see if Iruka was okay. "Oh! That's a song that Iruka taught me when I was little."

Naruto's eyes sparkled as he too leaned over to check on Iruka. At the moment he was quiet, but they knew well, that he could wake up because of the nightmares. "He saw me one day that I was more down in the dumps than usual. I felt lonely and I thought no one cared about me ... Well, Iruka understood that and so he taught me that melody and explained what it meant. for him." His eyes were glittering as he recounted this memory.

"He explained to me that this melody was only known to the people of his family, who had been passing it on for generations, they didn't know where and who it came from, but they never stopped passing it down from parent to child. Iruka to me. he had taught, because he said that for him I was like a younger brother. For him, I was a family and he had made me understand this! " from her face you could tell how much this memory meant to him.

They remained for a while in a comfortable silence, mulling over everything that was happening, they were full of questions and doubts, of fears that they could not overcome. It was in that moment of calm, that they were called to attention by a strangled verse of Iruka, it was only a verse, but after a few minutes his sleep, until that quiet moment, had become restless.

He had begun to fidget in bed, rolling from side to side, with an expression of pure pain on his face, breathing faster and faster, he was in a panic. They came close, but not too close, to allow him room to breathe. "Ruka, wake up! It's just a nightmare! It's all right!" They knew very well that this wasn't just a nightmare and that it wasn't all right at all, but at that point they didn't know what to say. They just knew they had to wake him up before he ended up feeling sick.

Iruka woke with a start, stifling a scream in his throat, he was shaking with tremors. He held his hand to his chest and couldn't breathe. A panic attack.Although Kakashi and Naruto tried to reassure him, Iruka seemed not to hear them, still immersed in the memories of what had been. He had his head hidden between his knees, his hands in his hair, which pulled strands until it hurt.

At that point, Naruto decided to intervene. He took his hands to keep him from hurting himself and began to speak to him in a calm voice. Fortunately, he seemed not to react negatively to the contact. "Iruka! Iruka look at me!" Iruka jerked his head up, pointing his terrified eyes into Naruto's calm ones, who took one of his hands and brought it to his chest. "Good Iruka. Now you have to breathe. Follow me, ok?" Despite the state he was in Iruka seemed to have understood this, so Naruto started talking to him again. "Well! Now, inhale ... slowly. Then exhale ... Well, that's right! Again, inhale ... and exhale ..."

He too suffered from panic attacks and it was Iruka who taught him how to deal with them, now that he had seen all this, he felt he understood Iruka a little more. Now he seemed to have calmed down a little, but he was obviously still very shaken. Kakashi in the meantime had called Bisuke, one of his Ninken, he would have been able to do. He had repeatedly dealt with Kakashi's panic attacks and now he had developed considerable experience in the matter.

Kakashi felt helpless in this situation. He knew how to defend his loved ones from physical threats, but not from these kinds of threats. Only in that moment did he realize how much he depended on Iruka, on an emotional level. It was Iruka who always took care of their health psychologically, the rock they relied on completely. Only then did Kakashi realize how much Iruka had given them in return without asking for anything in return, yes how strong he was. Seeing Iruka in that state tore him deeply.He squeezed his chest to see him like that. Fragile, while he fell asleep holding Bisuke to himself.

"Have you ever seen him have a panic attack like that?" Naruto's voice was worried, the violence with which that panic attack had presented him had disarmed him. "I had never seen him have a panic attack, let alone one of this magnitude ..." Kakashi's answer, worried as he was, did not help in any way to reassure him.


Several hours had passed since that panic attack, Kakashi and Iruka had slept a couple of hours each, taking turns to stay next to Iruka in case he had another panic attack. Bisuke had stayed by his side all the time, this thing seemed to have had a positive effect on Iruka, who hadn't had any other episodes like that for the rest of the night.

