An Unexpected Romance

By Ann Shannon

Romance

Chapter 3- The First Meeting

Tobirama stretched and rolled over. It felt good to sleep under a roof, on a bed for a change. He noted that the dawn was just breaking and he could hear his men stirring in the other rooms. He stood, dressed and went out to meet them. After Maki had left the dining room last night Hata had brought out sake and offered it to him, drinking quite a bit himself and talked for a long time about the village he had formed and his plans for it. Tobirama had listened politely and drank some sake but been careful not to overdo it.

He greeted his men as he entered the room. "How was your evening?"

Hideo grunted, "Good. The food is good anyway. The men here are guarded, they know we're here with you and I think many of them have Uchiha friends. They don't trust us."

"Good. I don't trust them either." Tobirama looked annoyed. Everyone knew it was the Uchiha's he was referring to not the village but no one said it.

"Well, lets find the training fields." Tobirama led the way out to find Sadao waiting patiently on the road. "Good morning, Sadao. Have you been here long?"

"No, I only just arrived. We usually train for a few hours and then eat, is that alright with you?"

"Perfect." Tobirama and his men followed him down the road in silence.

A few minutes later they arrived at a training ground where about twenty of Hata's men had gathered. Sadao spoke, "Hata-sama will be here in a few minutes, my men and I will warm up if you wish to join us."

Tobirama nodded in agreement and they fell in to stance with his men to warm up. When Hata arrived they stopped and Tobirama approached him.

"I'm sorry I'm late, I was unavoidably detained."

Tobirama could have sworn he heard a snicker in the group of men behind him but he ignored it. "I understand. Running a village is a lot of work, Hata-sama."

"Shall we get to work then?"

They spent the next four hours sparring individually and in groups. Initially Tobirama and Sadao squared off but when Hata noticed the difference in their attacks he asked Tobirama to observe and suggest where changes could be made. The sun was well above the horizon when they stopped.

Hata addressed his men. "Thank you for turning out and training this morning. You have the rest of the day to see to your other business but be back here tomorrow morning at the same time." The men bowed and then dispersed leaving only Tobirama and his men, Sadao and Hata on the field. Tobirama dismissed his men as well.

"So what do you think, Senju-sama? Are my men in need of training?" Hata looked at him as they walked back the way they had come.

"That's a complicated question, Hata-sama. Your men are well trained, of course there's no such thing as too much training, or too many techniques for that matter. My man Dai, the blond in my group would be more than willing to stay a month and work with you."

"I'm afraid that won't do. While I appreciate your offer and will still consider it, it's a one-sided offer. We are taking and you are giving. I want our alliance to to be shared."

Tobirama frowned a little. This was going to be harder than he thought.

"Well, I'm afraid that I have meetings all day with the other clan leaders so I must leave you to amuse yourself. I'm sorry."

"It's no problem. I'm good that." He offered a stiff smile, inwardly relieved that he didn't have to spend the whole day with this tiresome man.

They had arrived at the building that held Hata's private rooms so Hata excused himself and Tobirama went to the guest house. His men had just returned from the bathhouse and were dressing.

"What did you think of their fighting skill?" He asked them.

Isamu came out tightening his forehead protector. "They're ok. They wouldn't beat the Senju clan or many others from Konoha in battle but they're strong." He smiled.

"I agree. I offered for Dai to stay and train and he said that it was a one-sided alliance and unacceptable." He furrowed his brow in thought. "I wonder if he has something specific in mind." He shrugged his shoulders, "Oh well. Time will tell. Do you have plans to go into town?" He looked at them.

"We do." Dai answered. "Do you want to join us?"

"No. I think I'm going to stay here. I still need to wash up, and then I'd like to have a quiet day."

"Well, I know how much you love the market even on a good day." Dai was teasing him.

"Yeah, exactly. Have fun. I'll see you all after dinner then."


