A/N: Please don't try to overanalyze this chapter. It really doesn't make a lot of sense. I think the only thing it does in terms of storytelling is to let you know that everyone in the Police Department has issues.


I am back at work. It is still only 3:30; there is no reason I cannot get some more paperwork done. Thankfully, whomever was playing that inane song earlier has ceased doing so.

Let's see. How would I go about setting up those self-defence courses I mentioned? Hn...I had a book somewhere on my shelf titled Kata for Civilians. There were a few non-ninja in the force; it had been assumed that they might be better able to deal with the problems of other non-ninja. How well this worked was another matter, but I still had the book.

Oh, here we were. Right between The Art of War (the cheap, staple-bound version. My lovely leather bound edition is at home) and Crime and Punishment. It, being a relatively thin book, looked highly out of place. It probably was; my whole bookshelf looked off. I had not perused its contents recently—perhaps I had learnt organizational skills sometime after my twenty-eighth year of life.

Hn...the self-defence chapter, that would be a good place to start. No, too impractical...oh, that one seems like something middle-aged merchants could be taught fairly easily. Who came up with this one, a Drunken Fist master? The quality of everything about it seems to vary page by page. That's the problem with books by committee.

Then, a knock on the door. I swear to all that is good and holy and hallow and sacred, if that's Obito or Kanade or Yoshiro or the Hokage or Uchiha Madara, there will be hell to pay. I cannot deal with more interruptions.

I say "Come in," nonetheless, because if it is the Hokage or Uchiha Madara (or Kanade or Yoshiro, really; only Obito seems like he has the ability to recognize that I am a very busy man) and I keep them waiting, they will not be amused.

It is Kagami. His dark hair looks fairly orderly for a change. I continually fail to understand why so many of my relations seem unable to use a comb.

"Hello, Fugaku-sama," he says, bowing deeply. He is—what do the kids say?—old school. So he believes in Showing Respect to the Clan Head No Matter What Even If You Think He Is Stupid And Weak and Ought to Be Disposed Of.

"Hello, Kagami-san," I reply, nodding. "What brings you here?" If some moron (by which I mean, of course, Uchiha Shisui) has glitterbombed the breakroom again, I am not dealing with it.

Oh, right. Uchiha Shisui is currently two.

Well, he was always a precocious child.

"Uchiha Taro has requested your presence at an emergency meeting to determine our reaction to that speech of the Hokage's we have recently attended..." He is very stiffly formal, always, and it's like wood on sandpaper.

" 'Our' reaction? Are we a hive mind now?" I ask, angrily. It's exactly that sort of mentality that later will...might...did lead to...bad things.

"I suppose you'd bee the queen, then, wouldn't you?" says someone not Kagami gleefully. It is Keiichi. His hair (which, for some reason no one has ever understood, is a sort of blueish teal) is hidden under his uniform shirt, which he is using as a scarf, and for a shirt he is wearing what appears to be blood-stained hospital scrubs. I do not want to know. I really do not want to know.

"Keiichi-kun, kindly remove yourself from this room," orders Kagami. "The adults are attempting to talk here." Oh, snap.

Keiichi looks offended. He's actually thirty, but he looks approximately seventeen. "Fine, fine, I'll just go back to attempting to heal your brother from the injuries he received from falling off the roof. I know where I'm not wanted!"

….What. What.

"Takahashi was trying to fix the heating ducts," says Kagami, like it's no problem that his brother apparently fell of a roof. And surely it's not, with such competent medic-nin such as Keiichi taking care of him!

"Fine, fine, I'll go to Taro's thing," I say. Taro, though rather brash, is certainly better than listening to these people.

Taro has set up a folding table in the copy room. I don't understand why he's not in our actual conference room. Maybe he feels there's more of a sense of urgency in here. Or something.

"The Hokage thinks we're all but his pawns, and he is the chessmaster!" he shouts, angrily, and I've heard it all before. Must they? Now?

"Yeah, like we're just expendable!" yells someone else.

"Just pretending to care about our opinions!" shouts a third.

