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An Unexpected Romance

By Ann Shannon

Romance

Chapter 19-An Impression is Left

Chikako left the field and stood near her father, leaning against the fence. He looked at her, "You've certainly changed, Chikako-chun."

"I have father. Does that bother you?"

"I like it. They're good changes, you've become stronger and more confident." He touched her shoulder to make her turn and face him, "Are you happy?" He said this last part very quietly.

"I am. But if I remember correctly my happiness was not the first concern in this arrangement, the strength of the village was. So I guess my happiness is simply an unexpected benefit, isn't it?" There was a small amount of sadness and anger in her voice.

Her father looked at her sharply, "I'm sorry Chikako. I never meant to make you feel that way."

"Mmmm. I think I'll go get cleaned up and visit with mother." She caught Tobirama's eye and waved goodbye but he held up a hand and came over.

"Are you leaving?"

"I'm going to clean up and visit with mother. I'd also like to see Momo today, if that's alright."

"Of course it is. I'll see you later, this afternoon, before dinner?"

"Of course. Have fun training." She smiled at him and turned to leave.

As she walked back to their room she thought about the surprised looks she'd gotten, she knew that her little demonstration had been nothing compared to what a true kunoichi could accomplish on the battlefield but it was all they'd had to work with.

They'd had the conversation last night before dinner.

"Do you realize that there are no kunoichi in Iwa, Tobirama?"

"I'd noticed that. Did you want to volunteer?" He smiled at her.

She playfully smacked his arm, "You know that I'm useless in a fight. I have no training."

"That's not true. You just don't have as much as a kunoichi. I agree with you though. Your father and his men need to understand the risk."

Her face lit up. "I have an idea."

Together they'd hatched up the plan they'd played out at training today to surprise her father's men and illustrate the strength of the kunoichi to them. She wasn't sure it had worked as well as she'd hoped it would. Sadao especially had taken a strong stand against it and as her fathers personal guard she knew that he had a lot of say in what happened.

She walked up to her mothers door and knocked lightly, opening it when her mother greeted her.

"Good morning mother. How are you?"

"I'm well, Chikako. How are you?"

"I'm well."

"Do you have plans for the day?"

"I have three tasks to complete today and I've finished one already." She smiled warmly at her mother.

"And what was it that it got done so very early in the morning, Chikako?"

"I trained with father and his men."

Her mother looked up with surprise. "What?"

Chikako told her about training with Mito, learning the genjutsu, and finally joining the men this morning to teach them about kunoichi.

"Do all the women train in Konoha?"

"No, only the kunoichi and they start very young. I'm only training to make myself stronger. And Mito taught me some chakra control for fun."

Her mother breathed a sigh of relief. "I would hate to think about you going to fight." She looked at Chikako, "What are the other two tasks?"

"I'm going to visit Momo, and convince you to come to Konoha with me." She smiled. "I really want you there."

"Well then I guess you have only one task left. I've decided I'll move with you. I'm worried about the trip but once there I know I'll be happier with you than I am here alone." Her smile looked sad as she gazed out the window.

"Are you ok mother?"

"Yes. I was just thinking that I've never left this village, and now I'll be leaving forever."

Chikako gave her mother a hug, "I was scared too but it'll be ok."


Chikako walked across the compound towards Momo's, she'd spent most of the morning visiting with her mother and had lunch with her before leaving. She was very happy that she'd be returning with them even though she knew it would make the trip back long and tedious. Now she was going to spend the afternoon with Momo.

She arrived at Momo's house and looked around the back for her finding her in the garden. "Momo?"

Momo looked up and gasped. "Chika-chan!" She stood and ran to her, embracing her in a firm hug. "Why are you here? Is the marriage..."

"It's fine, Momo. I've never been happier. Tobirama is a wonderful husband. He's back to train with father and his men and I came along to visit. I may not get another chance if I get pregnant and have babies to care for."

"Speaking of which," Momo backed off and turned to show her growing stomach.

"Momo! That's amazing! I'm so happy for you."

"Thank you. Kei's very excited and already planning his son's training regimen." The two girls giggled a bit. "Do you want some tea?" She led Chikako inside and began preparing it.

They sat and talked for the afternoon, sipping tea and laughing about the things that had happened since they'd last seen each other. Mid-afternoon Kei came in and joined them.