As time passed, Naruto felt an unpleasant sensation growing inside him, a sensation that didn't belong to him. Kurama. He usually didn't hesitate to talk about every situation they were in, but today he was strangely silent. This was the closest thing to remorse he'd ever felt him feel. At least for the moment, however, he would not ask him anything, but he was convinced he would come back later. Everything that, that Iruka was going through was because of what he had done years ago, but Kurama was too proud to admit that he felt anything even vaguely like remorse for something he had done.

While thinking about this, Naruto was abruptly recalled to reality by a thud. He immediately ran to the room where he had left Iruka along with Kakashi and Bisuke. As soon as he set foot there, he found himself in front of a scene that he did not know how to describe, if at that moment it had not been so sad for Iruka, he probably would have found it funny.

While he slept Iruka used to roll up in blankets, so much so that sometimes he got stuck and took a while to unroll them off. Apparently, it was something he used to do since he was a child judging by the roll of blankets that kept wriggling on the floor. The more Kakashi tried to help him, the more Iruka got stuck trying to roll away from him.

Looking closely at that scene it was actually so much fun, he couldn't hold back a strangled laugh. "Iruka, stop and get help!" Naruto had a friendly tone, lightened by that poorly restrained laugh. "No! Leave me alone I didn't ask for your help!" he kept rolling away every time they tried to help him, so at these words from him, they decided it was better to give him some space. The child Iruka was even more stubborn than his adult counterpart.

Once he got rid of Kakashi and Naruto, Iruka didn't take long to untangle the tangle of blankets in which he found himself. His face was a little pouting, he didn't seem at all happy to have woken up, at least not like that. They certainly couldn't blame him, waking up like that wasn't pleasant at all, especially after a bad night like the one he had been through.

"Good morning Iruka! How do you feel?" Kakashi kept his voice low enough not to disturb him, but loud enough not to come out in a whisper. As an adult Iruka was not an early riser, so he thought his younger counterpart might not be too. In fact, Iruka, although free from the blankets, had remained sitting on the ground with his eyes half-closed, looking around confused.

Naruto who had always had too much energy in his body at any time of day and night, both awake and asleep, opted for a decidedly less calm approach and went in the direction of Iruka and picked him up. "Good morning Ruka! How are you doing this morning!" His voice, definitely louder than Kakashi's.

Iruka, although annoyed by all that liveliness in the early morning, did not seem to take too much offense with Naruto. "How about a nice breakfast?" Iruka said nothing, he put his head on Naruto's shoulder and wrapped his arms around Naruto's neck. With a beaming smile on his face, Naruto moved into the kitchen, where he was followed by Kakashi, who promptly set about preparing breakfast.

He did not know what to prepare, he would have tried, with their usual breakfast, hoping that Iruka's tastes over time had remained more or less similar. Meanwhile, Naruto sat down at the table, Iruka still hugging him like a koala. He ran a hand through Iruka's loose hair to untangle the tangles that had been created during the night. Every now and then he would leave him a kiss on his head, while he returned Iruka's hug.

Iruka's imprint was so clear in everything Naruto did. The day before Kakashi had not realized it, taken by the emotions of the moment, but now it was clear to him. Although with a very personal touch, it was clear the influence that the adult Iruka had in the way Naruto dealt with the child Iruka. He had seen him do the same things to his students thousands of times. Naruto's way of doing, in some ways, had also been shaped starting from Iruka, he had never realized how much it was actually true, until that moment. Iruka had taken care of his students so well, that he left such an important imprint on them. He felt a mixture of envy and admiration for him!

Usually, their breakfast was very fast and not very traditional, they always had too many things to be able to take longer than necessary. They ate cereals, biscuits, rusks, all thrown down with a cup of tea or coffee depending on the day. It was probably not the kind of breakfast this Iruka was used to at all, but with the fridge and cupboard empty, there was little he could do. The day before there had been no time to do the shopping. They would give it a try with what was available, otherwise, they would go out and get something.

