A/N: I've never written this pairing before, so any critique would be appreciated very, very much.
Don't review if you are going to bash the pairing, because that's just silly.
No warnings, except for a wee bit of torture, but nothing gory or sexy or otherwise serious. I'm sorry in advance if any of my scenes are whack or don't seem to follow canon very well.
The only thing I own is Daiki. If you read, you will find out: he's not a very important person. Anko, Ibiki, and the ANBU belong to Masashi Kishimoto.
Taste a Million Things
Before 3 am, there was already a report out for her, or for her body, whichever was found first. Everyone who needed to know had been notified, and the rumors were spreading fast, even in the stark silent predawn. So were the questions. Was Orochimaru involved? Was this the beginning of a war of some sort? Was Mitarashi Anko really missing?
Ibiki didn't like being disturbed while he was sleeping, but that's what happened at around three thirty in the morning. Someone was knocking at his door. He got up, still wearing what he had been the night before, minus his hitai-ate. The jounin who stood there when Ibiki opened the door was small and shook with obvious exhaustion. When the interrogator asked him what was going on, he gave the report: Anko's team had been ambushed while crossing the border to re-enter the Fire Country. Two of her teammates were dead, one was in critical condition in the hospital, and Anko was nowhere.
Ibiki stared coldly at the jounin and asked if there was anything more he needed to know. The man averted his eyes-- only briefly, he was a jounin after all-- and answered that there was not, but someone would contact him if anything were discovered. Ibiki nodded, but made no move to close the door until the other man awkwardly excused himself. There were more people to notify. Ibiki understood perfectly. He shut the door.
The man who had come to see him probably hadn't even understood why Ibiki would need to know that Anko was missing. The image most people got of him was the one that followed him around from his job: black trench coat, weighed down with written confessions (or blood, no one knew for sure); countless prostrated prisoners, enemies, possibly; those scars underneath his hitai-ate that had terrified the genin in taking the written Chuunin Exam.
But right then, at roughly three forty-five in the morning, Ibiki was not thinking about work. He was thinking about why he had slept in his clothes and what he was doing up this early. He was thinking about the way the air tasted when he was alone in bed. It wasn't an option to go back to sleep, not at this time and not after hearing that information. There would be no rest today. He went to the kitchen and made himself a cup of coffee to brood over while he reflected on the jounin's report.
Anko's mission had been a simple recovery. She and the rest of her four-man cell had gone to Iwagakure to take back an important scroll that had been stolen by a group of rogue ninja. This, Ibiki knew from what Anko had told him before she left. Possibly, it was this same group of shinobi who had ambushed them and taken Anko hostage. She and her captors were most likely somewhere near Takigakure at the moment, and in a few days she would be sitting in a cell in Iwagakure, accounting for her actions.
The more he thought about it, the more it seemed likely to come up out of the dark and strangle him. There was time, yes, but not much of it. Anko was missing, and he was sitting here in his kitchen, drinking coffee out of a cracked mug that tasted like her around the edge. He would go to work once the sun rose; a little earlier than usual, but no one would notice the difference. He would sleep in his clothes again that night.
Who knew how long Anko would be missing and what kind of condition she would be in when-- or if-- she came back. She would be interrogated; tortured, torn to bits in someone's jail cell, and here he was, Morino Ibiki of all people, having a cup of coffee.
Morning came. Ibiki headed for the interrogation center with a slightly shorter fuse than usual and the taste of coffee still in the back of his throat. Anko was not back yet; Anko wouldn't be back yet, he reminded himself. A team of ANBU was out looking for her. She-- or whoever captured her-- would be tracked down, and their first stop would be the headquarters.
In Anko's case, there would be a simple interrogation to find out how much the enemy had gotten out of her, if anything at all. She wouldn't lie. Only traitors tried to lie to their own ANBU officers.
The ninja who captured her would not be so lucky. Ibiki didn't care how little they had been involved in Anko's kidnapping: they were going to tell him everything, starting from before the operation was even planned and ending with that moment in the interrogation room.
For now though, Ibiki had other work to do.
His first subject, one of three brothers who had nothing to do with anything, got it worse than he probably should have. When the interrogation was over, he was dragged out of the room by an ANBU, confessing to things that he didn't even look capable of doing. Ibiki took note of the more believable ones and excused himself to get another cup of coffee.
There was a lone ANBU leaning against the wall in the break room, mask leering at nothing in particular. He looked up as Ibiki shut the door.
