Taisetsuna : Precious

A Naruto Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah

 

Chapter 3

 

            Oururi and her girls sat on the futon in Kakashi’s living room. He leaned against the wall and looked from one worried face to another. He kicked himself for not having noticed how much they resembled him, especially around the eyes.

            “All right,” he said and cleared his throat. “Why did you set me up?”

            “That wasn’t part of the plan,” Oururi said quickly. “Well, it sort of was. It was just a mission. But I thought since we were here, they could meet you.” She cast her grey eyes back down at the floor. “You weren’t supposed to see me.”

            “That’s a shitty plan and you know it,” Kakashi growled softly.

            She shrugged. “Guess I sort of wanted to see you, too.”

            He folded his arms and walked to his room. “Well, your mission failed,” he said plainly. “We’ll talk more about this in the morning.”

            Oururi looked shocked, but said nothing as he closed the door behind him.

            “Kaasan,” Yume whispered. “Otousan is scary.”

            “Pfff,” Oururi scoffed. “He’s a pushover. He could have turned us over to Sandaime by now but he didn’t.” She grinned assuredly at her children, but bit the inside of her lip. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be all right.”

 

.x.

            As sunlight crept through the panes, Kakashi emerged silently from his room, fully dressed. He’d hardly slept and couldn’t wait to start the new day. He was not surprised to find all four females still snoozing. Oururi was spooning Yami and Yume and Hikari lay sprawled at her back. He scratched his head and smiled under the mask. Their mother’s eyes flicked open involuntarily as she felt his presence come into the room.

            “Morning,” he whispered. She slid out from between the girls and followed him to the balcony. The air was still crisp and cool, but refreshing. Oururi looked out over the Leaf Village and took a deep breath.

            “Despite what you think, it really was just a job for the Hidden Sand which, as you pointed out, I have now failed,” she groaned and stretched her arms on the railing, leaning back while hanging on to the cold iron.

            It was all he could do to keep from watching her. “Why didn’t you tell me I had children?” he asked and looked out where she did.

            “What would have been the point of that? You wouldn’t have been able to see them and besides…” she stopped herself short hearing the sliding glass door crack open.

            “Kaasan, I’m hungry,” a soft voice called from the door. Yami rubbed her left eye and looked sleepily out at the pair.

            Kakashi closed his eye. “Ok, let’s see if I’ve got anything to eat in this place.”

            “Do you actually have anything other than dried fish?” Oururi jibed as she followed him in.

            “Ewwwwww.” Yami made a face. “Otousan, you eat dry fish?”

            “There’s nothing wrong with dried fish,” he whined and shut the door behind him.

 

.x.

            At last, the strange little family emerged. They had hardly set foot on a public sidewalk when the comments started again.

            “So cute!”

            “All three…!”

            “…Even dressed alike!”

            Kakashi sighed heavily. Oururi laughed. This made his heart skip a beat. It was back. The shimmering, crystalline laugh she had lost when she joined the Anbu squad was back. Something had changed. Kakashi didn’t have to look far for the source of her happiness; they were tagging along behind her. He smiled himself and was about to reach out to tousle Hikari’s hair when he saw them.

            On the rooftops and around corners, several ninja were watching them. They knew they had been spotted and wasted no time. Kakashi readied himself. This hadn’t escaped Oururi’s notice either. She nodded to him and placed the children between them. The girls blinked signals to each other, communicating the number of enemies and who would take down whom.

            All this was rendered unnecessary when one of the ninja came out into the open with his hands raised slightly. “Good morning, Kakashi. Hokage-sama would like a word with you,” the man said quietly with a pleasant but fake smile on his lips.

            “Oh?” Kakashi asked.

            “Come this way.” He motioned in the direction of the village hall.

            “Seems we have an escort,” Oururi whispered.

            “Don’t try anything,” Kakashi advised. “We’ll do better if we just go along.”

 

            All five of them were shown to the Hokage’s office. He was busy signing documents, but put his brush down when they arrived.

            “Kakashi,” the Hokage croaked with a pleasant smile. “Thank you for getting the forbidden scroll back last night.”

            He bowed slightly in response. “You’re more than welcome.”

            Sandaime looked up and wove his fingers together. “Aono Oururi, isn’t it?” he asked. “We haven’t seen you in many years. How have you been?”

            “Fine, Hokage-sama.”

            ‘He knows damn well she’s not permitted to return for 10 full years,” Kakashi thought. He sweated a little. ‘Damn it. He knows exactly what’s going on. What’s he up to?’

            “And these are your girls, right?”

            “Yes, Hokage-sama.”

