Chapter 8

Ibiki woke up to Anko snuggled against him, her head tucked under his chin. He wanted to go back to sleep. A glance at the clock told him they didn't have time. He internally pouted. Then he shifted and kissed her forehead. "Anko-hime…good morning. It's time to get up."

Anko didn't answer. She snuggled against him and clung on tightly.

"Oh…" Ibiki sighed and stroked her hair, the back of her neck. "I know. We have to, though."

This time, Anko mumbled a fervent, "No," and squirmed against him, as if luxuriating in his body heat.

That had an unexpected effect on him, and he had to get up first to keep from getting a hard-on. A surge of heat stiffened his nipples and made his stomach ache with want. He turned away from the bed and took a couple deep breaths. "I'm going to bathroom to get ready for work," Ibiki said mildly.

Then he crossed the bedroom, walked into the bathroom, and shut the door behind him. His pulse raced faintly in his throat. Okay…what was that? That had never happened before. Anko's body had rubbed against him in just the right way, he decided. Nothing more than that.

He retrieved his dentures and fitted them in, then shaved. By the time he was done with his normal routine, he felt better again.

Anko made omelets for them, and they headed to the office.


The first hour of the morning passed in peace. Anko went to interrogate a witness, not a criminal but a housewife who might have seen a crime commissioned in the alley behind her home. Soft work. Sometimes it happened.

Ibiki was filing his finished paperwork for the Hokage, minding his own business, when he felt a familiar chakra approaching. No. Please, no.

His pleas were ignored. Yamanaka Inoichi entered his office, bearing a sheaf of reports from upstairs.

"So, I hear the dating is going well," Inoichi said.

"From who?" Ibiki demanded.

Inoichi laughed. "A good spy never reveals his sources." He flipped the papers onto Ibiki's desk. "Also, if you don't want someone to know you're dating, don't pick the hottest sushi place in the village."

Ibiki flushed. "It was her idea," he mumbled defensively. He wished he hadn't.

"She makes you happy," Inoichi said.

Ibiki wanted to do better than last time. Maybe if he answered directly in as few words as possible the man would go away faster. "Very."

"Where is your relationship going?" Inoichi asked. "Have you talked about the future yet?"

"No." Ibiki watched Inoichi warily. It was amazing how Inoichi could ask such questions with a pleasant demeanor, as if the man truly was a benevolent presence.

"Ah. I guess it is a little early." Inoichi looked at Ibiki innocently. "Let me know if you need any help."

"You know, you don't have to deliver these in person," Ibiki said, sliding the report towards him and glancing at it.

"I know." Inoichi shrugged cheerfully. "But I like to be a little more personal in the way I handle things."

I've noticed. Ibiki didn't dare say that for fear it might start…a conversation. Then he remembered he had a question to ask. "Saying 'I love you' is normal, isn't it?"

Inoichi looked at him in astonishment for a moment. Then, slowly, the man smiled. "Yes."

"That's all." Ibiki looked down at the report to avoid making eye contact. "You're dismissed."

"Yes, Taichou." Inoichi gave one of his infuriatingly perky salutes and let himself out.

Inoichi reminded him of something he really didn't want to think about. What was the future? Ibiki knew he'd promised that he would have sex with Anko after this date. He knew that he should, just to get it over with and soothe her insecurities. For whatever reason, she wanted to do this so badly that she was in danger of cracking if he didn't give her what she needed. He just didn't know why she needed to have sex with him.

And if he were honest, he'd admit that he wasn't ready. He was scared, and all kinds of things he never thought he would be again. He hadn't been touched since he'd been tortured. Anko was the first. His first attempt to let somebody in, his first attempt to let somebody care, his first person he was willing to care about besides Idate.

He'd forgotten was it was like to be afraid you'd let someone down.

It wasn't a good feeling.


Anko returned from interrogating the housewife; she hadn't collected much information, but enough when pooled with three other witnesses. Ibiki called Tonbo in and set him to work coordinating with the village guards in order to pick up the thief who had been burglarizing homes in the Tahashi neighborhood. It was a comfortably middle class neighborhood with a lot of children, and Ibiki was more concerned about the children than anyone else. Having things stolen and strangers intruding on one's space was very traumatic for children.

