Finding Peace

Chapter 9- Gossip

It had been a week since she'd injured her ankle and Asami was getting around better. Just as Kakashi had warned she hadn't seen him since. He must be busy with getting his students ready for the final exam. Although her ankle felt better she wasn't up to walking into town to hear the news of how the exam was going. Kayo was still working for her and Hikari was still working in the kitchen with her but neither of them seemed to have any gossip to share. She decided it was time to sit down for a bit when there was a knock at the door. She looked up to see Sakura Haruno standing there.

"Hello Sakura. How are you?" She was surprised to see her and wondered if Mebuki had sent her to get some onigiri. "Are you here to pick something up for your mother?"

"Oh no, Kimura-san. I hope I'm not interrupting." Sakura, looking a little uncomfortable, stood with resolve. Asami guessed that she'd been tasked with delivering a message.

"Please Sakura, we are both genin, call me Asami. Or perhaps you're on your way to being a chunin?"

"No. They had a preliminary exam right after the forest of death and I didn't pass. I tied Ino Yamanaka though. So I didn't lose either, just neither of us moved on to the final part of the exam."

Asami smiled, the chunin exam was such an important test and it was so hard for those that failed. "Well don't take it too hard. I never took the chunin exam so you're still ahead of me."

Sakura's eyes got big. "Really? I was sure you had."

"No. My sensei was going to recommend me for the next one but then the Kyuubi attack came and my parents both died in it. I walked away from being a ninja to care for my brother Kichirou and run the Onigiri stand in my mothers place."

"Wow! I had no idea. I'm sorry for your loss." Sakura looked at Asami with a new respect. So this was the person that had Kakashi-sensei smiling more. She decided she liked her already. She might not be a kunoichi but she certainly deserved the respect of one.

"Are you hungry? I was just going to have some tea and I could serve you some onigiri with it if you'd like?" Asami liked this young pinkette. She made her think of another pinkette that was older and hoped that Sakura would grow up to be just as sweet and strong also.

"I'll have some tea, thank you, but I'm not hungry. I ate lunch not too long ago. I actually came to deliver a message to you."

Asami realized that Sakura would know about the chunin exam and what was going on in the village and decided to see what she might learn from her. She grabbed a cup for Sakura and filled it with tea, sitting down and indicating that Sakura should join her. "OK. Tell me all the gossip while you're at it."

Sakura looked at her. A lot had happened in the past week and she wasn't sure where to start or what she should say. She decided to start with the message. "Kakashi-sensei asked me to tell you that he was very busy with Naruto and Sasuke. Well Sasuke really and that it might be after the final exam before he's able to stop by again." Sakura wondered at the relationship between her sensei and this pretty woman. She knew of Asami but this was the first time she'd talked with her.

"Thank you for letting me know. I knew he'd be busy but I am glad to know he's not just avoiding me." Her laugh filled the kitchen. "How did the other preliminaries go?"

"They went well, mostly. Sasuke and Naruto both moved on. So did a few of the other village genin. The final exam will be held in a month. They have this month to heal, prepare and train for it. Kakashi-sensei is helping Sasuke prepare and someone else is training Naruto. I think his name is Jiraiya."

Asami's ears perked up. Jiraiya was in town? She hoped she had a chance to see him. He'd been very close to her father and she had grown up considering him her uncle. "I see. Why isn't Kakashi training them both?"

Sakura regarded Asami and decided that she was trustworthy. "Something weird happened in the forest of death, someone named Orochimaru showed up and tried to kill Sasuke. I think Kakashi wants Sasuke to be prepared if he returns." She decided against sharing that Orochimaru had left a mark on Sasuke, he had specifically asked her not to tell anyone and she was good for her word, even if she disagreed.

Asami felt a shiver run through her. Orichimaru was back? She remembered that her father had never trusted him and she recalled that there had been a big blowup that resulted in his leaving the village. She also vaguely recalled that Jiraiya-ojisan had stopped visiting around the same time. Her father had simply said he was training outside the village now. She wondered if his return was related to the return of Orochimaru.

She shook off the feeling of doom and smiled at Sakura. "Anything else new and noteworthy?" She hoped her discomfort didn't show.

Sakura noted that she had become uncomfortable at the mention of Orichimaru. "Do you know who this Orichimaru is?"

Asami sighed, her discomfort had been noticed. "I think so. My father was Anbu when he was alive. He had 2 very close friends, Jiraiya and Might Dai. I remember that there was a blow up when the 4th Hokage was chosen and that he was involved. I was young, maybe 12? Shortly after that Jiraiya-ojisan stopped visiting also and my father said he was away training. I've always wondered if they were connected."

Sakura was impressed that Asami knew so many people. "You knew Might Dai? That was Gai-sensei's father wasn't it?"

"Yes. The eternal genin. He was never able to pass the chunin exam but what he lacked in skill he made up for in passion."

Sakura had no trouble believing that, knowing Guy-sensei.

"Dai-ojisan and my father were best friends. My father was very sad when he died. That's all I know about Orochimaru and Jiraiya though. Well I should probably get back to work, let me send you home with some onigiri."

Sakura jumped up, she didn't want to impose but she had been enjoying the visit. She thought of something. "Oh, you might be interested to know... Guy-sensei's student Rock Lee is in the hospital. He was injured during the preliminaries, they say he might never fight again."

Asami was sad to hear that but she knew it was the price of being a ninja. "I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe I'll stop by when I can walk further." She handed 2 boxes of onigiri to Sakura, "tell your mother I say hello, won't you?"

"Oh of course! If you'd like I'll stop by next week with any news and if you're up to it we can visit Lee and Guy-sensei!"

"It's a date! I usually take Wednesday off so that might be a good day to come by."

"OK! I'll be here wednesday. Thank you for the gift Asami." Sakura took the boxes Asami was holding out to her and left.

Asami wasn't sure if she was glad Sakura had come by or not. She had enjoyed the visit but the news that Orochimaru was back worried her. She wished her father was here to offer his advice.

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