A/N: I disclaim any right I have to the characters of NTT Solmare's Shall we date: Ninja Love! I only own my OC's and the plot for this bit of whimsy!

Chapter 3:

Kotaro wandered through the streets of his village as casually as he could, heading in the direction of the brothers' old hide-out. He had almost reached the tree-line, when a voice called out to him.

"Lord Kotaro?"

Kotaro turned towards the voice. A ninja stood behind him, a slight frown on his face. Kotaro instantly recognised the man as Hisao Takashiro, a close friend of his youngest brother, Kenshin. In fact, it had been him who had both dealt the death blow to his friend's killer and carried Kenshin's body back to his family. Hisao tentatively approached the older man.

"Oh, Hisao, it's you." Kotaro watched as the younger man approached.

He had known Hisao since they were kids, so Kotaro could see something was bothering the younger man. He said nothing, however, until Hisao was in front of him.

"What can I do for you?" Kotaro asked.

"Are you... going out, my lord?" Hisao answered the question with one of his own.

Kotaro frowned slightly. It was unlike Hisao to be so hesitant. Indeed, one of the younger man's faults was that he was often too brusque and forward. Kotaro nodded.

"I'm going out on patrol."

"May I... join you?"

There was that hesitation again and Kotaro didn't miss how Hisao's darted around from shadow to shadow as he spoke. Something was up and it was obvious that Hisao was not going to talk about it here. Kotaro stared at the younger man for a while and Hisao seemed to be trying to say something with his eyes. Finally Kotaro nodded.

"Very well." He agreed.

With that the two men walked off into the surrounding forest. As soon as they were far enough away, and checking to make sure they weren't being followed, Hisao turned to Kotaro, talking quickly.

"My lord, you and your wife are planning to run away, yes?"

Kotaro appraised him silently, his expression dark.

"How'd you know...?"

"Your father has issued orders to all ninja to be on high alert, in case you try to leave..."

Kotaro's expression darkened further.

"Are you trying to stop me?" he demanded in a soft, threatening voice.

Hisao shook his head.

"No, mi'lord, I want to help you."

"Help me?"

Hisao smiled at Kotaro's surprise.

"Yes. You're going to meet Lord Katashi at the old hideout, yes?" Hisao answered. "The one that's never been found?"

Kotaro was so surprised that all he could do was nod. Hisao's smile turned into a smirk. He hadn't been Kenshin's best friend for nothing. He was as well acquainted with the brothers' hideouts as they were themselves. The reason why this particular hideout had never been found out was because he and Kenshin had taken such pains to hide and fortify it.

"Then I'd suggest taking the entrance at the river." Hisao said.

Kotaro was confused.


"Because I've told the other ninja to watch the forest path, since there was no possible way you would wander around in the river."

Kotaro smiled at Hisao's clever intervention and nodded in aquiecence.

"I will do as you say."

"I'll head back to the forest path and send the other ninja back." Hisao turned around. "I'll send Kuromaru when all is well."

With that he disappeared in the blink of an eye. Kotaro stared at the spot his youngest brother's best friend had stood for another minute, then shook his head and smiled to himself, speeding his way towards the river.

It would seem we're not as alone in this as I thought.

A/N: Another chapter finished. Please read and review! I'd love to hear from you!