An Unexpected Romance

By Ann Shannon


Chapter 20- Last Day in Iwa

Chikako sighed, it was their last day in Iwa, tomorrow they would leave for Konoha with a large entourage because her mother was returning with them. She would need a palanquin for traveling and to move her things.

"Are you sad to leave again?" Tobirama asked as he pulled her close to him in their bed. They were just waking up.

"Not at all. But I realized that I haven't once been to visit the waterfall. It was my favorite place when I lived here. I've been so busy that I haven't taken the time." She looked sad. "I used to find such peace when I sat and looked at it, listening to all that water rush down from the mountain." She reflected that the peace she had found at the waterfall had been replaced by a peace she found in Tobirama's presence and especially in his arms. He brought the same warmth to her that the stones around the waterfall used to provide.

"I understand. It's a very peaceful place." Tobirama had discovered long ago that he not only found his power in water but his peace also and he often found himself gazing at it or swimming when he needed to clear his head. "I'll take you there today."

"If we have time. I have to help mother finalize her packing. She doesn't have a lot but she's very nervous."

"It's understandable. She's making the biggest move of her life."

She let a quiet breath out, "I know. Thank you."

"For what?"

"For bringing her home with us." She turned over so she was facing him. "I can't tell you how much it means to me."

"You don't have to. I can see it in your face." He leaned over, pressing her onto her back and kissed her, running his hand down the side of her body. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck pulling him down onto her.

Tobirama knocked on Hata's door. "Come in. You missed training this morning, is everything alright?" Hata looked up at him.

"Everything's fine. I wanted to rest a little more in preparation for the trip tomorrow." Tobirama said smiling. "After all, I'll be responsible for Chikako and Maki's safety until we get to Konoha."

"Excellent idea Tobirama." Hata smiled at him. "Are the six men I selected acceptable to you then?"

"Yes. I think they're outstanding choices. But you chose not to send Sadao?" Tobirama thought this was a mistake. He thought it might be helpful for Sadao to see how the Uchiha's were living today, in peace but he knew he couldn't push his luck too far.

"I asked him and he declined. He's stuck to the old ways. He is older than he looks, closer to my age. We were friends when I became clan leader and he's always stood beside me. I imagine he will retire with me someday."

"I had no idea. I understand your decision and respect it."

"Thank you Tobirama. Now lets wrap up the final details." They spent the rest of the morning discussing the details of the palanquin and how Maki's things would be transported. In addition to the six men Hata was sending for training, he was sending eight men to carry the palanquin on the rough road, they would switch off as they needed. It would be a slow return trip. "If you run into any trouble you should have enough men to help you."

"I have no doubt we'll be fine." Tobirama sighed. He liked Hata but he was a man who liked importance, especially his own and while Tobirama held no misconceptions about his place in the world he was also not one to focus on it and make more of it than was necessary. "But if you don't mind I have something I'd like to see to this afternoon."

"Of course not. Enjoy your last day in Iwa." Hata waved him off.

Tobirama stepped out into the sunshine and breathed a sigh of relief. He was done. No more meetings with that man. He walked over to the koi pond where Chikako was staring down into the water and feeding the fish. He wrapped his arms around her from behind and held her close to him as she relaxed back into him. "How is it that you never jump when I come up behind you. I know I'm being quiet and you don't hear me."

"So are you trying to sneak up on me then? To scare me?" She had a chuckle in her voice.

"Not to scare you, but maybe surprise you." He chuckled back. "It's a little disappointing really. I'm one of the most feared ninja alive and I can't even sneak up on my own wife."

She giggled, "Silly man, it's because I can feel you when you're close. I just know you're there. It's why I didn't panic when those men attacked me on our way here. I knew you were close and would come."

"Chikako, you are amazing." He kissed the side of her face. "I'll be right back." He ran up to their room and returned with one of his packs. "Come on."

She followed him and after a few minutes realized they were going to the waterfall that she loved so much. When they arrived he put the pack down and shed his armor, laying it on the ground next to the pack. He took her hand and walked over to the edge of the water. "Did you want to swim?"

She looked up at him in surprise. "Did you?"

"I love to swim, I brought towels so we could dry off. I've always found swimming brought me peace." He started to remove his clothes. She looked nervously around them. "There's no one around, I'd sense their chakra long before they were close enough to see you."

She relaxed and began undressing. When she was done she stepped into the water, gasping at the cold. He was already in and took her hand, pulling her close to him to share the warmth of his body with her. "Do you know how to swim?"

"Of course I do." And she took off for the other side of the pond with him following close behind. They got close to the waterfall and stopped, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply.

"Chikako, I have to say, when your father suggested this marriage I was dismayed. I'd never thought about getting married. I was very worried when you came to dinner that night and we were introduced. I assumed that you would be unpleasant and demanding, and you seemed so young." He was looking earnestly into her eyes. "I can't tell you how wrong I was, and how much I enjoy our marriage."

She giggled, "When I met Mito that first day in Konoha she told me that she would have named you as the man in Konoha least likely to get hitched."

He laughed, "She's very outspoken."

"I know. I like her. She made me feel so welcome, right away."

"And me? What did I do?"

"You made me feel safe, Tobirama. I never worried that you would hurt me. From the first moment we were alone on our wedding night until now I have known that I'm safe with you." She pressed her lips to his and pulled herself close to him. He began to swim closer to the shore, pulling her with him as he did. "Where are you going?"

He smiled at her slyly, "I need to be able to put my feet on the bottom for what I have in mind."

"We should get back for dinner soon. I think father invited many people tonight. Even mother is coming." She rested her back against him and pulled the towel more closely around her. She was warm and relaxed and knew that if she had the choice she would rather stay in his arms than do anything else but she also knew that they had to be at dinner.

He stroked her arms and whispered to her, "I'd rather stay here with you." He knew she was right though. He sensed movement on the path and started up, "Someone's coming." She slid behind the rock he'd been leaning on, grabbing her clothes as she did. "Whose there?"

Sadao came into view, "It's me. Hata-sama was wondering where you'd gone. It will be dinner time soon."

Tobirama murmured something under his breath, "Chikako and I were just enjoying the waterfall. We were just getting ready to head back."

Chikako spoke up as she came out from behind the rock, "Thank you Sadao for being sure we wouldn't be late." Tobirama looked up in surprise, how had she dressed so quickly? "It was so peaceful here that Tobirama decided he had to take a swim too."

Sadao narrowed his eyes. "You've changed a lot Chikako."

She leveled her gaze at him, understanding that he knew more than he was letting on. "I have Sadao. I like the person I've become."

"Well, that's one of us." And he turned to walk away.

When he was out of sight Tobirama turned to her, "Do you enjoy antagonizing him? And how did you get dressed so quickly?"

She smiled, "I do. And I only put my shirt and skirt on. I didn't want him to see me like that. He'll tell father, you know."

"I know. Does that bother you?"

"Not at all." She leaned down to kiss him. "Should I be embarrassed that I enjoy my husbands company?"

"Not at all." He kissed her back and rose to dress also.

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