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- Naruto - Remnants of Solitude by paxnirvana - [ part 01a - part 01b - part 02 ] - [Note: I feel I should mention that the author says there may be spoilers up through the most recent chapters (250+), but I haven't noticed much yet. Still. Be warned.] Okay. I'm going to make an attempt to reign in the gibber here, seriously, because this story is one of those that is taking my breath away, that is KakaIru that's in the style of the series itself, that does justice to both the characters/pairing and the storyline. I know that sounds rather fawning of me to say (though, that is just the way I am ^_~), but there are few stories that really get me to believe them these days, especially after 250 chapters worth of exploring the complexities of the characters. (Well. Mostly Kakashi, but the fic hardly makes Iruka a lightweight, either. *__*) The beautiful thing about the story is that it does an amazing job with Kakashi's character, the depth of everything that's weighted on his soul, the weariness of the character, the harshness of the character, yet without making him gloomy or hopeless. Instead, he's a brilliant jounin who has far more talent than perhaps any one person should have (even if there are still people who are far stronger than he is), but... not much else. In his personal life, that is.

And it's not a case of cute puppy love and following Iruka around or even particularily easy, Kakashi is just... Kakashi dealing with being laid out for a week because of what Itachi had done to him (the way it affected his dreams afterwards, the affect what Itachi had done to him was beautifully done, it measured up to what happened in the series, the pain and trauma of it, without making it too over the top angsty, it was a quieter sort of impact, making it all the harder to watch) and that Iruka's stability helps him rest better. A lot of what makes it work are the little touches--Kakashi's frustration that Konoha is stretched too thin right now and he, being one of their most valuable assets, can't do anything or the way he finds amusement and annoyance in one of the other chuunin assigned to him that is way too twitchy or the absolutely brilliant scene with Tsunade that made me squee and sparkle over both characters--as well as the sparkling dialogue between Kakashi and Iruka.

....oy, I'm explaining this rather badly, mostly just fawning and gushing over various parts rather than making any sort of coherent rec, but... well, I just finished reading it, what more would you expect from me? So, trying to sum it up... beautiful writing, excellent characterization, a fantastic believability factor for this pairing, absolutely fantastic and hilarious dialogue, and an insightful Kakashi perspective that makes me wibble like whoa. (Kakashi/Iruka.)

- Naruto - The Silent Blade by Carcinya - [ chapter 05 - chapter 06 - chapter 07 - chapter 08 ] - After having caught up with the manga recently and having started reading Naruto fic again, I had to pick up Carcinya's story again, because--as I gushed about it previously--it's a brilliant story with a fantastic plot. It takes a concept (of Iruka being a hidden Hunter fighter that's a huge secret that Kakashi manages to piece together) that could have so easily been cliche and trite, but instead builds a rich plot and background around the story so that it works. It fits together with the feel of a series like Naruto and the characterizations are really fantastic and the writing is solid and just... eeee, it totally hits that button I have for long, plot-ful stories about "What if...?" concepts like this.

She also does battle scenes, she does plot, she's even weaving in elements of the regular storyline, as of chapter eight, the Sound Nin have shown up and I am fascinated with how this universe is slightly different, how thinks have changed and the ending of that chapter was fantastic and OH MY GOD I NEED THE NEXT CHAPTER NOW NOW NOW. ....ahem. But, no, really. What started out as a really neat way to see an incredibly strong fighter!Iruka in a believable way seems to have grown even more of a plot, is starting to spiral off in its own direction, and the story is only getting stronger and more interesting for that. I mean, I don't think Kakashi was even the last couple of chapters much at all, and I'm still all *___* and can't put the fic down. ....bah, another terrible rec. Go read anyway. (Kakashi/Iruka.)

- Naruto - Outclassed by WinterOfOurDiscontent - Kakashi was a far stronger, more powerful ninja than Iruka was. And in the normal run of things, Kakashi’s victory in any competition would be a foregone conclusion. But this wasn’t a normal battle or mission. And as of right now, Kakashi was completely outclassed.

