|Red Dragon of Konoha
Author: Konsaki PM
A red haired girl is summoned by accident to Kohona and is adopted by the Haruno's. WAFF filled. DISCONTINUEDRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Ranma - Words: 7,962 - Reviews: 100 - Favs: 95 - Follows: 176 - Updated: 11-14-08 - Published: 09-14-08 - id: 4537359
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Red Dragon of Konoha
A Wild Adventure in the Naruto Universe
Written by: Konsaki
AKA- Matt Nethken
Sitting at his desk in the large office, the man ran a hand through his grey hair as he looked before him. Piles of paperwork and scrolls covered the hard polished wood of his overly large desk, some in neat stacks but most just splayed over the surface in a controlled mess. The light from evening sun streamed through the large bay of windows behind where the elder sat. The angle wasn't direct, but it was enough that it bathed the room an orange-red color which was bright enough Sarutobi could read the scrolls without assistance by lamp.
Closing his eyes, the man reached over to the side of his desk where his pipe laid, an act that was easily seen as a common occurrence. Sliding the stem of the old familiar pipe between his weathered lips, Sarutobi opened his eyes once more to regard the paperwork that demanded his attention. He stroked his grey haired beard while looking over a high ranked mission report which lay before him. After a few minutes had passed, he stamped his seal on the report, identifying that he had read its contents and agreed with the findings. Setting it aside in the completed stack, he reached over for another scroll and opened it to read the message contained within.
Reading the message contained within, Sarutobi set the scroll down and rubbed his weary eyes with a hand. Then, the man stood and stretched his back out; the sounds of popping vertebrae bringing sound to a silent room. Taking another drag from his pipe, he looked around the office that was his. Every time he did so, his eyes were always drawn to one wall on which held four pictures. Blowing out a long snake of smoke from his mouth, Sarutobi started to walk in that direction.
As with every other time, he looked up to find himself looking into the two framed pictures displaying the faces of his long dead mentors. The first held a raven haired man with strong eyes in red armor. On his forehead a hitai-ate displaying the familiar leaf engraving adorned his forehead, which was unlike his younger brother who displayed the symbol on an open face shield. The colors he wore were almost the opposite from his elder brother as well, with him wearing blue armor which matched his blue-grey hair.
'Shodai... Nidaime...' The names of their stations filtered through his head in remembrance to those who had served in the station of Hokage before him. His eyes looked towards them a second longer before closing them and taking a long breath; remembering past lessons he learned from the brothers. A moment later, he moved down the line, passing up the third frame with only the thought of, 'I need to have another picture taken...' floating through his mind. When his vision was focused on a blond haired man in the fourth frame, Sarutobi let out a long sigh. 'Minato...'
The Sandaime recognized the person behind him before the voice even broke the silence of the office. Not moving from his spot and still looking to the blond haired man in the picture before him, the village's Hokage replied, "What news do you have, Kakashi?"
"Hokage-sama, there has been an incident at one of the summoning sites", the masked man informed his superior. Hearing this, the red and white robed man before him let out a low, "Hmm…" before turning slowly back towards his desk. Watching the Hokage move, the silvered haired ninja turned with him, still in a relaxed pose.
Inside his mind, Sarutobi recognized immediately what dangers this could entail. A vast majority of the high tech gear the village and ninja used, from generators to radios, were gathered in two ways. One was off the bodies of slain ninja from the other villages, but this was a rare occurrence. The main way, though still with its own dangers, was to perform complex summoning rituals. The major problem involved with the summoning ritual was the fact that, while the person summoning tried to specify what he wanted, it was random to some extent as to what would appear.
Taking a puff off the pipe that still hung from his mouth, the aged man stroked his short goatee in thought. Looking into the one eye that showed on the bored looking ninja, the Hokage stated, "They summoned something unexpected… How many casualties?"
Hearing the question, the copy ninja blinked and scratched his head beside his one visible eye with an index finger, "Well, that's the interesting thing, Hokage-sama. There weren't any casualties… in fact we have an extra person, now."
Inwardly, Sarutobi let out a breath of relief over hearing the point of no injuries or damage. On the outside, though, his lips twitched into a slight frown as he pulled the pipe from his mouth. "Are you telling me they summoned a person?" Seeing the nod in affirmation from the ANBU before him, the grayed male frowned a bit more, "That is troubling…"
The summoning of a person wasn't new to either ninja but both knew the implications of the situation. When summoning a person, one had to have a summoning seal on a scroll or other object safe to summon with, not unlike the special summoning which brought about the high tech gear. The differences were the facts that the seals were completely different and that, to summon a person, you had to have a blood and chakra sample from the target summoned person. Though the special summoning was random as to what you would get, there had never been a case of an accidental summoning of a true person.