I need to stop this, before it becomes something more, and all of these men (and one woman, I see Kichiko there in the back) are bleeding to death on their own tatami.

"Do you even know what you're saying?" I demand, and they all turn to stare at me. "The Hokage is the sole ruler of this village. That is how it is, how it has always been, and how it always will be. Who here does not know that? Why would it be any different now? You could be living in Kiri, you know..."

One person is clapping. I cannot tell who.

"Oh, like you've got room to talk! You do the same to us!" either Meito or Reito says. I want to hit my head against the wall.

"You're a third-rate detective. I am police chief. Of course I do." That...came out a bit more vitriolic than I had planned. Oh well.

The room stares at me even more.

"Are you saying we're all third-rate detectives, Fugaku-san?" asks Mori, arms akimbo.

"Maybe I am. And if you want to be anything more than third-rate, you should get back to work!" I activate my Sharingan, to be extra imperious.

They slowly start to move to leave. Good. There is no time for shouting and mindless slogans and anger and hatred and

all of that

I know what it devolves into

I have no desire to experience it again.

One of them approaches me. Dear Izanami, what is he going to say? It's...Tsuneoki. He does not look angry.

"I was the one who clapped, you know," he tells me, grinning.

"Oh. Well, thank you, then. It's good to know at least someone here understands how this village works." Then I remember the thing discussed at the meeting that would be important to him.

"You know, at that meeting, the one Taro is so...heated about, it was said that shinobi are wanted to protect the water filtration plant," I say, smiling, or at least trying to. "Which is...within the city walls."

He looks ecstatic. "Really? That's...that's wonderful. Thank you for telling me." I wonder what it's like, to be twenty one and trying to raise two small children, not even your own children, on patrolman's pay. (I wonder what would happen to them if he died.)

"How old are they?" I ask, because it is Important to Ingratiate Yourself to the Boys, my father always says.

"Well, Ujizane is two, and Naotora is eighteen months," he says, happily, and takes out his wallet, presumably to show me a picture. Indeed he does; there is a woman, with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes (his sister, I'm sure), with two babies on her lap, all shiny skin and wide eyes.

"That's Atsuko in the middle there," he mumbles. "She's—she's the reason I decided to join the KMPF, you know. 'Cause I wanted to make sure that no one else's husband did to their wife what that bastard Mitsuhide did to her."

That name sounds familiar. Why? Oh. He was found in the alleyway directly below his fifth-floor window. An accident, the coroner had ruled it; perhaps he'd had a bit too much to drink. Now I suspect it was an "accident". Well, then.

"That's a much better reason than the usual "Well, it's what my father did" most people are in here for," I tell him, cocking my head to the side. "Maybe you'll have some children of your own one day."

"No, I won't." This is said very definitively.

"You're young, Tsuneoki-san, you never know what's going to happen in the next few years...find a nice girl, settle down, the whole story." I'm trying to be as fatherly as possible, but my father was never one to give advice on such things, and I had given up on Itachi ever settling down with a nice girl (That's why you have an heir and a spare, you know.)

"No, I won't. Not gonna find a nice girl."

"And why is that? Don't be so jaded already."

And he looks around anxiously, as if to make sure we're truly alone in this room, and then whispers, "I'm gay."

Well. Was not expecting that. I don't really know how to respond to that, either, so I just say "Oh, then."

"That's all you have to say? That's all? Are you even capable of looking surprised?" he questions, and then immediately after, looks horrified, and bursts out, "I'm sorry sir, I didn't mean to be so disrespectful, sir," and bows. I can see his thin frame quivering. "

"It's okay, son," I murmur, and oh dear, did I just call someone five years younger than me "son"?

He hisses something that sounds like "Thank you" and then exclaims that he's really sorry but he's just remembered that someone in Human Resources was wanting to talk to him and he really doesn't want to be late, and rushes out.

I stand there, alone, remembering when I was a young man, lost in Sakumo's glittering black eyes...no! No! I have a wife! A very attractive wife!

Nonetheless I am very distracted the rest of the afternoon.