Saizo, in spite of his nature, would argue that the Ninja Princess was many things; she was brave when she needed to be, determined about anything she set her mind to, stubborn when it came to hers and others' personal feelings, and very inspiring as a person in general. However, there were areas in her list of talents that were less than desirable, right below her occasional stupidity and lack of fighting skills. Unfortunately, he found himself under the realization that this was one of them; she, for the life of her, could not cook.

He stared at the back of his wife with a dull expression on his face, having frozen in the middle of the room at the sight of her. She was mumbling under her breath as she continuously shifted different ingredients from side to side, looking for something in particular. She'd cooked often enough since he was usually out doing things that pertained to his ninja duty, but that wasn't to say she'd ever been very good at it, or that she didn't weasel her way out of it whenever she could. It wasn't too hard for her to make an excuse, considering the people of Koga often brought her gifts that included food every so often, seeing as she was still beloved by many.

Judging by the fact that had happened today as well – if the covered basket off to the side hinted correctly, anyways – he had to take a minute to absorb how odd this scene was.

"What are you doing?" He reached up and pulled the mask from his mouth, letting it fall loosely around his neck. The ninja princess turned at the sound of his voice, bits of her face turned white by stray clouds of flour that had apparently gone flying up at some point another. He supposed it was a miracle the whole house wasn't in a wreck, but he bit his tongue on that comment. For now.

"Cooking!" she chimed, as if she weren't aware he'd already deduced that much. Before he could press her further, she went on, no doubt fearing he would take physical action if she didn't. "Just something I do around this time of year. It's a special recipe for sweets."

"Sweets?" One of his brows raised at the inquiry as he watched her get back to work, throwing ingredients around and mixing them as if her life depended on it. Albeit still worried about how they would even turn out, he found himself more curious as to what was so special. It wasn't either of their birthdays, nor was it their anniversary as far as he could remember – and despite his outwardly uncaring acts, would definitely never forget – so he resigned himself to believing she'd made up some random holiday to celebrate in that head of hers.

It wouldn't be unlike her, honestly.

"Hm. Just be careful not to burn yourself with fire in the process." She shot him a defiant look, but the smirk on his lips let her know he was just kidding, so she relaxed a bit and returned to her meddling. Shaking his head, he wandered into a separate room for the time being, unsurprised by how tidy it was. With him gone most of the day, he would assume she had a lot of time to straighten things out to amuse herself. This was one of the first days he'd gotten home early in quite a while.

Grabbing the herbal drawing book she kept lying around, he opened it and looked through her progress; she'd taken to drawing herbs and filling out what it was they did when applied to wounds or used as medicine. More than a couple times, she'd enlisted Rennoshin's help, seeing as he was there quite often for obvious business purposes. When he thought about it, really, the others were probably around her more than he, himself, was. He hadn't quite worked out if that was his own fault or if everyone else was just being lazy with their jobs. Either way, it did bother him.

He frowned at the thought as he thumbed through the pages, but the little, messy scribbles of what he assumed were supposed to be plants made him smile again.

The dope couldn't even draw a leaf right... it figured.

The sound of something falling in the kitchen snapped him out of his thoughts and he quickly stood up, placing the notebook back where it had been moments before. He hurried out of the room and made his way back to where his wife was. He stopped to take in the scene around him, not exactly stunned to see it, per-say. She stood rigidly in front of a giant mess on the floor, the contents of what she'd been mixing sprawled out, leaving him to assume she'd dropped it or it had fallen in some way.

"Can't you-" He opened his mouth to make a sarcastic retort, but his words got stuck in his throat once he really looked at her expression. She stared down at the mess with teary eyes, her hands trembling by her sides. Slowly, he pressed his lips together and walked towards her, a worried look on his face. "It's no big deal. You can just start over..."

"There's no point," she murmured, shaking her head. She took a step back, her hair falling into her face so that he couldn't see her. Frowning, he stepped up and lifted his hand, melding his palm against her shoulder. She faltered at his touch and lifted her gaze to look up at him with watery, solemn eyes.

