The Fourth Great Ninja War had ended, and the Village Hidden in the Leaves was doing its best to return to normal. Everyone in the community was working hard to rebuild their home, and rumors had begun to spread around the village that Hatake Kakashi was going to become the Sixth Hokage. He was filled with uncertainty about taking the position after losing his sharingan eye that had been on loan from Obito all these years. Lady Tsunade was breathing down his neck to accept his new position as the father of Konohagakure, but Kakashi was now unsure of his ability to protect the place he calls home and its inhabitants. He, after all, was not a father, and while he had been prepared to die to save his comrades hundreds of times in the past, he did not have anyone to call his own to protect. Confused and conflicted Kakashi avoided assuming his new inevitable position, much to the chagrin to Lady Tsunade.
Lady Tsunade sat at her desk that day in her office wondering if her letter had arrived safely and hoping against hope that the receiver would be willing to return home to the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Tsunade firmly believed that without the young woman's help she may never be able to talk Kakashi into taking over for her. As thoughts of bathhouses, gambling, and sake ran through her mind a white bird swooped into her office and out again all the while dropping a scroll on Tsunade's desk. The scroll read "If you insist my lady. I'll be home in two weeks' time." Tsunade leaned back in her chair with a smile stretched out across her face basking in the glow of the warm sun, and daydreaming about her retirement.
Two weeks later, as Tsunade was leaving her offices for an afternoon walk she looked up into the clear blue sky, and in the distance, she could see it. She saw Tori, an incredibly large orange, red, and yellow bird heading toward the village. Aiko was almost here, and while Tsunade may have told a white lie or two to get her here, she was sure it was all for the best.
As the bird approached the village, Might Guy and Kakashi were just sitting down for some dumplings, Kakashi trying to get Guy the stop pestering him to become Hokage. Guy had been screaming about the power of youth all afternoon, and Kakashi thought that maybe having something to chew on would stop the incessant prattling, if only for a few minutes. No sooner had Kakashi had this thought did Guy spit out the dumping he was chewing into Kakashi's face to scream "Is that Tori?" "Kakashi, did you know about this?" Kakashi wiped the dumpling off of his face with a napkin and turned to look up. "Yes, yes, it is, and no I didn't." He said to Guy in a quiet thoughtful voice. Kakashi had not seen Tori nor her summoner in about a decade, and he wondered why she would come back now since not even the war was enough to get her attention.
Kakashi turned back to Guy, well aware of what he was about to hear. "Kakashi, Kakashi, Kakashi, this is great!" Guy announced while picking up more dumplings, "She should be here in a few minutes, we should go greet her at the gates." Kakashi scratched the back of his head sheepishly, closing both of his eyes in the process and said, "I'm not so sure I'm who she wants to see when she arrives Guy." Guy swallowed the rest of his dumplings at once and looked at Kakashi with a wide set grin on his face. "Even if she doesn't want to see you, I know you'd like to see her, Kakashi. Do what the power of youth tells you and follow your heart!" With that Guy rolled out of the dumpling shop in his wheelchair, on his way to greet his old friend.
Kakashi sat in the dumpling shop a while longer only playing with his food. Playing over his last encounter with Aiko in his head. How did I allow it to go so far? Why did I let her get away from me? Kakashi was rubbing his temples, trying to make a decision when Naruto came running up from behind him. "Master Kakashi! Have you seen the bird flying toward the village? Come check it out with me." Naruto placed his one hand on Kakashi's shoulder trying to shake him out of his thoughts.
"Come on already, what are you doing? We need to get to the front gate to make sure everything with this bird is on the up and up for Grandma Tsunade." Kakashi finally opened his eyes and looked up at Naruto, "There's nothing to worry about, that bird is the summoning of a comrade." Naruto looked surprised, "You know them then, Master Kakashi?" Kakashi sighed looking up at the ceiling of the dumpling shop, "Yes, I knew her a long time ago." Naruto invited Kakashi to come with him once more, but he declined, saying he was on his way home to read.
