Disclaimer: This is purely fan made, no profit will be made out if this. I don't hold the rights to Hanasaku Iroha or any of its characters.

Tittle: Family Matters

Setting: I had the idea for this fanfiction after watching episode 16. That last scene of the telephone ringing was what trigged this.

Genres: General, Drama, Family, Romance

Characters: This is story is basically centered on the Shijima family members, but there are a few other characters involved.

Author's Note: I made my own interpretations of the characters background story, since we still don't know a lot about what happened in the past. Plus, it was convenient to my plot *evil grin*

The phone was ringing, no one seemed to hear it but her. The girls were playing outside in the still empty and dirty pool, when they were supposed to be cleaning it. But she wasn't going to scold or punish them for that. They had been working hard and a few moments full of laughter and relaxation was something they needed and deserved. Her son Enishi was in that annoying woman's room again, trying to come up with new ideas to improve the business. She didn't felt like moving from the place where she sat at and even considered letting the call go to voice-mail, but that was not something she liked to do. It wasn't polite, and it could be a costumer wanting to make a reservation in the Inn, . So she begrudgingly went to pick it up.

- "Kissuiso Inn, how can I help you?"

- "Hello ma'am, I'm calling on behalf of Tokyo Central Hospital. I know this might be unusual but we were hoping someone at that Inn could help us identifying a patient we have hospitalized here at the moment. She was brought into the E.R. with no documents of identification and her only possession was a postcard of your Inn.

Immediately after hearing those words Sui, the sixty-eight-year-old Madam Manager of Kissuiso Inn, felt an ache squeezing at her heart. The unidentified person could be just a costumer that had stayed at the Inn recently, but she had the feeling it was much worse than that.

- "Hello? Ma'am, are you still there?"

- "Oh, yes. I'm sorry. Please continue."

- "Well, our unidentified patient is a woman somewhere in her thirties, she has dirty blond and shoulder length hair, with dark brown and cat-like eyes. She has a slim body, with an approximated height of 1,67m. We know this is a very vague description but anything you could say to us would be of great help."

The feeling of dread intensified tenfold. Now there was little doubt on who the unidentified person was now. The description fit perfectly. Her heart thumped in her chest furiously caused by the thought that the daughter that she had once disowned has lying in a hospital bed, in such a condition that made her unable to provide fo her personal info. Questions flooded her mind: What happened? How was she? Was it serious? Was she going to be alright?... But she had to keep her mind focused. She had to be sure that the mysterious patient was indeed her eldest child. A child that she had seen become a grown up woman with a child of her own. For a moment there, She worried on how she was going to tell Ohana about the news, specially if they were of the worst kind. but she pushed that though away. Now was not the time for that. First things first.

- "I'm sorry, I think I might know who that woman is, but I need to be sure. Could you give me a fax number? I'll fax you a photograph of the person I think she is to confirm her identification."

- "Sure, that would be a great help. Alright, the number is 96 xxxxxxxx".

- "Alright, I'm sending it right away". Putting the phone on the table, she quickly dashed for the precious diary that she kept with her at all times. Not everything in there was about the costumers that visit the Inn. She also kept there important and precious moments of her life with family and friends. From the middle of the diary came out a photo of a younger version of her daughter. She was still just a young woman back then. Still a university student, radiating a smile that could brightener anyone's day, no matter how dark and gloomy it had been until then. In little time she picked it up, and put it up on the fax machine and press the send button.

- "Please, let me know as soon as you get the photo."

- "Yes, I'm receiving it now... wait just a moment please..." Those moments seemed to last forever. The fear and anticipation growing by the second. Deep down she knew, you can call it woman's intuition, or mother's instinct, but she knew that it was her daughter. Still, she had a small hope that it would turn out to be someone else.

- "Ma'am, are you there?"

- "Yes, yes, I'm here. So?

- "Yes, it's a match. There is a significant age difference, but it's definitely the same person. So you do know who this woman is?"

