A month filled with hard work, team building exercises and easily-completed missions later, Amejisuto woke up to find Mikoto leaning over her bed, staring at her. She held back the urge to scream and sat up with a forced smile. "Good morning, Lady Mikoto, what brings you to my room?"
"Happy birthday, Amejisuto! Time to get you all dressed up! I'm going to teach you the Uchiha birthday traditions," the older woman chirped, holding up a plain yellow kimono with red butterflies.
"Alright, but can I just take my usual shower first?" Amejisuto yawned, sitting up.
"Nope, we're going to the spa and we can bathe there. That's one of the traditions! Well, it's that the birthday child and the same gendered parent go to a relaxing place," Mikoto said cheerfully, pulling back the silky purple blankets and pretty much dragging the young girl out of her bed, quickly shoving her into the garment.
Thankfully, the younger female was able to steal an extra minute to brush her hair well enough that she didn’t have a bird’s nest on her head. Amejisuto felt slightly winded as Mikoto dragged her through the large house to the kitchen to bid the stunned males, who were in the middle of eating, goodbye.
Amejisuto glared at the boys as Sasuke started snickering. Itachi only chuckled but also gave her a look of sympathy. He knew he couldn't do anything to help when his mom was excited like this.
Mikoto and her victim arrived at the spa and bath house and were welcomed in instantly due to a reservation. Once they were showered and in the bath, things were finally explained in a bit more detail. "I never go to do these things since I married into the Uchiha clan, and as you know, I only have sons," the monarch grinned. "You are the closest thing to a daughter to me right now, so I decided that we should do this for your birthday."
Amejisuto was slightly dazed and still half asleep, even though she had been pulled around for the past twenty minutes of being awake, but she was also flattered that she was considered a daughter. "Are there any other birthday traditions I should know about?"
"Well, there’s always the normal gift-giving, but I was told that there's a specific thing that Uchihas and their apprentices have to do on whoever’s birthday, since it’s a rare and special circumstance. I don't know all the details, but generally, you have to go on a special mission for a week," she informed.
"That sounds fun. More bonding time with my favorite teacher," Amejisuto smiled, starting to wonder where the special mission would take them. She enjoyed going to different lands, even if it was just for important missions that required full focus.
Mikoto grinned, knowing the girl well enough already to predict what she was thinking about. However, this was to be a day of relaxation, and she decided that any more talk of missions were the opposite of that. "Any Ishi clan traditions that we should be aware of?" she changed the focus.
"Well, since my clan is mainly made up of masters of nature, we usually just sit back and enjoy the elements, but it isn’t exactly a tradition. I’m planning on visiting my mother and cousin."
They both grew quiet and enjoyed the soak before a worker dropped by and brought them to the set up spa room for different treatments. It was a girl's day out paradise filled with mud baths, wraps, massages and other relaxing things. Amejisuto wasn't the biggest fan of those types of things, but she found herself enjoying how refreshed she felt once it was done. Her favorite part was the massages, of course. Ninja tended to get extremely stiff and gain many knots, no matter how much they stretched.
A few hours passed and the females were walking back to their home, laughing at stories that Mikoto told about Sasuke and Itachi when they were younger. Embarrassing stories. "Seriously? He cut those lines on his face with a kunai? And I'm supposed to think he's a wise shinobi," the brunette laughed after the older woman told a story about her oldest son.
"Well, he was only three and wanted to look like a warrior with battle scars," Mikoto giggled. They got back in the house and the Uchihas, Team Seven, Team Guy, Sora and Sirami were all waiting in the dojo to surprise her.
"Happy beginning of the last year of true youth, though you will always have youth on your side, just a different kind of youthfulness!" Rock Lee and Guy sensei started crying randomly and were ushered into a corner by their teammates, Neji and Tenten, so they could cry out their weirdness.
