Chapter 8- Miso for Dinner
Asami sighed, her ankle hurt and she wished it didn't. She just wanted to cry but she knew that would upset Hikari so she took a deep breath and held it in instead.
Hikari's older sister, Kayo, had been free to help, thankfully, and was doing an amazing job of running the front of the shop while Hikari and Asami ran the kitchen. Kayo was a pink haired firecracker of a girl about 3 years older than Hikari and Asami. Kayo's usual job was as a ninja of the Leaf Village but she had been injured and was on leave while she healed. Asami was glad for that. She was quick to catch on and sweet with the customers. Asami wished she could hire her to help more often but she knew that once the leave was lifted Kayo would be returning to her ninja duties full time.
Things were going very well but Asami knew she needed a rest. "Hikari, do you think you could finish the afternoon up without me? I really need a rest."
"Of course!" Hikari looked her boss and friend, she looked exhausted. She wondered if Kakashi would be by with dinner for her and decided she should check on her before leaving.
"Thank you so much! I'll be right upstairs this time, no walks for me for a while." Asami smiled, it was her walk yesterday that had caused this mess in the first place. "Don't hesitate to come get me if you have a problem you can't solve."
"OK. But I'm sure we'll be fine. I've been helping you for years now." Hikari felt sure there was nothing she couldn't handle in the kitchen and wanted Asami to rest and get better.
Asami clambered to her feet on the crutches, how she hated them! She didn't relish the idea of climbing the stairs but she reminded herself that once there she wouldn't have to face them again until tomorrow and started towards the door.
To her surprise the doorway was full of ninja, very good looking ninja in fact. "Oh hi there Kichi-kun! Hi Genma and Raido! Did you all come to watch me hobble around?" She laughed and smiled at them. This was a nice surprise and maybe Kichirou could carry her up the stairs.
"I was worried when Genma told me he'd run into you last night. I wanted to check on you myself." Kichirou's voice showed his concern.
"I'm fine but thank you for the concern Ototo-chan." She turned back to Hikari, "Could you pack up several boxes of onigiri for our guests, Hikari? Just bring them upstairs when you're done."
Kichirou grimaced at the little boy honorifics she had used but he supposed that was the price of having a big sister who had raised you. And he knew that he was the man he was today because she had supported him completely. He also knew she'd passed up on a lot to take care of him and he loved her for it.
Kayo came into the kitchen to ask Hikari a question and gasped at the crowd that had gathered. "Kimura-san, you have quite a fan club!" She smiled at Kichirou and Raido but her gaze lingered on Genma. He was a good looking one, senbon pin hanging out of his mouth like he was too cool to put it away. She tried to place him, she knew she'd seen him around but couldn't remember his name.
"Oh Kayo, this is my brother Kichirou, and 2 of the Hokage's guard, Genma and Raido. Genma is training Kichirou to increase his chances of being selected for the Anbu."
Kayo almost fell over. Two of the elite Hokage guard! She smiled at them and turned to Hikari with her question. She desperately wished she had time to chat with that cute senbon wielding Genma!
"Well, we're going upstairs where I can sit and rest my ankle. As I said Hikari, if you need anything just come upstairs." With that Asami started towards the door, Kichirou, Genma, and Raido following her.
"Oni-san, let me carry you up the stairs. You look tired." Kichirou scooped her up and left Genma or Raido to carry her crutches. When they got upstairs he deposited her gently on a cushion in the living room. "Do you want some tea? I'll go make some for all of us."
Asami smiled, she must have raised him right, he knew how to take care of the guests. "Tea would be amazing!"
Genma followed Kichirou into the kitchen which left Raido with Asami. "Have a seat Raido. How are you?" She knew that her father had known Raido but not how well. "Did you know my father well?"
Raido took a seat and was about to answer but was interrupted by Kakashi clearing his throat at the door. "I'm sorry, am I interrupting?"
Asami was surprised but glad that he'd come by, she knew that once the forest of death portion of the exam was over she wouldn't be seeing him for a while. "Of course not Kakashi. Come in. But if you want tea you'll have to pop your head into the kitchen and tell Kichirou first. I'm afraid that I'm not able to be a good hostess today."
Kakashi did just that, greeting Genma and Kichirou as he did, and then sat down next to Asami. "Hello Raido, how are you?"
"Hi Kakashi. I'm good. I came by with Kichirou and Genma on the promise of Asami's delicious onigiri." Raido wasn't sure why he felt the need to explain his presence but he felt it best to reassure the famous copy-nin of his reasons for visiting. He would have loved an opportunity to win Asami's heart but watching Kakashi pick her up and carry her home last night had sent a message loud and clear.
"I see." Kakashi turned to Asami, his gaze softening and a smile lighting his face. "How is your ankle doing today? Does it hurt a lot?"
"Well it hurts but it's tolerable. Hikari's sister Kayo has agreed to help while I can't work but she will have to leave when her medical leave is lifted."
"Their from the Tanaka family, aren't they?" Kakashi inquired.
"Yes, they are."
If that's Kayo Tanaka, I've heard she's a spitfire on the battlefield." Genma said as he and Kichirou carried the tea into the living room and served it. "I've heard that her taijutsu is amazing and her chakra control is impressive also. I haven't met her personally but I've heard others talk about her. And I wouldn't pass up an opportunity to fight her either."
Asami noticed that Genma's smile seemed a little brighter when he talked about Kayo.
"So I know it's nosy of me and you probably won't tell me anyway but last night I heard you talking about someone getting killed? Was there a murder?"