There was no time to let the despair settle in. She needed to know more.

- "Yes, she's... She's my daughter."

- "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am, this must be a shocking and unpleasant way to find out about this but... could you give us her full name, birth-date, and any other relevant information you could provide?

- "Yes. Her name is Satsuki Matsumae, she is 38 year-old and was born on April's 28th of 1973. She is a widow. I will give any other information necessary when I get there. But please, can you tell me what happened? How is she?"

"Yes, of course. Thank you for filling out the information we needed, ma'am. It will suffice for now... As for the patient's condition, there isn't much I can tell you now ma'am. You need to ask the doctor responsible for her case. All I can say is that she was found on the street, shot twice in the torso. She had no possessions with her except for the postcard, so the police suspects it was the result of a armed robbery gone wrong..."

The air left from her lungs. So it really was bad. There was no way that being shot twice in the torso, in close range would have been anything but serious. She had to go the hospital... She had to see her. Her daughter needed her. Now was not the time to let old differences and grudges get in the way. No matter what, Satsuki was still her daughter. Now it was the time for her to stop being Madam Manager, and start acting like a mother, for once.

"I appreciate the call, I'll be there tomorrow."

" Yes, ma'am. We will be waiting, please have a safe trip. And rest assure, our hospital staff will do everything we can to take care of your daughter".

"Please do. Thank you again, and good day"

"Good day, ma'am."

Madam Manager hung the phone. For a few moments she stayed immobile, looking at the portrait of her daughter. Tears slid down her aged skin. She was not the kind of woman to show emotion. She had been raised not to. But now, with the sickening feeling of fear of losing her daughter taking over, a few silent tears were inevitable. Noticing the droplets of water staining the photo brought her out of that trance. As quickly as her body allowed it, she stood up and went to find her son Enishi.

The Young Master was at his desk, mulling over the financial balance of the Inn of the last month. Things weren't looking good, but that was not a novelty anymore. He struggled to find a way to improve the business, but all the things that he and his lovely Takako-san had come up with had either been a failure or down right rejected by his mot- er, Madam Manager. At that precise moment, said person entered the office.

"Mot- er, I mean, Madam Manager, we need to do something if... Mother? Is there something wrong? You seem distressed..."

"Is that woman you are infatuated with still here? If not call and tell her to get back here as soon as possible."

"Uh? Why? What happened? I thought you didn't like her and didn't want her here..."

"We have to leave to Tokyo as soon as possible. If she's so capable as you say, she can take care of the Inn management in our absence."

"Uh... alright, I'll do that. But why do we need to go to Tokyo? You haven't been to Tokyo in years, why now?

"Enough with the questions! Just do as I say, NOW!" - She shouted. She was not angry at him, his curiosity was understandable... But she just couldn't deal with this now, and yelling and slapping her youngest child had always been a way to vent her frustrations, especially if the cause of those frustrations was her daughter... Just like it was now.

"Alright mother, please calm down. Whatever it is, remember that loosing your temper like that is not good for your health."

Enishi had grown used to his mother harsh treatment, but seeing her loosing her temper like this was rare. And when it happened he knew that in a way or another the reason was always something related to his sister. At that moment his suspicions rose. For whatever reason they were going to Tokyo. That was the city where his sister lived... With his mother acting up like this, there was a high change that Satsuki was the reason for this unexpected trip. But he stayed quiet. For now he was going to do what he was told, he would have time to question his mother further during the train ride.

"Just do as I say. We need to take the next bullet train to Tokyo, so hurry up. Pack some clothes, we might need to stay for a few days. And call a cab to take us to the station."

"Yes mother, right away".