"Ibiki-san," he said, adjusting his posture. Ibiki nodded at the white hawk mask that was staring in his direction.
"Good morning," he said, making a move for the coffee pot. The ANBU officer was still looking at him as he shook a cup from the stack on the table. It seemed the man was not there for idle talk.
"Something to report?"
"Yes, sir. We've captured one of the members of the squad that captured Mitarashi Anko. Seems his team made a clumsy mistake and left the scroll on one of the bodies of our ninja. We got him while he was going through their bags."
The coffee pot was suddenly no longer relevant to anything.
"Where is he?"
"Room One, ready and waiting to be interrogated."
It was as if everything he had ever sensed had spiraled up his spine and into his head. Adrenaline was licking at the walls of his skull. It was not good for someone in a position of control to let his body get the best of him, but this was more... personal... than the situations that he normally handled on the job. Ibiki paused in front of Room One, clearing his head a little. He opened the door.
He could taste blood, dust; he could taste Anko, so much more than what had been lingering around the edges of the coffee mug. He was conscious of the feeling that everything else had lost its flavor. Here in front of him was a man who had stolen the woman he cared for and had most likely done terrible things to her. Ibiki didn't know exactly what those things were just yet, but he was going to find out.
"Your name," he said, pushing away the chair that he would normally sit in during an interrogation.
"Shouldn't you know that already?"
The man was smirking, leaning back in his chair, either not sensing or not caring about what was about to happen. Normally, Ibiki would have brushed off such a comment. Today he was not in the mood.
"I haven't bothered to ask any of my officers. You're not really worth the extra effort. Now, are you going to tell me your name, or do you want to be the first shinobi to taste his own blood so early in his interrogation?"
"Heh," the man said, "I've heard about your interrogation tactics. You don't actually torture people, you confuse them and get them caught up in their own fear. All I have to do is keep my cool."
Ibiki looked the man in the eye.
"That may be true for me, but you know nothing about the people who work for me. You can't imagine what kind of pain you'll be in if I decide to have one of them take over for me."
The man said nothing, but the other two legs of his chair hit the ground again with a 'thunk'.
"Of course, I may not even have to do anything. We could always rough you up a bit, make it look as though you've been shoved around, then send you back to your village. Your teammates won't believe you when you say you haven't told us anything. They won't be too happy at that prospect, will they? Maybe we'll save ourselves the trouble and just let them deal with you."
The aloof countenance that the ninja had been maintaining so carefully was wavering. Ibiki could see that he was weighing his options.
"Maybe you'd do better for yourself if you stayed here with us, instead of going back out to face your village. You've got nothing to lose. After all, what use is a shinobi who gets himself captured?"
These last words didn't so much crack the Iwagaure ninja as they did Ibiki. It was as if he was admitting to himself that he thought Anko was weak for getting herself captured, that it was a waste of time for him to be standing here interrogating a man who wouldn't even give his own name. He was considering leaving the Iwa shinobi in a damp, windowless cell for a few days when he heard the man clear his throat.
"Chisei Daiki," he said, "That's my name."
"How old are you, Daiki?"
"Much better," said Ibiki. He wrote down Daiki's information on his clipboard. "Let's continue. Tell me how you came across the Konoha shinobi."
"What Konoha shinobi?"
Daiki's attitude was coming back. Ibiki gripped the top of his rejected chair with the hand that was not holding the clipboard, his knuckles cracking under his black gloves.
"The ones you ambushed and murdered. Don't lie to me. Where were you when you came upon them?"
The shinobi said nothing.
"Should I remind you what will happen to you if you don't tell me what I want to know?"
"Good, because I don't feel like wasting my breath."
This time, he was not just belittling the other ninja. Ibiki was tired. He wanted badly to go home and take a long bath, possibly followed by a nap and a good meal. He hadn't consumed anything but coffee all day.
"Let me be more specific. Where, when, and how did you find the Konoha four-man cell, and why did you only kill three members?"
"I can't tell you that."
Ibiki closed his eyes. Insolent kids.
"Then maybe you can tell me this: are you tired?"
Daiki's mouth fell open in surprise.
"Yeah... a little. Why?"
Ibiki turned so that his back was to Daiki.
"You should take a nap. Follow me."
The cell they were locked in was large and dark. There was a cot at one side of the room, and this is where Daiki slept, too nervous to do anything else. When he closed his eyes, Ibiki shut and locked the door. He made a few hand signs in the dark. Then he sat down with his back against the wall and watched Daiki sleep.
