Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK or Naruto.
Drabble Set 4: Home
Kaito's mother had always kept a small rose garden for as far back as he could remember. It was full of roses of all colors and sizes and it made a beautiful sight for anyone coming to visit her bakery. The only color of rose she never grew was red.
Kaito had asked her why, all considered red roses were practically the emblem of what roses were meant to be. She had paused in the middle of mixing up a fresh batch of cake batter and smiled a small, sad smile. Cleaning off her hands, she'd led him around to the back of the house and shown him a small birdbath he hadn't even realized they'd had. Beside it a single rose bush grew, its blossoms a deep, rich crimson.
"Your father planted this when we got married," she told him.
"We're going on a trip," Kaito announced as he barged unannounced into Shinichi's room. Still half asleep, Shinichi stared blankly at him before answering with a highly intelligent, "Huh?"
"It's a vacation," the spy clarified, producing a pack out of nowhere and stuffing some of Shinichi's clothes into it. "We've got four days and I know the perfect place to go. It's this lake I found that hardly anyone goes to. It's got an awesome view!"
"But we have work to do," Shinichi protested, sitting up. "Or at least I do."
His companion flashed him a rather smug grin. "No you don't. You've been granted four days leave—as have I. So hurry up and get changed. There's not a moment to lose! I'll go see what we've got for provisions."
They had spent the day on the gently sloping banks of the lake talking about anything and everything. It was the most time they'd had to relax in a while and Shinichi knew he was going to miss it when it came time to go back to the village.
"Look! It's time," Kaito said suddenly, raising an arm and gesturing towards the lake. Shinichi followed his gaze and his breath caught in his throat as the glimmering waters of the lake suddenly blazed gold at the touch of the setting sun. In an instant the entire lake had turned into a pool of molten sunlight to match the fiery oranges and reds of the sky. It was breathtaking.
And the thought crossed his mind that he wished he could spend the rest of his life like this.
When Kaito leaned over and kissed him he wrapped his arms around the other's neck and kissed back. And when Kaito pushed him back onto the blankets they'd been sitting on he found with some surprise that he wasn't nervous at all.
It had been a simple medicine delivery. The destination was a bit on the distant side, but both Shinichi and Heiji had gone farther before and the area was a reputedly safe one anyway, hence the reason it had only been the two of them. So how had it gone so wrong?
If he hadn't known better, he would have thought the ambush had been set up specifically for the two of them. Which wouldn't make a great deal of sense. Why go to all that trouble to attack two shinobi delivering medicine? If they'd wanted the medicine, they'd made a grave miscalculation since the two were returning, having already completed the delivery. It would also have been much easier for them to simply ask for medicine. After all, most people weren't heartless enough to deny the sick aid when asked for it. But whatever their goals these people must have done some research because they knew way too much about both his and Heiji's fighting styles for this to be a coincidence.
On the other hand, they didn't seem to be here to kill them. Shinichi wasn't sure if that was a blessing or not as he was hauled away in the wrong direction for home. He hoped Heiji was all right. Last he'd seen his friend had been unconscious but he hadn't appeared too badly injured.
Lips pressed into a thin line, Shinichi shoved the dagger away from his throat and snapped, "If all you needed was a medic to look at your injured you should have just asked. Healing is what I do. You don't need to threaten me."
"Leave?" The leader of the renegade ninja drawled the word out with a quirk to his lips that put Shinichi on edge.
Blue eyes narrowed. "Everyone who needed medical attention has been seen to. That means I no longer have any reason to stay here."
The man's eyebrows rose, stretching the scars that marred what might once have been a pleasant face (with a different personality looking out from behind it anyway). "And you think I'd just let you walk away now that you know where and who we are?"
"I was going to just kill you," the man continued before he could say anything. "But it crossed my mind that we still don't have anyone with medical knowledge. So it seems you'll be more useful alive."
Shinichi gaped. He couldn't believe he was hearing this! Who even thought like this? "What makes you think I'd do anything for you if you trap me here?"
The bastard had the audacity to laugh. "Because that's what your type of people do. You've said so yourself, haven't you?"
And damnit but the man was right. It wouldn't be the underlings' fault that their leader was an amoral bastard. He'd seen real concern in them for the wellbeing of their comrades and he knew now that many of them were only there because their families had been exiled from their villages after the last war for being somehow tied to people who had been considered traitors. Still . . .
"You have no right to keep me here!" he snapped, slamming his hands down on the table and shooting to his feet.
"We'll see about that."