"Happy birthday, Ameji," Itachi smiled. Everyone joined in, giving hugs and good wishes. Not too long after the rounds of hugs were finished, she was pressured to hurry up and open the presents. She got a CD from Sakura, a ramen coupon from Naruto, a dark blue kunai knife with an Uchiha crest on it from Sasuke, the original three Icha-Icha books from Kakashi, who in turn got glared at by a lot of other guests, and a green leotard from Lee and Guy. Tenten got her a metal fan for wind users, and Neji gave a scroll for techniques to use against genjutsu.
Sora smirked while giving her a small book filled with 'get out of bet free as long as you admit I'm right' coupons, and Sirami gave a short scroll of high level techniques for the elite members of the Ishi clan. Lee and Guy returned to their own little world where sunsets never ended, and neither did the waterfalls of tears.
"And what about my brother? The great sensei hasn't forgotten a gift for his favorite pupil, has he?" Sasuke teased.
"I'm going to give it to her at the end of the traditionally given mission," the older raven replied.
The birthday girl inched close to her cousin. "Hey Sora, it's been a month and I haven't felt anything towards any Uchiha yet," she bragged.
"Have you ever even liked anyone before?" Sora asked.
"Psh, yah. I liked Kiba when I was eight," Amejisuto crossed her arms.
"That... Is... Pathetic..." Sora laughed. "You probably don't even know what it feels like.
"Oh shut up."
"Hey Ameji! Are you going to celebrate with birthday ramen?" Naruto shouted.
"Naruto, I think she has to prepare for the mission Itachi was just talking about, so we should leave. It was a nice small party though," Sakura dragged her teammate out by the ear. Kakashi waved and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The other guests soon left too, leaving the Uchiha family and the Ishi.
"Itachi, Amejisuto, we’ve already arranged the mission," Fugaku entered the dojo. "It will take around a week, and it's A-ranked."
"What will we be doing?" Itachi inquired, clearing away a few stray ribbons and tissue paper strands.
"You will be undercover as a young couple in Sunagakure. Apparently the Kazekage requested assistance from someone in Konoha to track down an S ranked criminal and bring him to Suna. He should be near the border in the town Airin. You must bring him back to Konoha and he will be dealt with by others," he assigned.
"If he's an S rank criminal why is it an A ranked mission?" Amejisuto asked, packing her gifts in a big birthday bag.
"You two are in the higher ranks, and you have a week. Just take him back here for the intelligence division when you capture him."
"Yes, father," Itachi bowed and Amejisuto followed his lead. They left to pack lightly and set out later that day.
Once they were out of sight, Mikoto started panicking. "What if this mission doesn't bring them closer together?"
"The Hokage has assured me that this mission is perfect for that. The man they're tracking down always uses a certain jutsu to make things more... Interesting," Fugaku assured.
Deidara and Sasori started to pack for their mission to Suna. It was still another week until they left, but Sasori would complain if they wasted any time when they needed to leave. He wasn't exactly the most patient person, and Deidara didn't feel like being jabbed with a poisoned weapon, being left in pain until he'd be almost dead after three days, then stabbed harshly with an antidote. He shuddered at the thought.
"So which one of us fights the great eighteen year old Kazekage, yeah?" the blonde asked as he shoved globs of detonating clay into small pouches.
"You will. My puppets will be crushed if I fight him," Sasori sighed. "You better make it quick though. I hate waiting."
"Yah yah, I know, you only mention that six billion times a week. I bet you don't want to fight him because he's the leader of the village you ran away from and you're scared to face your past, yeah."
The redhead growled and pulled out a poison-tipped kunai, smirking at the fear in his partner's eyes. "Sorry, I missed that. What were you saying?"
"Um... That I'll take care of the one tail and you should set up traps, yeah?"
"That's what I thought."
"I'll make the fight quick. Sand is no match for my beautiful art! Yeah!"
"Whatever, just get it done before I get impatient."
Deidara pouted at his partner's coldness. "You're so demanding, Sasori. Yeah."
Sasori rolled his eyes. "I wasn't made to have any other emotions. How I even get into pointless fights with you is a mystery; I made myself to specific details that I wanted but somehow you over-ran my programming.""You make it sound like you're a robot or a computer, yeah. Puppets don't get programmed."