To Fit the Crime [Arakaki, Sandaime]
[Takes place in the early morning hours of May 9th, five days after Waiting for Silent Sunrise, the day following Kakashi and Ginta's arrival back in Konoha with their rescue detail, and almost a month following Ryouma's disappearance.]
Arakaki Hisoka sat at his desk rubbing his temples and studying one of a half-dozen mission reports littered in front of him. He picked up one in his right hand and reached for a white ceramic mug of coffee with his left. One sip was all it took to change his mind about the beverage—it was barely lukewarm. He eyed the clock. Just past two.
It wasn’t too late, yet.
He tucked three of the reports in their folders, pushed a fourth into a red envelope and stashed that in a drawer, and left two face up. Then he pulled over a stack of personnel files, all in their black and white edged folders, stamped and sealed so only those with appropriate clearances could open them.
The top file was thick and battered, and the one underneath it wasn’t much cleaner. Then there were two slightly newer looking files, and one in a blue-tinted folder, black-and-white edged like the others, but with an additional seal affixed. He set the two newer brown folders to one side, placing the mission report filed by the Hokage’s son on one, and the mission report by Shida’s protege, Morino Ibiki, atop the other.
The blue folder labeled “Tousaki Ryouma” he pushed to the center of his desk, making the apex of a triangle with the remaining two—the veteran’s files—Sakamoto Ginta’s and Hatake Kakashi’s.
He’d read everything in each of those three files enough to be able to recite passages from memory. He knew about the friendships, the enmities, the entanglements, binding Tousaki to the other two.
If he was honest about it, he understood why Ginta had disobeyed a direct order and Kakashi had shirked a mission to go searching for Tousaki. He understood, but he couldn’t excuse it. Days of unnecessary man-hours and expense had gone to pursuing and retrieving the AWOL agents, both of whom were in the hospital again, after less than a month out, which put more burden on an already overtaxed system, with both agents on the disabled list.
He flipped open Kakashi’s and Ginta’s files and read the hospital reports again: skull fractures, facial fractures, brain contusions, severe blood loss, frostbite, hypothermia, chakra-exhaustion, re-injury of Ginta’s leg...
It could be weeks before they were mission-fit.
And their insubordination couldn’t go unpunished.
He gathered up the files into a single stack, all five folders and two reports, and stood, stretching stiff shoulders and yawning until his eyes watered. Then he shook two small white tablets into his palm from a green bottle. He considered washing them down with the cold coffee, thought better of it, and swallowed them dry. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes and his headache would start to recede.
He should have taken them an hour ago.
The walk would help. He gathered the folders under one arm and left his office, activating seals to lock it behind him. The sentry on duty at the front desk snapped him a salute; he saluted back.
“Have a good night, sir,” the sentry told him.
“You too, Masao.”
The air was balmy, damp and heavy with coming summer. There was a low rumble of distant thunder, a desultory flash of lightning on the southern horizon. No rain for Konoha just yet. Another yawn cracked his face, but there was no one to see the director of ANBU’s Hunters showing fatigue.
At the Hokage’s palace, he was greeted with more masked, saluting sentries. He made his way up the stairs, feeling the weight of the folders in his hand unaccountably heavy. He stopped at the Hokage’s door, nodding a greeting to yet another set of ANBU guards.
Hatake and Sakamoto would have to face consequences for their actions, and Arakaki Hisoka was glad to his bones he didn’t have to decide on those consequences alone.