Iruka stood before the hastily assembled Jounin and the Fifth Hokage, back ramrod straight, hands clasped behind him so hard the knuckles were turning white. He resolutely stared at a spot somewhere over Tsunade's moon blond hair.

"Umino Iruka," the fifth drawled. "I mean no disrespect, but do you really expect us to believe that a Chuunin ninja bested and detoured renegade ninja, Itachi in combat on his own?"

"No, Madam Hokage. I don't"

"So how did you dissuade him from attacking our village?"

"I politely asked him not to."

The Jounin began to whisper among themselves. All except Kakashi who had his chin resting in his hand and was gazing a bit dreamily at Iruka. Kakashi's one eye always got a bit hazy whenever the younger teacher's hair fell a bit loose from its normally tight ponytail, Tsunade noted. She returned her gaze to Iruka. "I beg your pardon?"

"I said please." He added, as if that explained everything. Those brown eyes continued their intense study of the wall behind her.

Tsunade looked at the papers scattered in front of her. "Your report says that while on a routine practice with your students you happened to stumble upon Itachi about to enter Konoha with some subordinates for purposes unknown. You then said that you 'persuaded' him to leave. That is correct?"

"Yes madam Hokage."

"And this persuasion was along the lines of 'Please mister spooky bastard, would you be ever so kind as to not spread death and mayhem today?'"

"Pretty much verbatim, Madam Hokage."

She pinched the bridge of her nose; the headache she had early today was threatening to come back. "Very well, Iruka. You're dismissed for today. I would like you to drop by my office tomorrow, though." She looked down at the paper in front of her and finished drawing the noose around a stick figure man clearly labeled "Jiraiya".

The young man shifted from one foot to another and cleared his throat.

"Yes? Anything else you would like to add?"

"I was wondering if I could request a hazardous pay bonus."

"What for? You said you didn't even throw a punch and you seem unscratched."

Iruka still didn't look at any of the assembled but a faint blush was working its way across his stoic face. "The bastard slipped me tongue." he finally blurted out.

Dead silence. Except for Kakashi's chin slipping off his hand and his face hitting the table. Hard. Tsunade carefully picked up the pen she had dropped. "I…see. Granted. Konoha thanks you for your…your efforts toward her protection. Ahem. We will talk tomorrow, young man. Dismissed."