Finding Peace

Chapter 14- Welcome Back

Asami stretched to get the kinks out of her back. She and Hikari had spent the whole day putting away supplies and preparing to reopen tomorrow. Now she was in her own kitchen making a stir fry. She had been eating miso and somen for a week, at least it seemed that way. Between her broken ankle preventing her from standing and the invasion she felt like she hadn't cooked in forever. Tonight she was determined to cook. She was washing and chopping vegetables when she heard a knock at the door.

She opened the door and flew into Kakashi's arms. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her up to him. "Kakashi! I'm so glad to see you!" She backed away so she could look him up and down, looking for injury.

"No injuries to report Asami." Kakashi smiled through his mask. He was glad to be here and her greeting had been just what he needed. The last few days had been rough even for a seasoned Ninja like himself. The loss of his hokage, the invasion of the village and knowing that Orochimaru was after Sasuke were taking their toll on him.

"Have you eaten? Come in." Asami was feeling so flustered and happy to see him that she couldn't even think straight.

Kakashi followed her into the kitchen. "By that question, do you mean today?"

Asami looked at him with a questioning glance. "When was the last time you ate?"

"Well other than field rations I haven't eaten in about four days. Why? Do you want to feed me?" He asked even though he already knew the answer, she always wanted to feed you.

"Of course! And I just happen to be cooking! What a coincidence." She laughed as she returned to chopping vegetables and started her wok heating up. "Oh by the way. Thank you for sending Pakkun with a message. He's cute."

"I'll be sure to let him know you think that. He'll be delighted that you think so."

Asami heard the sarcasm in his voice and looked up questioningly.

"He wasn't thrilled to be sent on that mission. Something about not being a matchmaker. But he is faithful and trustworthy. He did seem less annoyed when he got back, you must have left a good impression. I'll introduce you more formally sometime."

Asami giggled. "Well, to be fair to him, I never expected to get a message from you through a talking dog so my initial response was probably strange. But he seemed nice, and reliable. And he was very patient with my inexperience talking to dogs. How long has he been your summon?"

"I'm not sure I can say, a long time anyway. Actually I have a pack of dogs but he is my mainstay. His sense of smell is outstanding. I dug through the trash and found one of your onigiri boxes. He got your scent off that and found you with it."

Asami giggled at the thought of Kakashi digging through the trash with Pakkun looking on. She was impressed that she meant enough to Kakashi that he had gone to such trouble to let her know he was alright. "Do you want some tea, Kakashi? Dinner will be ready soon."

Kakashi nodded so she poured him some tea. He sat at the table quietly watching her as she cooked and reflected on how much his life had changed in such a short time. He thought about Anko talking about her last month and how that had gotten him thinking about her. He remembered stopping here that first night and how she had teased him about trying to cut her hair off.

That had been when they were young, he had been 9 so she would have been 8. He was out of the academy and working but his friends had tricked him by telling him that it was part of a mission. He had reached through the bushes and grabbed a chunk of her hair, prepared to slice it off with his kunai, but she had pulled away before he'd managed. He'd realized immediately what his friends had done and was angry but he played it off. She had always blushed and stuttered when she tried to say hello which had made him laugh and his friends had thought it would be funny to embarrass her.

She had certainly changed since then. She was confident and self-assured, he doubted she ever stuttered anymore when she had to talk to someone. He thought about being here, at her house. It had started to feel like he belonged here. She was always happy to see him with no questions about why or how long it had been since his last visit. He wondered if this was what it felt like to have family, especially family that understood your job. If this was how it had been for her father then he understood why he had taken the chance.

"How did your parents meet, Asami?"

Asami was surprised by his question. "To be honest I'm not all that sure. I know they knew each other in school. They were the same age. When mother made chunin she served for a year and then came home to help her mother run the stand. It's been in my family for a long time. I know they ran into each other a lot and that their parents knew each other. But I don't really know much more. Why do you ask?"

Kakashi regarded her with his one exposed eye, he wasn't sure he was ready to say what was on his mind. How exactly did a man go about telling a woman that he was in love with her? How did he say he felt more at home in her kitchen than he had ever felt anywhere? "No reason, just wondering."

"Oh. Dinners ready. Here." Asami served them plates of stir fry, rice and chicken. But as she did she wondered why he had really asked. She wondered if he felt the way she did. She had told Anko that she thought she might be in love with him but when she had opened the door and seen him there had been no doubt. This masked ninja had found a place in her heart. "Thank you for visiting. I really enjoy your company." She wasn't sure he was ready to hear the rest but she wanted him to know he was special to her.

They ate quietly both reflecting on their own thoughts and chatting quietly, and when they were done Kakashi offered to do the dishes. She stood next to him and dried as he washed. He left his mask down while he did and they chatted easily. He filled her in on the repair work in the village and she told him about Kichirous's visit and resulting request that she not call him by his childhood nickname. They both had a laugh about that. When the dishes were done they went into the living room and settled on a cushion together. Kakashi put his arm around her. He had shed his flack jacket before eating so she snuggled down into his shoulder and sighed.

"How's your ankle been? How did you do getting up to the shelter?"

"Well, it's achy at the end of the day but it improves everyday. Anko was the one who came and got me and she had the presence of mind to remind me to grab my crutches. The shelter was pretty uneventful once we got there. Anko and I took some time to catch up."

"You and Anko have been friends for a long time, haven't you?" The two women made such an incongruous friendship, Kakashi wondered about it.

"We have. We were friends when we were little and then after she returned from training she seemed to need a friend that wasn't a ninja, we just picked up where we had left off. Want to know a funny secret?"

"Sure."

"Well, Anko has always had a strong genjutsu ability and when we skipped school and we got caught she would cast one so we could make sure our stories matched.

Kakashi has a hard time imagining Asami and Anko in a situation where they needed their stories to match. "You two used to get in trouble?"

"Oh all the time. Until she started her training in earnest. Remember the teacups on the tower?"

He did and he stared at her incredulously, "that was you two?"

Asami giggled "Yup. Of course we had to time it while my father was away. We would never have gotten away with it if he'd been home. He always saw right through us. I was reminded about it because she used one to tell me what was happening in the village while we were in the shelter. That way no one else overheard and was worried."

Kakashi chuckled and pulled her closer. He did love the feel of her in his arms. He wondered if he should tell her. He realized it was more a question of when and not if but tonight didn't feel right. He tilted her head so was looking at him and leaned down to kiss her, lingering there and enjoying the moment. Then he said quietly, "I need to go home and get some rest. I have a busy few days ahead of me. Thank you for dinner and the peace of your home. I truly enjoy the time I spend here with you."

Asami smiled up at him. This kiss had felt like it had meaning behind it. Like he was trying to tell her something he wasn't quite ready to say. That was ok, she'd wait. He was worth it. "You're welcome Kashi-kun. I enjoy your company also. And dinner is always nicer when I share it with you. I know you don't know how your schedule will work out, but you should also know that my house is always open to you, anytime of the day or night." She leaned up and kissed him one more time before he could pull up his mask again.

He smiled at her and pulled up his mask. "Thank you Asami. You have no idea how much that means to me." He rose to leave, collected his flack jacket and hugged her one last time. "See you soon." He almost whispered the last words and then he was off. He wished he didn't need to sleep so badly, he would have sat there with her all night.

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