Notes: AU, Kakashi is back in Anbu in this fic, and the Anbu may be acting a little different than normal.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
Iruka lay curled up in the soft comfort of his bed. He was in that stage where your thoughts begin to take on a life of their own and start to ignore the laws of logic, but you're lucid enough to know you aren't exactly dreaming just yet.
He felt warm and content, having had a busy but satisfying day. Blissfully he rubbed his face against his warm, clean smelling pillow.
Suddenly he had the uncomfortable feeling that something wasn't quite right. He opened his eyes and had to bite back a yelp at the sight of an Anbu member standing only a few feet away from him.
He sat up abruptly.
Before he could say a word, the man standing next to him addressed him.
Iruka nodded uncertainly.
"You have been summoned by the Godaime Hokage. You are to come with us immediately. If you choose to fight we will show no mercy."
Iruka gaped at the man in shock. Frantically he searched his mind, but he couldn't think of a single thing he could have done to warrant an Anbu-escort to the Hokage. That honor was usually reserved for highly dangerous criminals.
"Can I get dressed first?" He asked nervously. He'd gone right to bed after his shower that evening and he hadn't bothered to put on some boxers before he did. They wouldn't make him walk the streets of Konoha naked would they?
The Anbu-member looked past him and Iruka followed his gaze, only then noticing the second man standing near his window, as if to cut of the escape route.
There seemed to be some quiet communication between the two and after a moment the one in front of him nodded. Iruka gathered his blanket around himself and made to stand.
"Leave it." The man said quietly.
Reluctantly Iruka let the blanket drop. Holding his hands in front of himself awkwardly he walked the small distance to where his clothes were laying on his chair.
Somehow the fact that he couldn't see their faces made it all the worse. He probably knew them. Had probably smiled at them and given them scrolls for their new missions when they weren't on Anbu duty. Maybe he even taught their kids.
Quickly he put on his boxers, a shirt and his uniform pants. He reached for his flak jacket, but the Anbu stopped him.
"You won't be needing that."
Iruka wondered what he meant. Would he be back here soon?
His cat chose that moment to walk into his room. The large orange tabby jumped up on the chair and butted his head against Iruka's leg. Iruka automatically reached out to pet him, needing the comfort of it more than the cat did, but one of the men behind him made an impatient sound and Iruka pulled back quickly.
When he'd toed on his slippers, the first Anbu turned to the door.
"Follow. If you try anything you won't be alive to regret it."
Sure, Iruka thought, like he was going to do anything against these men. He wasn't stupid.
As they walked towards the Hokage's tower Iruka again tried to think of an explanation of some sort. Nothing came to mind. He knew better than to ask the Anbu, men like these did not explain their actions.
Iruka shivered slightly in the cold night air. One of the Anbu looked at him, but it was impossible to read what the man was thinking. His eyes gave away nothing. Maybe it was pity. Maybe it was scorn. He would never know.
Iruka was thankful for the warmth when they finally entered the Hokage building, but some part of him wanted to run back out again and avoid the confrontation he knew was coming. He tried to give himself some courage; he hadn't done anything after all. His conscience was clear. But…what if he'd made some horrible mistake during his work at the mission desk? What if he'd given someone the wrong information? What if he'd gotten someone killed? The thought chilled him to the bone.
Too soon they reached Tsunade's office. They were immediately let inside.
Iruka felt his stomach drop as he looked at Tsunade. Never since he'd met her had she looked at him this coldly.
"Umino." She addressed him. "Where were you yesterday night from 10 pm to 4 am?"
Yesterday? Iruka thought about it. 10 pm to 4 am? He'd been- "Home"
"Is there anyone who can confirm this?"
He thought about it. "Not really. Hokage-sama, what is this all about?"
"Umino Iruka, you stand accused of the murder of Kobayashi Masakazu, a high ranking visiting official of the sand country."
Iruka gaped at her. "Why the hell would I want to do that! I don't even know the man."
He took a step towards her and immediately a mind numbing pain shot through his limbs and he fell to his knees biting his bottom lip to keep from screaming.
At a sign from the Hokage the Anbu behind him removed his fingers from the pressure point in his neck and moved away from him.
Iruka stayed on his knees a few moments, looking at the ground, trying to blink away the tears that had sprung into his eyes at the intense pain. Finally he stiffly pushed himself up and stood up straight again.
The Hokage resumed talking as if nothing had happened.
"Your hitai-ate was found in the bushes outside of the murdered mans window. Ton-ton recognized your scent and Pakkun confirmed it. There were fresh blood stains on it."
"A hair that matches your hair color and length was found inside the apartment and there is a witness that saw someone of your stature fleeing away from the scene. The room reeked of you, Iruka-san. Ton-ton is absolutely sure of it."
"I didn't do it, I swear Tsunade-sama." He said desperately. How could this be happening? He'd never been anywhere near that man. How had his hitai-ate ended up there? He'd had it when he came home yesterday evening, he was sure of it. Today had been his day off, so he hadn't worn it. "Maybe someone stole my hitai-ate to incriminate me…" It sounded unbelievable even to himself.
"There will of course be a full investigation, and all possible scenarios will be considered. You will remain in custody, until the investigation is concluded."
She turned to the Anbu members that were still waiting behind him. "Take him away."
Too shocked to protest anymore Iruka dazedly followed their orders, letting himself be guided to Konoha's high security facility. He'd been there many times before, but never had he thought to end up on the other side of the bars. Finally he ended up dressed in a set of faded gray prison clothes, sitting on a cot in an otherwise bare cell.
Emotionally exhausted and still hurting from the Anbu's painful hold, he finally curled up and tried to sleep. Maybe things wouldn't seem so desperate in the morning.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Late at night in the Hokage tower, two figures were standing at a window, looking out over the village.
"You know his reputation will be ruined if you leave him in there."
"Yes, Kakashi-san. I know."
"It's the only way."
Tsunade didn't know whether he was trying to convince her or himself.
If they wanted to know who the real killer was they needed him to believe that they had fallen for his ploy. They had found nothing in the murdered mans apartment besides the incriminating evidence against Iruka, nothing that could give them any clue as to who was really behind it. They needed the killer to make another move.
"Will you tell him?"
"He has a right to know."
"That wasn't what I asked."
She shook her head. "You'll tell him. It won't look too strange for you to interrogate him. You can also ask him if there is anyone with a grudge against him."
Kakashi shook his head. "This goes beyond a personal grudge. I think he's just a pawn in a much bigger scheme."
She was inclined to agree with him but they couldn't be sure of anything.
"What do I do about Naruto?"
She winced. If the young man found out that Iruka was in prison, he'd freak out. He needed to know about their plan so he wouldn't mess it up by loudly proclaiming to anyone within hearing distance that Iruka was innocent.
"Tell him about it."
Kakashi nodded and then turned to leave. "Goodnight"
She waved slightly and then grabbed for the little sake bottle she carried with her. She took a healthy swig and sighed. Why did life have to be so complicated?