Kakashi waited patiently for the robed man to finish his trek to the desk, where he placed the pipe back to his lips for another puff. Watching him exhale out a stream of smoke, the Jonin heard, "What is the condition of the summoned person?"
"She is fine physically, but was a bit shaken up", he replied, receiving a nod from the grey haired man. Anticipating the next question, the ANBU ninja continued, "She's in a waiting room right now, Hokage-sama." A nod and silent command later, Kakashi bowed and walked out the door.
Taking advantage of slight break, Sarutobi sat down and took another drag from his pipe. As he relaxed his body for a few seconds, his mind was running laps on diplomatic strategies on how to deal with a woman who would probably be confused and maybe angry. As the short time passed, he finally settled on what he thought was the best route of diplomacy, just as Kakashi knocked on and reentered the office doorway with the person in question in tow.
What Sarutobi had planned for these talks was thrown out preverbal window as he laid his eyes on the young girl being led by the tall ninja. After blinking his eyes in surprise a few times, the elderly man looked at her and placed her age around six years old, as she looked around the room with curiosity. The cut of her cloths looked to be foreign; the cyan colored shirt complimented her unbound fiery red hair and bright blue eyes at the same time, while her dark black pants countered the brightness.
By the time she and Kakashi had made their way to the chairs set before the Hokage's desk, the girl had finished her examining of the room to look directly at the elderly man before her. Mastering his surprise a few moments prior, Sarutobi had a warm smile on his old face, which he usually wore while talking to the youths of Konoha. "Hello, there", he greeted in just as warm a voice. Waving a hand at the plush chairs before his desk, he inquired, "Would you like a seat?"
Looking from the old man in the robes before her to the chairs and back, the girl gave a silent nod and climbed into one. Seeing the smile grow a bit on his face, she let hers crack just the hint of a nervous smile in return. "I heard from Kakashi that you had an unexpected trip." She just mutely nodded in return while flicking her eyes towards the man with the hitai-ate covering one of his eyes.
Smiling at the young redhead, the elderly man nodded, "Yes, that's Kakashi. My name is Sarutobi and I'm the Hokage of Konoha, the village you are in right now." There were many things one could say about the third Hokage, but one that never could be said was that he was anything other than very patient towards children. This was easily seen in the way he carefully talked in a way that they would understand him without making them seem talked down to. "Could you tell us your name, Shoojo-chan?"
Before him on the plush dark green chair, the girl blinked a few times at the seemingly easy question. From the wide ranges of emotion displayed on her face, which the old shinobi watched closely, he completely believed her when she replied in confusion, "I… I can't remember…"
The old man before her looked over at her with concerned eyes as he realized more of the situation. She rubbed at the wavering of her vision with a hand even as he tried a different tactic, trying to get the girl to remember her own name. Listening intently at the deep wizened tones from the man before her, she heard, "That's ok. Maybe you remember what your mother would call her pretty daughter?"
As if waiting for the trigger of hearing about her mother, the girls mind flashed an image of a woman before her eyes. She wore a polite smile with very dark red hair tied up in the back while wearing a sky blue kimono. Even as the still image flashed for only an instant, a name came to her lips, "Ranko..."
"Ranko…" Sarutobi repeated, with a slight nod and a smile, "It's a very nice name, Ranko-chan." The soft smile he showed while commenting on her name quickly fell as the girl before him broke down in a chair across his desk. Even as he stood, placed his pipe down in its stand and made his way around the desk; she was already wiping her blue eyes while tears ran down her face. Kneeling before the young girl, the elderly shinobi looked to her with concern, "What's wrong, Ranko-chan?"
"M-mom…" she stammered out in between growing sobs, "I-I ca-can't rem-emb-ber Mom!" With that declaration, she fully broke down before him and he reached around her with calm arms. She leant into him, gripping the front of his robes as her face pressed into his chest.
Whispering calming words to the distraught child in his arms, Sarutobi spared a glance over to the silent ninja over-watching the meeting. What he saw was an eye that showed the same feeling he was, one for want to comfort the crying girl before him. Kakashi never moved an inch from his position though as his Hokage held her. After a while, Ranko seemed to calm down to just sniffles and whipping her reddened eyes, at which he pulled himself back to arms length while putting soft old hands on her shoulders.
