Chapter 25- Maki's Healing
Maki looked at Shikaya as he held her face. She felt safe with him, and very nervous. "I think I should be home soon."
He nodded, "Ok. Lets go." He watched her carefully as they started to walk towards home. "I hope I haven't scared you. I meant it when I said that I'd never let anyone hurt you again."
She looked up at him, "Thank you." She looked down at the ground in front of her as she walked. "I appreciate your friendship, and I'm sorry that I can't offer you more."
He sighed, this was going to take some time. He wondered how it had come to this. He'd fallen in love with her sometime in the last few months, walking her around, chatting with her, and showing her the herds. He didn't want to imagine living without her. He had to admit that he wasn't sorry to hear that her husband had died, and he was even less sorry after all she had told him this afternoon. Well, he was a Nara and Nara's were nothing if they weren't patient.
When they arrived at her home he held her hand for a moment. "Maki, I care very deeply for you, and I'd like to deepen our relationship, I won't lie about that. But I also want you to know that I won't ever ask something of you that you can't give. I'll be happy with just knowing you."
She smiled up at him sadly. "Thank you. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer."
"Nonsense! You're an amazing woman, even just being your friend has made me happier than I thought I could ever be again." He leaned down and ghosted a kiss onto her cheek. "But please understand that I am a healer, my goal for you is healing." And with that he opened the door and ushered her in. "I'll see you soon."
She watched him leave and wondered what was happening to her.
Akira looked up, "Hello Maki. Did you have a good afternoon?" Maki smiled and Akira wasn't sure if it was a sad smile or a happy one.
"I feel such peace when I'm with Shikaya, but I'm not sure I can offer him anything in return."
"I think you already have."
"What do you mean?"
"He's looked sad and lost since Aya died. You've brought a smile back to his face."
Maki smiled to herself, wondering what it all meant. "Thank you Akira."
Tobirama and Chikako walked back to the Hokage's office to let Hashirama know that the Iwa nin had left and then found themselves wandering down by the river. When they got there they tiredly sat together on a rock, Tobirama held her close.
"Well, I guess I'll never have a reason to return to Iwa. Only Momo is left." She rested her head on his shoulder.
"Will you miss it?"
"Not really." She looked around her. "I miss the waterfall, but that's just silly."
"No it isn't." Tobirama stood and walked over to the cliff that towered above the river and weaving a few handsigns he looked up at it. To her amazement she watched as water spouted from the cliff wall and flowed down into the river below it.
"Now you have your very own waterfall." He walked back to her and held her in his arms.
"I love you." She looked up at him and smiled. "And I have something to tell you."
He looked at her curiously. "What is it?"
"You're going to be a father."
His face lit up and he held her even closer. "That's wonderful news."
Chikako sighed, it had been two weeks since Takao and the other Iwa nin had returned to Iwa. They hadn't heard anything and she hoped today would bring news. Tobirama came into the room and she served him his tea and breakfast. "Do you have a busy day?"
"Relatively. Hashirama built the academy today and I'll be working on setting it up. I've spoken with several people about teaching already. Today we'll be setting up curriculum and standards."
"That's a good task though."
"It is. I also want to set up standards and levels for our ninja to operate in. A sort of class separation according to skill and ability. That way we can assign them tasks and missions accordingly."
"I think that's a wonderful idea."
"I'll be taking on a team myself to train."
"They couldn't have a better teacher." She smiled at him and looked over to greet her mother as she came into the room. "Good morning mother. Can I serve you?"
"Thank you Chikako. I'll just get myself some tea. Shikaya will be along in a bit. He said he has a surprise for me and not to eat breakfast." She smiled. The past two weeks he'd been coming by more and more often and her resolve to not fall in love with the man was weakening.
"Well then, have fun."
Maki and Shikaya were walking through the field. He had brought a pack with them and taken her outside the village walls. They'd walked for a while following the wall around the village and finally come to an area where the forest began again. "This is the Nara herd land from the outside." He explained. Opening his pack he laid down a blanket and sat on it, taking her hand and pulling her down beside him gently. Then he reached into the pack and pulled out their breakfast.
They sat there and ate in silence watching the forest for movement. When they had eaten he put their things away and turned to her. "Maki." He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "May I kiss you?"
She looked up at him in surprise and began to pull away but he pulled her back gently but firmly. "I won't force it on you."
She rested her head on his shoulder and looked off into the distance. "What if I can't?" She whispered this so quietly that if the breeze had been blowing he would have missed it.
"Then you can't. But I think you can."
She tipped her head up so that she was facing him and he leaned down allowing his lips to brush hers and when she leaned into the kiss he pulled her around so that she was sitting on his lap and he was kissing her deeply. She returned his kisses and they sat there for quite a while enjoying the feel of each others arms and the kisses that they exchanged.
She sighed as she pulled away a bit. "Shikaya, why are you so patient with me?"
"Because I love you Maki." He looked into the distance for a moment and then back at her. "You've brought my smile back." He pushed her off his lap and lay back on the blanket pulling her down next to him, arm around her shoulders, her head resting on his chest. They lay there for hours simply enjoying the peace of each others company. When the sun had moved behind the trees and they were chilled by the shade he shifted, "Are you hungry?"
"Lets go to my house, I'll make dinner."
They rose and made their way back to his home. She sat at his table as he prepared their dinner. "I had no idea you were such a good cook, Shikaya."
"I'm full of surprises."
After dinner they moved to the living area. "You're house is much more traditional than the others I've been in here." She observed.
"What can I say? I'm old fashioned." He laughed.
"Hardly." She giggled. "I've seen old fashioned and you are not it."
He smiled and leaned over to kiss her. She moved closer to him and he put his arms around her. As their kiss deepened he let his hands begin to wander up and down her arms, sliding them around her waist, up her back and then around the front to caress her stomach. She froze. "Maki, I won't hurt you. Trust me."
She relaxed a little as he continued to kiss her, leaving her mouth to trail kisses across her jawline and down her neck. He slipped his hand under the edge of her shirt and let his fingers trail on the bare skin of her stomach hearing her sharp intake of breath as he did. "Come with me." His voice was husky with desire as he stood and led her to his bedroom.
They both woke to knocking at the door and Shikaya rose to answer it. Maki heard a frightened Chikako from the other room. "Shikaya, mother didn't come home last night. Do you know where she is?"
Maki rose and wrapped herself in Shikaya's robe which hung on a peg inside the door. She slipped through the door and saw Chikako standing in the doorway with Tobirama behind her. "I'm here Chikako."
Chikako looked up in surprise, her mother was walking out of Shikaya's bedroom in what could only be his robe with a smile on her face. "Mother. I'm glad you're ok. I'm sorry we woke you."
"It's no problem. We must have fallen asleep. We should have sent word." Shikaya said.
"Well..." Chikako wasn't sure what to say. What exactly did one say when they discovered their mother with her lover? "Will you be home later?"
"Probably." Maki hugged her. "I'm ok Chikako."
Chikako smiled, "Ok."
Maki watched them leave and turned back to Shikaya. "Thank you Shikaya. I had no idea it could be like that."
"I told you I would never hurt you." He put his arm around her. "Lets go wash up." He grabbed two towels and led her to the bathhouse behind his house.
They sat in the warm water together, Shikaya holding her closely. She looked up at him. "What if I got..."
"Shhh. Marry me."
"Marry me. I don't want to be apart from you."
She smiled and leaned back into his shoulder. "I don't want to be away from you either."
Shikaya sighed, he'd have a job of convincing the clan elders this was the best but he knew it was.