Mika was a seven year old with short hair the color of the full moon which she was named for and eyes darker than the night sky. She lived with her mother in a small country house a days walk from Konoha, the village which her mother served as a kunoichi.
Tonight she was roaming the fields surrounding their home with the four-tailed silver wolf that served as her guardian when her mother was in Konoha. Tomo had lost most of his powers including immortality to Akatsuki when he lost his older twin the five-tailed red wolf. The only thing he had maintained was a smaller version of his form and legendary cunning. Mika had rescued him from a few hunters as a small child by flinging herself onto the large "dog" and her mother had beaten the men to a pulp for threatening her daughter. They hadn't been able to get rid of him since.
Mika scooped up the night-flowers that she had been gathering, and stood, tangling her fingers into the Tomo's ruff of fur. "It's time to go in, boy. Kaa-san will be home soon."
"You had better be in bed before she is then," the wolf nudged her forward impatiently. "She threatened to turn one of my tails into a fur scarf if she found out that I let you stay up late again and knowing your mother, she'd do it too."
"Poor Tomo," Mika crooned, scratching behind his tears. "You'd still look handsome . . . even with three tails."
"Impertinent child. Go to bed." The wolf began chasing Mika, toning down its speed just enough for the little girl to have a chance. Mika was laughing so hard that the wolf caught her barely halfway across the field and just scooped her up onto his back before continuing towards home.
Fifteen minutes later, Mika was curled up in her bed, feigning sleep as the front door opened almost perfectly silent. She heard the faint footsteps on the stairs, her mother skipping the creaky third one out of habit. Mika buried her face in the large wolf's fur as the door to her bedroom opened soundlessly. Her mother crossed the room and brushed a kiss across Mika's forehead before carding her fingers through the fluffy silver hair.
Mika stirred and faking sleepiness, whispered, "Kaa-san?"
"Yes, Mika. Go to sleep. I'll tell you about the mission in the morning." Her mother pulled the blanket farther up over her shoulders and then tugged on one of Tomo's tails. The wolf's eyes flew open as it yelped. Anko snickered at his offended look. "You're lucky it's too warm to wear scarves right now. Mika's bedtime is nine o'clock, not midnight."
"It's not my fault the brat didn't inherit a respect for authority. It's you and her father's for not having that gene to begin with," the wolf muttered resentfully, tucking his tails firmly out of Anko's reach, and licking the tweaked one before licking Mika's face in apology for calling her a brat. Mika giggled and hugged him. Anko just laughed.
"Good night, you two. Get some sleep." Anko paused at the dresser long enough to light one of the candles kept there, all cut to last exactly eight hours. "I'll tell you about the newest gennin at breakfast if I don't hear a single peep out of you between now and then."
"Night, Mika. Night Tomo."
Anko stumbled down the stairs the next morning, cursing sunlight. Falling into her seat at the table, she blearily watched the four-tailed wolf finish breakfast, occasionally borrowing her seven year old daughter's hands for the tasks he had been unable to find an adaptation for. As Tomo carefully supervised Mika pouring the hot coffee, Anko shook her head and managed one coherent thought in her sleep-muddled brain. "This family is so messed up. My daughter and the dog cook breakfast."
Mika giggled, placing the cup in her mother's hands. "Drink your coffee, Kaa-san. It will make you feel better."
Tomo shook his head and answered her in an amused voice. "You eat enough of that stuff in Konoha. I won't support the habit here."
"But dango is good, Tomo-chan," Anko whined. "Let Anko have her dango."
"No. You're setting a bad example for Mika. Stop it."
Anko sulked into her coffee while the wolf and Mika ate their breakfast. Finally, she gave in and started in on hers. "So Iruka graduated twenty-seven students, but only nine of them continued on as gennin. Kurenai has a shy little girl from the Hyuuga clan, one of those Aburame heirs, and the Inuzuka boy who tried to tame Tomo a few years back on one of his errands." Tomo growled. Mika giggled and offered him a piece of her bacon to soothe his pride. "Asuma got the bossy little Yamanka girl, the Akimichi heir, and the lazy Nara boy."
"I know him," Mika piped up. "He's the one who was sleeping in the field halfway between here and Konoha. Tomo was running and tripped over him."