Seething, Shinichi whirled around and stormed towards the door. He would leave and he would get home. It was only a matter of time.
He had been so angry that he had tried marching straight out through the little fortress's front gates, forgetting for the moment that he'd spent all night working and didn't have any chakra left on top of being just plain, old fashioned tired. He was reminded in a hurry. That had landed him in this large if sparsely furnished room with a window that didn't deserve the name. On the other hand his guards seemed fairly happy to give him anything he asked for as long as it didn't involve letting him out. He'd noted a bit sourly that at least half the guards didn't seem able to bring themselves to look him in the eyes. So at least half of them had some decency left even if they didn't have the nerve to go against their leader's orders.
His second attempt to leave would have been successful had he not had the rotten luck to run right into the leader himself on his way out—and right when he'd neared the outskirts of the encampment too. Of course it had to be near the end when he was already feeling more than a little worn (he wouldn't have minded a crack at the man if he'd been feeling fresh). He still didn't know what technique he'd been hit with. It was something he'd never seen or heard of before and all he could remember was that it had felt like being burned alive from the inside out. His memory was a blank for several days after that, full of strange, blurred impressions of things he couldn't distinguish as being dreams or reality. Later, in his more lucid moments he realized he was delirious, but most of the rime he wouldn't have noticed if the sky had fallen.
When he finally came back to himself he found that he was back in his room (prison) with a mouth and throat that felt desert dry and limbs that weighed a million tons. Each. Still, he managed to drag himself out of bed and to the table where someone had left food and water. Afterward he slept the dreamless sleep of the dead. When he woke he repeated the process and hoped that whatever was ailing him went away soon because he was wasting time and he wanted more than anything else to be home.
When Hattori Heiji first staggered back into Konoha, Kaito had still been out on his last assignment and didn't hear about it until he returned five days later. By that time the dark-skinned shinobi had been released from the hospital and was ready to run off in search of the friend he'd lost. His teammates had restrained him despite their own concerns because blindly running around after an enemy they knew nothing about could only end badly.
Kaito agreed with them, even if his own first impulse had run along similar lines (five days! He should have known five days ago!). He'd always been both a meticulous planner and a man of impulse. And he could be both at once thanks to his own quick thinking. There were few things more satisfying than seeing a complex plan bloom just the way he'd meant it to, but finding ways to bring a plan to fruition despite unexpected setbacks was definitely one of them. Still, there were things that shouldn't be rushed.
He was really starting to hate that window. It was way too small. But at the same time it kept dragging his attention back to itself with the unrelenting grip that the flame had on the helpless moth. Like that flame the strip of sky he could just barely see through the window's miserly grasp was mesmerizing. A flawless blue that faded to purple and orange as evening fell before taking on the dark, velvet qualities of night. In the morning it was all cream pink and yellow before becoming once more that endless, boundless blue.
He blinked and levered himself into a sitting position as something fluttered past the window. Making his way carefully to the window, he leaned up and peered outside. The flutter came again and suddenly there was a small, white bird outside. It spotted him and doubled back to his window with a bout of excited coos. It had only just reached him when a hunting arrow whizzed by, clipping it on the wing.
Letting out a terrified trill it squeezed itself through the window slot and half fell half flew into Shinichi's arms. He caught it automatically. Its quivering calmed eventually as he held it, wondering how exactly you were supposed to comfort a bird. Once it had recollected itself the bird wriggled out of his grasp and hopped onto his shoulder with a happy coo.
"Were you . . .looking for me?" he asked hesitantly, looking as best he could at the creature on his shoulder.
He could have sworn it winked.
Kaito leaned back against the tree they'd chosen as their meeting spot and absently juggled seven smoke bombs and four kunai knives as he reviewed his 'troops'. Ran, Heiji, and Hakuba had arrived first with one Toyama Kazuha in tow. They had been followed shortly by Aoko and—somewhat to Kaito's surprise—Koizumi Akako. She hadn't shown any indication that she'd be coming on their little secret venture, but her talents would certainly be useful. The Hondo boy who'd replaced Shinichi with his old squad arrived last, still looking like he wasn't sure this was a good idea, and their ranks were complete. Their numbers were admittedly small, he thought, but to someone like himself who was much more accustomed to working alone it felt like a horde. He just hoped none of them would get in his—or each other's—way. That was the last thing they'd need. Then again, he supposed they'd be a pretty poorly trained lot of ninja if they couldn't make use of their newly established team status.