Because Iruka may have been only a Chuunin. But he was also a teacher. There were at least ten different lines in this story that I wanted to quote, because they made me roll around on the floor, clutching my sides in laughter. The author has fantastic comedic timing, which really pulls off a story like this--where Kakashi is stalking Iruka because he has a crush, but he's hopelessly outclassed. It's one of those stories that's just fun to read, that it has that certain sparkle that's not done really well nearly enough in the fandom, because seeing Iruka trying to figure out what the hell is up with Kakashi, reading the scene where he goes to Gai to try to get a little more info, reading about how he tries to divert Kakashi's weird energies... it's all so hysterically funny. Especially after reading so much serious KakaIru fic, I really could have used something lighter and sillier like this--I love my humor!KakaIru so much, I really do. ♥ (Kakashi/Iruka.)

- Naruto - Love is the Strongest Energy by Suke-san - You know, a part of me is torn over this fic. On the one hand, it's the fun sort of humor fic that I honestly am amused by and giggle over in exactly the way the author intended. On the other hand, it does get a little frustrating to not be able to find serious fics sometimes. But that's not really this fic's fault, so don't let my crabbiness over something that this fic never intended to be warn you off the story. It's one of those that I'd always seen around, but never quite got around to clicking on myself until the other night, when I started it and just could not put it down because it was so delightfully entertaining. The author's humor works really well in a story like this and... okay, sure, there's a lot of fangirl Japanese and wince-worthy nicknames like "Ruru" or just "Kaka" instead of Kakashi, but they're mostly confined to the author's notes and are obviously joking. And, yeah, it can get a little, "...wait, what just happened?" in places, but the author usually does a good job of clearing it up not long after.

....and I realize I'm citing a lot of crits for a story that I don't think really deserves a backhanded compliment sort of rec, because I did still enjoy myself immensely while reading it, I do still think that it belongs on my list. Because there are moments in the story where... Neji'll be expounding on fate and a free-as-the-wind bird will fly over in the most perfectly comedic timing by the author and I will have to stop and just laugh hysterically. Or Gai will come bounding into a scene and he will be just absolutely perfect and I'll be reduced to kicking my feet in a laughing fit all over again or Sasuke and Neji will have their little ""-off or Sasuke's reactions to everything or when they have to come up with a plan to get Kakashi and Iruka "back together" or when Iruka is absolutely ADORABLE when he doesn't know WTF is going on or a million other things that make this a genuinely good story. Also, the writing flows really well, making it the kind of story that you can start and a half an hour will go by before you've even noticed it. Much, much fun and I totally loved the crack. ♥ (Kakashi/Iruka, with hints of other canon-friendly pairs.)

- Naruto - The Esoteric by Prosopopeia - Oh, man. This is going to be another story that's going to drive me nuts until it's finished, because I actually like what the author is doing with the story and because it's been about 200k so far and the KakaIru hasn't even really begun to be hinted at all that much. (I mean. For all I know, it could wrap up in the next 50k or it could take another 200k, the potential for a very long story is certainly there.) And, okay. There are a few parts that could have stood to be polished a little more, the Iruka-love could be tamped down just a little to make it not seem quite so much like favoritism to him (Note: I don't personally mind this, because I have massive Iruka-love myself and I'm all WHEEEE HI BABY MUMMY LOVES YOU over the character, but I could see how it might not quite work for others.), but overall, the author has taken a concept that could be really badly done (Another Hidden Village has a demon on the loose and because Iruka's mother was originally from there and because she was the one to seal it originally, only one of her blood can re-seal it, which means Iruka has to travel there and be trained to fight it somehow.) and makes it work for me.

A lot of what makes it work for me is that the author is truly taking her time and truly setting up enough details of the background world to make me feel like it could, so far, have taken place somewhere in the manga's world, that this hidden village could have maybe fit together with Kishimoto-sensei's world and that the characters would react like this. (Tsunade is especially fun to see and one of the things that really hit home with me is how people often comment about how Konoha is so weak and scattered these days, given all that they can muster to send out there.) It helps that the author makes good use of background details without taking over the story, it helps that the characters feel like themselves, and it helps that there are actually fight scenes and a plot that isn't just a flimsy excuse or backdrop for sappy romance. As I mentioned above, it's been 200k+ and romance hasn't even begun to enter the picture, it's all about travelling to the hidden village, it's all about Iruka not knowing what the hell he's supposed to do, and the latest chapter even included a bit of the tough training he's going through.

I like this story because it's really solid, because it's gives me plot, gives Iruka something to do, yet doesn't ignore the rest of the cast. Several characters are very nicely in character and I'm absolutely looking forward to more of this story. Both for the plot and because I want to see the author's take on KakaIru. ....this was a terrible rec for a fic that's actually going to be one of my favorites for the fandom, I think. Oy. (Eventual Kakashi/Iruka, but it reads like gen for now.)