            He took a long drag off his pipe and let the smoke curl up around his large, triangular hat. “That’s good. They’re fine ninja. I didn’t even hear them till they were popping the scroll out the bathroom window. I expected as much from the offspring of two such outstanding ninja.”

            All of them swallowed deep. Kakashi raised a brow. ‘Cripes,’ Kakashi thought. ‘He really does know everything.’ The girls looked up at their mother who stared into the Hokage’s sharp, black eyes and clenched her fists.

            “The scroll is back where it belongs,” he said as he scratched the side of his wrinkled face, calmly. “You’ll be on your way tomorrow I should think,” he intoned a note of warning in his assumption. “Tell me, Oururi, do you like it in the Hidden Sand?”

            The muscles in Oururi’s shoulders relaxed. “No,” she said very plainly. “We don’t.”

            “It’s so green here!” Yami cried.

            “And the sun’s not as hot!” Yume added.

            “And Tousan is here!” Hikari grabbed Kakashi’s hand.

            ‘Whoa, they sure know how to work the sympathy angle!’ Kakashi thought. ‘Let’s just hope he’s having a good day and doesn’t have us all sent to prison.’

            Oururi looked astounded. “Girls!” she gasped.

            Silence washed over them as they waited for Sandaime to take another long drag.

            “You’re a valuable asset, Oururi, which Konoha should not have given up so easily. Those were dark and confusing days after the death of Yondaime, as you well know.”

            Kakashi took a deep breath and nodded once.

            The old man pulled open a new scroll and made a note. “There should be only a few more months left of your obligation to the Hidden Sand, am I right?”
            “I believe so,” Oururi answered quietly.

            “Then we shall meet again when you return,” he said and smiled slightly.

            Kakashi sighed with relief.

            “I’m sorry, Hokage-sama,” she said and put her hand on Hikari’s head. “But I can’t return.”

            “What?” Kakashi asked, shocked.

            “My girls were born in the Wind Country. They’re Sand ninja. I can’t leave them behind.”

            Sandaime stopped writing and squinted up at her. “I see.” He dipped his brush, crossed something off and wrote something else. “I’ll see what I can do.” With a nod they were dismissed. The family walked in silence to the ramen shop.

 

            The atmosphere around them was heavy as they found a table in the nearly empty restaurant. It was still early for dinner, but they had skipped lunch to see the Hokage. As Kakashi ordered, Oururi stood up.

            “What’s wrong?” he asked her.

            A silly grin spread slowly across her face. “I think I hear something familiar.” She sneaked up to the open front door and listened. “I do!” She stuck out her tongue. “Oi!” Oururi called through the doorway. “IKURA!”

            “It’s I RU KA!” came the frustrated reply. Iruka’s head poked under the cloth flap and blinked in surprise. Oururi leapt and tackled him. “Oururi! You’re alive!” he shouted and laughed.

            The six of them camped out in the restaurant till it was busy with the evening dinner crowd, trading stories of the old days.

 

.x.

            It was just as he noticed Yume yawning that Kakashi wondered where Oururi and Iruka had gone off to. They had gotten up a while ago to say hello to a friend and hadn’t come back. For just a moment he wondered what they could be talking about, but he hadn’t had to sneeze all night. He excused himself and went to the men’s room. When he came out, Oururi blocked his path.

            “Where have you been?” he asked.

            “Over there with Anko-chan and them. Have a drink with me,” she demanded.

            “I don’t drink.”

            “I do.” She wagged a carafe of sake in front of him. He took it and noticed it was empty. He raised a brow. She bit her lip. “Take me drunk I’m home.”

            Kakashi looked over to the table. The girls were gone.

            “I called in a favor with Ikura,” Oururi smirked, a slight blush that might have been from the sake was on her cheeks. “So, will you?” She looked up at him with her cool, grey eyes. He still knew every nuance of those irises; every fleck of blue and silver. He still knew her. He paid the bill and they walked slowly down the shadowy streets back to his apartment.

 

            Kakashi unlocked and opened the door. The two slipped in. The reflection through the windows from the streetlamps below bathed the apartment in a dim, bluish light. He removed his shinobi’s vest, leaned against the door and wondered if he was thinking clearly. She pressed herself against his chest.

            “So,” Oururi purred. “Do you still have a wicked tan line?” He could see her teeth glint in the dark as she grinned. Her fingers touched his cheek. Any lingering negative thoughts he had about her vanished. Gently, she pulled down the mask.

            In the darkness, she couldn’t see the slight difference between the tan above the mask and the paler flesh below, nor did she truly care. He was even more beautiful than he had been as a teenager. Oururi went up on her toes, her body pressing even closer to his. Their lips met and Kakashi wrapped his arms around her. He pulled at the ribbon that held her long, blue hair back and it fell all around her. They worked at the knots on each other’s hitai-ate.

