Word Count: 5, 919 words
Almost another year since I've updated. I'm sorry, and I really should stop trying to set a date when the next update will be. I'd rather not disappoint you when that date comes and goes. I think it's better for me to state that I won't abandon this story, but I don't know when the next update will be.
Anyway, I was only able to write out almost 2/3rd's of this chapter. If I wrote anymore, this chapter would get long winding and tiresome. Instead, the next intermission will pick up where this one left off.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this expanded chapter!
Chapter 3: Resolution
Beep. Beep. Beep.
'A heart monitor? Is the operation finished?'
Mechanical blips echoed through the room while I had a single thought repeat like a broken record in my mind. I realized I had the chance to act. The 'operation,' as my doctor liked calling it, had to have finished hours ago.
This 'surgery' didn't need any scalpels or cutting utensils. Instead the task required a small camera sliding down my esophagus, giving my doctor a view of my spleen. He would then diagnose the organ's condition before pulling out the scope, letting the anesthesia wear off.
The procedure had always been an annual occurrence that I've grown used to, but this wouldn't even have happened if I didn't have Splenomegaly (Enlarged Spleen).
The disorder had a list of multiple causes; mine was caused by the portal vein being blocked.
With the portal vein blocked, blood couldn't be properly drained from the spleen – causing the organ to blow up like a water balloon. Thankfully my body adapted, as it created smaller blood vessels to leek out the backed up fluid.
Still the appendage was vulnerable.
Combine Splenomegaly with a low platelet count (1), and I could die from internal bleeding alone if someone were to punch me in the gut. I was 7 when they told me this.
Since then I've grasped the idea that I could die from a punch. My doctors emphasized to avoid participating in all contact sports, which was almost every sport in school, but I disregarded this.
I participated in most games to an extent (except American football, I hated playing football). Any other time, I would be standing at the sidelines away from the action. The doctor's warnings never discouraged me from playing, but I could never get the image of an elbow or a kicked ball hitting me in gut; the image of my body lying in an ambulance, coughing out blood with paramedics rushing me to the ER.
I was afraid to die at first, but I grew used to it as time past.
Living with eczema, I considered, was by far much worse. Fighting against the constant urge to scratch irritated me – especially since I could never grow out of it.
'Stupid genetics,' cursing my father's genes despite being tired.
Reminiscing reminded me of childhood.
Due to the restrictions to play freely, combined with my overprotective parents, I grew up a tomboy with a hidden rebellious streak. I did my best to skirt around Mom and Dad's orders, bend the rules without them noticing. I would sometimes take secret trips to the mall while skipping most of my after school programs during middle school.
I was a little girl who played rough, despised dolls and bright colors, and loved all things "Yu-Gi-Oh!" and "Pokemon," before trading them for "Inuyasha" and "Naruto."
With a fond smile, I shook my head. My love for anime and the Japanese culture never waned.
Gradually, I sat up in bed while chasing away nostalgia to focus on the present, a single thought repeating: 'I need to go.'
I recognized the smell and feel of a hospital bed as I blinked to adjust my vision, wiping the crust from my eyes. In the past I had yearned for my own hospital cot; the beds were comfortable and soft. Stilling, a sensation overcame me.
I sighed, 'I really need to go.'
Pushing back the covers as I sat bleary-eyed and half awake; I was hoping for a nurse to pass through.
No one came.
Bored, I stared out through the window to distract myself.
My eyes gazed at the clear blue sky, 'odd.' Most of SSF's climate ranged on the dark and wet side of the spectrum. Clear days, like the one I was staring at, only came in early fall. I felt a bit concerned seeing such a bright and cloudless afternoon in the dead of winter.
Another strange fact:
Most of the equipment that should be found in my hospital room were missing. I had been to the facility enough times to notice. The biggest difference had been the absent television that would hang in the corner.
The scenery outside didn't help, and this adding factor only increased my concern – and I wasn't referring to the sky.
There were large wooden buildings surrounded by ample trees that forested the area. The roads were simple dirt paths instead of asphalt pavements and concrete sidewalks. And the fashion; ordinary.
It was as if people only cared about efficiency of clothing instead of attracting attention by the material's eye-popping statement that a capitalist society was used to advertising. It wasn't like I was against bland and efficient clothes, I just wasn't used to it; especially since Hollywood was just south of where I lived. This was more of a welcome change in my book, but it still felt odd nonetheless.
