Author's Note: Co-written with Ariel-D.

The Interrogator and the Sannin

Jiraiya had been back in the village for a couple weeks when he faced the fact that since he was back, he needed to stop in at T&I personally instead of sending hawks or toads or any other little woodland animals to do his reporting for him. And that meant one thing: Ibiki.

Now, Jiraiya liked Ibiki. He could even say he had nothing against Ibiki. Distinction being that while he liked a lot of people, he had something against most of them. It was something you had to deal with when you had a past as extensively complicated and strange as Jiraiya's.

But Ibiki, he liked. And trusted. Ibiki was a great person to be in charge of T&I. The guy's whole life was protecting people.

Jiraiya still did not want to sit down in a chair and let Ibiki pump twenty years' worth of information out of him. Because that was about what it would take to put all of his information into context.

And while Ibiki was a great guy, he was a better interrogator, which meant Ibiki had a hellishly strong sense of curiosity. A sense of curiosity Jiraiya did not want to indulge about just anything.

For all he knew, Ibiki was going to ask him awkward questions just to get his goat. That wouldn't be unbelievable, either.

But some things had to be done, and the sooner the better. He was planning on dragging Naruto out to find Tsunade, now that Sarutobi had inconveniently died.

It would be a training journey, sure, but it was great blackmail. Naruto looked like the spitting image of Tsunade's dead brother, plus there was that big, cheesy grin and the fire to become Hokage. Naruto was perfect.

And if Tsunade could become Hokage, then he didn't have to. He didn't trust Sarutobi's former teammates. They wanted him for some reason, and that had to be diabolical.

So Jiraiya stuck his hands in his pockets and walked to the boring, blocky T&I building to get this over with. Because he really needed his alcoholic, gambling-addicted teammate to bail him out of this whole Hokage thing.

About time she faced responsibility, he thought reasonably, descending into the boring depths of the building to Ibiki's office. It'll be revenge for all these years of skipping out on us.

He ignored the amazement of the people in slate gray uniforms as Jiraiya, the person who had never once bothered to come in personally, was coming in personally.

He made it three floors down without anyone questioning why he was here, and knocked on Ibiki's door. "Yo. You've got a visitor," he called.

Ibiki recognized the chakra instantly. "Jiraiya-sama, come in," he said levelly, as though he weren't surprised to find a Sannin-unescorted, no less-at his door. He flipped through a file on Yakushi Kabuto, scanning the intel.

Jiraiya found the door unlocked. He turned the doorknob and pushed the door open. It swung on silent hinges. He shut it behind him with a click and leaned on it. "Oi." He crossed his arms over his chest. "You got lousy security down here, Biki."

Ibiki snorted. "I'll tan some asses later. Have a seat." He pointed his pen at the metal chair in front of his desk. There was little in his office-mostly filing cabinets and a large world map on the wall.

Jiraiya sighed, getting it over with. He crossed the room and sat down, shifting in the seat with a faint squeak of metal hinges. "Okay." He crossed his ankles, tucking his legs under the chair like a kid and resting his hands in his lap. "What is it?"

He wondered what would come first. Questions, or a dressing-down for not coming to see Ibiki sooner.

"So, Naruto, ka?" Ibiki didn't look up from his file just yet, although he had assessed Jiraiya's posture through his peripheral vision.

"What?" Jiraiya said. He was irritated and confused.

First of all, Ibiki wasn't even looking at him. As if he'd come all this way unsolicited, so now he had to wait. Or something.

Second of all, Ibiki's question was neither, and composed of one word.

Wait...does he already know I want to take Naruto outside of the village? Jiraiya blinked. "Um..." He scratched the back of his head.

He settled for: "Huh?"

The corner of Ibiki's mouth twitched. He set down his pen and looked up. "You're a godfather, Jiraiya. And you trained Naruto for the chuunin exam. Now you show up in my office, which you have forever avoided like the plague. Conclusion: you intend to take Naruto out of the village, I assume for more training."

Jiraiya groaned. It was so simple. "Yes...well..." He folded his hands in his lap again and looked away. There was nothing really in Ibiki's office to stare at. He figured that was intentional. He stared at a gray filing cabinet out of sheer stubbornness. Though he'd wanted Ibiki to look up, the moment he was faced with the man's strong, impassive face, he needed to look away.

He ventured a bright grin at said filing cabinet. "Makes sense, doesn't it? Besides, Tsunade needs to do her share. She's been truant for too long. And I'm sure as hell not going to be Hokage. I refuse. Count me out, Biki, man."