            She ran her thumb across his scarred left eyelid. She felt the start of crows feet at the edges of his eyes. “It’s been a while, ne, Kakashi?”

            His hands came to rest on her hips. “Yeah.” He kissed her lips slowly then buried his face in her neck, taking in her scent. “We’re not 16 anymore.”

            She laughed lightly. “No, certainly not.” Oururi put her hands on his and led him to his bedroom.

 

.x.

            Just before dawn, Oururi fell asleep against Kakashi’s chest. He watched her as the light brightened and stroked her hair. His fingers traced the outline of a scar on her back. He gasped as he realized how large it was and moved to see it in the pale light. Oururi woke and sat up quickly, her eyes filled with worry, staring, trying to read his.

            “Oururi…” he whispered. “What is that scar from?”

            She relaxed and turned her back to him again. She pulled her hair away from the immense scar slashed across her spine. “Sand nin.”

            He reached out and touched the raised mark. It could only have been caused by a very large weapon like a sword or giant shuriken. He knew very well that such a wound would have been life-threatening. His heart twisted up with guilt. “This happened after you left.”

            “When the girls were still Genin, five Sand Chuunin, jealous of their talent attacked us one day. I was able to take down three of them, but the other two would have killed my girls. One of them tagged me in the back as I tried to protect them. It was a pretty nasty injury. My girls, our girls, they kept me going.”

            Oururi turned back around and fell against his chest again. He took her in his arms and rubbed his cheek against her bowed head. “I’ve wanted to thank you for years now,” she said with the slight hiccup, trying to conceal her emotion. “When I left this village, I had no dreams, no cause, no reason to live. I could be the best shinobi I could be, but I was empty. When the girls were born I finally had something to protect. Our lives haven’t been easy, but I am thankful every day for them.”

            “Then so am I, Oururi. What you were becoming frightened me.” Kakashi held her tightly, afraid that she would fly away like a dream upon waking. “The girl who left this village wasn’t the girl I was in love with. I didn’t want to see that girl. I didn’t…”

            “That girl broke your heart, didn’t she?” He felt her warm tears fall on his skin. “I’m so sorry, Kakashi. A lot has changed. I have to tell you the truth. Back then, I know you cared for me, but I didn’t love you.”

            She laid very still waiting for his reaction. He took a deep, calm breath and stroked her hair. “I know,” he whispered, almost inaudibly. “That’s why I let you go.” He closed his eyes as the sun peaked over the Konoha rooftops.

 

.x.

            Iruka and the Hatake girls met up with them at the village gates just after breakfast. The triplets were sleepy but full and ready to see their mother again. They had their packs on and were ready for the trek back to the Wind Country.

            “Sorry I didn’t get you a going away present,” Kakashi played with a pebble with the toe of his sandal.

            Oururi scoffed. “Please, don’t go changin’ on me now!” she half-joked.

            “I got you something, Oururi,” Iruka pulled the large pack off his back and tossed it to the Anbu woman. “From Hokage-sama.”

            She made a face and opened the top of the drawstring. “What the…?!” The girls crowded her to see inside. The top of a large scroll protruded from the bag.

            “It looks like the genuine article. By the time you get back, it’ll be blank. You won’t have failed and you may still get paid!” Iruka grinned, knowing he’d saved the day.

            “Oh, IKURA!” she hugged her friend tightly.

            As she turned to explain it to her girls, Kakashi leaned over. “Did you put my present in?”

            “Yup, should be enough money for new clothes for all of them for a year or so.” He sighed melodramatically. “I should have become Jounin. There’s no money in teaching.”

            Kakashi laughed.

            “Well, I guess we should be off.” Oururi smiled sadly.

            “Oh, I do have a present for my girls.” Kakashi remembered and waved them to come closer. He squatted down. “Please, a little closer. Closer.” They gave each other worried looks. When they were as close as they could possibly get, Kakashi quickly lowered his facemask and gave each of his daughters a kiss on the forehead. “Yume, Yami, Hikari, you take care of your Kaasan, ok?”

            They looked dazed, but nodded in agreement. As they walked with their mother toward the gates Yume piped, “Kaasan! Tousan is so handsome!” Oururi laughed, that tinkling shimmering laugh and gave him one last smile before walking out of the gates.

            Kakashi sighed a satisfied sort of sigh.

            “You sound relieved to see them go!” Iruka laughed.

            “I am, sort of. It won’t be for long. Knowing our Hokage-sama, they’ll be back.” He turned and took in the bustle of the busy village. “For years I was afraid that she had become a monster with no heart, a pure assassin with no care for anything or anyone. She’s back, Iruka. She’s back already.”

 


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