"I did not trip," Tomo protested. "I am a four-tailed wolf demon. I don't trip."
"Well, that's what it looked like!" Mika shot back. Then she turned back to Anko. "I thought he was dead at first because he didn't move or say anything. So I leaned over him to take his pulse, and he grabbed my wrist and said 'I'm alive, no thanks to your troublesome dog.' Then he went back to sleep without even opening his eyes once."
"Why does everyone think I'm a dog?" Tomo muttered, burying his head under his paws. "I don't look like a dog. I have four tails. How could anyone confuse me with a dog?"
Anko reached down and patted his head. "Well, you hide three of them when you're around other people, and the Inuzukas are famous for their half-breed wolf dogs, so it's an honest mistake." She leaned back in her seat, nursing her second cup of coffee. "Kakashi has the last Uchiha survivor, some little girl named Haruno, and the Kyuubi container, Uzumaki Naruto."
Mika's head perked up. "Does he have nine tails?" she asked.
Anko choked on her coffee. "What?"
"Tomo has four," Mika pointed out.
"Tomo is a demon . . . sort of," Anko reminded her. "Naruto didn't turn into a fox just because he has the fox inside of him. He isn't the Kyuubi, remember?"
Mika scoffed. "I know that. But Tomo lost his powers and kept his tails, so why shouldn't Naruto have tails too since the Kyuubi is inside of him?"
Anko tilted her head to the side. "You know, that actually has a certain logic to it. But he doesn't have tails. He's a regular human little boy except for the whisker scars on his face."
"Oh, okay." Mika slid out of her seat and reached for her sandals. "Can I go outside now? I want to find that funny little yellow bird's nest."
"Get out of here, brat. I'll be out as soon as I get dressed."
Anko was sitting in one of the lounges reserved for jounins in the Hokage tower teasing Gai about his 'adorable' future student when Tomo burst in with a silver-haired jounin at his heels. This was not a sight she was prepared for, but then all thoughts of Kakashi vanished when Tomo gave her his message. "She's sick. Really sick and the old woman can do nothing. You need to come."
Anko was out the window and across the village before Tomo and Kakashi caught up to her. "Go away, Kakashi," Anko gritted between her teeth.
"I can help."
"You're not a medic nin. Stay out of my way."
"Who is she?"
"My little sister," Anko lied. "An old woman outside of town watches her for me." Kakashi didn't say another word, but continued to follow her. Anko ignored him since the barrier would keep him out. She turned the day's walk into a two hour dead run only drawing on her chakra when absolutely necessary. She would need that to take care of Mika. She saw the house up ahead, and put on another burst of speed, leaving Kakashi behind as she passed through the barrier with Tomo on her heels. Kakashi had stopped suddenly and was probably staring at the warded open space that others saw. It didn't matter to Anko as she sprinted into her house and rushed to her daughter's bedside.
The old woman hastily moved out of her reach and held out a small handful of red berries. "I brought them for our lunch."
Anko snarled, knocking them from the civilian's hands. "Those are poisonous, you old hag. Get out!" Gathering green healing chakra to her hands, she gently propped her four year old daughter up and slid her hands over Mika's limbs before concentrating on her stomach, summoning the poison to her hand. Healing wasn't her specialty, but one of the few useful things Orichimaru had taught her was poison summoning, antidotes, and personal healing. Once she had removed what little of the poison that hadn't been absorbed into the bloodstream already, the only thing she could do was wait for the toxin to run its course and the fever to do its work. She kicked off her sandals and shin guards before crawling into the bed next to her child to wait it out with Mika. Mika was supposed to be safe here, but the civilian woman wasn't enough of a guardian. First those hunters and now poisonous plants. She saw silver fur in the doorway, the same color as her daughter's hair, hair inherited from her father.
"Tomo," she called and the wolf padded over. Anko patted the bed on the other side of Mika. "You can stay. If you'll protect Mika, you can stay."
The wolf leapt onto the bed and nodded solemnly. "I owe her my life. I'll use it to guard hers." There was silence for a moment before Tomo spoke up. "The silver-haired human still sits outside of the barrier. He does not know of his offspring, does he?"