She had managed to regain her calm, she couldn't break down now. She needed to stay strong. And telling Enishi now what was happening wouldn't help at all. Being the cry-baby that he was for certain he would enter in despair. She knew how much he adored his sister. Despite their conflicting relationship when growing up, they had always been close to the point that it was safe to say he had a sister complex... He wouldn't be able to take it. Specially since it was unknown how bad the situation really was. That is why she was going to delay giving him the news as far as she could. Yet, she needed him at her side in a moment like this... If the worse was to happen... No, she could think of that... Her daughter Satsuki had always been strong, persistent and extremely stubborn, even more than she was. That was the reason why they still were at bad terms, even after so many years. Mother and daughter were both too stubborn for their own good... That is why she knew, her daughter would fight with all that she had to survive... She wouldn't dare leave Ohana orphan... again. She just couldn't...

In less than an hour after the phone call, mother and son were on a taxi on their way to the train stating to catch the last bullet train to Tokyo of the day. They had left Kissuiso with no explanations... Only Denroku, the janitor of the Inn and old friend of the Shijima family knew the reason for the sudden travel. He was Sui's confident, practically part of the family, he needed to know. And more importantly, she had needed to tell someone over the danger of crumbling down in her own despair. He was the only one she could share her pain with, at the moment.

Mother and son remained silent during great part of the train ride, but Enishi couldn't hold it in anymore, he had to know what was wrong, even more so if it had anything to do with his beloved sister.

"Mother, please tell me. Does this trip to Tokyo has anything to do with sis?"

She had been looking out the window for most of the trip, unable to even look at her son in the eyes, knowing she would have let it all out if she did. But now she couldn't avoid it anymore... He was asking, and she could do nothing else but to admit it ant tell everything she knew.

"I received a phone call early today from Tokyo Central Hospital. Satsuki... she was shot twice in the torso. The police thinks it was a robbery gone wrong. I don't know anything else about her condition."

Enishi couldn't believe what he was hearing... His sister... shot... twice! This couldn't be happening, not to her. His mouth went dry, his eyes went unfocused, his hands trembled... But he had to keep it together, he had to stay strong. For once in his life, he had to be strong, the man of the house, someone that his mother could rely on. He knew that in spite of his mother's apparent cold demeanor, she was only putting up a facade. Probably for his sake. He was very much aware that despite their difficult mother-daughter relationship, his mother loved Satsuki very much. The fact that she always lost her cool whenever her daughter was even mentioned was proof of that much. He also knew that his sister was their mother's favorite. Not that she didn't love him just as much, it was more that she had always seen what everybody saw. His sister was what the Inn needed to become a successful business again. She was beautiful, easy-going, smart, energetic, charismatic, always full of ideas... She would have been a great Madam Manager, had she wanted to take Sui's place. But she had refused, she didn't want to stay in that small countryside town. She wanted adventure, meet other people, other places, she wanted to see the world. At first that had been something that their mother was ready to consent, as long as she came back to take her place as Madam Manager after she satisfied her hunger for adventure. But she hadn't expected her daughter to suddenly get pregnant and marry soon after... Satsuki chose to make a life in Tokyo, find a job and raise her daughter. Even when Satsuki's husband passed away suddenly a few years after Ohana was born, she refused to go back to her hometown. Enishi have never really understood why she refused help. Wouldn't it have been better if she came back home? Raising Ohana would have been a lot easier if she did, she didn't had to do it alone... But he had his suspicions that she didn't want to come back out of sheer pride and stubbornness. She didn't want to admit defeat, she didn't want to admit her mother had been right all along... That had put an even bigger strain in the already shaky mother-daughter relationship. Bad things were said, and Madam Manager ended up disowning her eldest child, claiming even that she no longer had a daughter... Enishi knew his mother never truly meant that... But her stubborn nature again prevailed. Years passed, and now this was how things were. If the worst scenario were to become true, if his sister were to die, (he didn't even want to consider the possibility, but he had to face reality, that option wasn't out of the picture) it would kill his mother. Not just because of the pain cause by the loss of her dear daughter, but also because they hadn't had the chance to reconcile. True, the fact that Madam Manager had accepted to take Ohana in her care after Satsuki's "moonlight flit"had somehow eased that strain. And Satsuki's recent visit to the Inn surely had left its mark, in a good way. So why had this happened? It wasn't fair... He couldn't lose his precious sister, Madam Manager couldn't lose her daughter, and Ohana couldn't lose her mother.

