"Has anyone come down this hallway tonight?" Ibiki asks the two ANBU guards stationed outside his door.
Two blank masks look back at him and shake their heads. "One new recruit became disoriented looking for the interrogation rooms and ended up in this hallway. We summoned another operative to escort them back to the correct area. Otherwise, there have been no presences in this quadrant since we took over the watch and 1800 hours, sir."
Ibiki nods once, then closes the door again. Very few people could slip past two elite ANBU operatives in the heart of the Torture and Interrogation unit unnoticed. Even fewer could do it on their first try. Ibiki has paid attention to this kid since the day he met him during the chunin exam. The son of Konoha's shadow intelligence master, and by all accounts even more intelligent than his father by far, even if his motivation was generally deemed lacking.
It's only been a few months since Nara Shikaku began formally introducing his son to his line of work, but Shikamaru is a fast learner. Almost alarmingly fast, Ibiki thinks as he picks up the journal. At first glance, it appears to be written in the standard cipher of the Torture and Intelligence division, but at second glance, it becomes clear there is a second cipher layered over the first. Ibiki can count on one hand the number of people who know the second key and still have a finger to spare. For the most sensitive communications, there is always the Yamanaka's mind techniques, but for less classified information, there is the notebook they have been passing for years now.
Ibiki opens to the most recent page, the first in a new hand. "Report from the interrogation of suspect 372," it begins. Shikamaru already gave an oral report of the proceedings when he came by, but Ibiki doesn't trust memory to remain fresh however many months later it may be relevant. Konoha is on the brink of war, but even he can't guess how long it will be before the balance tips them over the edge.
He doesn't know how long it will be before Shikamaru takes over his father's shoes either, but if there is one thing his job has taught him, it's that the time to plan for contingencies is never after it's too late. There is no room for shiny optimism and sugar-coating in his field; those who try to live on ideals don't make it past their first month down here. Ibiki wants practicality, and it seems the Nara successor will deliver.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and meet whatever comes as it is.
You're up mousapelli