With a small smile, the Hokage asked, "There, there. Do you feel better, Ranko-chan?" Seeing her nod slowly after a second, still holding hugging her arms against her, he smiled a bit wider. "It's alright. I'm sure you will remember soon, Ranko-chan", he said calmingly, getting another nod in response. Nodding himself, Sarutobi removed his hands from the girl's shoulders as he asked of the girl, "Now, do you remember where you were before the trip earlier?"
Another show of emotion washed over the redhead's face as Sarutobi watched the girl. After a second of this, he saw her take a deep breath, centering herself before she answered, "A small shrine in Nerima..." Still kneeling before the girl, Sarutobi let out a low, "Hmm", as he stroked his grey beard. Flashing a quick glance to his side, he sent an unvoiced question to the ANBU captain who stood in the room. Kakashi just shrugged his shoulders and with a small shake of his head.
"Do you remember what country it's in, Ranko-chan", the wizened male asked, trying to better pin down the location she might have come from. She, herself, blinked a few times at that question. A moment later, giving the old man before her a confused look, the blue eyed girl replied, "Japan..."
"I see…" the robed man said, rising before her and moving back around his desk. She didn't notice the look he gave the shinobi who escorted her in. It was one of severe concern and Kakashi knew exactly what it was about, too. There was no country in the world called 'Japan'.
"Ranko-chan", the old man said as he stood behind his desk, "I will look into getting you home. While I do, Kakashi is going to show you a room you can rest in." With a smile, he added, "I'm sure there will be snacks and tea, too."
As the grey haired man before her finished, Ranko looked over at the silver haired man who just smiled at her in a friendly way. Or at least she thought he did, as with the mask on and only one eye, it was hard to tell. She got the feeling that he was nice, though, and hopped out of the chair she saw upon. She almost made it to the man before she remembered something, turning around on the spot and bowing towards the elderly man. "Thank you, Oji-san."
She returned the warm smile she received from Sarutobi before turning to and grabbing the offered hand that Kakashi held out. As Sarutobi watched the two exit his office, he once more picked up his favorite pipe. Frowning at the dead embers, he tapped it empty, repacked it and lit it before making new streams of smoke in the air. 'This is troubling', the Sandaime thought to himself with a frown caused by the implications of her last answer… 'Very troubling indeed…'
A minute or two of walking, led by the easy hand of the silver haired man beside her, Ranko found herself in a small room. A comfortable looking couch sat along a wall with two chairs on the other side. In between them stood a small coffee table which held a couple books, a small steaming tea set and a plate of cookies. After quickly looking around the room, the redhead looked up at Kakashi, who stood in the doorway. "Please rest here", he told her in an easy voice, "Enjoy the tea and cookies, Ranko-chan, and just pull this rope if you need anything." He finished his quick speech by indicating a thin rope that hung near the door. "Someone will take you back to Hokage-sama in a bit, so please relax."
After seeing the girl nod at what he was saying, he bowed to her and she bowed back before he closed the door behind him. Breaking her gaze from the engraved wooden door, she looked around the room once again before grabbing a snack off the plate and climbing up onto the couch.
The soft but appealing calls of her name brought the eyelids of the young redhead slightly open. Drowsily blinking a few times, the half awakened child pushed herself up into a sitting position on the dark colored couch. A yawn escaped her as she rubbed at her eyes, while a woman's soft voice spoke up again, "Come on now, Ranko-chan. The Hokage wishes to speak with you again."
Nodding in her half asleep state, the girl slowly slid off the couch and took a few halting steps towards the door. In the doorway, she saw a woman with long black hair and strikingly red eyes, but the smile she wore made the child smile back. With a slight giggle, the woman put a hand lightly on the back of Ranko's head to help steady her as she ushered the child out of the room.
As the pair of females made their way down the corridors towards the Hokage's office once again, a figure melted out of the corner of the now empty room. Behind a mask which looked like a monkey's face drawn in old edo style, two eyes blinked at the memory of what just happened. As they were leaving, the young girl, who still looked half asleep, had turned slightly and waved farewell to the empty room behind her…
By the time Ranko and the woman with red eyes had reached the Hokage's office, the child had fully awoken. In fact, they had taken a little longer than normal due to an unexpected stop for nature she needed, but the woman had kindly diverted with a smile. As the doors opened once more to the elderly man's room, Ranko looked around only half as much this time. This meant she noticed the woman sitting before the old man much quicker than she had noticed Sarutobi the first time she entered his office.
