Carol #14: Home for Christmas

Genre: family, hurt/comfort, drama

"Good job on completing our last mission of the year" Hinata complimented her subordinates as team number 4 gathered at the usual, meeting spot. "With this, I'd like to wish you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I'll see you here, first thing January" she added with a warm smile as the six, young shinobi bid each other farewell.

Certainly the past year was quite eventful and each of them was really looking forward to some rest and relaxation among their families. After all, even ninja are still human and some free time is quite important.

As the five, rookie gennin separated on their way down the street, Senkou's excitement grew while the masked boy neared his house. Kokoro, being the only companion left, took note of his friend's unusual behavior and smirking under his nose, he spoke, snapping the son of Hokage back to reality: "Can't wait for Christmas, eh?"

"You know, I really hate when you use that telepathy of yours without permission..."

"Please, you don't have to be a mind reader to notice" the blond assured him politely. "One can tell, even though you hide most of your face. Care to clue me in? As far as I remember, you don't get hyped on holidays..."

"Yeah" the silver-haired gennin nodded. "But that's because they don't really mean much... with my father being Hokage, he's rarely home, having too much work. And my mom... well, she's just Anko Mitarashi... she's definitely not the warmest person in the world. But none of that matters this time of year. Dad's always home for Christmas and even my mom acts more... normal at the time. This is the only time throughout the year I feel like we're an actual family..." he announced, looking to the side.

Seeing this, Kokoro twisted his lips a tad, unsure how to react to the news. The two walked in silence the next, few blocks, until they finally arrived at the Hokage mansion. The blond looked the spacious gates up and down, turning towards his companion with a serious face:

"You know, in my household everyone can just take a peek into another's thoughts" he proclaimed with slight dismal, making Senkou rise his eyebrow. "Only some are capable of blocking our bloodline to keep their minds locked. It has some merits, but that also brings a heavy feeling... do you know how often we actually talk with each other?" he asked rhetorically with a sad expression.

The silver-haired boy shook his head slowly at the question, allowing his teammate to continue: "It's... well, depressing. Technically you know everything you need, but you don't really make an effort to learn it... it's just given to you. In some ways, that kind of the opposite to love – you know who loves you, but they rarely actually prove it."

"I'm sorry" was all Senkou could say at the revelation, but Kokoro only place his palm on his shoulder: "Thank you, but that's not why I told you this" he announced, regaining his serious expression. "I want you to remember something very important..."

"What's that?"

"That people may not always show it... they may disappoint you sometimes or they may not even act like it" he began, taking a deep breath. "But that doesn't mean they don't really love you" he finished and receiving a nod from the masked leaf-nin, he nodded himself, preparing to leave.

"Not the most, cheerful note I guess, but still" the blond spoke, managing a warm smile as he waved his friend goodbye: "Have a Merry Christmas!"

"Same to you" the silver-haired speedster perked up a bit, biding him farewell. Once the telepath disappeared from his view, Senkou spun on his foot and entered the mansion. Inside, he headed for the kitchen, where he expected to see his parents preparing for the Christmas dinner. But as he noticed his mother working by herself, a bad feeling swept over him in a flash.

"Where's dad?" he asked, to which Anko merely pointed at the fridge without a word. Slowly, the masked gennin neared the appliance, spotting a tiny note pinned to the door. Oh yea, he definitely didn't like where this was going:

Senkou, Anko

I apologize for not being there with you in the morning. Urgent business came up and my assistance was required near the border. Apparently some band of missing-nins was spotted in those parts. I am truly sorry and, rest assured, I'll do what I can to make it back in time for dinner.

But, just in case that won't be possible, I want to wish you both a Merry Christmas. You should also check the Christmas Tree for your gifts. I'm especially confident about yours this year, Senkou.

The boy read the note a couple of times, hoping that at some point it's content will change, but there was no such luck. Allowing the weight of the words to sink in, he lowered his head and hung his head, letting a sigh escape his mouth at the news.

"How are you feeling, Senkou?" Anko turned to her son, for once showing concern on her face as she stopped chopping carrots. Instantly she felt like biting her tongue for that; a stupid question indeed, even if it seemed obligatory at the time. Besides, one look at her son told her all she needed about the mood he was in: "You know your father has no choice in these matters" she reminded him, mostly trying to keep her own emotions in check. "I'm sure that, if he could, he'd stayed..."

"But he couldn't" the silver-haired gennin finished for her, crushing the note in his hand. For the briefest of moments, his fist tightened, only to loosen immediately after as he tossed the paper into the trash, turning to face the woman: "So... you need any help?" he asked in a breaking voice, putting on a brave face. In a way this was typical in this household, so it's not like he didn't had practice in hiding his disappointment.

