Chapter 5- First Impressions
"Man alive Raido! Did you sleep with a skunk?" Genma couldn't believe the smell emanating off his friend. Then a very small and dirty child stepped out from behind him. "Oh. Did you find Nemo? Or is that a little lost kitten trailing behind you?" He started laughing but stopped when he saw the look on Raido's face.
"Genma, this is Kiyoko. Kiyoko, this is my friend Genma. And those two over there are Kotetsu and Izumo. They serve as guards for the village and as assistants to the Hokage."
Kotetsu and Izumo were openly staring at the small child that was following Raido like a lost kitten. When the smell hit them they both looked at each other with amazement. They had never known Raido to be the type to drag home strays with him before.
"What the hell happened to you? I wondered if you were skipping out on the report when you didn't come back last night." Genma asked.
Raido filled him in on the important bits, leaving out the slave issue and said he was going to the Hokage's office.
"Smelling like that?" Genma asked increduously.
"Yes." He turned to Kiyoko. "Don't let him scare you. He was raised under a rock. A very large rock, I think."
"I heard that!" Genma yelled. "And I was out here watching for you! She's not happy that you didn't report in last night. I want to see this one." And he fell in step with Raido and Kiyoko.
Kiyoko was starting to wonder if she should have taken her chances in returning to Iwagakure. No one here seemed very welcoming.
They headed up the road towards a large building.
"That's Hokage tower Kiyoko. The hokage can be a little loud and rough but don't be scared, underneath it all she's very kind. It'll be ok."
Now she was sure she should have gone back to Iwagakure.
They climbed the stairs into the tower and she followed him down the hall. Everyone they passed was staring at her and then gasping for air from the smell. She wished she was invisible. Raido didn't seem phased by it at all and few of the guys who commented were told curtly to 'shut their faces if they knew what was good for them.' Apparently they did because they shut up.
He had stopped outside a door and was knocking.
A woman's voice rang out. "Who's there?! Can't you see I'm trying to work?"
"It's Raido, Hokage-Sama."
"Oh!" The door flew open. "I see you found it in you to come back then." A tall, large chested woman appeared in the doorway. Her blond hair was pulled back into two ponytails and her bangs were parted, hanging down on either side of her face. "Good heavens Raido! You stink! What the hell happened to you?" As Kiyoko was trying to hide behind Raido the woman noticed her. "And who did you bring with you? An orphan? Well, whatever, come on in. You can come in too, Genma. I know you're there."
They all filed in and Kiyoko looked around for the Hokage. But the only men in the room where Genma and Raido. She was confused.
Raido approached the desk the woman had sat down at. "Lady Tsunade. If you give me a moment I can explain it all."
Kiyoko almost choked. That woman was the Hokage? She was so young!
"OK then. Get started! And be quick about it."
But as Raido had told the story of finding Kiyoko in the bushes and then Fumio and Kin happening upon them she seemed to take interest. Kiyoko breathed a sigh of relief that he left out the part where she had hidden behind him naked rather than be alone. When he was done with the story she turned her gaze on Kiyoko.
Raido spoke up. "Kiyoko, this is Lady Tsunade, the fifth hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village." He turned his head to face Lady Tsunade, "and this is Kiyoko Takenaka."
Kiyoko tried to remember what you did when you met really important people and then dropped to her knees bending over with her head to floor. "It's nice to meet you Lady Hokage."
The woman chuckled. "Well she has the best manners of all of you. Stand up Kiyoko. We don't stand on ceremony around here. But now that I think of it..."
Genma and Raido both groaned, they hoped she didn't get any ideas.
Tsunade turned back to Kiyoko with a smile on her face. "So how can I help you?"
Kiyoko was at a loss. "Well, ummm..."
Tsunade realized that the girl was terrified and decided to take care of the obvious first. "Well first I think you need a bath and some clean clothes. SHIZUNE!" She hollered a name and a tall dark haired woman came running in.
"Yes Lady Tsunade." She stopped short as the smell hit her and she looked over at Raido and Kiyoko with a surprised look on her face.
"This is Kiyoko. Raido rescued her while on his mission. She needs a bath," Lady Tsunade was surveying the damage, "a shampoo, a destinking, and some clean clothes. And whatever else you think of. Please see to it."
Kiyoko saw where this was going and she wrapped her arm around Raido's arm. "I don't want one." She looked up at Raido with tears forming in her eyes, "Please don't leave me." She had been doing so well but this place was so overwhelming she didn't think she could take being separated from the only person who'd been nice to her in weeks.
Raido looked down at her, he felt so bad for her, she looked so frightened at the thought of being separated from him. "It's ok. Shizune is safe, and I can't take you to the hot springs, they won't let me in the woman's side. I'll get washed up too and be waiting right outside when you're done."