Taking note that the pink haired woman before him had been noticed, Sarutobi held out a hand towards the child before dragging it towards a chair. "It's good to see you again, Ranko-chan", he said with a kind smile, "Please have a seat."
Hearing the greeting and request, the child said a quick, "Hello, Oji-san", before climbing into a chair beside the woman. While she did this, she didn't notice the red eyed woman moving into a position not unlike the one Kakashi took up earlier. No, her attention was split between looking at the smiling old man and the equally smiling pink haired woman. After a moment, Ranko decided to look at the woman for a bit, since she was new.
As with her first few looks at the woman, the child's eyes were immediately drawn to the bright pink coloring of her hair. It was tied up into a high ponytail and hung down to her shoulders, waving with each move of her head, while two bangs came down and framed her face. This was counterbalanced by the light green sleeveless blouse and with pants of a much darker shade green. All in all, she looked very pretty and, for some reason, Ranko could tell she was a mother.
Her gaze was pulled from the lady as Sarutobi spoke up, "Ranko-chan, I'd like you to meet Haruno Tomiko." He continued on after a confused nod from the child, his smile dropping to a concerned look, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but it might take some time to get you back home. In the mean time, Haruno-san has offered to let you live with her at her home."
A long silence permeated the office for a few seconds as the elder let the redhead soak in what was said. Before she could think enough to speak out a response, though, Sarutobi continued, "I know this is probably very confusing for you, Ranko-chan, but we will do our bests to get you back home. I promise this." Looking into his face, the child couldn't help but believe his statement as the truth, for that's what it was. She just didn't know how close to impossible he thought it to be at the moment. "While you are here, though, you will be taken care of as if you were born into this village", he finished with a warm smile.
Sensing the undercurrents of the conversation and situation better than the young redhead, Tomiko stood after a few seconds from her chair. Turning and bending slightly at the waist, she smiled motherly at Ranko while saying, "Would you like to eat dinner at my house, Ranko-chan? We're having teriyaki tonight when we get back."
The mention of dinner caused the girl to notice the sudden feeling of hunger within herself, which her stomach made apparent to those around her to her embarrassment. As the redhead had her cheeks grow pink, the woman before her giggled a bit behind her hand before saying, "I'll take that as a yes." The girl just mutely nodded while Sarutobi and the red eyed woman smiled.
Smiling a bit wider, Tomiko held out a hand gently as the child slid off her chair before placing her smaller hand in it. Tuning towards the man seated behind the desk, the pink haired woman bowed slightly while saying, "Thank you, Hokage-sama. Please have a good evening."
Following the older woman's lead, the redheaded child bowed too saying, "Thank you, Oji-san." Sarutobi just smiled and replied, "You're welcome and try to think of Konoha as a second home, Ranko-chan."
With that, Tomiko and Ranko exited the Hokage's office hand in hand, followed by the silent red eyed woman who stopped at the door and slowly closed it behind them. Turning around, she noticed a masked ANBU shinobi kneeling nearby. The mask he wore looked like one that resembled a monkey…
A few flights of stairs and twisting corridors later, both females were standing in the evening sun outside the Hokage Tower. Tomiko just smiled as she saw her charge raise a hand to block the sun from her eyes as she blinked for a few seconds. Finally, as her blue eyes adjusted to the light from the lowering sun, she felt a subtle leading feeling coming from the hand that held hers. Without a word, she smiled up at the green eyed woman and they started their trek once more.
The pair hadn't gotten but a few buildings away from the large tower in the center of the village before Ranko completely forgot about why she was walking in the first place. Her head swiveled like it was on a ball joint as she wildly looked around at her surroundings. The buildings that lined the roads were bustling with activity, be they shops trying to sell the last of their wares before closing time or restaurants and bars accepting customers for a while to go.
Those entertained her for a good while, but then it was the people that surrounded the blue eyed girl that made her look like her head was going to spin off her neck. Well, not really the people, who wore interesting cloths and had interesting looks. No, it was the shinobi all over the place that drew her attention. There just wasn't anything else they could be in Ranko's mind, they had to be ninja.
Walking around on the ground with her to jumping along the rooftops, they were everywhere and anywhere she could train her blue eyes. She even suspected they were in places she couldn't see them, but she only giggled at her own foolish thoughts. Still, she looked in awe at the many different colors they all wore, the unique hairstyles smattered amongst the repeating favorites and all the different weapons they might or might not have on them.