He prepared the bowls of cereal, heated some milk, opened a packet of biscuits, toasted the bread, and took jam and hazelnut cream. He put everything on the table, in front of Iruka to allow him to choose what inspired him most. He was still tangled to Naruto, in a state between wakefulness and sleep, he was still exhausted from the previous night.

Naruto gently tapped with his fingers on Iruka's back to get his attention "Ruka wake up! Breakfast is ready!" Naruto's tone was much calmer now, as he kindly tried to attract Iruka's attention, who didn't want to move from the position he had taken huddled against Naruto. He remained to cling as if his life depended on it as if by breaking the contact the other could disappear into thin air.

Quite a justified reaction when you think about everything that Iruka had just experienced. In the tragedy, he had found a fixed point to hold on to, to make that situation more bearable, and that point was Naruto. Paradoxically, the person who carried within himself the cause of all his misfortunes was the only one who could at that moment make him feel good.

It had always been like that. Naruto had something about him that attracted people, that made them feel good. Whoever was next to him could not fail to succumb to that mysterious charm, which was light and heat. Anyone would find themself around him could not avoid being dragged into the vortex that was Naruto. He sucked everything and everyone into his worldview and changed, and molded everything into different forms.

Iruka looked up, his swollen red eyes focused on Naruto's bright, vibrant ones. He moved his head to indicate that he did not want to eat. Kakashi suddenly remembered something Iruka had mentioned to him one day as they talked about eating. He hadn't been generous with the details, but he talked about having trouble eating for fear of feeling sick. He had said it in a somewhat convoluted and vague way, so much so that he had only understood its meaning now.

"Oi Ruka! You have to eat something, you can not stay on an empty stomach ... you'll be alright, okay ?!" Kakashi's voice was gentle but firm. He motioned to Naruto, who was looking at him in confusion, to turn Iruka around so he could talk to him looking him in the face. He bent down to be level with him and took Iruka's hands in his. "Iruka ... I know you don't want to eat because you are afraid to throw up! But by not eating, you will only do worse. You have to eat and stay strong."

Iruka stared straight into his face. He still didn't know whether to trust him or not. "It will be okay! And if you feel even a little bad, Naruto and I will be there to take care of you, ok ?!" Iruka seemed to be convinced at least a little by listening to Kakashi's sincere tone. He made a sign of assent. He was hesitant, but he seemed to be convinced.

At that point, strengthened by that assent he had just received, he tried to feed him, but as soon as he arrived with the spoon near his mouth, Iruka jerked his head back. A gesture so abrupt and quick, it surprised Iruka himself. He felt, by looking into his face that he was facing an internal battle against himself. One part of him wanted to trust Kakashi and eat, the other kept yelling at him not to eat anything at all. That if he ate anything he would feel sick. Too sick! He couldn't afford to get sick now. He was alone now, no one would be there to look after him.

He was terrified. He began to shake his head harder and harder, covering his mouth with his hands. "You must not eat. You must not eat. You must not eat." He couldn't think of anything but that. The very idea of having to put something in his mouth had begun to disgust him, so much was the disgust that his internal organs began to revolt. Painful spasms to throw out something that wasn't there. The pain was impossible to bear. He felt like crying, he couldn't breathe, it seemed to him that the world was spinning too fast around him. He felt like he was dying.

Another panic attack. This time triggered by food. They didn't even have time to calm him down this time. Panicked, Iruka, broke free from Naruto's embrace and dodged Kakashi, headed for the door, and ran away.

Iruka didn't have the faintest idea of what was going on. He just felt that he had to escape, that he had to get to safety. Safe from what?! Even he didn't know. Or maybe he knew...

Yes! The nine-tailed fox was there. He had to escape. Yes escape, but where? Where was he? He didn't know. He just knew he had to run. Get away from there! He had to go ...

His heart burst in his chest and his lungs burned, an extreme pain. So extreme that it blurs his vision, obscures it. So extreme that he passed out, there immediately, in the middle of nowhere, that maybe was not the middle of nowhere, but he wasn't sure of that.


