Iruka's academy class is growing restless as Christmas draws near, and Naruto is no exception. Everyone is excited for toys and candy, but young Naruto wants something else. "If anything, he deserves a Christmas gift more than the others." One-shot. Complete. Non-yaoi.


Author's Note:

This is my first story in a while. I never really got around to finishing any of my others. I just couldn't find the motivation or the patience to sit down and write them. Anywhos, that's what ADD will do for ya! (Eye twitches slightly)

So I was listening to Christmas music on my phone one night (Yes, it was the middle of November! Don't yell at me! T_T), and I came across the song "Grown-up Christmas List" sung by Monica (originally performed by Amy Grant). If you haven't heard that song, you need to; it's really moving! Anyway, I got the idea for this little one-shot while I was listening to it. I also found inspiration for some of the other parts in other places.

The Christmas skit part was inspired by DragonKissed's "Naruto Christmas Play" comic thingies on DeviantArt ( dragonkissed . deviantart gallery / 429 505 91 (remove the spaces)).

I also got inspiration from the chapters "Global Warming," and "Piney Fresh," from fowl68's story "Lights in the Fridge" ( www . fanfiction s / 4295099/ (remove the spaces)).

You should check both of those out!

Yes, I know there're all kinds of spelling errors in the letter (You'll see what I mean.). I wanted to make it realistic, and he's only seven or eight at the time!

And, yes, it also gets a little cheesy later on, but I don't care if Iruka seems slightly OOC. He's got a big, soft heart, so this isn't much of a stretch! Besides, cheese is yummy!

Hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer:

I don't own anything! If I did, I'd probably have people after my head. Naruto and the other characters (minus Marui and Kusako) belong to Masashi Kishimoto. The song lyrics are from "Grown-Up Christmas List," sung by Monica, original lyrics written by David Foster, Linda Thompson-Jenner, and Amy Grant.


The Christmas Wish of a Lonely Child

The snow fell gently on Konoha as Iruka gazed blearily through the window from his classroom desk. The academy students had finished their classes for the day, and the one remaining straggler had left for home. Iruka was relieved to finally have a little peace and quiet by himself. Christmas was drawing near, – it was only a week away - and the students were becoming increasingly restless as they counted down the few lingering days.

Needless to say, they'd had their fair share of classroom holiday activities. Last week, the students had managed to devote an entire day to putting up a Christmas tree. Apparently Sakura felt she was yet to find the precise array of lights that would somehow help her "win Sasuke's heart," as she so charmingly put it. The stoic Uchiha couldn't seem to care any less.

They had spent a good portion of yesterday's afternoon rehearsing for their annual holiday performance. Iruka had to confess; he was relieved these children had chosen to become ninjas and not singers. For some reason, he felt that wouldn't end with anything good.

And, as usual, there was the Christmas skit. Possibly the most anticipated event of the season, it always ended up becoming both a popularity contest for the girls and a form of torture for the boys. 'Jeese, from their behavior, you'd think they're on their way to an interrogation session with Ibiki,' Iruka thought.

This year, the highly esteemed role of Mary was given to Ino. She was ecstatic to be given the part, and Iruka knew she dearly hoped Sasuke would be Joseph. Alas, it was not meant to be. Although, he had to admit, the expression on her face was priceless when she found out Kiba was fated to be her husband instead.

"Him?! He smells like dog crap!"

"What was that?! You wanna say that to my face?"

Ino slowly turned to face Kiba, dramatically placing her hands on her hips. "I said you smell like dog crap."

"Enough!" the brunette instructor interrupted tersely before things had the chance to get out of hand. "Ino is Mary, and Kiba is Joseph. End of discussion."

"What part do I get, Iruka-Sensei?" Naruto impatiently interjected. "Ooh, I know! I could be one of the kings and wear a cool crown and an awesome cape and ride around on a horse! Or would it be a camel? Did they ride horses or –"

"Naruto," Iruka cut him off with a sigh. "You will be a sheep."

"Aww, come on, Iruka-Sensei! What kind of part is that?"

"Go find your costume in the closet, Naruto."

The young blonde trudged off with an exasperated huff, muttering something about "stupid teachers," and "no fun."

The rest of the rehearsal had gone fairly well, considering only three students had to be referred to the nurse's office.

Iruka ran a hand across his hair in exasperation. "Kiba, why did you bite Ino?"

