Paperwork Ninja: A Day in the Life
It is now 4:30 a.m. No Cause for Alarm
Dee-dee-deet Dee-dee-deet BIING BIING BIING BAAAAAAIIIING! dee-dee-deet-
A well tanned arm rose from the heap of blankets on the broad, low-slung bed, seeking to destroy the source of annoying beeping. Down it came, moving from snooze button to snooze button amidst the strange collection of alarm clocks saturating the bedside table, seeking silence. No effect, the beeping continued.
Iruka laid in bed a moment longer before untangling himself from the sheets and rolling upright. He walked over to the dresser where the seventh alarm clock sat, still singing its cruel song of pre-dawn awakenings. It was an old beat-up alarm clock, yet it still functioned perfectly. Someone with a Dyna-labeler and to much time on his hands had given it a name: "Wednesday *&@#^$!!".
It has six siblings on the bedside table, each with a colored name label and different alarm time. "Monday: I'm okay." was a kindly clock, which did not go off until 7:30. He had classes to teach at 8:15, but always made it with time to spare. Despite the fact that it was relatively merciful with a 6:30 wake up time, "Tuesday: I Don't Wanna." showed signs of abuse similar to what had once been heaped on Wednesday, before Genma had suggested the most hated of the alarms be moved out of easy bedside reach. He'd been forced to place a thick piece of wood behind the dresser to catch the kunai he sometimes threw at the 4:30 am. slave-driving clock.
"Thursday: Doubts." and "Friday: Faith." where a matched set, timed to go off at 6 and 5:30 respectively, they showed few scars for their trouble. "Saturday: Rewards(10:00)" and "Sunday: Ignored(8:30)" lived up to their names. Weekends were nearly sacred to Iruka, and they were disturbed only by the brave. And the Hokage, who was of course, brave, also. Foolishly so, at times.
Now, it seemed, was one of those times. Another sound filled the apartment, this one much like the chime from a large bell, but much softer. It was followed by the 'bamph' and smoke cloud that was a teleporting Shinobi's polite way of informing those in his target location that he was arriving. In combat neither were used, for obvious reasons. In fact, it had been theorized by Raidou that the 'bamph' was a way of avoiding the impromptu combats that usually resulted when Ninja are startled. Discussions of special effects having practical origins aside, Iruka's bedroom was now doubly occupied.
"Ah, Iruka. Good morning." Sarutobi, the third Hokage of Konohagakure, smiled brightly at the younger man. He looked far to chipper for 4:32 in the morning, his signature robe freshly pressed and his hat sitting atop his head at a angle that could only be described as jaunty. Yes, the Hokage was very brave, to show up in the bedroom of a sleep-deprived undressed Iruka looking so insufferably alert.
"Hokage-sama." the growl of hungry animals was less confrontational.
"You're finally awake. Good. I just wanted to let you know that I would like to see you sometime this afternoon, after classes but before you completely lose hold of consciousness. About four, maybe?"
"Hnn." was the only reply he got. Not that Iruka couldn't think of other things to say, but none of them were appropriate for hurling at the Hokage without more provocation than had been given.
"Very good." Sarutobi smiled, pulling his pipe from a pocket. "I see you've been learning some things from your newest private student. Hopefully you've been returning the favor?"
"Sasuke-kun is progressing well, Hokage-sama." Iruka let his facial muscles pull themselves into a smile. It was easier than fighting the urge that accompanied the mention of his newest turn-a-genius-into-a-person project. "Just this past Monday he managed to smile twice and laugh in the same half-hour. And I saw Neji-kun yesterday in the mission room. He's annoyed with his team-mates, but learning to appreciate that they aren't completely useless. He says that 'Lee is taking his lessons from Gai-sensei in the art of being a loud, annoying decoy seriously.' Apparently, Neji-kun thinks Lee-kun has a great talent in this one area, and will soon surpass the Green Beast."
Sarutobi had to laugh at that, and since Iruka was also amused, it was a safe thing to do. "Does he? I'm glad to see that the Hyuuga have not become completely lost to the world of humor."
"Just nearly." Iruka agreed, "And never say that to their faces."
"Of course not. In any case, I'll expect you around four this afternoon, Iruka-sensei."
"Till then, Hokage-sama."
Another cloud of tobacco-scented chakra-smoke swirled through the room, and Iruka was once again alone with his seven alarm clocks. 4:37 "*&@#^$!!" read cheerfully, reminding Iruka to get going. He would have to eat on the way in today.
Five minutes to shower, two to brush his teeth and hair, another three to dress and pull his hair back properly. Eleven minutes in the living room doing the slow, meditative Chi Gung exercises that energized him in place of coffee or other stimulants. He'd sworn off caffeine several years ago, after a painful withdrawal episode that Genma, Kotetsu, and Ibiki still remembered with shudders. He found the exercises a good substitute.
Besides, one of the reasons he'd been given the long shift was to increase his stamina. All of his fellow paperwork ninja had the morning to sleep after their Tuesday night training sessions. Iruka had gone to sleep around 2 am, only to rise at 4:30. More a nap than actual sleep, but good training for the periods when he could not afford real sleep. His body had adapted, though his temper never would. He finished the pattern with a round of Swooping Quail Pecks Grain, which stretched his back and legs into shapes normal people would consider extreme, but to ninja were normal. Even if he was mostly a school teacher and desk-jockey these days, he couldn't afford to get out of shape. His combat-missions always came up without warning.
The toaster-oven had warmed his breakfast to perfection by the time his exercises were complete, and he ate his breakfast rolls on the way to the Hokage tower, arriving just as the clock swung to five am.
Chapter notes: The Wednesday clock's real name is Expletive-deleted. Just go with it. More forthcoming.