Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

Was my mother going to kill me if she heard about this.

Well, I guess I should start at the beginning and explain why my mother was probably going to kill me and what I didn't want to tell her, shouldn't I? Right...

First of all, my name is Kame Chi, and at the point in my life when I felt like my mother was going to kill me if I told her something (well, I felt like that several times, but this time), I was sixteen years old. I have dusty brown hair, and blue-ish black-ish eyes (very descriptive, I know), and I'm kinda... well, I'm not as... I guess you could call me... OKAY, FINE. I'm vertically challenged. I'm a shrimp. I'm short. Shut the fudge up about it already. I know I coulda passed for a twelve-year-old.

So, what was the big thing that I thought my mother would kill me if she heard about?

I just lost my job.

You may not think it's such a big deal, but in the metropolis of Sunagakure, where most job positions have already been filled, you were incredibly lucky to get one, especially if you were young. Suna was a slow-moving town usually, unlike the hustle and bustle of big villages like Konoha. We had few tourists other than the shinobi that came here on missions, and most of our customers were our own citizens. That meant jobs weren't easily created because they weren't needed. There wasn't really a lot of supply and demand at work here. Following me so far?

Also, I was already in trouble with the employment situation. I probably wouldn't have been so afraid to go crawling back to my mom to tell her this... if it hadn't been for the fact that the job I had just lost was my third one in a month.

Actually, I didn't just lose it. I had quit.

I had quit working at Suna's ice cream parlor because of several things. One, I was tired of having my disgusting coworkers make passes at me. It was really nauseating to endure and probably qualified as sexual harassment. Two, I was sick of my boss having time for her boyfriend but no time for me when I wanted to either report my coworkers or ask if I could get an increase in wage, even if it was just like fifty cents or something. Three, I refused to wear that hideous, gaudily colored lace uniform any longer. It was too bright; I preferred black and blue... like, how somebody's skin would look if they decided to pick a fight with me. Shinobi, I wasn't. Pissy and constantly PMS-ing, I was.

My exact words as I stormed out of the building were, "Fuck off, I don't need to be treated like this!" as I tossed my apron down into the dirt.

So here I was now, standing in front of the Kazekage's office. I had an appointment with him about my unemployment, because I really didn't want to go begging to my mom. I had been kicked out a few months ago, and sure as hell I didn't want to go back. If I went back, then it would tell her I couldn't take care of myself. I had wanted out in the first place, and I didn't want her to think that it was a bad decision. It probably was, but I didn't want her to think I couldn't handle myself.

I took a deep breath; I entered the building, stated my name to the secretary, and then sat down to patiently wait my turn like a big girl.

At last, I was permitted to enter the office. The woman opened the door for me, and after I walked in, she shut it, the noise sounding invariably like... oh... my doom.

"Have a seat, Miss Chi."

Miss. Well, at least I was kind of being referred to as an adult. But the look on the Shidaime's face clearly told me he had more important things to deal with than a broke teenager so I had better do some serious sucking up. I sat down, taking another breath. Time to kiss some tushy. "Good afternoon, Kazekage-sama. How was your lunch?"

"Spare me the pleasantries, please." He folded his hands on his desk. That was something I did like about him - he didn't do paperwork if he was talking to you, despite that he was swamped with it. "Now, what do you need? As you can see, I am a busy man. Please do not make me feel that I'm wasting my time by speaking with you."

"... Right." Okay, so sucking up didn't work. Maybe the direct approach would be better with him anyway. "Well, sir, I recently found myself in, uh... new living arrangements..."

"Parents kicked you out?"

... Fuck. Was I really that easy to read? "Yes, sir."

"Kids today," he muttered under his breath, but I could still hear him. "But continue."

"So, as you can imagine, I've been trying to earn enough income to rent an apartment and survive on my own. But somehow I've managed to lose three jobs over the course of almost four weeks. So... I'm in desperate need of work and thought as the leader of our village you might be able to help."

"I see. May I ask how your employment at these jobs came to be terminated?"

"It involved me quitting because of overly obnoxious colleagues, bosses who just hated me, ugly uniforms, or a combination of all three."

"And where have you been living for the past month, Miss Chi?"

"With my aunt, but she's getting real sick of it."

"I may have something for you... may. First I need to ask a few questions."


"How old are you?"

"I'll be seventeen in about six months."

"You could pass for twenty. Are you a shinobi?"

"No, sir."

"Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Or found guilty of domestic violence?"

"That'd make for an interesting backstory, but no."

"Are you natively from Sunagakure?"

"Born and raised."

"Alright, now... are you good with children?"

I blinked a few times. Why would he ask me something like that? "Um... I wouldn't know, sir."

"Ever babysit?"

"Never in my life."

He blew out a breath, then sat back. "Miss Chi, it's not often that I take pity on someone, so I suggest you be grateful."

I brightened, giving him a grin. "Oh, thank you! Of course I'm grateful! I won't let you down, Kazekage-sama!"

"Yeah, you're just lucky I'm desperate." He handed me a photograph. It was a young kid about preschool-age, maybe a little bit older. "This is my son, Gaara."

I raised an eyebrow, suddenly not liking the direction this was going. "Yeah,


"And from now on, you will be his caretaker. Your hours will be from two in the afternoon until eight in the morning. My brother-in-law, Yashamaru, has been his primary caretaker, but he recently had to take up the afternoon shift and can no longer meet these hours. You are to pick Gaara up from kindergarten at two, and Yashamaru will arrive in the morning to drop him off at eight. And then the house is yourd, so long as you help maintain it. I suggest you hurry to the school, because it's one-fifty right now. Gaara will show you the way to Yashamaru's."

I tucked the picture away in my pocket, and nodded. "Yes, sir. I appreciate it."

I walked out of the office and out of the building altogether, feeling no better than when I'd walked in. What the hell had I just gotten myself into?