"Not really" Anko replied, forcing a smile. "I'm almost done here anyway. If you want, we can sit to dinner in about twenty minutes..."

"No, thanks" the masked boy responded instantly, making the kunoichi gaze at him surprised.

"You're not hungry?"

"I am" he assured her as his stomach growled to prove his words. "But we should wait for dad... it is Christmas after all" he proclaimed, forcing a worried look onto his mother's face as she stopped her hands and walked over to him:

"Look, sweetie, I know how much Christmas means to you, but..."

"He promised" Senkou instantly interrupted her with a firm gaze. "He wrote he'll do everything in his power to get back on time and he will! We just have to wait" he added with determination, taking a deep breath.

Anko stared at him for a moment and then smiled, letting out a sigh of her own as she got back to her duties: "If you say so... but, at the very least, help yourself to the hot chocolate I prepared. It's waiting for you in the living room" she announced, making the boy leave, which allowed her to hung her own head as she wiped a single tear that forced its way from her eye...

-Several hours later-

Kakashi slowly opened the door, doing his best to not make a sound. Quietly, he entered the mansion, allowing its shadows to swallow him whole as he walked forward. Fortunately, his eyes managed to get accustomed to the darkness during the trip, so there was no need to light. Besides, he knew this corridors like the back of his hand; there was little chance he'll crush into something.

Walking pass the kitchen, he froze however, at the sight of Senkou sleeping at the table, resting his head on the top. The Rokudaime let out a sigh: "Certainly this is not how I hoped to spent today" he scold himself, quietly spinning on his foot... only to come face to face with Anko.

"Finally decided to show up, eh?" she asked sternly, not bothering to keep her voice down, despite Kakashi's immediate gesture to lower her voice. "Do you even realize how much trouble you caused, dammit? We couldn't even begin dinner!" she yelled, turning the lights on in the process.

Terrified, the Hokage took several steps back as a single drop of sweat run down his face, all the while his wife marched forward, pressing him against the wall: "You are in one heck of trouble, mister!" she proclaimed just before the room got filled with a quiet yawn.

Both adults turned towards Senkou, who woke up due to the ruckus and was now stretching his limb arms. It took him a moment to notice Kakashi and giving the man a blank look, he tilted his head slightly. The duo stared at each other for a few seconds, not sure how to react, until the silver-haired gennin finally decided to speak, smiling behind his mask: "Welcome home, dad... and Merry Christmas."

Shocked by the turn of events, words froze in the Rokudaime's mouth. Delayed, he nodded, managing to answer in the only way he could think of: "Merry Christmas to you too... sorry I woke you..."

"No big" the boy assured him, getting up. "It's not like we could start without you..."

At this, Kakashi gave him a quizzical look, but before he could receive any answer, Anko pushed him onto a chair and headed for the counter: "You'll need to wait a bit... the soup definitely got cold, so I need to warm it up first" she proclaimed in a serious tone as she switched the stove on, placing a pot on top.

Still unclear on what was happening, the man glanced at his son in hope of some support, but in stead the boy confused him further, setting up the table. With her back still turned, Anko spoke again, stirring soup in the process: "Oh, and one more thing... welcome home, sweetie" she added, looking over the shoulder with a smile on her face.

With a single glance at her face, Kakashi's confused turned into smile as he nodded towards his wife: "Good to be back" he proclaimed as the kunoichi placed the meal before him. In a flash all three were sitting down, ready to begin their suffer.

"Well then, lets get to it" The Rokudaime purposed cheerfully, ready to pull his mask off. "After all, presents are already waiting" he announced as the trio dug into their plates...

-Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!-

And with this, Konoha Christmas Carols come to an end. Hope you enjoyed reading these tales at least as much as I writing them. To be perfectly honest, when the idea to prepare this before Christmas came to me around the 5th of December, I didn't think I'd manage to complete it on time, still having the entire NNG, LotL and "Those..." chapters to finish as well... but I made it... guess that is sort of a Christmas miracle as well :)

Ironically, it's the drama chapters that proven easier to write... I honestly didn't saw that coming, thinking I'll finish the comedy first... ah, the twists of life :)

Well, I won't rant too long as you all have preparations for Christmas of your own. I only ask that you share your thoughts over the whole initiative of this event and tell me what you thought of the outcome.

And, since this is undoubtfully, my final update of this year, I'd like to take this chance to wish you all MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR! Hope we'll read each other in 2013 ;)