Once Tonbo was off on his task, Ibiki was left with Anko.

"So what's the next mission?" Anko asked.

Ibiki checked his docket. "Ah…someone needs to interrogate a store clerk who has apparently seen a missing nin. We need a sketch artist to go with you to confirm that."

Anko saluted. "Right." Then her demeanor softened. "Biki…"

"Hmm?" Ibiki had started reading the first of the reports Inoichi left him.

"You okay?" Anko asked.

Ibiki didn't know what prompted that question. I can't be showing my insecurity on my face, can I? He tried to rein in his chakra, if it was fluctuating. He couldn't feel that it was, but he made sure anyway.

"Just thinking about our date," Ibiki said.

"I know," Anko sighed. She stuffed her hands in her pockets. "I want work to be done with already, too. I want to go back to your place and snuggle, and pick out a place to eat with you, and relax…" She pouted. "I hate Fridays. They're just teasers for Saturdays."

"Can we go somewhere quiet tonight?" Ibiki asked.

Anko looked confused and surprised. "Sure, Biki. It's your turn to pick anyway."

Ibiki nodded and lowered his head, going back to reading the report Inoichi left him. His pencil dangled loosely between his fingertips. When it came to Inoichi's report, he scribbled on it in the margins. It took some time and skill to connect the information gathered upstairs by Inoichi's staff with the work they were doing downstairs. And he needed to pinpoint any holes in their web of information and fill them, quickly. They couldn't afford to have a blind spot. The security of Konoha was in their hands. For that matter, the security of the entire nation. And Fire was a big nation.

He looked up at the feeling of a warm hand on his.

Anko looked at him with concern. "What's the matter, Biki?"

Ibiki's eyes widened. Am I that transparent to her? Then he looked away quickly. His gaze automatically went to the clock on his wall. "Nothing."

Anko's hand caressed his through the leather glove. "Long day at work?"

Ibiki didn't know what to say. He couldn't bring himself to lie to her. Is this what I've come to? Being completely vulnerable whenever she comes around? Being alive hurt. He'd forgotten that. Forgotten how much being invested in someone was scary. Forgotten how to handle the ups and downs.

"Yeah, maybe," he said vaguely.

Anko came around the desk and sat in his lap sideways, leaning against his chest and winding her arms around his neck. "Wanna tell me about it, Biki?"

She looked at him with those big, vulnerable eyes, and Ibiki couldn't say anything to hurt her. "Just nervous," he said gently.

Anko tucked her head underneath his chin. "'Bout what?"

"'Bout us," he said, mimicking her pronunciation. "Inoichi came in, and he…well, he's a jerk."

"He's nice!" Anko protested.

"Maybe to you," Ibiki said. "He's pushy and terrible and smirking to me."

"You're just suspicious." Anko snuggled him, nuzzling his neck.

He found it very hard to think. His cheeks heated up a little bit, and he felt warmer throughout his whole body, as if Anko were miso soup. "Well…"

"Tell me," Anko said gently. "Tell me what he said to make you so spooked, Biki-biki."

Ibiki sighed. "He said that…He asked what…He asked what we were doing in the future. Or something." He couldn't remember now. He'd spent the last four hours worrying about whether or not he would have sex with Anko tonight, or if he would let her down.

"Inoichi's just a romantic," Anko said, stroking his jaw.

Ibiki tilted his head and leaned into the touch, closing his eyes. "A romantic? Is that all?"

"He wants us to get married, and have lots of little Biki and Anko clones running around." Anko sounded amused. She giggled. "No one's told him yet we don't have children in our futures."

"Well, someone ought to tell him," Ibiki retorted.

"Really? I think it's none of his business," Anko teased.

"Everything is Yamanaka's business," Ibiki said.

That was so literally true that Anko didn't have a response; she just kept stroking his jaw. He liked that feeling. He didn't want her to stop.