Then something bizarre happened... I stared, watching a few people race across the rooftops before jumping off and running horizontally across a wall; their figure depleting the farther off they traveled.
'What... Were they...? Just running... I-I...I can't-'
As the people traveled farther and farther, I was left scrambling to glue back together the pieces of my brain. The law of gravity was just broken before my eyes. Newton must be rolling in his grave. Poor Newton...
Swallowing the shock, I placed my focus back on the news stands outside. Scanning the boldfaced headlines, I was able to read most of newspaper titles. The characters, to my disbelief, were written in Katakana and Hiragana, if my memory served correct.
Adding this to the scenery, culture, and gravity breaking incident, my confusion spiraled out of control and I fell into a vortex of anxiety and distress.
'What!? How am I able-!? S-since when did I learn-?! I can't read Japanese characters! I can only recognize them! A-and, and those people! They were running on the side of a building! They can't-! That's impossible! I mean, this isn't "Naruto!" It may look like it, but…this, this... its…-'
My thoughts slowed to a halt as I sorted through my most recent memories.
I took a deep breath. My confusion was quelled as certain memory caught my attention. I had reviewed it a second time to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
Retreating from the windowsill, I ignored the commotion outside to focus inward, piecing together the situation. As the confusion vanished I felt satisfied, instead of the tense and jumbled mess that I was but moments ago.
In denial...for so long. I had been in denial.
It felt like someone jabbed me in the gut.
'My emotions... So, I've been in denial, right? I think all of my suppressed emotions are finally backfiring,' was what I diagnosed from analyzing my own feelings; being introspective comes in handy.
Feeling the emotional trauma that was slipping through the cracks of my imaginative dam, I grew homesick. I was torn from home, with no explanation as to how and why. As a result, I defaulted into denial over the years; refusing to acknowledge that I left countless precious things behind.
I felt sluggish – too weak to move despite my aching tail bone from sitting upright for too long.
Sinking further into the hospital cot, I rested against the bed's metal frame. Looking down at the plain white sheets that covered my lap, I laughed. It was bitter and hollow. My hands ran over the blanket, feeling the fabric. 'Even the sheets feel different.'
I frowned, halting that thought.
Taking slow deep breaths, I tried calming myself. In, out. In, out. In-
None of it was dulling the pain that I left piled within my heart for so long. What hurts most was stalling the pain. I knew I would feel the throbbing soon, but I didn't know when or how much until it happened. It didn't matter if it leaked out in droplets, or came surging out in a flood. It would just hurt...
Clutching my chest, crumpling my medical dress with it, I couldn't ease the sting.
'My family is gone. Or...am I the one whose gone? I... Why?'
I wanted to make sense of this whole "world hopping" phenomenon, but my feelings were getting in the way. I couldn't stop the incoherent string of words echoing throughout my thoughts.
My vision began to blur and I felt something wet form in the corners of my eyes.
'I left behind friends, family. I left behind my entire way of life and world. I want them back!'
My chest rose and fell as I lightly heaved. I didn't want to cry.
'I don't want this! Why can't I go back?! I... I'm...'
Sighing, I brushed away the tears.
'I'm most likely dead back home. So, I'm stuck here.'
With slow breaths, I released them in an attempt to sigh and stall my aching heart – it was either that or distract myself from all of those negative emotions, most likely physical pain.
'Acknowledgment is the first step,' I remembered resentfully from studying the 7 phases of grief. I had to counter my shock and denial.
I didn't want to address the cause and effect of my disappearance, but logic was telling me that I should; to face the problem head on. Now that I had actually had some time to reflect without acting like a child, I realized that my situation could have been worse.
Yes, I had lost all of my artistic skill despite my many failed attempts in regaining a steady hand that had been required of artists – but, despite being frustrated, I had a family that were attentive and loving in this new world.
It had been Hotaru who had noticed my interest in reading when I grew too frustrated with my poor wobbly sketches. It was she who read me all of her shinobi academy textbooks.
Drawing away all thoughts from the world that once was – I contemplated my present older sister now that I had calmed down. She was, and still is, so nice. Most older siblings would yell at the younger for touching their stuff.
