Finding Peace

Chapter 7- Climbing Trees

As predicted the next day at her shop was insanely busy. She wondered if there was anyone left in the surrounding countries or if they'd all converged on Konoha simply to visit her onigiri stand? Mid-afternoon she decided she was done. She cleaned up as best as she could given that the shop wouldn't be closed for another few hours and told her assistant, Hikari, she was going to take an hour to herself. Then she left for a walk.

Kakashi sauntered up to the kitchen door of Asami's shop and was surprised to see her assistant Hikari instead, looking very upset. "Oh hello Hatake-san. Do you know where Asami is?"

"No. I came here to say hello to her." He hid the take out bag he had in his hand not wanting to give away that he had brought her dinner.

"She said she was going out for an hour. That was 3 hours ago! It's not like her to just disappear! You don't think one of the strangers in town..." Hikari's voice trailed off. and it seemed as if she was going to cry

"I'm sure she's fine. Just stay calm. Did she say where she was going? Did she have an errand to run?"

"No she just said she was tired and needed to clear her head. I knocked on her door upstairs but she didn't answer." Hikari had been calming down but the thought that her boss, whom she loved dearly, was missing hit her again and she started to wring her hands.

"Hikari, I'm sure she's fine. Asami is a very capable young woman who was raised by one of the finest ninja in all of Konoha. She probably just lost track of time." Kakashi had an idea of where she might be but he was mildly concerned because it was unlike her to simply disappear, he also knew that panicking wouldn't solve a thing. "I'm going to go look for her. I'll be back in an hour with news either way. If she hasn't turned up by then we'll get help looking for her."

This visibly calmed Hikari down, she nodded, "Ok. I'll wait for you then and get the shop closed up."

Kakashi took off for Asami's spot by the river. The sun was getting low in the sky and would be setting in about an hour and half. He wanted to have a search party out before sunset if it came to that. He shook his head, no point in thinking the worst.

As he arrived at her spot he saw her laying on the ground and he rushed over to her. "Asami!"

Asami jumped and then let out a little sob. "I thought I told you it was no fair sneaking up on people, Kakashi! But am I ever glad to see you!"

Kakashi looked her up and down. Her ankle appeared swollen and she looked like she had been crying a bit but otherwise she seemed unhurt. "What happened?"

Asami blushed and looked down. "Well, it was really busy today and I decided I needed to clear my head. So I told Hikari I'd be back in an hour and came out here."

"And? Did someone attack you?"

"No. It's rather embarrassing, actually. I decided I'd like a change of scenery so I tried to climb the tree and sit in the branches like Kichirou and I used to. I lost my footing and fell. I think I might have broken my ankle." She pointed to it and winced.

Kakashi sighed in relief. "I'm so glad you are safe. Now lets get you to some help." He carefully lifted her into his arms, noticing that she winced but did not complain at the pain he knew she felt when her ankle shifted. Then he turned to walk them back into town.

Asami sighed. She was glad for the help and even happier that it was Kakashi that was carrying her. She liked the feel of his arms. "I'm so glad you came along. I was worried. I tried to get up and walk but my ankle hurt too much. I felt so helpless just laying there and wondering if anyone was going to happen along." She had been very nervous at the idea of being there all night, especially with all the visitors in the village. She rested her head on Kakashi's shoulder and closed her eyes, glad that she could relax now.

Kakashi was glad now that he had decided to bring her dinner on a whim. He'd wanted to help her relax, he knew the shop was busy and that she was tired when she got home at night. He walked along, slowly so as not to bounce her too much. "I know it's a little further this way but I'm going to stop at your stand. Hikari was beside herself with worry and I want to reassure her that you're ok."

"That's a great idea, Kakashi. I can't thank you enough!" Asami wondered how long she would have sat there if Kakashi hadn't found her. The spot she liked was off the beaten path enough that someone not looking for it might miss it and living in a village full of ninja meant that you often didn't hear people when they were walking through the woods.