There were just so many, with so many different pattern that she couldn't have counted them all even if she had tried. For some reason, this made her all giddy inside and once she trained her eyes on Tomiko again Ranko couldn't contain her smile. Seeing the awe and joy on the younger female's face, Tomiko couldn't help but burst out into laughter behind a hand that quickly shot up to her mouth. Ranko let out into her own set of giggles at the older woman's actions, which she found funny.
After a bit, when they both had settled down a little, the pink haired woman lightly pointed down towards the redhead, saying with a smile, "You know, I have a daughter named Sakura. I think she's about your age and you two could be good friends. In fact, she's having her sixth birthday just six days from now."
Tomiko was happy to see the smile grow on her young charge's face as she spoke, but became confused just after. For some reason, when she had mentioned her daughter's sixth birthday coming up, Ranko lost her smile and turned her head away to look at the ground. After a few more steps, she noticed the girl's slumped shoulders jerking a bit and the woman led them to the side of the street before stopping.
"Ranko-chan…" she said softly as she lowered herself closer to the girl with her. Her heart twisted as she heard the sniffling and the look in the watery blue eyes the girl's face held. In an equally soft and motherly voice, Tomiko asked, "What's wrong, dear?"
Raising a hand to wipe at one of her eyes, the redhead sniffled a few times before stammering out, "I-it's… to-day is… my bu-birth-d-day…"
Hearing this, the woman blinked once before her muscles relaxed and she gathered the girl within her arms, "Ohhh… I'm so sorry, baby…" There on the side of the street, she rocked the crying child while enveloping her in a warm hug. The young child in her arms started whimpering out for her mother while Tomiko softly repeated, "I'm so sorry… Just let it out… It's going to be alright…"
The child just cried her troubles out into the woman's green shirt while the minutes passed. Every so often, a woman would pass and give the pair a knowing look and Tomiko would slightly nod in response. Over time though, the child in her arms calmed down, but Tomiko just continued to hug her lightly.
"I'm so sorry, baby…" she repeated, knowing that the child would understand her this time."It's not fair that this happened on your special day." She just felt the child nod in her embrace, which caused her to loosen it and lift the redhead's chin to look into her tear stained blue eyes. "I know I'm not your mother, Ranko-chan, but while you're here, if you want to, you can consider yourself a daughter of mine", she told the redhead with a motherly smile.
Ranko sniffed a few times and wiped her eyes with a hand, still holding onto the woman who held her lightly. After a few seconds, she looked up into green eyes and smiled slightly. "Thanks… Mom..." she replied, to a slightly stunned woman who quickly melted into the happy hug the young child was now giving her. "You're very welcome, Ranko-chan…" she replied softly as she stroked the red hair.
It was a bit later, with the sun lower in the sky yet, before the mother and child continued walking. Fate would have it that this wouldn't be the last time they had to continue their trek home as Tomiko stopped at a street vender after a bit. "Good evening, Tanaka-san", she called out to the shop proprietor. "Can I purchase a stick of dango, please?"
Another woman, called out, "Good evening, Haruno-san", from behind the counter as she turned her gaze towards the entering customer. "Sure, one dango coming right up, and who's this little cutie", she asked, as she looked down at the redhead clinging to Tamiko's pants leg while pulling a stick of dango from a small pan.
"This is Ranko-chan and she's going to be staying with my family for a while", the pink haired woman explained as she handed over some ryu for the sweet rice balls on a stick. Handing the stick of multi-colored sweets to the redhead, she continued talking with the shop owner, "and this is a present for the little birthday girl, who turned six today."
"Well", Tanaka said with surprise, "Happy birthday, Ranko-chan." The redhead just chewed on one of the sweet rice concoctions with a huge smile on her face. The looks on the child's face made the older women laugh at the sight. It wasn't long before the stick was finished off and the woman behind the counter held out another, saying, "This one is my own present to you. I hope you like it."
"Thank you very much", Ranko cried out as she accepted the second stick of dango with a look of delight. This outburst just made the women laugh some more while she tore into the sweets. She was grinning widely with an empty stick in her hand a couple minutes later. Chuckling a little, Tomiko accepted a wet cloth from Tanaka-san and started wiping the young redhead's face.
Sakura looked up from her vase of flowers again to look at the clock on the wall. It was getting late… almost time for dinner and her mother wasn't back yet. Sitting there at the dining table, she placed another flower where she thought it would look nice. 'Maybe because of that visitor', she pondered as she moved the lily a little to the right.