However, thinking about it now, it must be a result of living in this world. Despite the peace loving village that is Konoha, this place was still a war torn and battle weary place; obvious or hidden. Thinking more on this, the second war only increased the bloodshed.
I stilled in realization.
It was because of the war that Dad was home, it was because of the war that Hotaru comes home later than usual, it had been why the house seemed even heavier despite Mom's soothing melodies to quell a crying three month old baby.
Hearing the room's door slide open, I jumped. Leaving myself to ponder this later on, I noticed that the nurse was accompanied by my parents, and in the back, what I think were two shinobi and the third Hokage.
Shifting towards them, the nurse briskly crossed the room before gently forcing me to lie down. Mom quickly rushed after, sitting in the chair beside my bed with a relieved gaze. Looking at Dad, he seemed reassured as well, but his eyes; they held a layer of dissatisfaction. Most likely it had something to do with the stoic ninjas' that stood off near the back wall behind him.
Cupping my cheeks, Mom leaned forward with a thankful smile. Trying to reach her hand, I moved my right arm. It felt heavy. I tried again with more force. The task was done, despite my arm's slow reaction. Except...my arm, it was stiffer than usual. I glanced down, gaping. I saw a full right arm cast restricting my movements.
'Why...why didn't I notice? Since when did I have cast?'
My brain dully noted Mom comfortingly rubbing my cheek with her thumb as I slowly came out of my stupor. She didn't seem at all shocked that I had a cast as she continued to stroke my cheek. She acted as if she were the one who was wearing a cast.
She asked softly:
"Eri-chi, how're you feeling?"
Dad approached us as I glanced down at my lap, gathering my thoughts.
I slowly uttered in a raspy voice as this signaled it's longtime disuse:
"I…I'm okay, Okaa-kun. But um, can I get out of bed?"
My parents seemed relieved with my answer, although the nurse frowned in disapproval as she asked me why. Anxious, I readjusted myself, their stares were giving me the creeps – especially the shinobi in the back who displayed no emotion.
Coughing down my scratchy voice, I looked at the nurse.
"I need to go to the bathroom, really bad..."
She flushed in embarrassment, probably not expecting my answer. Unhooking the IV water bag from the pole, she handed it to me. She disconnected the heart monitor and wheeled it to an empty corner after this was done.
I flipped off the covers and slowly got out of bed; the ninja eyed every movement.
I couldn't help but think that they were analyzing me for a reason, this compared to my parents who watched for any signs of stumbling weakness – ready to catch me if I fell; the shinobi, they seemed guarded. Not that their expressions had anything to base that off of. And it wasn't as if I could pull anything from their chakra – no, it was expertly suppressed.
I disregarded them for now.
Holding the water bag in my left hand, I carefully walked towards the patient's bathroom as the nurse kept a steady hand to my back, supporting me there all the way. My ankles felt wobbly and loose, ready to buckle while my legs felt flimsy.
I wondered just how long I was out, 'I wasn't out for that long, was I? I'm pretty sure it was at least a week, right? After all, I'm only a four year old… But really, how long was I unconscious?'
Reaching the bathroom I had shut the door after insisting for the nurse to leave me to my business. Immediately I had felt three sharpened sensations that were strengthened in the next room as I…"relieved" myself. The strongest of the three (most likely the nurse) quickly left the area, leaving behind the two weaker auras.
Reading the two signatures, I identified them as my parents'. One was flickering back and forth, revealing their agitation. The other grew in size, but remained still signaling that they were alert and focused. Mom and Dad were obviously on edge, preparing themselves. As to "what" they were getting ready for – I wasn't sure.
After washing my hands I left the faucet running to act as a cover for the hearing sensitive shinobi. The conversation between Hiruzen Sarutobi and my parents had been concerning, so I pressed my ear up against the door. Focusing on the low toned mumbles that were coming from the next room, I had been only able to make out half of what they were speaking about.
For all intents and purposes, I was slightly impressed that Dad had been able to match the Hokage's audible whispers.
Through all my anxiety I wondered why Dad had a bias towards ninja if he himself was just as cunning. I thought he would've made a great ninja. Watching him while he had been at home, I noticed his potential. He had a steel iron drive and an impressive calculative mind with the diligence to match. So, why did he so vehemently dislike ninja despite living in a shinobi village?
It had been a question that I found myself asking again and again.
"Just... do... want that... do... my...?"