Naruto ran off in the direction of the front gate, while Kakashi walked away in the opposite direction in order to think things through some more.
When Naruto arrived at the front gate the giant bird that resembled the colors of fire was standing in the middle of the road, and a woman was jumping off its' head. As she jumped to the ground her long raven hair blew in the breeze. She landed on both feet, and the bird leaned its' head down to be pet. Naruto saw Master Guy, Rock Lee, and Sakura standing together, also admiring the bird, so he went running over. "Hey Master Guy, Lee, Sakura, do you know who this woman is?" Guy looked up at Naruto with a trademark Might Guy smile on his face, "I guess it makes sense that you guys wouldn't remember her, you were all still very young when she left the village ten years ago. She is an incredibly strong kunoichi, Aiko, and that bird there is her summons, Tori." Naruto turned to look at the bird one last time as it turned into a white puff of smoke.
Sakura looked at Master Guy, "Why did she leave the village? Where has she been? Why is she back now?" Rock Lee continued with Sakura's sentiment, "Are we sure we can trust someone who has left the village for so long?" Might Guy looked up at his young protégée and his friends, "Huddle in close because this information is top secret," Guy screamed on the top of his lungs, "She chose to leave the village ten years ago to complete missions and espionage work in faraway lands for the Leaf Village." Naruto shook his head confused, "Why couldn't she just complete missions and come back like everyone else? Why would she choose to leave her home for ten years?" Guy smirked, "Well, she had a falling out with an ex-boyfriend and decided she couldn't stay here any longer. That's when she offered to go off to complete such missions for the Third Hokage, who agreed."
Sakura blinked a few times confused, "Well who is this ex-boyfriend she wanted to escape from so badly." The kids thought they had never seen Guy with a smile so wide and a face so red, "Well, that would be no other than your Master Kakashi." All three of the kids' mouths dropped wide open in shock. "Wh- wh- what! M- M- Master Kakashi with a girlfriend?" Naruto sputtered out. "How could we not know, what could have happened between them that was so terrible she left for an entire decade?" Sakura pondered out loud. "How was this secret kept from me for so long," Lee screeched, "Master Guy how could you not inform me of this imperative piece of gossip!" The kids sputtered out more questions, but Guy waved them off telling them if they want more information, they'd have to wring it out Kakashi themselves. With this Guy rolled off towards Aiko and Lady Tsunade yelling his greetings.
Sakura, Lee, and Naruto all went running off to find Master Kakashi.
Kakashi was sitting under his favorite tree with an Icha Icha book held in front of his face, but he wasn't reading it. He was thinking of Aiko, he was thinking of Aiko laughing while he and Guy were racing across the village, Aiko when she would run her fingers through his hair as they'd lay next to each other in bed, Aiko when she was screaming at him with tears running down her face. He was in the middle of that last unhappy memory when he heard his name being called. Kakashi looked up from the page he wasn't reading to see Sakura, Naruto, and Lee running towards him, waving their arms in the air, and screaming his name. By the time they reached him, they were all bent over, hand on their knees gasping for air.
"Yes?" Kakashi said coolly.
"Is-is it true Master Kakashi? What Master Bushier Brow told us about you and that woman? Is it true?" Naruto spit out between deep breaths.
"MASTER KAKASHI! YOU MUST TELL US NOW!" Lee screamed in Kakashi's face.
"Well," Kakashi said brushing one of his hands through his hair, "I guess that depends on what he told you."
"He said that she was your ex-girlfriend!" Sakura shouted out.
With that, Kakashi made a hand sign and disappeared in a cloud of white smoke leaving the three young shinobi exhausted and irritated.
As Kakashi was slipping away from the younger shinobi, Might Guy was talking to Aiko.
"Aiko, Aiko, long time no see how have you been?" Guy said while arching his eyebrows at her.
"Well, I guess I'm as good as I could be," Aiko stated flatly, "How are you holding up Guy?"
"I Might Guy, the red dragon of the leaf is magnificent! If you're referring to my leg, I can do more with one leg than most men can do with two because I have the Power of Youth!"