Anko shook her head, and there was silence again as they waited for the silver-haired child to wake up.
Anko sat up abruptly automatically stifling her panic and slowing her breathing. Her surroundings bled back into her consciousness, and she looked around for her daughter. Mika was crouching next to the small pond having a serious conversation with the bullfrog she had found there. Tomo looked up from his resting place beside his ward and padded over to Anko.
Anko petted him absently as she was still thinking about the past. His voice dragged her back to the present. "Bad dream?"
Anko shrugged. "I thought I'd stick around for a little while this time. Take a break from missions and train Mika a little bit. Don't want her to start the Academy unprepared."
"So you have told the silver-haired human?"
Anko rubbed at the back of her neck, ignoring the twinge of pain from her curse seal as she did so. "Not exactly."
Tomo shook his head gravely before settling himself with his head in Anko's lap. She obediently began scratching behind his ears. "There's no way he could miss her in Konoha. He'll find out."
Anko snickered. "You don't know how fond he is of that book. There is the possibility that he could completely miss her presence for two or three years."
Tomo regarded her seriously from his gold-streaked black eyes. "It would be better if you told him. He camped out beside the barrier for two days straight and you gave him no explanation," he lectured.
Anko took her hand away. "As a glorified puppy dog, you have no right to give me relationship advice, Tomo. It's bad enough that you convinced me to send her to the academy. The whole point of living out here was so that he could never find out about Mika."
"I am Tomo, the four-tailed wolf demon, for all of your teasing about being your pet, and as such, I am older and wiser than all of you involved. Mika hides her genius well, but it is there and it must be properly trained. You've hidden something very important from the silver-haired human for over seven years. Someday secrets are going to come out and you aren't going to like the consequences."
Anko glared back at the wolf, but eventually caved. "I hate when your arguments make more sense than mine do," she griped. "You always pull that immortal and millennia old card."
"Shut up, Anko," the wolf replied, returning his head to her lap. "And scratch my ears."
In Konoha, Hatake Kakashi had just passed the first gennin team he had ever been offered. Now he had to live with the consequences of taking on two constantly quarreling boys and a lovesick girl. One of which was protecting Naruto from Sakura's fists while keeping a good grasp on Sasuke's shirt so he couldn't disappear. Finally making it into the Hokage's office, he caught Iruka's attention and passed off the blonde to the academy teacher. "Mission Accomplished, Hokage-sama."
"Excellent. Take the rest of the day off."
Kakashi turned Sasuke loose a second before the Uchiha boy turned into a log, and Naruto's scandalized yelp preceded the blonde boy's chase directly out the window. Sakura followed after shortly screaming loud enough at Naruto to be heard throughout the village. Kakashi sank into the closest chair and muttered, "I want a raise."
"Train them faster," the Hokage suggested from his desk where he worked on his paperwork. "I think Sakura could benefit from a little boost in her skills. Would you object to Anko taking her on a training trip?"
"It might drive a point that isn't Sasuke-related through the girl's skull," Kakashi muttered. "But I haven't seen Anko-san in over a week. I assumed she was out on a mission."
"No," Iruka spoke up, searching his files rapidly. "She's actually been out of contact for a week. That odd wolf summons came through with a request for some time off."
"Wolf summons? You think that's what it is?" Kakashi questioned.
Iruka shrugged. "What else could it be?"
Kakashi let the point go. Iruka didn't know that Anko had a snake summoning contract, or that the wolf came for Anko as often as it was sent by Anko. "Let me know when she gets back. I'll talk to her about taking Sakura camping in the Forbidden Forest."
"What will you do with the boys while Anko has Sakura?" Iruka asked.
Kakashi grinned. "My house needs to be painted, and the dogs tore up the backyard last time I forgot to dismiss them. They won't get bored." Before the chunnin could protest, Kakashi disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Mika leapt a solid foot in the air when her mother appeared in a puff of smoke immediately behind her. "Kaa-san!"
"What are you supposed to be doing, Mika?"
"Training with kunai," Mika sulked.
"And what are you actually doing?"
"Working on my katon jutsu without supervision," Mika sighed and retrieved her weapons from her hip pouch and resumed throwing them at the target rather than setting the target on fire. It would be a long afternoon.