Refocusing my attention next door, I had brushed aside my previous thoughts for later. I had to know what they were talking about and why.
"...calm, Yoshida-san... wish... speak... daughter... now." That was the Hokage.
'Speak with who? Hotaru? No; not Hotaru – it must be me. But why would the Hokage want to speak with me? Apologize maybe? I am a toddler of two citizens after all. It's not everyday that a child is attacked so publicly within the village.'
I frowned at this. Adding in the presence of those other two shinobi, I remembered their watchful gaze.
Trying to calculate the probability, I shook my head at this. 'Maybe...But their presence isn't absolutely necessary. According to the time line, it's nearing the end of the second war, that means Konoha would need more reinforcements to quickly end it. So why...?'
"...doesn't matter. I know... shinobi work. 'underneath the underneath,' right?...why... Hokage come with... assurance? What's wrong... coming unattended? You have...ANBU."
I grimaced at the tone of Dad's voice. Despite his intent to remain calm, his words were dripping with anger as his chakra quickly expanded in outrage.
Hearing the leader's reply only added more fuel to the fire.
"You misunderstand, I... to... talk... your daughter and apologize for... trauma...she...wife...inflected."
I quirked an eyebrow at the Hokage's answer as he avoided Dad's last question. Reading Dad's chakra, the man had noticed too as his energy rapidly simmered down, the anger suddenly vanishing. There had been only silence for the next couple of seconds. I clenched my hands, waiting for something to give. Did Dad give up...or?
'No... It's like... he confirmed something.' Though, this didn't answer anything for me.
I gasped, astonished. The man cursed, yes, but he just called out a shinobi, no less the Hokage! I shook in fear, waiting for the leader's reaction, mentally berating my father for the outburst. I was praying for the man's survival.
'Please, don't say anything more! Please, just stop there!' This hope was...
He continued on as I grew sick.
"You know,...I do, that... intentions...more...just...apology. We're still...war, no matter...near...the end. Village security...an...priority. The investigation...almost over...only one lose...to tie up. That's why...here. Underneath all...pretty words, you're...interrogate...daughter, a...three...old."
I froze. Dad's words had begun to settle, and my eyes grew wide with growing panic. I swallowed my fear waiting for Hiruzen's reply, hoping that he would deny this and that my father's reply wouldn't provoke the deadly man.
"If...expect that..my original intent,...you wouldn't...surprised...daughter...speak with...agent...T & I..., yes?"
Holding my breath, I had to remind myself that Sarutobi never confirmed or deny my Dad's statement. Through the fog of fear that began clouding my thoughts, I had tried my best to focus. My life depended on it.
'Mom!' She had been so silent through the whole ordeal that I had forgotten that she were even there in the first place.
Still listening, I only heard silence.
Stepping away from the door I tried clenching my right hand into a fist while sighing. I needed the pain to shock me out of my fear. Given the arm's state, even then could it barely carry out the simple task. It just itched instead.
Slightly wondering just how much water I wasted to act as a cover, I turned off the sink after running my hands underneath it. Drying them on my medical gown, like what most kids would do when unsupervised, I took a deep breath to steady myself. I forced out a yawn to regain my groggy composure before leaving the bathroom.
With slumped shoulders and half lidded eyes, I opened the door – slow and steady, hoping that I my acting wasn't too stiff.
Entering the tense atmosphere, my presence broke it as I managed to force out a yawn while rubbing my eyes. The minute I stopped, Mom herded me back to bed as Dad eyed the Hokage with an obvious glare.
As Mom tucked me in, she explained how Dad and her were going home to fetch Ichirou as he was being watched by the babysitter at home. On the way back, they would pick up Hotaru from the academy to get her released early since it was still noon.
Receiving a hug and kiss from Mom and a hair ruffling head pat from Dad, they gave their goodbyes. While my parents had done so, I couldn't stop glancing at the Hokage and his two lackeys as they just stood back and watched the exchange.
The two men who stood at both sides of the village leader were dressed less like ANBU and more so as a pair of standard nameless Chunin. They had no notable features for me to latch onto, no ugly scars, no weird hairstyles, and no note worthy weapons or additions latched onto their person.
Ambiguity, I thought, was a skill that most shinobi seek is they want to survive. Being an unidentifiable enigma is most times a must, especially regarding ANBU.
