Title: Desperate Housewife
Rating: T once again, for a little language
Disclaimer: I do not own these Naruto characters and stand to make no profit from posting this story.
Summary: New mother Yoshino is struggling with an identity crisis - is she a kunoichi, wife, mother, all three or none of the above?Oh, yes, and there's another struggle going on, too.
Nara Yoshino smiled to herself as she tidied the kitchen in the small cabin. The baby was sleeping; she had a few more dishes to put away then she would tend to the little vegetable garden out back. Anything that kept her busy would keep her mind off the fact that Shikaku wasn't home yet.
She wasn't worried. Not yet. He was only one day late. Still, it was different when he was away, and she and the baby were here in the cabin in the middle of Nara clan lands, so remote. When they were at home in Konoha she was never lonely, even when he was away. Certainly she missed him whenever missions required him to be out of town, but back in Konoha there were always friends and family close by. At times like this, alone and so quiet in the cabin, it made her uneasy when he was away.
Looking out the front window at the rugged landscape, the natural beauty before her reminded her once again though why she had wanted to come here for the spring botanical survey. It was breathtaking, the clan's lands were vast and rich in their wide variety of plant species.
A few cabins like the one her own small family currently occupied dotted this wilderness, scattered far apart. Nara families would stay in them one or two seasons at a time, cataloging plant species, estimating crop yields or harvesting and various other tasks necessary to the upkeep of the land and the production of their main stock in trade.
But there was one very personal, private reason why she had wanted to come here. And that was to find out who she was.
Many kunoichi with children gave up missions altogether. But just as many continued working. There were as many answers to that question as there were kunoichi. None of them were wrong. Yoshino just needed to find out what was right for her, for her family.
Was she still going to be a kunoichi? At chuunin rank, would she ever make jounin now that she had a child? Now that she had a child, did she want to try for it?
And what about this place? These grand and glorious lands that belonged to her adopted clan? She hadn't been born Nara, but she'd fit right in with ease, with the people and the land and the work they did here. There was so much to be done throughout the year as the seasons changed. She thrived on it.
Nara Yoshino. Wife? Kunoichi? Mother? Who was she?
Hands on her hips, she surveyed the kitchen, making sure to open the window that faced out onto the garden so that she could hear the baby if he woke up.
She could hear the birds singing and the steady thrum of insects in the afternoon sun and ... footsteps?
Prickly chills ran down her spine. Stop it, she told herself, just the wooden floorboards settling, or the limbs of the trees creaking in the breeze.
There it was again, just a slight creak of wood, she almost called out her husband's name but stopped. Something didn't feel right about this.
Once more the sound came and she knew with absolute certainty that someone else was in the house with her. Someone who had no business being there. Shikaku would have come home in the front door, she'd have heard it open and close. Anyone else would have knocked.
She tried to place the sound, it came from her right, near the baby's room!
Yoshino swallowed hard, hand automatically reaching for a kunai at her waist only to realize she didn't have one on her. Damn domesticity. Had she even had one in her hands since the baby was born?
She looked at her kitchen knives, full tang, fairly well balanced, but was there anything she could throw accurately. If she could just get to their bedroom she could get kunai, shurikens, whatever she needed.
Why, oh why, did she not keep a kunai in the kitchen?
Another creak and her blood ran cold. Someone was in the baby's room. Someone was in her baby's room.
Silently she selected her Santoku and also slipped a 4" paring knife into her apron pocket for all the good it would do her. Surveying her kitchen "arsenal" she decided to take the kitchen shears, too, she'd found they had a multitude of uses - who knew, taking out intruders might be one of them. She made a mental note to herself to never go around without a kunai in her apron pocket from this day forward.
Moving without a sound, she made her way to the edge of the hallway and paused. The baby's room was quiet now. Maybe she'd imagined the whole thing. Should she just go in and check to make sure he was still sleeping, or should she go to their bedroom to pick up suitable weapons just in case?
