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Experience Is the Second Best Teacher

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Teaching had its perks, Kakashi knew that. Shaping the future, inspiring the next generation to reach their full potential, watching them have aha moments, all that supposed jazz. Though for himself, nothing compared to the joys of exasperating his young charges, the beautiful consternation that a perfectly timed late arrival caused, the gleeful giddiness of never making anything easy ever.

He just hadn't realized one of the perks could be a pack of overly protective proteges out for the blood of anyone with designs on a beloved teacher's honor.

It was ungodly early when he arrived at Hokage Tower. Ungodly for him, at least. Anyone else would call it shortly before lunch. He'd barely gotten settled at his desk when a young chuunin kunoichi entered his office with the usual morning armful of paperwork.

"Congratulations on your engagement, Hokage-sama!" she said, tone cheerful and smile bright as she dropped the heavy pile on his desk.

"Thank you, Kyoutake-san," Kakashi said, not surprised word had already spread. He and Iruka might have made the official announcement only last night, but they did live in a shinobi village after all. "Don't you usually work night shifts though? It's a shame you had to process this much paperwork so early in the morning."

"Oh no, Sir, not at all. I beat out a dozen others for this shift," she said, patting the paperwork fondly. "It was an honor!"

With one last wide smile, she turned and walked out the door.

Kakashi resisted the urge to sigh as he eyed the size of the pile. This was far more than the usual amount. Might as well get it over with. He grabbed the first form.

And then blinked at it.

It was a D-rank mission request, orderly and neatly filled out, but aside from the penmanship, nothing else about it followed protocol. The form was asking for preemptive approval of a mission that only a jilted lover might request. The date of the mission was pending any of a dozen listed betrayals and the target's name had been redacted, like Kakashi's clearance wasn't high enough to see it. Ignoring all the moral issues of hiring a ninja to get revenge on an unfaithful significant other, the fact that this had been listed as a D-rank mission was almost insulting to the unnamed target. It assumed shinobi would be willing to maim or assassinate someone for roughly the same price as weeding a garden or finding a runaway pet.

Kakashi set it aside. He would not be approving a mission like that, not even if it took Naruto another 100 years to take over this damn job. He made a mental note to have T&I do a stability assessment on the requester.

As he picked up the next form, it was immediately apparent that it too was in the same vein. This time it was a reimbursement request for the price of a kunai purchased for the express purpose of safeguarding the virtue of another shinobi, name again redacted.

He shook his head and set that one aside as well, only to find more of the same on the next form. And the one after that.

It took him a good hour to get through the whole pile, finding it nothing but threats disguised as official paperwork. Every form had been signed by a shinobi that had either graduated from the Academy, worked at the Academy, or worked at the mission desk sometime in the last decade and a half. It wasn't hard to put the pieces together.

Kakashi chuckled, slightly bemused, and figured he shouldn't be surprised. If Iruka could inspire him to do his paperwork, of course his students should be no different. If anything, he was impressed with how quickly they'd managed to do all this. It was likely just a tradition he'd never heard of before, a little good-natured hazing for the newly engaged.

Without giving it much more thought than that, he got to work approving actual mission requests.

~*~*~

A few hours later, he had Kyoutake run out to grab him lunch. She came back in record time, wide grin from the morning still in place.

"I got you something from the new Ichiraku Bento Shop. Teuchi-san made it for you himself!"

She left the boxed lunch on his desk and then headed back out.

Kakashi finished up the form he was working on before reaching for the bento, unable to resist the smell of fish coming from the plastic container. He had to pause after he opened it though.

On top of his rice, painstakingly drawn out in furikake, were the outlines of a broken heart and a kunai, separated by an equals sign.

He blinked at it for a few moments, then decided to eat it anyway. It probably wasn't poisoned.

Probably.

~*~*~

That afternoon was the annual field trip for the first year Academy students to Hokage Tower. He'd thought it hadn't been on the schedule for a few more weeks, but apparently it'd been moved up. The majority of the tour was handled by other shinobi, but the hokage always answered questions in their office at the end.

Which was how Kakashi found himself sitting at his desk with three dozen 6-year-olds in his office, every single one of them bouncing on their tiptoes, arms straining in the air to be the first he called on.

And all of their questions were about the same topic.

"Do you have cooties? Are you going to give them to Iruka-sensei?"

"Do you love Iruka-sensei?"

"Can I be your flower girl?"

"Are you going to wear a big white dress?"

"Are you and Iruka-sensei having a baby?"

Denying that one had been the wrong move. It was followed by a barrage of tiny outrage on behalf of their principal.