Just after lunch that day, a visitor had come to the house and her mother had asked Sakura to go upstairs for a bit. Sakura had gotten bored after a while and fell asleep on her bed, her picture books all around her. When she awoke a couple hours later, only her father was in the house with her. Whenever she asked where her mother was, her father would just run a hand through his messy brown hair and say, "She'll be back later today, don't worry."
After a couple of times asking, the pink haired girl quickly figured out she was annoying her father and tried to find things to do to occupy her time. The final culmination of that was arranging the flowers on the dinner table while her father cooked away in the kitchen. Peeking around the corner, she giggled a bit at the sight of him in front of the kitchen in a pink apron.
She quickly covered up her giggles by finishing the arrangement though, as her father came out to the table and started setting it. It didn't take her long to figure out what seemed wrong about it. "Otosan, why are you setting four places", she asked as he finished placing the fourth set out.
He just looked at her with his hazel eyes and a smile, "We're having a guest for dinner." His daughter looked at him, obviously not satisfied with the answer, "Who?" He couldn't help but chuckle under his breath as he replied, "You'll find out soon enough, Sakura-chan." The green eyed girl pouted at her father, who just ignored it as he looked at the finished table before heading back into the kitchen.
Sakura would have continued pouting a little longer had she not been interrupted by the familiar voice of her mother calling, "Tadaima!" With a smile, the girl in the red shirt broke away from the table, calling out, "Okaeri, Okasan!" The young girl slid to a stop when she saw her mother at the front door, or more importantly the redhead that nervously held onto her mother's hand.
"Okaeri, Miko-chan", Sakura's father said from behind her as he turned the corner and saw the same sight. "Ah, so this is our little guest, then?"
Tomiko smiled and nodded, "This is Ranko-chan. Ranko, I'd like you to meet my husband, Akira, and my daughter, Sakura." She indicated each with a point of a finger. Sakura gave a small wave which the redhead responded in kind, both grinning a little afterwards. "Sakura, could you take Ranko upstairs and show her your room? I'll come up when dinner is ready."
Sakura smiled up at her mother and replied with a bright, "Hai." She ran up to the redhead and held out a hand, "Do you want to see my room?" With a small smile, Ranko nodded and grabbed the offered hand. A few seconds later, both girls were running up the stairs, with the elder pink haired female yelling at them not to run in the house.
Shaking her head in exasperation, Tomiko looked over to her husband who just grinned at her. She gave him a quirky smile back as she led him back into the kitchen. "So, care to explain what's going on", she heard Akira ask from beside her as she washed her hands in the sink.
Turning off the water and drying her hands, she replied, "The Hokage thought we'd be the best place to have Ranko stay, with Sakura the same age as Ranko." Looking over to the stove, she saw her husband in the pink apron and smiled a bit. She then started on the tea.
"So, what is the situation with Ranko, then? I mean, why does she need to stay with us", Akira calmly asked his wife. He wasn't quite prepared for the long sorrow filled sigh she gave him as she filtered the tea leaves into the pot.
"You know about the summoning techniques they do for ninja gear", she asked, receiving a nod in return. Almost anyone who worked with ninja knew this basic information, the specifics were what were secret. "Well, sometime today, they accidentally summoned her." The sounds of stirring behind her at the stove stopped, "To make it worse, it seems she's missing most of her memory and today's even her birthday…"
"Poor girl…" came the soft reply behind her as the sounds of cooking picked back up. Silence, save for the sounds at the stove, filled the kitchen for a few good moments before Tomiko spoke back up, "You know… after hearing that, I couldn't say no. I mean, what if Sakura just disappeared all of a sudden, wouldn't you want someone to take her in until they could find a way to send her back", she asked, while wiping her moistened eyes.
"I know…" Akira replied, voice broken up a bit, "but, not to sound heartless, but how are we going to afford another growing child?"
Akira's wife let out a soft mirthless chuckle, "That's the only silver lining to this, Aki-kun… The Hokage is paying us an allowance to offset the costs of raising her." After a moment, she signed, "Kami-sama… that sounded so wrong…" Moving over to hug her husband from behind, she whispered, "You know that Ranko can't even remember her own mother?"
She felt his muscles tense as he continued to finish up the night's teriyaki, but didn't say a word, waiting for his wife to finish what was on her mind. "When I found out, she was crying in my arms… I just thought about Sakura and how it would tear my heart in two if I lost her… I don't even want to think about how losing me would hurt her, but… that's what Ranko is going through."
