Finding Peace

Chapter 13- Just Checking In

Asami and Hikari were cleaning up the mess that used to be her Onigiri stand. Fortunately it hadn't been destroyed just broken into and looted. Her apartment had also been broken into but they hadn't made as much of a mess up there, perhaps they'd been attacked before they could. Her supplies, such as rice and seasonings had been dumped out on the floor and any edible food had been taken. Asami knew that this was going to mean a huge order to restock but she wasn't worried. Everyone, at least civilians, were ok and that mattered more. She and Hikari had found what few supplies they could and just finished up a few batches of onigiri.

"OK Hikari, take these and hand them out to people who are working. I'm sure they're hungry. When you're done you can go home. We'll finish up tomorrow and then reopen the next day." She wasn't sure what she would do without Hikari. She was practically her right hand, well foot lately.

"OK Asami. Are you sure you don't need anything before I leave? How's your ankle doing?"

"It's sore but not intolerable. And I'm just going to finish these dishes up and go upstairs."

Asami looked more tired than she admitted to being but Hikari thought it might be because she hadn't heard about the status of two very special ninja. "Have you heard anything yet? About Kichirou or Kakashi?"

Asami smiled, Hikari had always been quick to catch on. "No Hikari, I haven't. I'm sure they're fine and simply busy. Who knows if they had to chase down people who took off? And I heard a rumor that the 3rd Hokage died in the fight, they might just be guarding the village. I'm sure we'll hear something soon."

"I know. It just must be hard. Even Kayo was called into action when the attack occurred and she's still on leave from her injury. I asked but she hadn't heard anything either. If I hear anything I'll let you know as quickly as I can."

"Thanks Hikari. I appreciate it." Asami's voice showed her exhaustion. It was more of an emotional exhaustion than a physical one though. "In the meantime all we can do is recover and get back to normal. See you tomorrow."

"Bye Asami!" Hikari was impressed with her friends ability to stay focused and positive.

Asami turned to tackle the dirty dishes so she could go upstairs and wondered why she was in such a hurry to get upstairs anyway. Once there all, she would just be sitting and wondering what had happened to Kichirou and Kakashi anyway. She was tired of being alone when she went home and she longed for the days when she, her mother and Kichirou, and her father when he was home, would spend the evening together talking and laughing together.

The last dish was clean and Asami turned to go upstairs only to find her face buried in the shoulder of a ninja's flack jacket. She let out a muffled cry of surprise as she was immediately engulfed in Kichirou's arms.

"Kichi-kun! Oh! I'm so glad to see you! Were you hurt in the fighting?" She had many times see her mother greet her father after he had been away on dangerous missions. She knew not to panic and overwhelm him with her worries and fears but she did want to be filled in completely and Kichirou might not know the rules about reporting like her father had.

"Just the usual bumps and bruises. They didn't get to lay a finger on me!" Kichirou's reply was part boast and part truth. He had fared well in the battle, unlike some of his friends but he didn't want to worry his sister.

"Are you hungry? I was just going upstairs to eat."

"I can't stay long. I had a little break and I wanted to let you know that I was alive and OK."

Asami hugged him again. "Thank you Kichi-kun. I was wondering." He followed her outside and upstairs to the apartment they had shared and that she now lived in alone.

"Asami, what was it like? When father went out on missions? Did mother worry?"

"Oh she worried I'm sure but she never let it show. She was an outstanding ninja wife. She never complained that he was late, or that he hadn't called or that he had come with more stitches than her favorite dress. She just welcomed him home as if she'd been expecting him and fed him a good meal."

Kichirou marveled and wished he remembered his parents better than he did. He had vague memories of his mother but none at all of his father. Then he thought of something. "Oh Asami can I ask a favor?"

"Sure thing ototo-chan." Asami smiled, using the her nicknames for him from when he was young made her feel like things would be normal again soon.

"Ummm" how to ask without hurting her feelings. The truth was he had caught all sorts of teasing from Genma and Raido because she had used his little boy nicknames in front of them and he wanted to ask her not to but how? "Umm, you know I'm a man now?"

Asami wondered where this was going. "Kichi-kun! Do you have a girlfriend?"

Kichirou groaned inwardly "No, Oni-san. It's not that. But when you called me Kichi-kun in front of the guys who train me it was really embarrassing. They're still teasing me about it."

Asami started laughing and said "I'm sorry Kichi-ku-, I mean Kichirou. I'll try to remember to call you Kichirou when they are here. Are you sure you don't have time to eat?"

"I'm sure. If I stay away too long not only will I catch hell but someone else will be held up getting to their family with a message. I'll come back as soon as I can. Love you!"

"Love you too Kichi-kun! Pieces of a promise! Right?" She had taught that old saying to him as a child and they always used it. She remembered saying it to Kakashi just a few days ago and a shiver went through her. When she had said it she'd had no idea the depth it held. She thought about asking Kichirou if he knew anything but she didn't know if he realized that she and Kakashi had been spending time together and decided not to say anything.

"Pieces of a promise Asami! Like always, careful and accurate. Oh, by the way. I don't know where he is now but I know Kakashi wasn't killed in the attack." He knew that Kakashi had been spending time with his sister and he was glad for it. He was a good match for her.

Asami was surprised that her brother had noticed but happy that he'd thought to tell her the news. "Thank you Kichirou. I appreciate the news. Take care and come back when you can."

"I will." Kichirou waved goodbye and as he walked away he reflected that in many ways their roles with each other had reversed in the last few years. Growing up she had been his protector and had helped him find peace when he was scared. Now that he was a man, well almost 17 but he was a jonin, he was the one doing some protecting. He wished he could assure her that everything would be OK but he knew that even if he did she would know better. He hoped Kakashi would be careful with her heart. She deserved to be loved and cared for.

Asami watched him leave and wondered when he'd grown up. He had seemed so much more manly today than the last time she had seen him. She shrugged, battles did that to you. She finished making her supper and sat down to eat.

She had just cleaned up from her supper when she heard a knock at her door. She went to open it, but there was no one there. She was about to close the door when she heard a rather irritated "Ahem." Looking down where the sound had come from she saw a small brown pug wearing a Konoha headband. She almost fell over when he spoke to her. "Hello. I will assume from your reaction that you have never had a message delivered from a dog before."

"Umm no, I can't say that I have." Asami wondered just how stressed she was and how much sleep she needed that she was seeing talking dogs at her door.

"My name is Pakkun. I have a message for you. Kakashi says to tell you that he's fine and he will stop by as soon as he can." Pakkun was annoyed that he had been sent on this mission. He was a ninken for heavens sake not cupid. But he respected Kakashi enough to do as he asked and the sight of him digging through the trash for an onigiri box with her scent on it had been worth it. He had thought about offering to dig through the trash for him, it was every dogs dream after all, but decided it was more fun to watch Kakashi do it. "If you don't have a reply then I'll be off."

Asami was still standing at the door in shock. There was a talking dog at her door and he had brought her a message from Kakashi? She pinched herself.

"You're awake. I'm one of his ninken. He didn't have time to stop by but wanted to you to know so he asked me. Normally I am summoned for more important tasks but oh well. Like I said...reply?"

Asami gathered her wits about her. "Oh yes! Tell him I said thank you! I'm fine and he can stop by whenever he has time. I'll be waiting for him."

Pakkun rolled his eyes in his head. He didn't understand this dating thing, just grab a mate and move on but he did see what Kakashi saw in her, she was pretty and very sweet. "OK, will do." And he was off.

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