'Dad might be right. They could be ANBU.' I had shivered at the thought of being within the presence of two ANBU agents and the Hokage.
Tearing my eyes away from the two supposed Chunin, I watched as Mom and Dad stepped out of the room. I had forced a smile on my face, despite feeling anxious, waving a goodbye. My fixed smile dropped as I had stopped waving as soon as I saw the two Chunin follow my parents out of the room.
With a resonating thud, the door closed.
I was left alone with the Hokage.
Silence reigned once more as I glanced at the aging leader. He cast a speculative gaze towards me as I looked down to my lap. It felt like he was penetrating me with just a casual stare.
It scared me.
Crossing the room, I could hear his footsteps as Sarutobi approached my bedside. Watching from the corner of my vision, Sarutobi was aware of my unease as he sat in the same chair my mother had occupied.
As his shoulders sagged while interlocking his hands together, I couldn't help but appreciate the effort as he tried to seem as soothing as possible. He could have very well made a soundless approach before towering over me, but he didn't.
Slowly turning to face Sarutobi Hiruzen, I thought, 'maybe Dad was overreacting. I don't think the Hiruzen suspects me of anything, but why would he be here in the first place?' Pausing, I only continued as I had had an epiphany, 'maybe he really is only here to check on me. That, and maybe he's here because Danzo is suspicious of some mind control Genjutsu that was meant for an adult civilian.'
'But wait... I remember being hit by something. Maybe that attack was to just knock out the adult? I did survive that ninja's water spout jutsu. So maybe that's why the Hokage's checking on me. They're afraid of the spread of foreign influence after a security breech, and are trying to flush out any traitors that helped the Ame-nins get into Konoha while also identifying and countering any civilians who were affected by a possible Genjutsu.'
Going over what I had worked through, my guess was as sound as it was outrageous. I internally shrugged, 'maybe I'm thinking too hard.'
"Your name is Yoshida Eri, correct?"
I jumped. Swift, my head turned towards Sarutobi. His lips were curled in amusement at my reaction and I felt my face heat up in embarrassment. 'Frick! I ignored the Hokage!'
With haste, I bowed; "y-yes! Um, I'm Yoshida Eri. I-it's an honor to meet you, Hokage-sama!"
My rushed reply came out a stuttering mess, the tone becoming loud – to soft – to loud again. Sarutobi gave out a gentle chuckle. Ducking my head, I felt my face reddened even more due to the shame – berating myself for that horrid social exchange.
Feeling a hair ruffling pat, I looked up, astonished. Sarutobi wore a gentle grin as he continued to stroke the top of my head, like an unspoken statement telling me that I had done nothing wrong. My rising anxiety eased as the Kage continued, slowing his pace till I relaxed.
Despite my slacking shoulders, having someone other than my father pat me on the head was weird.
'This man... I can't really get a read on him. I mean, one minute he's stoic and serious, and the next he's patting my head acting like a father. Well, he is a father, but he's also a military leader.'
My thoughts halted, and I became still. Tearing my head away from the Kage's touch, I glanced at Saratobi Hiruzen before peering out the window.
'This man... He's a soldier, a husband, and a father, but he's also a leader. Some would consider this dangerous, but...'
I frowned while watching the homey display beyond my windowsill, familiar smiling faces flashing before my eyes. These smiling faces were followed by stiff smiles, gritting teeth, and anxious eyes.
'But... I... I want to understand!'
Taking a deep breath, I felt myself shudder as it was released. I knew I was shaking, but I placed my hand over my heart to make sure.
'It's fluttering... Dang it, have some courage!'
Gritting my teeth, I gazed back towards the man who sat patiently content at my bedside. Staring at his eyes, I realized that he was waiting for me. What exactly he was waiting for? I had no clue.
Disregarding the urge to ask, I opened my mouth. It closed immediately after. I scowled before opening my mouth once more. It closed again. I grimaced as this occurred several times before being successful.
A small, crumpled voice echoed throughout the room.
Blinking at his response, the silence returned and I looked away. But with the sight beyond my window, shining in my peripheral vision, and those smiling faces...
I turned back to this man, this husband and father, this soldier and military leader, and asked him a question;
"Hokage-sama, w-what does it mean to be a shinobi?"
The man's eyes dimmed.
I didn't turn away; instead, I gazed back into the abyss.