"..." He sighed quietly and brushed a few strands of hair from her face, not exactly sure what to do in these situations. She was a cry-baby, that had become apparent quite early on in their journey together, but whenever something beyond a small bout of sadness or fear bothered her, there was always a look of sincerity in her eyes that let him know when it was serious. It was something he had learned to read about her during their time together. "What's bothering you?"

She didn't answer, but she looked as if she were debating it. Finally, she just shook her head again, shrugging his hand off of her shoulder.

"Since when are you- hey!" Saizo's eyes widened as the girl turned and ran out the door, closing it behind her. He quickly followed after her, but when he got outside, she had already disappeared into the market area a little distance from their house. "Is she an idiot?" His eyebrow twitched as he internally debated about whether to follow her or not, but he calmed himself down slowly.

He knew where she'd go to. Turning back into the house, he stared down at the mess and narrowed his eyes. Why was it so important? She'd screwed up tons of times when it came to cooking, and she'd never been so pessimistic about it.

His eyes narrowed softly…

She always thought of him; whether or not she'd bother him if she approached him while he was busy, worrying if he was still as in love with her as he had been when they traveled together the year before, wondering if there was anything she could do to help him. She always voiced her feelings or demanded to aid him in the end, as she was absolutely terrible at holding things in, whereas he would only express himself when she had done so first.

He leaned down to clean the mess up and sighed, trying to piece together what ingredients he had for sure seen her mixing into it. He supposed he could make an exception, this time.

As suspected, he only had to walk a couple minutes into the forest to find the girl sitting there against a tree, presumably having been brooding for the past few hours. It was her that always got onto him for frowning so often, too. He walked up to her with an annoyed expression once realizing she was asleep against the trunk, her head lulled onto one side, as if she were about to fall over onto the forest floor. He studied her for a moment, then huffed and raised his hand up before thumping it onto her head none-too-gently.

She started immediately, a surprised squeak escaping her throat. That was immediately followed by her hand lifting up to rub the now sore spot on her head. At first, she seemed as if she were expecting one of the enemy ninja to be above her, memories of the past year still having not worn off. However, her gaze seemed relieved when she saw him, though he noted she didn't seem any less pouty about having been hit.

"You could have woken me up gently!" Her voice came out in a whine as she straightened her posture, her gaze trailing him as he knelt down in front of her.

"It's your own fault for being stupid! What girl runs off by herself during the evening? If you're going to whine, at least go to a different room in the house; not out in the middle of the forest!" His eyes narrowed sternly and he figured she bit her tongue on whatever comment she'd cooked up. He knew she was aware he had a good point, especially being who she was. She still had enemies around, after all.

Of course, he hadn't ran after her right away, either, so he figured some deeper part of him figured she could manage to take care of herself at times, even if it worried him. Had it not been for the duty he'd felt fall upon his shoulders, he would have been out of that house in a heartbeat. "You're an idiot."

He huffed as her expression twisted into that of a child's pout, but he didn't feel the need to comment further on that. As clear as his annoyance was at her, when he noticed her expression slowly falling back into the saddened one from before, he, too, began to feel his own expression soften. He reached up and cupped her cheeks with both his hands, forcing her head up to look at him.

"Those sweets were really important to you," he murmured, caressing his thumbs against her cheeks gently. "Why is that?"

Her gaze faltered again, and he noticed she tried to drop it to the ground once more, but forgot he was forcing her to look at him. She was trapped this time, he wanted her to know that. Cold at times he may be, but that didn't warrant any desire to see her walking around sad. He liked it better when she smiled, even if it made her have a stupid look on her face.

"Those sweets... It was a recipe that got passed down in my family for a long time. I don't know why or for what reason, really, but it was something that was left of my lineage. And... today is..." She trailed off, not wanting to say it. He remained silent as he tried to put two and two together, and when he did, his eyes widened slightly.