If he had to occupy the same chair Minato had once sat at, he would die. He didn't understand why this was hard for anyone to comprehend.

"Fair enough." Ibiki watched the bright grin for a moment, then began scanning Kabuto's file again. "I assume from the disconnected thoughts of Tsunade and Naruto that what you're trying to tell me is that you're taking Naruto with you while you go to look for Tsunade." He glanced up, raising an eyebrow. "That, of course, begs a question: what does Naruto have to do with Tsunade? You've been a truant godfather for twelve years, yourself. So why now?"

"Er..." Jiraiya squirmed. "Naruto's a train-able age? If I tried to teach him the rasengan any earlier, he'd probably die." Jiraiya laughed and rubbed the back of his head. "That would make me a really lousy godfather."

A truant godfather. He had to admit that the words hurt, even though they were true.

"Hmm." Ibiki kept his option of Naruto's upbringing to himself. Leaving Namikaze Minato's only child in an orphanage? Letting him be kicked out of the orphanage at age eleven? What had Sandaime been thinking? But it was Sandaime's choice, not his-all these laws and secrets and plans.

"Well, certainly the child needs you now. He will probably latch onto you as a father figure. I hope you're prepared for that. The boy no doubt needs a lot of love and attention." He felt a burning in his chest and looked back down. He picked up his pen and underlined the location of Kabuto's last sighting.

Jiraiya was surprised at this assessment. Well, not surprised at it, but surprised Ibiki had said it. He looked at Ibiki for a moment, wide-eyed and guarded. "Well...I'm not a father figure, though. I never was. To anybody. And he's not gonna see me like that. I'm just a weird friend who popped out of nowhere, and he can't quite decide if he likes or not. Tsunade's probably the one he'll latch onto. She's a nice person, when you're not in love with her. And he looks just like her little brother, so her heart's gonna melt." His grin came and went. "That's my secret plan. Don't know what I mean? Pull out a file on Nawaki. It's hilarious. Minato may as well have married Tsunade and had a baby with her. Naruto looks exactly like the little Senju kid."

Ibiki snorted and shook his head. "So that's your nefarious plot. Well, for your sake, I hope it works. Ours, too, I suppose." They couldn't afford to wait around with no Hokage.

"Hey, if it doesn't, I'll be Hokage like a good boy," Jiraiya said. He grimaced ruefully. "It's not like I'm gonna run away and leave you hanging out to dry."

Ibiki nodded and pushed his chair back, setting down the pin again and crossing his arms. He leaned back in his chair and gazed at Jiraiya.

Jiraiya met Ibiki's eyes and gulped. "Yes?" he ventured.

He's convinced I'm going to grill the last twelve years out of him, Ibiki deduced. He'd love to. But now was not the time. "If you've come to see me, then that means you acknowledge that we need to talk security measures for Naruto's being out of the village. And that also means you probably know something I need to know."

Jiraiya kicked his feet. "Yeah..."

Ibiki raised one eyebrow.

Jiraiya grinned brightly and burst out laughing. "Akatsuki's coming for Naruto, you know. That's why I'm taking him out of the village. I mean, it's also to use him against Tsunade, and it's also to train him too, but it's complicated! Because Konoha's in danger if Akatsuki comes for him. And I figure, if I take Naruto before they come, and they hear about us traveling somewhere else, they won't bother you guys while you guys got no Hokage. See what I mean? So it's for the best for everybody."

He'd laughed because he realized the struggle going on: he wanted Ibiki to drag it out of him, and Ibiki wasn't going to bother.

"I already told Kakashi what I'm doing. He took it kind of hard, but he understands why I've got to. So...I've got his permission, and everything. And the security measure is going to be me. I'm pretty tough, aren't I? If anything bad comes along, I'll be there to deal with it."

"Akatsuki, ka?" Ibiki sighed and turned in his chair, standing and opening the top drawer of his file cabinet. He pulled out the file on Akatsuki and sat back down with it.

"Well, if anyone can stand up to them, it would be you," he agreed.

Jiraiya felt reassured. For a moment. Then he couldn't help but be wary again. " that it? Can I go?"

Ibiki inclined his head. "You can. But I want you to report to me as soon as you return."

Jiraiya grimaced. "Okay." A reprieve, but not a reprieve.

He stood and stretched. "Man, your chairs are really uncomfortable."

Ibiki smiled. "Of course."

Jiraiya smirked and teleported out, tripping every jutsu alarm in the place.

Ibiki groaned.