"She said I smell like dog crap and wet dog!" the boy whined.

"And so you bit her?"

"…Yes."

'And to think these children are the future of the village,' Iruka thought to himself. "And what should you have done?"

"Ignored her," Kiba replied with a huff and a roll of his eyes.

Iruka pointed down the hall toward the nurse's office. "Now, go apologize to Ino and see if you need to help her with anything. That arm of hers will probably be sore for a while."

Kiba sulked off down the hallway, hands shoved deep in his pockets and Akamaru following dejectedly at his heels.

And then somehow or another, Naruto and Sasuke had proven that it is, in fact, possible to be injured by a bale of hay. Iruka didn't want to even try to imagine how they did it.

"Naruto, I have hay in my eyes," Sasuke growled through clenched teeth.

"Hay. It makes you look better," Naruto retorted, and then proceeded to erupt with hysterical laughter. "Get it? It's hay! And it's in your eyes! Man, I'm good…"

"Naruto…!" The fuming Uchiha flung a handful of hay at the blonde's face. "Let's see if it can make you think better!"

All hell broke loose. Both kids ended up with hay in places where it didn't belong. After that incident, Iruka decided it would benefit his health if he called it quits for the day.

Today's activities, on the other hand, had gone much more smoothly. The students took time out of their day to write letters to Santa. 'They're on their way to becoming fine shinobi and kunoichi of Konoha,' Iruka thought, 'but they still need to enjoy their childhood while they can.'

Every year, the students composed their letters and passed them in to Iruka to be mailed. Later, Iruka and some of the other older chūnin of the village would put forth their best effort to fulfill these wishes. They'd "play Santa," so to speak.

Iruka found it amusing how the letters were consistantly similar from year to year. This girl wants some dolls, a dress, and for some certain boy to like her…

"…And I want Sasuke to fall in love with me! 'Sakura Uchiha…' Doesn't that name sound pretty to you, Santa? We would live happily ever after!" Iruka chuckled as a rather accurate image of a love-struck Sakura materialized in his mind.

There was always one kid who wanted some type of food, or in this case, every type of food, really…

"…But I want one food more than any other, Santa! An endless supply of bacon-cheddar potato chips! Maybe you could put them in a –" The rest of the letter was illegible due to what appeared to be a grease stain. Well, Iruka hoped it was grease.

'Dang it, Chōji. I've told that kid to stop eating during class I-don't-know-how-many times!'

Iruka tallied the letters, noticing he had one less letter than he had students. He had a suspicion of whose was missing, which upon further inspection, was proved correct. Every student except Sasuke had given him a letter. 'Why am I not surprised? Poor kid worries me with his brooding attitude. Can't really blame him for being like that, though…'

Placing that thought aside for the time being, he continued to examine the letters scattered across his desk.

"…I want a real, live pony…"

"…A bike, a yoyo, some new video games…"

"…A camera, shiny new shuriken, and a fish!"

Most of the letters were typical of seven- and eight-year-olds. Skimming through them, there were a variety of requests, and yet at the same time, there existed an odd similarity amongst them. As the young teacher finished reading the letter in his hand, he set it aside and selected the next one. He took a sip of his steaming hot chocolate before studying it.

This one was shorter than most. Sloppy handwriting was sprawled across the page, peppered with scribbles and erasure marks. It took Iruka a few minutes of studying the pitiful manuscript to decipher it. Once he succeeded in doing so, he found himself in a state of awe. 'Did I read that right?' He looked over it a second time, confirming his thoughts. His breath caught in his throat at what the letter before him contained.

Dear Santa,

I know you get a lot of letters from kids, and you're probibly very busy, so I'll try to keep this short.

I don't want a whole lot of toys or food or new ninja tools. I want something beter than that. I want a freind. I want someone who won't give me the same look the rest of the villigers give me, but also won't look at me with pity. I want someone who'll smile at me sinserely, not becuse they feel sorry for me. They'd laugh when I tell jokes and sit with me at lunch and play with me at resess. They woudn't make fun of me or call me dumb or just ignor me. They'd lisen when I say something and want to talk to me, too. They woudn't care what others think about me; they'd like me for being me.

All I need is at leest one freind, pleese? More would be awsome, but if you can only give me one, it woud be enough. I hope you can do this for me. It woud make me very happy!