Walking back from the library with stack of books, the spring sun was shining as I followed the path home that I have used for more than two weeks.
Smiling at the street vendors who waved me a hello, I had come to realize why I wasn't escorted back home.
'Okaa-kun must've asked for them to watch out for me since she's a regular customer at their stalls.'
Half of my mind was screaming at my mother's lack of responsibility, but the other countered, stating that the village had it's own police system inside the village, and with every vendor's watchful eye to act as a witness, I was relatively safe.
Still, I took precautions; leaving the library at 3 p.m., taking well traveled paths that weren't too crowded or too deserted, walking in the middle of the road instead of off to the side, and not approaching strangers while never speaking to those who weren't familiar or the police.
But despite the danger, I relished the freedom of being away from my parent's watchful gaze. After being released from the hospital over two months ago, their affection as I healed and thereafter, despite being well meaning, was stifling.
I was forbidden to stray outside the house. They scolded me for lying on my right side as I read on the veranda. I couldn't run, I couldn't jump, and they were always asking me about how I was feeling in about ten-minute intervals. I didn't time them, but that's just how it felt.
At least Hotaru didn't suffocate me with love, but as my parents cared for a baby and injured child, I could imagine that Hotaru didn't receive a lot of parental love. Despite this, my Hotaru-nee never lashed out at me. Instead, she just sat beside me on the veranda, me reading my picture books and Hotaru reading her Konoha History books.
Eventually I ran out of books to read, and in my spare time I became ambidextrous since my right arm had been useless. Within my second month's stay on "probation," I grew stir-crazy.
I don't remember what day, but I do remember marching towards my mother. She was cooking in the kitchen with Ichirou, that smiley baby, giggling in his high chair. Tugging on her skirt, she muttered a "yes," with eyes only on the cutting board.
I frowned before yanking harder for her attention.
"Yes, what is it, Eri-chi?" Her eyes remained on the board.
I relinquished the grip I had on her skirt.
Ichirou then stopped giggling.
Sensing my longing for her attention after I had suffocated on it for the last month and a half, she had then finally looked at me. She waited for me to speak.
"Okaa-kun, I wanna go to the library."
She smiled sympathetically, stating that it was getting late. I had nodded at this and understood her fear of letting me out, but had I wanted out!
I asked the same thing around noon the next day. She made the excuse of attending to Ichirou.
I asked again the day after when Ichirou was awake. She responded that she was doing the laundry.
Again the day after, and she replied that she wanted me to play with Ichirou.
The next two weeks continued in those small excuses. It was only until I stated my desire at dinner that my mother relented despite my father's frown and my Okaa-kun's strained smile. Though, the only reason they relented was because I had argued about reading every single book in the house while growing evermore stir-crazy.
The next day, Okaa-kun struck a deal with me that if she escorted me to the library in the morning, she would let me walk home after showing me the safest route home. I remember pondering whether she was sensing my need to spend some alone time, but didn't realize it until later.
We shook hands and had made a pinkie-promise to tie the not on it.
Now, I was walking home with a stack of books in my arms and a determination to change the future; Sarutobi's words still strongly echoing in my head.
I had the chance to act, to protect, and to defend; not just my new family, but this village and every person outside it as well as within. The implications of staring into the abyss are great, but I must remember;
Tacking the next step, I felt myself crash into someone as I closed my eyes at the impact. Falling back, the library books spilled out onto the dirt road.
Muttering an "ow," I rubbed the bridge of my nose before getting up to dust off my shorts. Wiping away the dirt, a deep guttural, yet soothing voice spoke;
"Ah, sorry there little miss. Though, you really should be more careful. Here, let me help you with that."
Seeing the tall figure bend down, I watched as he gathered each book, dusting them off in the process. All throughout, I remained still, aware that my mouth was slightly agape.
Blinking, I shut my jaw before letting my brain race at the sight before me.
'Konoha flak-jacket, no headband, but with silver, almost white, hair and no red marks under his eyes. No ponytail, so not Jiraiya. Then, he... he could be...'
The man smiled as he handed me back my books, "here you go, little miss."
I slowly took back my stack of novels, hesitant to get close and in fear of the off chance that he wasn't who I thought he was.
"W-what's your name, sir?"
The man chuckled as his grin widened. "Aww, no 'thanks' for doing a good deed? That's a little rude isn't it?"