Another few moments of silence was shared between the two, with only the sizzling of the materials in the wok making any noise. "I… I told her, Ranko, that she could consider me her mother while she stays with us…" Tomiko continued, while letting out a sniff. "Then… she smiled and thanked me… and called me 'Mom'", she finished while a tear ran down her face to soak into the back of her husband's brown shirt.
"Well…" Akira finally said, emptying the wok into a bowl, "I guess I'll just have to get used to having two daughters for the time being…" She couldn't see the smile on his face, but she felt it as she hugged him more tightly and laughed lightly while crying happily into his back. A few moments later, he loosened her grip just enough so he could turn around and hug her back, softly stroking her hair while they looked into each other's eyes; smiling hazel into twinkling moist green…
It was a little while later when Tomiko pushed open the door to her daughter's room. The sounds of two young girls giggling brought a smile to her lips as she peeked in a little before fully opening the cream colored door. From what she could see, she saw her daughter sitting on her bed beside a smiling redhead, both girls swishing their feet a little while giggling at something they both found funny.
Smiling a bit more, she pushed the door fully open and stepped in, causing the girls to look up at the mother. "Well, looks like you two are getting along", Tomiko commented with a warm voice. "I bet you two are hungry, though." When both girls nodded back with grins on their faces, she continued, "Alright then, come on and let's wash up."
A quick stop at the sink in the bathroom and all three females headed downstairs, this time without any running on the steps, much to Tomiko's relief. Soon, all three members of the household and their guest sat around a western style dinner table with bowls of food in the center around a small flower display. As Akira and Tomiko started serving the food out, the green eyes of the woman passed from the flower arrangement to her daughter, "Sakura-chan, did you arrange the flowers? They look very pretty." Seeing her child beam at that made the mother happy as she placed the serving bowl down and reached for her chopsticks.
It wasn't but a little bit into the meal before the brown haired man spoke out in an amused voice, "Whoa, there. You can slow down a little, Ranko-chan." Seeing the target girl stopping the activity of shoveling the food into her mouth, he grinned and added, "No one's going to steal the food off your plate and you can have seconds if you are that hungry." The redhead looked from his face to that of his wife's and daughter's before her cheeks flushed a bit. When she started eating again, though, she did slow down to a normal pace. 'Maybe she can actually taste the food now', Akira mused to himself though the grin.
"Aki-kun", his wife's voice picked up, causing him to look to her, "Did you know that today is Ranko-chan's birthday?" He blinked once, but smiled over to the small redhead who was now looking back at them, "No, I didn't…" he lied to play along with his wife, "Well, happy birthday, Ranko-chan. Are you six years old now?"
The blue eyes of the young girl looked off into nothing for a second, as if trying to see something in her own mind. An instant later, she mentally shrugged and nodded back at the man, figuring six was as good a number as any. Anyways, Akira was older than her, so he was probably right. When a young, "Happy birthday", came from her right, Ranko smiled back at Sakura and replied, "Thanks."
The rest of the meal was filled with grown up talk between Akira and Tomiko. The two girls tried to listen in, but it was complicated to understand, having something to do with rebuilding and zoning, so they just busied themselves with eating. Well, that and the intermixed giggles when a piece of food would slip out of their chopsticks and plop back down on their plate.
Eventually, everyone was sated of their hunger and Akira slipped off back into the kitchen a few moments before Tomiko started gathering the empty plates. Before she even finished gathering the plates and picked them up, Akira was back into the dining room with a small bowl in his hands. She smiled at him, knowing what was going to happen at first glance, and he smiled back while walking around the table.
A second later, blue eyes locked onto the bowl placed before her and her jaw dropped open. Sakura leaned over to see better and they both saw the big scoop of white ice cream in the bowl, but more importantly to Ranko, she saw the six small candles sticking out, their tiny flames flickering with her breath.
After a few seconds, Tomiko laughed and told the stunned redhead, "Well, blow them out before it melts." Jerking her head up and around to see the smiling adults, she smiled herself before taking a deep breath and blowing the candles out. Seeing the small tendrils of smoke rising from the extinguished candles, Akira reached over the redhead and pulled them out of the cold white mound. The child needed no further instruction after he then placed a spoon in the bowl with the ice cream.
