A/N: I do not own any of the characters in this little piece of whimsy, except for my own OC and other characters of my creating. All due credit and respect to the creators of the otome game Shall we date?: Ninja Love. I warn you that some of the characters may seem a little OOC in the beginning and/or in certain areas... but it is just as I perceive them... sorry if it offends anyone, that is not my intention.
Oboro blinked languidly at the young woman laying prostrate in front of her.
"What did you say?" she demanded of the woman.
"The lords of Fuma are fighting among themselves again, your highness." the woman answered, her voice trembling slightly. "Please, won't you stop them?"
Oboro Fuma sighed and unconsciously placed her hand on her stomach. It had been over two years since she had met Kotaro and the other ninjas and learnt the truth of her birth and had embarked on the adventure of a lifetime which had ultimately lead her to finding not only the strength she possessed as the heir to the Kusunoki, the forefathers of all ninja, but had lead her to finding the love of her life, Kotaro. It had now been two years since Oboro Kusunoki had become Oboro Fuma. Koyo Fuma, the leader of the Fuma clan ninjas, and Kotaro's father, had been kind to her and had welcomed her warmly. Oboro had made it clear that she wanted no differential treatment and had become a true sister to Katashi and Kenshin, Kotaro's younger brothers. About a year later, things had started to turn sour in the Fuma clan, even as the rest of Japan lived in peace and prosperity under Ieyasu Tokugawa, who had taken over after Nobunaga Oda had been defeated. It had begun with Kenshin marrying a woman who was from a family of Samurai, rather than Ninja and the old man had been against the union from the start. However, both Kotaro and Katashi had backed their brother and encouraged him to follow his heart despite their father's wishes. Oboro, too, had joined in and had pointed out that, although heralded as the Ninja Princess, she was descended from a family of Samurai too, even if they had become the first ninjas. After they had married, Koyo had tried to disown his son, but Kotaro had stepped in yet again, refusing to allow his father to chase his younger brother and his wife out of their own home. Koyo had agreed to allow them to stay, as long as Kenshin denounced any claim he, or any of his descendants had to the title of chief of the Fuma. Being the third son, and therefore having only a slim chance of becoming his father's heir, Kenshin had accepted. A few months after that, Katashi's wife had died giving birth to their child- a beautiful baby girl who Katashi had named Kaede, keeping to the theme of their family, having children with a name beginning with a'K'. When Kaede was only four months old, Kenshin's wife had discovered she was pregnant. Kotaro and Katashi had sincerely congratulated the couple and Oboro had been ecstatic. Even Koyo had grudgingly admitted he was happy for his son, even if he didn't like his daughter-in-law. Then, 5 months ago, Kenshin was killed in a routine patrol mission which had ended in a skirmish with some bandits, who somehow still managed to exist, despite the efforts of Tokugawa's right hand man, Munenori Yagu, to ensure otherwise. A month later, Kenshin's child was born, a healthy baby boy. Koyo surprised his family by not only naming the youngster Kenta, after his father, but by apologizing to the child's mother and welcoming her back into the family. Katashi said the only reason the old man did that was to ensure that he didn't lose his grandson. Although Kotaro remained silent, Oboro was sure that he agreed with his brother. Then, a few weeks after Kenta was born, Oboro started being sick every morning. This continued for a while until Kenshin's widow voiced the opinion that Oboro was pregnant. Luckily for her, Rennoshin, a doctor friend of Hanzo Hattori, whom Oboro and met on occasion, happened to be in Fuma at that time. Using the methods he had learnt from Western medicine, Rennoshin confirmed the women's suspicions.