The Iwa shinobi woke up with sweat pouring down his face. His eyes were wild, and even though Ibiki couldn't see them, he sensed that Daiki was looking madly around the room. Ibiki grinned.
"Sleep well?" he asked. He heard a gasp and a scramble from the cot in the corner.
"You were in here watching me?"
"How long was I asleep?"
"About fifteen minutes."
There was a sigh from Daiki on the cot.
"It felt like days. I had a terrible dream."
"Tell me about it."
Daiki was silent for a while before replying.
"I'm trying not to think about it," he said.
"Think about it anyway."
Ibiki heard Daiki taking a deep breath. What the Iwa shinobi didn't know was that his dream had been a result of a strong genjutsu that Ibiki used solely for interrogation purposes. The things he had seen while asleep would have probably been much worse than even things he had experienced as a shinobi.
In addition to that, anything that happened to him in the dream would feel as though it were actually happening. If his arm were torn off, for instance, he would feel every muscle rip. He would smell and taste his own blood; he would feel the joint separate.
It was no wonder that Daiki did not want to recall anything about this particular dream of his, but Ibiki didn't care.
"If you're not going to tell me about your dream, tell me about what happened to those Konoha shinobi you killed."
"Here? In the dark?"
"Answer my questions, or I'll see to it that the things you went through in your dream are the least painful of your experiences here in Konoha."
There was a much longer pause this time, and Daiki made a small noise again. Ibiki could almost see him curled up like a child with a nightmare in a corner of the cot. He imagined Anko, asleep on the floor of a similar prison in Iwagakure, dreaming probably of dango, but maybe of something worse.
"Alright," said Daiki, "I'll tell you." He sounded slightly panicked.
Ibiki grinned again, and from the tiny noise he heard from the cot, he got the feeling that Daiki could sense his leer through the darkness.
"Good," he said, "Speak slowly. I don't want to miss anything."
"And by the way, before we begin," Ibiki said, "You're a lousy shinobi."
Two days later, an ANBU squad headed by Ibiki arrived at the outskirts of Iwagakure. They found Anko in a holding cell that was actually someone's basement. She was cut up and bruised quite a bit, but there was no other damage to be found. According to her own report, she had barely been there a day, although her perception of the passage of time was questionable.
Once they were back in Konoha, the interrogation center was suddenly very busy, and Ibiki had very little time to think about the taste of either his coffee cup or adrenaline. From the ANBU officers who questioned Anko, they discovered that the scroll had, in fact, been recovered.
"I disguised it. It's the sort of bloody, dirty kunai in my bag."
"Um, Anko-san, they're all dirty," an ANBU said, looking up from searching her kunai pouch.
"Hm. Maybe that's why they never found it."
It was late in the evening a day later by the time she and Ibiki were able to get back home. Anko threw down her things and flopped onto the bed almost as soon as they walked in the door. She hung her headband where she and Ibiki always did, on one of the bedposts, and rolled lazily onto her belly. Meanwhile, Ibiki headed to the kitchen to find something to eat. Break room food was not exactly a substitute for any kind of home cooking.
"Were you lonely while I was gone?" Anko called from down the hall.
Ibiki stepped out of the kitchen and looked into the bedroom. Anko was facing him, grinning and kicking her legs behind her like a kid.
"That isn't funny."
"I told you it that it isn't funny."
"I'm being serious."
There was a pause. Water starting to boil hissed in the pot, and the bed squeaked when Anko swung her legs.
"Yes, I was," Ibiki said.
"You're taking this too lightly."
"I'm not. I'm completely serious."
Ibiki looked past Anko to her hitai-ate on the post of the bed. The metal was scratched, but the leaf symbol was still there, and Anko would be wearing it the next day as if nothing had happened.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" she asked suddenly. Ibiki shook his head.
"Nothing. I was thinking."
Anko snorted. She sat up on the bed and turned around so that she was facing Ibiki.
"Whatcha thinking about?"
Ignoring the pot boiling on the stove, Ibiki walked over to Anko and put his arm around her shoulders.
"You don't want to know."
I chose the name "Chisei Daiki" for the OC ninja because "chisei" means "intellect" and "Daiki" is a Japanese name that can mean "valuable". Together, it's my poor attempt at a Kishimoto-ish name joke (terrible, no?).
Please tell me what you think!