Chapter 02: A Konoha morning
Sarada was no morning person. With her eyes half closed she made her way to the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth.
"Look out... Look out… Pink elephants on parade… Here they come… Hippety hoppety," she hummed quietly and yawned.
Getting dressed never seemed to take so long. She had noticed the third toothbrush and remembered the evening before. This wasn't easy to avoid somebody who lived in the same house as you did. How long would he stay? However, she would not wait until he found out that she was not going to make it easy for him to catch her.
With a deep sight, Sarada looked at herself in the mirror. It was 'work day', which meant practical clothes: white long leggings, a thin kimono style dark blue top, black finger-tip free gloves and her headband. She took it from her nightstand and knotted it around her left upper arm. There was only one thing left: Her necklace. It was an older one, made out of a leather strap with three donut shaped metal rings on it. It was kind of her guardian angel necklace thing.
Hair back? Glasses on?.
With everything set up, Sarada tip toed downstairs. Do not wake anybody… do not wake- The kitchen light was on. She could hear the shifting of plates, frying pans and the sound of something cooking in the big pot her mum always used for oden. Sarada came slowly closer and peeked in.
Right in front of her, was her father. He was completely dressed and had, it looked at least like it, made breakfast.
Wait, her father had made breakfast?
"Do you want something before you go?" Sarada twitched and entered the kitchen with a guilty look on her face.
"How long have you..?"
"Since your alarm went off," he put a plate with food on the kitchen table, "do you want miso soup?" So that's what had been boiling in the big pot.
The girl confused, but sat down and nodded, "uhm.. ok?"
He hadn't only cooked soup, but also made rice, fried fish and omelet. She dug in.
"That's delicious… where did you learn to cook?"
Sasuke leaned back at the kitchen counter with half a smirk on his face.
"I grew up on my own. I had to make my breakfast from a very early age on," he got himself some tab water, "good to hear you like it."
She ate the rest in silence. When she was done, Sarada stood up.
"I will clean up. When are you meeting your group," he picked up her plate and turned around.
"At seven I think."
"Aren't you a little early? It's just six?"
"I need to be. Otherwise I would just get mad at my team partner immediately and punch them in the face. I'm not as strong as mum… but well," Sarada put on her shoes and fixed her equipment bags, "I think I could still break his jaw."
"Not a morning person hm. Take care." Sasuke watched his daughter open the door, but held her back for a second.
"I wanted to ask you, if you want to meet when you are done today?"
Sarada was straddled.
"…why not? If you are free… I will pick you up here?"
"Ok... see you this afternoon."
And she closed the door.
The morning was still cold, even though the sun was already sending her first rays across the town. Morning dew lingered on all the leaves and only a few other people were already up.
Sarada took her time to get to her meeting point. She knew all the paths where she would not meet anyone at this hour and she could cool of her head.
Her father had asked for a "date". Or how should she call it? A father-daughter thingy?
"Well… That's a first…"
But there were other problems. She had ruined her teammate's day not even 24 hours ago. Bolt would be pissed. But if he got on her nerves, she would just make him shut up. And then her sensei would just scold them again. No, he wasn't worth the trouble.
She reached the meeting point at 6:30.
20 minutes later a young woman joined her.
"Good morning Sarada! As early as always I see," she smiled. It was a pretty smile with blinking white teeth. Her appearance wasn't very special. She wore the usual jonin get up without any big special. Only her locks were interesting: She wore them in a high pigtail and had the black tips dyed purple.
"Good morning Ako-sensei, how are you doing?" Sarada gave her best smile.
"I'm fine, I guess. Shall we make a bet how late our third member will be today," the teacher winked and sat on a bench. "I would say… 30 minutes."
"Nice guess sensei, but I am sure he won't be here till eight," Sarada rolled her eyes.
"Wrong! Both of you…" a very unhappy blonde boy landed next to Ako-sensei. The girls were surprised.
"Wow Bolt, you are… more than punctual! You are even five minutes early. How come," the teacher took out a pack of gum and offered it to her students. Both of them shook their head. Ako-sensei was famous for her taste in spicy food and she did not except her chewing gum.
"So the Hokage kicked you out of bed personally! Awesome," Sarada started to laugh.
"How come you are so happy?! You know, the only reason my dad wakes up before mum on his own?" Bolt had frowned first. Now he grinned from ear to ear.
"What could it be? Is his favorite type of ramen on sale today?" (The current hokage was well-known for his love for ramen.)
But Bold just put his hands in his pockets.
"I mean, come on. Don't tell me you are in a good mood," there was a devilish grin on his face, "the only reason my dad would get up super early is right now sitting in your house."
"…" Sarada had stopped laughing.
"Your father is back, am I right? Sarada?"
She was about to answer, but Ako-sensei cut in. "Ok guys, enough for today. Please, we need to work as a team. I know you can do it!" She poked them both and smiled at them.
"You will see, it will all get better. So stop treating each other like punching bags for your bad emotions," the smile vanished from her face, "If Hotaru was here, he would want you to work together like always, ok? So… get a grip. Both of you."
