An Unexpected Romance

By Ann Shannon


Chapter 22- Shikaya Nara

"I think we should go see Mito first. I want to find out how the baby is doing." Chikako and her mother were walking slowly through Konoha and Chikako was telling her the little she knew about the village.

"Mito is the Hokage's wife, right? She was there when we arrived."

"She is. She has very red hair. She was the one who made me feel at home here and introduced me to everyone." Chikako smiled at the memory of Mito dragging her away from the crowd the day she'd arrived.

She knocked on the door and slid it open when she heard Mito call out to come in. "Hello Mito. How are you doing?"

Mito came into the kitchen, "Hello Chikako! How are you? Hello Maki-san. Are you settling in?"

"I am thank you Mito-san. But please, just call me Maki." She smiled at the younger woman.

Mito laughed, "Well, the addition of a grandchild has changed my perspective but otherwise I'm fine."

"I was going to bring mother around town today. Maybe introduce her to a few people. Did you want to join us?"

"I'd love to but I may have to bring Tsunade with us."

"That's fine. We're in no hurry."

The three women wandered around town at a leisurely pace. Hashirama had set off a section of the village for shops, many of which were yet to be opened, there were benches there and people already used the area to gather and socialize.

They were sitting in the shade on one of those benches when a man came by and Mito called out to him. "Shikaya! I have someone to introduce you to."

The man came over. He was taller than Chikako but not much and he had dark skin and black hair that was pulled back by a hair tie at the crown of his head. He smiled at the women. "Hello Mito. It's been a long time since I've seen you. How is the baby doing?"

"The baby's doing well, Shikaya. Thank you. Have you met Tobirama's wife yet?"

"No. I'd heard that he'd married, someone from Iwa, right? But I've been away for clan business and not met her yet." As he said this he looked at both the women with Mito as if trying to figure out which was which.

Mito turned to Chikako as Chikako stood. "This is Chikako Hata, Tobirama's wife."

"Hello Shikaya-san. It's nice to meet you." Chikako smiled at the older man.

"Hello Chikako-san. Please, just call me Shikaya. You're from Iwa then?"

"I am. And this is my mother, Maki. She's come to live with me."

At this Shikaya turned his full attention on Maki. "Hello Maki-san. Welcome to Konoha."

Maki smiled, "Thank you." She blushed a little under the attention.

He turned to Chikako. "Are you Hata-sama's daughter then? I had dealings with him many years ago."

"I am."

"Has something happened to him? Is that why your mother is here with you?" He sounded concerned.

"Oh no. I just missed her. I'm selfish I guess." Chikako laughed a little nervously, she hadn't counted on people asking why her mother was here.

"I see." He nodded to the three women. "Are you touring the village? Or running an errand?"

"We're just out walking. Showing the village to my mother a bit."

"Would you be interested in seeing the Nara herds? We just got them moved into the new forest area."

Mito sighed. "I'm afraid Tsunade's worn out. I'm going to head home but you should both go, they're beautiful creatures."

"I'd love to see them, what about you mother?"

Her mother looked very shy suddenly, "Of course."

All the way across the village they chatted amiably, Shikaya asking about Iwa and their trip here and Maki inquiring about Nara clan. "I remember my mother and grandmother mentioning Nara medicine when I was a little girl. I never thought I'd meet a Nara." She smiled at him.

When they arrived at the edge of the forest they leaned on the fence admiring the beauty of the animals that the Nara clan raised and kept for the purpose of their craft. "They are very beautiful, Shikaya, thank you for bringing us here to see them." Maki said.

"You're welcome Maki."

Chikako looked at the sky, "I think we need to head home, it's getting late and I want to help obasan with dinner."

"Then I'll walk you home." Shikaya said, offering each woman an arm to hold as he walked them back to their home. "Will you be living with Chikako and Tobirama then Maki?" He inquired as they walked.

"I imagine I will." She replied, "I have no desire to live alone. What about you? Do you have a wife?"

The man sighed, "I did, sadly she died several years ago."

"I'm so sorry. Then you also live with your children?"

"No. I'm on my own. We weren't blessed with children. The clan elders have been on me to remarry but I must say, I just don't have the heart to yet." He smiled sadly at them. "I imagine time will change that."

"I imagine it will."

"Well, here we are. Another mission completed for me." He laughed. "I enjoyed the afternoon with you two ladies. May I call again for another walk soon?"

Chikako answered, "We'd love that Shikaya. Thank you."

"I'll see you when I call then." He bowed and then turned to leave.

The women went inside.

"Well, hello there. I didn't expect to get home first." Tobirama smiled at Chikako.

"Tobirama! Mito introduced us to Shikaya Nara and he showed us the Nara herds. I never did get to find Takao and Kei."