They stopped at her shop where she assured Hikari that she was fine. She had Kakashi put her down in a chair for a bit and had a drink of water while she was there. Hikari had closed the shop up and agreed to come early to open, she thought her sister who was a little older than her would be free to help also and she said she would bring her along. Then Kakashi scooped Asami back up and they headed off to the hospital.

When they arrived there he carried her into the exam room and told her he would be waiting outside to escort her home when she was done. The doctor examined and treated her and then gave her crutches, instructing her to take it easy for about a week and then walk on it as she was comfortable. She hobbled out into the waiting area and looked around for Kakashi. At first she didn't see him but then she noticed a group of ninja just outside the door talking and she approached.

Approaching a group of ninja was nothing new to her. She had grown up around them but for some reason she was nervous and self-conscious as she approached. She felt more comfortable when Kakashi noticed her and moved aside to make room.

"But why would someone kill them?" Genma said to Anko.

Kakashi cleared his throat and introduced her to them, "This is Asami Kimura, her father was Takeo Kimura. Asami, this is Genma, and Raido, and you know Anko."

Asami smiled gently, "I know Genma also Kakashi, but thank you for the introduction. Hello Genma and Anko. Raido it is nice to meet you. I think we met once just before my father died, didn't we?"

"We did. But only briefly." Raido replied. "It's nice to meet you also." He smiled at her and wondered if she had a boyfriend. She had grown up a lot since he had last seen her and she was a beauty.

"What happened to you?" Anko asked. She was concerned for her friend. They had been friends since they were old enough to walk and although their lives had taken very different paths she cared deeply for Asami. She knew she could always count on Asami when she needed to blow off steam and just have a laugh. And Asami was a damn fine cook and always good for a meal.

"Oh I took a fall. Nothing serious. It'll heal fast I'm sure." She looked at Genma, "Genma, I haven't seen you in a very long time. How have you been?"

"Oh you know me Asami. I always land on my feet. How have you been? Kichirou talks about you now and then. And he never shares the onigiri that you send back with him, selfish brat that he is."

Asami laughed, "well next time I'll send some just for you, Genma. You know you can always stop by and get some of your own in person."

"I might just have to do that."

He was cut off by Kakashi clearing his throat again. "Shouldn't we get you home and get you off that ankle, Asami. Why don't I walk you home?"

Asami was surprised but Kakashi was right. She was getting tired and her ankle ached a lot. She wondered what he would say if she asked him to carry her home? Not only would she get there faster and in less pain, she would be in his arms. She decided she didn't have want to ask and that she would just hobble home with her crutches. "That's a good idea. Goodbye Anko, Genma and Raido. It was nice seeing you all. Feel free to stop by and grab an onigiri!"

Kakashi wondered how she made any money at all with all the onigiri she gave away. He didn't like the way Raido had looked at her either. He was a perfectly nice guy but he'd been checking her out. He certainly didn't want him stopping by to visit her, that was Kakashi's job. He watched her hobble on the crutches. "What'd the doctor say?"

"Oh he healed the bone but said it would still be quite painful for up to a week. I hope Hikari's sister is free for a while." She smiled weakly. She was exhausted. No one would call her weak but the combination of the long hours at the shop the last few days, the fall and three hours sitting and wondering if she would be spending the night out in the woods had taken its toll on her.

Kakashi noticed how tired she looked. He stopped walking and faced her, hesitated for one moment and then scooped her up in his arms, grabbing her crutches in one hand while he did it. He glanced down at her to see her reaction and was reassured to see that she looked relieved.

Anko watched them walk away, Asami hobbling on her crutches and Kakashi sauntering next to her. When she saw Kakashi pick up Asami to carry her she smiled a knowing smile at Genma and Raido. They all knew why they hadn't been seeing a lot of Kakashi lately now.

"Thank you, Kakashi. I never would have asked but I'm exhausted." She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes.

When they got to her house he deposited her in her living room and disappeared out the door. Is that all though Asami? Not even a good bye? She got her answer when he reappeared with a take out bag in his hand.

"It's cold but I can heat it up. You must be hungry. I originally came by to bring you dinner as a way to say thanks for last night."

Asami laughed. "That would be amazing, Kakashi! I'm starved!"

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