Kakashi and Naruto were terrified, they couldn't believe they let Iruka slip away, especially now that he was in those conditions. He could have ended up anywhere, anything could have happened to him. Kakashi had called his ninken back so he could find Iruka as soon as possible, before anything could happen to him.

With their help, it didn't take long to track Iruka back. A few minutes and they were headed to Konoha's hospital, where Iruka had apparently been taken after passing out because of the panic attack.

There, waiting for them, they found Sakura and Rock Lee. They were returning home after a workout when they found little Iruka on the ground unconscious. Sakura had given first aid on the spot, but she had preferred to immediately take him to the hospital for further examinations. Rock Lee had offered to accompany her.

When Naruto and Kakashi arrived following the ninken, Sakura was bustling around the hospital bed on which Iruka's tiny body lay. Beside her, Lee watched in fascination, it was always a sight to watch Sakura as she worked. All her dedication and her talent made her shine in this job.

"Kakashi-sensei! Naruto! What are you doing here?" Sakura was surprised to see them there. They hadn't been injured on the last mission, and she didn't seem to notice anything out of place looking at them. Something else must have happened if they were there. But now that she looked at him better, that little boy looked very familiar ...

"Sakura! Thank goodness you found Iruka!" Naruto threw himself on her and hugged her, happy that she was the one who found him and took care of him. Immediately afterward he rushed to the cot to see how the boy was doing. A couple of tears trying to escape his frightened eyes.


It was at that moment that Sakura began to connect the dots. Attack on the academy, one person involved, nothing was made public, Tsunade in her office, more unapproachable than usual ... It all made sense now!

She moved her huge surprised eyes to Kakashi. He was tense, worried, sad ... A mix of emotions with devastating power. To less experienced eyes he might have seemed the usual Kakashi, but for those who, like her, knew him well and knew how to read him even without any attempt to communicate, Kakashi was one step away from collapsing!

Seeing the situation, realizing that his presence could complicate things, Lee decided to remove himself from there and after having taken his leave quickly, he left them alone in that hospital room. Sakura didn't care, about what he had just seen and heard, she knew that Lee was perfectly capable of keeping secrets, especially if of this caliber. He would have waited to be alone with her to be able to resume the subject, eventually.

As soon as they were alone, Sakura watched the small group. Kakashi's ninken were arranged around the bed on which Iruka was lying, with a protective attitude, they too cared a lot about him. Naruto was bending down beside him, stroking his hair and face as he allowed some of the accumulated worry to leave his body.

Kakashi also seemed much more relaxed than when they arrived. She approached him so that she could know more. "Kakashi-sensei ... What happened?" her voice was soft, almost a caress in that moment of common concern. Sakura was often brusque in her ways, but over time she had learned to soften her temper on occasions that required it.

"I already know about the attack at the academy, even if I don't have many details. Tsunade has been locked in the office for hours and won't let anyone near. Now I understand why ..." she still lacked many details, but at least they shouldn't have to start from the beginning.

"Iruka was hit by an unknown jutsu, which brought him back to the age of 10. For this Iruka, Kurama's attack just happened!" his words rushed out of his mouth, like a raging river. To Sakura, that seemed to be enough to frame the situation for the moment. She would ask for more after her examinations, but for the moment this information was sufficient.

She was relieved to find that there were no physical problems, what worried her was the psychological side. It was strange to her to see him in that state. He was so small and helpless, she wasn't used to seeing him like that. He had always supported them all, with enviable fortitude. It was a pillar in their existence. All of her pupils had formed from him, there was something of Iruka in all of them.

When she returned to the room, Iruka was awake. He was hugging Naruto and Kakashi tightly, while he kept his face hidden between their shoulders. "Ruka, listen! We're not angry ... it's okay! We were just worried." Kakashi kept talking to him in a reassuring voice while stroking his back. Naruto instead started humming something to him. It was such a tender image, she tried to get out as quickly as possible without getting noticed, but they had already realized she was there.