Flicker of motion from the edge of the crib she could see in the room made up her mind for her. Someone was in there.
She gripped the Santoku firmly in her hands, swinging it just a little,testing the balance. It was good, she could probably throw it accurately, but what about the point? It wasn't designed to penetrate, it was meant for cutting. Should she try to get close enough to stab or slash?
No. She had no backup. You never approached if you could attack at a range. That much was drilled into her.
But she couldn't take a chance on throwing at his back - again it might not penetrate. She'd have to throw it at his belly or his throat. Swinging and testing the balance one last time she was confident - she could be accurate. Throat it was. She'd just have to get him to face her.
Peeking just around the corner she noted his postion in the room before she ducked back. Counting to three she stepped in the doorway and yelled "You!"
The bastard turned and the knife left her hand. Spinning once in the air it lodged right where she wanted, deep in his throat. With a strangled cry the intruder collapsed to the ground.
Yoshino rushed to the crib. The baby was still sleeping, still breathing, unharmed, thank god.
"Shikamaru," she whispered and reached to stroke his silky black hair.
Then a strong arm grabbed her around the waist, squeezing hard, forcing her to exhale, while another hand clamped over her mouth and she was dragged away from the crib. Yoshino wriggled in her captor's embrace as she heard a deep, unpleasant chuckle.
"Well, what have I caught here? A desperate little housewife?"
She bit his hand. As the man yowled and jerked his hand away she spat, "I am not a housewife!"
His hold around her waist tightened so that she could hardly breathe now. He reached down into her apron pocket, skimming his hand unnecessarily along her body as he did so, making her shudder.
He withdrew the scissors and laughed. "What are you going to do, missy? Kill me with kitchen shears?" as he tossed them on the ground at her feet.
The idiot neglected to mention that she just had killed his partner with a kitchen knife.
But she'd messed up, so worried about the baby that she hadn't even bothered to think that there might be more than one intruder. She needed a moment to formulate a plan. She relaxed her body, sagging against him just a bit, letting him think she was giving up.
"Well,that's a good girl," he whispered hoarsely in her ear in a tone that made her want to barf.
She looked around the room, trying to do a better job surveying her situation this time. Shikamaru was fine for now, still slumbering in his crib.
The first goon appeared good and dead, although his blood was sleeping all over her floor. It would take her forever to scrub that clean when this was over!
Her little knife was still in the other pocket and the shears were on the floor at her feet. And this guy seemed to have a completely incorrect image of her that could work to her advantage.
"Please," she whispered and it was no effort at all to let the tremor enter her voice because she really was terrified that something might happen to Shikamaru, "please don't hurt my baby."
A ham-fisted hand stroked her hair and she felt bile rising in her throat, swallowing hard to keep it down.
"Now," the voice crooned in her ear, chin at the crook of her neck, making her wince her shoulders up to try to escape it, "I'm sure we can work something out. Me and my partners only have business with your husband, Nara Shikaku. He's been responsible for one too many assassinations and now somebody has a contract out on him. We don't have to take out his family too, although there's a bonus in it for us if we do. But I'm sure you and I can work out our own business arrangement. Especially since there'll be one less member of our party to share you."
Yoshino nodded meekly all the while processing the wealth of information he'd just provided her. "Partners" - so there was at least one more. Probably only one more since teams were almost always in threes. But this guy didn't seem to be much of a teammate - didn't seem to be at all concerned about the death of one member of the team.
And he'd used the word "contract" not "mission" so they probably weren't shinobi.
The creep was still stroking her hair. "Are you still going to be a good girl?"
Yoshino nodded again, keeping her eyes focused on the scissors on the ground.
The man's laugh was vile, crude, disgusting. "You desperate little housewives are all the same. Daddy goes away on a mission and leaves you all alone and you just want somebody to...keep you company, don't you?"
Yoshino had had enough. Time to end this. She feinted to the right, lifting her feet off the ground so that he was supporting her whole weight, throwing him off balance.