- Naruto - An Unconventional Family by Ju - I have such massive love for Iruka and Naruto interaction, especially when it's done well and it... sort of strides that line between humor and something a little bit more bittersweet. When Naruto asks about his parents, wondering about family, Iruka isn't sure how to answer, but luckily for Naruto--and not so luckily for Iruka--Naruto already sort of has an answer. The writing is lovely, the timing really solid, and it just flows perfectly. It's so... Naruto. Plus, I totally ♥'d at the end. But, then, I would 'cause I love spazzy!Iruka done right. (Reference to KakaIru, only implied.)

- Naruto - Eleven Kisses by Hey-Diddle-Diddle - I seriously sat and contemplated whether or not I wanted to rec this story, because... so cute and adorable and I liked the concept of each kiss being described in a short line and the writing was nice and then I got to the end and felt like I'd been punched in the stomach and WAH NOW I NEED HAPPY FIC TO MAKE UP FOR IT. But... I thought it was well-written enough that I'm going to rec it anyway. WAH. ;___; (Kakashi/Iruka.)

- Naruto - Training by paxnirvana - Oh, my. It's so rare to find really, truly good KakaIru, the kind that has that harsh, sharp edge the Naruto series has (Don't get me wrong, I love the silly spastic stuff, it's what attracted me to the pairing in the first place, but it's also nice when people play on the potential for the more serious situations of these two adults.), the kind that doesn't pull its punches, the kind that's hot and attractive and intense. The kind that doesn't ignore blood and scars and the hard lines of bodies, but still makes them appealing in that way this series has. I just... I flutter over Iruka still being a shinobi here, the way Kakashi is so... there's so much to Kakashi sometimes, even when it's all under the surface, and I loved him here because he was Kakashi and you felt so much of the sensations here, I could feel Kakashi's tongue along Iruka's palm or the way their bodies touched each other. Mmm, very nice. (Kakashi/Iruka, some graphic content.)

- Naruto - Outclassed [ part 04 - part 05 - part 06 - part 07 - part 08 - ] by WinterOfOurDiscontent - So, I finally took the time to catch up on this story, because I do so love this dynamic, where Kakashi is just a FREAK, a completely INSANE FREAK and poor Iruka has to put up with his shit while he's slowly realizing OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU ACTING LIKE YOU'RE A TEN YEAR OLD WITH A CRUSH, YOU FREAK? (okay, maybe he doesn't think of it exactly like that, but it amuses me to put it that way) because the humor just really hits the right line for me. It's that spazzy dynamic that made me fall in love with the pairing in the first place, but so well-written that I usually find myself, at least once a chapter, having to pause and just laugh. I also really rather liked the characterization of Iruka here, the way the story progressed, it was believable that he wouldn't quite get it until just the right moment dawned on him. I also loved Kakashi being such a FREAK BASTARD to his poor team or the way we know he actually is very good-looking underneath the mask (given the whole omake thing in the manga, of course) but no one really knows exactly and that FREAK BASTARD probably WOULD hide himself under it ("He probably is handsome." Iruka agreed with a mild sigh. It was exactly the sort of rude thing Kakashi would do, to turn out to be completely gorgeous under the mask. Bastard.), to about a dozen other little moments that just had me cracking up or flailing around in amusement. I ♥ this story. A lot. (Kakashi/Iruka.)

- Naruto - Butterfly in Reverse [ part 01 - part 02 - part 03 - part 04 ] by Bite the hand that feeds - [Note: There may be faint spoilers both in this fic and this rec, if you're only watching the anime.] There are a couple of things about this story that give me a moment of hesitation in starting to write this rec, because the first chapter was a little difficult to get through, it was a little confusing and hadn't quite found it's rhythm, but somewhere in the middle of the second chapter, I think it found the stride it was searching for and really started to get good. I mention this because I want to point out that the story isn't without its faults (the inconsistent addresses and details that might not be quite right and the occasional misspellings and I'm still not entirely sure where the story takes place, because it's after Naruto travels with Jiraiya, after Sakura becomes apprentice to Tsunade, after Sasuke--in an AU twist, I think?--comes back from Orochimaru, but they're still acting as Team 7 under Kakashi-sensei), but they're surprisingly not that distracting (I'm really being nitpicky here, which isn't really the author's fault because the Naruto timeline can be kind of confusing, especially with the way the anime screwed around with it) and the rest of the fic? Fascinating.