Realizing this, I hastily bowed.
"Aah! You're right! I-I'm sorry!"
I bowed again, "and thank you for picking up my books!"
The man chuckled at my sheepish behavior. "No worries, little miss. And my name is Hatake Sakumo. May I ask what your name is, little miss?"
'I knew it!' Calming the storm that was my mind, I stopped bowing. Despite my fluttering heart while being a nervous wreck I was able to answer him back.
"I-I'm Eri. It's nice to meet you Hatake-san."
Sakumo's smile grew, "the pleasure is mine, Eri-chan."
"Otou-san, can we go home now? The girl seems fine, so let's just leave."
As Sakumo and I looked down I realized that he wasn't alone.
There, standing beside his father, was a masked four year old with arms crossed. He was clearly bothered by my presence despite his lazy eyes.
Dismayed with his son's behavior, Sakumo scolded the boy, "Kakashi, you're being rude!"
At the same time, I was freaking out internally;
'Friiiiiick! It's Kakashi! No, no, no – I didn't want this! I just wanted some books and a good stroll alone! What makes matters worse is that it's the young Kakashi! The kids a fricken' – Gaah!'
Instead of feeling shame, the masked kid counter argued with his father, "yeah, but it was her fault for not watching where she was going. If anything, she's the rude one."
The boy's cocky attitude set me off inside, and despite how much I wanted to yell out the young Hatake, my passive nature took over as I sighed before speaking;
"I'm sorry, and you're right. I shoulda been watching where I was walking. Please, don't let me bother you. I was heading home anyway."
As Kakashi nodded at my admittance of being at fault, Sakumo gazed around me, searching for something.
"Really? You're going home? But where's you mother? Surely she's with you, Eri-chan?"
I shook my head, "no, my mother and I made a promise that I could walk home alone, so long as I follow the path she showed me. I've been doing this for a while now, so I'm fine with walking alone."
Feeling that he had his fill with my presence, Kakashi curtly nodded at the information. "Well, you heard her Otou-san, she can walk home by herself. Let's go."
Ready to scold his son again, I took this chance to leave the two, interrupting Sakumo mid-breath, "Yes, I have to get home or else my family will worry. It was nice meeting you Hatake-san, Kakashi-san. Thanks again for helping me. Bye."
Walking ahead, I could hear the man berate his son. Glancing back, the man had his hand on the boy's head while muttering in the kids ear.
Hurrying my steps, I thought my ears were deceiving me as a voice called out;
"Wait! Eri-chan! Let us escort you home!"
I stilled at the suggestion. This let the duo catch up to my stiff form. As the man and child reached me, Sakumo smiled charmingly at me while Kakashi crossed his arms and huffed, obviously upset.
"Please, let us escort you home as you lead."
I wanted to decline his offer, but his the man seemed fixed on the idea on escorting me home. Though, escorting a kid home – I think any parent would feel this strongly about walking home a child.
Shuffling my feet as I stared at the ground, I nodded, "okay, then. Alright, follow me."
Hearing another huff from Kakashi, I looked up. The boy glared at me. I didn't know whether he was irritated because of my behavior or because I was ruining his day, either way, I was the cause of his bad mood.
Glancing at Sakumo, the man was just all smiles as his son was all frowns.
I sighed as the two walked beside me adding their presence to my current worries;
'Please don't let them meet Otou-chan.'
Intermission 3: Resolution
(1) Platelets are colorless blood cells that play an important role in blood clotting. Platelets stop blood loss by clumping and forming in the holes within the blood vessels. Example: you get a cut, over time the cut stops bleeding; this is due to the platelets being put to work.
For those of you who read my notes at the bottom, I'd like to thank all those people who kept on reviewing, favoriting, and following all of my stories during my absence. You guys have been on my mind with your encouraging words, and it's what helped me write the rest of this chapter despite having a runny node throughout the night. Yes, I pulled an all-nighter for you guys. Thank you for your kind words, whether your a guest or someone with an account critiquing my story and giving me some tips.
Sincerely, thank you. Again, I can't promise about the date of the next update, but I won't abandon this story. I've honestly put too much thought in it to just give it up.
Anyway, if you have any questions, don't be afraid to leave it in a review or private message. I won't hesitate to answer now that I'm back.
Till next time, bye! ^_^