As soon as he became aware of the presence of another person he did not know, Iruka flattened even more against the two, seeking protection. Naruto couldn't hold back a laugh "Ruka! There's nothing to worry about. Sakura is a friend. You know the very good doctor we were talking about before ?! it's her!" Naruto's voice was cheerful and shrill as usual. It seemed to give Iruka a little courage, as he pulled away from him to get a better look at the newcomer.

"WOW! Very good doctor?! Thanks!" Her voice was playful as she addressed Naruto and Kakashi. "Hi, Iruka-kun! I am Doctor Haruno Sakura. How do you feel?" Her voice as she spoke to Iruka was softer and calmer. Iruka moved her eyes from Sakura to Naruto and Kakashi bewildered, looking for some confirmation. Kakashi and Naruto motioned him to answer, trying to reassure him.

Feeling reassured by the two, Iruka turned his attention back to Sakura who had been waiting watching the scene, a sweet smile on her bright face. "I feel better Sakura-sensei! Thank you! Sorry for the inconvenience ..." Iruka could not look at her face, he observed his hands, which he could not keep still, he finished the sentence in a whisper. He seemed to feel at fault for what had happened.

Sakura felt her heart tighten in her chest. He was so frail ... "Hey! Iruka-kun, look at me! It's okay! We just want to make sure you're okay. Could you explain to me what happened to you this morning?" As she spoke, she moved closer to the bed Iruka was sitting on. As soon as she finished speaking Iruka began to fidget, immediately lowered his gaze to his hands, which were moving more and more frantically. As she feared, the damage was not physical in nature.

Unfortunately, he had already seen the same things happen to some children, following the attacks on villages by the Akatsuki. What dealing with an attack of this magnitude she could do to children's minds always left her heartbroken. Iruka had helped take care of the children in those situations. He was the best volunteer she had ever worked with, he knew very well how to treat children. She had thought it was because as a teacher he had had a lot of experience, but now she saw where his abilities came from.

Without noticing it, he had started scratching his hands and arms. Sakura sat down next to him and took his hands to keep him from getting hurt even more. Dermatillomania. It was Iruka, years ago, who had explained to her what it was and what its name was. His hands were frozen, in contrast to the rest of his body which was too hot.

He realized how cold his hands were, only when they made contact with Sakura's, he shivered and raised his eyes up to meet those of the doctor in front of him. He felt like a weight inside him at the very thought of talking about what had happened to him. He wanted to talk, but every time he tried to open his mouth, no sound came out. He couldn't speak, he couldn't scream, it was as if something was strangling him from within, preventing the words from coming out and the air from entering.

He knew he had to calm down otherwise he would risk feeling sick as he had a few hours before. He began to follow the directions that had been given to him by Naruto the night before. Breathe in. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Relax! Exhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Inhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. You can do it Iruka! Exhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Inhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Everything will be fine! Exhale. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

All around him, the world had resumed a definitive shape, now he could see again his hands in Sakura's hands, looking up he could see her face, turning his head he could see Naruto and Kakashi, next to him on the bed Bisuke and the other ninken all around the bed. He felt relieved. He couldn't say he was fine, but he surely was better than before. Now he could finally breathe, but he didn't feel like talking yet.

Sakura seemed to understand this because she helped him lie down and told him that they could talk later when he would feel better. Iruka took a short time to fall asleep, he felt too tired to be able to do much, besides holding Bisuke's paw with his hand.


As soon as Iruka fell asleep Kakashi and Iruka left the room to talk to Sakura who had been waiting outside the door. "I guess this isn't the first time this has happened judging by the state I found him in." she had a sad, tired expression on her face.

"Since we brought him home yesterday afternoon this is the third, we don't know if there were others before we arrived. But yesterday he spent all the time crying and only stopped when he fell asleep." Kakashi had begun to explain the situation to Sakura, who listened to him intently.

