One Day After the Chunin Exams

Yet Another Baby Nin Story.

"Day one over," the Kazekage sighed, pulling his bag off of the single pack mule that made the journey down to Konoha with his entourage twice a year. He really hated the Chunin exams. Really, really hated them. The three day journey, the sitting around watching low-level ninjas fight, the three-day journey, the lengthy deliberations, the three-day journey...

"Hi, Daddy!" a bundle he had previously mistaken for his sleeping bag greeted him when he untied it.

The Kazekage jumped backwards. "Temari! What the hell are you doing here?"

"You shouldn't say 'hell', Daddy," the little girl said gravely.

"Never mind that, answer the question!"

"I wanted to go see Konoha with you," she explained innocently. "You never take us along."

"Where are your brothers?"

Temari sighed. "I had to leave them alone with Uncle Yasha... but they'll be ok for a week, right?"

"Of course, Princess."

Temari smiled then, because her father wasn't angry after all.

"I must be getting old," the Hokage laughed when his desert counterpart arrived. "The Sand nins are starting to look so young these days."

Temari giggled, happy to be 'mistaken' for a real ninja.

"Hokage-sama, this is my oldest, Temari," her father introduced her. "I apologize for bringing her without notice, but she snuck into my luggage,"

The Hokage laughed again. Temari liked him; she had never met anyone so happy. "A little stow-away, huh?" he asked her with a wink. "No need to apologize, Kaz, we're happy to have her. I didn't know you had kids."

"Yes, I have kids," the Kazekage growled. Temari got the impression that he told the Hokage this on a regular basis. "I have three kids."

"No kiddin'? Are you even married?"

"I was," the Kazekage told him archly. "For ten years."

"She finally leave your sorry, overworked ass?"

"No. She died."

"... Oh. Well, I feel like an asshole now."

"So, Temari, how did you like the tournament?" the Hokage asked her after the final ceremony was through and people were beginning to leave the stands. She smiled from her father's lap.

"Is she allowed in the panel?" the Kazekage asked uncertainly.

"Probably not... Maybe you could leave her with one of the Suna ninjas?"

The Kazekage nodded and picked up his daughter. "Princess, Daddy and the Hokage have to go to a meeting now to decide who makes Chunin, so I'm going to drop you off with Rando now, ok?"

"Why can't I come?"

"I'm sorry, but we have to meet in private."

"Was there someone you liked, Temari-chan?" the Hokage asked.

Temari nodded. "I liked the little boy."

"Me too," the Kazekage agreed. "He was very good, wasn't he? I'll recommend him for you, ok?"

"Thank you, Daddy," Temari said sweetly.

"Temari, tell me if you see Rando, ok?" the Kazekage asked, leading his daughter through the crowded stadium and occasionally checking his watch. "Temari?"

Temari pointed over at a group nearby. "Daddy? What are they doing?"

It was a family, a mother and father embracing a young boy, all with the same dark hair and eyes.

"They're hugging him."

Temari was puzzled by this. "Why?"

"I expect they're proud of him. That's the boy from the tournament that we liked, isn't it? They're probably pleased that he did so well, especially at his age."

Temari stared very hard at the boy and his family. She watched with an unfamiliar, unidentifiable pang as a little boy about Gaara's age ran up to the older boy shouting, "Good job, Nii-san!"

The older boy poked the younger one's forehead, knocking him back before he could get close, then laughed and embraced him. Temari kept watching the two brothers until her gaze caught the attention of the older one. His head snapped up, and their eyes met. He smiled at her, but Temari turned away quickly, sticking her nose up in the air, unsure why she was so embarrassed to be caught staring.

"Daddy," she asked as her father maneuvered them through the crowd. "If I make Chunin next year, will you be proud of me?"

Her father's eyes softened a little (he never smiled). "I am proud of you, Temari. I'm proud of both— all my children."

"Then why don't you ever hug us?" Temari asked quietly, but he was busy checking his watch to make sure he wasn't late for the meeting.

Itachi's family talked about the tournament and he should have done this move on that guy and when will he know if he made Chunin and what should they eat for dinner that night to celebrate, they could have anything he wanted, but he was barely listening to their chatter. His mind was on the little girl in the crowd with the proud bearing of a queen and the lost look of an orphan. He wondered who she was, where she was from, and if he would ever see her again.