Kiyoko visibly relaxed at his reassuring words. Then Shizune came up beside her. She took her hand and said "It's ok Kiyoko. I won't hurt you and I think I know someone who can get that smell off of you too. Come on."
As they walked out of the office Kiyoko was sure she heard Genma snort "Well, well, what do you know? Raido did find a lost kitten."
And Raido's reply "Shut up, Genma."
Then she was out of earshot.
Shizune asked one of the ninja sitting around to get someone called Hinata and have her meet them at the hot spring, handing them a list for her, and then she put her arm around Kiyoko and said, "Shall we go?"
All the way to the hot spring Shizune kept up small talk and no one was staring at her or making faces. When she looked up at Shizune she realized why, the tall woman was daring them to anger her with her glare. They arrived at the hot springs and there was a smallish young woman there with dark hair.
Shizune called out to her. "Hinata! Thank you. Did you bring the stuff I asked for?"
"Yes ma'am." She produced a bag from behind her.
"Good. Kiyoko, this is Hinata Hyuga. She is one of the Leaf Village Kunoichi. Hinata, this is Kiyoko. Raido brought her back from his mission and our mission is to clean her up."
"Hello Hinata, nice to meet you."
"It's nice to meet you too." The girl held out her hand to shake Kiyoko's and Kiyoko marveled that she didn't seem to notice the smell at all.
Shuzine led them inside and she and Hinata spent the next two hours scrubbing her and her hair while she told them the story of how she'd ended up like that, leaving out the slave part of course. They were all laughing when Hinata finally got the last tangle out of her hair. Hinata had produced some sort of soap that actually did get rid of the skunk smell entirely and when Kiyoko was all clean they handed her a towel to wrap around her.
"Where did my clothes go?" She looked around.
"OH. I threw them away." Shizune said, " I don't think they were salvageable anyway and they were way too big on you."
"That's all I had." Kiyoko thought she might cry.
"Oh no" said Hinata. "I brought you an outfit of mine. I'm a little taller than you but they're capris so it should work, for now anyway." She handed Kiyoko a pile of clothes that included, much to Kiyoko's delight, a pair of clean underpants. She busied herself getting dressed.
"I can't thank you both enough. I haven't felt this clean in weeks!"
"Well, we were glad to help. Weren't we Hinata?"
Hinata agreed and then excused herself, saying she was late for training.
Kiyoko looked up at Shizune, "Why are you guys being so nice to me?"
Shizune looked down at her "Because that's what the leaf village is all about, Kiyoko. Lets sit down and wait for Raido."
They went outside and found a place to sit in the shade.
"Shizune, can I ask you a question?"
"Sure, I might even be able to answer it." She replied cheerfully.
Kiyoko thought there probably weren't many questions that she wouldn't be able to answer, she seemed like the kind of person who just knew. "What does Hinata do for work? She said she was late for training."
Shizune laughed, "Hinata is a ninja. That's what a kunoichi is, Kiyoko. A woman ninja."
Kiyoko looked at her to see if she was joking and her disbelief must have shown on her face.
"I am too, Kiyoko."
"That sweet gentle girl? She's a ninja? And you?" She leaned back in amazement.
Meanwhile at the Hokage's office.
Raido turned and watched Kiyoko leave with Shizune, he knew she was in good hands but he was worried about her. She had seemed to be doing better but when Tsunade had suggested she go off with Shizune she had melted and returned to clinging to him. Then Genma had made that remark, he knew he was kidding but he was pretty sure she'd heard it and she wouldn't know.
He turned back to face Tsunade. "Ma'am."
"Raido. What do you suppose I do with her? I can't just be taking in orphans." She was annoyed but he also heard the concern in her voice.
"With all due respect ma'am. She's not an orphan, she's twentyeight." Genma's and Tsunade's eyebrows lifted at this. "And she's terrified. She was sold into slavery by her stepmother a few weeks ago and then the men who bought her, well, lets just say they're the scum of the earth."
"Yeah. I gathered that. Didn't you say you ran into them?"
"More like they came across me. They made me think of Fujin and Raijin."
Lady Tsunade snorted. "Well I guess that settles it. We'll have to figure something out. I can't in good conscience send her back. Go get washed up and then get her and come back to me. I'll figure something out in the meantime."
The snickers and comments were not held back as Raido left her office and walked out past the other jonin sitting there. He passed Kakashi at the door.
"Hello Raido. Is that a new perfume I smell?"
Raido seriously wished he could kill the man right there but he knew that wasn't going to happen so instead he said "Why yes it is Kakashi. I was hoping you'd like it. I got it with you in mind." And then he took off for home.