Merry Christmas,

Naruto Uzumaki

'Is this the same rambunctious kid I know?' Iruka asked himself. Sitting back in his chair, he stared out the window at the delicately falling snow as he reminisced about his past with Naruto.

It was only a few months ago that he had almost gotten himself killed trying to rescue the boy. Those idiots, Hibachi, Marui and Kusako had conned the kid into searching the back hills for the site of a recent nearby battle. They convinced him that if he brought something back from there, they would be his friends.

Of course, the naïve blonde had jumped at the chance, and set out to find the battle site. If it weren't for Shikamaru ratting them out, the kid probably would've been killed. Then again, if it weren't for Kakashi, Iruka himself probably would've been killed trying to rescue Naruto. Following that ordeal, he had realized that Naruto and he had a lot in common.

His elbows already perched on the desk, Iruka leaned forward and cupped his face in his hands in contemplation. 'I know what it's like to not have any parents. Though, I never realized he doesn't have any friends, either.'

The instructor slouched back in his large rolling chair once more as he pondered over what he should do. 'I have a feeling most of the other chūnin don't want anything to do with this kid. But he doesn't deserve to be left out; he's a kid – just like the rest of them, albeit he's had a much harder life. If anything, he deserves a Christmas gift more than the others.'

Iruka was roused from his meditation by the chiming of the clock mounted on the classroom wall. Glancing up at it, he realized it was already five o'clock. "That late already?" he asked himself out loud. Rolling his shoulders, he gathered the strewn letters and rose from his chair. 'I need to get these passed out to the other chūnin. They need a little time to go out and find presents. They're supposed to meet me at the library in fifteen minutes. I better get going.'

Locking the classroom door behind him, Iruka set out down the hallway, tugging his standard sand-colored winter cloak on. He had to admit, even if its appearance left something to desire, it sure was warm.

Pulling his hood up over his ears, he set off down the street in the direction of the village library. Villagers bustled through the streets, trying their hardest to catch up on last-minute shopping needs. Stores of all kinds had Christmas displays in their front windows. Speakers had been suspended from the light posts up and down the streets, and Christmas music could be heard from them. A cluster of young women huddled in front of a children's clothing store, peering at the outfits on display behind the window glass. From across the street, Iruka could discern whispers of "That would look great on your son," and "That's your daughter's favorite color, isn't it?"

Iruka remembered the light blue jacket his mother had given him for Christmas one year. Pausing for a moment, he gazed at the store. 'I wonder…'

As he left the shopping district and approached the library, the crowds thinned out considerably. Here and there he would meet a young couple holding hands or someone hurrying home from work. The music could be heard more clearly now, and Iruka hummed along with the melodies.

"…Hear them ring. Soon it will be Christmas day." As the song finished, another commenced. This tune was unfamiliar to Iruka. 'Probably something more contemporary,' he thought. He shuffled along through the snow as he listened to the flowing music.

Somehow, Iruka knew the words. 'That's right. I have heard this song before. Mom used to sing it. It's been a long time.' With a smile, he mumbled the words together with the music.

"…No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
Every man would have a friend…"

An image of an indignant young blonde flashed across Iruka's mind.

"That right will always win
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

May kindness rule our lives.
Not just the strong survive.
Sweet tears for all the thousand years gone by.
This is the world I pray
We will all share someday.
Help me begin by reaching out my hand..."

Iruka continued on down the snow-covered street, the speakers now out of earshot, smiling to himself as childhood memories were brought back.


He arrived at the library to find the inseparable Kotetsu and Izumo pounding on the enormous doors.

"Come on, you sick-minded jerks, let us in!" hollered Kotetsu, icicles dangling off the white bandage across the bridge of his nose.

"It's freezing out here! Kotetsu has icicles on his face!" added Izumo through chattering teeth and clouding breath.

"No way! We're having too much fun watching this!" came the muffled reply beyond the door.

Iruka was no stranger to the antics of his fellow shinobi. He shuffled up the snow-covered steps to the double doors and knocked. "It's me, you guys. Open the door!"

"Iruka! There you are! We've been wondering where you were. Do you have the letters?" a young goateed chūnin named Iwashi asked as he lugged the door open.

"Yeah, here they are."

The rest of the chūnin gathered around the academy instructor eagerly. They weren't keen to admit it, but they enjoyed playing Santa almost as much as the children enjoyed receiving presents.

