Konoha is a wonderful peaceful village. The multileveled city grows in and around the forest that dominated the land before the city was founded, and still exists jutting up through the walkways and between the buildings of my home.

The massive trees, which are native to this area, give us cooling shade in the heat of the summer and protection from the wind and snow in the chill winters. Due to the Ninja academy and those who graduate from it, we are constantly protected and most problems are dealt with swiftly and efficiently.

There is little crime, friendly people and nothing to do.

Hence when I woke one fine Saturday morning to find that my Mom had gone out to a friends house and left me no chores, no errands, no money and no way to get permission to visit a friends house.

Konoha was the safest village in the country but she still acted as if I had been kidnapped every time I forgot to tell her where I was going. Leaving a note didn't count, it could be written by the kidnapper for all she knew. Then by the time she realized I wasn't home it would be too late. My father would be devastated, she wouldn't know what to do.

You just had to be careful for those kinds of things, we did live in a Ninja village after all. Only the worst could happen if anything.

I was on my third circle around the halls of my house when I decided that a short jaunt to the local bookstore and back wouldn't be noticed. My best friend's family owned the store so I was more or less a favored patron with a continuous discount on most items available. I helped there sometimes during the week just to talk with Kanoi who felt after the first couple of visits that I might as well start getting store credit.

The store was still closed this early in the morning; Kanoi was already setting up the store though, and let me in.

"Hi Akiko, want to help me stock the shelves? We just got a new shipment."

The box of new books was almost empty. "Sure, but only for a little bit. Mom ran out this morning and practically grounded me. Do you have to work today? I could really use the company."

Kanoi grinned and shook her head. "No can do. It's a Saturday, are you sure you can't work? We could use the help."

I rolled my eyes. "What and run the risk of my Mom sending out a search party? Thanks but no. I'd like to walk unescorted by the time I'm thirty."

"Come on then, there's just these last few to stack."

I followed her to the back corner of the store. "Any interesting ones?"

She grinned mischievously at me. "You're spending the entire day at home right?"

I raised my eyebrow as she handed me a paperback. "That bad huh?"

She snickered as a wicked gleam entered her eye. "That good. Seventh volume of the series but it can stand on its own. I read it last night, don't tell my dad."

I grinned back. "Well, take it from my credit then." I stuffed the book in my pocket and grabbed another one from the cooking section telling her to add it as well, Mom's birthday was coming up. We shelved the last of the boxes contents and wandered to the front of the store just as the clock hit eight.

We traded the usual pleasantries, 'hope you have a nice day' 'don't let the customers try and read in the isles' 'try not to burn down the house'.

I flipped the sign to Open as I walked out, holding the door for their first customer as he headed inside. Then tucking my hands into my pockets I headed home.

"The new shipment came in today right?"

The girl behind the counter smiled cheerfully. "Just this morning, they're all on the shelves already."

"Thank you."

Walking purposeful through the bookcases he made his way to the fiction area and crouched to peer at the shelf. The latest edition his favorite series had arrived; he had a personal guarantee from the owner that they had ordered it. Smiling happily in anticipation he scanned past the rest of the series only to find a different series right after the sixth book.

Odd. He must have missed it.

...or maybe not. Smoothly he stood and made his way back to the counter, the girl had cracked open a book and was leaning against the wood intently absorbed. He cleared his throat.

"I was expecting the arrival of a book today but it doesn't appear to be on your shelf." He explained.

She blinked at him twice. "All the books arrived, are your sure you're looking in the right place?"


"Well, I'm sorry but it must have already been sold out."

"But it arrived today, I was the first one here."

She stared at him, he stared at her. Something clicked.

He was out the door as an expression of shocked realization spread over her face.

I flipped through the cookbook scanning for the too-exotic recipes that I would prevent right off the bat by ripping the pages out. I was studying a particularly toxic looking eggplant when a pair of sandals appeared in the small bit of road I could see beyond the book. Not bothering to look up I merely shifted to the side.

They sidestepped with me.

I glanced up.

Forehead protector, vest, armored gloves a Jounin. Oh great. I gave his one visible eye a cheesy smile.

"Can I help you?" I chirped.

"You could give me that book you bought." was the quick reply.

I stepped back in surprise. "What book?" I asked dumbly.

I watched with no lack of panic as he motioned towards the bulge in my front pocket.

I felt heat rise to my cheeks as I remembered Kanoi's warnings "I bought it." I stated, crossing arms over the lump defensively. "Why would I give it to you?"

"Because I've been waiting for it for three months?"

"Patience is a virtue, I got to it first. Excuse me." I stepped to the right. He stepped mirrored me.

"Because it'll make me very happy, and you're a nice person?"

I studied what was visible of his face including the blue mask that took over half of it, the angled forehead protector and shock of silver hair falling out from under it. The smile dropped off my face. "I don't think so."


I stared at him, he had to be what? Thirty? Forty?

A senior citizen? He did have white hair.

"I bought it, and I am not giving it to you. Go away." I tried to step around him. Blocked, over and over. Did I mention that I dislike ninjas? Huffing I spun around, if I couldn't get home I'd go and hang out with Kanoi until he left. He appeared less than six inches in front of me. I glared at the scroll pockets in his vest.

"I help protect the village, and you're refusing me such a simple thing?" he demanded.

I narrowed my eyes. "I've heard that one before, he didn't get a free meal either." I snapped.

He laughed. I took deep breaths, reminding myself that even if I tried to punch him he'd most likely block it. Jounin remember?

"Because it's my birthday?"

I had a list on the back of my bedroom door why I hated ninjas. When I got home I was going to draw his face at the bottom. Then an idea came to mind... Sighing dramatically I shrugged.

"Alright, fine. Just leave me alone alright?" I asked sullenly.

"It's a deal!"

I shoved the cookbook into his waiting hands and spun around sprinting the last twenty feet to my front door and slamming it behind me. It stayed closed. Chuckling to myself I faced the hallway and froze before scowling.

The silver-haired Jounin was standing in the foyer arms crossed, the cookbook dangling from his left hand. He didn't look happy at all. But his bad mood helped mine enormously. I felt sadistic satisfaction.

"Hey! You agreed to leave me alone remember?"