Because it's a story that's tackling something that's so damned difficult--a Kakashi perspective, really delving into what makes him tick on a day to day basis. There was a comment in one of the author's notes that struck me, that the author said it was difficult to understand the character, not just mimic him, but I think she's doing a really bang-up job of it here. Kakashi's mind games with his students, the genuinely clever ways the author has him being kind of a bastard teacher to them (instead of falling flat or dull, they actually work, they feel like they do justice to the series itself). Kakashi's world-weary, tired personality that winds together with the way he's such a brat sometimes is beautifully done, it doesn't feel schizophrenic here, it feels like he does in the series.

And then there's the way the other characters look at him, the way Jiraiya sees him or comments on him, knowing him better than one might think or being rather fond of him, what with Kakashi being his favorite student's favorite student. There's a definite sense of connection between all the characters, nothing is really left out, not Jiraiya, not Tsunade, not Yondaime, not Sarutobi-sensei, which really builds this immensely satisfying read for me. There are also action scenes, good action scenes!, and Team 7 is hardly forgotten and, oh my god, the brilliance of the glimpses you get of Kakashi and Shikamaru interacting! And, man, Kakashi's weaving in and out of all those different moods is really amazingly done, he's so human here, so full of little touches that make him a fully-fledged character, not just an insane amount of skill and a shitload of chakra or just a perverted bastard teacher. When he's coming back from a ANBU-equivalent mission and hoping Sakura doesn't recognize him because he doesn't want his team to think of him as little more than a dangerous killer, the undercurrent that he actually cares about them and how they think of him? Brilliantly done.

As you can see, I really wanted to talk about this story, because it's one of the better ones I've read recently, even aside from the KakaIru. Hell, even after four chapters, there's really not a whole lot of interaction between them--there's been some and it's obviously building somewhere, but it's not taking over the story, I would actually put it as second to the Kakashi characterization, actually. Just... there are moments in this story that floor me, whether because I had to muffle my laughter into my pillow or because I was wibbling over my favorite characters and what terrible lives they're forced to live. I'm only halfway through chapter four and already I've been itching to talk about it because it's one of those stories that's fabulously paced, it's long, but no scene really feels wasted or overly stretched just to fill time, the narration flows smoothly along and it's epic without being dull. It's an awesome story and totally does justice to the characters and, god, this is the kind of fic I've been pining for lately. (Some Kakashi/Iruka, but it's fairly light.)

- Naruto - Butterfly in Reverse [ part 05 - part 06 - part 07 - part 08 - part 09 ] by Bite the hand that feeds - [Note: There may be faint spoilers both in this fic and this rec, if you're only watching the anime.] Having finished chapters five through nine now, I feel compelled to talk about them. In a sense, the chapters didn't hit me quite as hard as the first few did and I find myself oddly not-rabid about getting back to the KakaIru parts of the story, that I'm enjoying this for the Kakashi gen parts more than anything, because... so rarely do I see good Kakashi fic that does something with him. It can get a little confusing at times, especially with the whole ANBU thing and the coming war/past war, but I can generally follow what the author is getting at, the way the romance is worked into the plot, but isn't the point is really quite lovely, and you have no idea, NO IDEA how much I spazzed in happiness over any scene where Kakashi and Jiraiya were together.

It's just... that is the kind of stuff I secretly pine for but know would be hell to write/justify, because I understand that they don't really have that much reason to interact, even aside from Yondaime or Naruto, but then this author went and did it, the way there's a reason there and the way Jiraiya looks at that little Hatake brat (I love, LOVE that both Jiraiya and Tsunade think of him as a total brat and, oh, man, the Jiraiya/Tsunade-friendly scenes? TOTAL LOVE. I don't think the author is necessarily intending them, but I just loved the interaction so much. I love the way she writes these characters.) is just absolutely fabulous, especially when Kakashi is sort of losing it because he's been under too much stress lately. Well, really, all of the supporting characters get some serious love from me with this story, because it's still Kakashi-centric but each scene sort of builds somewhere or uncovers a new facet or is just interesting, like Sasuke's little breakdown that you don't actually see 'on-screen', but Kakashi's attempt to reach out without crack was lovely or the way Gai is actually a lot more three-dimensional in this story than he is a lot of times or the way Kakashi has Sakura help him with a problem he has, everything is just... I adore it because it's not just people sitting around and angsting, they're doing stuff.