"Wha-?" the guy started but she jammed her left elbow into his solar plexus, forcing him to exhale sharply and drop her.
She hit the ground ready, grabbing the scissors and swinging her legs around, catching his feet with her own and jerking them out from under him.
Just in case she couldn't finish him with the scissors she needed to be sure to immobilize him at the very least. She stood up and stamped with all her might on one of his knees, grinding her foot hard and crushing his patella. The guy writhed in pain beneath her as she swooped down and hissed in his face.
"I am not a fucking housewife! I am not married to the goddamned house!" Then she rammed the scissors home through the roof of his mouth and held them there until he stopped moving.
Crap! He'd spattered blood all over her favorite apron. She would never get those stains out! And she really liked this one, too.
She rushed back to the crib. Shikamaru stirred slightly in his sleep but didn't wake up. Whoever coined the expression "sleeps like a baby" really knew what they were talking about!
She ached to hold him in her arms but was trembling so much she was afraid she'd drop him. At least he was safe. Plus, she had sense enough never to wake a sleeping baby. Even if Mommy has just killed two armed intruders best to let him get his nap out or there'd be hell to pay later.
Just then she heard the door open. Oh, no, not the third one.
She fumbled for her remaining paring knife in her apron pocket as she heard a strange man's voice, loud and shakey. "Little wifey didn't come running to greet you, did she? Yeah, my buddies have taken care of her, good. Those housewives are always the same, so glad when a stranger comes to call..."
"Shut up and move!"
Shikaku! He was back home! She ran into the front room. Her husband had the third man caught in his shadow bind. He looked at his wife and sucked in air hard, "Yoshino! Are you okay? What the hell happened?"
"Shhh!" she snapped, "You'll wake the baby!"
Shikaku paled as he took in the sight of his wife's bloody clothes. He almost lost control of his jutsu but managed to hold onto the man as Yoshino stalked over to him, holding the paring knife steady at his throat.
"And as for you asshole, for the last time today, I am NOT a fucking housewife. I AM NOT MARRIED TO THE GODDAMNED HOUSE!"
Relief flooded through him to see that Yoshino was okay. Shikaku laughed out loud. "That's right, she's married to me."
He started to form the shadow strangle when Yoshino said, "Stop."
He paused, still holding the man in the shadow bind. Yoshino slipped the paring knife down between the man's legs. "Your two buddies are dead in there. I killed them. I killed them with a kitchen knife and a pair of kitchen shears."
She motioned her head toward her husband. "I'm not gonna let him kill you. I"m gonna make him let you go so that you can go home and tell them that Nara Shikaku's wife killed two of your men with a fucking kitchen knife and a fucking pair of scissors and if whoever hired you wants Nara Shikaku they're going to have to get passed me first! And if I ever see you around me or my husband or my baby again, I'm going to use this little paring knife to cut off your balls and send you home with them stuffed down your throat!"
She jabbed the knife hard against him to make her point then said wearily, 'Okay, Shikaku, let him go."
The man fled, tripping and stumbling his way down the path.
Yoshino sighed and hung her head, arms limp at her sides. Shikaku walked over and wrapped his own arms around her. "You're home," she murmured softly as he started to pull her against his chest. She tried to pull back arguing, "No, wait, you'll get blood all over your clothes, too."
But this time it was Shikaku's turn to quiet her, "Shhh!" he demanded the same as she had earlier. "You're safe, Shikamaru's safe. Nothing else matters."
She quieted. Of course he was right. But then again, he wasn't the one doing the laundry...
Still, it was wonderful that he was home, holding her like this and all was well. She wanted to stay like this forever, or at least until the baby woke up, with Shikaku's arms around her, hearing his heart beat. She melted against him, the only place in the world where she could relax, in his arms. The only place where she could simply ... be.
A/N: Okay, another Shikaku/Yoshino plot bunny. So, what did you think? Once again, you know the drill - please please please let me know.