Author's Notes: After over 6 months of crippling writer's block...I have returned. Read the Author's Notes at the beginning of "A Vengeful Darkness"; everything I said there still stands.

I'm pretty sure this story won't be as epic or as long as AVD, but hopefully it'll still be to your liking. Feedback and patience are greatly appreciated. Thank you, and enjoy the story.

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"Heh, look at the little baby with the fat head!"

"I don't know where you came from, but around here it's not such a good idea for stupid fathead babies to wander the streets alone."

"Aw, look at that, the wittle baby's starting to cry. What's wrong, can't you handle a little teasing?"

"H-Hey, quit it! Ow!"

At the behest of her father, the eight-year-old girl had ventured out onto the streets of Oedo Town alone in an attempt to find some friends in her new home. Her joyful optimism was quickly replaced with unbearable horror as she found not young, happy playmates, but three of the meanest teenagers this town had to offer.

The young girl shrieked and cried as the bullies poked and pushed her. One of them shouted "Ha, listen to the baby squeal!", which earned him a chorus of roaring laughter from his friends.

The three hooligans continued pushing their helpless victim around, cackling with delight as they heard her plea with them to stop and saw tears well up in her sad eyes. Just as one of them thought he could easily do this all day, his actions were brought to a sudden halt as a small, hard projectile hit the back of his head. After motioning to his cohorts to temporarily cease this highly entertaining activity, he turned around to see a boy, approximately the same age as their own victim, staring angrily at them and tossing a small rock into the air.

Upon realizing that the boys were no longer harassing her, the girl looked up to see what had so effectively diverted their attention. If she had been in a happier mood, she may have burst into a fit of giggles upon seeing this newcomer. Her first thought was that his head looked a bit like a squat pineapple, with short spikes of hair shooting out in every direction. He was dressed almost completely in red, a gi like the ones she had seen martial artists in the movies wear.

Although he was frowning, the young boy earned only mocking laughter from the bullies he was wordlessly threatening. The one who had been hit in the back of the head finally spoke up. "Beat it, kid. Unless you wanna join your little friend here in all the fun."

Instead of turning around and running away, the boy simply glared at the three bullies. "Leave her alone," he said, picking up a stick and brandishing it like a sword. "Or I'll make you leave her alone."

"Ha, is that so? Well, come on over here and make us, then!" No sooner had the words escaped his lips than he was doubled over in pain. With a deafening yell, the boy in the red gi had run forward and jammed the stick right into the bully's stomach. He whacked the other two with his stick, dodging grabs and punches as he went.

With an enthusiastic smile on her face, the girl watched this ninja boy weave between his attackers, screaming madly as he punished them for their cruel behavior. She stood up and brushed herself off so she could cheer him on, but by the time she had gone back to watching the fight, the tables had turned drastically and the boy was writhing in pain on the ground, his makeshift weapon shattered next to him. The girl gasped and shook her head in disbelief.

"Hey, fathead," one of the teenagers called out to the wide-eyed girl. "You're lucky this little punk came along and took an extra-hard beating for you. I guess we'll leave you alone...for now." He grinned evilly and waved, kicking the boy in the side before turning around and walking off with his friends, all three of them roaring with laughter.

The girl ran over to her knight in the red gi and helped him sit up. "Are you okay?" she asked quietly.

"Pfft, sure, I'm fine. Those three weren't that tough."

"Are you sure?" She touched an especially dirty part of his cheek, causing the boy to wince. "See, you're hurt!" The girl brushed the dust off of his cheek and kissed it tenderly.

The boy blushed a bit, but quickly snapped out of his stupor. "Ew, gross!" he exclaimed disdainfully.

She frowned at this ungrateful outburst. "It's not gross! My Mommy told me that if you get hurt, a kiss will make it all better. So I'm helping you, like you helped me."

"Aw, it was nothing. I couldn't just stand there and watch those jerks push you around like that."

The girl smiled and hugged him tightly, which resulted in more blushing from the boy. "Well, thank you. Heehee, you're like my knight in shining armor."

"Ninja, actually. I wanna be a great ninja when I grow up!"

The girl giggled and smiled at her ninja in shining armor before remembering why she had come outside in the first place. "Oh, I just moved here, by the way. We should be friends!"

"Yeah, sure! As long as you stick with me, I'll protect you from bullies like that."

"Yeah, I'll be sure to protect you, too! We should make a promise to keep each other safe forever and ever!"

The boy snickered, but nodded after a few seconds. "All right, it's a promise. From now on, we're friends, and we'll watch out for each other no matter what happens."

The girl grinned and clapped her hands excitedly before coming to a sudden realization. "Oh, I don't think I know your name..."

"Call me Goemon. And you are?"

"Omitsu. My name is Omitsu."