Oboro was now about three months pregnant, and she had a very good idea what the fight among the three remaining men in the household was about. The Fuma family was the founding family of the Fuma clan, and they had yet to be replaced by another family. They needed a male heir to ensure that their family remained in 'power' as it were. Therefore, as the eldest son, and current heir, it fell to Kotaro to produce said male heir. The minute Koyo had found out Oboro was with child, he had told Kotaro to pray that it was a son. Kotaro had disagreed and said he would be happy with whatever gender, as long as the child was healthy. Then two weeks ago, after having met with a seer, Koyo announced that Oboro was pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, and that the boy would be born first, and should therefore be named Koichi. Kotaro had disagreed, stating they had no reason to believe that there was more than one child, just because a self-proclaimed psychic had said so. And they had no real way of knowing the gender. What if it turned out to be a girl, or even twin girls? Katashi had agreed with his brother, stating that the naming of the unborn child should ultimately be left to its parents, Kotaro and Oboro. The three of them had been arguing off and on since then. And it seemed they were in the middle of yet another argument. Oboro sighed, then slowly got up.
"I will see what I can do, but I'm not promising anything." Oboro told the woman.
She then headed off to the counsel room, where she was sure they would be, as this was mainly where Koyo spent his days, as the current leader of the Fuma. The loud sounds emanating from the room as she neared it proved her hunch correct. Yuzu, Oboro's sister-in-law, and the woman who had come to Oboro for assistance, had been correct. The three men were having one of their usual arguments, and it seemed like this one was a really heated one. Bits and pieces of their conversation came to her as Oboro got closer.
"... can't just do as you will!"
"... raised us... let us raise ours in our own way!"
"... not concern you, Katashi! Stay out..."
"No, father, Katashi is correct!" Kotaro's voice came through the thin screening separating Oboro from her husband and his family. "You raised your family, now let us raise our own!"
"You don't seem to realize that as the heir to the Fuma, you have a responsibility! To me, as your father! To Katashi, as your brother! To your wife, to the rest of the clan! And most importantly, to your unborn son, as the next heir!"
"If that is the case, then I no longer want to be the heir!"
"You cannot change what you are, Kotaro." Koyo calmly told his eldest. "You cannot change your fate. You cannot change what you are- the heir of the Fuma clan. Just like I could not, before you. And just as your son will not, after you."
Normally Kotaro was a cool, calm and collected man- it was generally very difficult to annoy him to the point that he snapped. But the way Koyo spoke of his unborn child, as if he were so sure of the child's future, as if Kotaro had no say in it as the child's father, seriously pissed him off. Before he knew what he was doing, Kotaro had leaped towards his father and had grabbed him by the front of his kimono.
"Where the hell do you come off telling me what I can and cannot do with my own life!" He yelled at his father.
"Kotaro..." Katashi warned.
"Stay out of this, Katashi!" Kotaro snarled at his little brother.
"Don't worry, he wouldn't dare strike me!"
Koyo ignored his younger son and stared at his eldest. His face was calm, but his reddish brown eyes blazed with hidden emotions.
"Weren't you going to hit me, Kotaro?" Koyo queried. "Well, then, I'd like to see you try."
Kotaro glared at his father in quiet fury. Koyo stared calmly back at his son. Before anything could happen, a small swirl of wind pushed the two men apart. When they got back to their feet, Oboro stood between them, her arms out stretched to each of them.
"That's enough! You two ought to be ashamed of yourselves!"
Oboro looked to Katashi, his arm still raised in front of him, and smiled her thanks at his having created an opening for, though she had been a part of the Fuma clan for more than 2 years, she still was no great shakes at their ninjutsu. Oboro returned her attention to the problem at hand.
"How can you two be fighting like this?"
Oboro turned to her husband.
"Kotaro, I don't care how angry your father makes you, you shouldn't bear him any ill will. You should be happy for his health."
Kotaro bowed his head slightly in shame. His wife was correct. He shouldn't have reacted so violently. As the Chief's son, he knew better and as a ninja, he had been better trained- but as a man, his emotions just overcame him in certain situations, the present one being among them. Oboro then turned to her father-in-law.
"As for you, Lord Koyo." Oboro felt some satisfaction at the slight wince on the old man's face as she addressed him thus, as it usually meant some bitter words were in the offing. "You treat me with respect because I'm the Ninja Princess, but you treat your own sons as if they were nothing more than possessions. Just more ninja tools for you to use."
Oboro's penetrating stare intensified into a glare.