"That's ok. I invited them to come over after dinner tonight. They're both interested in seeing you as well."

After dinner there was a knock at the door and when Chikako opened it Takao and Kei were standing there. "Come in. I'm so glad you came over." She led them into the kitchen where everyone was having tea after their dinner. "Would you like some tea?" She asked as she served them some anyway.

"How is training going? Are you settling in?"

"It's going well. We've been here less than a week and I already can tell we'll learn a lot. I look forward to returning to Iwa and sharing all I've learned." Takao said.

Kei agreed. "Of course I miss Momo but I know she's in good hands with her family and this training will be helpful."

"Mother, Momo's going to have a baby while Kei is here. I wonder what she'll have?" Chikako said.

"As long as it's healthy and Momo is too then it won't matter." Kei said.

"You'll have to send word when you know, Kei. I want to know they're well too." Chikako smiled at him.

Chikako lay in Tobirama's arms enjoying his warmth and strength. They had visited with Takao and Kei for a long time before the men rose to leave saying they needed to be well rested in the morning. "I think my mother enjoyed herself today. Shikaya has met my father and strange is it may seem I think that helped her a little. It made her feel a little less alone."

"I'm glad." Tobirama rolled up to look at her, yawning as he did.

"You look exhausted. Go to sleep. We'll talk tomorrow." She pushed him back down on his back and snuggled into his shoulder. They were both asleep in minutes.

Shikaya was walking through the village. He wasn't one to wander aimlessly, he was out for some information and he knew who might have it. So he was headed to the new training fields.

He arrived and watched the Konoha nin and the Iwa nin face off and practice new techniques. While he stood there Hashirama came up and stood next to him. "Do you wish you were still part of it, Shikaya?"

"I don't miss it at all. I just wish the price of not fighting was the aches and pains I have." He laughed.

"So what brings you down here if you aren't looking to join us?"

"I was hoping for a little gossip, actually." He smiled at his Hokage.

"Really? Are you becoming an old woman then?" Hashirama teased the older man.

"You might think that, but I don't think there's anything to worry about." He bantered back.

"So what did you want to know?" Hashirama looked him in the eye.

"Tobirama's wife, she's the daughter of Atsushi Hata, right?"

"Yes. Hata arranged the marriage between her and Tobirama as part of a peace agreement. Odd isn't it? To see Tobirama married, and happy about it."

"It is, but that's not what I'm wondering about. It's her mother, Maki. Why did she come to Konoha?"

Hashirama sighed. "She was lonely. She and Hata don't have a good marriage. According to Tobirama he hardly even saw her while he was in Iwa. Chikako wanted her here."

"I see. I visited the Hata clan, when I was younger. We sold them some of our remedies. I met Atsushi Hata when I did. I knew he had a daughter but never met his wife either. I just thought she'd died. I never knew." He looked off into the distance as if he was remembering something that happened long ago. "It must be Chikako I met then. How interesting. So Hata is alive and well?"

"As far as I know. He was when they left Iwa." Hashirama watched the men. "Were you hoping otherwise?"

"I wasn't hoping anything. I was just wondering. Well, time I was home now." He left waving goodbye to Hashirama and ambled off.

"Mother will you go for a walk alone today? I have things I have to do here and the walk will do you good." It had been about a week since they'd met Shikaya and Chikako was trying to take her mother out every day but that left the housework to Akira and she didn't feel it was fair.

"Oh, I don't think so Chikako. I'll just stay here and work on my embroidery."

"Mother..." she was interrupted by a knock at the door. Opening it she was greeted by Shikaya Nara.

"I was wondering if Maki was in?" He asked.

"She is, Shikaya. Come in. Would you like some tea?"

"Oh no thank you. I don't want to be a bother." He said as he came in. "I was wondering if she wanted to go for a walk with me?"

"She'd love to."

"Chikako!" Her mother sounded upset. "Can I talk to you a moment?" She pulled Chikako into the kitchen. "I'm a married woman, I can't just go walking with any man I want to."

"Would you want to walk with him mother?"

"You know what I mean."

"Perhaps someone has asked him to help you meet people. He's older than you, it's not like he's courting you mother. Just go have fun." She pulled her mother back into the front room. She gave Shikaya a meaningful look, "Didn't I hear Hashirama ask you to help my mother settle in the other day when I was at the training fields, Shikaya."

Fortunately he got the hint, "Yes. That's why I came by. I thought a stroll around the village and a stop to see the herds would be a nice distraction for her. I'll have her back by midafternoon."

"Mother, you'll enjoy it."

Her mother left, looking very nervous indeed but Chikako knew that she needed to break out and make friends.

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