"I'm really not…" Ibiki touches the knot of his bandanna in what he knows to be a nervous, self-soothing gesture. Everyone has one. "Not like that." He's embarrassed, and he knows that he is, and knowing that he is makes him more embarrassed than he was before, because people expect him not to be embarrassed by things like – well, okay, by anything.

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Not like what?" His gaze flicks from his book to Ibiki's face, settles there a moment, scrutinizing…and then drops back to the pages of Icha Icha.

"Not like that," Ibiki says. Heat rushes to his cheeks. "It's all a ruse. A game. I let it get out that I liked that, because it made it – it makes it tougher for my enemies to – you know. They can't concentrate. Thinking that I might actually be getting off to it."

"Off to it?" Kakashi is pretending to not listen, doing his dead level best, and Ibiki knows it's a game, or something, whatever passes for a game when the Copy Ninja feels like being this way, but it really makes Ibiki feel like he's not listening.

"I'm not Maito Gai, I'm not going to just go away when you get difficult," Ibiki protests.

Kakashi raises an eyebrow and gives him a warm smile. "No? Well, then." He slips his book into the pocket of his vest. "I'll read some other time." He looks up at Ibiki. "You were saying, Morino-san?"

"I'm not a sadist," Ibiki mumbles, feeling somehow more embarrassed than before.

Kakashi chuckles. "Ah, that?" He scratches his temple and looks sheepish. "I was just joking."

"What?" Ibiki's shoulders slump. He has to admit he's never been more bewildered in his life.

"I was just joking," Kakashi said. "It was a joke." He shrugs. "Well, ja ne." He raises his hand in a cheerful wave and disappears in a puff of smoke.

Ibiki is left feeling incredibly off-balance and unsure of himself. "A joke?" he says forlornly to himself.

He always wondered if he would have the courage to confront Kakashi about what he heard Kakashi told others about him, and when he saw Kakashi in the T & I building for once, even if it was just in the lobby getting a can of green tea from a vending machine like he belonged or something – which he doesn't – Ibiki convinced himself today was the day he would clear his reputation.

Now that he has spoken with Kakashi, he wonders why everything with the Copy Ninja seems to be a joke in one way or another.

Ibiki stuffs his hands in his pockets, forgetting to buy himself a can of green tea while he's there, and slinks back down into his office. It seems even an expert interrogator can get no satisfaction from talking with Hatake Kakashi.