"Chikako made quite a stir at training this morning." He smiled at her. He told Momo about the morning training lesson that Chikako had given. "I thought you were amazing Chikako. I'm very impressed."

Chikako blushed a little. "Thank you Kei. I was very nervous but it was important for them to see, rather than just be told."

"I agree. I was actually going to talk to Momo. I'd like to volunteer to go to Konoha for six months to train." He turned to Momo. "How do you feel about that? It means I wouldn't be here when the baby came but I think I'd come home a lot stronger and wiser. More likely to survive if I had to."

She looked sad but she said, "If that's what you think is best then you should do it. I have my family here to help me. I'll miss you but I would rather you be strong."

Chikako felt for her friend. "I understand. We'd been in Konoha one night when Tobirama got called away to Suna, he ended up being there for four months. I missed him terribly."

Momo looked at her, "You've changed Chika-chan. I like it."

"I have, I like it too." She looked thoughtful. "I have to get back for dinner. I promise to come again before we leave!" She kissed her friend goodbye and waved as she left.

As she was crossing back across the compound Takao appeared beside her. "Good afternoon Chikako."

"Hello Takao, how are you?"

"I'm good. You aren't going to punch me, are you?" He had a teasing tone in his voice and was smiling as he said this.

"Takao, you're such a tease. Of course not. And I can't really hurt anyone anyway." She looked at him. "Do you think anyone took it seriously?"

"I did. And so did your father. He's asked me to return with you for training in Konoha."

"Don't you mean our father, Takao?"

"Chikako..."

"Takao, I know, and I understand. You don't have to pretend with me."

He sighed quietly.

"It must have been hard all these years, not being acknowledged by your father."

"A little. I've only truly known since I was fifteen, just before I became your escort. I understand why but I missed the growing up years. He's always been kind and generous to me though. And he's chosen me to succeed him."

"I knew that. He mentioned it to Tobirama last night. Are you happy about that?"

"I am. I know I'm not ready yet but I also believe that I'll do well." He took her arm and turned her to look at him. "Are you training to be a kunoichi?"

She looked at him in surprise, "No. I'm too old. I'm just training to be strong."

He sighed in relief. "In many ways I still worry about you. You were my responsibility for so long. I knew for a long time that you were my sister, and I care very deeply for you. It seems that you've found peace with Tobirama."

She smiled broadly, "Oh yes. He's a kind man, and I'm very happy. In fact," She hesitated. "Mother is returning to Konoha with us. I think she'd be happier with me, and that father would be happier also." They had reached her room and she turned to go to the door. "Thank you for the walk home. It was nice visiting." Then she turned and went inside.

Takao stood outside for a moment taking it all in. The world in Iwa was changing quickly. He turned to go to his fathers room.

Chikako slid the door to her room open, Tobirama was sitting there looking thoughtful. "Hello Tobirama. Have you had a good day?"

"I have, and you? Did you get to visit with Momo? How is she?"

"She's going to have a baby!" She quieted.

"That's very exciting." Noticing her sadness he said. "What's wrong?"

"I was just thinking about us having children. I mean, it will happen, right?"

He moved to pull her into his arms. "It will, simply because I can't keep my hands off of you." He chuckled deeply and quietly in her ear. "I think we even have time for a nap before dinner."

She giggled. "Then you're looking forward to it?"

"I always look forward to bedtime with you." He nuzzled her ear and pulled her close to him.

She giggled, "That's not what I meant."

He laughed at her, "I know." He left kisses on her neck as he spoke. "I am looking forward to having children with you, why do you ask?"

"I don't know. We've never spoken about it, and after seeing Momo, and how excited Kei is, I wondered if you would be too." She looked up at him and he took the opportunity to kiss her deeply before he answered.

"I'll be very excited." He held her close, letting his hands roam over her as he did. "In fact, I think we should practice."

She twisted in his lap, "That would be fun but I have to wash up for dinner, and so do you. We only have an hour." She giggled.

"I know." He kissed her one more time. "But I'm looking forward to later."

As she rose to get ready she asked, "Did anyone say anything after I left? What was their reaction?"

"You left quite an impression. I thought you did an amazing job by the way. You must have been very tired." He rose to get ready also. "The men were almost evenly split, half of them impressed and half of them offended. They'll get used to it."

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