"This is the date your parents passed away..." She nodded at his remark, leaning her face into his right hand gently. His annoyance melted away slowly; this feeling she had, was one he understood. He moved his hands around to her back and pushed her closer, enveloping her in his arms. Only seconds passed before he felt the embrace being returned to him. "Moron... stop dealing with these things by yourself. We're married now... this is what I'm here for." A stubborn blush crept onto his cheeks. She tried to push away to see his face, but he tightened his grip on her to prevent that and pressed his lips against her neck, closing his eyes.

"Saizo..." He felt her hands clutched onto the fabric on his back. She felt so fragile pressed against him, it was a wonder to him how she was so unbelievably strong underneath it all. "Thank you."

He smiled, pulling back enough to look at her. He leaned down and pecked her lips quickly, his eyes narrowed as he watched her cheeks turn beat red. He chuckled, despite being in no position to do so. "I never get tired of seeing you blush." She squirmed at his words, no doubt embarrassed. He kissed her again, this time more fervently. She responded, still as clumsy as ever despite having been together for so long already. When he reluctantly pulled away, he maneuvered himself so that he was sitting behind her.

Circling his arms around her waist, he pulled her back to have her leaning against his chest. She tilted her head up to look up at him, blinking when she noticed his serious expression had returned. "Do you miss them?"

She paused, not expecting that question, but nodded slowly after a while. "They were my parents. Even if I don't really remember them much at all, I still miss them. ...You understand what I mean, right?"

He nodded, resting his lips lazily against her forehead. He rarely admitted it to those who were not close to him, but he thought of his mother often. "Oh." He unwrapped one hand from her and leaned up, slipping a small cloth from his belt. It was tied in the corner to hold something in. He passed it to her and locked his arms back around her, watching from over her shoulder as she examined it.

"Is this...?" She untied it carefully, her eyes widening once she saw the freshly-made assortments of sweets in her lap; granted, there weren't many due to lack of ingredients, but they were there. They weren't perfect, either. Each individual sweet seemed a little too hard, slightly burnt and in an odd assortment of shapes. He came to the realization that, while the princess wasn't necessarily a good cook, she was much better at it than he was. He glowered down at them once he heard her begin to stifle a fit of laughter.

"If you don't want them, just throw them away," he grumbled.

"N-no, it's nothing like that! Thank you for doing this... I really appreciate it."

"Yeah, well. I just made what little I could recall off the top of my head, so they probably taste funny. And I didn't know any secret recipe or anything, so they aren't special in any way." He turned his head to the side to hide the embarrassment on his stubborn face when she scooted around to look at him. She reached up to tap the tip of his reddened ear gently.

"That's not true! They're special in their own way. Because Saizo made them. I think my parents would be happy that you're nice enough to make the gesture anyways." She leaned against him from the side this time, resting the side of her head against his chest. "You're really kind."

"..." He brought one hand up to stroke her hair, keeping one around her waist. "And you're an idiot," he murmured, leaning down so that his forehead rested on the top of her head. He squeezed her body even closer to him. "But I fell for that idiot. Don't run away from me anymore, okay? For any reason."

"Yes!" He heard her giggle, even though it was muffled by their close proximity. He didn't say anything else, and neither did she. The silence suddenly felt comforting, allowing her thoughts to wander wherever they pleased; perhaps to her parents, or her grandfather. His, however - his thoughts remained where he begrudgingly felt them straying to more and more often, even after marriage... to her.

I love Saizo... but I'm not very confident on if I captured his personality well or not.
I tried.

Anyways, this scenario was something my friend suggested because apparently she pictures the MC as a terrible cook. Which I agreed with. Yup. BI

That is all! Reviews are appreciated~

-Matron of Madness

P.S. Also, for anyone alerted to this; sorry if you get multiple notifications or anything about this chapter. I had to take it down after putting it up because I noticed some huge mistakes, but when I tried to put it back up, it wouldn't do it. _ Thus, I've had to try multiple times to post this chapter up... guuuuh.