"Before falling asleep he refused food, we thought it was because of the situation ... But this morning when he refused to eat again, I remembered something he said to me years ago, at the time I couldn't understand well what he was talking about. He mentioned something about not wanting to eat for fear of feeling sick and throwing up. I tried to talk to him about it and he also seemed to be convinced, but as soon as I tried to feed him, he abruptly pulled back and had another panic attack. We didn't have time to stop him and he ran away. You already know the end..."Kakashi finished speaking while observing Sakura, who seemed to be lost in her thoughts, thinking about something he had said.

"Sakura! What's going on?" it was Naruto who had spoken to her this time. She had a strange expression on her face as if she had remembered something unpleasant, something painful. It wasn't an expression you often saw on her face and usually if you did see it, it was for something serious.

Naruto's voice called her back to reality. "Oh! Nothing, nothing! But maybe I came up with an idea!" The energy that seemed to have left her the moment before was back, as was her smile. "I'll talk to you later. I'm going home now, I'm going to take a shower and as soon as I'm done I'll come back and see how Iruka feels!"

Naruto and Kakashi felt that something was wrong, but just long enough to say goodbye and Sakura was already gone, leaving them alone with their unspoken words.


When Iruka woke up they were all still there. He was so relieved and happy that he almost felt like crying. At a time when everything he loved seemed to slip through his fingers like sand, having someone to rely on gave him hope.

"Iruka-kun! How do you feel?" he wasn't quite sure how to answer this question, he looked up to meet Sakura's eyes. The doctor had something incredibly reassuring, he didn't quite know why about her, but he knew he could trust her. He was happy that those people were taking care of him.

"Better than before! Thanks..." His voice was stronger than before. Listening to his own voice sound so determined put him in a good mood, so much that a shy smile appeared on his face.

It was the first time since they had met that Iruka, that they saw him with a vaguely happy expression. Even in his sleep, his expression was always sad. He looked like he could cry and scream at any moment. But now that little smile seemed to give some hope and relief to everyone, including Iruka himself.

"that's great news Iruka-Kun!" Sakura's voice was cheerful and relieved, as was the expression of everyone present. "I have an idea to celebrate. Let's go to Ichiraku Ramen altogether." Sakura proposed to test Iruka's reaction.

He seemed to frown "We can't, it's closed ... They say that Teuchi-san was hurt ..." they hadn't thought about that eventuality, they expected a rejection of another nature. This answer had surprised them, but come to think of it, they should have expected something like this. They knew what kinds of damage the attacks on the village could cause and had also seen Kurama at work.

"Teuchi is fine now. Ichiraku Ramen is open again! I'm looking forward to going there, I missed Teuchi's ramen ... Do you like ramen, Ruka?" Naruto full of energy, as usual, had managed to restore the good mood. Iruka was so happy to know that Teuchi was okay, he was very fond of him. "It's my favorite dish!" Iruka's response seemed to lighten the mood even more.

"Perfect then!" Naruto lifted Iruka and put him on his shoulders "Hold on tight Ruka! Let's go!" Iruka stifled a scream as Naruto ran before finishing the sentence. Calmly followed Kakashi and Sakura accompanied by the Ninken. Iruka's good humor had made them all more relaxed. He looked a little more like the Iruka they had always been used to.

As soon as they arrived at Ichiraku Ramen, Iruka began pawing to be put down. As soon as Naruto pulled him off his shoulders, Iruka ran into the place. He was impatient to see how Teuchi was, he had missed him all the time the place had been closed. It had been too long since the last time he had talked to him.

"Teuchi-san! Teuchi-san!" Iruka entered the small room, calling out to the owner, who was looking at him in disbelief. He hadn't heard that voice for years and he honestly didn't expect to hear it again, since the owner of that voice had grown up for quite a while now. "Iruka-kun ?!"
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