"Enishi..."

He hadn't realized that he had been lost in his thoughts for a good while now, so he was startled when he heard his mother call his name.

"Y...Yes mother?"

" We have arrived." "Grab our bags and let's go."

"Yes, yes, of course mother."

They took a taxi and went straight to the hospital, bags of luggage in tow and everything. The check in at the hotel could wait. They needed to know, they needed to see her. Upon arriving at the hospital, they quickly made it to the reception desk. Sui did the talking.

"Excuse me, miss. We want to see Satsuki Matsumae, in which room is she?"

"Oh, yes, we were expecting you. You are Mrs Shijima? We spoke on the phone. Your daughter is in the West Wing of the 7th floor, room 805. I know you want to go see her, but could you handle us the necessary documents that I asked on the phone? We really need to fill out her file properly. That way the hospital will be able to have access to her medical history. That's very import."

"Yes, of course. We brought what we had with us. Here they are miss" This time it was Enishi who spoke, taking charge of the bureaucracy formalities. That much he could do.

"Thank you. Please, go head, I'll call upstairs to warn the medical team in charge of miss Satsuki's case that you are coming. The head of the team will go talk to you as soon as possible."

"Yes, thank you." Both mother and son said in unison while bowing in sign of gratitude and respect.

They took the elevator to the 7th floor. Visit hours were over, but since they were the closest relatives, they were allowed to go in. And at least one of them could be there at all times. Despite knowing what to expect, neither one of them were prepared to actually see the state she was in. There she was laying in the hospital bed, hooked to all kinds of machinery, bandages covering great part of her torso, her face white as a sheet of paper, unconscious. If it wasn't for the rhythmic sound of her cardiac monitor beeping, one would think she was dead already. Enishi was rooted to the spot, unable to move closer. Madam Manager however released a gasp of surprise (or despair, she wasn't sure anymore) and rushed to her daughter's side. Slowly, carefully, she touched the hand that wasn't hooked to the IV. Her skin was cold, very cold. Again the feeling of dread was squezing painfully hard at her heart. Never in her life had she believed she would live to see this moment. She wasn't supposed to see her daughter laying almost lifeless in a hospital bed. It was unnatural. It should be the other way around. She was an old woman now, she had lived enough, she was the one supposed to be laying in a hospital bed, with death knocking at her door. The pain was too much, she couldn't hold it together anymore. Reaching her hand to move a lock of stray hair out of her daughter's face, she let the tears fall down her cheeks. At that moment she felt strong arms embracing her from behind. Enishi didn't say a word, but he wanted to let his mother know he was there, she wasn't alone. They had to rely on each other for comfort. Because the one who usually raised their spirits in situations like this was the one lying in the hospital bed now, fighting for her life.

"Excuse me? I assume you are miss Satsuki's relatives?" A middle aged man in surgical scrubs was at the door. - "I'm Dr. Tanaka, the doctor in charge of her case. I apologize for my appearance, but I left a surgery I was assisting as soon as I was informed that you were here. "

"There's nothing to apologize for, doctor. " The elderly woman spoke. "Doctor, please tell us. How's my daughter? Is she going to be alright? Is she... going to live?"

"Well, I can't lie to you Ma'am. She's stable right now, but she isn't out of danger yet. He managed to extract the two bullets from her chest and abdomen. Her left lung was perforated with the bone shreds of the ribs that were shattered upon impact of one of the bullets, so we had to hook her to the ventilator to help her breathe. She has also lost a lot of blood. Her condition is delicate but we did everything in our reach to help her, now all there is left to do is to wait and see what happens. Right now she's sleeping because of the anesthesia, but we don't know if she will wake up after it wears off. The next 24 hours will be crucial to determine if she will make it or not. I know you don't want to hear this, but you need to be prepared f-."

