Disclaimer: Sadly, neither Inuzuka Hana nor Shiranui Genma belong to me. Shiranui Sekeri (and the idea behind this fic) belong to Chevira Lowe. Katsu, Akira, Amaya, Inuzuka Kumi, and Kawamaru are, to some degree, my own.

Author's Note: Another fic inspired by the interaction between Genma and Hana on the Naruto RPG Ima Made Nandamo and by Chevira Lowe's incredible Genma. You should probably read my fic Fangs: Genma and Hana, Take 1 to get some of the background for this story, but it's not necessary. Just remember that Genma is about 10 years older than Hana, and that Kumi is Hana's cousin and Genma's teammate.


Immortality

Inuzuka Hana went to the funeral on her own, on a day so cold and grey that even her puppies whined fretfully as the wind cut through their fur. She stood small and quiet at the back of the little crowd, with Katsu in her arms and Akira and Amaya huddled on her feet. The dogs didn't understand many of the words that were spoken—and neither did Hana, to tell the truth, because even if she knew exactly how to throw a kunai to lodge in the femoral artery, she still didn't know what "eulogy" meant—but they could sense the sadness in the air. They smelled the grief as a thick cloud of bitter smoke that hung over the mourners, and they kept still and silent as the last of Shiranui family trickled away. The oldest brother had long since vanished, but the mother lingered, weeping silently at her daughter's memorial. Hana watched impassively. Even at five, she knew better than to cry.

Genma never came.

And so when at last Shiranui-san had left, too worn out to weep anymore, Hana stayed and burned the scene into her mind. A thin white slab of stone in the civilian cemetery, because Shiranui Sekeri had never had the chance to become a ninja, had died of sickness in bed instead of a wound in the field. She hadn't known Sekeri well—Hana was only in her first year at the Academy, and Sekeri had been in her fourth before she got too sick to continue—but she came and she stayed because Genma couldn't. Genma was off on a mission with Kumi and Tahiro and their sensei, and maybe he was fighting and maybe he was dying, and even though she'd always thought Genma and Kumi were immortal, when Genma's sister died and he wasn't there, Hana knew they weren't.

She went home when it began to snow, with Akira and Amaya trotting soberly at her heels and Katsu still curled in her arms. He stretched his head up once, just far enough to lick her cheek reassuringly. She held him a little tighter, and she thought that before Genma left on his last mission, Sekeri must have kissed him on the cheek like that.

Did he know, yet, that his little sister would never kiss him again?

That night she was unusually quiet at dinner, and when her mother laid her hand over her swelling belly and said that she was beginning to feel the baby kick, and that come summertime Hana would have a little brother or sister to play with—Hana jumped up from the table and ran to her room. Shinobi did not cry, but alone in the darkness of her room, with Katsu curled up against her chest and Akira and Amaya warming her back, she let the tears come, let herself sob quietly into the living pillow who never squirmed or snapped however hard she clutched him, but who only licked the tears away and tried to tell her that things would be all right.

Katsu was a terrible liar.

Kumi's team came back to Konoha sixteen days later, in the middle of the night. Hana wasn't sure if she was glad for that, because while it meant that she didn't know until after school the next day that they had returned, it also meant that she didn't have to see Kumi's dog Kawamaru staggering beside the stretcher with blood matting his grey fur and one paw almost severed. She didn't have to see Kumi lying deathly still on the stretcher his sensei had made of stripped branches, and she didn't have to see the dog tags dangling limply from his sensei's fingers as he held them out to Tahiro's mother. She didn't have to see the look in Genma's eyes when they told him that his sister was dead and his brother was gone and his mother was about to lose her home because she was two months behind on her rent.

They were fifteen years old, chuunin of the Hidden Leaf, and they had never believed in immortality.