Finding Peace

Chapter 4- A Day Off

The next day dawned bright. The rain had stopped overnight and the morning sun was drying up the last of the puddles as it made its way up into the sky. It was Asami's day off. One day a week her assistant ran the shop for her so she could unwind, and she was going for a walk down by the river. It was her favorite place to go, she'd brought a box lunch so she could just sit, enjoy the quiet and spend some time with her thoughts.

Asami settled comfortably on a grassy spot under a tree that offered her some nice shade. She could have climbed the tree and sat in its branches but she didn't feel like it today, besides her tree climbing skills had never been terrific. She got her book out and lay it in her lap as she stared out at the tree line in front of her and her thoughts began to wander.

She remembered sitting in this very spot with her mother when they took time off from the onigiri stand together. They would sit in the shade and chat about the people they had seen that week. She wondered what her mother would think about Kakashi coming to visit. Her mother had always insisted that Kakashi liked her and that was why he had laughed at her but Asami was pretty sure that her Mom just didn't know Kakashi well.

She also wondered what her father would think of it. He had been protective, but not overly so, of his only daughter. And he had hardly known Kichirou, although he would be very proud of the young man he had become.

He had been away when Kichirou was born not returning until he was almost a year old. The attack happened when Kichirou was just four and both their parents had died that night. She'd been a genin at the time, her sensei was going to recommend her for the next chunin exam but she had walked away from it to run the shop and raise her brother.

Many people tried to talk her out of it. They told her to sell the shop and send Kichirou to go live with relatives but she just couldn't stand the thought of losing everything. They had done well.

Her aunt and uncle had lived on the other side of the village and they stopped in occasionally to check on them. They had both died a few years ago but she didn't really need to be checked up on anymore. And they'd never been very close. It had been her mothers older brother and he had never approved of the man she had married.

That got her thinking about Kakashi. She wondered if he had ever been in love? Probably not. She knew that he was very focused on his job as a ninja but that didn't mean he couldn't have a life, did it? She would have to ask Anko the next time they visited together. On second thought maybe she shouldn't do that. Anko might get some ideas in her head, more than she already had.

Kakashi had the day off. It was rare that he would get a whole day off to himself. Between training and missions his schedule was pretty busy. He decided that he would enjoy the quiet. He grabbed a bento box lunch, his book and headed off to the river to sit and read, and maybe sleep the day away. But first he would stop at the memorial and pay his respects.

After spending some time at the memorial remembering his friends he walked to the river, found a nice tree to sit in and climbed it. He settled in to good spot and stared out over the tree tops.

He thought about Asami and her shop, trying to remember what he could of her from school. They'd been so young when they'd been in school together and then after he'd graduated they'd only seen each other around the village occasionally. She had always blushed when she saw him and stuttered a hello. He had been kind for the most part, laughing off her immaturity, except for that time his friends had tricked him into trying to cut her hair off. At the time he had wondered what was wrong with her, looking back he realized that she'd probably had a crush on him.

Oh was he glad that the days of girls having crushes on him were over! He was not particularly interested in having a family or dating for that matter. It just complicated things. There would be questions such as; why are you home so late, or why were you gone so long, or the worst- why can't you tell me where you are going? No that wasn't for him.

Now that he thought of it Asami's father had been Anbu hadn't he? He wondered how that had worked in their home. He had known her father professionally but not as a friend. They'd not served in the Anbu together. He would have to ask around... what the hell was he saying? Why did he care how her parents had gotten along?

What he did remember was the day they had died. Everyone in the village that was old enough remembered that day. Her father had shown up for the fight because he was Anbu, her mother had shown up because it was the right thing to do. They'd both died that day leaving 11 yr old Asami to raise her 4 yr old brother on her own. Now that he thought of it he wondered why there wasn't other family to help, perhaps they'd also died. The village had lost a lot of people that day.

Kakashi shook his head to make the images of Asami, standing in her kitchen forming onigiri, out of his head but not before he admired her beauty and her long black hair. He sighed. He was glad he had failed at cutting it off when they were kids. Then he leaned back and opened his book.

It was about an hour to sunset when he decided it was time to head back into the village. He had eaten his bento box and his stomach was looking for more. He walked back by the memorial for one last visit but stopped at the edge of the clearing.

Standing in front of the memorial was Asami. She had a small bag in one hand and looked as if she had been crying, wiping her eyes with the other. Kakashi melted back into the leaves so as not to disturb her but stayed and watched her. Damn, he thought, I am becoming a stalker.

Asami had decided to stop by the memorial on her way home. She'd been thinking about her parents and thought it appropriate to pay her respects. She hadn't expected to cry when she got there and she desperately hoped no one else would show up and see her crying. She missed them a lot.

Despite what many people thought they'd had an amazing marriage. Her father had loved her mother, and his children, with abandon but only in the privacy of their own home. In the community he had completely ignored them.

She remembered one incident particularly clearly. Her mother had been about 6 months pregnant with Kichirou. She and Asami were running an errand in the village and her mother tripped, falling flat on her face. Asami saw her father walking towards them and yelled for him to help but he simply had walked on by as if they hadn't been there. Other people stopped and helped her mother up and she was fine but Asami was confused. There was no doubt that had been her father and she knew that he adored her mother. Why would he just walk by when she might be hurt?

When they got home she asked her mother about it. She remembered her mothers smile, confidence and love filling her face. "He does that to protect us Asami. There are many people who hate your father because he's good at his job. People who would hurt us simply to hurt him if they knew we mattered to him at all. As far as they are concerned we are simply a convenience for him; a place to sleep, get his laundry done and eat a hot meal. Only we know the truth."

Asami remembered that so clearly. And she loved her father even more for it. She had often reflected on how hard it must have been for her mother over the years but her mother had never once complained.

Asami knelt in front of the Memorial and bowed. "Goodbye for now mother and father, although I know you are always with me in spirit." Her tears dropped freely from her face onto the polished stone.

Kakashi was embarrassed realizing that he had eavesdropped on her. He had never realized how much she missed her parents. It never showed. She was always cheerful and smiling. Now that Kichirou was off doing missions she must get very lonely.

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