Aiko rubbed both of her temples with one hand, she had momentarily forgotten about Guy's intense behavior. "Oh Guy, of course, I never doubted you." She flashed him one of her small sweet smiles that Guy was so fond of.
"So, what are you doing back here anyway?" Guy said while scratching his head, "In all honesty I never expected you to come back here to us Aiko."
"Well, it wasn't really up to me." Aiko sighed and started pointing her thumb at Lady Tsunade, "I was summoned here."
Lady Tsunade chuckled, "Yes I did, and it's about time that we got down to business. Excuse us Guy."
Before walking away to follow Lady Tsunade, Aiko bent down to give Guy a kiss on the cheek, "I did miss you Guy, it was nice to see you." Guy blushed, and Aiko ran after the Hokage.
Once in the Hokage's office, they shut the door behind them and Tsunade took a seat. "Are you happy to be home Aiko?" Tsunade asked with her hands clasped together under her chin.
"Tell me why I'm here Lady Tsunade. I do not intend to stay one moment more than I need to." Aiko said with an edge to her voice.
"And why is that? It's been ten years; you've done good work for the village. You have proven yourself time and time again Aiko. The war is over, and there are no looming threats, it's time you came home." Tsunade said this while carefully eyeing the young woman in her office. Aiko was in almost thirty but could pass for much younger. Her years of wandering hadn't aged her.
Aiko sighed while again rubbing both of her temples with one hand. "This has not been my home for a long time. I haven't had a home in ten years Lady Tsunade, by my own choice. There is nothing for me here, so there's no reason for me to stay. Is this why you summoned me here? To try to convince me to stay?"
Tsunade pursed her lips, "I saw you say goodbye to Guy, wouldn't it be nice to be around some of your old friends? I called you back here because I see no reason for you to be gone any longer. The Third honored your request, but I don't have to." Tsunade slammed her fist onto the desk but was careful not to break it in half.
Aiko was beginning to get agitated, "Are you saying I have to stay? You left the village once, are you really telling me you'd try to stop me if I did the same thing."
"I'm not saying anything of the sort," Lady Tsunade said trying to remain calm, "Kurenai had Asuma's baby you know, just stay a little while. Stay a week and see how it feels. We can talk after that."
Aiko glared at Tsunade "What is this Tsunade? You summon me here, and there's not even a reason for it. This is absurd, and you know it." Aiko was almost yelling at the end.
Tsunade took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Two weeks, stay two weeks and if you're not happy you can leave and I won't stop you."
"Why is this so important to you? Why do you care if I stay or if I go?" Aiko was slightly calmer than before.
"Will you just trust me? If you stay the two weeks I won't try and force you to stay, just see what it's like living among friends again. No one should be left to wander this world alone. I know you haven't had an easy life, and I understand the reason you left. I need you to trust me and give the idea a chance."
Aiko was rubbing both temples again, "You have two weeks Lady Tsunade. Two weeks to do whatever it is you're planning." Aiko went to leave, but turned around one more time, "Prior to leaving here most of the men in my life met me with violence and cruelty. He was supposed to be different, but he turned into one of them. It is easier for me to not have to see him, Lady Tsunade. It hurts too much to have to look him in the eyes because I trusted him with my heart and he ripped it out. Living without friends is better than what his eyes can make me feel."
"Two weeks, just give it two weeks, Aiko, please." Lady Tsunade said while sliding a key across her desk towards Aiko. "Your apartment is still there, it probably needs a good spring cleaning, but all the belongings you left behind are still there."
"Fine," Aiko said pointedly, grabbing the key while rolling her eyes and storming out of the room.
Tsunade wasn't thrilled with the way the meeting had gone, but at least Aiko would stay for the time being. Hopefully, two weeks would be enough time to push them together a little bit. The babies would be cute, she thought to herself while smiling.
Aiko had an idea about what Tsunade was doing, she just didn't understand her reasoning. There was no possible explanation for Tsunade to want Aiko and Kakashi together. Aiko rubbed both of her temples with one hand on the way to her old apartment.