A few moments later, Sakura also had a cool confection, albeit smaller, place in front of her. The next bit was two adults watching two children enjoying themselves while making a little bit of a mess of their faces. There was much smiling and laughing over those moments from the parents, up until one of the girls let out a big yawn and the other soon followed suit. Sharing a glance with her husband, Tomiko told the children, "Alright, girls. Time to wash up and get ready for bed, you two."
The two children just yawned again and nodded, while the mother ushered them upstairs to the bathroom. After undressing the two young girls and herself, Tomiko started washing her daughters back and hair before moving on to Ranko's. A while later, and a few cold rinses to get the soap out, she led them to the good sized furo where she helped her daughter in first. When she turned to help the redhead in, she saw a nervous look in the girl's eyes, "It's ok, Ranko-chan. Just pretend you're soaking with your mother and sister."
A warm pink haired girl, already in the hot water, let out a giggle which drew the redhead's attention, "Yeah… Nee-chan…" Hearing that, the redhead smiled and was helped into the large tub of water and moved around while Tomiko, herself, got in afterwards. The woman let out a contented sigh as she felt the water relax her muscles, which caused both girls to twitter.
"Oh, you think that's funny, huh", the mother asked, raising an eyebrow. "Come here you two", she playfully said while reaching out to ruffle their hair, causing playful screams to fill the air. They all three broke out into laughter a bit later, before Tomiko settled back to relax once again.
After some time had passed, a knock at the door opened the woman's eyes to see her husband sticking his head in. "Having a good time, girls", Akira asked with a grin on his face. The two children cried out, "Hai", which he and Tomiko smiled at. "That's good to hear", he replied, while placing some folded cloths on a stand near the door, "Miko-chan, I placed some cloths here for you three when you're done."
"Thank you, dear", his wife replied with a smile as he waved and closed the door. Looking over to the red and pink haired girls, she said, "Well, time to get out girls. Your father wants to bathe too." With that, she stood up and stepped out of the furo before helping the two smaller females out. Then, Tomiko quickly wrapped them, then herself, in towels and started drying their hair carefully.
Once they were dry a few minutes later, save for their still damp hair, Tomiko helped Sakura into a set of red pajamas with pink flowers, while Ranko was helped into a set of light green set with very dark green Konoha symbols on it. Once the children were taken care of, the older pink haired female slipped into a set of black sleep shorts and a cream colored long sleep shirt.
Then, holding the hands of the two children, she led them towards Sakura's room while calling out, "Aki-kun, the furo is all yours." As she led the young duo into the girl's room, Tomiko heard, "Thanks, dear", being called back from her husband from their room.
Checking off items of the mental checklist the mother held in her head, she quickly led her daughter to the small chair in her room and had her sit down while having Ranko wait on the bed. Grabbing a comb from atop the dresser, the older pink haired woman worked on the younger's hair, combing out any tangles while trying to help it dry a little more before bed. After a bit, she called Ranko over while sending Sakura to the bed and repeating the same movements, only this time running the comb through red hair.
Hearing the yawns coming from the girl sitting before her and noticing the twitching blinks from her own daughter sitting on the bed, Tomiko quickly finished and led Ranko over to the bed. It was a quick matter of tucking both young girls into the adult sized bed as there were already two pillows and enough room for both their small bodies.
As she finished pulling the covers over the mostly asleep girls, Tomiko kissed each one on the forehead saying, "Goodnight and sleep well." She couldn't help but led out a smile as she turned out the light and heard the quiet twin responses of, "Goodnight, Mom..." behind her, causing the woman to turn around in the darkened room. She stood there and watched the two small forms breathe in their sleep while folding her arms loosely below her chest.
After a while, she felt two familiar arms wrap around her and she leant into her husband's embrace, letting out a contented sigh. Seeing the look in her eyes, Akira reached over and kissed his wife on the cheek from behind. They stood there in silence for a bit, before noticing the two girls shift under the blanket so they ended up facing each other.
"You know", Akira started, gaining the split attention of his wife, "they really do look like they could be sisters…" He just felt his wife silently nod in his embrace as she let out a breath. A grin grew on his face when he looked down at her and asked, "Are you sure we didn't have another kid without telling me?"
"Oh, you", Tomiko replied seeing his grin as she sent a light elbow into his stomach. He just grinned even more at that before they leant together to share a quick kiss. Watching the girls for a little longer, the parents left the children in the bed and walked down the hallway to their own room, turning off the light in the hallway as they went. As the door to the parents' room closed, the house was shrouded in darkness of the night and only the sounds of peaceful sleep could be heard.
End of Chapter 1