The teenagers looked at each other for a second and nodded.
"Well, isn't that a lot better?"
The Hokages office was busy as always. People ran around, everybody was half in panic: The hokage had not shown up for work and had not been at home either. His wife Hinata couldn't tell right hand man Shikamaru where her husband had gone early in the morning and nobody except for his son had even seen him that day. This unexpected absence had overthrown the bureaus organization. Everything was in disarray and lady Shizune only gave the group a small D rank mission within the village.
Bolt didn't like it, but the girls just shrugged it off. They were genin and even on boring days, they were not allowed to do more than two missions at all. Without further complains they made their way to the river; collecting garbage…
The sun had finally risen above the horizon and engulfed the village with its warming rays of light. Sasuke sat on the stone head of the fourth hokage and watched the village. He had his chakra suppressed, so nobody would notice him. It was quiet and calm. Some laughing children's voices could be heard. It was probably around eight and the academy lessons would start soon.
Sasuke heard footsteps and a familiar blonde sat next to him.
"Morning idiot," he grinned and held up his fist. Sasuke bumped his against Narutos.
"You look good, Mr. Hokage."
"Fits me right?" Naruto had matured with the years. He wasn't the old kid running around, playing pranks anymore. He had become more mature, thoughtful and critical. His changed personality was reflected by his now shorter hair and some wrinkles he already had gotten.
But with Sasuke, he was...
"You are still the same dobe as always huh."
"Kind of," he smiled.
They sat there quietly for some minutes.
"...did you tell them that you are taking some time off?"
"Just look." Sasuke pointed down where lots of people were running around.
"Aaaah they can manage. It's just for a day." Naruto stretched his arms, "so, good to have you back. What's the occasion?"
"Do I need to have a reason to be at home?"
"You just never come back without one you know," Naruto winked and poked Sasuke.
"Well… you caught me," he reached into his pockets and gave Naruto a paper. The blonde unfolded it and read it.
"A message? In what language?"
"You are hokage and still cannot read more than your native language? Oh boy… Shikamaru must have his hands full with you on the run…"
"Stop teasing me and get to the point," Naruto pouted. Sasuke sighted. That dobe would never change, wouldn't he?
"Hogo? Like… Language of the flames? Really now? Where the hell do you speak to flames?"
"In the flame country? Remember? The next big country southern of the wind country." Sasuke raised a brow at his pal.
"What does it say?"
"I would like to rather know why you couldn't even message me that you were not going to show up for work."
The blonde and raven turned around and faced an anger steaming Shikamaru.
"Naaa I'm sorry… but you know-"
"Sasuke is first priority. I know. Hi by the way." They nodded at each other, "just please get your butt down and help me. Work is waiting lord Hokage and time is ticking."
"Give me a break Shikamaru… Please, just till noon.
Shikamaru put his hands in his pockets. "Till noon and if you don't show up on time…"
"Don't thank me too early. You will have a long night... I promise. And Sasuke," the Hokage's adviser turned to the Uchiha, "good to see you. But please: Use the main entrance when you get here next time. If you do, I might get a little time to prepare the Hokage's absence."
And he was gone again.
"Wow, quite a nanny you got there." Sasuke grinned at Naruto, "shall we get back to Hogo?"
"Stop teasing me… So what does it say?"
"They are making an alliance with some countries I bet you never heard of."
"An alliance? For what?"
"I don't know… but that is why I am here," he looked at Naruto, "I would like your permission to travel south. I want to go and gather information in secret about that matter."
Naruto observed his friend, "you suspect something, don't you? And there is something you know, you are not telling me." Sasuke didn't answer. The Hokage looked over the village. "It will take you longer than usual probably..."
"What do I tell Sakura?"
"I will tell her the truth myself. She will understand."
"And your daughter..?"
Sasuke didn't answer at first.
"She will understand… somehow…"
But Naruto wasn't so sure.
The afternoon sun shone over Konoha.
Sarada sat in front of her house and read a magazine. It was filled with travel reports and hotel ads from southern countries: The shark country, coast country and the palm country. Those had just recently opened up after the end of the local civil wars and started a fluctuating tourist business. Sakura had promised her daughter that they would go on holiday over this year's Christmas together and Sarada was allowed to choose where to go. Maybe… just maybe, she could ask her father to join them this time.
A shadow suddenly fell on her and Sarada looked up.
"You are on time," she put the magazine in her bag and took the hand her father held out for her. He pulled her up. "So, where do you want to go?"
Sasuke put his hands in his pockets. He had left his travelling coat and just wore his long black trousers and white shirt.
"Hm… would you mind showing me your around a little? I haven't been here in a while." A little lie. He knew almost all the places. But he wanted to know, where his daughter would bring him, what she thought was important.
"Ok… so…" she adjusted her glasses, "I would say… How about downtown? There is a nice café at the eastern garden. I like it... Do you want to try it?"
"Do they have tea?"
"Then let's go."
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