Shinichi spun around from where he'd been trying to get a good look at what was going on through the pitiful excuse for a window (again) to find the renegade leader barreling towards him with a murderous look on his face. The sudden movement upset his still recovering sense of balance, but at that point it was the least of his worries as calloused hands closed around his neck. The man was snarling at him, demanding to know how he'd 'told them where they were' and other accusations of a similar breed, but Shinichi was having a hard time hearing him through the roaring in his ears. His vision was going splotchy as he struggled to pry the hands off his throat and breathe. He knew it was a lost cause even as he dug his nails into the madman's wrists, searching for the right nerve. Still, he had to try. He had a home to go back to—people he couldn't leave behind—and he was not going to die here!
Of course, that little voice of reason in the back of his head observed, it didn't look like it was going to be his choice.
Suddenly the hands disappeared and air rushed back into his lungs, sending more flashes bursting across his field of vision. And he could hear a voice—an oh so familiar voice he'd thought he'd never hear again—asking him if he was all right.
Shinichi's knees gave out and he slid to the floor, gasping for breath as the spots in his vision began to clear.
"What—did you do to him?" he panted, staring at the prone figure at his feet.
"Nothing," Kaito replied, prodding the man with his foot disinterestedly. "Whatever's going on in there, he's doing it to himself. Judging from the awful look on his face, he must have led one unwholesome life. I doubt he'll find his way back for a good long time, if he ever does."
"Find his way back?" Shinichi repeated in confusion.
"Let's just say he's probably wishing he'd been a better person."
The relief hit like a ton of bricks and Shinichi thought that if he wasn't still feeling woozy he just might be relieved enough to forget about dignity and being embarrassed and throw himself into his partner's arms. As it was all he could manage was a rather silly grin that seemed to add to Kaito's concern rather than taking away from it.
"Are you hurt?" he asked as he helped Shinichi to his feet.
"No, I'm fine," the medic replied and meant it. He was tired and off kilter, but right then, at that moment, he knew that everything was going to be all right.
Kaito gave him a disbelieving look then shook his head and pulled one of Shinichi's arms over his shoulders before wrapping a steadying arm around his waist. "Come on. Let's get to the roof."
"The roof?" Shinichi repeated in surprise. "Why the roof?"
Flying with Kaito and his glider was exciting. Standing with—or rather, being held up by (because he knew his feet couldn't feel anything but empty air)—the spy on what amounted to nothing hundreds of feet over the heads of the renegades was an experience. Shinichi just wasn't sure of what kind yet. No wonder everyone down there was staring. He'd be staring too if he wasn't trying his utmost best not to look at their own feet and what they were not standing on.
Kaito on the other hand seemed perfectly relaxed with one arm around Shinichi and the opposite hand in his pocket. The broad, sharp-edged grin on his face made Shinichi think of dorsal fins. Kaito was the only person he'd ever met who could grin angrily.
"So, can you all hear me?" the spy asked, his voice somehow amplified so that it echoed throughout the makeshift fortress and the surrounding camp. "Good. You have two choices as I see it. You can stay here and wait for our squads to arrive and execute you, or you can throw away your weapons and turn yourselves in to us. We promise you won't be executed if you choose the latter option, though some of you may have to do some prison time depending on your crimes. So what's it going to be?"
"They're afraid of the leader," Shinichi hissed at him, his voice coming out a bit hoarsely.
Kaito glanced down at him then turned back to his spellbound audience. "And if you're worried about that excuse for a man you followed here, don't be. He won't be bothering any of us for a while."
His voice was light but Shinichi could almost see the nervous ripple going through the crowd below.
"They seem to think I'm some kind of divine spirit with supernatural powers or something," Kaito remarked, watching as the renegades scurried to pack up the camp.
"Yeah, well, the whole standing on thin air thing probably helped."
"Hmm, you're probably right. I knew perfecting that would come in handy."
"Are you all right?"
Heiji stopped with his mouth still partially open in the process of uttering the very question he'd just been asked. For a moment he couldn't quite grasp the meaning of the words. They just seemed so out of place. After all, he wasn't the one who'd been held in enemy territory for the last week and a half. Eventually he found his voice but all he could say was, "I'm fine."
He wanted to apologize, but he just knew his friend would give him that look and ask what he was apologizing for with all honesty. So instead he shook his head and announced that he would go keep an eye on their—for lack of a better word—captives.
Kaito mused idly that they had definitely made history. It wasn't every day a handful of ninja, none of whom had reached jounin status yet, brought home an army's worth of prisoners. Of course it also created a lot of problems. Thankfully the renegades seemed fairly content to build their own residences for the time being and none of them showed any violent inclinations. According to Shinichi, most of them had really only been renegades because they'd felt they had no other choice. It didn't excuse the things they'd done but it meant there was hope for them yet. And that was always a good thing.