What was I worried about? Ibiki asked himself. He was puzzled. Whenever Anko's here, I feel great.

Eventually, he gently pushed her off his lap. "Back to work, you."

Anko grinned and leaned in for a kiss.

He met her lips gently with his own, and stroked her shoulder. Everything was okay again.

As he watched her leave, Ibiki hoped it would stay that way. He didn't like his equilibrium being sensitive.


After work, they went back to his apartment as usual. Anko seemed brimming with energy; not that that was unusual. She had a bounce in her step, and a gleam in her eyes.

But she was more on edge than usual, as if she were waiting for something specific. It was the same feeling he got from her when she was waiting for a plate of dango.

Ibiki glanced from his reflection in the mirror to Anko, standing expectantly in his bedroom – their bedroom, he told himself – waiting for him to get done taking his evening medication. He popped the oblong white pill in his mouth, and washed it down with a glass of water.

"What are you so excited about?" Ibiki asked mildly. He hadn't had the courage before now to take his pills in front of her; some people were discomfited by the sight. But this time, he left the bathroom door open while he took his medication. Because, after all, he didn't need privacy to do it. He'd just been wary of other people.

Anko did her best evil laughter. "This is the last date. The last date before you must give yourself to me."

Ibiki shook his head and put down his cup on the sink, then crossed into the bedroom, flicking the bathroom lights off as he went. He checked his nightstand automatically to make sure he didn't forget anything. Nope, nothing. Just his keys. He pocketed them.

"Why do you spend so much time trying to get into my pants?" Ibiki asked.

"I love your pants," Anko said. She came up behind him and unabashedly felt him up with both hands. "They're so sexy."

"You can borrow them if you want," Ibiki said, looking over his shoulder at her, amused.

"Nah, they're too big for me." Anko grinned. "But I wish I could be in them with you. That'd be nice."

He laughed. "What's going on in your dirty mind?"

"We're already doing it." Anko pointed at his bed. "Over there."

"Mm-hmm." Ibiki turned around and slipped his arms around her waist. "What's going on in your clean mind?" He kissed her lightly.

Anko laughed. "We're going to dinner. And you're buying me lots and lots of dango."

"I can do that," Ibiki said.

Anko gasped. "You're a god."

Ibiki wasn't entirely sure she was joking. "Come on, you. To the restaurant."

Anko kissed him. "Hai." Then she wrapped her legs around his waist, effortlessly clinging to him. "Carry me."

Ibiki raised an eyebrow and did as he was told. "Yes, princess."

Anko giggled. "I love it when you say that."

"It's the first time I've said that."

"I know. And I'll love it every time."

Ibiki rolled his eyes, but he couldn't help but grin.


They went to their favorite restaurant on the edge of the village. Ibiki was glad he had taken the chance and gone with Anko to the trendy sushi restaurant. It had even been fun. But it had also been overwhelming to be around so many people, so many bright lights, and so much noise. He needed to retreat to the comfortable shadows of their old haunt.

The hostess seemed happy to see them and greeted them with genuine affection before seating them at a booth with a nice ratio of golden light and shadows, quietly separated from the other diners.

Anko ordered bubble tea and dango. Ibiki simply wanted hot tea and ice water.

He was in no hurry to order. He left the menu closed in front of him, tapping it lightly with his fingers and watching Anko instead. He wasn't sure he was hungry.

The hostess came back to serve them their drinks, and also the complimentary soup. For a moment, Ibiki just looked at it, but he couldn't resist all that egg-y, chicken-y goodness. He sighed and dipped his spoon into it, taking his first taste.

His stomach rumbled, pointedly reminding him that his lack of hunger was all in his head.

"Ne, Biki." Anko stirred her bubble tea. "What was your first kiss?"

Ibiki looked at her blankly, bemused.

"Well?" Anko took a sip, noisily sucking up one of the gelatin pearls. She chewed on it avidly. Ibiki wondered if Anko's appreciation of chewy foods bordered on a fetish.

"What, or who?" Ibiki muttered.

