"This one is very interesting, Lord Hokage."

Ibiki slid a report across his desk, his scarred face thoughtful. The Hokage picked the report up and thumbed through it. Ibiki kept his mouth shut, wanting to know what he thought.

Finally, he set the report down and folded his hands together in front of his face. "Hmm."

Ibiki opened another file and slid it across to him wordlessly. Giving him an odd look, he picked up the file and read the section Ibiki indicated with his finger.

And another. When he'd read them all, he shook his head.

"You're right. That's…interesting. I wonder why?"

Ibiki shrugged. "The Fourth never told me."

The Hokage glanced down at the three files. A face peeked up at him, smiling slightly. He knew that face pretty well. Hell, he saw him every day. But he'd never realized how complicated his case was.

He'd graduated from the academy at eleven, passed his chuunin test on the second try at 16. He'd been recommended to the jounin exam at…seventeen. He'd passed…he reached down and flipped back through the first file. No, he'd…failed?

He blinked and re-read the scores. He'd passed, but he'd been…failed.

Personal recommendation of the Fourth Hokage. The subject never got to see their scores, of course, so the subject probably had no idea he should have passed.

He flipped through the first file again. The subject had passed his teaching test and, two years later, again by personal recommendation of the Fourth, had begun working at the mission and records office. Then he dropped the first file and picked up the second.

It was a mission report; this one had been filed by an ANBU operative who'd been on a team sent to investigate anothis team's disappearance. They'd found the orginal team besieged by missing ninja. Two of the team members were badly injured. They were being protected by the fourth member of the team. Umino Iruka.

The ANBU had made several comments about Umino's skill, obviously far above the level of a normal chuunin. The ANBU member had recommended that Umino be considered again for jounin status, with the comment that if he was, he'd probably be recruited for ANBU.

And…nothing had happened. The recommendation had been filed and then forgotten.

He dropped that file and picked up the next one. This was anothis mission report. This one was the squad leader of a four-man team who'd been sent to retrieve a stolen scroll. Umino Iruka was part of the team. It was pretty much a standard report. Except for one section, one small paragraph that Ibiki had pointed out. The team had come up against a pair of extremely talented missing nins and was having a very tough battle. One of them was down. Then Umino Iruka had preformed a very complicated jutsu and managed to trap one of the pair in a prism trap, leaving his other teammates free to take down the first one. When they'd finished, they'd gone to finish off the first and found him dead, the prism jutsu shattered. Umino said that the trapped nin had done something to shatter the jutsu from the inside.

The squad leader, not knowing any better, had accepted the explanation. The Hokage, however, was very familiar with that jutsu and he knew that it hadn't been done from the inside. It had been done from the outside, by Umino, deliberately.

The injured leaf ninja had died of his wounds while the team had been taking care of the missing nin and Iruka had been holding the prism jutsu.

The Hokage dropped the file and refolded his hands, deep in thought. Once again, Ibiki kept his mouth shut, watching him.

Finally, he sighed. "What do you want?" he asked finally. "He's obviously talented enough to be a jounin, but…I've heard him say that he wouldn't take it. He likes teaching those little monsters, and he's the best damn teachers we have. I'd hate to slam him up in ranks and shove him into missions unless we have to."

Ibiki shook his head. "That's not what I have in mind." He said quietly