There are dozens of little lines in this story that, as I read, strike me as being the perfect sort of thing to quote (chapter nine really sort of put that into focus for me with the Kakashi is like a broken vase, hurriedly glued back together, he thinks, and he’s found his way close enough to the Copy Nin to notice the cracks. line), all these little insights into the characters. I will grant that I don't know if the more dramatic parts of the story work as well as the less dramatic parts... err, what I mean by that is I'm not sure when Kakashi "breaks" that it's as stunningly in character as when he's sort of holding himself together on a day to day basis. It's not entirely the author's fault (as much as a word like "fault" can be used here), because we don't really see that and I fully think that she's doing a fantastic job here, that with a lot of other writers, I would have been rolling my eyes instead of enjoying the story on the level it was meant to. And I'm a little wary of the KakaIru parts of the story, actually, but... it sort of feels like I'm picking at tiny little details and forgetting that the majority of this story is really kind of awesome.

This is one of the best Naruto fics I've read for any corner of the fandom, this fic is doing an awesome job of Kakashi's character (which isn't easy) and I will forever love this fic for the way it brings everyone together in an unofficial family sort of way. I am absolutely addicted to this story because I'm dying to know where the subplot with Jiraiya and Kakashi is headed, especially because the author is doing a fantastic job with Jiraiya's character, too. I'm fascinated because the author really does include a lot of little details in the writing, all these details of being a shinobi and the way things work, yet she doesn't overshadow the writing with it, it's still about the characters themselves, which really lends it even more of a feeling like the manga itself. The pacing continues to be just right, stuff happens and moves along, but it's not too glossed over or too dragged out, it's the kind of writing that sucks me in and won't let me back out, because I always want to read that next scene. Oh! And Rin's involvement in the story was... ouch and it was perfect because it wasn't overdone, but it still hurt like hell and just... man. And I also mentioned Jiraiya = ♥ here, right? Okay, just checking. (Kakashi-centric, some KakaIru that's not the point of the story, really.)

- Naruto - Get With the Times by chibirisuchan - There's just something about batshit Naruto crack that makes me laugh. So much. Especially being as steeped in the j-fanart/j-doujin/j-h-games with the series as I am, there's just something about the idea of Kakashi trying to convince the others that playing h-games is a good way to develop skills. And then the screeching rage that comes with that. ....heeheeheee. *cracks up some more* (....yaoi. Lots of yaoi.)

- Naruto - Coffee Spoons by Katty - I love Naruto, I really do, but I've kind of gotten a little burnt out on it lately. A lot of it is that I love all the characters, but I am a Kakashi-sensei and Iruka-sensei fangirl at heart, but there's not a lot of good fic out there to feed my cravings, so when one like this comes along, it just re-reminds me how much I miss this series sometimes. Iruka-sensei is wonderfully three-dimensional and capable here and his interaction with Kakashi-sensei is nice because, honestly, it's not about the yaoi. At all. Well, unless you're trying to read into it and then... still not really. ^_~ But that doesn't hurt the fic at all and helps it, really. The characterization is solid, the writing good, and the little touches of Iruka-sensei thinking about Naruto made me just feel... warm. (No warnings/pairings.)

- Naruto - Spring Flower by Maldoror - I admit, I didn't entirely buy this characterization, it flitted a little too much between out and out crack and trying to be a little more serious, but without getting Kakashi's serious side down properly. I'm a little hesitant to say that, because it reads very much like someone who hasn't read the later chapters where Kakashi's character is a bit more revealed, which isn't really the fault of the author. The reason I rec the story anyway? Because there are so many little lines or moments in the story that are brilliantly hysterical, from Kakashi slicing the flower to bits to Kakashi being completely insane to his watching Iruka who may seem sweet and nice, but is such a teacher in that he'll make those little bastards do their homework right even if it kills him. Because it's funny and more than once I had to pause in my reading to sit back and giggle for awhile, because it's a really interesting and likable take on Iruka, because the comedic timing and writing were top-notch. Definitely worth reading. ♥ Also, I really did sort of like the ending. XD (Kakashi/Iruka.)

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