Messengers had already been dispatched to deliver the news of current events to their fellow shinobi villages. It was expected that their envoys would arrive shortly. The leader had also been picked up and now lay comatose in a prison cell.
However, the nice little wrap-up wasn't saving their little rescue party from the lectures that their assorted superiors, friends, and families had already begun to lavish on them. At least most of them had decided to save it for after they were all rested and recovered from the journey. His own mother was probably one of the only members of those three categories who hadn't said a word. Her quiet, understanding look however had left him feeling slightly guilty about leaving without a word whereas the lectures had only made him laugh (which got him yelled at more, but if it didn't bother him the first time it certainly wasn't going to the second time—or third, or fourth).
"You know, I think I'm starting to hate hospitals."
Kaito raised an eyebrow at that. "Coming from a medic, that's just a little bit strange."
Shinichi considered this for a moment. "Let me amend that. I'm starting to hate being stuck here, especially considering I'm not actually hurt or sick."
"Says he who couldn't walk in a straight line this morning," the spy drawled.
Shinichi rolled his eyes. "It'll pass. I'm sure you got yourself a look at the results of the checkup. I just need time for my chakra network to finish straightening itself out. I don't have to be here for that."
"It's not that bad."
"As I recall, you booked it out of here the moment you could move last time you were here. I distinctly remember hearing complaints about it."
"Aw, but it was boring. Besides, you are far more fortunate than I for you have something I sorely lacked due to certain mission schedules of the time."
"And that would be . . .?"
Grinning, Kaito leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "You have me to keep you company."
"Hey Shinichi. If I got a place of my own, would you come and live with me?"
Shinichi looked up from the book he'd been reading, not particularly surprised to find his formerly locked window now open and Kaito perched a bit precariously on the sill. "You're moving out?"
"Well, my mom's been implying that she wants to turn the bakery into an actual restaurant, which apparently involves converting my room into an additional pantry, among other things. So? Will you come live with me?"
Shinichi looked back down, face faintly tinged pink. "I . . .think I'd like that . . .if you really want me to."
Kaito's face broke out into a broad grin. "Great. Now we just have to go house hunting."
The medic coughed faintly. "Actually, um, there is an empty house at the end of the street . . ."
The spy tilted his head in thought then blinked in surprise. "Oh, I forgot about that. But I thought you didn't like that house."
"It wasn't the house I didn't like," the other said softly. "It was just . . .too big for one person I guess. It's probably a mess right now and all, but, if you don't mind, it would save time . . .?"
"Sounds good to me," Kaito laughed. "So, do you think the Mouris will mind if I take you away?"
"I don't see why they would."
"Well, let's find out then, shall we?
The house had indeed been a mess. Years of disuse did not lend themselves well to cleanliness. Clearing it out and redecorating had taken ages and a great deal of effort, but it was kind of fun too with all their friends pitching in with their own ideas. That had started more than a handful of disputes, but that was just the way they were.
Now, seated on the living room sofa with a large book in hand and a mug of hot coffee on the low table before him, it was hard to imagine that the place had ever been anything but pristine and cozy. He couldn't really remember how it had felt before he'd last moved out of it but he was sure it hadn't felt half this comfortable back then.
The sofa beneath him shifted as someone landed on the seat beside him and he let out a small grunt of surprise as said person pulled him into their lap.
"You're back early," he noted, leaning back into the embrace with his eyes still on his book.
Kaito chuckled. "There wasn't all that much to report. It's awfully boring most places right now. So I thought I'd hurry back to somewhere that wasn't."
"Have you talked to your mother yet? She's been asking for you since two days ago. Something about a missing pot . . .?"
"Ah . . .that. I'll go talk to her first thing tomorrow."
Shinichi paused at the nervous note he detected in his companion's voice then decided he'd rather not know and went back to reading, a faint smile making its way onto his face.
The house that you lived in, Shinichi had found, wasn't a home until you were living in it with people you loved. He'd heard the old saying many times that home was where the heart was, but he hadn't really understood it until now.
A.N: Well, that's everything. So what did you think? I do like writing this universe, so I may do more some day, but it'll be put up as a separate story if I do since I like where this ended. Although I have to figure out what I'd want to write about first ^^U. Anyway, thanks for reading! And special thanks to everyone who reviewed. It was very encouraging ^_^