The 4 ninja in her living room all looked like they would rather be juggling angry kittens and Asami wondered what had happened. Finally Kakashi broke the silence, "We found 3 ninja murdered at the shrine yesterday. But I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation, no need to worry."
Asami was glad that he'd chosen to trust her with that frightening news. It was apparent that the other 3 would not have told her. There was a knock on the door and Hikari appeared with 4 boxes in her hands. "Here are the onigiri you asked me for Asami. I hope you don't mind, I noticed Hatake-san arrive and made one up for him also." She liked that Kakashi had been spending time with Asami and hoped it would turn romantic, if it hadn't already. She observed that he alone was sitting next to Asami with the other 3 men in the room sitting across from her.
"Oh thank you so much Hikari! Honestly! What would I do without you?" Asami was very happy that Hikari had taken the initiative to make a box up for Kakashi, he didn't seem to like Raido and she didn't want him to feel left out.
"Hikari, please feel free to call me Kakashi. You make me sound so old when you call me Hatake-san."
"Oh, ok Kakashi." Hikari was sure her mother would have a fit if she'd heard her refer to one of the elite ninja of the village so casually but hey, she was just following orders. "Well, I'm going back to work. I'll check on you before I leave Asami."
"OK Hikari, thanks again!" Asami smiled at her as she closed the door.
"So how is your training going Kichirou?" Kakashi inquired. He knew Genma was working with the young man with the intention of preparing him for possible Anbu selection.
Genma answered for him. "He's a promising student. He's strong and fast, and has amazing chakra control. I'd love it if you'd join us some time for a training session. You'd be a great opponent for him to fight."
"That sounds like fun! I will."
Asami was pretty sure she didn't like the idea of her brother and Kakashi beating each other to a pulp but she also knew that she couldn't change it so she kept her mouth shut. She reflected on the fact that her mother must have kept her mouth shut a lot.
Kichirou rose to collect the empty teacups. "I'm just going to wash these up and then we'll take off. We have a training session and you need rest anyway." He passed a knowing look to Genma and Raido and left for the kitchen.
Raido and Genma got the hint and when he returned from the kitchen they rose to leave also, grabbing their boxes off the table where Hikari had left them. "Thank you for the onigiri, Asami. Now I won't have to try to kill Kichirou to get his." Genma laughed at Asami's feigned horror.
"Goodbye! Thank you for stopping by to check on me. Bye Kichi-kun!" She giggled to herself, she knew that Kichirou would not hear the end of such a childish nickname for quite a few days.
When they had left she turned to Kakashi, "well well, 3 days in a row, I'm a very lucky girl."
"If you're too tired..."
"Honestly Kakashi, I don't think I'd ever be too tired to visit with you." She knew she was brazenly flirting with him and didn't care. It was time he realized that she was starting to care for him. He was the one that was always showing up on her doorstep after all. Also, she'd noticed that he hadn't been happy to see Raido in her living room when he'd arrived and she wanted to reassure him that it was his company she preferred.
"Have you eaten? I'm not the greatest cook but I am fast and I can run out and pick something up." Kakashi knew he couldn't stay late but he wanted to make sure she was taken care of.
"I'm not that hungry. There's some soup that can be heated in the kitchen if you don't mind doing it." She smiled at him. Soup would be amazing but he had done so much already and she felt guilty asking for more. "I don't want to be a bother though."
"Asami, I offered and reheating soup is hardly difficult." Kakashi got up and went into the kitchen and when he came back he had 2 steaming bowls of miso with somen in them.
"I never thought soup could be so tasty! I was more hungry than I thought. Who told you that you weren't a good cook?"
"No one had to tell me. You've now eaten one of the 2 things I know how to make. The other is toast. Lets just say the restaurants in the village see a lot of me." He smiled at her. His mask was still down from eating and she enjoyed the full warmth of his smile. He picked up the empty bowls and and carried them to the kitchen.
Asami was listening to him wash them when Hikari stuck her head through the door. "Asami, the shop is closed. Do you need anything before Kayo and I go home?"
"No Hikari. Thank you. Kakashi made me some soup and I'm going to bed early tonight."
"Oh, I wondered if you were alone. I saw people leaving but I didn't notice who. All right then. See you tomorrow morning!" And with that Hikari was gone.
Kakashi returned to the living room. "Did I hear someone?"
"Oh it was just Hikari saying good night and making sure I didn't need anything."
"Do you want me to leave? Do you need to rest?" Kakashi didn't want to be a burden or make her tired.
"I think I'm ok for a little longer."
They sat and chatted for the next few hours, realizing that although they'd had very different upbringings they enjoyed many of the same things.
Kakashi realized that it had gotten late and noticed that Asami looked very tired. "I should go. You need to rest. Tomorrow is the last day of the forest of death exam so I might not be able to come by. I'll try to visit again soon though."
"Thank you again Kakashi, for everything. You're too kind. Rescuing me, carrying me, feeding me; how can I ever repay you?"
"No need to repay. Just keep being your kind self." Kakashi leaned over to her, cupped her head with his hand and let his masked lips brush hers. Then he stood, "Do you need anything before I leave?"
Asami was in shock again. Did he really think that he could just keep sneaking up on her like that? But she was too tired to confront him today. Some other time when she wasn't so tired and achy. "No, I'm fine. Thank you so much."
He let himself out, being sure to lock the door as he did. As he made his way home he thought about her. He liked her calm, kind manner. She never had an angry or mean word for anyone. And no matter the situation she kept her head level. He wondered if she was starting to care for him as much as he was for her. Well, only time would tell, it was better to take it slow anyway.