Anko smiled mischievously. "For some people, it's a what." She bounced in her seat. "So what was it? A vacuum cleaner?"

Ibiki laughed. "No such luck, princess. Though, you'd like a weird story like that, wouldn't you?"

Anko nodded. "Mm-hmm." She took another sip of bubble tea.

"Well, no," Ibiki said. "It wasn't anything like that." He ate a spoonful of soup before he continued. "It was you."


Ibiki looked into his bowl of soup mildly. "It was you, Anko. You're my first kiss."

"Get outta here." Anko straightened, suddenly looking thoughtful. "Was it any good?"

Ibiki grinned at her, amused. "Yes."

Anko relaxed. "Oh, good. I wasn't going for anything special when I did it. Not first kiss material."

"Well, it was," Ibiki said. "I liked it."

Anko smiled. "You're sweet. Still, I'm glad it was a good kiss."

"Would I date you otherwise?" Ibiki raised an eyebrow.

"Probably," Anko said. "You're sweet like that. You'd give a girl a second chance."

Ibiki thought desperation had a lot more to do with that than being sweet, but he wouldn't say so. He ate his soup in silence. She let him. He knew it was his turn for questions.

"Anko…is there any particular reason why you like me?" he asked finally.

"Not particularly," Anko said. She giggled. "It's more like everything."

Ibiki rolled his eyes, but he couldn't keep from smiling. "Sure. So you like the fact that I don't have any teeth. That's a real turn-on."

Anko winked. "You know it."

Ibiki snorted. "Okay, deal. The truth, this time."

Anko rested her chin in her hand, eyes wide and thoughtful. "So…why I like you."

"Yes," Ibiki said. "Preferably before our food gets cold."

She shifted in her seat. "Just one reason?"

"Not required," Ibiki said. "But if you could think of one that would be great."

Anko stuck her tongue out at him. "First of all, it's because you have a sense of humor. I can't stand cranky people. Orochimaru was the crankiest."

Ibiki nodded. "Okay, duly noted." That seemed reasonable enough to him. They could make each other laugh. Laughter was healthy. Sane laughter was healthy, anyway.

Anko nodded to herself, straightening. "You don't treat me like a leper and you never, never call me crazy."

Ibiki was surprised, and then found himself saddened. "People don't realize how serious of an accusation that word is. I would never use the word 'crazy' around you lightly. It's too much of a damaging observation. Even for a joke."

"You get that," Anko said. She looked at him, seeming young and old at the same time. "That's why I like you."

So…respect, and a sense of humor. Ibiki could handle that. He grinned. "So if it's my sterling personality, how come you're trying to get into my pants all the time?"

"I figure you're pretty good there, too," Anko said matter-of-factly. "Unless you're withered up, of course. But even then, we'd find ways around that."

Ibiki choked on his own spit and took a drink of water, trying not to look horrified and embarrassed.

"What?" Anko asked. "It's not as if it's all about physical attraction. That might get you into bed with someone, but a pretty face can't fuck you senseless." She gave him a crooked smile. "Well, it can, under the right circumstances, but…" She beamed and gestured offhandedly. "You see what I'm saying, Biki. It's not about what you have. It's how you use it."

Ibiki managed to swallow the urge to blush entirely and acted as if he hadn't heard her properly. "Yes, I agree."

Anko laughed. "So it's perfectly sensible that I want to see how you are in bed. Cause I mean, come on, you're probably great. You're considerate of me in every other way there is. So you're probably considerate in bed, too."

Ibiki didn't know how to handle that kind of logic. She's right. I would treat her well. I would…I'd do my best… He cleared his throat. "That's…wise."

Anko grinned at him. "I know, right?" She happily devoured her bubble tea. "I'm full of wisdom. You just have to ask for it."

"I'll consider doing that more often," Ibiki said seriously. She had, in fact, opened his eyes to her ability to dispense insights. He felt humbled by his earlier insecurities. His inability to see through them, to understand what he might have to offer. My heart. I have my heart to offer her. And it seems to matter to her.