Iruka distributed all the papers but one, folding the poignant letter up and placing it in his pocket. He loitered for a bit, listening to his comrades read their letters to each other and laugh at some of the more unusual and downright ludicrous requests made in them. What could they do? Kids are creative.

With a smile on his face, Iruka left the library once more. Instead of heading home as he originally planned, he made his way back towards the shopping district. 'I think I saw a jacket at that store that Naruto might like. He said his favorite color is orange, didn't he?'


"Mmmmfff…" Thump! "Waah!" Stretching in his sleep, Naruto involuntarily rolled off his bed, waking him with a jolt. He opened his eyes sluggishly, squinting in the bright sunlight that shone through his bedroom window.

The sky was a clear blue, dappled with light, fluffy cotton-ball clouds here and there. The village was buried under a layer of sparkling white snow, as it had been for the past few weeks. Something still seemed different, though, and he couldn't quite place his finger on it.

With a start, he noted that someone was tapping persistently on his window. "What the– ? Who's there?" he asked warily as he fumbled for one of the kunai on his bedside table. This wouldn't be the first time he was attacked in his own home, and he was determined to defend himself this time.

"Good morning, Naruto!"

Naruto shaded his eyes and squinted at the figure outside the window. Suddenly, his eyes widened in recognition. "Iruka-Sensei?!" His hands flew up in a gesture of innocence. "Whatever it is, I don't remember doing it!"

Heaving open the window, Iruka laughed at the blonde's immediate reaction. "Relax, I was just going to ask you if you wanted to spend the day with me."

"…Why?"

He clambered through the window and closed it behind him. "It's Christmas, Naruto! Or did you forget?"

Naruto's eyes widened at the statement. "Me? Aren't you going to spend it with your friends?"

"Well, my other friends are spending the day with their families. Besides, I thought you'd like the company."

The kid beamed at his teacher. "You bet I would!"

Naruto hadn't noticed that Iruka was hiding something until he withdrew his hand from behind his back. "I've even got a present for you."

The blonde inhaled sharply. "…For…Me?"

Iruka grinned at his student. "Yep! I saw it the other day and I thought you might like it."

"…Thanks," replied Naruto hesitantly as he took the Christmas-wrapped package from Iruka. He held it gingerly, as if it might break at any given moment. "You know…I've never been given a present before…"

Iruka felt something tug at his heart. "Never?"

"…Nope," the kid said forlornly.

"Well, let's change that," Iruka responded benevolently. "Come on! Open it!"

Naruto glanced at his sensei once more before tearing energetically into the festive red and green paper. Tossing the shredded wrappings aside, he held up the bright orange and blue jacket, trimmed with white. "Aw, man! This is so cool! It's orange!"

"I thought you'd like that color. Look at the back."

Naruto turned the jacket around. Adorning the back was a large red swirl, bisected by the border between the orange and blue. "Awesome! It's just like the one on your flak jacket!"

"Glad you like it!"

Naruto hastily got dressed, throwing the jacket on along with a vivid orange pair of pants. "Hey, it matches my pants!"

"Well, there you go! Say, Naruto, you wanna go get some breakfast?"

"Ichiraku's!" The kid cheered.

"We can have ramen for lunch later," Iruka laughed. "I promise," he added when he saw the disappointment on the blonde's face. "How about we head over to Yakiniku Q for something?"

"Okay!"

Iruka headed for the door opposite him, when he felt something heavy clamp around his waist. Gazing down, his eyes rested on orange-clad arms wrapped around his midsection in what he could only describe as an attempt at a bear hug.

"…Thank you, Iruka-Sensei."

"You're welcome, Naruto." Iruka smiled at the blonde and thought to himself, 'No, thank you, Naruto.'

Fin.


Whew! I'm pretty sure that's the most I've ever written at once! I only really planned half of it out, and the rest just wrote itself. I think it turned out pretty well. Once again, I am aware of the spelling issues in the letter. Those are supposed to be there.

So I wrote this about a month ago, and just yesterday as I was walking to the library, I heard the speakers along the street playing "Silver Bells." 0.0 I thought to myself, "This must be significant!" and so I posted this. :D

Please review! If you're going to criticize, use constructive criticism only, please! Flames will be used to warm my house, roast chestnuts, and make it all Christmassy.

Thank you!