Tobirama was laying on the ground next to the waterfall. He had visited the bathhouse again, and then the kitchen for food which he had carried here to eat and enjoy the quiet. It wasn't that he didn't like Hata's men, they were very polite, it was more that he felt like he was under scrutiny when they were around and he had noticed that there many who looked as if they carried Uchiha blood in their veins.

He watched the water fall into the pond below it. The pond had been pounded out of the rock floor of the canyon that the village sat in. It was roughly circular and it rim was dotted with rocks that had broken and fallen over the years. He was sitting against one midway around the rim, directly in front of the falls.

He heard giggling and footsteps and he slipped back to observe without being seen. The girl he had seen yesterday was running up to the other side of the pond with a friend. The young man she had been with didn't appear to be with her today. She and the girl stayed close to each other and talked, though he couldn't hear what they said. He watched them, he wondered if they were sisters although they didn't look much like each other. The girl he had seen earlier had long auburn hair that lay on her shoulder in a thick braid, and her friend had blond hair that was cropped short at her shoulders, the girl he assumed to be Hata's daughter was also much smaller than the blond girl.

They stopped laughing and looked down the river. A man, the one that had accompanied her yesterday appeared from behind a rock, smiling at them both. He smiled at them and continued around the pond as if checking it. Tobirama assumed him to be a bodyguard so he stepped out and made his presence known.

The young man stopped but didn't look surprised and then approached Tobirama. The girls stopped and looked up but then returned to their chatting.

"Hello. I'm Takao. You must be the Senju guest that Hata-sama is entertaining."

"I am. My name is Tobirama Senju."

"Nice to meet you."

"Who are they?" Tobirama asked.

"That's Chikako, the girl with auburn hair, she's Hata-sama's daughter. And the girl with her is her friend Momo."

"I see." He stood as if to go speak with them.

"I have to ask you not to approach them. I'm Chikako's escort, her father keeps her sheltered."

"I understand. I was simply going to return to my room." Tobirama sighed, such a complicated village.

As he walked by the girls Chikako stopped and stared at him, smiling slightly. He thought that she certainly didn't seem sheltered.

She ran up to him. "Hello. You must be the Senju my father's entertaining."

He smiled. "I am."

Takao had now arrived. "Chikako..." But his words were wasted.

"I know. Father doesn't want me talking to strangers." She bowed. "I'm Chikako Hata."

Tobirama grinned, this girl was bold. "Hello Hata-san. I'm Tobirama Senju."

"See?" She turned to Takao, "now he's not a stranger." She turned back to Tobirama, "Do you like our village?"

"I do." He noticed Takao fidgeting, "but I must be going. It was nice to meet you." He bowed and walked back towards his room.

As he walked he thought about what he had just witnessed. She was obviously not supposed to talk with strangers, the fact that she had a bodyguard said volumes about how much her father sheltered her. Yet she had done it anyway. She was clearly used to doing as she pleased but she hadn't seemed spoiled, just bold. He thought, if they'd met in different circumstances and she'd been a little older, he might have liked her.

When he got back to his room there was note asking him to visit Hata in his rooms as soon as he could.

He approached Hata's rooms quietly, knocking on the door. Hata's voice rang out from inside, "Come in! Is that you Senju-sama?"

"It is" He affirmed as he entered.

"Welcome! Would you like tea?" He gestured to the teapot on the table.

Tobirama declined.

"Well then, lets talk business. I like the idea of having one of your men stay on to train with us." His eyes drifted to the window as he spoke.

Tobirama followed his gaze. Chikako was walking back from the river on Takao's arm, she held him close and laughed at something he said.

"As I was saying," Hata's gaze returned to Tobirama. "I have an idea that would form a permanent alliance between our clans and villages."

"Yes?" Tobirama's interest was piqued and he wondered what the man had in mind.

"I have a formal dinner planned for you tonight. I know you probably don't have any formal wear with you, please just come as you are. At that time I will make my offer."

Tobirama looked at the man in front of him. "Alright. Seven, like last night?"

"Yes. I will see you then."

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