"We understand... Thank you doctor". It was Enishi's turn to speak.

"Well then, I need to go back to that surgery now, so if you excuse me..."

"Yes, thank you doctor." Madam Manager and her son both said and bowed to the retreating doctor.

"Enishi, you can go too. Go check yourself in the hotel. I'll stay here tonight."

"But mother, I want to stay too..."

"Don't be ridiculous, only one person is allowed to stay here during the night. So go and come back tomorrow. I'll let you know if something happens".

"Mother..." Enishi sighed in resignation. He knew how stubborn his mother could be, and in a situation like this, there was no way she would back down. - "Alright, but do call me if anything changes... I have to call Beanman [Denroku, the Inn's janitor]. He must be worried."

"Yes, you should do that. But remember, Ohana must not know about this."

"But mother, don't you think she has the right to know?"

"You know as well as I do that she would come running, and hospitals are no place for children. No child should see their parents like this. If the worse comes to worst, I don't want Ohana to remember her mother like this."

"I see. You're right as always, mother... Well then, I'll be going now." With that, Enishi approached his sister bed, bent down to her level and kissed her forehead with tenderness. " - Don't give up sis, we are all waiting for you."

Seeing this scene brought a microscopic smile to Madam Manager's face. Her children had remained close even after being all these years physically apart. She knew that they talked in the phone and sent each other text messages and mails frequently. He often asked for her advice for even the smallest things. She would always tease him but helped him the best she could anyway. Sui had wanted for her son to be a bit more independent from his sister, to grow a bit of a back bone, to stand and face his problems on his own. But at the same time she was glad that they had such strong bond, despite their huge difference in personalities. She would never admit it out loud, much less to them, but she was proud of both of them. He was a crybaby and a wimp but also a loyal and dedicated son. A man with a big gentle heart, just like his father. Satsuki too, they had their differences but she was proud of her daughter greatly. She had managed to raise Ohana well. Often her granddaughter would complain to everyone who would listen that her mother was a terrible parent. Yet Sui knew that Satsuki had done what she did for Ohana's sake. And Ohana was starting to understand that now as well, little by little. She just didn't say it openly either. It was probably the biggest flaw in the women of the Shijima family. They were all too stubborn and proud.

After Enshin left, Madam Manager sat her on the chair at her daughter's bedside. At first she just sat there, looking at Satsuki's pale yet still beautiful face, silently praying for her to open her eyes. After a while, she could no longer stand the silence, and for some reason, she felt like talking. She knew that her daughter probably couldn't hear or understand her, but she talked anyway, about everything and anything. But mostly about Ohana.

"You know, I'm glad you sent Ohana to Kissuiso. Having her there is almost like going back in time, back to the time when you still lived there, with us. She' a lot like you. She's clumsier than you, but her spirit is the same. I'm hard on her, just like I am with everyone, just like I was hard on you, but unlike you, she really likes working there. You know that I've always wanted you to succeed me as Madam Manager. You certainly have the qualities and requirements for it. But you refused. It is not the life you want to lead, and that broke my heart. But now, with Ohana, I have hope. Hope that when she is old enough she will want to take my place. That is why I was happy when you asked her if she wanted to go back to Tokyo with you, to her old life and she refused, saying that her life was at Kissuiso now. And it's true, she's happy there, she enjoys her work, and she has made friends. If anything is missing in her life now, that something is you. She still needs her mother... So don't you dare die on us, you hear me, Satsuki?"

Of course, there was no reply, nothing could be heard but the beeping machines. Suddenly feeling extremely tired, Sui rested her head on the cheap mattress of the hospital bed, and still holding her daughter's hand, she slowly drift off to sleep.

This is my new attemp at writing a fanfic. I'm came to love Hanasaku Iroha, and I've always been bothered by the lack of love and attention that Satsuki's character got from the fans of this anime. So I decided to focus this story on her. Remember, this is only my second fanfic, so go easy on me ^^' Reviews are much appreciated.