"Well, I'll tell you now, you can treat me however you wish, but you will not treat my husband like he was some unfeeling tool. And you will not treat our child that way either!"
By the end of her speech, Oboro was shaking with a mixture of suppressed anger and nerves. Kotaro walked to his wife and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Although outwardly he was the epitome of calm, as he always was, Oboro could tell, by the slight rigidity of his back and shoulders and the slight shake of the hand on her arm, that Kotaro was still far from calm.
"That's enough, Princess." Kotaro still refered to her by the title, although it was now more a term of endearment, even if it was technically true. "Getting angry in your state isn't good for your health. And besides, you should think of the baby, your body isn't just yours anymore."
With his hand still on her arm, Kotaro turned Oboro around and started leading her out of the room, when Koyo spoke.
"You are wrong, Princess." the old man sighed. "I do not treat my sons as possessions."
He fixed the young woman with a penetrating stare.
"However, I will not deny that I have been treating my sons as if they were tools." the old man continued. "Since that is precisely what they are."
"What do you mean?" Oboro asked.
"I mean what I say. Katashi and Kotaro, though I love them both from the bottom of my heart, as I loved Kenshin, are nothing more than tools. Tools to the family, tools to the clan, tools to the fuedal lord in power- just as every ninja is." Koyo continued in a serious tone. "To be a ninja is to be a tool to be used. Such is our fate. Such is my fate, such is their fate... and such is the fate of any child bearing the Fuma name. For to be born a Fuma, is to be born a ninja."
Shocked silence followed this pronouncement, and Oboro couldn't help but see the differences in the way Koyo and the way the Iga Elder and his son, Hanzo, saw ninja. While it was true that they all viewed ninja as tools, Hanzo and his father saw them as people who had a valuable input in the running of their society, rather than tools to be used and thrown away, as Koyo did.
"Father..." Katashi breathed softly.
Although he always knew that his father viewed his sons in this light, though his love for them was always evident, to hear him say it like this... He thought of his own daughter, and his young nephew and his blood grew cold at the future that awaited the youngsters. He wondered if there was anyway for any of them to escape their fate. Kotaro stared at his father, his expression as unreadable as always.
"If that is your standing point in this situation..." Kotaro said after a very pregnant pause.
"It is." Koyo said matter-of-factly. "And no amount of discussion will change this fact."
"Very well, then I am no longer either a Fuma, or a ninja." Kotaro stated just as matter-of-factly. "That way there will no longer be any reason for us all to get upset over this matter."
"You cannot change what you are, Kotaro!" Koyo told his son sternly.
"I can, and I will." Kotaro assured his father calmly.
"If you do as you propose, I'll ask for help from our brethren in the other ninja villages." Koyo had a slightly panicked look on his face, as if afraid his son might actually do as he said he would. "You won't get far! Nor will you be able to avoid us for long!"
"That's what you think." Kotaro said calmly, before leaving with his wife.
"Well, that was nicely handled." Katashi said sarcastically as he watched his older brother leave.
"Katashi, I am still your father, and you will watch the way you speak to me!" Koyo told his younger son sternly before turning back to the door through which Kotaro and Oboro had just exited. "He may talk big now, but he was always the obedient one. Him and Kenshin. He'll come round."
"If you say so, father." Katashi said as his father left the counsel room.
He was a little surprised by his big brother himself, but if he could help one member of his family escape their 'cursed' fate, then he would do it with every fibre of his being- even if he had to pull every string he had, he would ensure that his brother and sister-in-law would escape and live normal lives, away from the world of ninja.
"If you say so."
A/N: And so we come to the end of the first chapter of our story. Yes, I know I have several other stories which require my immediate attention, but I was reading the stories in the Ninja Love category and was struck by how few stories there were for this game, when this story hit me-quite literally (not) between the eyes... so I hope you enjoy the story and please review... I'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, comments, questions et cetera... constructive critism is appreciated, but if you really have to bash the story, I'm not gonna stop you... how will you learn if you don't know where you fail... Thanks !