"Why don't you want to have a baby with Iruka-sensei?"

"My mom said married people who love each other have babies. Don't you love Iruka-sensei?"

"Why don't you love Iruka-sensei?"

"If you don't love Iruka-sensei, why are you marrying him?"

"Iruka-sensei is awesome, you're lame. Why would he want to marry you?"

The teacher let it continue for a full ten minutes before stepping in and gently explaining that just because two people love each other and get married, it didn't mean they had to have babies. This only mildly appeased the students, who spent the rest of the visit giving him suspicious looks in between questions that were, sullenly, not about Iruka.

As they were filing out of his office, one of the littlest students broke away from the pack and ran over, pulling a folded paper from her pocket and offering to him.

Unfolding it revealed a crayon drawing of a circle of tiny stick figures guarding a larger pony-tailed stick figure from another larger stick figure that was wearing a giant hat. Kakashi decided it was best to ignore the fact that the behatted figure was covered with splotches of red.

He almost found it cute that he had tiny ninjas-to-be threatening him, but then he remembered what he'd been like when he was six and he refolded the drawing very slowly.

Looking up, he saw the teacher waiting by the door, watching him with a serene smile on his face.

"Aren't they precious," Kakashi said.

"The students adore Iruka-sensei. They'd be so disappointed if their favorite principal ever got hurt. Who knows what they would do," the teacher said in a calm voice that would be more suitable to discussing the weather than delivering a casual threat.

Kakashi forced out a chuckle. "That's... understandable."

The teacher nodded in acknowledgment and left Kakashi's office.

When he and Iruka had decided to finally get hitched and go public with their relationship, Naruto had been the first they'd told. Kakashi had been expecting Naruto to give him the whole 'If you hurt him...' speech. He honestly would have been disappointed in Naruto if he hadn't.

It had been quick and painless, and when it was all over, Naruto had grinned and congratulated him, seeming genuinely happy about their engagement.

Kakashi had thought it wouldn't go much beyond that. He'd figured Konohamaru might join in. Anko definitely would. Possibly even Sakura. Maybe Sasuke if he made an appearance in town before their wedding.

What he hadn't anticipated was exactly how many students Iruka had had over the years. Or how many of those students loved him to the point of threatening his significant other with bodily harm. Even when said significant other was the hokage.

In hindsight, he should have known better. He knew firsthand how easy it was to love Iruka.

~*~*~

His walk home consisted of a steady string of people coming up to congratulate him with heavy claps on his back that were just a little too aggressive and smiles a little too sharp to be anything other than thinly veiled warnings. Some of them he recognized as mission desk workers, some had children currently at the Academy, others Kakashi wasn't even sure how Iruka knew them. But every single one radiated mild killing intent.

He glanced at his ANBU guards, afraid they might decide to step in if this continued, but they were both carefully looking everywhere except Kakashi.

After the latest well-wishers left, Kakashi turned towards his nearest guard.

"When did you graduate from the Academy?" he asked.

They just shrugged, and he immediately knew the answer.

Kakashi shook his head. Of course some of Iruka's former students were in ANBU.

~*~*~

Kakashi arrived home just as Iruka had started making dinner.

"The day I've just had," he said by way of greeting.

Iruka raised a questioning eyebrow at him.

"You're students are scary. As are their parents. And your coworkers. And the people who frequently serve you food at restaurants."

"If it makes you feel better, Naruto gave me that speech too. Yamato, Gai, and Kurenai also made their feelings known. And I spent the whole damn day answering questions about you whenever I was within 10 yards of any of the students."

Kakashi cringed. "Did they ask if you had cooties too?"

Iruka laughed. "I heard the field trip was a success."

"Should I be worried about the 3rd year students' play next week?" He'd been told it was going to be about Konoha's history, but that had been before their announcement.

"I... may have heard a rumor or two about some last minute scenes they were considering adding. Something about emphasizing how all of Konoha will support each other in times of pain and hardship, but I'll take care of it."

Kakashi shook his head. "As Hokage, I think I need to ask, are you secretly building an army loyal only to you in order to take over Konoha sometime in the near future?"

"Nah," Iruka said, moving in close and pulling down Kakashi's mask. "That was just Plan B. Plan A is moving along nicely, so it shouldn't be necessary."

"What's Plan A?" Kakashi asked as he wrapped an arm around Iruka's waist.

Iruka grinned. "Marrying into power and ruling from the shadows."

Kakashi was fairly certain he was joking. And if not, he could live with it.

He pulled Iruka closer and leaned in for a kiss.

~*~*~